WAR- WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, SAY IT AGAIN-
AQUINAS, THOMAS- Thomas is considered to be one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. Born in Naples around 1225, he studied in Cologne under the Dominican order. During Thomas lifetime there was a rediscovery of the ancient writings of the philosopher Aristotle. Thomas would write commentaries on the philosophy of Aristotle and he would attempt to introduce reason into the arguments to prove the existence of God. He was a follower of that form of Christian teaching called ‘scholasticism’ this method used reason and logical debate to arrive at truth. Other scholars would reject this method [Bonaventure] they felt that using these rational methods was a contradiction to faith. Thomas would become famous for his ‘five ways’ also referred to as Natural Theology. Thomas taught that there were 5 basic ways man could examine the natural created order and come to a rational belief in the existence of God; Thomas taught that the first cause of all things had to be God, you logically needed a first ‘causer’ to start the ball rolling [prime mover]. John Duns Scotus was a contemporary of Aquinas and he disagreed with the scholastic method. Scotus would become famous among the Franciscans; Aquinas would be famous among the Dominicans. Today many Catholic scholars pride themselves in being ‘Thomistic’ in their thought. Thomas also spoke much about ‘just war’ theory, originally introduced by Augustine. He taught that the means of war had to be just in order for the war itself to be ‘justified’; in today’s wars [Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan] I believe the use of unmanned drone attacks that kill civilians can be considered an unjust method. Thomas’ great works are Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae, Thomas is called the ‘angelic doctor’ of the Catholic faith.
(1439) WHY ARE WE STILL KILLING INNOCENT AFGHAN/MUSLIM PEOPLE? The other day I read a few papers that built up over a few days at my doorstep. One day an article read ‘4 people killed in Afghan attack’ and the article went on to say that the coalition forces shot into a car and killed 4 people; the local authorities insisted these were innocent civilians- our side said we looked into the identity of the victims using high tech fingerprinting technology and that 2 of the 4 were enemy combatants. The local authorities said not only were the 4 people innocent civilians, but one was a cop, the other a 12 year old boy. The paper from the following day said ‘the 4 people were civilians- one a cop, the other a small boy’ any explanation for why we lied? Any questioning on how we were so quick to produce high tech evidence on the guilt of these people? Any major news coverage, you know pictures of the shot up vehicle? What about any media pressure at all about the presidents promises to end these atrocities? The media does not care about reporting stories that under the previous administration were considered highly important, how many main stream news stories of bombings and deaths and burning vehicles have you seen lately? The media has attached itself to the side of an administration to the point where atrocities are not being reported. Understand, the Afghan president has been under tremendous pressure over these incidents; he has made his concerns known over and over again; how have we responded? The other week we sent some top aides to the country, they publicly portrayed the Afghan leader as corrupt [as most of them are] we then made the story about the corruption of the Afghan leader. How did he respond? He threatened to join the Taliban. These last few months many big mistakes and problems have arisen in these wars, things that would have normally caused the Democrats to go on a war path, the Harry Reids of the day going on national TV and proclaiming ‘we have lost the war’. But they have been mute on the subject, portraying any criticism as either being racist, or the party of no. Right now they are attempting to pass financial reform, some think it will do the job, others think it’s problematic. The reform would create a 50 billion dollar account to ‘liquidate’ big financial institutions if they got into trouble, sort of a bailout program that would prevent another major disaster. Some feel we should not promise any bailouts at all, that to give this guarantee to the big banks, while not giving it to the smaller ones, that this would give an unfair advantage to the bigger banks- after all people will do business with the firms that have the special bail out provision, plus these banks would be able to borrow at a lower rate than the smaller banks. In essence some think this reform bill is actually unfair and favors the wall streeters in the end. But the media simply reports that those opposed are ‘in bed with wall street’. An independent study just came out and told us that passing health care will add around 350 billion to the cost over the first 10 years, not reduce the cost as promised. The reality is when you rush things thru, in the sense that every program you pass is portrayed as an emergency that can’t wait, then you get childish government; an administration that portrays things in a wrong light, and when the facts come out- there are no questions from the media about ‘who knew what when’ no questions about our continued involvement in the deaths of many, many Afghan civilians, and our lying about it, over and over again! It’s not a onetime occasion, we will not stop doing this- we keep saying ‘the evidence shows us that these people were guilty’ and time and time again the reports later say ‘no, we killed a bunch of women and kids’ how long are we going to keep doing this? This from an administration that condemned the fallout from the previous administrations actions, a man who said we must simply get our troops out of these bad situations [Iraq] because our troops presence stir up animosity. Then why does this president insist on ratcheting up the violence? That country is eventually going to go back into the hands of the Taliban, they rule the entire country right now, all the local tribal type regions have Taliban rule, or are favored by the majority of the people. The Afghans see us as the danger, not them! So why waste any more precious lives of our boys and girls over there? Why keep killing innocent civilians, cops and little boys, and then lying about it? It’s time for us to wake up and let our voices be heard, just like the nonstop opposition on national media during the Bush years, nonstop coverage over these events, questions on who knew what and when. Instead the media has an agenda, they keep reporting on how the republicans are in bed with wall street- I could care less about all the democrats and republicans who are all just as guilty as the next guy, the president himself having taken a million from the most recent wall street firm he has dubbed as the enemy [Goldman Sachs] we need to get back to what’s really important, one of them being the disaster of our current war in Afghanistan.
