This was the first Reformation Boise Conference since the Coronavirus hit. I was concerned that it wouldn’t have a good turnout due to people being limited in their travel from other states, or being hesitant to gather together, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how many folks did attend. In my estimation it was over 400. I’m not sure how many actually were there. This was just my personal estimation… Don’t be hatin’ if I got that wrong.
I went with a friend from my local Church. We both had a great time. It was good to see that we are not alone in Idaho. I don’t know how much you know about the spiritual state of Idaho. It has been predominately Mormon for an exceedingly long duration. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) For those of you who don’t know what Mormonism is, it is a works-righteousness cult developed by a con-man and false prophet named Joseph Smith. Like all cults, they insist they are Christians while denying, the deity of Christ, the trinity, the nature of sin, and righteousness, monogamous marriage, and the aseity of God just to name a few key points. I hope you get the picture. They are not the only cult in Idaho. There are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Seventh Day Adventists, and a few other minor ones. The rest of the religious landscape is filled up with different Arminian, Pelagian, and Semi-Pelagian anthropocentric denominations.
I had never known an Idaho, my entire life, that wasn’t Mormon primarily. That is why it has been so very encouraging to have this convention annually. I, along with others who believe like I do, get to meet up, and listen to intelligent, and educated men, give discourse on topics of great theological import. This is edifying to the body of Christ. I can’t speak for everyone, but I assume they feel similarly, else why would they return year after year? It is wonderful to see the same people year after year, and have fellowship. It is also a great blessing to be able to purchase books at the book tables. This year they were offered at cost simply to get the resources into the hands of those who need them, and would use them.
I know they are probably tired of hearing it, but thanks for putting the conference on. It takes a lot of planning and work.
If you are like me you’ve probably not heard of Paul Dirks. As it turns out, we’ve been missing out. He is a very thoughtful man. Here is a short bio I pulled from Amazon, “Paul Dirks is Lead Pastor of New West Community Baptist Church, where he has served for 12 years. He lives in New Westminster, BC, Canada, with his wife Rachel and their five children. Dirks has published on other topics including sexuality and gender at The Public Discourse.”
When I was contacted via e-mail about doing a review, I was a bit dubious. Most of the people who contact me for reviews are from backgrounds that eschew deeper theological thinking. I refuse some, and others I warn, and ask if they are certain they want me to do a review. After reading a bit about the book’s topic, and corresponding with Paul a couple of times, I became more enthusiastic about his work.
The book was a much more thorough treatment of the topic of Hell than I anticipated. Paul cites many source texts, and they are included in the Bibliography for one to verify. This was a pleasant relief from the hearsay that floods arguments from social media keyboard warriors and, “Biblical scholars.”
The notion of Hell, and the included eternal suffering, is very unpleasant. So much so, that most people attempt to convince themselves it doesn’t exist, or that they are a good person, and would never end up there. As a Christian, it has bothered me, and it was one of the main reasons I began to read the Bible before I was a Christian. Before I understood certain attributes of God, I couldn’t figure out how to make hell fit with what I knew. All I could do, was trust what the Bible said. A book like this might have saved me some time. I don’t want to give away the key arguments against Hell, and for Hell, because Paul does a great job of laying those out in the book. I do want to encourage you to give it a read if you have been struggling to understand how the fact that there is a Hell, and people will end up there, and it is a good thing. This book does a pretty good job of explaining it all. However, at times, it might be a bit too much for some newer Christians, or people who aren’t used to following a thought through. It isn’t as accessible as some other works on the topic, but it is more thorough, and nuanced. On the other end of the spectrum, high minded theologians might see it as an offering for the neophytes among them. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are on, I do think you’ll agree about the value of this work for the body. With that in mind, I recommend his book. I Think it adds value to the individual Christian’s library, and can be a valuable aid in helping a friend understand as well. Get a copy for yourself, and one to give away. You can buy them on Amazon.
Since Paul was amicable to the idea of doing some Q. & A. I thought I’d include that as part of the review. Those follow below. My Questions are numbered and his answers follow each one.
1. I think understanding God’s authority in juxtaposition to our human subjection to that authority, properly understood, should bring sharp contrast to the monolithic difference between the two. Do you think that this contrast of an infinitely authoritative Creator and His subject creatures, is sufficient for most Christians to understand the justice of an eternal Hell? Why/why not?
I think that goes a long ways to understanding the justice of hell, but there are hurdles for most people in how God’s characteristics (love, goodness, mercy, justice) interrelate. Furthermore, there are questions like those the apostle Paul asks and answers in Romans 9 concerning God’s authority itself. But I think you are generally correct. Cultures which tend towards understanding authority and subjection, even in society, tend to have far less concerns with the doctrine of hell.
2. The thought of going to Hell is very disturbing. There are times when Christians doubt that God has justified them, and they begin to fear that they will end up in Hell. Could you briefly explain where assurance is found?
