Thursday, December 29, 2005

"All things" or "All [other] things"?

*** The following is a response to TJ’s comment on my previous blog article. If you haven’t already, read the entry directly below this one, OR if you are too lazy to scroll down, click HERE =). If you choose not to read the previous entry, you will be completely lost *innocent grin*


You said: “It seems accepted that "all other" is a valid translation of the Greek word PAN/PANTA, which is the word that appears in Colossians 1:16,17. See, for example, Matthew 26:35 (compare in CEV, NIV, NLT), Luke 11:42 (compare in NIV), and like you pointed out, Luke 13:2 (compare in NIV, NASB, NLT, ESV, NKJV). What made all of these translations use "all other?" Like you said, they "had a valid reason for doing so," the context demanded it. Now let's consider the context of Colossians 1.”

More correctly, the Greek word for “all” here is pas / pasa / pan. The forms of the word that are used in verses 16 and 17 are: panta and panton.

You are correct that context is one aspect of translation, but the grammar and syntax are at the forefront. Otherwise we might allow our presuppositions to override the grammar and syntax of the text (as the Watchtower has done in this instance).

You have offered no grammatical or syntactical reason for translating pas as “all [things].” Your argument rests solely upon the context, specifically with reference to Paul’s use of prototokos, or “firstborn.”

You argue: “So though you interpret Jesus' being "firstborn of all creation" as meaning that he "has the preeminence over all creation," there is more to it. Whenever the Greek word for "firstborn" is used in the Bible, be it in the New Testament writings or in the Septuagint, the person or thing being called "firstborn" is usually the very first one born of the group and so usually receives an elevated status and unique privileges. Sometimes the person or thing is not the actual first one to be born, but for some reason becomes elevated over the group and so receives the title. But in either case, every single instance in which "firstborn" is used, the one being described as such is always a part of the group he/she/it is 'firstborn of.'”

Is it true that “whenever the Greek word for “firstborn” is used in the Bible, be it in the New Testament writings or in the Septuagint, the person or thing being called “firstborn” is usually the very first one born of the group…”? This is absolutely not the case.

Before the New Testament was written there was already a rich background of “firstborn” in the Septuagint (the Hebrew translation of the Scriptures into Greek). It appears about 130 times - half of those appearances coming from the genealogical lists of Genesis and Chronicles, where it uses the standard meaning of “firstborn.” But it has a much more important usage in a number of other passages. The “firstborn” was given a double portion of his inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17; Genesis 27), and received special treatment (Genesis 43:33).

“Firstborn” came to be a title that referred to a position rather than a mere notion of being the first one born. This is seen in many passages in the Old Testament. In Exodus 4:22 for example, God says that Israel is “My son, My firstborn.” Israel obviously wasn’t the first nation that God had “created,” but is instead the nation He chose to have an intimate relationship with. Another example is Jeremiah 31:9, where God says: “For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.” This language is describing Israel’s relationship to God and Ephraim’s special status in God’s sight.

Perhaps the clearest example is Psalm 89:27: “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” This is a messianic Psalm (verse 20; also consider the use of “anointed”), and in this context, David, as the prototype of the coming Messiah, is described as God’s prototokos. The emphasis is clearly upon the relationship God had with David, not with David being made God’s “creation.” David had preeminence in God’s plan and was given the authority over God’s people. The future Messiah would also have preeminence, but an even greater preeminence.

When we look at the New Testament, we find that the emphasis of prototokos is not placed on the idea of birth but instead upon the first part of the word—protos, the “first.” The word emphasizes superiority and priority rather than origin and birth.

Romans 8:29 is a good example of this. The Lord Jesus is described by Paul as “the firstborn among many brethren.” These brethren are glorified saints. Here Christ’s superiority is brought out, as well as his leadership in salvation. Hebrews 1:6 is another example: “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM."” The idea of preeminence is clear, as all of God’s angels are instructed to worship Him (worship is to be given to Yahweh alone – Luke 4:8).

Therefore, the term prototokos is used in Colossians 1 as a title, and not as a reference to origin/birth.

Furthermore, the purpose of Paul in writing Colossians was to defend the superiority of Christ in response to Gnostic concepts. The Gnostics’ dualistic belief-system taught that the physical world (matter, flesh, the world) is evil while the spiritual is good. It is important to recognize that the Gnostics had the problem of explaining how a good God could create a physical, and thus, evil world. Over time they developed the belief that from the one good, pure and spiritual God flowed a series of “emanations” which they called “aeons.” These aeons are godlike creatures, often identified as angels when Gnosticism encountered Jews and Christians. The aeons were less pure than the one true God. Eventually, a “Demiurge” emanated from the one true God. This Demiurge was sufficiently less pure so as to create, and come in contact with, the physical world. The Gnostics of the second century identified this Demiurge as the God of the Old Testament.

One other heresy springing from Gnostic dualism is Docetism, the belief that Jesus Christ did not have a physical body. They believed that Jesus “only seemed” to have a body, but really didn’t. Because Docetists were influenced by the Greek and Gnostic concept of Dualism, they didn’t believe that Jesus had an “evil,” physical body. It is plain that there were Docetics during the time of the apostles:

“2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2-3).

So if we keep in mind that Paul is refuting the forms of Gnosticism that were coming into the Colossian church, we will see that the position taken by those who deny the deity of Christ fall into the same trap of agreeing with the Gnostics against the Apostle Paul! In other words, if we interpret this passage as saying Jesus is a part of the creation, and not the Creator himself, we are left with a Jesus who looks very much like the Gnostic “aeon” that Paul is arguing against.

