Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. He holds a BS from the University of Maryland in Political Science/History and a MA in Apologetics & Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary. Frederick holds a Doctor of Practical Theology through the Master's Graduate School Of Divinity in Evansville, Indiana. Dr. Meekins is pursuing a Ph.D. in Apologetics through Newburgh Theological Seminary.

Saturday, June 17

Those Denying God's Existence Should Forsake His Cash As Well

An article titled “Christian School Teacher Fired After Deciding To Live 2014 As An Atheist” attempts to place the onus for such a state of occupational limbo on organized religion. But isn't it even more the fault of the educator in question for attempting to turn his crisis of faith into some kind of theological publicity stunt?

According to the article, Ryan Bell was a Seventh Day Adventist minister and adjunct professor whose leftwing support of gay marriage and variance with his denomination's eschatology resulted in his resignation from the Hollywood congregation he pastored. He was forced from his teaching positions from Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University when Bell publicly announced his intentions to live as an atheist for a year to see if that particular worldview more accurately reflected his spiritual state where disillusionment caused him to question a number of his most deeply held beliefs.

The press account puts the blame for the hardship Bell would have to endure on these respective institutions of higher education. After all, Bell pointed out in the article, he has utility bills to pay and children to feed.

But shouldn't these employers be applauded for assisting Bell in taking his experiment in atheism to its logical conclusion? For Bell is not a minister in the Unitarian or Episcopal Churches so wishy washy in their core doctrines and beliefs that they are at times willing to keep outright unbelievers on their respective payrolls.

According to the article, Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University both require faculty to adhere to a statement of faith seemingly quite broad in terms of Christian specifics if these institutions of higher education claiming to be Evangelical openly embrace Seventh Day Adventism. What Dr. Bell has said is that, at the time this all came to a head in 2014, he no longer believes the bare bones required by these schools.

As such, if Bell for the time being no longer believes that there is an all powerful being sustaining the universe and providing a means whereby fallen men might be brought back into fellowship with Him, why shouldn't Bell also forfeit the salary provided by those that do believe in such in a context that already doesn't sound all that picky or particular regarding what are commonly referred to as secondary theological matters? After all, when the unbelievers are holding the administrative reigns and catch a whiff of doctrinal content they aren't particularly fond of they aren't exactly all that magnanimous either.

For example, in “Reason In The Balance”, popularizer of Intelligent Design Phillip Johnson chronicled the case of a Biology Professor that suggested that the complexity of even the simplest lifeforms pointed in the direction of a designer. Whom or what that might be was left up for the student to decide as the professor made no suggestions as to whether that designer was God in yonder Heaven or little green men zooming about the cosmos in a flying saucer. For engaging in the free exchange of ideas in an environment supposedly priding itself on such intellectual dynamism, this professor was booted out the door.

Adherents of Intelligent Design have faired little better in other settings. For example, a scientist lost his job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for simply expressing an interest in Intelligent Design.

Yet that very same facility explicitly stated in its public propaganda how its administrators supposedly appreciate innovative perspectives. Apparently believing that a Higher Power is behind the grandeur of the universe has little to do with building better rockets with the exception, of course, of boosting the esteem of Muslims in regards to that civilization's developments in mathematics from nearly a millennium ago. President Obama was quite explicit in making that an aeronautical agency funding priority despite their being barely a cent available for manned extra-atmospheric travel in the form of a space shuttle or lunar expeditions.

Did the atheists that got all worked up on behalf of Ryan Bell rush to meet the material needs of the occupationally displaced adherents of Intelligent Design or flagellate themselves in shamefacedness over the way the establishment media expects Christians to upon hearing of the hardships caused by the failure to at first compromise and then ultimately set aside these minimal standards derived from a set of very rudimentary beliefs one would think nearly anyone even wanting to be employed in a Christian setting would agree to? After all, it is not like Fuller Seminary these days enforces a no movies under any circumstances rule.

Proponents of the decision to impose penalties upon the bakers refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings insist that we ought to be willing to accept such punishments with little comment as the price for standing for convictions at variance with established social norms. In the case of those professing some manner of public unbelief such as itinerant academic Ryan Bell, this is to be yet another of the expanding network of exceptions and double standards.

by Frederick Meekins

Thursday, June 1

The Cultural Impact Of Worldview & Apologetics, Part 2

Academics get the ball rolling on a more widespread denial or misunderstanding about the divine existence of Jesus by first calling into question and raising doubts about the validity and accuracy of the Biblical accounts pertaining to the life of the Messiah. Often such efforts are commenced under the banner of an epic endeavor such as "The Quest for the Historical Jesus" or "The Jesus Seminar" where professors with impressive scholastic credentials such as John Dominic Crossan claim to be doing the truly devoted a service by scraping away centuries worth of theological barnacles to get at the simple Jesus that existed before the executors of his reputation elevated the compassionate Nazarene handyman to religious superstar status. However, closer examination of the actual historical record reveals scholars advocating such a viewpoint are as mired in fiction and fantasy every bit as much as Dan Brown.

Throughout political and religious history, one of the most time-tested tactics to undermine one's opponent is to attack the credibility of his messengers or heralds. That is why the so-called "cultured despisers of religion" have spent so much of their effort to drag the Bible in general and the Gospels in specific into disrepute. For if one begins to doubt the authenticity of these ancient documents, it is often not long until one begins to question the claims of and about the Savior Himself detailed within those pages.

First and foremost, the apologist must show that the Bible can go toe to toe with what is considered established, factual history. In his essay, Quarles compares the New Testament with the Roman Annals of Tacitus (106). Of this work, Quarles points out no complete sample of the manuscript survived from the time it was written around AD 115 to 117, with only two fragments known to exist and the earliest complete manuscript of the text dating back to the ninth century. Regarding the New Testament, the earliest surviving manuscript, the Vaticanus, is dated at AD 325, several centuries closer to the time of the New Testament Autographs.

However, the superiority of the New Testament as an authentic historical document does not end here. For whereas only two ancient fragments of Tacitus have been discovered, numerous portions and segments of the New Testament have been discovered that are believed to date often just a few decades from the time the originals were believed to have been written.

One could easily conjecture there would have been more of an opportunity to perpetrate some kind of forgery in regards to the writings of Tacitus. Yet we find no clever professor having academic laurels bestowed upon his furrowed brow for bringing into question our entire understanding of the Classical World or Ron Howard producing from such speculation a summer blockbuster bringing in sufficient box office receipts so he can finally afford that realistic toupee or hairweave he has desperately needed for so many years.

More importantly, how many (other than the most enthusiastic of historians) would really have their epistemological and moral worlds shattered if it was eventually discovered that the likes of Tacitus, Julius Casear, or even Plato and Homer were frauds? Thus, the documents of Scripture are not only historically authentic, but so is the account of an individual whose meaning and significance far transcended the ordinary.

