November 29, 2004

Instapundit reveals he is a Preacher's Kid, and recomends this article on the divide between evangelical churches and liberal universities, and why it should be bridged.

November 27, 2004

Some of those opposed to shepherd dislike referring to Adam (or Christ) as a man of faith. When Adam walked with God, he need no "faith" in him, it is said. While it is true he needed no belief in the absence of evidence for God, the very definition of faith is at question, without even raising the matters of faith being defined as "faith and obedience".

Bruce Waltke, in his Genesis, a Commentary has no qualms about Adam and Christ's faith
Adam and Eve fail in their confrontation with Satan because they fail to trust the goodness of God's character and the truthfulness of his word. The second Adam, faced with similar temptation, routs Satan by faith combined with the Word of God. Saints receive the benefits of the second Adam's active obedience by faith in him

November 23, 2004

So everybody is heaping praise on The Incredibles. So where's the Christian critique? Hah? Hah? Anything that popular has to have some subtle flaw that causes it to be corrupt.

Oh, I predict in eight to nine months, you can get a video called "The Creedibles" at your local Christian bookstore. On Sunday.

(seeing it this friday...)

Credit card companies are funny. Our current favored card is our Amazon.com card, which gives cash back for Amazon purchaces. We thought it would be a good idea to transfer the balance [I know, I know...] from our other card (a Chase card) to it. I noted the current offer of a low rate for balance transfers, and then got ready to do it (procrastination). Well another offer came in the mail, for a whole percentage point lower. So we took that one and did the transfer. A few days later, I got another offer from amazon for the transfer and it was another point lower.

Then today I called up citibank to cancel the old card I'd had with them. We hadn't used in in about a year, and I was only reminded of that fact because they sent a statment to me with a $20 credit for being such a good customer (and as a inducement to use the card, natch). So I used it (for chinese takeout) and then called to cancel. They gave me a bit of runaround about canceling, and offered zero interest on transfers for a year, and a cash back program. I didn't want to sign up for something over the phone that I didn't want to take the time to learn about, though I must say that was a tempting offer.

I'll keep that in mind when I cancel the Chase card, and see if I can get a deal out of it. If I can. The Amazon card is with Bank One, and they sent me a notice saying that they are merging... with Chase! So I guess I won't really be having 2 different bank cards.

I also think its amusing that the credit/debit back cards are trying to get you to use it as a credit card more. The reason is they get the credit card 3.x percent surcharge from the merchant when you use it as a credit card, as opposed to a muuch smaller ammount when you use it as debit. (It has the same effect on you balance either way). I always try to be nice to the merchant and use the debit method, and inducements like cash back and "sweepstakes entries per use" aren't cutting it.

We used to always pay the card off every month, but buying a car for cash was the death of that. We're getting there though.

November 12, 2004

Wright's interaction with Dunn is interesting. He says
The great argument of Romans 5 through 8... is an argument for assurance, despite the truth in everything [Dunn says] [about the possibility of failure], nevertheless, 5 to 8 is saying those whom he also justified, them he also glorified. And that is part of the point of justifcation by faith, it that then and there is given that assurance, even though that has to be tested to the limit and has to face the possibility that faith itself might prove false, but I'm thinking of I Corintihians 3 where albeit he's talking about Christian workers rather than simply Christians per se, but where he speaks of those who build on the foundation with wood and hay and stubble, whose work will be burned up when they day appears, he says nevertheless that person will be saved, but only as through fire, which is as far as I am aware the only passage in the New Testament which has something like that "saved, nevertheless by the skin of your teeth" and its a very strange and dark passage.
Wright is fairly clearly saying he believes that for the justified, it is impossible that God will not complete the work in the person so that they will recieve a judgement according to the good works they have done (as members of Christ's body) at the last. Wright contrasts himself a bit with Dunn, who is a Methodist, who question perseverance. Wright does not.