Eternal torment in hell is indeed disturbing. Praise God that He offers absolute assurance of salvation in an historical and objective work–the substitute death of Jesus Christ upon the cross for our punishment –the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God (1 Pet 3:18). The saint ought to now hear “it is finished” (Jn 19:30) echo in his soul when faced with doubts, and claim passages like Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” A proper understanding of inherent (if imperfect) righteousness also helps for assurance. When rightly understood, unbelievers do not thank God, acquiesce to His will, or love the brotherhood of believers. All these and more are “green shoots”–signs that a person is a new creature in Christ, in spite of remaining sin and struggles. The book of 1 John is helpful in this regard.
3. Do you hate neck ties? I was just curious. Thought I’d throw you a softball.
Nope! In a different cultural context, I would have no problem wearing a necktie most days.
4. How has the governments response to the coronavirus impacted your local Church?
In my view, our government (and most around the world) significantly overreacted to COVID. There were points over the last year or so that the uneven application of their regulations were unfair towards churches and certainly undermined guaranteed charter rights of worship. At almost every point we have opened to in-person services as soon as possible, while also offering on-line services. I am thankful for the unity of our church and elders, without which we could not have navigated the complexities of this time. Even with that unity, it has been challenging. I do wish I had given more time to doing personal visits during what was a more extended lockdown than I expected, but our church has mostly weathered the storm and is doing quite well. The maturity of our saints has been evident in all this.
5. How has good theology helped keep fear in its proper place?
Yes, it has been crucial. I see so much fear around us, and not only from unbelievers. Truths like the immanence of death, the providence of God in health and healing, the focus we are to have on eternity, the fear of God which drives out the fear of man, are all helpful for peace during these difficult times.
6. What was the deciding factor in determining to write your book?
As I state in the introduction, a statement from a man I greatly admire that he “wished there was no such thing as hell,” really provoked me. As a reformed theologian who believes in God’s sovereignty, election, and that He does all things ultimately for His glory, there was something not quite right about that statement. I think that thought also reflects what I see in practice, that many preachers speak of hell in a biblically imbalanced way, emphasizing the sinner’s choice to be there and describing it as a place apart from God. These things are not untrue, but they don’t capture the centre or balance of Christ’s words on the subject. So I guess that I saw within my own tribe an imbalance that needed to be corrected and a puzzle that needed to be solved. I love digging into theological puzzles and I felt like there was a book in it that had never been written (Hartman’s Divine Penology is probably the closest thing). Since then I have come to realize how many otherwise-mature Christians struggle with the doctrine of hell, and it has been encouraging to offer help and some answers.
7. On page 133 I found Anselm’s argument “…that our sins are worthy of an infinite punishment because they are committed against an infinite majesty…” to be sufficient. This concept is where I stopped when I was looking into the justice of Hell as an expression of God’s love. I found satisfaction there, so I didn’t delve deeper. How difficult was it for you to read many of the other arguments, isolate them, and refute them after dealing with this argument?
I think different people find different arguments compelling or sufficient. Anselm’s argument is brilliant because it ties God’s infinite honor (a somewhat abstract concept) to our infinite obligation to Him and then proves it’s infiniteness by a ratcheting measurement of differing obligations (there are places in Jonathan Edward’s preaching that he also makes many of these connections.) Those who dismiss Anselm’s argument by saying it is tied to his feudal context haven’t understood him at all.
To be honest, I love reading the opposing arguments. It’s another puzzle. I know enough (God’s word is sufficient) to know they are wrong, but there is reward and even enjoyment in discovering how they are wrong and seeing what truths or emphases surface in refuting those positions (as well as which nuggets of truth are there in the erroneous positions.) For instance, I remember coming across Kronen and Reitan’s argument in “Species of Hell” and thinking, “now finally, that is a decent argument against hell–how are they wrong?” (See chapter 9). Conundrums are some of the best aids to developing clarity.
9. I understand that a loving God must also be just. How difficult was it for you to connect in your arguments God’s justice via hell, and His love?
I think the challenge for some people, and a challenge also to communicate, is how justice requires punishment. We live in a world in which the retributive aspect of punishment is routinely downplayed, if not denied altogether. Once you have arrived at the understanding that justice requires punishment of evil, then the connection to God’s love (or goodness) is easier to make. For much of history, starting with the church fathers, it has been an accepted axiom that the one who loves love must therefore hate hate and punish it, as the two are necessarily equivalent. I don’t think most people today, including Christians, would consider that axiomatic.
10. Do you have any other writing projects in the pipe?
My wife would laugh at this question! Yes. The question is what will actually see the light of day anytime soon. I am currently working on a study guide for Is There Anything Good About Hell? Within a month or two I will be releasing L. B. Hartman’s peerless but obscure work on hell and justice, Divine Penology. I wrote an extended biographical introduction for the book, which was very enjoyable. No biography exists of this notable 20th century Baptist pastor and author. I am also doing a significant amount of reading and work for a future book on the Trinity, very tentatively called The Eschatological Trinity, but it may be five or six years before that sees the light of day. I have a couple other smaller projects that might be published prior to that, including a fictional short story which I may release in serial fashion, chapter by chapter, via podcast.