Once one considers the rich background of prototokos in the Septuagint, and that Paul is refuting the Gnostic heresies that were entering the church, and the context of this text, it is clear that “firstborn” is describing the preeminence of Christ over creation.

One final thought on the immediate context of Paul’s use of prototokos – when you read beyond verse 15, we see “firstborn” used to describe the preeminence of Christ:

“16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,” (Colossians 1:16-19).

Now some brief comments about the Grammar and Syntax …

pas means: “all, every, all things.”

Syntactically, there is no reason to supply “helping” words like “other” to smooth over the translation of Colossians 1:16-17. The text makes perfect sense without inserting “other” following after the four occurrences of pas.

“For by Him all things were created” – the text does not say that He is part of the creation.

“all things have been created through Him and for Him” – Again, nowhere in the text do we find that Christ is a part of creation

“He is before all things” – we are not told that Christ was first created then created everything else

Therefore, grammatically, syntactically, and contextually, pas should be translated in the normal fashion.


Though you have offered a critique of the translation of Colossians 1:16-17, you have not interacted with the main point of my previous blog article: that Creatorship is descriptive of Yahweh alone.

Isaiah 44:24 says: “24Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,””

Yahweh is the maker of all things. He has stretched out the heavens by Himself. He formed the earth all alone.

But then how should we understand Colossians 1? If Yahweh has created all things, by Himself, and all alone – and if Christ is not Yahweh, then Christ has not created all things, like Colossians 1 informs us. How can Paul apply Creatorship to Christ, if Christ is not Yahweh?

As a Trinitarian I have no problem when I compare Isaiah 44:24 with Colossians 1. For surely Yahweh has created all things, by Himself, and all alone – and since the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each divine persons, sharing the one being of Yahweh – then the three divine persons created all things.

The Apostle Paul could not have been more clear as he described Jesus Christ – consider again the words of verse 15: “15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” These words cannot be applied to any mere creature, no matter how exalted. Paul was describing Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yahweh, the Creator of all things

In Isaiah 44:24 we read: “24Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,””

The LORD (“LORD” is translated from the Hebrew word “Yahweh”) is our Redeemer. He is the one who formed us from the womb. Yahweh describes Himself as the “maker of all things.” Yahweh is the Creator, and He has created “all alone.”

Creatorship is a divine quality that can be said of Yahweh alone.

Let’s take a quick look at a passage where the Apostle Paul describes God the Son as Creator of all things … Colossians 1:13-19, 13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,” (NASB).

Verses 13-14 – Christ saved His people from their sins.

Verse 15 – Christ is the image of the invisible God; He is the firstborn over creation, that is to say that Christ has the preeminence over all creation (consider the rest of this passage).

Verse 16 – Christ created all things: things in the heavens, on the earth, visible and invisible, all authorities—all things have been created through/by Him and for Him.

Verse 17 – Christ is before all things; He holds all of creation together.

Verse 18 – Christ is the head of the church; He is the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead; He will have the first place in everything.

Verse 19 – Christ has all the fullness of deity dwelling in Him.

Notice the contrast of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation beginning in verse 16, “16 because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist” (bold emphasis mine).

The NWT inserts the bracketed “other” four times in this text. The reason for this is completely the result of JWitness theology: Jesus Christ (the Archangel Michael) is the first created being by Jehovah.

In an attempt to defend this poor translation of Colossians 1, JWitnesses point out that many modern English translations also supply the word “other,” even though the Greek doesn’t supply it. Luke 13:2 reads: “2And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?” When translating any passage from Greek to English, it is okay to supply certain words to communicate the idea of the text, but there must be a valid reason for doing so. In Luke 13, Jesus asks whether “these” Galileans were greater sinners than all Galileans (obviously talking about Galileans other than “these”) because of their terrible fate. The “other” is implied in Luke 13:2. But in Colossians 1, there is no basis whatsoever for inserting the word “other.” There is no grammatical or syntactical reason for inserting “other” into this text. So rather than Jesus creating all things, the NWT would mislead us to believe that he himself was created and then created all other things. This is a MASSIVE theological change.

Jesus is either Yahweh, Creator all things, or he is part of Yahweh’s creation. There is no middle ground. How vast is the divide between Creator and the created?! It is infinite! For Paul to speak of Christ the way he does in Colossians 1, with the most exalted language, is completely idolatrous if Christ is a mere creature.

Of course Paul was not committing the sin of idolatry, but describing the Son as He truly is: Yahweh, Creator all things. You see, Paul was a Trinitarian. This is why Paul had no problem describing the Son as Yahweh, or in this case, describing Christ as the Creator of all things.

Anywho, just something I've been studying lately =)


Friday, December 23, 2005

Brokeback tumbles down the mountain,2933,179599,00.html

This is a pleasant surprise

Defending the Triunity of God

I met with Devin, the Jehovah’s Witness tonight. After work I headed straight to Bucks to once again review the issues pertaining to the Trinity. Even after all my preparation and study, I felt uber nervous. When I had gone through my notes three times I realized I was hungry so I went next door to Fatburger to grab some food. While I was waiting for my order, in walks Devin! Devin placed an order and we chatted for a bit. He is a friendly guy lemme tell ya. Very kind. Our burgers disappeared in record time, which inevitably drew us back towards Starbucks.

We found a table in the back, chatted for a few minutes, and then began discussing the Trinity. I asked Devin to explain his understanding of the Trinity, so he opened up his copy of Reasoning from the Scriptures for a definition. I made a few corrections to the listed definition and went on to explain the doctrine: “Within the one Being that is God, there eternally exists three coequal, and coeternal persons; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

I explained that there are three “foundations” to the doctrine of the Trinity, which I set out to prove: (1) Monotheism – the belief that there is only one true God; (2) there are three divine persons within the one Being of God; (3) the three persons are coequal and coeternal.

