Purveyor of bald-faced lying: Juan Cole or Bush administration?

IAEA Finds no Proof of Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program

In its April 28 report, the International Atomic Energy Agency mentioned the UNSC mandate to Iran of last February:

' • re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment related and reprocessing activities,
including research and development, to be verified by the Agency;

• reconsider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water;

• ratify promptly and implement in full the Additional Protocol;

• pending ratification, continue to act in accordance with the provisions of the Additional
Protocol which Iran signed on 18 December 2003;

• implement transparency measures, as requested by the Director General, including in GOV/2005/67, which extend beyond the formal requirements of the Safeguards Agreement
and Additional Protocol, and include such access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual use equipment, certain military-owned workshops and research and
development as the Agency may request in support of its ongoing investigations.

Despite not being fully in compliance with these demands, Iran maintains that it is in fact fulfilling its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.

The IAEA found no smoking gun.

Here is its conclusion, which others will not quote for you at such length:

' 33. All the nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency is accounted for. Apart from the small quantities previously reported to the Board, the Agency has found no other undeclared nuclear material in Iran. However, gaps remain in the Agency’s knowledge with respect to the scope and
content of Iran’s centrifuge programme. Because of this, and other gaps in the Agency’s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

34. After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran’s nuclear
programme, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern. '

This ambiguity is being twisted by the Bush administration to make it seem as though Iran has done something illegal. The report can be read to say that there is no evidence that Iran is doing anything illegal.

In fact, under the NPT, countries do have the right to do the sort of experiments Iran is doing. Most of the complaints are not about substance but about something else.

Copied and pasted directly from Juan Cole's site.

Dream Experiment

I've been coming down with a stomach flu over the last two days - not a pretty thing to suffer from let me tell you.

So as a result I didn't accompany the family this morning to church and instead went back to sleep to let my body battle the invaders as best they could.

But what dreams! Probably the best ones for years.

The first was a confusion with time. Every so often I would wake up and check the time... but then I would go back to sleep and dream that I would wake up and check the time. This meant that the time varied widely between 10.00am and 11.30am, confusing me no end.

Then, at one point, I could hear a shower running and Aiden, my son, came to the door of the bedroom wanting me to play computer games with me. Then I woke up and he wasn't there. I went back to sleep and the shower started again, and Aiden came to door again and started bothering me. Eventually it sort of dawned on me that Aiden was at church and this figure wasn't really there so I said to him "Look, you're not real. You don't exist. Go away and turn that shower off." I didn't see him, or hear the shower, again after that point.

Then I was walking along a road past some houses (it was actually to the north of the M4 freeway overpass between Parramatta and Merrylands) when I spotted a school bag with some paper in it. I picked it up and as I walked along I pulled the paper out - it was a newspaper. "Ah ha!" thinks me, "One of the best ways to work out whether this is a dream or not is to see whether or not the words change on the page as I read it". So I look very hard at the title of the newspaper, which is "Mattarra" or "Pattara" or something. So then I begin reading the section below it and it is all about Star Wars. As I read about Star Wars I suddenly decide to re-check the title of the newspaper again. Bingo! Instead of it reading "Mattarra"/"Pattarra" it reads "Sith". This obviously means I am in a dream, thinks me. Then I begin to theorise (within the dream) about the link between the newspaper title and the article about Star Wars. At no point did I read the word "Sith" so therefore my brain (the subconcious bit) picked out a random word associated with the topic my (semi-concious) mind was involved with. Yes - all this intellectual musing within an actual dream. Convinced that the paper proved that I was in dreamland, I then threw it away and continued walking along the road.

Fun times with a stomach bug. Fortunately I haven't "moved" for about 18 hours.


Fear compels me

Maddox has a new book out.

If I do not instruct you to buy it he will inevitably find out and humilate me. So therefore buy at least 10 copies and hope he doesn't knock on your door and prove what a wuss you are.

Doonesbury rocks

Being the scum sucking liberal atheist that I am, I find Doonesbury to be occasionally entertaining and informative. In the last two weeks, though, it has been gold.

