Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Messiahmas

From the prophet Isaiah, chapter 9:

 But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shined.
Thou hast multiplied the nation,
    thou hast increased its joy;
they rejoice before thee
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    thou hast broken as on the day of Mid′ian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
    and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,
    to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"C'mon everybody! Grab your monkey!"

It might be heretical, but sometimes this is how I think salvation will work.  Jesus grabs hold of those who already believe in him, and then they grab hold of people they know who don't believe in him, but that they think should be saved, anyway.  There are a couple of verses in the Bible that suggest I might not be wrong.  If I'm right, then I'm grabbing hold of as many people that I know that I can.

Iron Man 3 - Plane Rescue Scene:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is the Shroud of Turin Real?


Is the Shroud real? Probably.

The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus. The carbon dating, once seemingly proving it was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless. Even the famous Atheist Richard Dawkins admits it is controversial. Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, thinks more testing is needed. So do many other scientists and archeologists. This is because there are significant scientific and non-religious reasons to doubt the validity of the tests. Chemical analysis, all nicely peer-reviewed in scientific journals and subsequently confirmed by numerous chemists, shows that samples tested are chemically unlike the whole cloth. It was probably a mixture of older threads and newer threads woven into the cloth as part of a medieval repair. Recent robust statistical studies add weight to this theory. Philip Ball, the former physical science editor for Nature when the carbon dating results were published, recently wrote: “It’s fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever.” If we wish to be scientific we must admit we do not know how old the cloth is. But if the newer thread is about half of what was tested – and some evidence suggests that – it is possible that the cloth is from the time of Christ.

No one has a good idea how front and back images of a crucified man came to be on the cloth. Yes, it is possible to create images that look similar. But no one has created images that match the chemistry, peculiar superficiality and profoundly mysterious three-dimensional information content of the images on the Shroud. Again, this is all published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion. Years ago, as a skeptic of the Shroud, I came to realize that while I might believe it was a fake, I could not know so from the facts. Now, as someone who believes it is the real burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, I similarly realize that a leap of faith over unanswered questions is essential.

My name is Dan Porter. Please email me at

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Prove me wrong.

Theology professor Randal Rauser posted a speech by Senator Elizabeth Warren demanding that we support legislation to break up big banks such as Citigroup, so that they are never "too big to fail."  This is a bipartisan issue.  Both you Republicans and you Democrats should support it.  I commented at Randal's blog that since I am a 9/11 Truther, I have learned that Satan is in control of all power in this world and that things won't change.  He quoted Bruce Hornsby's song to refute me.  So who is right?  I wrote the following email to my congressman and two senators:

"I just watched a youtube video that a theology profressor posted to his blog here: It is a speech of Senator Elizabeth Warren explaining the immense influence big banks such as Citigroup are having on our government in stopping legislation that would prohibit bailing them out in cases where they engage in extremely risky ventures such as derivatives. Please support legislation that will bust up huge banks such as Citigroup, so that they are never "too big to fail." Sincerely yours, ..."

I say that most of you won't write your representatives demanding the bust up of big banks.  I also say that even if we all wrote our representatives, they still wouldn't bust up big banks.  So prove me wrong.  

Jesus in Control of His Life

The last time I talked about Jesus' last week in Jerusalem, I left the Temple authorities in an awful pickle. By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus had seemingly claimed to be the king referred to by the prophet Zechariah (9:9), 
" Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt the foal of an ass."
Or so the crowd of Galilean Jews traveling with him understood it. The Roman authorities didn't seem to understand the implications of their rejoicing, or didn't take it seriously (and who would take a man riding a donkey seriously?). But the Temple authorities were alarmed. And they would have arrested Jesus, except he was constantly surrounded by the Galilean Jews, until he retired for the evening to Bethany, too far for their reach. 
Their only hope was to somehow catch him alone. But how? Unless he was a complete fool, Jesus understood their predicament. Which is why we should understand the significance of his decision to have his last supper in Jerusalem, with only his closest disciples around, and then to wait in a secluded garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Clearly, Jesus was knowingly giving his enemies the opportunity that they had wanted to catch him alone.
The conclusion seems obvious: Jesus is the one who has been in control of the events surrounding his life for this last week. No one has caught him by surprise. He knew the danger of being alone, and made himself available, and then waited for the inevitable to happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Prepare for the End Times.