Devin and I both agreed that there is only one true God: Yahweh, or as he calls Him, Jehovah. We agreed that the Father is Yahweh. Obviously, our next area of discussion was whether the Son is also Yahweh.

Two texts that I brought to his attention: Hebrews 1:10-12 and John 12:37-41.


The writer of the epistle of Hebrews is describing the Son by citing and applying Psalm 102:25-27 to Him. Interestingly enough, Psalm 102 is talking about Yahweh, the Lord. The connection is unmistakable: Psalm 102, a passage about Yahweh is here describing Jesus Christ. As a Trinitarian, I have no problem understanding this text. Jesus is Yahweh, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are Yahweh. Each of the divine persons shares the one being of Yahweh. On the other hand, the Unitarian faces great difficulty when approaching this passage. For if Yahweh is the Father only, no other person can be called Yahweh.

Next we went to John 12:37-41 …

John 12:37-41, 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

I asked Devin who is the “Him” to which Isaiah refers in verse 41? … First, let’s back up. In verse 38, John quotes from Isaiah 53:1, then in verse 40 quotes from Isaiah 6, where we read:

Isaiah 6:1-5, In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

In this vision, Isaiah sees Yahweh sitting upon His throne surrounded by angels. He sees the glory of the Lord and is sent to take God’s message to the people …

Isaiah 6:6-11, 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" 9 He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate

Now back to John 12. John cites this message of judgment (John 12:40 / Isaiah 6:10) given to Isaiah because the Jews would not believe even after Christ performed miracles. Then John says, “41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him” (John 12:41). John has cited two passages from Isaiah, but the immediate context refers to Isaiah 6. The reason for this is because John speaks of “seeing” “glory.” In Isaiah 6:1, the term for “seeing” the Lord is used, and the term “glory” is used in Isaiah 6:3.

Whose glory did Isaiah see? The glory that Isaiah saw was the glory of Yahweh. But John writes that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ. So if you asked John, “Whose glory did Isaiah see?” He would answer: “Jesus’.” Therefore, to John, Jesus is Yahweh.

This makes perfect sense since Trinitarians believe that no one has seen the Father at any time. In fact, it is only because of the Son that we have knowledge of the Father:

John 1:18, 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

We also discussed Colossians 1, but it’s getting late, and I have to be up for work in the morning =). I’ll post more on that later when I get a chance.

Devin hadn’t before seen the connection between Jesus being called Yahweh in these texts, so we decided to end there and meet next week sometime. And you know what, I respect him more for that. At least he didn’t try to come up with an answer on the spot just for the sake of giving an answer.

I was blessed to defend the Triune God of Scripture. I love the Trinity. I look forward to my next meeting with Devin. Pray for him and for myself =)

Defending the Triunity of God,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Randomly Goodness

Yesterday was a good day. I was kinda down for much of the afternoon, not for any particular reason, I just wasn’t in a great mood. So after work I went to the gym – running always helps. Gotta love those endorphins =).

Then met my parents at the Mac Shack (aka Macaroni Grill). Next I headed across the parking lot to the happiest place on earth (Starbucks of course!). Got in a good couple hours of studying JWitness theology.

11 o’clock rolls around, and the glory that is Starbucks locked up. So I headed over to Wally World (aka Walmart) to buy a couple Christmas cards AND wait until midnight to buy Serenity on dvd. As I was walking into Wally World I hear a bunch of girly screams: “Caaaaseeeeey!” All the Baristas from my Bucks were walking out. They had been shopping for their store Christmas party. We stood chatting for a good 5 minutes or so. Great to see them all. They r0z0rz. That is why I love Stapley Bucks (also called “Staples”).

PS – only Fiiiiiive days to go!

Counting down the days,
Case of Base

Evangelism Bucks-style

I was chillaxing at Bucks waiting to meet up with a bud to go see King Kong. While chillaxing, I noticed a guy reading his Bible. I sat down next to him and asked if he was a Christian. “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,” he said. I told him that I was a Christian. After chatting for a few minutes I said, “Well I’m a Trinitarian and would love to talk to you about the Trinity sometime?” We’re meeting this Thursday at Bucks.

I have been studying like a madman. Re-read The Forgotten Trinity and Reasoning from the Scriptures with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m also memorizing arguments about relevant passages including translation issues. This is the first time I will be incorporating the Greek text into a discussion, so I want to be prepared =).

I’d appreciate your prayers for this Thursday.

This also means that I probably won’t have any time to post apologetic/theological posts until after this meeting =). But I’ll try and keep up with the blogosphere.

The Rusted One

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Emergent/Emerging and Seeker-Sensitive Churches Cancel the Lord's Day

Steve Camp wrote a fantastic blog entry on Wednesday discussing Emergent/Emerging (EE) and Seeker-Sensitive (SS) churches that are canceling worship on Christmas Day.
"You’ve heard about this already—several well known Mega churches (Willow Creek—Chicago area, Mars Hill Bible Church—Grand Rapids area, Fellowship Church—Dallas area, Southland Christian Center—Louisville area, etc.) are canceling their Christmas Sunday Services to allow some quality family time around the tree. ... But, as Ted Olson of CT points out, “if that holds true for Christmas, doesn't it hold true for every other Sunday? Why not decentralize the church every week by telling families ‘to have a more personal experience on that day’”? I fully agree with Ted's keen insight here. In reality what they are doing is not canceling Sunday Christmas services, but they are actually canceling The Lord’s Day. I’m telling you folks; this is a prime example that their arrogance knows no boundaries. Family trumps worship in their foolish, faddish, fabricated, fallacious, fatiferous, façade of fanciful, factious, and falchion brand of faith. (Sorry, my “inner-blog” needed to vent and feels much better now)."
Before I begin: ROFL! ... Sorry, I too needed to release my "inner-blog".