The story in the last two weeks has been about B.D., a middle-aged character from the comic strip who decided to join the Marines and got shipped off to Iraq. There he was badly injured during a firefight in Fallujah and lost his leg. He has been back for about 12 months now, but in the recent strips he has been undergoing counselling from a guy at Veteran's Affairs who has been delving into what has been bothering B.D., who has been suffering from PTSD and alcoholism since returning.

Anyway, read the following strips in sequence. The final one is from today:

Strip #1
Strip #2
Strip #3
Strip #4
Strip #5
Strip #6
Strip #7
Strip #8
Strip #9
Strip #10

Jin-Roh (film review with pictures)

Jin-Roh is probably the best Japanese Anime out there - but no one knows about it. I've come to this conclusion after watching it for probably the eighth or ninth time the other day, and each time I watch it I am more and more impressed.

I'll start off by pointing out that I am only a moderate fan of Japanese Anime. Apart from Jin-Roh, I also own Akira, perhaps the best known Anime in the English-speaking world, as well as Kill Bill, which contains an anime section.

The reason why I don't own much anime is because I have had bad experiences. Ghost in the Shell is continually cited as one of the best Japanese films out there, but, to me, there was something wrong about a film in which nude female robots played an integral part. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi was an interesting film, but reminded me too much of H.R. Pufnstuf to get me going. I also attempted to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion many years ago but those big robots just got in my way.

Moreover, Japanese anime seems to consistently focus upon the theme of destruction and rebirth. The best example of this is Tetsuo Shima from Akira, whose journey into self almost manages to wipe out Tokyo again. It's also present in Evangelion.

The other thing about Japanese anime is that it is almost exclusively focused on science fiction and/or fantasy. Nothing wrong with that I suppose.

Jin-Roh, however, is not your typical anime.

The only thing "science-fictiony" about Jin-Roh is that it is set in an alternative history - a Japan in the 1960s that is beset by riots and leftist terrorist groups who are opposing an increasingly fascist federal government. As a result of its setting, the cars, fashions and street life are all consistent with Japan in the early to mid 1960s. Apart from this alternative history timeline, science fiction and fantasy have no place in Jin-Roh.

The story is essentially about two people who meet and fall in love - Fuse Kazuki, a member of a paramilitary "special unit" within the Capital police, and Kei Amemiya, the older sister of a young girl who dies fighting for the terrorists. The backstory is also very important. Leftist terrorist groups in Japan during the 1950s forced the Federal government to create an organisation called "The Capital Police", or Kerberos, who would assist the metropolitan police in controlling the upsurge in left-wing violence. Within Kerberos is a heavily armed unit named the Panzer corps, or merely "special unit".

The members of the Panzer corps wear heavy armour, Stanhelms, night vision goggles that glow red in the dark, and carry powerful machine guns fed by ammunition belts. Their appearance is so striking that they are probably the best known visual representation from the film.

But within the Panzer corps is a secret, almost mythical, group that calls itself the "Wolf Brigade". Members of this group actually view themselves as being wolves and not humans, as being "wolves in human clothing". The title of the film, Jin-Roh, literally means "human wolves" in Japanese.

But all is not well in Tokyo. Kerberos has been so successful in its war against the terrorists that it has gained the hatred of ordinary people. Moreover, the terrorist groups they sought to destroy have been driven underground and have united into one powerful group. As Japanese economic growth expands and people become prosperous, both Kerberos and the terrorist group are hated by the general public.

The relationship between Kerberos and the metro police is also at breaking point. It is obvious that the "co-policing" arrangement between the two is just not working. At the beginning of the film we see a major mistake by Kerberos leading to the metro police being unable to quell a riot, an event that results in the threatened merging of Kerberos - minus the special unit, which would be disbanded - into the metro police.

But there's more at stake than just organisational rivalry. There are people on both sides who have a stake in keeping the status quo, and those who have a stake in the merging. Not least of the problems is the increasingly obvious existence of the shadowy "Wolf Brigade".

In the midst of this political "dog" fight, we see the relationship develop between Fuse Kazuki, a special unit member who has disgraced himself (he was responsible for the "major mistake" I have mentioned above) and Kei Amemiya. As the film progresses it becomes obvious that neither Fuse (pronounced foo-zay) nor Kei (pronounced kay) are what they seem, and that both have actually been manipulated by the politics of Kerberos and the Metro police. The ending of the film is shocking and quite downbeat, but entirely appropriate.

