Casting Out Devils

Speaking Conservative Truth to Evil-Doers

How One Liberal Got a Ph.D without Really Trying

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In 2000, I ran across an article in the “Liberal rag,” The Houston Press, marking the passing of Dr. William Simon (not the former Secretary of the Treasury, who coincidentally died the same year).  Who Simon was will be discussed within my review, which I reprint below.  Simon’s life, and death, is “old news,” but it remains appropriate to consider what it means, today as well, to earn (or be granted) the appellation, “Dr.,” especially the privilege (for such it is) of using the post-nominal letters, “Ph.D.”

The phrase, “the power of the Ph.D,” is a commonplace in academic and intellectual circles.  How many of us, when we want reliable facts or educated opinions, look for those letters after the name of a book author or the subtitle under a “talking head” on television?  We have been convinced somehow that “this guy is a Ph.D, he must know what he is talking about,” and the exact opposite for those not thus endowed.  Accrediting associations have, wittingly or not, contributed to this conceit (if such it is) by requiring ever-higher percentages of teachers holding doctoral degrees (as opposed, in some cases, to those with teaching skills and practical experience) for preferred levels of accreditation.

I note here that the renowned Bible scholar F. F. Bruce was further renowned for never having earned a doctorate.  With “the right stuff” and the right connections, he found that he never needed one.  But he is an exception.

A Ph.D can be hard to come by, especially when the student, vying for the honor, stands for an unpopular social, religious, or political opinion.  I was informed by one insider at a certain university that any professor at that institution, considering, for his own reasons, that a given student (under his tutelage) did not “deserve” a doctorate, could use the comprehensive testing process to delay that student’s advancement by forcing him or her to take additional coursework, perhaps ultimately derailing that student’s ambitions.  I have first-hand experience with a similar procedure by which a student may be terminated with little cause and no recourse.

In the case of William Simon, on the other hand, one finds that those who wield academic power can sometimes grant that power, arbitrarily from an academic standpoint, defying any inconvenient rules and conventions, to those who, for their own reasons, garner their approbation.

Originally published online in Spiritual INSIGHT: On History, Religion, & Society, Volume 6, No. 2, September 2000.

HOUSTON, JULY 2000 — Activist and Sex Researcher William Simon Passes

Left-wing activist, author, Kinsey Institute researcher, and college professor William Simon died of cancer just one day past his 70th birthday. Based in Houston since 1975, Simon was a tenured professor at the University of Houston, and was active in local as well as national liberal causes.

Descended from Polish Jews, Simon was born in New York City but moved to Detroit at age 10. Rebellious, Simon dropped out of school in 8th grade. At 15, he led other teens in a raucous protest against a leader of the America First movement. He caught the eye of a local socialist, and soon became a leader in the (Trotskyite) Socialist Workers Party. In the 1950’s, he met influential intellectuals who helped him obtain a graduate degree at the University of Chicago, even without a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree.

Simon’s research at the Kinsey Institute was funded by federal grants. His conclusions and methods were at variance with the Institute’s late founder, however, and he considered Kinsey’s methods unscientific. While Kinsey viewed sex as “biologically driven,” Simon saw it as learned behavior, “just another thing people learned how to do.” In Postmodern Sexualities (1996), he wrote, “The most important truth about sexuality is that there may be no important truths that are permanent.” Simon often wrote for Playboy in support of the acceptance of homosexuality, testified for the defense in obscenity trials, and authored a number of books and articles. While testifying for Gay Student Services against Texas A&M University, he was asked under oath if he had ever engaged in homosexual activity. “Not since early adolescence,” he replied, quoting reports that many young boys experimented with same-sex conduct. When Allen Ginsberg and his lover visited Kinsey Institute, Simon reportedly participated in filming them performing a homosexual act.

“He was so highly skilled and adept verbally, and so very persuasive, that you knew what this man was saying came from the bottom of his heart,” said sociologist Veronica Diehl Elias. Many of his students “worshiped” him, but amongst his UH colleagues he was considered a “pariah.”

Asked why his “elitist tastes seemed so at variance with his plebian politics,” Simon labeled himself a “Neiman Marxist.”

(Source: Tom Curtis, “The Accidental Sexologist,” Houston Press, August 24, 2000)

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

September 3, 2014 at 8:20 PM

‘Christian’ Tattoos: Does Jesus Approve?