These are hideous lies
  • Denying the analogy of faith, which leads to a disregard of systematic theology
  • Denying the Biblical teaching of the federal headship of Jesus Christ
  • Affirming that a believer can lose his salvation
  • Affirming that the elect can lose their salvation
  • Affirming that Christ's death has saving benefit to the non-elect
  • Affirming that obedience to the covenant determines salvation and not the predetermined election of God
All the rest are gross distortions.

Lets take one for example. Noone is saying that a believer can loose his salvation. Some are saying that some beleivers can cease to believe. And since justification is by faith, loss of faith is loss of Christ's propitiating work (which applies to the non-elect too: otherwise, they'd be in hell NOW). There are manifold examples of people with belief in Christ who lose their belief. Simon Magus is one, and there are big groups of folks in the gospels. Also I note Lutherans affirm that believers can cease to believe, and be thus lost, and are accounted members in good standing of the reformation.

I call on all opponents of the Federal Vision to also oppose these lies about the FVs positions.

November 11, 2004

Maybe wright denies imputation of Christ's righteousness as a discrete act in justification, because it makes about as much sense to him to talk about how great it is when a wife gets her name added to her husband's bank account, after they've already been married a week.

Christology is corportate for Wright (with the individual thrown in). Being united to Christ is a necessary function of Christ, like being represented by a Senator. That's what a Messiah does.

For wright the good works done by believers, which in the future will be vindicated at the last day (evidenced by their ressurection) are part of the future glorification we will have in heaven, but brought forward to us even now on earth.

Its somewhat of an odd question, but would anyone deny that we will do good works in heaven that will be accounted as actually good and done by us (in Christ) AFTER the last judgement?

For Wright, the life we now live in the Spirit is in anticiaption of the ressurection, and we get to live a bit of the life to come even now. Those kind of deeds can't help to receive a judgement of "well done," though as always, they are not conceived of apart fromn Christ in any way, in fact, are deeds done by the Totus Christus.

Lee Irons writes
Since the righteousness of Christ is not within us but outside of us, Luther was right to speak of the Christian as one who is at once righteous and sinful (simul justus et peccator). In this Luther was merely restating the teaching of Paul: 'God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Rom. 5:8). 'To the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness' (Rom. 4:4-5).
Um, neither of those quotes establish the claim, which is that the justified person, for whom Christ died, is yet a "sinner", or yet an ungodly person.

It seems to me the inward man of Romans 7 is no longer self-deceived as the inward man of Romans 1 was, given over to the dominion and power of reigning sin. And his lack of self-deception in fact demonstrates he is a justified man.

As Mark Dever has said, the mark of having beleived the gospel is the new life in Christ, the demonstration of faith in the working of love.

November 10, 2004

I've been enjoying some of the recent DC comics, particularly Adventures of Superman, JLA, JLA:Elite, and the new Teen Titans book. The Teen Titans book has recently linked up with the Legion of the Superheroes, and it looks like they are finally getting a revamp to make them interesting again. (I got "into" comics with the "Great Darkness Saga" story of the Legion of the Superheroes back in 10th grade.)

JLA: Elite is intriguing. Its premised on the idea that the Justice League needed a superpowered group that would be unaffiliated politically and be able to operate "underground," infiltrating bad guy's organizations and investigating them and attacking them with stealth and plausible deniability. It seems very much addressed to the current anti-terror/Patriot Act/preemptive strikes zeitgeist. Green Arrow (the "liberal" superhero) and Flash (the "right-wing" superhero) are the only two members of the main JLA to join the group, the rest being new heroes, or "bad guys" who turned good. Their "liaison" with the governments they will be invading to deal with super-powered threats is a Saudi Muslim, who constantly berates the scantily clad superheroines for dressing like "whores".

The book lacks a "Comics Code Seal of Approval" but isn't quite "mature audiences". The team still abides by the DC universe "no killing" superhero rule, and goes to great lengths in the first issue to maintain it, using an elaborate ruse to make a team of assassins they were infiltrating think they were killing off rival assassins to "make the cut" of the team.