Steve raises an interesting point - if the purpose of canceling service on the Lord's Day (which just so happens to fall on Christmas) is to allow for "quality family time," why not cancel worship every Lord's Day?

Emergent/Emerging Churcher: "But, but, Christmas is a special day! Families should have time to open presents and sit around their tree drinking hot cocoa, and ... stuff."

The Rusted One's response: "Indeed, Christmas is a special day. It is the day we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. I share your tradition of family time on Christmas, yet I'm falbbergasted as to why you don't want to worship the Savior at your local fellowship on a day where we remember His incarnation? Certainly you can find time to worship with the saints? The Lord's Day doesn't stop being the Lord's Day just because we have designated December 25th as the time to celebrate Christ's birth." (Does anyone else enjoy using "flabbergasted" as much as I do? *grin*)

Steve continues:
"People have been in an uproar about this… but I want to encourage you with a slightly different take on this unfortunate happening. I think this is great; a step in the right direction—answered prayer possibly. Have you noticed something of a common denominator here? The churches canceling their morning services are seeker-sensitive or emergent in nature. So be of good cheer! At least one Sunday out of the year, we should be grateful that those churches won’t be spreading their usual dumbed-down, self-focused, trying to be culturally relevant, non-biblical, skewed theology to their attendees. This is a blessing in disguise, trust me. Now, if we could only just find another 51 reasons for canceling their services… it could really have a positive spiritual impact on our nation and evangelicalism-at-large. Until then, thank the Lord for this small, but early Christmas gift in the form of an ecclesiastical stocking stuffer, if you please."

Forgive me once more: Aaaaahaha! Oh, oh, hew, hew. Hah. Heh. That felt good. Thank you for allowing me a few moments to laugh my heart out once more.

He is a little blunt, but right on the mark. This may actually be the answered prayers of Reformed folks who've asked God to build His church (which includes the doing away with and/or correction of doctrinally weak churches).

EE and SS churches closing their doors on the Lord's Day should not be surprising. Not surprising in the slightest, especially for the EE crowd. Shutting churches down is the logical conclusion of EE anyhow. Think about it - they desire to be relevant to the culture. Well our culture in the States would rather not attend a church building and have "official" worship time. So from the EE perspective, why not accomodate unbelievers everywhere and close down?

As for me, this will be the first time I have attended church on Christmas. This is also the first time I have had the option to attend church on Christmas - all of my previous churches canceled worship when Christmas fell on the Lord's Day. And I honestly look forward to it. What better way to spend Christmas than with my family, friends, AND my church family? =)

If you wanna read Campi's entire article, click here.

This is your trusty dusty Rusty, signing off.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Assurance of Salvation

The Apostle John wrote in his first epistle: “13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).”

John wants believers to have assurance of their salvation. He wants believers to “know” (mental knowledge) that they have eternal life. I believe the reason John refers to having knowable assurance is because of how fickle our emotions can be. Some days are like a roller coaster ride – good one moment, bad the next. Sometimes we are blessed to feel the close presence of the Lord; other times we don’t.

Well what does it mean when you do not feel the special presence of the Lord? Or you feel the weight of your sin? Have you lost your salvation? Surely not! For our God is a perfect Savior, and He saves perfectly. When you do not feel the closeness of God’s presence, fall back on what you know. Those are times when you should check your conscience and present any unconfessed sins before God.

Another question that is worth considering is this: can a person be truly saved without having assurance? It certainly seems this is John’s purpose.

Some other passages along the same line:

2 Peter 1:10, “10Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;”

Hebrews 6:11, “11And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,”

Hebrews 10:22, “22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Ultimately, it isn’t my place, or any man’s place, to give another person assurance of salvation. Only the Holy Spirit can give the believer assurance. So if you find yourself lacking assurance, seek the face of God and His Word.

Case of Base

Thursday, December 15, 2005


You scored as William Wallace. The great Scottish warrior William Wallace led his people against their English oppressors in a campaign that won independence for Scotland and immortalized him in the hearts of his countrymen. With his warrior's heart, tactician's mind, and poet's soul, Wallace was a brilliant leader. He just wanted to live a simple life on his farm, but he gave it up to help his country in its time of need.

William Wallace


Indiana Jones




Lara Croft


The Terminator


Neo, the "One"


James Bond, Agent 007


The Amazing Spider-Man


Batman, the Dark Knight


Captain Jack Sparrow


El Zorro


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

This makes PERFECT sense people, LOL. freedom1.wav is my favorite sound in channel after all *innocent grin* "Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedooooom!"

Btw, you read the title of this entry correctly. You have been tagged. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Homosexual "Romance?"

