Monday, December 12, 2005

Okay, Just Some Thoughts from Church Today

I have so many things to think about after church today that I feel like I may burst.

I feel more and more like an outsider looking in, that I am now too aware of the modus operandi of the language used, the assumptions, and the general way things are done.

1) Are you aware of the term "othering?" It is used in the world of literary criticism and it refers to the way we tend to label ourselves as one group, and everyone else as "other." An example would be the European races and black, or European and Asian. The blacks and Asians in these cases would be "others." We see it in politics all the time - Republicans tend to "other" Democrats and vice versa. Well, I noticed it blatantly in church today. Bring those "dirty fish" into the church and "we" will clean "them" up. Ask God to show you what areas those "others" need prayer for, and surprise them with your insight. This is what has bothered me for a long time - the thought that "we" Christians know so much better than those "others" how to love, how to pray, and generally how to run their lives.

2) The belief that "I" will be held responsible for others' salvation. In Ezekiel 33:7-9, God tells Ezekiel that if he doesn't warn his people of their bad behavior, their blood will be on his head. Also, if he does warn them and they don't repent, they are not responsible. Well, this was fine for Ezekiel under the Old Covenant, I suppose, with Old Covenant Israel, which has been wiped off the map now. But salvation is God's problem, not mine. The implication here is that we are indeed saved by works, if I am to be held responsible for others' salvation. Is it grace, or works? One or the other? Look, I don't need that responsibility. "My yoke is easy and my burden is light," indeed. That doesn't sound like a light burden to me, carrying the weight of everyone else's salvation.

3) Another assumption from the pulpit that recent world events indicate we are living in "the last days," as if no other view is possible. We have such a short view of history. Our times are nothing compared to centuries of history past. The tsunami last year, the hurricanes, the war, even Israel becoming a nation, may not (and I believe personally that they do not) have any meaning relative to the "last days." As a Preterist, I believe all (or most) of prophecy has been fulfilled in Christ. I do not believe we are living in the "last days." Do I ever hear this view even hinted at as a possibility? No. I would probably be labeled a heretic in American Evangelical circles, because these people are not aware of the short (less than 200 year) history of dispensationalism, and the rich history of preterism in the church. Christians don't read, they are not informed for the most part. It's all "God told me" or "God showed me" this or that. Always relying on emotions, discounting the intellect.

4) This is largely a game, this church thing. There are roles to be played, there is expected behavior, and there is no room for questioning why we believe what we say we believe. I am seeking intellectual discussion; I don't need weepy-sounding prayers and emotional appeals. I need to be challenged to think. Where can one enter into a real discourse in the church?

Well, that's it for now. I don't think I have much of a future in the Evangelical church world.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I Don't Trust Teetotalers

I am not a heavy drinker. On those doctor forms that ask you how much alcohol you consume in a week, I would have to say 0-1, but it’s actually about .25. That is, I have a couple of glasses of wine (red or white) a month on the average. I am being honest; I have nothing to lose or gain by lying about my alcohol use. However, even with how little I drink, I will always trust a drinker over a non-drinker. I believe people who drink even as little as I do are more educated, tolerant, and less prone to lying than those who do not drink at all.

Take, for example, the attitude that many non-drinkers hold toward alcohol. Let us exclude those that do not drink because of an addiction problem. They have a legitimate excuse. The rest of the non-drinkers tend to approach alcohol with a pre-suppositional bias that drinking is inherently wrong. What moral code they base this on is unclear. Though many people have an innate (though they may not know it) moral code that is based on Judeo-Christian values, nowhere in the Bible is there an injunction against drinking. There are several passages that warn against drunkenness, but this is common sense. Not many people believe that being drunk is any way to go through life, and most regret their time of drunkenness after the fact. It is well known that Jesus Christ’s first recorded miracle was turning vats of water into wine at a wedding feast. And this was no ordinary boxed wine: this was the best quality wine. So, right off the bat, people who hold a grudge against drinking for moral reasons prove that they are uneducated, since the most influential man in history put his stamp of approval not only on drinking wine, but preferably good wine, showing additional taste and class.

Many people who do not drink show arrogance because there is always a perceptible snobbishness, or superior air, that emanates from these non-drinkers. “What are you drinking?” the educated drinker asks. “A caffeine free Diet Coke,” the teetotaler responds. “I don’t drink.” Now it’s time to order dinner. “A New York steak, medium rare,” the drinker states. “Just a salad,” utters the non-inbiber, adding, “Do you have just a vegetable plate?” Here surfaces another point that the non-drinker uses as a step from which to look down their noses at the drinker. Vegetarianism often goes hand-in-hand with non-drinking, creating more of a reason to not trust this person because they will surely always judge you as inferior. Most vegetarians inherently carry this trait, and it usually extends to their holding you in silent contempt. This will, in order, cause them to hold back from ever revealing their true feelings to you.