The Christian can be assured of this because not only are the Biblical documents historically authentic in terms of their mechanics in how they came down to the contemporary world but also in terms of being reliable in regards to the credibility of the internal content. For example, if the Bible was nothing more than propaganda literature, in all likelihood those compiling the documents would have taken considerable care to downplay the faults of the movement's earliest leaders. However, this clearly did not happen.

In Church History, Christ's handpicked Apostles are considered the closest any human beings can come to epitomizing the ideal qualities of leadership. However, before being imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament is rife with instances where the pillars of the Church were closer to the human rather than ideal side of the lofty concept.

For example, John's mother is depicted as a social climber who wasn't fully aware of what she was getting her sons into when she went right up to Christ demanding that her sons be placed at His right hand in the coming kingdom. And though many view Peter as the unyielding rock upon which Christ built the Church, given his bumbling and cowardly nature, he seems no more competent than any of us and certainly neither a figure militant nor triumphant.

Thus, from such attention to the details that could have easily been brushed over if those penning the New Testament had been out to perpetrate either a religious fraud or to craft an inspirational but still a nevertheless fictional narrative, the believer gains a confidence that the Bible may be just as truthful in regards to its much more majestic claims as well.

Since the Bible itself teems with historical respectability, those serious about considering its claims ought to examine what is said about the text's central character, Jesus Christ. Certain skeptics wanting to pat themselves on the back just how broadminded they can be claim they applaud the so-called "ethics of Jesus", insisting that He was a good man but did not claim to be deity.

However, the Bible tells us otherwise. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus said, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

And since we have no reason to disbelieve the legitimacy of the account, Jesus did indeed rise from the grave. Secondly, at no time did Jesus condemn those that claimed He was God despite the rigorous monotheism of ancient Judaism. Of special interest to the skeptic will no doubt be Thomas who, like his counterparts in contemporary academia, was reluctant to accept the reality of the risen Jesus without more tangible proof. Upon examining Christ's wounds first hand, Thomas declared in John 20: 28, "My Lord and my God."

In previous eras, such would likely bring us to the end of an evangelistic apologetic discourse since respect for (though perhaps not always adherence to) Scripture was ingrained throughout the culture. However, today there are so many worldview alternatives to select from that the believer must not only state what Lee Strobel has termed "the case for Christ" but also begin to plant the seeds that will assist the seeker to disentangle themselves if they so desire from the webs of deception in which they are entrapped. The Christian cannot assist in this process unless they themselves are familiar with at least the basic tenets of their own faith's most prominent competitors.

By Frederick Meekins

Friday, May 19

The Cultural Impact Of Worldview & Apologetics, Part 1

Here at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Apologetics as an evangelistic endeavor and intellectual theological outreach finds itself in something of a paradox. When the West thought of itself in terms of resting on broadly Judeo-Christian assumptions, the discipline was not as desperately needed while most within the church at least knew of the field's existence as a subject. At the time, the less practically inclined among the membership dabbled in the subject by contemplating abstract questions and topics. However, as society moves away from Biblical assumptions and the church finds itself in desperate need of the discipline to prevent both individuals and nations from sliding into the abyss, it seems very few even know what Apologetics is and those that do are often contemptuously dismissive of this kind of scholastic undertaking in favor of a more pietistic or even mystical approach to the Christian faith.

In the anthology “Passionate Conviction: Contemporary Discourses On Christian Apologetics”, Paul Copan and William Lane Craig have assembled a number of essays rallying the faithful as to why Apologetics is necessary and tackling head on a number of the greatest challenges to the Christian faith prevalent in the world today.

Renowned futurist Alvin Toffler has remarked that the changes sweeping over society are akin to waves that can be so unsettling that they leave those they have rolled over in a state of shock while leaving those still riding the crests of previous conceptual epochs dumbfounded as to how to address the changing situations around them. Particularly hard hit has been the humanities, of which the areas of study such as philosophy, religion, and thus ultimately apologetics happen to be a part. Unlike previous eras of world history in which the average individual often dealt with a limi

ted space in terms of both mental and physical geography, today even the poorest resident of the twenty-first century West finds himself bombarded constantly with opposing worldviews. These come at us in the forms of an omnipresent media establishment, the swarms of people pouring over our borders from every conceivable corner of the globe, and the shocking number of our own countrymen willing to abandon the worldview this civilization was built upon in favor of any number of alternatives that turn out to be less than solid upon closer inspection.

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The confusion characterizing the spiritual scene today would not have come about unless there had been a widespread abandonment of what Francis Schaeffer termed the “Christian consensus”, what C.S. Lewis referred to as “Mere Christianity”, and what those wanting to cast the most ecumenical net possible might characterize as the Judeo-Christian belief system. G.K. Chesterton is credited with observing that the problem that arises when we abandon orthodox theology is not that we won’t believe in anything but that we will believe in anything.

The pillar or keystone of Christianity setting it apart from all other religions and philosophies is that Jesus as the only Begotten Son of God and second person of the Trinity came to earth by being born of the Virgin Mary to live the sinless life no man could, to die on the Cross as payment for our sins and to rise from the dead so that all that believe in Him might spend eternity with God in Heaven. This is what is known as the Gospel message.

All excursions into error (no matter how seemingly ancient or modern) begin as either an outright denial of or failure to recognize these fundamental truths. This can be seen in terms of both popular and academic culture.

In terms of his own theory of Apologetics, Ravi Zacharias has postulated that there is a highest refined level of philosophy that eventually filters downward to the general population in the form of mass media and entertainment. This is true of other academic humanities as well and is not a phenomena confined solely to technical philosophy.

The first decade of the twenty-first century, renowned primarily for its advances in electronic entertainment, experienced a publishing phenomena that gripped the public imagination like few things else in the form of a novel titled “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. Underlying the suspense of this thriller is the conjecture that Jesus was not divinity in human form but rather simply an outstanding human teacher no different than anyone else but elevated to godhood for political purposes at the Council of Nicea.

Provocative as those heresies might be, what really set the book off like wildfire was the assertion that among those otherwise mundane things Jesus did as an ordinary human being was to father a child by Mary Magdalene. It was through this lineage, rather than through any organizational church structure, that true Christian teaching was passed down through history through the intermarriage of Christ's descendants with the royal houses of Europe, especially the Merovingian of France. Of these astounding claims and their alleged justifications, Charles Quarles writes in the essay “Revisionist Views About Jesus” in “Passionate Conviction”, “This fact coupled with the enormous popularity of the book and the film require thoughtful believers to respond intelligently to the claims of the Code (96).”

It seems odd that so many --- both Christian and non-Christian alike --- would allow a popular novel to either so shake their faith or to allow it to justify what they already believe. Quarles writes, “Those whose faith is shaken by Dan Brown’s claims lose their faith far too quickly. If they will take the time to investigate Brown’s claims, they will find that his statements about biblical and historical Christianity are a comedy of errors and lack historical evidence (108).” Thing of it is though, Christianity has been maligned and discredited for so long in the halls of higher learning that the average person thinks such radical skepticism is the default position of the open, educated mind.