11. What Bible are you currently using, and which one would you like to get in the future? I know this is unrelated, but it is relevant to my platform.
I’m a big fan of the ESV, although I am not dogmatic about translation choices. A year and a half ago I “splurged” on a Schuyler Personal Size Quentel in calfskin. Beauty is a virtue and though I tend towards being economical, I have enjoyed having a bible that is aesthetically pleasing to look at and a pleasure to use. It’s relatively small, but the typography and layout compensates significantly for the font size and its close to perfect for carrying around with me everywhere. Because I use Logos for much of my study, I don’t buy print bibles very often. I was intrigued with the Weidmann ESV journaling bible you recently reviewed, and that might go on the gift list for my wife. I think I can get away with saying that–I doubt she’ll read this!
I was unaware of this translation being available in a printed physical edition until I saw one on social media. One of my online friends had recently been touting it as possibly being, “The one.” He has been looking for an accurate translation that reads well. Many of us are longtime fans of Lockman’s 1995 New American Standard Bible. (N.A.S.B.) It has been a reliable formal equivalent translation since its release. We haven’t been looking for a new translation, but some were not satisfied so the 2020 NASB became a reality.
The 2020 NASB has been well received by many, but others like me, were not happy with many of the translation choices made in this most recent work. Some of us have been looking for a replacement that reads, “better.” This subjective preference is responsible for the majority of NASB readers opting to adopt the 2020 NASB.
Others like myself are waiting for something with a stricter translation philosophy. Enter the Legacy Standard Bible (L.S.B.) Master’s Seminary has been working on tightening up the translation work of the 1995 NASB. They have released a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. The entire Bible will be released later this year, God permitting. I’m still in this camp. (For the time being.)
My friend and his like-minded counterparts insist on an accurate translation, that handles the Hebrew and Greek gendered words properly without the addition of modern sociopolitical ideologies being utilized in the interpretive process. Along with these core principles they also want a translation that is more accessible than the 1995 NASB was in their opinion. This is where the BSB comes in.
I really didn’t want to like the BSB, and was looking at sections of scripture, and their translation choices very critically. I wanted to find a reason to not like it. I attribute this bias to the fact that a bunch of the people I know on social media were fawning over it ad nauseam. It was like being forced to watch your friend and his new girlfriend baby talk each other. So, being the reasonable adult that I am, I requested a Bible for review. I hadn’t really considered my bias against the BSB until I began using it for my daily reading. I am usually critical of, “new” translations. Especially given the horrible track record of some new translations. I proceeded to use the BSB the way I normally do when I get a new Bible for review. I try to live with it for a while and use it side by side with my 1995 NASB, and some language tools on my computer. (I like Olive Tree’s Bible Study program. I’ve invested a good amount of cash on these tools, but not as much as my Logos friends.) When I read a section that seems different to me, I compare it the NASB, then I look up the Greek in Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28) in the Bible Study app.
I need to state a disclaimer here. I am not a Koine Greek expert. I have had more Koine Greek than some Preachers, but not as much as I would need to be a translator. With that out of the way, keep in mind that all translation involves interpretation. You can have a valid translation of a section of scripture that is quite different than another person’s. This is why you need to have an education in the original languages instead of simply using concordances, and computer programs. It is like having a semester of philosophy and presuming you can fix all the worlds problems. Without the education, you aren’t aware of the period in history, the idioms, ways in which a specific word was primarily used, other extrabiblical contemporary texts to cross reference usage, regional differences, translation conventions, some textual criticism, and so on.
Since God is the author, and we want to understand what He intended to communicate, we need to seek to interpret what we are translating in such a way that His intended ideas are communicated. Just because a translation is linguistically valid does not necessarily make it a good or bad translation.
I started coming around after the first week of using the BSB. I don’t think it will be, “the one” for me, but it is one that I will use. I am still waiting for the LSB. I’d be very very interested in the Berean Literal Bible. I asked about it in one of my e-mail correspondences with John at Bereanstudybible;
Q: “Are there plans to make a physical edition of the BLB?”
A: “We are hoping to offer the full draft OT and NT of the BLB online around the end of the year or early in 2022. Following that time there will be a period for additional translation input, public comment, and consistency checking. For the full BSB this period was about 2 years before finalizing and beginning the printing process, so a comparable time period is expected before a BLB printing.”
I am excited for this translation. After using the BSB, it seems to me to be more formal than the first era NIV’s, which utilized a dynamic translation philosophy, and less formal than the ESV. I’d add it seems more formal than the CSB in my opinion. I do like the translation, in as much as I’ve been exposed to it. I can tentatively recommend the BSB as a translation.