The central image within the film is the faceless armoured soldier who make up the special unit. The image is powerful and frightening. Unlike the white-armoured Imperial Stormtroopers who die when hit by an Ewok stick, the black armoured special unit soldiers are the apex of brutality and effectiveness. On the one hand, their armour is so thick that bullets from pistols and sub-machine guns easily bounce off. On the other hand, each special unit member carries an MG42 belt-fed heavy machine gun which can shred a human being in seconds. Moreover, each member also wears a black armoured helmet, breathing apparatus and night vision goggles that glow red in the dark.

It is obvious that the armoured special unit member cannot exist in reality. The MG42 was a very heavy weapon to wield and totally impractical in close quarters. The thick armour would be so heavy that no member of the special unit would be able to run for any length of time. And, of course, the red glow of the night-vision goggles would give them away. But this is not the point. As an effect, the armoured soldier looks like a walking tank - impenetrable and brutal.

The facial area of the armoured soldier not only give an inhuman feel, but are reminiscent of a wolf's facial features, with a snout and penetrating eyes. Given the film's subject matter - human wolves - this is obviously deliberate.

Another interesting facet of life in this alternative timeline is that German weapons and cars - specifically World War II vintage - are present throughout the film.

Apart from the MG42, Special Unit troops are also seen wielding MP44 assault rifles, and Mauser pistols. The Metro police are also seen wielding MP40 sub machineguns and driving Volkswagen Beetles (the top execs drive Mercs).

There's an obvious link between the film's depiction of Japanese law enforcement officials using distinctly Nazi weapons and the film's depiction of the growth of fascism in post-war Japan. In other words, the tools that are used for oppression have been designed and created by oppressors themselves. I suppose that is the reason why no Japanese WW2 weapons were used was to highlight this fact for members of the audience who know something about war history.

Like a lot of violent anime, Jin-Roh does show the bloody effects of a person being riddled with bullets. Unlike violent anime, it does not dwell on this. Some anime has an unhealthy interest in gory deaths but Jin-Roh, while bloody, never goes to these lengths. Moreover, I also understand that some extreme forms of anime and manga have very explicit sex and nudity, something Jin-Roh has none of. In fact, sexual congress is only hinted at once in the film - and even then it is never seen.

Jin-Roh also has dream sequences and extended periods of dialogue that is occasionally interspersed with gory violence. It is similar to films like Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line and Coppola's Apocalypse Now in that the storyline is actually quite opaque and introspective, yet peppered with moments of action and suspense.

What I enjoyed most throughout the film were Kei's little behaviours: A sudden wind gust causes her to shut one of her eyes; a phone call (the content of which is not revealed to us) results in her collapsing on the floor and lying down as she silently ponders its meaning; she tries to walk down a children's slippery slide but ends up having to compensate as she slides down; she shivers in the cold rain but is too shy to sidle up to Fuse for warmth.

Also interesting is Fuse's lack of emotion... and direction. When he encounters Kei he follows her around like a lost dog, with Kei walking along a path and Fuse following her. As the film progresses the positions reverse, with Fuse leading the way and Kei following. Only when Fuse is given an almost impossible choice to make at the film's conclusion do we see him show any human emotion at all.

Go see Jin-Roh. It is well worth the rental price and for adding to your collection. If you're not an Anime fan then it will probably surprise you with its depth and its subtlety - so deep that it demands a second viewing... and a third...

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Winner may lose next generation DVD battle

There can be only one. In the past, VHS won out over Beta, despite the fact that Beta was higher quality.

Now, a war is brewing over the next generation of DVDs. In one corner, we have Blu-Ray, created by Sony and backed by companies like Apple computer and Hitachi. In the other corner we have HD-DVD, created by Toshiba and backed by Microsoft and Intel.

Both formats are based upon blue-laser technology which has enabled a shorter wavelength laser to be used. Essentially this means that far more information can be stored on one disk than in the current generation of DVDs. In practice, this may mean having all three extended Lord of the Rings films, plus all the extras, on one disc instead of 12.