The following review of Brokeback Mountain is provided by

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, a homosexual cowboy movie, opens in Wyoming in 1963 where two young cowboys, Ennis and Jack, are hired to tend some sheep near the mountain. The two men become fast friends. One night, their friendship becomes an evening of lust, a scene that plays like a rape set in San Quentin Prison. For 20 years, the two men carry on a secret affair, despite the fact that they get married to women and have children. One of the wives finds out, but the other wife only suspects, until tragedy strikes. Though well-photographed and often well-acted, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is too long and at times twisted, laughable, frustrating, sadomasochistic, plotless, and boring. It's also politically correct. The main conflict is between the two cowboys. Jack wants them both to get divorced and tend a ranch together, but Ennis is too afraid of the scandal their relationship would cause. Secretly, however, Ennis, is also haunted by the corpse of a murdered, castrated homosexual cowboy his father made him see when Ennis was very young. Thus, America and its sexual repression of homosexual perverts is the problem. Clearly, John Wayne is turning over in his grave” (

The same review lists the inappropriate content of the film:

“Very strong (but often implicit rather than explicit) Romantic, politically correct worldview with very strong pro-homosexual content, including explicit sex scenes that sometimes come across as sadomasochistic, a pro-Marxist or pro-Communist subtext seems evident, with some strong anti-capitalist sentiments against one protagonist's employer, although that protagonist eventually proves to be a good salesman for his father-in-law's company, and an explicitly anti-Christian scene where one protagonist mocks people who go to church and who sing hymns about Jesus Christ and an anti-American subtext that seems evident, as well as revisionist history of homosexuality in America in order to serve the movie's politically correct, Romantic worldview about homosexuality and its sexual perversions, including a Christian wedding scene with the Lord's Prayer, but it has an ironic tone in context of the rest of the movie; about 58 obscenities (including ,many "f" words), 15 strong profanities, one light profanity, and references to urinating; two extreme scenes of bloody violence include shot of castrated man and man's head is beaten bloody until he is dead, and scenes of violence where men fight and wrestle in a rough way, and homosexual sodomy scene plays almost like a homosexual rape; very strong sexual content includes depicted homosexual and heterosexual sodomy (with a hint of sadomasochism during one or more homosexual scenes), depicted homosexual kissing and groping, depicted intercourse between married couple, and implied intercourse and almost intercourse with women who are shown topless; upper female nudity in several scenes, full male nudity in bathing scene, rare male nudity, and upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking; and, lying, men cheat on wives, sexual "repression" is seen as evil, family arguments, divorce, and negative portrayal of heterosexual fathers” (Emphasis Mine.

Where to begin … where to begin.

It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that Brokeback Mountain is overtly anti-Christian. Two gay cowboys “fall in love” and have a lustful affair. The agenda behind this film is plain as day: to further denigrate the nuclear family and promote bisexual and homosexual behavior. I can already hear the outcry from the liberal secularists: “Brokeback Mountain does nothing of the sort! It is not our goal to promote homosexual behavior, but only to encourage tolerance of our growing bisexual and homosexual population.” What these liberals are really after are Super-Rights – rights to dominate all other less liberal (more conservative) positions.

As Mr. Callahan taught our adult Sunday school class this past Lord’s Day, one of the means by which we can judge the spiritual condition of a nation is to look at its entertainment. You might have guessed that America is not doing so well. Not only is the Land of the Free tolerating the existence of this perverted “romance,” but it goes a step further by commending it! The Fox News Channel had a story yesterday declaring that Brokeback Mountain is leading the Golden Globe nominations (click here to read the story)! Our society HONORS the proud sinfulness of this movie!

This soon-to-be Golden Globe winner appears to me to be the active judgment of God upon our land. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of Rome:

Romans 1:18-32: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (NASB).

Verse 18 says that the wrath of God is presently being revealed. What is God’s wrath revealed against? - All ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. This ungodliness and unrighteousness is a willful suppression of God’s truth. They (the ungodly) know about God and His Law through creation and having it written on their hearts. This leaves all men to be found without an excuse before the living God. But even though they knew all of this, they did not honor God or give Him thanks. They became fools and worshipped creatures in their own image. In the case of present-day liberals, their idols might be their own distorted sexual preferences. They refuse to acknowledge what God has said about the subject of human sexuality by mocking the clear message of Scripture.

At this point verse 24 becomes very relevant: “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” They exchanged God’s truth for a lie that says homosexuality is good and acceptable. Verses 26 and 27 need no comment other than to say that they do apply directly to homosexual propagandists. Because God has given these sinners over to their inappropriate passions, they became verses 29-31. Finally, verse 32 brings out an important point: homosexuals and other sinners know these crimes are worthy of death and give hearty approval to those who do such things! … Does this not take your breath away? They don’t simply perform these sinful deeds, but they heartily approve of those who do them. How true is this passage of our society and culture?

Mr. Callahan reminded our class that it is our duty as Christians to promote what is good and right in the sight of God. We should use every means necessary to preach the gospel, as well as uphold public morality. Might our message to the nations be as clear as the Apostle Paul’s when he spoke to the Athenians at Mars Hill:

Acts 17:16-32: 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean." 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' 29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." (NASB).

The men and women in our land would benefit from such a message today. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ grant repentance unto life to our land.

Saved by God’s free grace,
Case of Base

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Warning Passages in Hebrews

Another AOMin email =). Thought you might enjoy this one also. I was asked how to properly understand Hebrews 10:26.

Hello Matt,

Excellent Question.

First, let's consider the context of the book of Hebrews. The writer is addressing Jewish believers about the passing away of the Old Covenant and the newness of the New Covenant. He charges them to remember the surpremacy of Christ's ministry and that there is no Old Covenent to go back to.

In Hebrews 2:1-5 we read:

Hebrews 2:1-5 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. 5 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. (NASB)

The writer urges them to pay closer attention to what they had heard (the gospel), so that they wouldn't drift away from it.

We again see this urging to continue in the truth ...

Hebrews 4:14-16 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NASB)

Christ is the Great High Priest of this New Covenant who fulfilled the Old Covenant Law. We can also approach the throne of grace in our time of need - therefore, "let us hold fast our confession," wrote the writer of Hebrews.