Beyond the translation we have to talk about the actual physical Bible itself. It was shipped in a card-paper envelope with minimal protection. Inside it was in plastic. I hoped it wasn’t damaged. When I opened it up, it was apparent that the text block was exceptionally manufactured. I was impressed at how flexible it was, as well as the paper’s thickness. My first impression was that the spine was smyth sewn. I thought to myself, “Surely it isn’t sewn since it only costs around forty bucks?” I made sure to ask about it.
Q: “What process was employed to manufacture the spine?”
A: “The Printer was Sheridan in Grand Rapids MI and the Case Binding for the Softcover was done at Bintech in Nashville, TN. The Bibles are Smyth Sewn Flex bound (Caseside).”
As many of you know by now, there has been further verification of this by the re-binders who have since posted pictures of the spine to social media. The paper is 45 g.s.m. which is 30.5# with 88% opacity. The inside liner that connected the text block to the cover was a nice change. It was flexible, tough, and didn’t wrinkle as bad as traditional materials.
The cover material is called, “Alpha Aston” manufactured by Ecologicalfibers Inc. The cover material is already starting to show damage from use. I would not trust this cover material to last a long time. Synthetics can be cost effective, but they are rarely as durable as a good quality leather.
This Bible was printed by Sheridan in Grand Rapids Michigan U.S.A. I am happy about that. I really don’t like it when slave labor is used to print a Bible.
The print is a double column, paragraph format, black text edition, in 10 point font. It is clearly printed for the most part with only a few noticed smears of the text. There are some translation notes at the foot of the page.
Here are some more questions and answers from my correspondence with them;
Are you structured as a ministry, not for profit, non-profit, or something else?
Bible Hub is privately owned. I would say it is structured as a ministry (but supported by advertising so does not take donations.) The translation work was commissioned using ad revenue from the Bible Hub site.
How important is it to the translators to directly translate, when possible, gendered nouns, and pronouns, and allow the reader, with the surrounding scriptural contexts, to come to the correct conclusions?
The translators seek to be true to the original Scripture text regarding gender. Pronoun clarification was permitted where helpful to the reader. Clarifications, parsing, and variants are indicated in the word by word translation tables which are freely available at: https://berean.bible/downloads.htm
Are there plans to make a physical edition of the BLB?
We are hoping to offer the full draft OT and NT of the BLB online around the end of the year or early in 2022. Following that time there will be a period for additional translation input, public comment, and consistency checking. For the full BSB this period was about 2 years before finalizing and beginning the printing process, so a comparable time period is expected before a BLB printing.
Q: “Are there any plans to produce different text blocks? i.e. single column, verse format, personal size, thinline, so on and so forth?”
A: “Depending on sales, a personal size is most likely next. The other options are also strong considerations for the future, but not likely in the very near future.”
Q: “What has your experience been working with an American printer for this edition?”
A: “We have worked with Sheridan (formerly Dickinson) in Grand Rapids for both the NT and full printing and are very happy with their work. Since we are printing in smaller volumes in this early stage, printing in the US is a cost effective solution. Since we are located in the US we prefer to work locally as long as it is reasonably cost effective.”
Overall, I found the translation to be sound. The Bible size was just right allowing for a very comfortable and legible font size. The binding was my favorite feature. The flexible text block should also prove to be durable. The only negative I really have is about the flexible synthetic soft cover. I don’t think it will last long. The text block really deserves a better cover option. I think many people agree as I have seen numerous rebinds on social media. I am looking forward to their future work. Make sure to check out the rest of the photographs on my Flickr page, and watch the youtube video.
Crossway was kind enough to send me a copy of the Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling edition. This particular one is a burgundy colored, cloth over board, hard back, case bound Bible. It comes in an ornate slipcase that you should maintain for shelf storage to keep your Bible looking good, and to make it last.
We’ve all seen pictures or videos of books from the dark ages that have ornate drawings, and stylized artistic renderings of plant vines, leaves, fruits, and other various things on the covers, spines, page edges, and on the pages themselves. When a book has these features, it is said to be, “illuminated.” Imagine a monk in an abbey some place in Europe, bent over a page of vellum, (animal skin) using a quill, a dip pen, different colored inks, along with gold leaf, to decorate the page of a hand copied Bible. Books were not mass-produced back then. They were very expensive, and time consuming to make. The most valuable book of all time is the Bible. That is not up for debate.
In today’s era of mass-produced clones, it is nice to see something different, but the nagging truth comes back to ruin the illusion for me. This is a mass-produced Bible. It is a very nice mass-produced Bible, but it is mass-produced. The novelty of having all of the art inside, and on the cover is nice, and many people will enjoy this embellishment.