(1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from 'other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
(1393) POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY- in John chapter 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The news gets back to the religious leaders and they say ‘If this keeps going on, we will lose our influence with the people and the Roman authorities will come and take away our position’ and one of their own, the high priest Caiaphas, says ‘Don’t you guys understand that it is expedient that one should die for the nation, instead of the whole nation suffering’ and John says ‘this spake he by the Spirit, being he was the high priest he was prophesying of Jesus death’. Okay, did the brother realize what he was saying? I doubt it. But he was stating a political reality of the time, that this railroading of Jesus would play a cathartic role for the political times that they were in. I finally watched the interview with the disgraced congressman, Eric Massa. He went on Beck and the whole thing is really a fiasco. Beck was hoping to expose the hidden conspiracies of the administration, instead Massa confessed to tickling his navy bunkmates! The sad thing is, as I listened to Beck, he really believes in many of the conspiracy theories he espouses. It doesn’t help that the president, as well meaning and pluralistic as he is, puts people to work for him that have held fringe beliefs. This allows the Becks of the world to find these hidden treasures [UTUBE] and lo and behold, we have one of his people praising Mau Se Tung, or signing a 911 petition that claims Bush was in on it. What purpose do the Becks of the world [or to be fair, the MSNBC crowd] play? I see them as sort of a cathartic for the people who also hold to their views, it seems to be a necessary evil that allows people to vent, a sort of political necessity if you will. I saw Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy, rebuking the media for their coverage of Massa, while at the same time they have forgotten about the seriousness of the war in Afghanistan and the money and cost of lives on both sides, he was mad and raging on the floor. Though I am not a fan of Kennedy, yet I believe he spoke much truth. I thinks its appalling that the media has dropped the ball on this, every so often a story or so will leak out, a bunch of accidental deaths that our govt. denies being involved with, then a month or so passes and a small report comes out ‘yes, we did accidently kill 40 people’ what? The media seems to not hold the current president accountable in these things. They play sides to the point where real atrocities are glossed over. How many more stories on Sarah Palin’s daughter will they do? They trodded out the ex boyfriend onto the main media outlets to share their dirty laundry. They gave a forum to a disgruntled kid who posed for playgirl, and they keep on doing this stuff. I mean this is the daughter of a ‘private’ citizen for heaven’s sake. How much coverage did they give to the ‘partner’ of Joe Biden’s daughter who made a sex tape with her? How often have you heard the story? How many stories on Chelsea Clintons sex life? MSNBC is just as bad as Beck when they do these things to a girl dealing with all the situations that life can throw at you, and yet from letterman to Chris Matthews to the major news outlets, they have all been guilty of this double standard. Caiaphas saw the writing on the wall, he wasn’t worried about the fact that what he was prophesying was that a corrupt system was going to railroad someone thru a kangaroo court and execute an innocent man, he was simply calculating the political balances of the day ‘will this help or hurt our cause’ type of a thing. They should have been more worried about losing their souls, then their seats in congress.