In Matthew 24 Jesus talks about the End Times. Then, near the very end of the chapter, he gives a short parable: 
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."
That sounds like clear enough teaching. God puts people in our lives that we are responsible for. If we take good care of those people, God will reward us. If we don't take care of them, but instead abuse them, we will be punished. So it sounds like Jesus is telling us that the way to prepare for the End Times is to take care of the people that we are responsible for. But who are those people? And how do we take care of them?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Are we in the End Times?

Are we in the End Times? I dunno'. Sooner or later this world is coming to an end. It might be in the next five minutes or in the next five million years. For each of us the world comes to an end in about 80 years or so. It is then that we get to play the game that the girl wanted her brother to play in that "Addams Family" movie: Is there a God? Since it is a game that sooner or later we all get to play, whether we want to play it or not, it might be a good idea to figure out how to play it ahead of time, just in case there is a God. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Survey: 77% of Israeli Arabs prefer Israeli rule to Palestinian

From this article:

"...77% [of Israeli Arabs] prefer to live under Israeli rule rather than Palestinian, according to a recent poll by the Statnet research institute....

Of the percentage of Arabs who prefer to live under Israeli rule: 70% were Druse, 57% Christian, and 49% Muslim. And those that preferred to live under the Palestinian Authority: 2% were Druse, 5% Christian, and 18% Muslim."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Isn't Israel already a Jewish Nation-State?

I thought that Israel would have already had some sort of language in its founding documents making clear the Jewish nature of the state of Israel.  And according to Dr. Mohammed Wattad, yes it does.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Experimenter Bias and Shocking Videos

A couple of posts ago I linked to a couple of videos of a reporter waving an ISIS flag at Berkeley campus.  I thought it was, and still think it is, an interesting experiment.  But what strikes me as perhaps the biggest flaw in the experiment is possible bias on the part of the experimenter. He is a reporter who probably is trying to make a name for himself. The best way to do this is by filming very interesting videos. And one way to do this is to film what appear to be results opposite of what we would normally expect. Thus, showing video of people not reacting to his waving an ISIS flag would be the result he would want to attain. And this could be easily achieved. Even if 95% of the people who walked by stopped to express negative comments about his actions, all he has to do is edit them out and show only the 5% who did not react. I'm not saying that this is what he actually did. It could be exactly what he claims happened - no negative reactions whatsoever. The problem is, since he would have a motive to make an interesting video, unless we know him to be a person of high ethical character, we should be careful about the conclusions he wants us to draw about his experiment.

What we do know is that some people at Berkeley tweeted negative reactions to the ISIS flag-waving.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Negative Reaction to Pro-Palestinian Demonstration on Campus

A friend of mine suggested that people didn't react negatively to the pro-ISIS demonstrator, because they figured he was joking.  Meanwhile, he suggested that there are negative reactions to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campuses.  I found one that seems to prove his second point.  There is at least one negative reaction to this Pro-Palestinian Demonstration at the U. of Michigan.

Reaction to ISIS Flag vs. Reaction to Israel's Flag

Interesting Experiment.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Difficulty in Arresting Jesus

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for the Passover, but he has come early, the first day of the week, and Passover won't begin until Thursday or Friday evening. As it gets closer to Passover, the crowds of Jewish people coming to celebrate will grow. And the danger that Jesus could cause a major uproar or rebellion by publicly claiming to be the Messiah will grow, also. So if one wants to get rid of Jesus, the sooner the better. 
But there is a problem. Just as with modern cities, where the closer to town vacationers want to stay the more expensive the lodgings, so was it also the case in Jerusalem. So most visitors would stay in the outlying towns at night and come to the city during the day. Jesus and his disciples, along with the crowd of Galilean Jews, did likewise, with many of them staying in Bethany, about two miles away. 
Thus, from morning to evening Jesus will be surrounded by a large group of Galilean Jews with whom he is very popular. And the more he teaches and heals people, the more his popularity will grow with Judean Jews and even native Jerusalemites. To try to arrest him during the day is just asking for trouble. And at night, he is staying two miles from the city, much too risky for the Temple guards to pull off a secret night arrest successfully. 
Another opiton would just be to inform the Romans that Jesus is a dangerous insurgent who must be done away with. But this might bring the same result - a large, bloody riot. 
At this point the ruling class in Jerusalem, the priests, have to hope that somehow they will find a way to isolate Jesus from the crowd.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jesus' Public Proclamation that He is the Messiah