The immense upside of having a mass-produced illuminated Bible is that everyone can afford to have one, and enjoy the word along with the supporting art. Even in today’s day and age, if you were to commission a one off Bible to be made to your desired specifications, retained an artist to do the work, and then had the thing printed and bound, you would be spending a small fortune. I can’t even estimate how much it would cost. This Bible can be had for less than sixty bucks.
For those of you who are still here, and didn’t skip out, I have some other information for you that isn’t on those pages. I’ve already told you about the slipcase. Now we’ll get into the details of the Bible. The artwork is done in what looks to be a gold colored foil stamping of some kind. It is very pleasing to look at.
The spine has four raised decorative hubs. Between them we have, Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition, English Standard Version, and the Crossway logo at the foot. The flowers, leaves, and vines harken back to traditional illumination features. The cover is also decorated in a similar fashion. The burgundy colored cloth is pretty typical of cloth covered hardback books. This Bible has cream colored head and tail bands, as well as a burgundy colored ribbon marker. The page edges are gold gilt. The spine doesn’t look rounded. The corners are not either.
There was an issue with some pages that the corners had folded into the text block during trimming. When that happens, they don’t get trimmed. When you unfold them, they stick out further than all the pages. I believe that would be covered under warranty, but I usually take care of it myself with a razor blade. You have to be very careful. If it is more than a couple of pages, you’re better off sending it back because those pages were not gilt if they were tucked in. Since this was only a couple pages, it wasn’t a big deal. It does happen from time to time though.
I know I shouldn’t like the end papers as much as I do, but I can’t help it. I assume the same artist, “Dana Tanamachi” did the art for them as well. This is a case bound, hard back, with paste down end pages attaching the text block to the cover. Two blank end pages precede the ornate presentation page. The sewn spine’s threads contrast with the darker presentation page, making them easier to see. The darker colors on the presentation page do remind me of some of the illumined books I’ve seen over the years. After that is a burgundy colored title page with gold stamped art. Then there is the publisher’s page, Table of Contents, About the ESV, and an Introduction for this illuminated edition.
Each book starts with a full page of gold colored thematic art. There is a drop cap at the beginning of each book and full page artistic scripture quotes interspersed. The page numbers, chapter numbers, and address references at the head of the page are all in gold colored ink. The text is laid out in a single column, paragraph format. The font is a uniformly printed 9 point Lexicon type. This is a black letter edition. The page margins are approximately 2 inches wide. They are not ruled. There is art interspersed throughout in the margins as well.
One of the more impressive features in my opinion is the 42 g.s.m. cream colored paper. It is easy on the eyes, and contrasts nicely with the text. Since it is so heavy it helps to reduce ghosting dramatically. In conjunction with the wide margins the paper is good for taking notes. With all of the bold lines in the art the paper can’t stop it from showing through from the other side. This is only distracting when it is the full page art at the beginning of the chapter as it is visible through the text on the opposite page when it is turned over it. At the end of the Bible there is an Index of Title Pages. It includes explanations of how the art expresses some of the themes found in the book. Finally, at the end there is a page with the names of the people who comprised the team that published this edition. There were also 4 blank end pages to write on if need be.
I like this edition on an aesthetic level. If that were the only reason to buy it, I think I would probably hold off. If you are like me, that just isn’t enough to warrant the purchase, but when you consider the 42 g.s.m. paper, and the 2 inch margins, as well as the price, it start to make a lot more sense. Perhaps more art influenced thinkers would buy this solely because of the art? I’m sure you folks are out there, and probably already own this one. For some of the more curmudgeonly among us, add a little flair to your life while getting a solid translation along with great print quality, terrific paper, and a good value. You can see more pictures on my Flickr album for this Bible.
There has always been law givers, enforcers, and violators. The first law breakers were Adam and Eve. The only transcendent and just law giver is God Himself. As far as humans are concerned, whoever the strongest thug is makes the law, and his subservient men enforce it. The rest of the people in the area are subjects to it. This does not make it just. Since only God is just, even the most conscientiously written human laws will fall short of God’s laws in terms of justice. Since God is the only omniscient being, He is the only one who can judge justly. Mankind will always only know part of what he can know, and that part will not be known perfectly. His judgments are based on his faulty knowledge, understanding, and communications.
In the earliest times of human history, men have made laws. Monarchs have ruled. Feudal systems reigned. These men were from all tribes and tongues, all colors, and creeds. It is a sad, inane, ignorant, backwards, brainwashed slave, that believes the lies of the woke crowd. Evil, sinners, oppress other evil sinners, at will as long as there is no law written on their hearts to stop them. Only an internal law from God will stop a man from doing evil, and evil continuously. Color does not matter.