(1361) EUTOPIA OR BUST- Thomas More, the Catholic churchman who was martyred for his faith by Henry the 8th because he would not assent to the newly formed doctrine of the king of England being the head of the church, wrote the Latin book ‘Utopia’ in the year 1516. Utopia was this fictional island, ruled by ‘king Utopas’ and was the ideal society where wealth and power were not the characteristics of success. They lived a communal life where each person would take yearly turns of working on the farms where the people’s needs were met. No private ownership of property- just everybody living in this ideal world. Marxists would later lay claim to this idea and prove the futility of man in attempting to create this world. Scholars disagree over what More was trying to say; but for sure he was challenging materialistic worldviews and longing for some type of communal society as seen in the book of Acts [everyone sharing in the common purse type of thing]. Yesterday I watched Judd Greg rip thru Peter Orzag. Greg is the top Republican for finances and Orzag was defending the president’s new budget. The budget includes 30 billion for ‘jobs stimulus’ basically another tarp thing for business. The reason Greg was furious is because the tarp law said that any money eventually paid back, by law would have to go to reducing the debt. Instead the president wants to use this money as an open account that could be spent on a regular basis. Why? There are various ways any president can try and boost jobs/economy, you can implement serious fiscal discipline and make it easier for small business to operate [part of the 30 billion for small business] or you could say ‘lets spend tons of federal money on all types of things- 1st time home buyers, cash for clunkers, new billions every year for the next few years until my term runs out’ you can engage in simply digging the country deeper into debt for the next few years and this would initially make things look better. Walla, Utopia is here! When the administration makes the defense ‘we inherited these problems from Bush’ it is usually presented in a way that says the failed economic policies of the past president caused us to be dealt a hand that was bad. Okay, got it. But every president has been dealt some type of hand. Bush did inherit a recession from Clinton, grant it, it wasn’t near as bad as what Obama got, but it was real. Then 911 happened and this tragic event froze the global economy in just as dangerous a way as the banking crisis. And of course we had 2 wars. The point is all these things [except the wars] were also things out of the control of the former president; he inherited things that Obama too would ‘inherit’. But the administration does not include this when they make their case; they simply say it was the failed Bush presidency that led to where we are today. That’s why the blame game doesn’t work too well. We all want Utopia [in a sense] but we live in the real world and we can’t resort to tricks and schemes to make things look better, just for now. These policies often cause the disease to linger on longer than if we let it run its course. Many real estate experts are fearing another big drop [10 %] in home prices for this year. Why? They believe that the delaying of foreclosures and giving low % money and an extra 8 thousand dollar tax credit to buyers, that all these things prevented the market from reaching a real floor in prices, and so the market will still have to balance out and finally reach its low. It would have been better to have swallowed the medicine the first time around. For any president to have a ‘slush fund’ of billions of dollars that the govt. can dole out on a rotating basis is really not playing by the rules. Politically it can make it look like ‘see, we have improved things’ but not only is this fund limited by law from being used in this way, it often delays the real pain for another year- say in a non election one.
(1348) HE’S FOR WATERBOARDING! Well I was up late last night and the upset of the year gave the Massachusetts senate seat to Scott Brown. Okay, the liberal media are in denial. Chris Matthews was coming up with all sort of reasons why this happened; was it because the woman candidate, Martha Coakley [or like Kennedy likes to say ‘Marsha’] brought with her a stern prosecutors personality and Scott was a more down to earth guy? Some surmised that the state really wasn’t ready for a woman senator, and the analyses went on and on. It was quite comical to see Matthews trying to figure out what happened, while on the split screen the Brown supporters are holding up signs that said ‘Was that loud enough’- ‘can you hear us now Washington’! and things to that effect. But the liberal media [by the way, in some ways I’m liberal, others conservative- I prefer to not go by party names] could not accept the reality of a popular groundswell at the grass roots level that is going on in the country. They have tried so hard to demean the ‘tea partiers’ and even label Brown as a ‘truck drivin’ hick’ but they simply can’t come to grips with the fact that many Americans are fed up with all the schemes and secret meetings and messages from Washington elites that simply treat the popular groundswell as ignoramuses. And Norah O’Donnell [MSNBC] says that Brown even supports water-boarding, she said it in a way that made it sound like he’s a nut! Okay, now let’s do some serious stuff. First of all most Americans are not up in arms over pouring water on the faces of terrorists to obtain information, but the liberal media seems to think that this is such a hot topic. Is it fundamentally wrong to do this? Possibly, but what is one million times more wrong is flying these remote control planes [drones] over civilian neighborhoods and regularly blowing away innocent women and children. Now, like I said before I do not fault our heroic service men for this, but the president should stop doing this. I do realize we are targeting terrorists, but we are also killing many innocent women and children when we do this. Why is Obama stepping up these attacks in a much greater way than Bush? Could it be that he needs some good news politically and the death of Bin Laden would surely be an easy comparison of how Bush couldn’t get him in 8 years and we got him in one? I don’t know what the true reason is, but it is much more unjust to ‘accidently’ kill many Muslim/Arab innocent people than to water board a terrorist. I would like to ask Nora O’Donnell and all the talking heads if their families and children were taken by some group, and the group contacted them and said ‘you have 2 options, we water board your kids or drop a drone bomb on them’ how many would opt for the bomb? One night while watching a debate over this issue the ‘supporter’ of water boarding was going back and forth with the anti water boarder, who was a liberal legal scholar. The liberal was asked ‘do you think it was more unjust for us to drop the bombs on Japan and kill a few hundred thousand innocent people, to have caused years and years of slow radiation deaths on the generations of many Japanese people- was that more unjust than water boarding’? And the liberal had the nerve to say water boarding a terrorist was more ‘unjust’. Our problem is we seem to think its okay to actually kill, yes that’s part of war. If you argued with the liberals about how the actual act of killing in war is also a ‘tool’ that the other side uses to recruit, they will readily admit that yes, killing other people groups is a tool-but that’s the price to pay for freedom. But the same people who justify actual killing, also say that Gitmo needs to shut down and we need to stop the horrible practice of water boarding. Even though these tools might have actually helped in some way, yet the tool of water boarding [or Gitmo] is deemed a horrendous thing. Yet these drone attacks are not even questioned by these people. I think we should stop doing these drone attacks if we can’t direct the ‘darn’ things out of the way of innocent people, period.