By Frederick Meekins

Tuesday, May 16

Organizationally Top Heavy Church Admonishes Parishioner Austerity

In a podcast discussion centering around the issue of Baptist political involvement posted by the staff of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, one of the participants remarked that God might not be that interested in religious freedom in America because Christians live too comfortably in this nation and are not only reluctant to speak out as a result but even refrain from overseas missions trips. Mind you, the criticism might carry more weight if Berean Baptist Church was some rundown shack along a country highway or in the middle of some cornfield.

However, from its website, its programs and facilities remind one more of a religious Disney World or at least a Chuck-E-Cheese rather than a facility conducive to the kind of solemn austerity that one voice on its multi-pastor staff seems to be calling for. And that brings us to the first criticism.

From my own experience, the Baptist churches I have attended or am quite familiar with usually had a singular pastor on staff. Rarely was there even an assistant or associate pastor.

The most godly pastor I probably ever knew actually worked also as a full-time letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. However, Berean Baptist Church has around six pastors.

And it seems even this number is insufficient to cover how many pots this ecclesiastical organization seems to have its fingers in. For under their oversight, comes not only a board ten deacons but also an administrative council consisting of five directors.

If we are going to be hyper-Biblical how everyone else is to abandon their preconceptions about what constitutes the American way of life in favor of world missions to the pygmies, in what Scripture do we find the office specifically designated “Director”?

Yet in further addition, reporting to this top heavy managerial structure are a total of nine additional employees. After all, you probably need someone with coffee barista experience to serve up the muffins and cappachno in the church cafe.

Also troubling are a number of the questions on the application and renewal application to serve as deacon in this church. For example, the questionnaire asks potential deacons are they not only faithful to their wives in body but also in thought.

For starters, so long as these stirrings have not been taken beyond the level of thought, is this really the business of a church busybody? Who in their right mind is going to confess this sort of thing to someone else other than to Christ?

And while we are on the issue of Baptists that want to “out catholic” the Catholics in terms of legalistic works righteousness, even more disturbing is the question asking is the diaconial aspirant willing to resign if he no longer supports the vision of the church as articulated and interpreted by the senior pastor. How is this requirement any different in spirit than the Papalism this brand of Baptist is infamous for railing against?

Any deacon worthy of the office is loyal to God first, then the welfare of the church, and then perhaps lastly the pastor. Any church that requires this degree of loyalty to a mere human being has moved beyond the boundaries of sound religion into the worst characteristics of nepotistic bureaucracy.

There is nothing wrong with having nice things. However, it is wrong when those themselves living on pretty much what cannot be characterized as anything other but an easy street look down from their pulpit perch to enunciate why you ought not be enjoying what you have likely earned from a day's labor probably far more honest than any the one verbalizing such condemnation has likely toiled away at in a very long time.

By Frederick Meekins

Thursday, May 4

Gullible Believers Guilt-Tripped Into Free Labor

According to Dave Wager of the Silver Birch Ranch on an episode of “Standing For The Truth”, if pastors are really interested in teaching their young people a lesson, they ought to bring them to his facility to do dishes for a week.

In other words, what he is interested in is no cost labor.

It is claimed such measures are needed to teach youth these days the value of work.

What then is to teach these kinds of rackets that, just because an organization adds the term “Christian” to their name or mission statement, it does not mean believers are henceforward obligated to comply with outlandish demands for their time and treasure?

For does not the Bible say that a workman is worthy of his hire?

If so, if Dave Wager needs dishwashers, why can't he provide a market based wage?

If he cannot afford it, perhaps his enterprise or ministry ought to close up shop.

After all, for aligning himself with those that want to get back to simple, unencumbered New Testament Christianity, perhaps Pastor Wager can point out in what Epistle or Gospel retreat centers or Bible camps are elaborated upon.

If anything, isn't the earliest analogy of where the conspicuously pious could go to labor for the purposes of deepening their sense of spirituality and religious devotion the medieval monasteries which are often condemned in these circles as Roman Catholic accretions to divine revelation?

By Frederick Meekins

Sunday, April 30

Faulty Theology Leads To Faulty Conceptions Of God's Will

Glenn Beck has been stricken with a crippling neurological disorder.

The prognosis given estimates that he might have between 5 to 10 years before he is disabled or incapacitated.

In the announcement of his ailment at The Blaze, Beck confided that his doctors informed him that, if he did not stop working, his condition would get worse.

However, Beck did not believe that God was necessarily telling him the same thing.

Beck is to be commended for doing all that he can with whatever time he might have left.

However, who is not to say that such illnesses are not God's way of telling an individual that it might be time to slow down a bit or that their efforts are required in what to our mortal perceptions might seem to be less meaningful endeavors?

Then there is the truth so few are going to possess the courage to mention.

As a Mormon, Beck professes a belief in a seriously flawed understanding of the Gospel and divine revelation.

Not only that, but the power and knowledge possessed by the Mormon conception of God is not as complete or comprehensive as that postulated by more orthodox understandings of Christianity.

With these under consideration, how can Beck thus be assured that what he construes to be a divine urging for him to continue on at a breakneck pace really is an encouragement from the Heavenly Father?

And even if it is, what assurances does a Mormon possess that a well-meaning but ultimately ineffective God is even able to deliver for Beck the good that is intended irrespective of earthly outcome?

In such a situation, mustn't the prudent inquire if the compulsion Beck believes is driving him forward might just as likely be a malevolent force or entity attempting to both end Beck's work as well as imperil his immortal soul?

By Frederick Meekins

Sunday, April 23

Leftwing Protests Herald Collectivist Brutality

As those following the news over the past several years are no doubt aware, a leftist protest movement has galvanized under a banner referred to broadly as “Occupy Wall Street” This name was selected almost as an after thought by a coalition of converging groups and causes in order to appeal to the sympathizes of a significant swath of the American population.

For there really aren't many that have not been perturbed at one time or another over the shenanigans of Wall Street. To those on the Left, these often stand out as ostentatious displays of greed. Those on the Right, though having little problem in theory with the accumulation of considerable profit, are as just as much in principle disturbed by the government intervention rushing to prevent economic collapse as a result of imprudence on the part of investors and other fiduciaries carelessly overseeing delicate financial assets.

Because of those assembling under such a banner, a number of the nation's leaders from institutions such as government and media have spoken favorably of these protests. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi have often assumed a John Belushi “Thank you, sir. May I have another” posture in gratitude for protesters speaking out with such boldness and direct action.

But before Americans that (unlike these protesters) actually work for a living or take an assortment of steps to see that they minimize their dependence upon public assistance march in solidarity as we are told to by revolutionary leftists, perhaps we should take a look at what movements such as Occupy Wall Street actually profess, what kinds of deeds they have committed, and what elites such as Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi endorse by default as a result of their favorable remarks and lack of condemnation.

For example, participants in these sorts of upheavals have, like disgruntled apes in zoos, relieved their bowels in police cruisers. Did President Obama speak out against such outrage?