First, the good news. As the battle between these two formats begins, we can be pretty much assured that the actual new players themselves will not only be backward compatible enough to play CDs and current DVDs, but will also be able to play both new formats. In other words, when you buy your 2nd generation DVD player, you'll still be able to play your old CDs, your current DVDs, as well as the competing DVD-HD and Blu-Ray disks.

So what are the differences between the two?

HD-DVD is ready to be released into the market. It can fit 15gb on one layer and 30gb on two layers. This compares quite well to the 4.7gb currently available on standard DVDs.

Blu-Ray is even bigger. 23.3 to 27gb can fit on a single layer, and 46.6 to 54gb on two layers. Apparently Blu-Ray is capable of four layers, which means more than 100gb is feasable in the future.

The problem for Blu-Ray is twofold, though. The first problem is that it is behind HD-DVD in development and in market releases. The second problem is that Microsoft is backing HD-DVD.

I suppose I'm a Blu-ray fan. I'd rather wait for more room than accept a smaller capacity disk now - but I'm hardly representative of the marketplace. It is fairly likely that HD-DVD will win this war simply because it hit the market sooner.

And if HD-DVD wins the battle, what of the money poured into Blu-ray? Will this be a loss?

Remember that both formats are patented. Just like VHS and compact cassettes, these new DVDs will be a cash cow for their designers. Philips, for example, made a stack of money from its compact cassette technology (1963), even though it manufactured only a small amount themselves. Philips made money each time a manufacturer created and sold one of its designs. In the same way, Sony and Hitachi will make money from DVD manufacturers who will be licensed to make their product.

But since the next generation of DVD players will be compatible with both formats, there is much greater scope for competition between the two - and the format which offers the best deal for manufacturers will most likely be chosen.

So let's imagine that HD-DVD wins the war. It's three years from now, and HD-DVD rules the roost. Even though Blu-Ray is technologically superior and has far more capacity, HD-DVD is the chosen format.

So why am I saying that the winner may lose? After all, it's the title of this article.

The loser of this war has what can be called "the kamikaze option". Faced with a hostile market and billions of dollars poured down the drain in wasted development over many years, the loser can choose to commit seppuku or to destroy both themselves and their competitor in a kamikaze attack.

So, HD-DVD is dominating the market and Blu-Ray is going under. If Blu-Ray's backer's then admit defeat and stop marketing their product, then they are going for seppuku. But what is this Kamikaze attack that I am referring to?

It is simple - it is opening the patent up to public domain ownership.

It sounds strange, doesn't it? It's a simple move, and it may even sound counter-intuitive, but I can guarantee that having an open patent will destroy the competition.

It will also destroy the company opening the patent - but that's the downside of a Kamikaze attack.

Why will this work? With an open patent, DVD manufacturers - the actual factories that churn out the products that end up at on the shelves at Blockbuster or Kmart - will pay no royalty fees at all. Moreover, if the open patent is similar to the GNU General Public License - a software license that covers Linux and the Firefox Web Browser (amongst others) - then any further development of the technology will remain open for anyone to work on.

So let's assume that Blu-Ray does a Kamikaze attack on the HD DVD battleship. What will happen? Well, first of all, nothing much. The HD DVD battleship will continue to sail but there will be worrying signs being reported from down below of flooding. After a while, however, the ship will begin to slow down - manufacturers will begin to adopt the Blu-Ray standard and HD DVD cannot compete with something that is free. HD DVD will respond with a marketing campaign about how wonderful they are, but the leaks below deck will continue to slow the ship down. After a while, some of the DVD manufactuers themselves begin to develop Blu-Ray themselves, making slow but important progress in the technology.

At some point, the DVD-HD battleship will sink in this scenario - it is obvious. Blu-Ray, released from its financial backers, will then "rule the roost".

This sort of corporate Kamikaze attack has no precedent in history as far as I know, with the possible example of the Browser Wars in which Microsoft's Internet Explorer defeated Netscape, only for Netscape to open its source code and eventually morph into the Firefox browser. The only reason why I say that this is a possible example is that the war is far from over, (Firefox, while still in a minority, is making steady headway)

It may seem strange, but this sort of Kamikaze attack may be seen as a "lose-lose" situation. In actual fact, it will not be, because the financial losses suffered by both developers will be more than compensated by the financial gains enjoyed by DVD manufacturers, film studios and end users.