(1278) 2ND KINGS 19- The king [Hezekiah] sends a messenger to Isaiah the prophet and goes into the house of God to seek the Lord. Isaiah informs Hezekiah that God will defend Judah. Isaiah also gives a rebuke to the king of Assyria. God used this pagan king to judge many nations, in essence he was fulfilling a type of ‘manifest destiny’ [American exceptionalism] and yet he grew proud over his victories. To be honest about it I see some of this going on in our nation at this time. While I do not subscribe to the ultra conservative critics of the president, these past few weeks have convinced me that he has lied to the American public on a huge scale over his willful misrepresentation of the abortion issue [read my recent posts under the abortion section]. I feel there was a disdain towards the Christian community and that the Chicago style politics simply ruled the day ‘hey, if we lie about this, what’s the big deal? We are fighting fire with fire- they lie about us [Fox news, the presidents critics, etc.] so this is simply part of the game’. I feel the president bought into this and at the same time underestimated the role that lying about abortion so it could be federally funded will play in any economic recovery. In essence our country will not recover if we disregard the heritage of Christian morality in this way. So God rebukes the Assyrian king for thinking he could do whatever he wanted and the Lord sends an angel and kills 185 thousand Assyrian troops. The Assyrian king goes home and dies while worshipping at his pagan gods altar. Okay, his arrogance led to a massive troop defeat as well as his own personal demise. One of the other major problems that out country is facing is the military situation in Afghanistan, those of you who have read my site for any length of time know that I do not support this war, I want our troops out. I find it unbelievable that this week the media exposed the fact that our CIA was paying off the brother of Hamid Karzia [the president] who is a drug lord. Some of our troops have died fighting the drug lords, yet our own govt. has them on the payroll. How did the media cover this? If we found this out under Bush/Cheney what would the outrage be? One of CNN’s most able commentators on the Afghanistan war [Michael Ware] said he would be shocked to find out that we weren’t doing this, sort of like it was the right thing to do. Unbelievable. The now famous tour of America by Alexis De Tocqueville in the 19th century has been cited by many historians. He praised our country for many things, but he also warned of ‘the tyranny of the majority’ that is he said that any society that measured right or wrong solely on what the majority wants is doomed to fail. Hezekiah sought the Lord and this made the difference, the nations that ‘forgot God’ and at the same time prided themselves in their military arrogance were judged [I honor our men and women who serve, but for our govt. to be paying those who have killed our men is a travesty!] I think the Old Testament is still relevant today.