If not, shouldn't it be construed that he has no problem with such an act? After all, he found it appropriate to interject himself into the misunderstanding between a police officer and a Harvard professor so full of himself that he did not think he had to comply with the lawful orders of law enforcement like a mundane, run of the mill American.

More importantly, if there is nothing inherently wrong about pulling down one's pants and relaxing one's anal sphincter against a police cruiser, then what would be so wrong about perpetrating a similar outrage against a presidential motorcade? After all, are we not acculturated that, in our federal system of government, ideally the local level is just as important as the national and no one person or official more worthy of deference than another?

Another aspect worthy of note is how these leftist elites respond to Occupy-style movements in light of their to the Tea Party movement. One such example is none other than Hag Pelosi.

In one interview, the crone about broke down into tears how the kinds of frustrations vociferously articulated in the earliest days of the Tea Party movement were what led to the violence of the 1960's, especially as epitomized by those carried out in her beloved San Francisco area. President Obama echoed similar sentiments insinuating that Tea Party activists needed to watch what they said in light of the shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords not by a proponent of constitutional government and fiscal responsibility but rather by a psychotic motivated by the occult as evidenced by the Voodoo shrine he erected in his parents' backyard.

But while members of the Tea Party can hardly be linked to any actual incidents of violence and are more likely to have assaults perpetrated upon them as evidence by a Black gentleman beaten to a pulp by union goons for simply attempting to sell “Don't Tread On Me” paraphernalia, those allied with Occupy Wall Street and related upheavals have actually perpetrated outrages that about bring tears to any but the most calloused news hounds.

In Italy, mobs in solidarity with the Occupy Movement desecrated and vandalized religious objects and works of art in a church. Had such an act of deliberate animus taken place on the part of the Tea Party movement at a Jewish synagogue (especially of the liberal variety where those that gather do so more out of a passionate disregard for Christianity rather than out of any affirmative embrace of the revelation of a monotheisitic God to mankind), every news bureau in the country would have a correspondent on the scene with Geraldo especially ripping out his mustache in an act of lamentation.

And in another act of religious hostility occurring on the Italian Peninsula, a protester set ablaze a Bible during a mass conducted by the Pope. Just see what happens to you if a similar act of disrespect is perpetrated to a particular venerated Islamic text. The next video footage of something set on fire is likely to be you.

Did the Obama Administration release any kind of statement condemning such acts of hatred against Christianity? Yet this was the very same regime that propagated the impression that mentioning the terms “Islamic” or “terrorism” to describe the contemporary documented phenomena of violence committed in pursuit of specific theo-political ends is going to spark an epidemic of bias related incidents directed towards Muslims that are in no way participating in this covert yet not so subtle attempt to destroy the Western way of life.

Among crimes, there rank gradations of offense. Since the structures are ingrained culturally into our psyches as places exuding goodness and holiness at least to those that frequent them, most Americans of sound conscience would not think of vandalizing a house of worship even if it was of a tradition other than their own. The only other acts that strike the descent individual as more shocking would probably be assaults of a sexual nature and outright homicide.

It has been said that in the eighteenth century that the Bible was killed, in the nineteenth century that God was killed, and in the twentieth century man was killed. This rhetorical flourish shows how a total disregard for the basic mortality of Scripture leads to a disrespect for God which results in the catastrophic death that results as man perfects his technology but certainly not his morality. Experimental sociologists of the twenty-first century do not necessarily have to waste centuries any more to watch such a process play out. It is unfolding before their very eyes in the form of Occupy Wall Street and derivative protest movements.

Following the shocking vandalism of the Italian churches, participants of the Occupy Movement having expressed such outright contempt for the things of God have expunged themselves of perhaps the greatest hurdle up until now preventing them from afflicting similar atrocities upon their fellow human beings. Perhaps the likes of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi would care to comment on any number of these since they certainly don't mind foaming at the mouth at the alleged behavioral shortcomings of the Tea Party Movement.

For example, in a number of Occupy “shanty towns” and indigent enclaves, a number of women have been sexually assaulted and even raped. It was been reported that one of these victims was a 14 year old and, another , a woman with cognitive disabilities.

At one Occupy demonstration, a tent for women only had to be established in order to provide a sense of comfort to women reluctant to sleep amidst a group of men whose appearances alone often reveal a lack of discipline and self control. However, given the nature of the mob mentality, is a sign reading “Women Only” going to dissuade a bunch of lust-filled hooligans when they don't have much respect for law, rules, and basic human decorum to begin with?

Even when such unconscionable acts occur, often it is the preference of Occupy organizers that such infractions be settled within the confines of the demonstrating collective. After all, when these beatniks believe we are nothing more than animals to begin with, such assaults really aren't that evil after all. Categorizing such acts in that manner is a manifestation of the bourgeois notions of the uptight and sexually repressed.

Perhaps it is this notion that the likes of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi embrace so heartily. That notion is of course that the laws that govern we mere common mortals should not be used to bind those consciences and minds so revolutionary that, as Hegel taught, they are already attuned to the new epoch unfolding before us.

For example, among those thinking that the sexual predators within the ranks of the Occupy Movement should not be remanded to bourgeois justice are those probably insisting that Herman Cain be placed on some kind of offender registry for commenting that one woman was about his wife's height and for requesting another to doctor his tea.

Throughout history, though many revolutions start out galvanized around a noble principle, eventually since they do not yield to the laws of God nor respect the rights of those that disagree with their conclusions, end up in violence and eventually loss of life. As has been seen in terms of the desecrated church and sexual molestations, this movement has already tottered over the edge into violence. The discerning and concerned must ask how long until the loss of innocent life?

Already a number of Occupy participants have succumbed to overdoses on pharmaceutical compounds. Proponents of the Occupy Movement will respond that this was the result of the deceased individual's own hand.

Fair enough. One only need glance at the vast numbers of Occupy participants for no more than fifteen seconds to tell that these types aren't exactly renowned for pursuing lives of ascetic self-control and mortification of the flesh.

However, incidents have occurred that could lead one to conclude that the Occupy Movement could turn violent or even homicidal at the drip of a pin. Or perhaps, in this case, rather a pen.

For just such a writing implement was plunged into the neck of one particular broadcast journalist covering one of these activist enclaves. One supposes it only logical that the proper use of such communication technology no doubt evades those unable to master the techniques necessary to aim their respective digestive effluents into the designated sewage receptacles.

Often the mouthpieces of these uprising throngs claim that their goals are of a nonviolent nature. Yet these malcontents then proceed to smash windows, flip over automobiles, and now desecrate religious objects.

To the average person not educated beyond the point of usefulness, such acts embody the notion of violence. However, to such leftists that have conscientiously abandoned established moral norms, such acts are not construed as violent.

To them, such an ethical appellation only applies if forceful actions are directed towards particular types of human beings. But among the first steps of systematic demhumanization is to either take away the property of your political opponents or to exhibit some kind of overwhelming disrespect towards it.

For example, bricks through windows and setting trashcans afire is a favorite tactic of this kind of movement in its early stages. As such acts become second nature to the perpetrators, they may even move to even more shocking acts of vandalism such as the painting of yellow stars on the property of those belonging to a particular ethno-religious category.