When men came here from England, they brought the laws of the English monarchy. The Puritans brought the laws of God. They attempted to govern themselves by employing the scriptures as their authoritative source of law. The Church enforced the laws on the people, but one of the major differences is that they were willing to be governed. The lawless people in America today however don’t want to be governed by what God says is good or evil. They want to make up the laws themselves. They want to subject us to their twisted views of right and wrong. That is where all this woke nonsense is coming from. They don’t care about justice. They only care about themselves. They are selfish children wresting the power away from the adults because they are spoiled brats. When everything is racist, nothing is. They have nothing to complain about so they create problems. They need to look at their own lives first, and get to work there.
Where does justice come from? God. Where does just law come from? God. Where does the notion of law enforcement come from? God. The minister of justice does not bear the sword in vain. The legal system did not start as a racist system to recapture slaves. That is preposterous. Policing did not come from a racist system to recapture slaves. If you want just laws, you must repent of your sins, and trust the true law giver Who is also the only just judge. The laws of our country will only be just when we are a Christian nation. You wanted to depart from your Christian heritage and faith… Look where it has gotten you! Confused, self-loathing, and full of bitterness, and hate.
How often have smart people been wrong lately? Quite often. Why? Because they start with a false presupposition. When a person starts with the belief that God does not exist, then builds their scientific practices on that belief, they end up with wrong assumptions, and conclusions. That is why I don’t agree with them about their conclusions on climate change, evolution, abortion, euthanasia, and mask wearing, or as I like to call them, “Freedom filters.”
There are only a few truly scientific studies out there, but they are wrong to begin with. One of them has a cage of infected mice, opposite a cage of healthy mice, with mask material between the cages, and fans blowing over the infected mice towards the uninfected ones. That is flawed because it is not analogous to human individuals wearing masks and mingling with each other. One of the other studies demonstrates how different freedom filters stop droplets from being transmitted. They only measure droplets, not smaller particles of water vapor. Other studies are even more anecdotal.
Keep in mind, when your freedom filter catches your breath, the droplets, may collect on the surface, but as you breath in and out, evaporative action occurs. You are actually making a finer mist out of your virus laden respirations. You are still vulnerable to pathogens that are very small, like a virus.
I am a man. I am an individual created by God with certain rights and liberties. I have the God given right to self determination. You could call this a religious belief if you want, but it is much more foundational than that. It is the idea that the government cannot tell me how to take care of my health. If I want to drink a pot of coffee, eat ten bacon burgers a day, and lay around, I can do it. I will suffer the consequences as an individual. You don’t have to take care of me out of the public coffer. I have to pay for my medical bills, and suffer the physical consequences. I have the right, as a man, to self determination.
That right is subordinate to God, His will, His law, and His word. My right, is necessary for me to navigate the world that He made. I operate inside of the nature that I am bound to. As a Christian, my new nature allows me to live in the spirit, and die in the flesh. I know that this world is not the be all end all. If wearing a freedom filter gives you the false sense of safety that you desire, go ahead and wear one. I don’t want to wear one because I know the so called science behind their effectiveness is a lie. When I am told to do something that I know is a lie, I get righteously angry. For instance, the world wants me to celebrate gay marriage, divorce, abortion, transgenderism, paganism, perversions of all sorts, and I get angry! With good reason. Because all those things are lies straight from hell.
Don’t expect me to buy what you are selling just because there is some pseudo-science studies, or claims behind it. After all, these are the geniuses who claimed the world would end due to an ice age before I graduated from high school. Then they claimed we’d all be dead due to global warming. Now they call it climate change because they can’t make up their minds. These are the same folks who can’t say definitively what gender a person is, or anything else for that matter. They even believe we evolved from apes, and are getting better, smarter, and longer lived, lol. Good luck with those, “scientific” beliefs fellas. Let me know how that works out for you. Until my end comes, I want to go about without a freedom filter. I am not hurting you by not wearing one. You are a mindless cow following the other cows to the slaughter house. I’ve had the virus and lived through it. If I hadn’t, I’d gone to be with Jesus. Win, win in my book. The only people who fear death, are the ones who don’t know Jesus!
Here is the bad news. We are all sinners, and deserve death and hell. God should kill us right now, and send us there. The good news is that He came to this world, lived a righteous life, laid that life down as a sinless sacrifice, was crucified on a Roman cross. There He took our sin guilt on Himself, and He took the wrath of God, poured out on Him in our place, as our substitute. He paid the penalty that we own in His precious blood. He atoned for us. We are commanded to repent of our sins, and trust the work that Jesus did on the cross so we can be made right with God. Because of what He did, we can be with Him in eternity. Repent, and believe folks. There is no thing on Earth that can stop your death. 100% of us will die.
Have you ever had a D.N.A. analysis done? I had one done. I was surprised by the results. I was confident that I knew what ethnic groups I descended from. As it turns out, there was a lot more to it than what I had originally thought. Apparently, I descend from people as far north as Oslo, Norway, and as far south as Nigeria. I recently watched a video on the internet where a lady was anxiously awaiting her D.N.A. results to see what tribe she was from in Africa. She was very excited, but when she read the results, she began to cry as if she had been crushed. You see, she was over 60% European. Now, looking at her, you would think that her ethnic heritage would be mostly from the continent of Africa. Her skin was very dark. Her hair was kinky. Her eyes were dark brown. Her facial characteristics were largely similar to other people with her descendancy, but here’s the rub. Most people who the godless leftists would call, “black” are not what they superficially appear to be on the outside, and most people who they call, “white” are not what they have been labeled either.