Getting back to our story, Jesus was traveling with a crowd of Galilean Jews south to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They had just passed through Jericho, where a blind man has called Jesus the "son of David," most likely suggesting that he considered Jesus to be the Messiah, who was to be a descendant of King David. Jesus seems to accept this designation, for the first time publicly acknowledging that he also considers himself to be the Messiah.
It is about another 15 miles to Jerusalem, or roughly an 8 hour hike. When they get close to the city, Jesus sends someone to get a donkey, which he then sits on to ride into Jerusalem. We are told in the New Testament accounts that this is to fulfill a prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. 
" Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt the foal of an ass."
I suspect that most Jews would have been familiar with that prophecy and would have understood that Jesus was now making a public proclamation that he was the Messiah, the rightful king of Israel. The crowd that is with him threw down their garments and leafy branches on the road and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” 
Any Jews watching from Jerusalem would realize the serious Messianic implication of Jesus triumphal entry. But what about the Romans? I suspect that a man riding a donkey into the city wouldn't have meant much to them. And there was no show of military force. So if this triumphal entry had caught their attention, they might have just shrugged it off as some silly Jewish show of honor to one of their religious men. 
However, if the priests, the men in charge of the Temple and responsible for civic order in the city, saw Jesus' entry, I think they would have been very alarmed. Who was this man and why was he seemingly claiming to be the Messiah? And what were they to do about it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The first person to call Jesus "the Messiah" in the general public?

Jesus lived in Galilee, which was a region in northern Israel. To get to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover he would need to travel south into what was known as Judea. The typical route would take people through the town of Jericho. It was here that a blind man is sitting by the road and hears that Jesus is passing by. He cries out to him, "Son of David, have pity on me!" The crowd that is travelling with Jesus tells the man to be quiet. Why? I think the reason is that the blind man has used the term "son of David." The Messiah was supposed to be descended from the line of King David, and was often called "the son of David." So for someone to call Jesus this meant that they were saying that he was the Messiah, the rightful king of Israel. The problem is that calling someone the Messiah in public is to invite trouble from the Roman rulers, who would see this as a challenge to their authority. But the blind man doesn't care what the crowd says. He just calls out louder, "Son of David, have pity on me!" 
What's interesting is what happens next. Jesus stops and tells them to bring the blind man to him, which they do. He then asks the man what he can do for him, and the blind man asks him to restore his sight, which Jesus does. The healed man rejoices and follows Jesus, along with the rest of the crowd.
It is important to notice that this is the first time that Jesus has made any sort of public acknowledgment that he is the Messiah. He did it in private with his disciples. But not in public. We are not told whether the crowd already believed he was the Messiah, or whether they were surprised by Jesus' acknowledgement. But either way, the fact that Jesus thinks he is the Messiah is now "out." And it is significant that it took a blind man to see it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why Jesus wanted his Messiahship kept a secret.

Whatever the reason why people didn't think Jesus could be the Messiah, after Peter says that he is the Messiah, the first thing Jesus tells his disciples is not to tell anyone else that he is the Messiah. I suspect there were a couple of reasons for this. The first reason was that people would then gather to him in the hope that he would start a rebellion to drive the Romans out of Israel. And that was not what Jesus was about. In fact, from this point on Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, where the priests will hand him over to the Romans, who will execute him. Whatever his goal was as the Messiah, it was not a political/military goal. He was not trying to free his fellow Jewish people from Roman rule. He was trying to free them and all of us from something else - sin.
I think the second reason Jesus didn't want people saying that he was the Messiah is that it would have made him an instant target for the Roman rulers. He knew that eventually they would kill him, but he wanted it done on his terms, at a certain place and time - in Jerusalem, at Passover.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why didn't people consider Jesus to be the Messiah during his lifetime?