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Yahweh-Approved Tattoos

Fair Use of an Image Displayed on a Public Street for Reporting Purposes Claimed

Condensed and adapted from God’s Laws:  Sin, Law, Grace, and Obligation in Pauline Theology by Paul A. Hughes (2014), available in paperback from Amazon and other online retailers, and in eBook format from Apple iBooks and other eBook publishers.

Don’t make up your mind till you have
considered these Biblical principles . . .
and oh, prayed about it—seriously!

Finding the line between God’s eternal moral law and prevailing culture is one of the stickiest problems with which people of faith must deal.  Much pressure is naturally exerted upon contemplating God’s law by the sheer weight of historic as well as contemporary culture.

When evangelizing, Paul preached from synagogue to synagogue.  Wherever there was a synagogue, there was also a Judaic subculture.  His views on the rights and comportment of women, while informed by the principles of original Creation and Scripture, also appear to reflect the influence of strongly traditional societies.  The prohibitions against women speaking in church (as in the synagogue, 1 Cor. 14:34 f., 1 Tim. 2:11 f.), praying with their hair uncovered (1 Cor. 11:5, 13), and adorning themselves ostentatiously (1 Tim. 2:9 f.) appear to be calculated to uphold the highest standards of respectability and even gender roles, and humility as becomes a saint, within the local society as well as the synagogue.  Add to this Paul’s opinion, appealing to Natural Law as well as culture, that men should wear their hair short and women long (1 Cor. 11:14 f.).  The Apostle favored neither Libertinism nor license, which in the name of grace flouted not only Biblical morality but the customs and mores of societies in which he ministered (see Rom. 6:1 f., 1 Cor. 8:9, Gal. 5:13).  Rather, he upheld what he deemed to be conservative, ratifying moral ideals and traditions among the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  Theologically, Paul regarded the original order of Creation to be supportive of natural and traditional gender roles, e.g., “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13).

Matters of Conscience

Paul writes on questions of ritual observances and matters of conscience, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) and “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (14:22).  If Christians’ bodies are “the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own,” and “ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19 f., also 7:23), it stands to reason that while we are free moral agents before God, we are not free to unilaterally overstep God’s Moral/Natural Law at will.

This principle applies to a multitude of cultural moral questions, in a world that is increasingly godless, profane, and sexualized.  Questions of speech, entertainment, attire, and relationships are all in play.  A case in point is the phenomenon of the so-called “Christian tattoo,” or at least Christians with tattoos.  At the moment, tattoos are, especially among young people, increasingly popular.  A tattoo parlor in a small town near Houston, Texas, advertises, “Yahweh-Approved Tattoos.”  But does Yahweh approve?  Proponents say that the prohibition against tattoos in the Old Testament is invalid because we are no longer under Moses’ Law but under grace.  There they have a point.  They go on to say that the prohibition in Leviticus 19:27 was not about tattoos—rather due to the association of tattoos with some now-forgotten Pagan ritual practice.  Perhaps, but they would do well to wonder further what that Pagan practice might have been, why Hebrews were not to associate themselves with it, and why the commandment focused on tattoos and not other behaviors.  The reasons might still apply today, for all they know.  One might well consider that sincere believers should, in the absence of knowledge, prefer to err on the conservative side.  Paul’s views regarding the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, meant for God’s glory, and no longer “owned” by the believer, spring immediately to mind.

Proponents argue that “old” tattoos from their former reprobate lives become a curiosity to acquaintances, affording opportunities to witness by demonstrating the lifestyle from which they have been redeemed.  Fair enough, if so used and effective toward that purpose.  The metaphor that the “marks of sin” are hard to remove is not lost.  Associated with this idea of “evangelistic tattoos” is that of the aforementioned “Christian tattoos,” by which advocates, often citing out-of-context New-Testament support (e.g., Jn. 6:27; 2 Cor. 1:22, 3:2; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 19:16), profess to be setting God’s mark upon themselves, sporting their personal testimony, and even making their bodies into “a living billboard for the Lord” (my term).  Meanwhile, they categorically deny any connotation relative to the Mark of the Beast.