How about those people who don’t drink because, as they put it, “I don’t like the taste”? This demonstrates a lack of ambition and motivation on their parts. A cultivated palate is a sign of class, patience, and endurance. Many of the finer things in life, such as cigars and alcohol, require patience and a willingness to cultivate a taste for them. The educated person recognizes that these handcrafted items take time and skill to perfect, and the sharp mind is prone to be drawn to their pleasures. “I don’t like the taste” is the voice of a dullard, and the type of person who thinks Macaroni and Cheese is haute cuisine and laments the day “The Beverly Hillbillies” left the airwaves. It is hard to trust these people, because they make judgments without having all the facts or the patience to discover them.

Educated drinkers, on the other hand, are often from family backgrounds that did not place an anathema on alcohol. I was twelve when my Italian grandmother poured me my first glass of Cold Duck. It was expected that I should learn to cultivate a taste for wine early, so she started with some admittedly cheap wine but I believe this was to slowly get me acclimated to be able to appreciate finer wine later on. I regret I never had the decency to thank her. There was never any “attitude” or fear on the part of my family members when I requested wine at the dinner table. Since it was associated with the family meal, this was also a way to teach me that wine has its place on the table alongside salt, pepper, butter, and other condiments. It is best enjoyed with food. Since my family was willing to trust me to handle wine responsibly, I knew I could trust them.

Wine drinkers also, with time, learn that certain wines go best with certain foods. We learn that a Chardonnay is best with fish or chicken, and that a Merlot is wonderful with a Filet Mignon. Later, we discover other subtleties that lead us to a Pinot Noir or a Pinot Grigio. This is evidence of a patient, teachable spirit, one that is open and unprejudiced in its learning. People with these spirits are by far more honest and trustworthy than those who do not share this trait.

What is better to share with a friend when a long, honest talk is called for? Can you imagine hearing, “Sit down and let’s share this two-liter bottle of Diet Rite while we talk about our lives”? For heaven’s sake, no! I could not trust this person with my intimacies. First of all, this demonstrates an utter lack of education as to the harmful effects of ingesting such a large quantity of carbonated, synthetic beverage at once. This person would likely be more focused on their gas then they would my issues. What then? Of course, a bottle of wine is called for in such an instance. There is nothing better to open up conversation, reveal truth, and engender trust than sharing a bottle of wine with a close friend. The warm joy that comes from knowing you are casting your pearls before an educated, appreciative, patient, and enduring soul is the stuff long friendships are made of.

Drinkers are invariably your best friends. They are honest, trustworthy, educated, artistic, and appreciative of higher things. Teetotalers are boorish, will judge you, appreciate only their own snobbery, and have no tolerance for high culture. Educated drinkers and generally not drunkards, because they are smart enough to know when enough is enough. Teetotalers, on the other hand, will usually go from nothing to complete biliousness should they ever take a drink because they lack the brains and class to know any better.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Low Blow to Dispensational Theology

by Virgil Vaduva, Planet Preterist Columnist (

For the past several days Americans and the rest of the world have been bombarded by the media with images and sounds of the “Jew-on-Jew” abuse taking place in the Gaza strip. True to his word, Ariel Sharon has started the evacuation of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Gaza Strip and the media is giving him hell for it. But surprisingly we haven’t heard a peep out of our Dispensationalist friends who usually are so savvy and up to date with Middle-East events. Oh why, you may ask?

What is happening currently in the Middle East, and more precisely, the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Gaza territories is sending Dispensational theology back into the dark corner that it came out of. The self-made millionaire Hal Lindsey hasn’t said much regarding this issue and his website has been strangely mum regarding the Gaza events. Instead, him and his associate Jack Kinsella are covering the “Intelligent Design” debate and generic news items that have absolutely nothing to do with prophecy or Dispensationalism. Granted Lindsey has written a short “commentary” on how appalled he is at the change in the attitude of President Bush, he fails to put these events in a “prophetic perspective.” Could this attitude have anything to do with all his failed predictions that never came true?

Another friend of ours, Mr. Jack Van Impe has also been quiet about what is happening in Israel failing to utter a single word regarding the relevance of the events currently taking place in Israel.

But why does all this matter you may ask? Why it matters is very simple. Dispensational “theologians” have been practicing news-driven theology for decades. If a fly landed on a camel’s bottom in Israel, then the experts were to proclaim the fulfillment of such-and-such prophecy. When the 1967 and 1973 wars started and Israel displayed a solid retaliatory response against Egypt, this was according to these experts, solid proof that God stood behind the nation of Israel. This was nothing but evidence given by God himself to humanity that Israel is still the chosen people of God and that Gaza belongs to the Jewish people.