I've been thinking about why people didn't consider Jesus to be the Messiah during his lifetime on Earth. He had preached that the kingdom of God was at hand. He had performed miracles, healing the blind, deaf, dumb and lame. He had even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had fed thousands of people with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread. But apparently nobody was thinking that he might be the Messiah. Instead, we get this: 
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare′a Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli′jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-14)
It seems that people were associating the idea of who the Messiah would be with a political/military leader. Someone who would kick out the Romans and re-establish the kingdom of Israel and the throne of David. Apparently that's why Jesus was so excited when he asks his disciples who they think he is and Peter replies,
“You are the Christ [Greek for "the Messiah"], the Son of the living God.”
I think most commentators interpret Peter's reply theologically - that Peter was saying that there was something supernatural or divine about Jesus. I'm beginning to think that's a mistake. It was common for Jews to refer to the king of Israel as "the son of God," meaning figurative, not real sonship. I suspect that is all that Peter meant, too. So I think that what got Jesus excited was that even though he had expressed no political views or made any military actions, Peter had somehow been able to see that Jesus was the king of Israel. Apparently it took something supernatural for that to happen. Thus Jesus responds,
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. "

Friday, October 31, 2014

Why Jesus is Our Good News

In Chapter 4 of the Gospel of Luke we are told that the devil tried to tempt Jesus. Here was one of the ways: 
" 5 And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”"
Jesus didn't argue with the devil that he was mistaken about thinking that all the authority of the kingdoms of the world had been delivered to the devil, to give to whom he willed. Apparently it was known by both of them that the devil was speaking the truth, for once. 
To people who know that it is true, finding out that 9/11 was an inside job does not come as a surprise. Finding out that all kingdoms of this world are controlled by the evil one does not come as a surprise. 
The surprise is for those of you who refuse to believe that truth. 
Our only hope is that Jesus will come and rescue us from this evil world that is controlled by the evil one. He is our good news. If you refuse to believe that, good luck finding good news to cling to in this world.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

9/11 Truth and the Strategy of Tension

Just finished reading an essay by Swiss historian Daniele Ganser, "The Strategy of Tension in the Cold War Period."…/2014GanserVol39May.pdf
It's a "brief" description (from his much longer, more scholarly book) of how it was slowly discovered that acts of terror carried out in Europe during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and blamed on communist organizations, were in fact carried out by right-wing organizations supported by NATO, the CIA and Britain's MI6. The purpose was to make it look like communists were behind the terror attacks and thus persuade people to favor more right-wing governments. 
Ganser, who is a 9/11 Truther, draws two conclusions from this:

"The two main arguments against the view that the attacks of 9/11 were influenced by the US government and its military have been a priori arguments. One of these is that civilized Western governments in general, and the US government in particular, would never do such a heinous thing. The other main a priori argument is that if the attacks of 9/11 were carried out by forces within America’s own government, this fact could not have remained secret for this long. The information in this article shows both of these arguments to be dubious at best." 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Spiritual Message of 9/11

Just watched the DVD, "The Anatomy pf a Great Deception," by David Hooper.
It's his story of how in 2011 he began investigating the events of 9/11. Of course, he became a 9/11 Truther. What I found most interesting was near the end, when he asks what kind of power could pull this off and make everybody keep quiet about it. He lets us know that he thinks he knows who it is, but he doesn't get specific. But the film ends with this quote from Ephesians 6:12, 
"For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
I suspect that in the long run, Hooper is right. In order to achieve places of power in this world, one must sell their souls to the devil. Whether or not that means they are taking orders directly from him or not, I couldn't say.…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why did Jesus give Peter the Keys to the Kingdom?

We are told in the Gospel of Matthew (16:19) that Jesus told his disciple Peter that he will give him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.  I was wondering, why Peter?  Then it hit me.  If you were standing at the gates of Heaven, wanting to get in, who would you want holding the keys?  I would want someone who had learned how little he himself deserved to be in Heaven, and therefore would look for whatever excuse he could find to get as many people as he could into Heaven, also.  Peter fits that bill very nicely.  After all, he denied Jesus not once, not twice, but three times.  Jesus forgave him.  That's the kind of guy who would know how little he deserves to be in Heaven, and who would do whatever he could to get everybody else in.  I wonder if Jesus knew that's the kind of guy Peter would be before He gave him the keys.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The PSA and why we might be afraid to ask God questions.