After what might even include a little nocturnal breaking of the glass, the shock troops of the New World Order are well on their way to eroding what little remains of the human conscience to allow not only for the destruction of the things owned by the despised demographic (be they Jews, Christians, property owners or even those driving automobiles deemed too luxurious by the proponents of anarchistic collectivism) but the snuffing out as well of the very lives of those deemed a hindrance to progress and the next stage of social development.

Already the mental and philosophical preparation is being put into place to ratchet things up to the next level. Even the godless amoralitsts need to be conditioned for the pending taking of human life.

In a story posted at the Blaze.com titled, “Anti-Capitalist Teach-In Leader: 'We Have People Organizing Inside The Military”, a member of the Progressive Labor Party boasted that he and his comrades are infiltrating the military, college campuses, and among industrial workers in preparation of a pending uprising. In essence, this is totalitarian as it mirrors the orders of society laid out since the Middle Ages encompassing nearly everyone in terms of those who work, fight, and pray.

Infiltrating the churches and colleges is essential in order to mold the masses in compliance with one's own warped worldview. It is essential to seize control of the means of production in order to bring society to a grinding halt. For if you can cut off access to food, other necessities and assorted luxuries, you can coerce quite a few to go along with your demands even if they are not inclined to because of the ingrained drives for food, shelter, and clothing.

There is only one reason that one would want to take over the military as articulated by a mentioned Occupy spokesman. That reason is to none other than kill or intimidate into compliance those within education, industry, and religion unwilling to surrender this side of the grave to the brutalizations of totalitarian collectivism.

Some snobs might sneer down their noses since Blaze.com is the news portal of ideological flip-flopper Glen Beck. However, how that refutes the veracity of an Occupy subversive speaking in his own words is never really explained. That's one reason they want to seize control of the military. So the will never be required to explain themselves.

However, there was another statement documented that verifies that desire for what the vast majority of Americans would categorize as violence. One agitator participating in Occupy Movement activism enunciated how he would like to hurl a Molotov cocktail into Macy's.

Such an act is an act of terrorism not all that different than that perpetrated by Islamists around the world. Anyone claiming it is not because of the animosities they harbor against the symbols of capitalism such as department stores should be asked how they would like such an horrible deed perpetrated against their own homes or economic establishments more to their own likings such as food coops and organic markets featuring what is claimed to be locally grown produce.

In response to a brief blog entry I posted, a commenter remarked that I had better stop watching Fox News or Rush Limbaugh and wake up to how the so-called 99% disapprove of how the 1% are living. This also raises a number of questions.

For starters, what if I refuse to? As a free individual, I am permitted to consult whatever sources of information and media that I desire. We call that freedom of thought and expression. It is obvious that with such threats that those sympathetic to the rampagers do not respect liberty of conscience.

But more importantly, does the fact that the 99% approve or disapprove of something make that thing in question good or evil? It has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. To configure that sentiment in a more dignified elocution, the Biblical idiom insists that broad is the path that leads to destruction.

For example, it has been said that pure democracy is a group consisting of 51 men and 49 women where the 51 men vote to rape the 49 women. Some conditioned into the notion that the only way to express things is in the most docile manner possible so as not to spark offense will recoil, insisting that such an extreme example could never take place. But given what has taken place at a number of Occupy encampments such as unsolicited toe sniffing, outright sexual assault, the establishment of female-only tents surrounded by barbed wire and a leadership so spineless that it is reluctant too hand over such criminals to the justice system, those that would consider them themselves adjusted human beings had better think long and hard about basing their convictions upon a foundation no more secure than the whims of a drug-addled mob.

Global society indeed totters along the edge of destruction. Though anyone aware of a world beyond themselves is outraged by the gross excesses wallowed in by those atop the system, one must also be constantly aware of the threat posed by those fanatically insistent that the only way to rectify the perceived outrages is to nearly destroy all of civilized existence in the process.

By Frederick Meekins

Saturday, March 18

Book Review Condemned For Promoting Contemplation Beyond Devotional Naval Gazing

This is one of the reasons I nearly don't really care to be around actual groups of Christians or to interact with them unmediated outside my study.

In a book review I posted, I wrote, “As God's revelation to mankind, the Bible is complete in itself and capable of equipping the believer for every good work. Thus, with it alone, the Christian has everything that is necessary to learn the essentials of salvation and the wisdom necessary to sail the turbulent seas of life. Yet, unlike many other theological and religious texts, the Bible presents numerous universal truths by addressing concrete historical situations rather than by presenting a set of detached philosophical postulates."

For posting this at a Christian forum, it was said to me in reply, “Again I am drawn to make quite a sad observation of your OP. You seem to think that the focus of the Bible is us, where as it is God the Father`s revelation of His well beloved Son. The whole word of God unveils His character, His ways & His purposes. It is He who is far above all that we need to know & experience, anything less becomes religion. `And beginning at Moses & all the prophets, He (Jesus) expounded to them in ALL the scriptures the things concerning HIMSELF.` (Luke 24: 27) BTW did you notice there is not one mention of CHRIST in your long OP. It was talking of the scriptures, yet NOT ONE mention of our LORD. That speaks volumes as to where the focus & direction is. We rather should be - `looking unto Jesus, the author & finisher of our faith,...` (Heb. 12: 2).”

So in other words, just because I did not say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”, like some blathering Hare Krishna in an airport or Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz clicking her heels together in hopes of returning to Kansas, I am just about having the validity of the profession of my faith drawn into question.

For starters, the initial composition was not directly ABOUT Jesus. It was a book review about a text on the New Testament taken from the standpoint as a work of objective literary and religious history.

At no point did I not say that the Bible was not about Jesus.

But if the Scriptures were not written for the benefit of mankind but rather for God to toot His own horn, doesn't that make Him little more than an insufferable egotist?

Jesus did indeed expound upon how the Scriptures testified to Himself. However, that was for OUR benefit.

There comes a point where some are so explicit in their piety that they become a danger to both sound doctrine and clear thought.

For while Jesus is indeed the author and finisher of our faith, how are we to know that beyond a Bible that can be trusted and of solid repute?

If those emphasizing the importance of the Bible in a review of a book about the Bible rather than focusing on Christ in a review of a book that was not about Christology are to be emphatically criticized, the discerning are forced to raise the following observation.

Are those that seem to yammer incessantly incessantly about Jesus as Jesus doing so from a sincere sense of religious devotion or rather because this is what expected if they desire to posture for acceptance by or to acquire position within their particular circle.

For posting in a Christian forum that the Bible as God's revelation to mankind is complete and capable of equipping the believer for every good work and that this divinely inspired anthology often teaches through narrative rather than explicit imperative declaration, I was informed my focus was incorrect.

Instead, that out to be directed towards Jesus rather than the Scripture.

But Jesus really isn't directly here right now.

As such, how can we be sure what He has to say to us apart from the Bible?