The writer blatantly informs us of the superiority of the New Covenent:

Hebrews 8:6 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. (NASB)

And finally, before we reach 10:26, he continues with his theme in the preceding three verses:

Hebrews 10:23-25 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (NASB)

He brings out something new here: Christians ought to continue meeting together for worship. Apparently some had been forsaking the gatherings. The local church is an intimate part of the believer's life. There is no such thing as a "lone ranger" type Christian. The reason for this is that we are to encourage one another in the faith. Not only do believers in Christ enjoy being around other believers, but we need to spur one another on to good deeds (including our belief in the Savior).

Now we reach 10:26-27:

Hebrews 10:26-27 26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. (NASB)

Having considered much of the context of the book of Hebrews, I need to point out one another important thing ... the writer of this epistle did not have God's ability to look into the hearts and minds of his audience. He did not have the certainty that God has as to whether his entire audience were true believers in Christ. Now then ... I believe that the proper way to understand this text is with an understanding that this is a warning to his readers. If one continues on in their sins after receiving the truth, he can expect a wrathful day on the Day of Judgment. Such warnings are means to encourage unbelievers towards repentance unto life, as well as the further sanctification of believers.

Another warning passage in this epistle can be found in Hebrews 6:

Hebrews 6:4-9 4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. 9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. (NASB)

The writer refers to those who have once been enlightened to the truth of the gospel (verses 1-2) but then abandon the truth (verse 6). If these should fall away, and again trample the truth of God underfoot, God gives a warning that He will not again bring them to repentance. Verse 9 informs us that the writer is distinguishing apostates from true believers: "But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation..." The apostates in Heb 6:4-9 are those mentioned in chapter 3, verses 16-19 - the ones who did not mix what they heard (the promises of God) with faith. The warning in this text, as well as Hebrews 10, serves as a warning to the unbelieving reader, and as a warning to the believing reader.

Scripture speaks elsewhere about apostates:

1 John 2:19 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. (NASB)

Those who persevere in their sin and thus abandon God's church and His truth were never really born of the Spirit of God. Their going out is a clear demonstration of this.

On a related note, I need to say that each and every time a believer sins, he does so willingly does he not? We choose to sin. Yet, as God's people we are no longer slaves to sin, though we still have the remaining sinful flesh (Romans 7:14-17). So we are left battling sin until our death (or the glorious return of our Savior). And it is a battle. We spend our entire lives trying to obey God's commandments, to become more sanctified, to improve our personal holiness each day.

If one is looking for assurance in their salvation, look to Christ. Our Lord is a merciful God and delights in forgiving sinners. Once sin is confessed, put it behind you and press on so that you might honor God.

I hope this was beneficial for you. If you have further questions, or if there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

In Christ,
Casey Ryan

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ordo Salutus Question

I received another AOMin email this week that really challenged me. This email was asking whether faith or repentance comes first for believers. Having never defended (or thought in-depth for that matter) about this subject, it turned out to be quite enjoyable. Here's my response:

Hello Jeff,

Ah yes. Your question brings us to what is called the "Ordo Salutus" ... the "Order of Salvation." The Ordo Salutus refers to the order of the application of redemption.

The Apostle Paul lays out a framework in Romans 8:29-30:

Romans 8:29-30 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Paul lists three acts in order of how they are applied to believers: effectual calling, justification, and glorification.

You asked whether saving faith or repentance comes first to the experience of believers. First off, both saving faith and repentance occurrs between the calling of God and justification. But which comes first? Let's consider a few more passages ...

When Paul responded to the Philippian jailer's question, "What must I do to be saved?" he replied: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31). Peter in response to the people's question in Acts 2, "What shall we do [considering we crucified the Lord Jesus]?" replied: "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38). In Acts 20:21 Paul reminded the Ephesian elders that he had "solemnly declared to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus."

Paul tells the jailer to have faith in Christ. Peter tells the crowd to repent from sin. Paul commends the elders of their repentance and faith in God. Clearly there is a concomitance between faith and repentance - that is, they are interdependent on one another. So when one possesses saving faith in Christ they turn from sin; likewise when one turns from Christ they do so out of faith.

Therefore I don't believe it is proper to declare one occurring before the other. Consider them as a coordination, one with the other.

As a side note - faith is the sole instrument by which are justfied, as is defended throughout the New Testament. Nevertheless, repentance, as a response to God's effectual call, precedes justification.

I hope this is beneficial for you. If there's anything else I can for you, or you have further questions, please let me know.

In Christ,
Casey Ryan

Friday, December 09, 2005

What shall I delete next?

I'm cheap when it comes to computer software. I really despise spending money on anything other than really important programs., and have become favorites of mine over the years.

Being the cheapscate that I am, I refuse to buy something as unimportant as antivirus software. Thankfully Microsoft directs you to a dozen or more trial versions of antivirus products. And so I've gone through McAffee, Symantic ... you name it, I've used it. When my trial time was up, I switched to EZ Anti-Virus. This software functioned fairly well, until it deleted mIRC, a wonderful chat program. For some reason it saw mIRC was as a flood virus and deleted it ... twice. Unfortunately I was not intelligent enough the first time around to discover EZ deleted it. It happened again last night. I was not a happy camper =).

To make a long story short, don't use EZ Anti-Virus. I uninstalled it from my computer.

Let's all say goodbye to EZ Anti-Virus ...

This is the Rusted One, signing off

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christians: keep your big mouths shut!

The Christmas season has arrived in full swing once again. This is the time of year when many Christians celebrate the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most Americans likewise celebrate some aspect of the holiday. But there is another group who wants a piece of the holiday season: Secularists.