I just read Randal Rauser's blog post, "Is there still a place to tremble before God?"  It got me thinking about the Penal Substitution Atonement (PSA) theory, how I think it goes off course, and how it results in a bad view of God, which inhibits us from asking theological questions.   The PSA says that Jesus was punished for our sins in our place, and that this somehow fulfills justice.  This is a difficult doctrine to defend, because it violates our basic idea of justice - a person is punished for their own crimes or sins, not somebody else's.  We make exceptions when it comes to paying somebody else's fine for them.  But we wouldn't tolerate the idea of imprisoning or executing an innocent person instead of a guilty one and consider that some kind of justice. So why do we tolerate the idea when considering the Atonement?  We might try to justify it in all sorts of ways, but I think the bottom line is that we end up with an unjust and angry God.  And who would want to ask that kind of God any questions?  He might get really ticked off and zap us off the face of the earth.

I think the PSA is a misunderstanding of what was trying to be achieved in the sacrificial system of Israel.  The sin offering was not a substitute for punishment.  It was a way to remove sin, either from the Tabernacle and the holy things in it, or from the priests, or from the people.  It absorbed their sins, or the contamination of their sins, onto itself.  Then it was sacrificed, and its carcass burned outside of the camp.  Or on the Day of Atonement, the one goat was driven out into the wilderness, bearing the sins of the people on itself.  So the sacrifice wasn't being offered as a substitute for punishment, but as a way of removing and destroying sin.  

At this point someone might object, but isn't God still being unjust?  Afterall, the sacrificial animal didn't do anything to deserve being slain for somebody else's sins.  And that is true.  It is innocent and doesn't deserve to be killed.  But the point is that God isn't trying to achieve justice.  God is trying to get rid of sin from our lives.  From His point of view, sin is like snake venom coursing through our veins, slowly killing us.  And the idea is to figure out a way to get rid of it without killing us.  The animal sacrifice was a foreshadowing of the Messiah, who's death was a way to absorb our sins into Himself and destroy them.  It might not have been fair to Him to endure this, but it was something He did willingly.  And God raised Him from the dead and promises to raise us all, also, if we have faith in His Messiah.  

Anyway, once our atonement theory is corrected, we no longer have an unjust and angry God who won't tolerate questions.  He just won't tolerate sin. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Update on Using Existing Anti-Virals against Ebola in Africa

I first read about Dr. Logan successfully treating 13 out of 15 Ebola patients with the anti-viral medicine Lamivudine in late September and have wondered why the story wasn't covered more extensively.  Someone else has been wondering the same thing:

Ebola Update: Anti-Viral Med Passed NIH Aerosol Test in April; Another Reduces Lethality in Liberia.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Some Perspective on Current Global Warming?

To be honest, I don't know what to make of the global warming debate, or even if there should be a debate, or whether it is settled science, and there are just a bunch of oil-funded denialists disputing it.  However, I found this graph intriguing.  If it is accurate (is it?), then whatever global warming taking place right now seems rather minor, and not necessarily related to CO2 in the atmosphere.  But perhaps the experts have an explanation for it all.

Temperature Since 10,700 years ago.

HT:  Watts Up With That Paleoclimate Page.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Could I Be Happy in Heaven With a Loved One in Hell?

Revealing Randal Rauser's identity in the previous post led me to read one of his articles, How Could I Be Happy in Heaven with a Loved One in Hell?.  A difficult question to be sure.  It has led many of us to be "hopeful Univeralists," people who don't assert that Univeralism - the doctrine that all people will be saved - is true, but hope that it is true.

But what if it turns out that Universalism is false, and that some people, including some of our loved ones, spend eternity in Hell?  How could I, assuming I was one of the lucky ones, be happy in Heaven?

In the final book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, author C.S. Lewis offered what might be a possible solution.  A group of dwarves, who were thrown into a small hut and presumably died, are now alive in Aslan's country (Heaven), but believe that they are still in the small, dark, dirty hut.  All efforts to convince them that they are not in the hut but actually in Aslan's beautiful country prove fruitless.  Eventually giving up and leaving the dwarves squatting in a small, grumbling group, people move further up and further into Aslan's country to enjoy all it has to offer.  They are happy, even though the dwarves are miserable.