This nonsense of Critical Race Theory, and intersectionality, are all the exact types of prejudice we sought to eradicate in this country during the civil rights movement, and we were largely successful. Why on Earth would we want to go back to categorizing, and judging people based on something as superficial, and meaningless, as their skin color? However, this is exactly what the left is insisting we do with the practice of, “anti-racism.” This buzzword, “anti-racism” doesn’t mean that we should simply disapprove of prejudice based on skin color. No, it requires that we actively try to punish, cancel, and brainwash anyone who doesn’t fall in lockstep with the radical leftists. They have created a term, “racism” to be the label they give a person to negate their arguments. This only works because many are afraid of being called a racist. They, “poison the well” by calling you a racist. To quote one of the proponents of this prejudiced ideology, “One is either racist or anti-racist. There is no room for neutrality, and there is no such thing as a “non-racist.” Racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.
This is a logical fallacy, and people seem to be falling for it. The presupposition this statement is founded on is that you are either or. They present a false dilemma. While making an absolute statement they leave no room for any other option. According to Kendi, you are either a racist, or you are an anti-racist. As noted above, they also utilize the, “poisoning the well” fallacy by claiming that you are a racist. This way, other’s opinions of you, and your argument are affected before your debate even begins. The lost are at a disadvantage because they have been given over to debased minds, perversion, and they believe that they are wise. They also believe that they can hear, see, and know the truth, even though God says in His word that they are deaf, blind, and lost. To them, we are the fools, and the evil doers.
Just like all other sinful lies people have enthusiastically embraced, the notion of, “racism” as portrayed by the godless left leads individuals to believe that they are victims of other people, they see themselves as entitle to being treated a certain way, and it gives them feelings of justifiable anger, and hatred towards other individual humans, based on something as superficial, and meaningless, as the color of their skin. The only solution for hate in the heart, is to receive a new heart, with new affections, and desires. Do you know how to receive that new heart? If you confess your sins to God, and ask Him to forgive you, not based on your own goodness, which you do not have, Jesus said, “None are good, but God.” You must trust in the work that Jesus did on the cross to pay for your sins, and trust Him alone. When you repent of your sins, and trust the Savior, you’ll step from eternal death, and darkness, into eternal light, and life. God will give you a new heart, that desires, and thirsts for righteousness, and loves God’s word. Please, to destroy prejudice based on skin color in your own heart, repent of sin, and trust the Savior. Don’t buy into these worldly ideologies like critical race theory. It is simply the hatred of people with light color skin, based solely on their skin color.
Ask yourself, “Does this man know Christ?” If you answered, “Yes.” You probably don’t either. Yes, God is one, but He is a trinity. No, the one true God is not the same god worshipped by other monotheistic religions. If you believe that, you don’t know Jesus. Amen, is not a gendered term, so offering an alternate in the form of awomen is purely idiotic pandering, and offensive to all Christians. אָמֵן ’âmên; in Hebrew means, verily, truly, amen, so be it, and here is the Greek usage of the Hebrew word, ἀμήν amēn; of Hebrew origin (h543); properly, firm, i.e. (figuratively) trustworthy; adverbially, surely (often as interjection, so be it): — amen, verily. AV (152) – verily 101, amen 51;firm metaph. faithful verily, amen the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth at the end – so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own. – The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related — in fact, almost identical — to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly”, an expression of absolute trust and confidence. — HMM This is from Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary and Biblestudy app. Do you all see how wrong Demoncratic representative Emanuel Cleaver is?
Imagine if you will, that you received a letter in the mail. It was from an anonymous sender with no return address. This is what was written in the letter,
“Mr. Carnal Christian, we have your mother, and father. We have agents all over the world, and surveillance running 24/7. The next time you sin by lusting after that co-worker, or by looking at pornography, or by hating the jerk who voted for the other candidate, we are going to beat your mother, and father like dogs. We will stop when they aren’t recognizable as humans.”
Now since you have recently heard from Mom, and Dad, you assume this is some kind of sick joke. The disturbing message bounces around in your head for the next few days. You see Ms. Jezebel at work, and the way she looks, and flirts with you, makes you feel excited, and you know your wife will never find out. It isn’t like you are actually doing anything with her. After all, it is just flirting. You remember the letter for a moment, and say to yourself, “What a sick joke.”