The Secularists have been waging a war against Christmas for who knows how long. Their battle is not only against Christmas, but ultimately against all public religious expression. Yes, they have seen many victories over the years.

We live in a day when our Federal and State governments bow the knee to the almighty power of the nation’s Supreme Court, who seeks to rid public life of all Christian expression.

Our schools indoctrinate our children with cultural diversity, tolerance, acceptance, and understanding. Children are raised to believe that people have the right NOT to be offended, and people should go out of their way to not offend another by discussing spiritual things. In principle the idea of not offending someone sounds wonderful. Yet, because of what they would have us not discuss (religious convictions) it is a terrible thing. Functionally, their “tolerance” and “acceptance” apply to anyone but Christians.

The government, the ACLU, the MSM (mainstream media) is tolerant, and accepting towards Christians, really, they are - just so long as they keep their big mouths shut. So then, everyone has the right not to be offended, except Christians. Oh the inconsistency!

As if this was bad enough, most big businesses are trying to restrict their employees’ speech. I suppose I should add that I don’t believe employees should be preaching the gospel or having political debates while on the job. Employees are paid to work, not to have long discussions. But now businesses won’t allow employees to wish costumers “Happy Christmas.” This is a new extreme. What’s the reason for this? Tolerance, acceptance, diversity, understanding. Wait just a daggum minute. I thought that most Americans celebrate Christmas? So who are we being tolerant towards? You guessed it: the minority.

We are told that the politically correct slogan for the winter season is “Happy Holidays.” Does anyone else find this ironic, that really what we’re promoting is not the celebration of one religious holiday, but multiple religious holidays? I wonder when the brilliant Secularists will figure that one out.

America is by no means a Christian nation, nor were we ever (though in our early days most were professing Evangelicals). Nevertheless, we are a country who claims to protect certain God-gvien rights. Freedom of speech is one of these rights. Yet, everywhere you turn Christians are being told to shut up. What the Secularists fail to realize is that by asking us to not outwardly celebrate our own religious holidays, they are really asking us to deny our faith. As a Christian, I cannot deny my faith while at school, while at work, or anywhere else in public. I just can’t do that. I must obey God’s laws rather than man’s.

What I’m getting at is this: Christianity is not just a hobby for the Christian, it is his defining characteristic.

“WELL, why do you have the right to shove your religion down our throats,” declares the Secularist anti-Christian. First, I don’t want to “shove my religion down your throat.” However, if you would like to have a polite conversation about the gospel, I’d be delighted. Second, you limiting my freedom of speech offends me. Your Secularism offends me. Two can play at the “you offend me” game =).

The simple solution to all this would be to stop trying to limit public Christian expression AND stop complaining about how another’s freedom of expression offends you. I doubt this will soon happen, but I do not claim to know the secret will of God.

Soooo, during this Christmas season, let your good works be displayed before men. Proclaim the gospel of Peace with joy. Don’t let Political Correctness hinder your journey through this life. But be as bold as ever, honoring the Lord in all that you do.

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Uber excited for this one

You can thank me later =)

Case of Base

The God of our Lord Jesus Christ

I received an email from a fellow who is witnessing to a Latter-day Saint friend. His friend is making the case for Tritheism from Ephesians 1:17: "...the God of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Of course, this Mormon believes the text proves that the Father is a separate God from Jesus Christ. Here's my email, which will hopefully assist this brother in his evangelistic opportunity:

Hello Dean,

Firstly, I am glad God has provided you with this opportunity to speak to your LDS friend.

Your friend seems to agree with the LDS Church's teaching that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct beings, and therefore three gods.

Before I continue, I want to briefly define the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: Within the one being that is God, there exists three co-equal and co-eternal Persons; namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now there is a lot of information crammed into this definition. The wording was carefully selected so as to clearly explain what we mean. Monotheism, the belief that only one true God exists, is the foundation of the Trinity. Next, I need to define the difference between "being" and "person." Here is a helpful illustration: my cell phone has being, but has no personality. However, I, the owner of the cell phone, also have being. But unlike my cell phone, I also possess personality - that is, I possess all the attributes attributed to personhood: the ability to communicate, love, reason etc.

Now, when we talk about God, His being is shared by three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The reason this appears to be contradictory is because oftentimes we, as human beings have only experienced other human beings. And human beings only have one personality sharing their one being. But God, who is spirit, and not made of flesh of bones, shares His being with three distinct Persons. Thus, God is tri-personal.

These three distinct Persons, are also co-equal as to their nature (the divine nature). This simply means that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each fully deity. Another way of putting it is that each of the three Persons are fully God.

Finally, each of the divine Persons are co-eternal. The three Persons pre-existed together, and will forever remain in this fashion.

Now onto your question. If I understand your friend's argument, he appears to interpret "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ" to mean that the Father must be a separate God ontologically (as to his being) from Jesus Christ. For starters, the only reason he believes this is because he presupposes Tritheism - that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three beings. Let's consider the entirety of the passage:

Ephesians 1:1-17: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. 15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Bold Emphasis Mine).

You might already see what I'm getting at =). The Apostle Paul here refers to the Father as "God our Father" (verses 2 and 3) twice before we reach verse 17. Then as we get to verse 17, Paul describes the Father as "God" once more. This is unmistakeable, for Paul continues his description of "God" as "the Father of glory." Therefore, it is exegetically defensible to argue that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ" means that He ("God") is the heavenly Father of Christ, which is something Trinitarians believe. There is no reason whatsoever in this text to support the idea that the Father is a distinct being from Christ. Certainly one can demonstrate they are distinct Persons. But the burden of proof is entirely on your friend to prove from the text how the Father is ontologically (referring to His being) distinct from Christ.