Many pertinent principles may be applied from Paul’s several discussions of meat offered to idols (see Chapter 2).  Tattoos, if associated in any observer’s mind with evil, could be equated with participating in evil; and while “all things,” according to Paul, are “lawful,” in such case would hardly “edify” (1 Cor. 10:20 ff.).  A believer who judges a brother on the sheer basis of a tattoo is wrong, and vice versa (Rom. 14:3 ff., 10 ff.).  Yet to Paul the onus of responsibility falls on the one who takes license, in this case to display a tattoo that offends a brother (Rom. 14:15, 20); or worse, tempts a brother to violate his own conscience by getting a tattoo himself (Rom. 14:20, 23; 1 Cor. 8:7 ff.).  It would be more pleasing to God, as well as to men, in Paul’s mind, for a believer to forgo the “liberty” of obtaining a “lawful” tattoo, in order to “make peace” and edify (Rom. 14:18 ff.).  This is the Law of Christ in action.  “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal. 5:13 f.).

Know What the Lord’s Will Is

It is thus incumbent upon the believer, first, to learn sound doctrine, being thoroughly trained and informed in the elements of the Faith. Jesus’ mission both prior and subsequent to his atoning sacrifice was to deliver his Gospel to the Apostles so that they could in turn convey it to others to follow.  Aquila and Priscilla deemed it important to correct deficiencies in Apollos’ doctrine.  “I would not have you ignorant, brethren,” Paul so often began his instruction.  According to Paul, Christian leaders are gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach sound doctrine, so that believers might “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:12 ff.).  It is not just “unity of faith,” but unity which is only possible in the context of the Faith, that is, sound doctrine.  Truly, we find to this day, as in Paul’s, that where there is unsound doctrine, there is no unity, but division!

Paul further urged believers to “be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).  The good steward of Christ’s grace needs to know the Lord’s will for him or herself, by a thorough understanding of the Word of God and also by personal revelation.  Though “we walk by faith,” seemingly blind much of the time, God’s Word provides principles by which to live, beyond specific commands and prohibitions; and moreover, the Spirit-filled believer, if to such one may lay claim, is equipped and ready to hear the voice of the Spirit whenever He chooses to speak.  Dare we make life decisions on our own, without thoroughly consulting the Lord?  Paul entreated, “Be careful [worried] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php. 4:6).  The Apostle James warned those who made their own plans without consulting the Lord, when they ought to be saying, “If the Lord wills” (Jas. 4:15).  The Apostle John reminded the church, “if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 Jn. 5:14 f.).

Do we not know what to pray?  Most who purport to be Christians pray that their own will be done and neglect to ask God his.  “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19 f.).  Paul said that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit . . .” (Rom. 8:26 f.).  So second, we need to pray in the Spirit.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”

How long are we to pray, and how hard, before making a decision?  Paul conceived that believers ought to “pray without ceasing” (Rom. 1:9; 1 Th. 2:13, 5:17; 2 Tim. 1:3), just as he “spoke in tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18, paraphrased).  Even Paul did not claim to receive a definitive answer to his prayers in every case.  He still had to “walk by faith, not by sight,” too.  Yet in matters of conscience, he enjoined his fellow believer to “be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) in order to be “happy” that he “condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (v. 22).  Only once the life choice in question has passed the final test of the Law of Christ can the believer truly consider himself to have been “fully persuaded” and stand not only uncondemned but “happy” in it.

The Law of Faith and Law of Christ

Paul rejected the works of the Law, yet concluded that God’s law is still not so simple as “Moses out, grace in.”  He was not a Libertarian.  Those freed from bondage to the “Letter of the Law” are not so free as to “continue in sin, that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1).  Paul took pains to stake out the moral middle ground between Legalism and Libertinism, in which God’s interests are served.  Christians may not live altogether without law, for God’s laws are built into Creation, and lawlessness is utter rebellion.  Sound doctrine, derived from the Gospel, dictates that Christians reject both the extremes of dogmatic Legalism and libertarian self-actualization in order to live by a higher law, the Law of Faith.

The Law of Faith says that we are saved by faith alone, by God’s grace, not because we have the ability to earn salvation, or to pay the price (other than by our own eternal damnation).  Since we are saved by faith, moreover, we should then act in accordance to what we have believed:  to wit, that Christ’s blood frees us from bondage to sin and the consequences of the Law of Sin and Death.  We who have received forgiveness of sin should forsake those sins for which we have been forgiven, rather than pile up more and expect the Lord to cover them like the proverbial “blank check.”  Such a mindset is akin to throwing excrement on Christ and his Cross.  Jesus declined to condemn the woman caught in adultery, yet commanded, “Go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11, see also 5:14).