For decades they have applied loose and ridiculous methods of interpretation, if it can even be called that, to the Scripture in order to conveniently place their prophetic views in whatever contemporary scenario they found themselves in. Therefore it should not come as a surprise when the first thing that comes to my mind is a willingness to question these charlatans and give them a taste of their own medicine.

So folks, the question that our dear Dispensationalist celebrities need to answer is this: If the six days war had such a huge prophetic relevance in favor of your Dispensational theology, what kind of prophetic relevance does the withdrawal from Gaza have, because it certainly looks to me like, God-forbid, it does not favor your prophetic vision of universal war and destruction at all. Instead, it looks like this is a low blow to Dispensational theology? What say you?

Monday, August 01, 2005

What is Up With Worship?

It happened again. This past Sunday, during the offering, the Worship Team was singing a typical pop-Christian song. While being distracted by the bald man "greeting" the couple in the pew ahead of us with a voice so high in volume my wife couldn't stand it and had to momentarily leave, I glanced up at the projected lyrics on the screen. Superimposed on the low-tech, rolling wave video were a group of lyrics, presumably sung to the Lord God, that began with the non-word "'Cos." Not the short term for comedian Bill Cosby, but presumably the slang abbreviation for "because."

I can now add this to my list of non-words seen on overheads during worship, which include "gonna," "wanna," and "na na na-na-na-na na."

The future of worship: "Trust 'n' Obey," "'Cos He Lives," "Magnify the Precious Name O' Jesus," "The Ol' Rugged Cross."

Far cry from "How Great Thou Art." Or maybe "How Great Are Ya?"

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Sola Scriptura, Part II

Found this quote from

"Catholicism doesn't run into this interpretive crisis/chaos due to the fact that it recognizes "tradition" as authoritative, prescriptive, and instructive. Thus, not all interpretive methods are equal. A singular interpretive tradition is preeminent, and that interpretive tradition has been passed down through--and safeguarded by--the Church."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Sola Scriptura

I have come to a place where I no longer accept this basic tenet of Protestantism. I believe Sola Scriptura is a self-refuting concept. The Old Testament, by long tradition, was the accepted Word of God and was held intact by careful preservation through the ages. All references in the New Testament to the "Word" refer to this body of work. The New Testament, as we know it today, did not exist in its present form until at least 300-400 A.D. As such, it is incomplete (Paul's reference to an earlier Corinthian letter, for example). There is still debate between Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants about the Apocrypha. In brief, we did not receive the books of the Old or New Testament out of the sky, directly from God's hand in either King James or NIV language. These books (particularly the New Testament) were chosen for inclusion based on men's (or more specifically, the church's) traditions. Therefore, Sola Scriptura has attached to it, umbilically, the tradition of the church as to what should be included. Luther himself even disputed the inclusion of James, and Revelation through the ages was much disputed. So, we must respect church tradition when considering our present Bible.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Galileo Problem

Clearly, the Church has not always been correct. Take, for example, the geocentric view of the universe (the Earth is at the center of all things).

There are verses in Chronicles and Psalms that mention the earth standing firm on its foundations (I Chronicles 16:30; Psalms 93:1;96:10;104:5) and there is a passage in Joshua that had him commanding the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12-13) implying, of course, that it was the sun which rotated around the earth. A careful reading of Scripture seems to place the Earth at the center of everything, and proposes that the Earth is indeed flat (references to the "foundations of the Earth," "the four corners of the Earth," etc.) This is what the Christian church believed (and everyone else, surely) for thousands of years. In the Christian church's case, they believed this for at least 1600 years. It is plain that the Earth has no foundation in the builder's sense, and the shape of the Earth is not in question. The Bible, literally, says the Earth is little more than 6000 years old. This is plainly ridiculous.

Polish astronomer Copernicus, in the 16th century (Luther's time), put forth the heliocentric view of the Universe (the Sun was at the center). Galileo, in 1602, expanded upon this theory and was roundly excommunicated. He was finally reinstated in the late 20th Century to the Church's good graces. Even Luther, Protestantism's great founder, thought Copernicus to be an "upstart astrologer" and a "fool." Luther had opinions. Luther was wrong. The Church thought the Earth was central to the Universe. The Church was dead wrong for over 1600 years.

Now, that being said, I believe the spirit of God did inspire the Bible writers, but only within the sphere of knowledge they had at the time. That is, God did not speak to them about integral calculus, or Einsteinian relativity, because that knowledge had not been discovered by man yet. A heliocentric, spherical Earth worldview would have been as foreign to the Bible writers as the concept of an ATM. So, God only gave the basics. This is why I think it is foolish to ascribe "literalness" to the Bible regarding the creation of the world. It is in simplified form, for a people who had no idea of hydrogen fusion going on in the sun, or of circular orbits of the planets around the sun, or of a day representing a period of the Earth's rotation, or a year representing the period of the Earth's solar orbit.