Now what if, instead of dwarves, it had been someone's close relative, such as the children's sister, Susan?  Could they happily have moved on, leaving her in misery?  I suspect yes, since her misery would be self-inflicted.  All the dwarves and Susan would have to do is admit they were wrong, and Aslan's country awaited them.  Their stubborn refusal to admit they were wrong is no reason to deny happiness to others, even if they are close relatives who still continue to love the ones in misery.

So if Hell is such a place as described in The Last Battle, where the door is locked from the inside and could always be opened if the person were willing to admit they were wrong, then I think we could understand how people could still be happy in Heaven, even if those in Hell were loved ones.  And if it is true that in Heaven we will be made perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, then all will be loved by all of us, wherever they are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Is C. Baxter Kruger a Heretic?

A fellowship that I used to attend has had a recent division over the teachings of  C. Baxter Kruger.  I read one of his books, most of which I enjoyed, but some of which gave me problems.  So I wrote to a professor of theology,  Randal Rauser, and asked him about the man.  His reply:

I've never heard of Baxter Kruger. However a 1 minute search shows that he has a book published with Regent College Publishing (my old alma mater) and the book has an introduction by Alan Torrance (Alan is a pillar of Scottish Presbyterian orthodoxy; I know him and he was one of the examiners for my PhD defense). In addition, Kruger studied under James Torrance (father or uncle of Alan; I forget which). James is another pillar of Presbyterian orthodoxy. 

In short, based on a 1 minute review I believe Kruger appears to be a solid theologian as I trust Regent College, Alan Torrance and James Torrance. If your acquaintances have specific charges that are documented, I'd take a look at them. 

I would say the burden of proof is on those who claim that Kruger holds heretical views.

UPDATE:  In a further email exchange, I mentioned that the main concern seemed to center around Kruger's views of the Atonement.  He replied:

As for penal substitution, the church corporate has never settled on a universally binding account of atonement to parallel the Trinity (Constantinople, 381) and incarnation (Chalcedon, 451). So I think your friends have a narrow (and incorrect) view of what constitutes orthodoxy and heresy. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Take a Bow, Eddie Current

When you go to all that trouble to fake a video, you deserve an encore, even if it's three years later.

Is This Video and Audio Proof of Explosions in WTC 7? On Second Thought, Probably Not.

If this isn't a doctored video -- and it doesn't appear to be doctored to me -- then we now have
 video and audio proof of explosions in WTC 7 just before its collapse.

UPDATE:  This site claims it's a fake, which would explain why the 9/11 Truth movement hasn't been using it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Ebola Probably Never Will Go Airborne

My curiosity has at least been temporarily satisfied.  A Nature article (from Scientific American) explains that right now Ebola enters the body through cracks in the skin, or fluid  around the eyes, nose, or mouth.  But it doesn't have the proteins needed to form attachments to respiratory cells.

Now I'm wondering if we're seeing an admission by most of the experts that there is an edge to evolution.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are Experts Worried that Ebola Could Become Airborne?

From this New York Times article:

 Officials said medical experts in the government were genuinely worried about the possibility of a mutation that could turn the virus into a more contagious sickness that could threaten the United States.

I'm not sure what "a more contagious sickness" would mean, other than one that became airborne.  Can anyone think of an alternative meaning?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

If Ebola Goes Airborne...

...The more people who are infected with the current strain of Ebola, the more opportunities it has to mutate into a form that is infectious in the air.  This article estimates that 1.2 million people will die if that happens. I strongly suspect that the number of deaths will be far greater. Currently, there are over 4,200 cases of infections, and over 2,400 known deaths.

UPDATE:  And according to  this article, we could get to one million patients in 18 weeks or less, even if it doesn't go airborne.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Gentile Rejection of Jesus

There's a story in the New Testament about Jesus traveling to a region known as the Decapolis.
I never bothered to find out what "Decapolis" referred to until today.  It was a region just to the east of Israel where ten cities were established after the conquest of Alexander the Great.  They were mostly gentile cities, with Greek colonists.  As  Wikipedia tells us
The New Testament gospels of MatthewMark, and Luke mention that the Decapolis region was a location of the ministry ofJesus. The Decapolis was one of the few regions where Jesus travelled in which Gentiles (people who are not Jewish) were in the majority. Most of Jesus' ministry focused on teaching to Jews. Mark 5:1-10 emphasizes the Decapolis' Gentile character when Jesus encounters a herd of pigs, an animal forbidden by Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws.