The Law of Faith further presupposes the Law of Christ.  The Law of Christ says that since Christ loved us enough to die in our place, we are therefore obligated to return love to him by acting in love toward all others for whom Christ also died.  We have been redeemed from sin, bought and paid for, hence are Christ’s servants, not free to do as we please without our Master’s permission.  We are thereafter acting as Christ’s emissaries in Christ’s interests and, since all who believe have entered “into Christ,” also for the interests of the entire Body of Christ, in which we share.  The Apostle James is fully in agreement with Paul and with Christ when he writes, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (2:18).  Those redeemed are to go on to do good works toward others, to serve Christ by edifying his Body, and to share the Gospel wherever possible, in word and in deed.

Consequently, the believer does not ultimately live under the laws of Men, even the letter of Moses’ Law, but according to the Law of Faith.  The Law of Faith upholds Gods’ Moral/Natural Law (which embodies all that is morally right and according to God’s purpose in Creation), and is expressed to the World through the Law of Christ.

In America today, it appears that a dogmatic interpretation and application of absolute laws is unacceptable to modern, relativistic sensibilities.  It is indeed a mistake to attempt to translate law directly to modern society in terms of the “do’s and don’ts” and “thou shalt nots” of Moses’ Law, however those ordinances are framed.  Simple, unassuming people may find comfort in “pat” answers to eternal questions, and in turn be highly offended when their orderly little world is questioned.  Others have found profound truth in Scripture, and the power of God through the Holy Spirit, no longer finding cause to question.  Questioning claims of truth seems to be the hallmark of the younger generations, however, as “everything that can be shaken is being shaken.”  Youthful exuberance and willfulness chafe at restrictions.

But God’s eternal laws cannot be shaken without dire consequence.  God’s laws coalesce toward God’s Plan for Creation, ultimately to be fulfilled in and by Christ.  God’s laws and goodness are displayed for all to see in the things that He has made, so that all Men “are without excuse.”  Christ is “the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. . . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Ps. 118:22, Mt. 21:42, 44).

What Does God Require?

So how does the Christian fulfill God’s laws without simply becoming legalistic?  God’s laws are rightfully expressed through the combination of the Law of Faith and the Law of Christ, as described above.  There remain, first and foremost, moral absolutes—adultery and murder are always sins against God’s eternal moral law.  The repentant believer acquiesces to such clear-cut, eternal laws, in humility before God, or else he does not believe the revelation of the Gospel, nor the evidence displayed in the created order:  in short, he remains an infidel and a rebel.  Second, there is the sovereign will of Christ as is conveyed through God’s Word and the revelation of the Holy Spirit.  The servant listens for his Master’s voice, heeds, and obeys.  Spirit-filled believers seek the will of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, and are able to hear the Master’s voice when He speaks, thus highlighting the indispensable nature of Pentecostal Spirit Baptism.

A third classification of obedience to and discernment of God’s law, at which point the Law of Christ comes especially into play, is that which involves “matters of conscience”:  those things which are neither clear-cut and subject to eternal principles, nor a revelation of the Lord’s specific and particular will for a time, a place, and a person or persons—but in the absence of a set of Ordinances such as Moses’, a matter apparently left to the discretion of the individual believer.  Paul describes, himself, various instances in which even he, an apostle, having been granted various endowments of revelation, yet renders his own judgment (“to the rest speak I, not the Lord”) based on his best understanding of the will and purpose of the Lord.  In this realm of activity we as believers exercise the prerogative afforded by God, who would have all Men to freely choose to serve him or not, to decide for ourselves, according to knowledge of his Word and of his nature, what is good and appropriate to do.  Paul in essence walks us through the process, outlining the problem, describing the opposing interests, and presenting alternative solutions, in his several passages on eating meat sacrificed to idols.  Yet too many Christians, even leaders and teachers, become heedlessly obtuse when Paul’s own clear-cut example is brought up; they demand a law, chapter and verse, clearly stated, to which we are bound, in the absence of which they assert personal sovereignty and claim license to please themselves.