Usually, in the case of those claiming to have direct auditory communication with the divine or the numinous, before it's all over with God is telling you to go ahead and bed your neighbor's spouse (and that's in the more respectable cases given the number of ministers these days of confessions both orthodox and heretical that can't seem to keep their hands of teen girls) or to force the congregation to drink the funny smelling fruit punch that burns as it goes down.

By Frederick Meekins

Wednesday, February 22

McLaren Distorts Hebrew Scriptures To Undermine Border Security

The particular danger of the heretic or apostate that insists upon to holding to the religious orthodoxy in name only is that so much of their message and ministry is aimed at only telling half of the story for the purposes of manipulation.

For example, regarding the issue of immigration, Emergent Church theologian Brian McLaren is quoted as saying, “A lot of people don't realize the Bible is a book about immigration. Abraham was an immigrant. Moses was a refugee. The Hebrew scriptures have so much to say about how we should treat immigrants and aliens.”

Given the extent to which McLaren has come out in support of gay marriage, why ought he invoke the Hebrew scripture to justify a position he supports when it is quite obvious he has deliberately tossed aside one of that revelation's most foundational teachings?

If we as twenty-first century believers are to uphold the so-called “Hebrew scriptures” and the cultural milieu flowing from that body of teaching as the ideal to which our own society ought to aspire, perhaps we ought to consider and implement as a totality how the ancient Israelites approached (to borrow a term popular in the sort of postmodern circles those like McLaren love to wallow in) “the Other”.

The Mosaic law did indeed admonish that a degree of hospitality and kindness was to be extended to the alien or stranger that the Hebrews encountered that desired to sojourn in the Land of Israel.

McLaren insists, “So much of Jesus' ministry is defined by his reluctance to play along with the nativist urges of his day.”

Yet while the degrees of separation might no longer be as rigorous now in light of the completion of Christ's work in His death, burial, and resurrection as second member of the triune Godhead, it was Christ Himself as a member of the Triune Godhead that played a role in establishing a number of the Hebrew practices that even those religious conservatives McLaren loves to deride would no longer want to see implemented.

For example, regarding intermarriage with those categorized as foreigners from the perspective of the ancient Hebrews that McLaren apparently is emulating as his ideal, Deuteronomy 7:3 says, “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor shalt his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For thy will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

And of these foreigners that came to dwell in Israelite territory, they might have been bestowed a degree of hospitality not known in other cultures of the time.

However, it is doubtful that, if the letter of the Mosaic law had been adhered to, these strangers would have been allowed to continue in their explicitly pagan practices or that the Israelites would have ended up flagellating themselves for existing as a distinct people with their own unique culture and set of customs.

If anything, those wanting to dwell amongst Israel were often required to go through specific rituals to explicitly verify (one might also call the process extreme vetting) that they were in essence without reservation renouncing their former way of life

For example, Deuteronomy 21:11-14 elaborates that of women captured during a war, if an Israelite man wished to marry one of these, he was to shave her head, cut her nails, and to mourn her family for a month before she could be taken as his wife.

Liberals will snap how that seems exceedingly harsh by twenty-first century standards as to border on rape or sexual assault.

Probably so. But in this instance, is it not up to Brian McLaren to explain why he wants to uphold Mosaic law as the ideal upon which to base U.S. immigration policy?

Regarding the literary approach taken in the text, Scripture is believed to teach as much by historical example as by explicit didactic commands.

If so, even though Scripture counsels compassion towards the stranger, it also warns of the dire consequences that result when this is not done from the standpoint of the strength of adhering from morally superior convictions but from a spirit of amalgamative compromise where one god is seen as no different than any other god in the rush for nothing more than a romp in the sack.

Samson's decline can be directly traced to his attraction bordering on the pathological to Philistine women.

Despite serving as the conduit through which numerous warnings promulgated in the Book of Proverbs regarding a variety of strange women, King Solomon himself veered from the path of righteousness in order the placate his numerous heathen brides.

It was in such moments that the Nation of Promise sank to its most debauched depths.

It is doubtful that Ruth celebrated Moabite History Month or did so by demanding that Boaz articulate how wretched he felt for being a Hebrew.

Likewise, it is doubtful Rahab insisted that she be referred to as a Canaanite-Hebrew and that in her presence that events such as the Battle of Jericho were to be recalled only with a downcast face of regret.

God does indeed want Christians to be a beacon of hope in a fallen, troubled, and perishing world.

However, he does not necessarily require us to forsake commonsense to the point where we as individuals and as a distinct world people imperil our own prosperity and very survival in order to do so.

By Frederick Meekins

Friday, February 17

Christianity Solidified By Apologetics In The Early Days Of The Church

In the Church today, a debate rages over the relationship of philosophy and theology to one another. Some scholarly believers as epitomized by Norman Geisler argue that, since this world is God's world, both can be used to understand Creation if each of these disciplines are approached from a Bibliocentric perspective. The other side of the debate contends that, since theology contains God's revelation to mankind, philosophy at best merely repeats the understanding of theology or at worst actively undermines theology by enshrining human reason as the ultimate standard.

This debate extends back to the earliest days of the Church. Living in the Hellenistic world awash with numerous philosophies, mystery cults, and state religions, the Church quite early on had to address these realities.

Basing their approach on Paul's Mars Hill missionary efforts in Acts 17, early Christians advocating the value of philosophy pointed out that philosophy could be used as a point of contact with the unbeliever when both philosophy and theology concurred on certain matters. For example, Paul was able to win the attention of some Stoics because of the similarities between Christianity and that particular philosophy. Justin Martyr, who went from being a Stoic to an Aristotelian to a Pythagorean to a Platonist, ultimately settled upon being a Christian because he categorized the faith as the true philosophy.

The second approach emphasized its own Pauline justification as well by invoking I Corinthians 1 where in the passage the world's wisdom is categorized as foolishness. Elsewhere, Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception.” Those adhering to this approach noted how philosophy often bred heresy and unbelief.

A number of Church Fathers favorably disposed towards philosophy harbored questionable beliefs often linked to Platonism. For example, Origen of Alexandria believed that Satan was not beyond redemption since the Devil is a spirit not unlike a run of the mill human being (Gonzalez, 80). Such a perspective was often derived from the Platonic view that God was a nondescript entity that did not create the universe from nothing and did not personally care for individual human beings. Yet God as revealed through Scripture and incarnated in Jesus Christ is known personally by His followers and cares when even the tiniest sparrow falls to the ground.

When viewed from a certain light, both of these approaches relating philosophy and theology possessed merit. Each agreed regarding the centrality of God's revelation of Jesus Christ and on the need for salvation. Those appreciating philosophy were correct in pointing out that all truth is God's truth and that segments of truth can be used to introduce the lost to the source of all truth. Those leery of philosophy were correct in pointing out the danger the discipline would wreak if left unchecked. The descendants of the early Church walking the Earth would do well to consider both of these positions.