A new book is JLA: Classified which is going to be an ongoing series with rotating writers who are writing stories from various eras of JLA history and organization, that don't necessarily fall into DC/JLA continuity. The first issue has a fantastically wierd story by the JLA writer who kicked off the current main series, Grant Morrison (more about him later). The story deals with a team of heroes called the International Ultramarine Corps, who are a almost completely newly devised team of superheroes, but are written as if they're an established part of the DC universe. They're taking over a crisis with Gorilla Grodd while the regular JLA seems to be "away" somewhere. They get in over their heads, and Batman is called for help. Batman tells Alfred he's opening up the "Sci-Fi Closet", containing all kinds of alien technology Batman would have picked up from JLA adventures, from flying saucers to Boom Tubes. Batman reveals to the Ultramarine who asked for help ("Are you really the Batman?" "No, I'm Goldfishman, can't you tell?") that the JLA is in some other universe and that he will need to activate JLA robots to keep the world from knowing the real JLA isn't around to respond to threats.

Grant Morrison did some really creative and strange work on JLA when it relaunched a couple of years back, and then went on to do an equally creative run on X-men. It seems like more of the "strange" or quirky aspects of the DC universe that got purged in the various Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour simplifications are being reimainged in new but similar forms. Alternate earths, robot duplicates and other bizarre plot devices recur with much more frequency than a decade ago. Part of this is a reaction I'm sure to the trend towards "grim and gritty" back in the late eighties, and then the subsequent implosion of the comics industry in terms of sales, and the loss of most of the younger readers of comics. Recapturing a sense-of-wonder in comics is part of a move toward going back to what made comics compelling for young readers.

Alan Moore has been mining the fifties/sixties parallel universe and talking monkeys and robot butler tropes in Tom Strong lately. I came across an article in Arthur Magazine interviewing Alan Moore, where he talked of his practice of actual occult magic, which he related to his interest in parallel universes as a thematic element of his writing. (My blog entry about the article was in May 2003.

Well I picked up another free copy of Arthur Magazine and the cover story was an interview with Grant Morrison, who also explained how he is a practitioner of "actual" magic, following Aleister Crowley and deciding it was for real when he summoned an actual demon. I found it interesting that Morrison, though I gather involved with magic from a younger age in his career than Moore, seems to have come into the same point in his experience with practicing it. Moore and Morrison both describe that they worked on explicitly political books (for Moore V for Vendetta, and for Morrison The Invisibles) oriented towards anarchism and rebellion against the establishment, but came to see that "its all good" (or all bad) and seemed to retreat into much more placid realms where the focus was on fantasy and bizarreness.
The Invisibles comes to the conclusion that the bad guys are us. And as I say in >The Invisibles, are there any years where there are no policemen born? I began to question everything about the counterculture I belonged to, why they kicked police horses in the streets, and why they smashed buildings, and what they were actually achieving? Or were they just part of a bigger system that used these checks and balances in order to propel itself forward through the stages of its mega-development? And once I'd really grasped everything as a vast, intricate, and singular process that's operating perfectly, I couldn't hate the cops anymore. I couldn't hate George Bush anymore than a Helper T-cell hates a Hunter/Killer. I saw him inextricably bound in a web of circumstance that forced him to be whom and where he was, exactly like me, and exactly like you, and exactly like Naomi Campbell. We all do our bit.
This all puts a slightly different spin on Morrison's JLA story about an attack on the earth by the angels of heaven, ready to bring the apocalypse earlier than the JLA liked.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the new Legion of the Superheroes series. The set-up seems to be that the utopia of the 31st century is dull and safe, and so the Legion is a new youth movement recapturing a past "heroic age" of Earth's history, and causing consternation with the fuddy duddies of the future.

For some reason, we keep reading Jesus in John's Gospel saying that the Father draws people to the Son, and we keep talking about the Spirit working regeneration in the hearts of the elect. Why? It seems we should rather say the Father works that regeneration.

If the Father works regeneration, can we then say that the unregenerate have every blessing of the Holy Spirit, but when the evidence their lack of rgeneration in their ultimate apostasy, it is because they were never regenerated by the Father.