In this utter willfulness they overlook and defy the very Law of Christ by which they are called to conduct themselves in just such contingencies in the absence of clear-cut law.  The Law of Christ, Paul points out, compels the servant of God to sacrifice self-interest, and even his or her much-vaunted “rights,” in favor of sparing the sensibilities of a brother and keeping the peace.  Any other choice is carnal and defamatory to the Cross by which he or she purports to be saved.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

 

Written by biblequestion

July 18, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Posted in Paganism, Society

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Relativism vs. Belief in Absolute Truth

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Absolute Truth vs Relativism

Absolute Truth vs Relativism

How does that go again?  For me to believe in absolute truth, and that the Bible is true, is arrogant — but for you to make up your own truth, however you please (Relativism), is not?

© 2012 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

March 20, 2014 at 8:31 PM

Posted in Banners, Liberalism, Politics, Society

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“Don’t Call Me Bossy”

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"Bossy" Liberal Women

“Bossy” Liberal Women

In yet another outlandish emanation of Political Correctness, Michelle Obama and other Feminists are now ordering American society to cease and desist from ever, ever calling a little girl “bossy,” just because she is a big-mouth know-it-all who bosses everybody around.  But I say we ought to stop denying facts and lying to ourselves out of fear, or in the narcissistic desire to appear noble and sophisticated, and call people what they are, especially bossy Liberals.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

March 19, 2014 at 5:57 AM

5 Years an Indentured Servant

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I here make reference to the recent movie, 12 Years a Slave, for indeed my ancestry can be traced back to indentured servants.  My mother, lifelong family historian/genealogist (non-professional) has followed our lineage, on her father’s side, beyond Dutch Fork, South Carolina, to the Old Country.  Her father’s surname, after being Americanized, was Kinard.

Johann Keinath hailed from Winterlingen, a farming community located in west central Germany, east of Strasbourg.  Johann and his wife came to America as servants indentured to Henry Middleton in the 1740s, contracted to serve a five-year term at his plantation called Middleton Place.  As it happened, both Johann and his wife died during their indenture.  Fortunately, their sons survived, and took up residence in Dutch Fork.

Henry Middleton possibly by Benjamin West ca 1771

Henry Middleton possibly by Benjamin West ca 1771

Henry Middleton (1717 – 1784) acquired what came to be known as Middleton Place by marriage.  Henry was a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, and served briefly as president of the First.  His son, Arthur, was a revolutionary and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Arthur’s son Henry became Governor of South Carolina (1810–1812) and a U.S. Representative (1815–1819).  Middleton Place, 15 miles from Charleston, has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is a popular tourist destination.

I do not know how the lot of an indentured servant compared with that of an African slave.  I do know that runaway indentured servants were subject to pursuit by law enforcement officers and referred to as “property.”  Apparently, it was hard on Johann und seine Frau.  Life in the early colonies was certainly no bed of roses for the common folk.

Seems to me this whole story has the makings of a TV miniseries, perhaps an American version of “Downton Abbey.”

Perhaps some day I will get the opportunity to visit the site of my forebears’ indenture, and whiff the air of freedom postponed.  Interestingly, my granddad, Tom Kinard, descendent of indentured German servants, after serving in France in World War I, was afterward assigned to the Army of Occupation and quartered with a German family near Coblenz.

©2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

March 11, 2014 at 5:05 AM

Fisher’s Folly

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HMS Invincible (1907)

HMS Invincible (1907), the first Battle Cruiser

Originally published in Divine Parodies & Holy Histories:  with Select Poems:
Illustrations of Gospel Truth (Liberty, TX: God’s Trombone, 2007).

Most people have heard the story of the German battleship Bismarck which, early in World War II, sank the British cruiser HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait.  The Hood, queen of the British fleet, was blown in half and sank quickly, with only three survivors.  News of the sinking gave birth to the rallying cry, “Sink the Bismarck,” at least one major motion picture, and a hit song by Johnny Horton.  But most people do not know the rest of the story.

Sir John Fisher is famous for building the HMS Dreadnought, the first real battleship.  The Dreadnought influenced capital ship design for decades to come.  (The last of the Dreadnought Class of battleships, the USS Texas, berthed near Houston, can still be seen today.)

USS Texas

USS Texas, Last Surviving Dreadnought-type Battleship

Fisher also envisioned an equally powerful but faster warship, the battle cruiser.  A battle cruiser would sport the large guns of a battleship but employ much less armor in order to make it faster.  According to writer Robert Kissel, it “could overtake and sink a conventional cruiser, and outrun whatever opponent it could not outrange.”