So here's the story in the Gospel of Mark: 
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger′asenes.[o] And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus[p] asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; 12 and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[q] to depart from their neighborhood. 18 And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap′olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.  (Mark 5:5-20, RSV)

So the author of the Gospel of Mark seems to make a not so subtle connection between the notorious non-Kosher pig and a place where demons prefer to live if they're exorcised from humans.  And given a choice between having someone who can get rid of demons or losing their means of making a living, the choice was obvious -- "We'll take the pigs." 
Interesting.  UPDATE:  Perhaps I should mention why I find this interesting.  We often hear that the New Testament is an anti-Semitic book, portraying Jews unfavorably, but Gentiles favorably.  Yet here we have a case where Gentiles, or at least those Gentiles who owned the pigs, aren't portrayed in a favorable light.  And given that a connection is made between pigs and demons, a not unfavorable light is cast on the Jews.  Again, interesting. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let Us Never Forget 9/11...

On the 13th Anniversary of 9/11, let us never forget that the United States is one of many countries known to have used false flag terrorist attacks in the past.  We should ask ourselves if 9/11 was another false flag terrorist attack.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

C.S. Lewis on How the Messiah's Death Saves Us

C. S. Lewis offered his own theory on how Jesus' death saved us, which somone kindly copied here: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Was the Messiah taking Responsibility for His Creation?

On October 23, 1983   suicide bombers killed 241 U.S. servicemen in Beirut, Lebanon.  There was controversy over why the buildings in which the soldiers were staying weren't better defended.  In December Ronald Reagan said that he took the blame and responsibility for any failures that took place in defending our servicemen, thus effectively ending any effort to assign blame to anyone else.  Even though Reagan probably had nothing to do with the negligence involved in properly defending our soldiers, his taking the responsibility gave the actual culprits a free pass.  As far as I know Reagan never suffered any of the consequences that would normally come from taking the blame for a tragedy of this magnitude.  He didn't resign.  He wasn't impeached and removed from office.  No criminal or civil litigation was ever brought against him.

But I'm not attempting political commentary.  Instead, I'd like to bring attention to the principal to which Reagan was appealing, and that we all accepted.  That principal is the idea that the person with the highest amount of authority has the most responsibility.  It is the same principal that people who don't believe in God use as part of their rationale:  If there is a God, then He is the one ultimately responsible for all the evil and wickedness, and the resultant pain and suffering, that take place in this world.  And perhaps there is something to that. 

I brought up the tragic story of the Beirut bombings because I am wondering if this principal can help us understand the meaning of Jesus' death. The story that followers of Jesus tell is this:  Jesus was the Son of God, who had been the agent that God used to create the universe.  If that story is true, and if our principal is correct, then Jesus was ultimately responsible, or at least co-responsible, for all the evil and wickedness that has taken place in this world.  If so, then should we understand Jesus' death as his admission that he was ultimately responsible for all the wrong that had happened in the world?  And was his death his way of suffering the consequences that should come from admitting that responsibility?   If that is the case, then just as the people under Reagan got a free pass, then are we also being given a free pass?  Is this Jesus' way of telling us, "I've got you covered."  By the way, the word "atonement" in the original Hebrew means "covering."  When followers of Jesus talk about being covered by his blood, is this what they mean?  If so, then this would seem to be very good news, indeed.  We get a free pass from God because his Son has taken the responsibility for all the things that we have done wrong. 

Of course, if the story is true, there is even better news than that.  For the followers of Jesus claim that death could not contain him, and that he rose from the dead on the third day.  And they say that he promises to raise us from the dead and give us eternal life if we will have faith in him and try to obey his commandments.  And they say that his commandments are to love each other the way that he loved us.  If we hurt someone, to make it right.  And if we are hurt, to forgive.  And not to look out for our own welfare, but for the welfare of others.  And they say that just as he was quick to forgive all our past sins, he is quick to forgive all our present failings (of which there will be a multitude).  

So if Ronald Reagan got it right (for once?), maybe we now have insight to what Jesus accomplished long ago.  Worth thinking about. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seeing the Messiah as our Ark

A common view among Christians is that we humans were on trial before God, who demands justice, and who found us guilty, and that Jesus stood in for us and took on the sentence of death in our place.  To many (including me) this sounds a bit quirky.  If we are the guilty ones, why punish somebody innocent in our place?  How does that fulfill justice?