There is, however, one further possibility. Instead of Seppuku, instead of Kamikaze, the developer of the losing format may be financially compensated by the winner. In the face of a potential Kamikaze attack, the winning format may decide to buy the patent of the losing format, figuring that the cost of doing so (which would be considerable) would be far less than the potential cost of fighting against a free product later on. In this scenario, the losing patent would not be opened up to the public domain and its developers will be handsomely compensated for their efforts.

Whatever happens, the next few years will be interesting. I, for one, will watch in interest to see whether HD-DVD does gain the edge over Blu-Ray, and wonder whether a Kamikaze attack is imminent.

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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How do we know if we're a Christian?

Is it based upon our works? No.
It is based upon any feelings we have inside us? No.

1 John 4.13-15
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

We know we are Christians because his Spirit is in us.

And how do we know if his Spirit is in us?

If we confess Jesus as Lord.

Therefore (from my sermon on 1 John 4.13-21):
All Christians have the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of God has been given to us as a seal of our salvation.
His presence in us convinces us that Jesus is the Son of God,
and was sent by the Father as the saviour of the world.
His presence in us proves that we are saved,
and gives us the confidence that we will not be punished by God.
His presence in us enables us to love God and each other.

This post was inspired by Christopher's comment at BHT.


Evangelicals and Climate Change

There's a knock at your door. You open it. At the door stands a stereotypical satanist. He has pale skin and black lipstick. He has a Pentagram on an ornate necklace and is wearing a black T-Shirt with the words Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law on the front. You also notice injection holes in his arm and satanic imagery tattooed over his skin. As you stand, shocked, he says:

"Dude, I think you ought to know that your roof is on fire"

What would you do under these circumstances? Chances are, if you're an American Evangelical, you will shut the door in his face and choose to disbelieve him. Why? Because this messenger of doom cannot be trusted.

But all it takes is to go out the door, check the roof, and then call the fire brigade if it is true.

This is a weird analogy, I agree, but it is probably a good indicator of where American Evangelicals are with climate change at the moment.

Let me point out something - when it comes to climate change, the "jury" is not out. In other words, reputable scientists the world over are united in their belief that the Earth's atmosphere is warming up due to increased carbon dioxide emissions from human activity. Of course, there are some scientists who disagree, but the vast majority - the vast majority - are united on the subject.

But American Evangelicals will not listen. They will not listen because of their anti-intellectualism which leads to their distrust of science. Forget for a moment that scientific endeavour has, over the centuries, brought the world health, wealth and prosperity.

But the real problem for Evangelicals is that the harbingers of climate change come from the environmental movement. These people are tree hugging, vegetarian, communist scum and have a vested interest in destroying the world economy to bring about their totalitarian utopia by convincing everyone about the lies of climate change - or, at least, that's the caricature.

But just like the Satanist on your doorstep warning you that your roof's on fire, those with whom you have complete religious and philosophical opposition to can sometimes be right. As an evangelical myself I am in no way suggesting that the belief system of Satanism can be anything but in error - but that doesn't mean I ignore the warnings of science.

Science cannot replace divine revelation, and nor can it create a secular heaven-on-earth utopia that many Christians seem to fear. Nevertheless, the careful scientific process has, over the years, provided mankind with some amazing inventions. Of course, science has been involved in the creation of destructive weapons, but science has also been behind medical advancements and technological developments that many Christians have enjoyed - especially those in America.

In a sense, it is probably correct to say that God has used science and scientific endeavour to bless mankind. This doesn't minimize the awful things that science has created though - but I am pointing out that, generally, history has proven science's benefit to mankind. And anything that benefits us is a gift from God.

So when scientists have worked for decades to prove beyond reasonable doubt that climate change is due to human activity, I listen to them. I don't care about their secularism or their arrogance. There's no dark conspiracy going on. They've given us a warning and it would be mindlessly stupid of us to ignore it.

I'm posting all this because Bloomberg News is reporting that a number of conservative Republicans have changed their opinion of global warming. This same news report also points out that some major American businesses, like General Electric, are now supporting measures to reduce global carbon dioxide levels.