The battle cruiser met with some early success.  In 1914-15, British battle cruisers sank seven German cruisers and a destroyer.  Commanders of these vessels began to be seen as particularly dashing and admirable.  However, the weakness of the battle cruiser—light armor—was painfully revealed at the Battle of Jutland.  Three battle cruisers were easily sunk, with a combined loss of 3400 men, and only 8 survivors.  By design, the battle cruisers lacked the armor to take a hit and to protect their ammunition magazines.  Lacking sufficient watertight compartments, they sank quickly with heavy loss of life.  The battle cruiser came to be called “Fisher’s Folly.”

Unfortunately, the British Navy did not readily learn from its mistakes.  Not until 1920 was the final battle cruiser commissioned.  The largest warship of its day, it was christened HMS Hood.
In retrospect, experts conclude that the fault of the battle cruiser lay in the fact that “it looked too much like a battleship,” and tended to be used like one.

Similarly, I have seen many church programs come along that looked good, sounded good, and yielded remarkable initial results.  Going for effect, with much glitz and fanfare, these programs often garnered a lot of interest, much activity, and large numbers of participants, even ostensible converts.  More often than not, however, the programs were not well thought-out and their results neither solid nor lasting.  Typically, these programs ate up the church’s resources of time, money, and human energy with little to show for it.  Too many of the adherents gained through big programs are like those followers of Jesus who, when Jesus began to preach a hard message, ceased to follow him (John 6:66).

Having learned from observation and experience, I have come to believe that in general, programs are not the answer to evangelism or ministry.  Far better is the investment of time and energy in training true disciples and mentoring true ministers into the ministry.  Converts must be carefully nurtured, and leaders must be thoroughly trained and tested.

So be careful.  Not everything that looks like a church will stay afloat.

Source:  Robert P.  Kissel, “Trading Armor for Speed, British Battle Cruisers Were Used More as Battleships than as Cruisers, with Horrific Results,” Military History, February 2001.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

February 1, 2014 at 6:56 AM

Posted in Church, History

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General Custer’s Religious Experience

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Generals Sheridan, Forsyth, Merritt, Devin, Custer, L-R, by Brady Studios

Generals Sheridan, Forsyth, Merritt, Devin, Custer, L-R, by Brady Studios

Originally published in Divine Parodies & Holy Histories:  with Select Poems:
Illustrations of Gospel Truth (Liberty, TX: God’s Trombone, 2007).

In the Shenandoah Valley in the Fall of 1864, the Union Army was hard-pressed by the guerilla tactics of Confederate Lt. Col. John Singleton Mosby and his Rangers.  The response from the armies of Sher­man and Sheridan was ruthless, none more so than that of Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer and his colleague, Brigadier General Wesley Merritt.

Both commanders adopted the practice of having suspected spies and bushwhackers summarily shot or hanged, reflecting the attitude of Sheridan that local residents “have furnished too many meals to guerrillas to expect much sympathy.”  On one occasion, an unseen sniper killed a Federal trooper in the vicinity of two farmhouses.  Custer had the owners of both houses arrested and shot.  Federal reprisals were not mitigated until, after the execution of seven Confederates, Mosby had seven Union prisoners hanged.  A note was left that read, “These men have been hung in retaliation for an equal number of Colonel Mosby’s men hung by order of General Custer.”

See also:  “John S. Mosby, George A. Custer and the Front Royal Executions of 1864.”

Mosby's Rangers

Mosby’s Rangers

That winter, as heavy weather imposed a dormancy on both camps, Custer took a trip to visit family in Monroe, Michigan.  As historian Roy Morris, Jr., writes,

. . . Custer took advantage of his furlough to put himself right with God.  At a Sunday evening service at the Monroe Presbyterian Church, he experienced a religious conversion, one that left him feeling, Custer said, “somewhat like the pilot of a vessel who has been steering his ship upon familiar and safe waters but has been called upon to make a voyage fraught with danger.  Having in safety and with success completed one voyage, he is imbued with confidence and renewed courage, and the second voyage is robbed of half its terror.  So it is with me.”

Perhaps it is characteristic of Custer that his religious sensibilities would, apparently, focus more on himself than on the Lord.  But then, that is probably true of most of us, most of the time.  If Custer’s conversion was genuine and lasting, how did it affect his subsequent decisions leading to his demise at the Little Big Horn?

Source:  Roy Morris, Jr., “Last Stand in the Shenandoah,” America’s Civil War, March 2001.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

February 1, 2014 at 6:34 AM

Posted in History, Spirituality

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