I suspect that a better understanding of how the Messiah's death saves us can be found by considering the story of the flood and Noah's ark.  God's judgment was that our evil world should be destroyed, along with everything evil that is in it.  The means of judgment was a worldwide flood.  The ark was the only thing capable of going through and surviving the flood.  Thus, anyone in the ark was saved. 

If we apply that picture to the Messiah, then he was the only one who can go through the punishment of death and survive.  Anyone "in" him will also go through death and survive.  Thus, the Messiah had to suffer death and be raised from the dead, so that we can be united with him in death and likewise be raised with him to new life.  

But how are we to be united with the Messiah?  Is it only for those who believe in him?  What about the rest of the world, who have never heard of him, or have been raised in a different religion?  Are they to perish?  

There is a difference of opinion among Christians about those questions.  My own view is that those who are trying to live their lives by goodness and justice and mercy, are living by faith in the Messiah, who is the essence of goodness and justice and mercy, whether they know him personally or not.  I suspect that they will find out that they were on the Ark the whole time.  

Meanwhile, those who claim to believe in the Messiah, but do not try to live their lives by goodness and justice and mercy, will find out that they were never on the Ark.  

Oh Lord, help us to live our lives by goodness, justice, and especially mercy, that you will be merciful to us on the last day. 

ADDENDUM:   I need to add that it is only my opinion that that those who try to live their lives by goodness, justice, and mercy will be on the Ark.  There are no words in the New Testament from Jesus or his followers that guarantees that.  I can tell you that if you believe on The Lord Jesus and be baptized and continue trying to follow him, in terms of goodness, justice, and mercy, you will be saved.  If you decide that you will not believe in Jesus, I am not allowed to give you any assurance that you will be saved.

ADDENDUM 2:  If someone said to Noah, "I refuse to get on the Ark, but I try to live the right way," I don't think Noah would have been comfortable telling them they would survive the flood.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Myth of the Gaps

A good post by James F. McGrath on why Jesus-Mythicism is unconvincing:  Myth of the Gaps.

Also read his Mythicist Eisegesis in 1 Corinthians 11.

UPDATE:  And Jonathan Bernier has a post on Mythicism worth reading:  Putting the Myth in Mythicism.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NSA Whistleblower Signs 911 Truth Petition

A former technical director of the NSA and one of its first whistleblowers, William Binney, has signed the petition at, demanding a new investigation into the collapses of the three high-rise World Trade Center towers on 9/11.  His interview can be heard at 9/11 Free Fall podcast.

When asked why he signed the petition, Binney explained that he had talked with engineers and physicists who pointed out that the NIST investigation into the collapses had selectively ignored basic facts relevant to understanding the collapses, so that at best, their investigation was based on sloppy science.  In addition, he knew of controlled demoliton experts who said that their collapses looked just like controlled demolitions.  In light of that knowledge there wasn't good enough reason to trust the NIST investigation, and that a new one was required. 

He also asked the question, how much should we trust this government, given the amount of  illegal spying on people that they do.  

From here the interview went into an in depth discussion of the NSA, why he left, and how he had tried to use all legal means to expose what was going on there.  Along the way he pointed out that 9/11 was in the interests of those who had wanted to expand the power of NSA, even saying that the former head of the NSA had said that they needed a major catastrophic event in order to change things at the NSA; that 70% of all their funding ($100 billion a year of government funding goes to the intelligence community) went to private contracts, so that just as we have a military/industrial complex, so we also have an intelligence/industrial complex. 

He quoted a proverb that he said is used across all government agencies:  "Keep the problem going so the money keeps flowing."

Because he believed that the NSA was in direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, Binney said that he left the agency at the end of October 2001, after learning that they were using his program to monitor electronic data of all citizens.  He made it clear that the new million square foot storage area that the NSA has build in Utah is there in order to store all the electronic data of everybody. 

He said that NIST's refusal to release data on their investigation of the collapses is a manifestation of how government agencies go about covering up their failures, but that this makes them an accomplice to any crimes involved in 9/11, either of its cover-up or of its actual perpetration.