Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ASC and Gene Therapy

A fascinating article from Science Daily:
"They used synthetic proteins called zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) to target a corrective gene at a specifically defined location in the genome of the X-CGD iPS cells. The iPS cells were then carefully screened to identify those containing a single copy of the corrective gene properly inserted only at the safe site. The researchers observed that some of the gene-corrected iPS cells could differentiate into neutrophils that produced normal levels of hydrogen peroxide, effectively 'correcting' the disease."
Taking defective blood stem cells, and patching their programming!

Monday, June 20, 2011


One of the classic complaints against Christianity is "the church is full of hypocrites".

Let's overlook the obvious problem with this statement (you are turning down God's offer of forgiveness and eternal life in Heaven - because some people who claim they will be in Heaven are jerks).

First, I must say, if a local church is full of hypocrites, you should avoid that church.


Two possibilities:
  1. They say they are evil, but are actually good. I don't think anyone would have a problem with this. It'd be like super-humility.
  2. They say they are good, but are actually evil.
If they say they are good, they don't have a very good grasp of the Gospel (we are evil, God is good - we can get forgiveness for our evil, and get credit for God's goodness).

Ok. But what about atheists who are hypocrites?

Atheists cannot believe in anything greater than themselves. That is because everything dies with us (entropy). There can't be anything greater than ourselves, as individuals. At most, they can sponsor some sort of utilitarianism, which sees to the maximization of utility (although that has some problems).

So, any atheist who argues in favor of their belief system over any other - "because it is true" - is a hypocrite. Truth doesn't matter (under their system). Only our own purposes - which means theists can have their own purposes, and atheists shouldn't try to dissuade them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Felix Manz - Martyr

This is another series I've wanted to work on... I've had troubles locating a copy of Fox's (or Foxe's) Book of Martyrs. Although there seems to be one online...

"Martyr" is from the Greek word "witness". The early Church was famous for witnesses who were true to the end (death by persecution). There were so many, that martyr became synonymous with death for the faith.

This is very different from those who die while killing, as in Islam. The ideal Christian martyr is peaceful and gentle, like a lamb led to slaughter.

Felix Manz is in line with our recent coverage of Baptism.

During the Reformation, there were people who pressed for more thorough reformation. These people are generally known as the "Radical Reformers". The best known of these are the anabaptists (a derogatory term from their enemies, meaning "re-baptizers").

Anabaptists have only a idealogical connection to modern Baptists. Their more direct descendants are the Mennonites and related groups (now know more for non-violence and strict separation from the world).

The anabaptists believed that baptism should follow belief, which is what the systematic reading of Scripture shows. They also believed in non-violence (particularly the avoidance of military service) - largely because, at that time, military service was connected to religious warfare.

From Wikipedia:
"Felix Manz became ... the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of other Protestants."
The baptism (and religious warfare) issue is very tightly connected with Postmillenialism, which I will address in a separate post.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


An interesting set of posts from AOmin (the first, which points to the second).

In the first Jamin says:
"consistent Dispensationalism is (or at least, should be) Hyper-Dispensationalism"
This is a very interesting statement. It's been a long time, but I have mentioned my own leanings towards dispensationalism. Hyper-dispy is definitely heresy, let's take a look...

Jamin sums it all up in one block of the second (older) post:
"Hyper-Dispensationalism teaches that there are two gospels in the New Testament, that Jesus and Peter taught works-righteous salvation, that all forms of water baptism are unnecessary and 'dangerous,' that the Great Commission in Matthew’s gospel is inapplicable for anyone today, and that the teaching in Paul’s epistles are the only relevant sources for doctrine in the church."
This is a remarkable statement (on the HD side, I assume Jamin is representing them accurately).

The only online source is the "Berean Bible Society".

Here we see the "other" aspects of dispy I mentioned in my post - "central interpretive motif". From fact 1:
"The reason for a right division of the Bible is because of God's two distinct purposes: (1) His purpose concerning Israel and the world according to PROPHECY, and (2) His purpose concerning the Gentiles in this present age according to the MYSTERY revealed to Paul. God doesn't want us to confuse the teaching of these two purposes. He has very graciously given us the key for a proper understanding of this. "
This definitely seems to be the root of the problem. They are assuming two purposes for God, which I don't think can be exegeted directly anywhere. God has one purpose - to glorify Himself.

Fact 2 is just wrong:
"This proves conclusively that Paul did not preach what the 12 Apostles preached."
This sets the Bible against itself. I'd need to read the academic works to see where this is coming from and how it is reconciled. It doesn't seem like it could stand for long.

Everything else seems to follow naturally from these foundational errors, leading to "fact" 7:
"That the COMMISSION the Church, the Body of Christ, is to work under, is found in II Corinthians 5:14-21 and Ephesians 3:9. The Kingdom commission of Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-18 does not belong to God's present grace purpose."
2 Cor 5:14-21 speaks of our mission to preach the reconciliation of God and man through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew 28 is the Great Commission ("go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.")

I think this sets things more in context.

The HD seem to be trying to break free from postmillenialism (the idea that the Church should be reconstructing the world into Christ-likeness). This makes sense for the original authors' timeframe (before 1940). That was in the midst of the great meltdown of postmillenialism (which peaked during World Wars I and II).

It is important to realize one can have both 2 Cor 5 and Matthew 28 without postmillenialism.

What Jesus commanded was not obedience to the Law, and theocracy. He taught the Law as a schoolmaster (which is what Paul says), to drive us to repentance. That is the "command" - "repent".

We are obedient to the command when we repent and trust that Jesus has paid the price of sin for us. We are baptized (just as the Gentiles in Cornelius' household were) as an outward sign of this obedience, which has worked an inward change.

This (HD) is an overreaction to a problem that didn't exist (as many heresies are).