Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Case of Eisegesis

UPDATE: 13 April 2011, once again NAMB decided to move their links around. Maybe if someone wants to ask about wasting money by the SBC, maybe they should check on this shuffling of what are supposed to be static pages.

If you go look here on one of the NAMB's websites, you find one of those most interesting relics of the dark side of the conservative resurgence. IMO, I think it comes from the unfortunate Dominionist elements involved and the political need for the other more orthodox conservatives to placate them. There is always a problem when expediency shows up in the church.

Other factors include heretic hunters (a.k.a. - wannabe "Inquistors of the Faith"), the gullible and those that want (despite the Baptist tradition) to suppress the priesthood of the believer.

This little "chart" uses eisegesis (the reading of something into Scripture or any other text to prove a certain point) based on several falsehoods to "make the point". Although there are the usual antimasonic problems that make them sound like they are lightweight antiChristians, that will be skipped mostly and I'm going to explore the direct problems with it.

The First Comparison: GOD

Well, since Freemasonry does not judge between any special revelation and has no "worship" of any deity, although respect and reverence are given to the Creator of creation. Again, this is the level of knowledge of God that all men have access to, known as the natural revelation. The rituals are morality plays set in different formats that are not "worship" in the sense the NAMB is trying to push here. Oh, somebody might be "offended". True, but it boggles my mind that a group claiming to be conservative Christian would prefer to use the liberal "thou shalt not give offense" method instead of education on the issues, especially since some of those names used for "pagan gods" that NAMB claims is glorifying are actually titles. Some of them were even used as titles for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Bottom Line: Freemasonry does not sanction worship of any specific deity, it is not a church. NAMB chooses a hierarchical type of approach by claiming evil and banning instead of educating.

The Second Comparison: OATHS

Christians should take all oaths seriously and not give any oaths rashly.
Well, this part NAMB got right, the problem is that they have not made the case that the obligations are "rash" oaths. They do claim they are excessive, but that is why this is a case of eisegesis since that is purely projection by the part of the interpreter here, there is no Scriptural line drawn. I do have to thank the NAMB for this subject though, because through it I learned a whole lot more about taking of oaths by Christians, including the fact that both Paul and Jesus swore oaths.

Bottom Line: Bogus call by the NAMB. The only way this accusation works is when you hold to the (incorrect!) position that no Christian should ever swear any sort of oath, which then condemns so many military, jurists, peace officers, etc. that it isn't even funny.

The Third Comparison: JESUS CHRIST

Amazingly enough, it seems that the NAMB figured out that Freemasonry isn't Christianity, then got upset about it. I'm beginning to wonder about the purpose. After all, when the Roman Catholic Church got upset about the loss of revenue and control, they started up the Knights of Columbus, so maybe the SBC should start up the Fraternal Order of Baptist Born Again Men. After all, that way you would actually have a Christian fraternity then that could be legitimately carped about over its interpretation of Jesus.

Yes, this falls into the trap of assuming that Freemasonry is more than it is. It also avoids the fact that all of these writings they natter on about are purely optional reading. A number of them do give pagan and occult concepts, but as information, which any Mason is free to disagree with and, in fact, should disagree with if it is contrary to his religious beliefs. While the NAMB is correct that Christianity does teach the uniqueness of Christ, the fact that the NAMB denies the evidence of messianic movements in many of the world's past and current religions and confuses the non-sectarian philosophical discussion by Pike with some kind of statement of beliefs undercuts their case yet again.

Bottom Line: Yet more stretching that falls short, woeful ignorance and again a retreat from the need to educate. The SBC wants a Great Commission Resurgence, but they still don't want to educate. Why? Are they trying to grow Christians or mushrooms?

The Fourth Comparison: SALVATION BY WORKS

Some religions require salvation by works, Christianity does not. However, the doing of works as a fruit of being saved is a strong thread in Christianity. As usual for the antimason, one book is conspicuously absent from the list of verses on the right side of the chart on the NAMB website:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)
Works don't save a Christian, but a Christian saved by grace will be doing works. Works as either a requirement or result of salvation cross all the major religions in one form or another. Well, I think Christianity is the only one that calls them a result, but I might be wrong about some of the karma/reincarnation religions. Of course, I'm not quite clear about the problem with the quote from Pike, at least the first portion. If you don't have faith in Christ, do not repent and do not show the signs of the Spirit re-forming you, then the Redeemer's (Christ's) death was for nothing, you are not saved. You must have that faith and repentance to benefit from His sacrifice and it will result in changing you.

Bottom Line: Weak, majorly so. Oh noes! "Some" may get some false hope from works, but I think the NAMB and SBC would be a bit better off looking for those that are being taught a works based theology in their own churches, no matter what lip service is being paid to grace. The saddest and most pitiful part of this point is that the NAMB is advocating, like all antimasons who claim to be Christian, adding a work to grace. The work of a Mason leaving Freemasonry for salvation. Sad.

