Quote of the Day


Man can, indeed, act contrarily to the decrees of God, as far as they have been written like laws in the minds of ourselves or the prophets, but against that eternal decree of God, which is written in universal nature, and has regard to the course of nature as a whole, he can do nothing.

—Baruch Spinoza

Quote of the Day


To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.

—Nicolaus Copernicus

What Would Jackasses Do?


I’m a bit bemused by the recent attempts by admitted atheists and a rather blatant heretic to lecture me on the tenets of my religious beliefs. I’m a Christian, and those critics seem to think that they can hold me to a non-Biblical standard of their imagined Jesus.

Let’s get one thing clear up front. Jesus is not a wuss. That bit about turning the other cheek is often taken out of context by people who rather not remember that Jesus took a whip to the money changers in the Temple. Twice. (John 2:17 and Matthew 21:12) Jesus is one of the Persons of the Trinity. He is God, the source of Truth and Justice.

Gentle Reader, do you believe that it is just to let someone cyberbully a grieving family that has just lost a child? Do believe that it just to allow a convicted violent felon to stalk a family? Or is it just to oppose those sorts of actions?

Jesus told a parable about a crime victim. A bunch of goody-two-shoes types looked the other way, but one guy helped the victim. Do you remember who in the story Jesus praised?

UPDATE—I seem to have stirred up a bit of a tempest in one tiny portion of teh Twitterz with this post. The Gentle Reader should note that I have not identified anyone by name. However, the following observations by Jesus and Paul may be useful in sorting out who’s who.

First, Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount:

By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Second, Paul, from his Epistle to the Galatians:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit. Let’s not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another.

… Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.

Of course, Christians are not perfect. We are still works in process. If God were finished with us at this point, he would not have taught us to pray “… and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

UPDATE 2— Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control …@PatO201405031924Z

On Justice


“No fair!”

Every one of us has said it beginning from the time we were small children. Human beings seem to be wired with a predisposition to fairness. Indeed, evolutionary psychologists like Jonathan Haidt believe that the moral sense of fairness is a universal human trait. Outrage is a normal, heathy response to unfair treatment. We want the world to be set to rights. We want justice in what seems to be an unjust world.

As a Christian, I believe that the source of justice is God. It says in Genesis that we were created in His image, so it makes sense to me that more we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to be what God intends for us to be, the more we would desire justice. Sometimes Christians are called to deal with the grander problems of the world—think of William Wilberforce, Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr.—but, most of the the time, most of us deal with the seemingly smaller injustices of the world. Sometimes a Christian is called to stand up to a bully.

Bill Schmalfeldt is a such a bully. For years, he has harassed others on the Internet, and no one was able to bring him to justice. That task seems to have fallen to me.

Schmalfeldt’s surprised reaction has been to whine, “No fair! You hit me back.” However, even that’s not strictly true. I haven’t taken personal revenge on him. I’ve reported him to the proper authorities and left any action taken to them.

The real question I face is not what Jesus thinks of my allegedly sadistic treatment of Bill Schmalfeldt. That question is based in the false premise that I am the sadist in the interactions between us. No, the real question is what Jesus would think of my failure to stand up a thug like Schmalffeldt who is bullying others.

Has my response to Schmalfeldt been perfect? Probably not. But my conscience is clear. It would not be if I had failed to step in between him and some of his victims.

Matt Osborne Gets Religion?


Matt Osborne attempted to comment here at Hogewash!:MO201404271221ZI did and found these questions which I present with my answers.OsborneEmailWhy do I get the feeling that this is not a benign inquiry?

UPDATE—MO201404271300ZSome questions are so nonsensical that they do not deserve an answer, but I’ll make an exception for this one.

What Matt Osborne is lamely trying to do is appeal to everyone’s inherent sense of justice. Human beings are wired to favor fairness, and, of course, it would be unfair for me to engage in sadistic harassment. One of the problems with the question is its being based on the false premise that I am the harasser in the Hoge/Schmalfeldt interaction.

There is an important theological problem with Osborne’s question as well, and I intend to deal with it in a longer post later today.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day


Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι,
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

—Paschal Troparion

God and Love and Hate


I went over to the Westboro Baptist Church’s website to read their statement about the death of Fred Phelps. While I was there, I surfed through the rest of the site, and the emphasis on hate was astounding.

WBCsignThe sign on the left appears in a banner across the top of their Home page. Contrast that sentiment with that found in I John 4:8: “He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.” I suppose that the members of WBC might argue that John was writing in some narrow senses about how Christians ought to treat one another. I believe such reasoning falls apart when set against the words of Jesus quoted in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Of course, God’s love for His creation does not give someone who chooses a life of disobedience and estrangement from Him a free pass. God is also just. To the extent that WBC opposes sin, they are on the right track, but to the extent that they repel potential believers rather than attract them to God’s call, they are ignoring Jesus’s instruction to go and make disciples.

God knows his people, and Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that we would know them by their fruit. One doesn’t gather grapes from thorns—or love from hate. Who do you think led more people to a loving relationship with God through Jesus, Fred Phelps or Mother Teresa? A message of hate or a message of love?

Quote of the Day


Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe or politic, nor popular but take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Quote of the Day


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

—Isaiah 9

Quote of the Day


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

—Luke 2

Mordor, Quislings, and Ducks


My codefendant in the Kimberlin v. The Universe, et al. lawsuit Erick Erickson has a piece analyzing Mordor’s response to Phil Robertson.

That is something Tolkien got so spot on with Middle Earth. The evil things are corrupted or perverted things made to mimic the light and the good. Mordor has its own yard stick by which things can be measured, but its metrics are all based on evil.

Phil Robertson did nothing wrong. He just did not shy away from the parts of accepting Christ that make people uncomfortable. He loves people so much, he is not willing to give people the fast pass to Hell by telling them they are not sinners.

He did not judge. He just held up the yard stick and a whole lot of people did not like seeing it and realizing they’ve fallen short. In Mordor, after all, falling short is measuring up and measuring up is being a hater, homophobe, and judging.

Just so. Read the whole thing.

If It Quacks Like a Duck


Now that everyone else (it seems) has had a say, here’s my two-cents worth on Phil Robertson and A&E. I support Phil and believe A&E acted stupidly.

First, Phil Robertson’s statement is about what he believes, and he expressed no desire to compel others to be bound by his belief. Why would anyone be threatened because someone peacefully offered an invitation to share a belief?

Second, I believe he correct in one of his beliefs. If you look at what he said about the mechanics of human reproduction, he simply noted that we are evolved to have intercourse in a particular way. Trying to assemble the parts incorrectly may be fun for someone, but a continual desire for infertile sexual encounters is an evolutionary disadvantage that removes one’s genes from the pool.

Third, I believe that he is correct in the core belief underlying his point-of-view. We all are sinners in need of redemption.

Let me add this on my own behalf: I don’t believe LGBT people should be the objects of hatred. I have had and continue to have friends and business associates from at least the LGB contingent. I think they’ve made some terribly unfortunate choices, but they’re sinners—just like me. Our sets of sins don’t completely overlap. I pray for them. I hope they pray for me.

Paul writes in Romans that we shouldn’t continue in our sins so that God’s grace can abound. Rather, we should let His grace lead us toward more holy living. Phil Robertson, LGBT people, and I all have a way to go.

Quote of the Day


Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

—Abraham Lincoln, 1863