I Peter 3:15 commands the Christian to provide an answer for the hope within. Many apologists and theologians interpret this as giving a response to objections and inaccuracies raised by the unbeliever. In the process, the potential exists to bring a substantial number into the faith by highlighting those points of commonality shared between the faith and the most profound insights that human thought have to offer.

Realizing that a percentage of the persecution befalling the Church was the result of inaccurate rumors and incorrect assumptions, the early Apologists set out to set the record straight in a manner that would make a Madison Avenue public relations firm proud. The Apologists answered head on the charges leveled against Christianity and turned them against their pagan adversaries. When accused of orgies and incest through misunderstandings as to the nature of the love feast and the practice of calling fellow believers “brother” or “sister”, the Apologists explained what these terms meant and the pointed out that the pagans themselves committed such debaucheries as exhibited by certain Dionysian rites. (Gonzalez, 50). Accused of atheism for believing in what the Romans considered god and for not believing in the sanctioned state pantheon, Polycarp at his trial was ordered by the judge to vocally proclaim, “Out with atheists.” Polycarp theatrically gestured towards the assembled crowd and declared, “Yes, out with the atheists (Gonzalez, 45).”

Having deflected some of the criticism, the Apologists sought to win Classical civilization by showing that the insights and accomplishments achieved by that particular cultural tradition were not necessarily antithetical to Christian belief in and of itself. Justin Martyr argued that all knowledge stemmed from the universal reason of the Logos manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. Reason was to the Greek what revelation was to the Hebrew in terms of the basis of each culture's epistemological foundation. Justin in fact characterized Christianity as true philosophy.

The Apologists found themselves in an era hostile to the claims of Christianity. Yet they were willing to proclaim the message that the hostile forces arrayed against the Church needed to hear. Though it has not yet come to the same point in our society where believers are being executed for their faith, the contemporary Church needs to emulate this example before such a state of affairs occurs once more.

Over the course of its early history, the Church faced numerous threats. Some of these such as the hostile Roman and Jewish authorities came from without. Those claiming to come from within the Church's own ranks as embodied by the heresies of Gnosticism and Marcionism were as equally dangerous in their own particular manners.

Gnosticism was the name given to a number of related sects claiming they possessed knowledge beyond that held by the Church and the ordinary believer. Gnosticism was in fact a blending of Platonism Judaism, Zoroastrian, and Christian beliefs (Chadwick, 35). A number of these beliefs held by Gnosticism put the movement at odds with the Christian faith.

First among these was that only the spiritual was good and that matter was in fact evil. This teaching manifested itself in two primary ways. Some Gnostics engaged in extreme ascetic practices that ignored basic bodily needs. Other Gnostics invoked their disregard for the material as an excuse for debauched and licentious practices since they insisted bodily actions bore no impact upon one's spiritual well-being.

Beyond this, Gnostics possessed several faulty notions regarding Christ. For example, many Gnostics held that Christ did not actually possess a human body but rather merely appeared to have one. Such a claim would make Christ a liar and thus unworthy of worship.

In Luke 24:39, Christ Himself says, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” If Christ did not have an actual material body, why would He go to such a length in deceiving His associates into thinking He had one? In regards to Gnostic conceptions of salvation, it was not enough to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, one needed to be initiated into the inner circle of hidden knowledge in order to obtain the passwords needed to ascend to higher levels of enlightened existence.

The second heresy faced by the early Church was Marcionism, named for its founder Marcion. Marcion believed that the God of the Old Testament who created the physical world and who was worshiped by the Jews was not God the Father of Jesus (Chadwick, 39). The higher God sent Jesus into the world to correct the evil wrought by the maniacal Jehovah. To do away with physical procreation which nauseated him, Marcion argued that Christ stepped onto the world stage as a fully grown individual.

Marcion then took it upon himself to establish a canon of sacred writings suitable to the teachings of his sect. Having enunciated this antipathy for the Old Testament God, Marcion rejected that particular portion of Scripture. Of what came to be known as the New Testament, Marcion accepted only the Gospel of Luke and Paul's Epistles. Even these documents did not escape his editor's pen as Marcion proceeded to expunge these texts of their Old Testament quotes and allusions which he claimed had been placed there as Jewish propaganda.

Gnosticism and Marcionism presented powerful threats to the fledgling Christian Church. Fortunately, the Church was able to rally around the faith elaborated in Scripture and empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep these false doctrines at bay.

As the Church grew in number and influence, it was not long before those assembling under its banner or claiming to speak on behalf of its divine founder began promoting and squabbling over differing theological beliefs and interpretations. A number of these were either highly controversial or even blatantly aberrant.

Montanism was a reaction against Marcion and Gnostic theologies. Both Gnosticism and Marcionism sought to undermine the more conventional literal interpretation of Scripture by allegorizing these as many Gnostics had done or by denying the authenticity of such outright as Marcion had done. Each sect also denied essential doctrines such as Christ's virgin birth or physical incarnation.

Montanus along with Prisca and Maximilla were alleged to have prophesied under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit against as what was classified as “...the Gnostic elimination of the eschatological expectation (Chadwick, 52). “ In many ways, Montanism proved as divisive as its Gnostic and Marcion competition. Many congregations in Asia Minor split, with the church at Thyatira remaining Montanist for nearly a century (Chadwick, 52).

The Montanist movement even appealed to theologians of considerable reputation such as Tertullian. Tertullian was originally attracted to the movement's rigorous ethics and spiritual vigor. However, even he grew weary of the innovation after a fashion because of the movement's failure to deliver on its promise of a new era marked by increased accessibility to the power of the Holy Spirit and its promise of a Christian life surpassing even that enjoyed by the Apostles themselves (Gonzalez, 76).

Such enthusiasm could not be sustained indefinitely. Even if it could, Montanism was not even necessarily that good of an idea since it was itself based upon questionable theological assumptions. For example, Montanists claimed that those doubting the veracity of their prophetic utterances were guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, the greatest offense one could commit in violation of Scripture. Hippolytus pointed out in reference to the Montanist emphasis on supernatural manifestations that these were not the greatest miracle that an individual could experience. But rather that honor was reserved for the occasion of their own individual conversion (Chadwick, 53). The orthodox response to Gnosticism and Marcionism was not to be found in the fits of ecstasy and seeming irrationalism as offered by Montanism but rather in more powerful tools that the Church would find at its disposal.

It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that the average Christian thinks that the Bible plopped down from Heaven complete with leather binding and the words of Christ conveniently highlighted in red. However, the process by which the Church came to accept this gift from God, particular in regards to the books of the New Testament, was a gradual process fraught with a certain degree of controversy along the way.

In response to the Marcion and Gnostic denial of certain Gospels and portions of the Epistles embodied by Marcion's acceptance of only the Gospel of Luke and his removal of Paul's Old Testament quotations as Jewish propaganda, the Church felt that it needed to formalize which writings were binding as divinely inspired. Since Jesus accepted the Old Testament as divinely inspired, so would the Church. Therefore, most of the debate arose surrounding what post-Old Testament writings would be accepted into the corpus of holy writ.