This is probably all to "neat" and probably raises issues with trinitarian theology

Kim Riddlebarger, in arguing for infant baptism, cites Kline approvingly
What the apostle meant when he said that the fathers were baptized into Moses in their passage under the cloud and through the sea was that the Lord thereby brought them into an ordeal by those elements, an ordeal through which he declared them accepted as the servant people of his covenant and so the authority of Moses, his mediatorial viceregent. We would judge, therefore, that for Paul, as for Peter, the sacrament of Christian baptism signified a trial by ordeal and that the term baptidzo, in its secondary technical usage, had reference to the ordeal-character of a person's encounter with the baptismal element
Baptism is thus a forensic act of declaring a person accepted as part of the family of God?

When the elect lose their election, they demonstrate they were never one of the elect to begin with.

FV proponents also define the covenant as essentially a vital relationship between God and the covenant member. Downplayed are the legal and forensic dimensions of the covenant.
One of the great things about Federal Vision covenant theology is that it comes out of theonomy and reconstruction. We are put into a covenant with God, but the personal relationship with God isn't the main thing in the covenant: its all the legal stipulations we are put under and the blessings for obedience and sanctions for disobedience. As Rushdoony says, the Law is what delineates the meaning of love. Lots of people in the reformed camp go one about the feelings they have of the love of God expressed in covenant, but they ignore or downplay the legal aspects of it.

A covenant means we know whether we're standing in the love of God or not. We are the vassals of our great suzerain, and our relationship is constituted by the legal form of the relationship. We might even say, as Leithart intimates, that the relationship is coextensive with our adherence to the stipulations and receipt of the sanctions of the covenant.

The Federal Visionists like Wilson need to work a bit harder on one of the main analogies they use for covenant: marriage. Many marriages suffer under the notion that union with the spouse is some kind of mystical or spiritual bond of love, and have not taken the proper steps to have extensive stipulations within the marriage as to the defined nature of the covenant, to emphasize its legal nature and allow for forensic determination of its existence. I believe Wilson is working on a new book in his reforming marriage series where he will argue that probably 80% of Christian marriages are invalid, and the participants are in effect living in sin (though of course in ignorance, so not culpable for now). When his book comes out (April 31st, 2005) it will include four different stipulated marriage covenants (one of which is based on the 5 point covenant model favored by Gary North) so there will be a lot to choose from.

From the MVP New Perspectives Committee Report we have this
[Federal Vision] proponents also define the covenant as essentially a vital relationship between God and the covenant member. Downplayed are the legal and forensic dimensions of the covenant. Membership within the covenant is conceived in an undifferentiated manner: the distinction between a non-communicant and a communicant member of the church is either downplayed or eliminated.
This is another way of saying, hey, these guys support paedocommunion. But also consider what the circumlocution about "undifferentiated" covenant membership is saying about there own position: that there are members of the covenant that have no communion with the other members or with God. That's a stark admission.

Also note the lack of any footnotes or references in the entire document. Maybe those are forthcoming at a later date

November 09, 2004

Belmont club has excellent blog coverage, btw. Linked there was healingiraq, with a list of the demands of the Fallujah rebels
-A clear timetable for the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces (fair enough).
-Immediate withdrawal of US and Iraqi security forces from the Anbar governorate and the handover of security responsibilities to former army officers from Anbar.
-The appointment of ministers from the Anbar governorate to the ministries of Interior, Defense, Oil and Finance.
-The removal of certain officials (most of them from Shi'ite Islamic parties such as Ibrahim Al-Ja'fari) from governmental positions.
-The complete return of Ba'athists, army officers, Republican Guards, Mukhabarat, intelligence and security personnel to their former positions.
-The removal of Shi'ite Edhan (call for prayers) from official television and radio programs.
-Incomes of Shi'ite sacred shrines should be returned under the control of the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs.
That's why negotiations "broke down"