(1235) 2ND CORINTHIANS 12- Before I get into a long history discussion with you guys, let’s hit a few verses. Paul says ‘when I was with you, did I gain a profit from you, take advantage of you?’ or ‘when I sent Titus, did he gain a profit from you?’ He then goes on and says the fathers lay up money for the kids, not the other way around. He says he has spent out of his own pocket for them, and he will continue to do so. He says he does all this so people won’t have the excuse ‘he’s just in it for the money’. Notice, Paul himself did not have the common mindset we see in ministry today. Often times financial appeals are made from Paul’s writings in Corinthians, these appeals often say ‘we are not asking for ourselves, but for you’ it is put in a way that says it would be wrong to not take money from people. That in some way not taking an offering would violate scripture. Paul flatly said he did not take money from them for personal use, nor would he. When the modern church uses Paul’s other sayings in this letter to appeal to giving, we need to share ‘the whole counsel of God’ not just a few verses that fit in with what we practice. Now, Paul speaks about being caught up into ‘heaven’ [Gods realm-Paradise] and hearing truths from God that were not lawful for men to speak. He states that God gave him truth that came from Divine revelation. If you skip a few pages over in your bible, you will hit Galatians. In the first chapter he says how after he was converted he did not confer with the other leaders at Jerusalem, but received teaching straight from God. Let’s discuss what revelation is, how we come to know things. The last few centuries of the first millennium of Christian history you had the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ which was a political/religious union of church and state. Under the emperor Charlemagne the territories of the empire were vast. Those who came after him did not have the same control over the regions that were vast. Eventually you had a form of rule arise that was called Feudalism; the sections of the empire that were too far to benefit directly from Rome would simply come under the authority of the local strongman [much like the present dilemma in Afghanistan, I think it’s time to get our boys out of that mess]. People would come under the authority of a ruler and he would lease out land to the citizens and they would benefit from his protection. The citizens were called Vassals and the land was called a Fief. At one point king John of England would do public penance in a disagreement he had with the Pope and all of England would become a Fief under the rule of the Pope. Now, this would eventually lead up to the development of the strong nation states, an independent identifying with your state/region as opposed to being under Rome and the papacy. This type of independence would allow for the 16th century reformation to happen under Luther. If it were not for Frederick the Wise, the regional authority in Germany where Luther lived, he would have never had the protection or freedom to launch his reformation. Luther also had the influence of being a scholar at Wittenberg. Around the 12th-13th centuries you had the first university pop up at the great cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The word university simply meant a co-operative effort from two or more people. It applied to many things besides learning. It was also during this time that the church began to develop a system of harmonizing Christian doctrine; she began to do systematic theology. The writings of the Greek philosophers [Aristotle] were rediscovered after centuries of them being hidden, and the great intellectual Saint Thomas Aquinas would wed Aristotle’s ideas with Christian truth. This became known as Scholasticism. Aquinas believed that men could arrive at a true knowledge of God from pure reason and logic. But man could not know all the truths about God and his nature without ‘special revelation’ [the bible and church tradition]. All Christians did not agree with Aquinas new approach to Christian truth, the very influential bishop Bernard would initially condemn Aquinas over this. Bernard said ‘the faith that believes unto righteousness, believes! It does not doubt’. The Scholastic school taught that the way you arrive at knowledge was thru the continuous questioning and doubting of things until you come to some basic conclusions. These issues would be debated for centuries, and even in the present hour many argue over the issue of Divine revelation versus natural logical reasoning. Tertullian, an early North Afrcian church father, said ‘I believe because it is preposterous, illogical’ he became famous for his saying ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ meaning he did not believe that Greek philosophy should have any part with Christian truth. Origen, his contemporary, believed the other way. So the debate rages on. Why talk about this here? Some believers ‘believe’ in a type of knowledge called ‘revelation knowledge’ they mean something different than the historic use of the term. Historically ‘revelation’ meant that which God revealed to us THRU THE BIBLE, not something outside of the bible. For instance, the first canon of scripture put together was by a man called Marcion. His ‘bible’ contained the letters of Paul and parts of :Luke. He believed the revelation God gave Paul was for us today, not the Old Testament or the historical gospels. He was condemned by the church as a heretic. The point being some took Paul’s writings about receiving knowledge from God as an indicator that what God showed Paul was different than what the church got thru the other apostles. In point of fact the things that God revealed to Paul, or to you or me; all truth is consistent, it will not contradict any other part of Gods truth. Paul’s letters are consistent with the gospels, not in contradiction. When believers cling to an idea that their teachers are sharing ‘special revelation’ or a Rhema word that is somehow above the scrutiny of scripture, then they are in dangerous territory. Paul did appeal to his experience with God as a defense of his gospel, but he backed up everything he said with Old Testament scripture. God wasn’t ‘revealing’ things to Paul that were outside of the realm of true knowable ‘truth’. You could examine and test the things Paul was saying, he wasn’t saying ‘because God showed it to me, that’s why I’m correct’. So in today’s church world, we want all the things we learn and believe to be consistent with what the church has believed thru out the centuries. Sure there are always things that are going to be questioned and true reform entails this, but beware of teachers who come to you with ‘revelation knowledge’ or a ‘Rhema word’ that goes against the already revealed word of truth.