According to Justo Gonzalez in “The Story Of Christianity: The Early Church To The Dawn Of The Reformation”, the first works accepted by the Church were the Gospels. Instead of being discouraged by alleged discrepancies between the exacting details of the Gospels, orthodox Christians pointed out how the considerable agreement between these documents undermined Gnostic claims to the secret knowledge as found in the sect's preferred text the Gospel of Saint Thomas (Gonzalez 63). The next set of works accepted by the Church included the Pauline Epistles and the Book of Acts.

The greatest debate centered around the texts found towards the end of what Christians categorize as the New Testament. Debate ensued over II Peter, Hebrews, James, II John, III John, Jude, and Revelation. Councils were convened at Hipporegiaus in 393, at Carthage in 397, and the Council convened in 419 was under the leadership of none other than Augustine. It was the purpose of these councils to identify which books stood out as having been authored under divine inspiration. However, this process of consensus did not always end the dispute as was the case regarding the Book of Revelation. Though accepted by the third century, its inspiration was questioned after Constantine's conversion because of the book's harsh words regarding tyrannical government and worldliness but this concern subsided by the second half of the fourth century (Gonzalez, 63).

Though the New Testament did not plop down fully formed from Heaven into the hands of Billy Graham or John Paul II, the Church can rest assured as to this work's divine authenticity because even to this very day there are few things to which all Christians agree. For example, Dispensationalists and Covenant theologians seldom agree on the specifics of Scripture's eschatological chronology, but both will agree upon the supremacy of the Lord proclaimed within its pages and the value of each inspired word to the salvation of mankind to this very day.

Faced with challenges such as Gnosticism and Marcionism, the Church formulated several weapons to be used against these kinds of heresies, the New Testament canon being the most powerful tool at the disposal of the Church. However, the Church also possessed a number of other supplementary weapons to be used in a supportive role in the realm of intellectual and spiritual confrontation.

One of these tools used by the Church came to be known as the Apostle's Creed. This symbol of faith was used to identify true believers since those reciting it with understanding were enunciating orthodox doctrine. This creed spoke to the subject of Jesus as God's Son, of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the historicity of Christ's incarnation under the rule of Pontius Pilate and other foundational Christian doctrines with which assorted competing sects found themselves at variance.

The second used in the Church's arsenal was the Rule of Faith. Very much akin to the Apostle's Creed, the Rule of Faith provided a brief summation of key doctrinal ideas such as those enunciated in the Creed such as the Creation, the Incarnation, and the Ascension. Tertullian found the Rule of Faith easier to use than the Scripture itself since the heretics interpreted Scripture through the lens of their pre-established theological preferences while not accepting the doctrines articulated within the Rule (Chadwick, 45).

The third method employed by the Church to protect the faith was the notion of Apostolic Succession. According to the idea of Apostolic Succession, Christ passed his teaching authority on to the Apostles who in turn handed orthodox teachings over to their successors who eventually handed down this heritage throughout history in an unbroken chain. This idea was formulated to combat Gnostic claims of secret knowledge either passed down outside the established Apostolic channels or lost until rediscovered by the Gnostic adepts of succeeding generations.

Each of these tools used by the Church did possess considerable influence yet could not surpass the power of the New Testament Canon. Both the Apostle's Creed and the Rule of Faith were derived from the teachings of Scripture and were merely tools used to summarize the greater body of work contained within the pages of the New Testament. Apostolic Succession was only of use if those invoking it were willing to adhere to the truth of the Gospel proclaimed by the Apostles and embraced by the early Church. Succeeding centuries would provide the results of what would happen when the traditions of men were given nearly the same weight as the revelation of God.

I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 list the office and gift of teaching as one of the primary missions within the structure of the Church. It has often been the duty of those taking up the mantle of teaching to fight the doctrinal errors of the day and to prepare their respective congregations to face challenges in the society at large. Two individuals taking up this role in the early church included Irenaeus of Lyon and Tertulian of Carthage.

Iraeneus was born in Asia Minor around AD 130. Eventually Irenaeus migrated to Lyon in southern France where he became presbyter and ultimately bishop after Photinus died under persecution. A disciple of Polycarp, Irenaeus had a pastor's heart in that his greatest interest was in teaching his congregation to live the Christian life and comprehend doctrine. As such, he did not engage in significant philosophical speculation (Gonzalez, 68).

That does not mean, though, that Irenaeus was an intellectual slouch. In “Demonstrations of the Apostolic Faith” and “Against Heresies”, Irenaeus played the role of an ancient Hank Hanegraaff or Norman Geisler by refuting the doctrinal errors of his day --- namely Gnosticism --- and by instructing his readers in essential Christian belief. Taking the shepherd role of a pastor to heart, Irenaeus saw God as a shepherd lovingly leading his flock of humanity to the culmination of history (Gonzalez, 68).

According to Irenaues, humanity was created as children eventually to takeits place as the judges of angels who themselves would help mankind in reaching the point of maturity like a tutor teaching a prince to one day take his place of rulership. Man is also to be taught by God's Word and Holy Spirit. Though history is now marked by sin, there would have been a history anyway (though one not quite as tragic as that now filling the world's libraries). In the drama of history, Israel is the instrument through which God's Word and Spirit reach out to all of mankind with an offer of eternal communion in the form of Jesus Christ.

The second teacher to be discussed is Tertullian of Carthage. In certain respects, Tertullian was the Francis Schaeffer or Ravi Zacharias of his day, utilizing logic and argument to reveal the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of his opponents. For example, Tertullian used his legal and rhetorical training to expose the inherent inconsistency of Trajan's policy regarding Christianity: don't actively flush out believers but indeed prosecute them if they happen to get caught (Gonzalez, 74).

Tertullian believed Christianity represented all truth and to seek truth apart from it through Classical culture was pointless at best and idolatry at worst. This sentiment was summarized by his famous aphorism asking what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem. Despite his wit and penetrating logic, Tertullian veered from the straight and narrow off into the Montantist movement which often emphasized alleged fits of the Spirit over the application of logic in addressing other rising heresies.

Perhaps Tertullian's greatest contribution was his understanding of the Trinity. His understanding was formulated in response to Modalism (the belief that the names of “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Spirit” signify the modes or roles of a unitary God rather than distinctive individuals). Tertullian said of the Trinity that the Godhead consists of one substance and three persons with Christ as the Savior being that distinct person possessing two natures (Gonzalez, 77). And to top off this formidable existence of intellectual accomplishment, Tertullian is honored as the father of Western theology for being among the first to use Latin rather than Greek in his writings.

It is often easy to look down upon teachers and apologists for their application of the intellect in approaching the things of the spirit. However, it cannot be denied that these thinkers play a pivotal role in strengthening the faith of believers and in introducing the faith to a hostile and unbelieving world.

By Frederick Meekins

Chadwick, Henry. “The Early Church.” 1967.

Gonzalez, Justo. “The Story Of Christianity (Vol. 1): The Early Church To The Dawn Of The Reformation. Harper Collins Publishers, 1984.