The Fifth Comparison: INCLUSIVISM

Freemasonry teaches no way to salvation. Candidates and members are specifically and repeatedly told that since Masonry makes no distinctions between any special revelation (Bible, Koran, Torah, Vedas, etc.), their salvation depends on what their religious beliefs teach them, NOT Freemasonry. Which lets the air out of this one real fast.

Of course, once again Pike is cited (without dealing with the clear statement in his works and Hutchen's condensed version that these are all optional and anyone can disagree with them) and it is interpreted in the way the writer wants it to be. So, of course!, it is all about knowing the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Testimony of the Holy Spirit! It just cannot be speaking of the intellectual level of thought where man in his finite wisdom can discern from the creation the nature of the Creator, can it? Why not? It is obviously how Pike intended it.

Bottom Line: Piled higher and deeper. You know why this is atheist sounding fodder? Because if you just assume that there is no God, there is no Christ, the Bible is errant, etc.; then regardless of any evidence to the contrary, you will force fit your interpretation into an antiChristian one. Which is exactly what this little "comparison" has done. Despite the railing about "blasphemous" comparisons of Christ with pagan messianic figures, what the NAMB has done is lower the level of rational scholarship to the point where if it was accepted anywhere but in their little pandering critiques of Freemasonry, it would mean that a honest person would have to accept the "pagan Christs" as reality when using the same standards of scholarship.

Why not just educate for real instead of worrying about propagandizing for agendas? While the SBC is trying on the GCR and I see much good in it, if the SBC fails to fix its education problem, then the GCR will just be another money and time wasting effort. If the SBC does choose to educate, then it will have its GCR, whether it wants it or not.

Friday, September 4, 2009

They are without excuse

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalms 19:1-4a)

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
(Romans 1:20)

"The grave error in a technically directed cultural drive is that it sees its highest goal in the possibility of achieving an alteration of Nature. It hopes to set itself in the place of God, so that it may force upon the divine will some petty conventions of its dust-born mind.” Erwin Schrodinger

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world, stirring all men’s souls, drawing them from their firesides, casting aside comfort, wealth and the pursuit of happiness in response to impulses at once awe-striking and irresistible, we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.
Winston Churchill, The Old Lion, Rochester, NY, 1941

“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” Werner Heisenberg

“Science and religion are very much alike. Both are imaginative and creative aspects of the human mind. The appearance of a conflict is a result of ignorance.

We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. Each of us is a unique, conscious being, a divine creation. It is the religious view. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence.” John Eccles

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23)

Something I have never been able to understand was how people could deny that there is a Creator. Even when I was straying, the knowledge was there. I think here we see the greatest depravity of Mankind, that they would deny God and try to usurp Him. The greatest thinkers throughout history have always acknowledged a Creator, even if they were not Jewish or Christian. Even now, those that deny God by making a god of science must believe on totally blind faith that miraculous happenings for which the deniers have no proof happened in the past. Miracles so great that they make a six day creation a few thousand years ago by a Creator sound simpler. I don't know what I can do for them.

I can do what He has told me to do in Scriptures, but I also know I cannot do anything for them, only He can. How to make them see? Have I gone too far in my search for growth? I know that even if I am deluded as to my salvation and He judges me unworthy and a false follower that He will know not, that His judgement will be just and my condemnation will be fitting. Of course, my knowing that bases itself on knowing that He is my Lord and Savior and that I am nothing without Him to guide me.

But I fail so much. I try so much and let distractions interfere with me.

Part of this came from rereading an old favorite science fiction book and remembering how much people want to believe in those fantasies. Those who believe them will stay lost, because they believe in that bright and shining future, even though it is flawed by human failures and faults. Logically, if they believe in that, then Christianity is lost to them, because for those futures to occur as they have been written in stories, then Christianity would have to be false. These believers still dream and hope, as I did once, for the outward reach and growth of these fantasies.

They cannot see as I have seen, the turning inward, inward of all human cultures and societies in the last decades. The retreat had started before the pinnacle of the outreach was accomplished. By the time we had reached the Moon, our culture was turning away. Some of the later writers knew that and postulated wildcat entrepreneurs who forced Mankind back into space, but there are none like that. Even the hard science stories are disappearing as over the years more and more shelf space in the book stores' "Science Fiction & Fantasy" section have been taken up by escapist science and romantic fantasies.

I see the symptoms of this throughout our Western culture as people put their faith in all kinds of idols and refuse to turn to Him who is their salvation.

Lord help them.

Lord help us.

Lord help me.