If you have any other questions, or if I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.

In Christ,
Casey Ryan

Monday, December 05, 2005

My Apologetic for the Boy Who Lived

Harry Potter is the fictional character created by JK Rowling. He is famous in the wizarding world as "the boy who lived." When Harry was just a baby, his parents died protecting him against the evil, Lord Voldemort. The Dark Lord Voldemort then tried to kill Harry, but was unable to do this. You see, his parents' sacrifice protected young Harry. Their love for their only son stopped the Dark Lord and rid him of his powers.

But Harry hadn't a clue that he was a wizard until the age of 11. Since then Harry's life has drastically changed. He has attended Hogwarts: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he is trained to use his magical abilities.

It is this simple story that I hope to defend against two common concerns Christians have about the fantasy world of Harry Potter.

Before I begin with my defense, I want to talk about consistency. Many Christians who oppose Harry Potter do so because it includes a fantasy form of witchcraft. I would ask the one opposing Harry Potter for this reason if they also oppose Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or even Snow White? Because if he is consistently against fantasy including witchcraft, would he not also oppose these other stories? Lord of the Rings has magic scattered throughout. Star Wars is even worse by its display of Buddhism. Yes, even Snow White has a witch in the story =). I am certainly not suggesting that we shouldn't watch these wonderful movies. I am only pointing out that if one opposes Harry Potter because of witchcraft, he should be consistent with that argument and not watch other movies that also include forms of fantasy witchcraft.

Now onto the arguments...

Argument #1: "Harry Potter promotes true witchcraft."

Fair enough. I think this is a genuine concern. In fact, this was a concern of mine years ago. But I wonder how the objector defines "witchcraft"? Witchcraft is a pagan religion which involves the denunciation of all Christian truth, and even calling upon the Devil for power. Witchcraft can also refer to divination, or one who communicates with evil spirits.

With this simple definition in mind, the witchcraft and wizardry in Harry Potter in no way reflects true witchcraft. Yes, Rowling's fantasy world has spells. There are good and evil spells. The good spells are always portrayed as good. Evil spells are always portrayed as evil. Furthermore, the protagonists are seen to be truly good, while the villains are seen to be truly wicked. The only "dark" magic seen in the movie is performed by dark wizards, and is understood to be ... evil =). To my knowledge, none of the spells in the Harry Potter fantasy world are real spells.

Argument #2: "The Harry Potter story continues to get "darker" - especially year four."

I've heard this from many people over the past weeks. Assuming that by "darker" they mean the bad guys do more bad things, then this is certainly true. In JK Rowling's storyline, Lord Voldemort returns to power, and does some not-so-nice things. This leads to the good guys fighting against the Dark Lord. Slowly but surely Voldemort will be defeated. Good will triumph in the end - and it will be viewed as good =).

In the end I believe that Christians need to understand that Harry Potter is a fantasy just like Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, or Snow White. Rowling is not promoting true witchcraft. In fact, Rowling is a member of the Anglican Church.

I should also mention that the Harry Potter universe supports the Christian worldview in more ways than one: developing friendships, the nuclear family, facing social pressures, fighting evil, defending the truth, doing the right thing, loving one another, self-sacrifice, and the list goes on. Having read all six books and watching the four films, I feel apart of Harry's life. Rowling has written an amazing story that draws you in and forces you to care about her characters. I cannot wait for year 7.

Now, if you have gotten to this point and still aren't convinced, I would recommend reading the Harry Potter series, then watching the four movies, and let me know what you think then.

I think some w00tage is in order,
The Rusted One

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

...eeeeeeverywhere yooouuuu goooo

Today is the first of December (actually, as I'm writing this it's the 2nd, but no one will know that because I've doctored the timestamp).

Don't you just love December? There's just something in the air that makes you happier. Like so many cultures before us, America has an annual holiday season. Of course, as Christians we celebrate the original intent of this holiday season: the birth of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. And December 25th is rapidly approaching =). The build up to that special day is what fills the whole month with anticipation.

Last weekend we hung the Christmas lights on our house - I'll post a pic later. We're putting up the rest of our decorations this weekend.

The week after that we're buying a tree (a real tree, not one of those fake ones. We'd rather have a fire hazard than give up the smell and mess of a real tree =) ) At some point my parents will coerce me and my bros to decorate the tree together. I think it's a Ryan family tradition to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks' Christmas during this ocassion.

As if this wasn't enough, our office is decorated, like hardcore. The windows are painted with snow, trees, wreaths. We have decorations scattered throughout the office. We even have a tree with lights and an angel!

I've begun listening to the Christmas radio station 99.9FM. Other than Beth and Bill taking up a lot of quality music time in the mornings, it's a great station.'s "Traditional Christmas" station is also wonderful.

Starbucks. O that haven of sanctified coffee beans! They too are getting into the holiday spirit. Officially they don't celebrate Christmas, but they do have little Christmas trees and "Christmasy" decorations in their stores. MOST importantly, they are now serving the season beverages. Eggnog Latte is my personal favorite. I don't want to know how many calories it has, but I'm sure it's more than I need =).

Oh, one more thing. I have decided that I like sweaters. I think I might go shopping this week - but before the ladies get any ideas ... I will be carefully planning what stores to visit ahead of time with specific items in mind. So yea, sweaters. They're comfortable and warm. Some friends of mine want me to wear my Gryffindor scarf when I'm out and about. Can you imagine how many convos that would start? =)

If you're wondering the purpose of this entry? To get you into the spirit of the Christmas season o' course!

Happy Christmas!