The next day, your wife and kids go to town to shop, while you are like King David, staying home from the battle, ignoring your duties as King. Everyone is gone, but double-u, double-u, double-u, dot, Bathsheba dot, com is waiting for you on her rooftop. No one will know. Your browser has a built in feature to scrub this kind of… indiscretion from it’s history. What about that letter though? What kind of twisted mind comes up with something like that? As you look, you feel the guilt, but the hungry flesh won’t let you go.
“I can’t believe Mr. Pinko would vote for that traitor. Man, it is guys like that who are ruining this country. I hate them all so much! They should all be put in camps, or killed!” Your post on social media gets tons of likes, and you feel like you did something to help from your superior position.
You receive another letter in the mail, much like the first one, it is anonymous with no return address. The missive communicates, “Apparently, you didn’t believe us, but your mother, and father have been beaten like we promised.” This is preposterous! There is no way this is true.
The next scenario is much the same, but instead of a letter, you receive a voice message with the same information. The same things happen, and after you failed to believe the warning, you receive a recording with the sounds of people who are being beaten. It sounds like your parents, but you are incredulous. You won’t believe that someone would do this to your parents because of your… little mistakes.
This following scenario is just like the first two, but instead of being a letter, or a solely an audio recording, it is a video ,and recording. The video is of two people who look exactly like your mom, and dad. In the video they say their names, and beg you not to engage in those wretched sins, but you think to yourself, “This can’t be real. It must be one of those deep fakes. Yes, that must be what it is, and you engage in all of your previous weaknesses, after all, you can’t help yourself. You’re an addict. It is a disease, right?” Afterwards, you are sent the recording of those two people being reduced to bloody pulps, lying on the ground in their own gore, sobbing in misery. “This can’t be real. It is some disgusting trick to get me to act a different way. My parents are fine. I love them so much. I would never put them through this.” Your thoughts are those of disbelief.
In this last scenario, a buxom Ms. Jezebel is in the room with you. She is willing. A smartphone with an internet connection is there too. All you have to do is punch in the address, and you can see, and hear all of the perversion your little heart desires. You can also spew your hate for all people who aren’t like you out into the pseudo-world of social media. This time however is very different. The people who sent you the letters, audio messages, and the videos are there with you. They have your mom, and dad. This is real. You still don’t believe that someone could do this, but it is real. You are talking with your mom, and dad. Their captors are warning you, and watching you. Just for a moment it seems like your captors aren’t paying attention, and Ms. Jezebel is really turning up the heat on you. You start to flirt back, but as soon as you started thinking about it, the captors began scourging your parents. Their screams of pain shook you free from your sinful lusts. You turned just in time to see them being whipped for your sin. Now, since you do love them, you stopped what you were doing, and ran to their captors begging them to have mercy. With that, they stopped, but warned you not to engage in your sins again, or they would suffer.
How real is the suffering of Jesus to you? Is it as real as what is written on paper, but not real enough to fight against your sinful temptations?
Is it as real as a podcast from one of your favorite theologians warning against a luke-warm faith?
Is it as real as an internet video sermon on our love for ourselves, and our loved ones, outshining our love for Christ?
It is one thing to think of Christ suffering in our place, the punishment for our sins. It is another to actually realize it. Is the suffering of Jesus Christ, your beloved Savior real to you? Do the thoughts of His scourging, crucifixion, and having the wrath of God poured out on Him, on the cross cause you to tremble in remorse, and sorrow? It is easy to say we are Christians. I’m as guilty as any of you. Our love for Christ grows distant, and cold. As this happens, the reality of what He did on the cross loses the hard corners of reality that breaks into our slumbering consciences. Our love for our own flesh outweighs our love for Christ. We feed our sins without considering our God who saves. Jesus said in His word, ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Does that sound like a faith that has room for your pet sins? Does that sound like a life that can be lived in comfort, with not a single shot fired from your ship against the fleet of the devil? Does that sound like a call to peace with the world’s forces? No! It is a call to arms! It is a battle cry! I’m tired as well brothers, and sisters, but we can’t give up the fight. When you, or I fall to sin, we must immediately, while still on our knees repent! Don’t wait until your guilt is dulled by the passing of time! Don’t wait, hoping God’s memory of the sin will fade! Confess, right there on your knees, in the dirt. Confess to Him what He already knows, and beg His mercy grounded on what He did on the cross. We don’t deserve it, but He offers it. That is what grace is. It is unmerited favor. God will forgive you, if you call on the name of Jesus. His is faithful, and just to do so.
The next time you are fighting sin, think of your beloved Savior, Jesus, next to you, in the room. If you love Him, would you have Him tortured for your carnal indulgence in treason against the King of all? I hope this thought, held high in our minds, will keep us from sin. I hope we can employ this vivid imagery of what is real, and true to stop us before we commit such evil. Lord have mercy on us we ask in the name of Jesus. We confess that we have sinned against you, and justly deserve your wrath, but Christ has stood in our stead. Please sanctify us, and grow us in holiness. Use us for Your glory, amen.