Doing some searching around the web for information on the targeting of Fallujah hospital, and the rationalle. Came accross this articleby Bruce Kennedy
Mainstream media, including CNN, BBC and Sky are reporting that the "terrorists" may use civilians as human shields. Anyone who knows anything about the Mujahideen or Islamic rules of engagement know this is a completely false statement. Mujahideen by the very nature of the path of Jihad that they follow are dedicated to the protection of the innocent. This is blatant "spin" to explain away any civilian casualties reports that do make it out as many civilians are still caught inside the city.
Kennedy's tagline indicated he was with "JUS". What was that? Another google entry showed it was Jihad Unspun, which seems to be mostly a pro-jihad site. This article takes a very much anti-american view
We as Muslims are obliged to support our Mujahideen; we should pray for their victory - they are our boys! Our boys are those who bow down towards Mecca not towards the Bars and the Clubs. It is our obligation to be with the camp of the believers and fight the belligerent infidels and their treacherous apostates.
Interesting to me was the beginging of the article, pointing out that the month of Ramadan commemorates the victory of Muhammed over a vastly more numeroud force with a tiny group of soldiers. (Funny how we're not hearing the "don't attack during Ramadan" complaint this time around). Maybe this is a form of propoganda war itself: the US might be picking Ramadan to overwhelm Fallujah as a way of putting the lie to the ability of jihadists to prevail against overwhelming force because of faith in Allah.

UPDATE: there are claims that Jihad Unspun is a CIA front. Hmmm...

Very informative post on the battle of Falluja at the belmont club.

We certainly went in to Iraq with some naivate and excessive optimism about resistance. But as in WWII we're learning from our mistakes and adapting. American capabilities for warfare (particularly C3I are impressve and frightenting.

November 08, 2004

I'm trying to pay more attention to the conflict in Fallujah than I did to certain aspects of the initial invasion of iraq. I'd like to have more specific knowledge of events as they unfold to evaluate better whether I think this is being mishandled or done in an evil fashion than what my gut instinct tells me.

Dealing with the conflict in a place where many people make their homes and hope to have anormal existance makes combat decisons weighier and ambiguous. In April, ambulances were targetted. If ambulances aren't targetted, then the resistance will use ambulances as ways to move about the city and resupply their forces.

When I read this morning that the main hospital was seized by the US in the first step of the assault, I knew Rahul Mahajan wouldn't be happy.

Civilian casualties are tragic of course. And direct targeting of civilians (as has been alleged by some like Mahajan) is abominable. But these kind of situations also seem to thrive on minisformation and exaggeration to make the attacked force look virtuous in comparison (as seems pretty clearly to have happened in Jenin)

Some questions:

1) Are women in Fallujah willingly acting as sheilds for the fighters?
2) How old are all of the "children" who are accounted as civilian casualties. If the 14-17 year olds are toting AKs thats a bit different than 5 and 10 year olds.
3) When the US has told people to get out of the city first, are there lesser responsibilities to avoid civilian casuaties with those who've stayed behind?
4) We don't like holding people collectivly responsible. Is it necessary in some circumstances to do so though?

The Nov 8 Entry on Iraq at strategypage has some interesting comments on urban combat. Also this

November 04, 2004

Fascinating discussion last night on the PBS Newshour between Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, and Morris Fiorina, author of Culture War: The Myth of a Polarized America.

Barbara Ehrenreich is clearly unhinged by the support Bush got, as this exchange demonstrates:
GWEN IFILL: Barbara Ehrenreich, this wasn't only a religious split; we also saw in these polls a split between the married and the unmarried. What did you make of that?

BARBARA EHRENREICH: That's still something of a mystery. I think unfortunately one thing it speaks to, in the case of women, is that women continue to have less authority or influence within a marriage, tend to be [the] economically worn down person and accept the views of the male.
I don't know what she's talking about. I voted like my wife told me too.

Of course, the real matter is that in a marriage, even if there are political differences, they can be discussed by both partners in an atmosphere of mutual love, instead of one of suspicion, antithesis, and spin, which is more true in general life. And the trend of the single women voting Democrat in greater proportions than the married has been remarked on before. One reason is probably the vulnerability that single women feel compared to married women, with a corresponding need to look to government in a paternalistic way to protect their lifestyle.