Friday, June 17, 2005


When did rock and roll become the official worship style of Protestant churches? Why do I have to endure non-words like "gonna" and "wanna" and "na na nananana na" in worship? Why do mike checks and sound checks and "worship rehearsal" take all the fun and joy out of worship? Why do we spend precious time adjusting monitors, and amps, and getting a substitute bass player? What if...horrors...we just worshipped through song? No instruments? What if, like, the congregation carried worship and not the Protestant, hip, rock and roll band? Who gave anyone permission to replace the theologically-filled hymns with lightweight Christian pop? To "appeal to the youth?" Heck with 'em.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I am Now an English Major

I recently changed my major from Math to English. I believe I can excel at English. To continue in Math, while possible, would have extended my education beyond my planned May 2007 graduation date. I need to go back to work.

I feel much better now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

School is Hard

I am in the midst of finals at CSUDH. I am a Math major, with a Theater minor. It has not been a fun semester. In fact, it has been so not fun I am thinking of changing my major to English. I think I can still get out in two years.

Highlight of this semester was doing A Doll's House at the Edison Theater at school. Everything else blew.

Just Got Cast

My wife and I just got cast in the Torrance Theater Company's production of The Nerd, to be produced in July. We are playing husband and wife, Waldgrave and Clelia. It is a crazy show, rated PG for some mild language (mostly by my character). But it is funny.

Also tried out for Camelot for the same company. I have July and August off from school so I am trying to have fun. I love doing theater, and I love the people in this company.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My Spiritual Journey

Last three years -

It started with a reevaluation of eschatology (last days study). Consider this verse from I Cor. 10:11: "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come." Now, Paul believed he was in the time of the end, or "fulfillment of the ages." He did not speak these words to us in the 21st century, but rather to the Corinthians in the First century. That's plain. If he was wrong, then the information was recorded in the Bible correctly, but the information itself is wrong. On the other hand, if Paul was correct and the words are correct, then we have to look at 70 AD as "the fulfillment of the ages," since most people living during this time would have seen this momentous event take place - the physical destruction of Israel and the entire Old Covenant system. Where do we go from here?

Did Paul and the apostles believe they were writing Scripture? I don't know. Would they be horrified that we have collected their writings and call it "The New Testament" today, treating it as God's Word? I don't know.

Most Christians, while saying they believe the Bible is God's inerrant word, do not really believe that. Jesus said divorcing and remarrying is adultery, period. Yet how many pastors, elders, deacons, et al, are on their second, third, or more marriages? We seem to give light credence to that particular condition (right out of Jesus' mouth), yet get in a frenzy when someone contradicts Paul's words. Interesting.

We also know that Paul preferred the single life to marriage, and recommended it (I Cor 7:1). This sure flies in the face of "be fruitful and multiply," yet there are many Christian leaders who go so far as to say it's practically sinful to limit your children to a fixed amount. Here, they seem to favor the Genesis admonition to Paul's advice. So, I guess it works both ways.

Bottom line: we all pick and choose our Bible verses, which to believe, which to overlook. To paraphrase the late Pope John Paul II, we practice cafeteria-style Christianity. All of us.

What's the answer? Beats me. I just default to knowing nothing else but "Jesus Christ, and him crucified."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

My View on the Schiavo Case

First of all, it's pronounced "shee ah vo" or "ski ah vo," depending on geography. Just like it's spelled. I have a hard time listening to anyone's view if they can't get past the pronunciation. It tells me they aren't thinking clearly to begin with.

A feeding tube for a temporary condition is one thing. A feeding tube for 15 years and on is just...well, it's artificially keeping someone alive. Frankensteinian.

With electrical impulses you can make a heart beat outside the body. Should we keep the heart hooked up forever?

We have these powers and we are using them to prolong death, not life. Like with everything else, we have a choice. I subscribe to the "Prairie Rule." Let me explain.

If you were living on the prairie during the 1800s, and you were conked on the head or likewise had some injury that left you unable to eat or drink, with limited mobility, unable to other words, brain damaged...what would happen? Would you think God would wish for some grotesque, unnatural way to keep you alive, just for the sake of saying "Look! We are keeping her alive!" Or would you just pass quietly, when it was your time? Is that not God's timing?

I believe Terri should be left to go naturally, if that is her caregiver's choice. No one can say for certain what her wishes were or are. She is under the care of her husband. So, I say he is within his rights. If he wished to prolong her life, then fine. But if legally he has the choice, then I am fine with whatever he chooses.

Certainly, I would be thrilled beyond measure to see Terri sit up, be restored and declare that God had healed her. Let it happen. God can do it. If it doesn't happen, then if/when she expires naturally, I will be at peace knowing it was her time to go.