November 03, 2004

Interesting article by game designer Greg Costikyan talking about games as a "cultural elaboration," the zone of things that humans do (like eating) that becomes elaborated by a tradition or by intentional design into a cultural artifact, (like a cuisine).

Games can be defined as a cultural elaboration of "play", under this understanding. Its also becomes more distinguishable from story (a big bugaboo in current games design: (computer) game designers want to be the "new Hollywood").

I've recently acquired the War of the Ring game and got to play a few turns of it. Obviously the influence of the story is important in a game like that, which seeks to evoke the story of the books, but I was intrigued by the gameplay and balance of resources (how much should the Shadow allocate towards hunting for the Ring, when that will limit his ability to press a military attack. The challenge of skill and planning is very different from the enjoyment of reading the story.

The gameboard pictured is for Phalanx Game's Revolution about the Netherlands during the 80 years war. Disappointing to find out this game will only be available via mailorder from phalanx games in Europe, and cost %0 euros as a result. Only 5000 copies are being printed because it is not expected to be a hot item.

I still haven't played Phalanx's Age of Naopleon, which is a shame because it looks really good. It uses cards to move the flow of the game along, which is a n increasingly popular method of game design for the conflict simulation gamers these days. It leads to more flavor with less time investment I think is the primary advantage. Few have time for the weekend long World In Flames games anymore.

GMT Games shipped me the card-based Paths of glory which I bought with their Project 500 plan. They minimize the risk in producing new games or reprinting old ones (PoG is a reprint) by requiring at least 500 people to order the game in advance of producing it and pay for it, so they have guaranteed sales. You get a discount for ordering ahead, depending on how far in advance you order it. The price still is a bit higher than some discounters offer, but then the game actually comes out with the vote. They also included a "thank you for buying our games" note that was really nicely written and made me happy just to read how pleased they were at having me as a customer

Today I played the Omaha Beach scenario for Memoir '44 at lunch and lost as the Germans. My card draws were never really good, and my opponent twice drew "Their Finest Hour", and wiped out my left flank. Loosing the Omaha Beach scenario will not bode well for my standing in the campaign game, since it's supposed to favor the Germans. Lots of fun as a game though. The game turning quality of bad card draws in Battle Cry has been ameliorated (Memoir '44 and Battle Cry are by the same designer and are similar in design).

So that's all the game news for now.

So I was going to post my thoughts on the election this morning, but blogger was not letting me. I assume many other bloggers were trying the same thing this morning, and that led to a holdup, which is strange to contemplate.

Some thoughts:

Bush really mobilized the evanglicals, catholics, and cultural conservatives that "sat on their hands" during the 2000 election. There were many reasons that that would have happened in 2000, when Bush was untried and made so many noises towards the center (the DoE, vague "faith-based" notions, lack of clear support for pro-life causes, "compassionate" conservatism as an implicit critique of the regular kind). But evangelicals seem to be more comfortable with Bush now, either as David Brooks argues, as a leader, or more generally, as one who seems to be doing things they like more.

Dan Rather's hokey aphorisms were amusing, and a reason to watch his broadcast. I took one of his suggestions to heart, which was to pop the top on an adult beverage and sit back for a long night.

ABC news really had quite a command center for the election. Really way overdone with the central circular anchor desk and enourmous display screen.

November 01, 2004

My wife was walking home past a daycare center in our neighborhood. She overheard two African American women who worked there discussing the election.

One said "Our pastor was telling us we really need to prayerfully consider which of the candidates will best stand up for the things the bible teaches"

The other replied that "Well, that would be president Bush, because he's doing the right thing about protecting the life of unborn babies."

Cool. There's actually a Republican alternative to Chaka Fattah on the balot this year, Stewart Bolno.

Fattah is so extremely pro-abortion he was one of only 13 members of the house to vote against the Born Alive Infants protection act

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