A number of evangelical leaders have also come out in support of measures to prevent global warming - but many of these leaders have been pooh-poohed by other evangelicals for their links to various "godless" and "socialist" organisations - the upshot being that they can't be trusted. So not only can an American Evangelical shut the door on the Satanist telling him that his roof's on fire, he can also shut the door on his Christian neighbour - the one who goes to that dodgy church - who also warns him that his roof is on fire.

I'm so annoyed about this arrogant ignorance exhibited by some evangelicals that I have chosen to remove some Christian bloggers from my bookmarks. Even though I have read some good theological stuff written by Tim Challies and Steve Camp, both of these guys prefer to sit in a burning house.

If nothing is done about climate change, the world is not going to end. God will still look after us and his gracious provision of the hydrological cycle will continue to allow us to grow crops and create pastures. But global warming will result in increased sea levels. Extreme warming will result in the complete melting of both polar ice caps and all ice sheets, resulting in an increase of sea levels by around 70 metres. The chances are that many millions will starve and billions will be displaced. The world will not end - but surely in the face of such danger the world should act. Evangelicals, by opposing the idea of changing our ways, are in great danger of being seen in the same way as the Roman Catholic church has been seen over their treatment of Galileo - except, of course, that the deaths of millions will result from such inaction.

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Life and Doctrine

Ali of Kiwiandemu is, in my opinion, wrong on a number of issues. He believes in a form of continuing prophecy that is somehow not "scripture equivalent" and appears to be unduly influenced by modern Pentecostal teaching.

Having said that, I'm sure that he'd say all sorts of similar stuff about me - except in the reverse.

I will say, however, that I'm warming to the guy a lot more, especially after his comments in my recent posting about qualifications for ministry. It's not that I was never cool to Ali in the first place, but I'm gradually realising what a valuable brother in the Lord he is.

Consider his comment here:

I also think that having sound doctrine is no guarantee of wisdom. I wish it were. I am very aware of a situation right now where someone with sound doctrine is applying it very unwisely! I think, though, that wisdom could be seen in the requirements of looking after their families well - wisdom, as I understand it, involves the application of what you know in people's lives.

When I was at Bible College, a former principal turned up to speak one day and spoke of a Water well as a metaphor for the Christian life. A well, he said, for it to do its job properly, needs to be "well" constructed and needs to be full of water. A Christian who has bad theology but who is full of love and good deeds is like a well that is full of water but has been so badly constructed that the water leaks out the side and is polluted by the soil around it. Conversely, a Christian who has sound doctrine but who is not full of love and good deeds is like a well that has been built superbly but which is dry.

At the time I found it a great metaphor. These days I would not - and I would also thus disagree with Ali's comments above.

Of course this admission may sound surprising - but just wait for me to explain it and you will see how quite unsurprising it actually is.

First, however, I'll admit to an error in my avoiding the mandate article (shock! horror!). In that article I made a distinction between those who are godly and those who have sound doctrine. Moreover, I included the following example:

I saw with my own eyes a young man who had both sound doctrine and the ability to teach, but who lacked Good Christian character (he was divisive, not sober-minded and arrogant) be sent to Moore College.

I was in error in making that example.

I need to point all this out because I wish to make an assertion that has been dawning on me for some years:

Life and Doctrine are inseparable.

I don't think that the Apostles - or even Christ for that matter - ever made a clear break between that which was theology or doctrine, and that which was love and living an effective Christian life. A modern attitude would be the so called difference between "theory" and "practice". It's far too easy to write one off and accept the other for the sake of pragmatism or for the desire for holiness. I don't think the Bible ever does that. Consider the following verses:

Titus 1.1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness...

Ephesians 4.11-14 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children...

Philippians 1.9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Colossians 1.9-10 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

To explain - I've first highlighted "knowledge", and then highlighted the "godliness" bit. Although liguistically it is obvious that there is a "break" between what is godly and what is knowledge, the link between them that we see Paul doing here eseentially makes them inseparable. In other words, for the Biblical writers, knowledge and godliness are not "one and the same", but are two characteristics of one thing.

Now if I was Ali I would be tempted to read a little into what I am saying as knowing doctrine as being the be-all and end-all - as though somehow all a Christian needs to do is know theology and that is the only real thing Christians should do. Of course, I'm not arguing that at all.

Consider the young man I saw who had "sound doctrine" but was not godly. If I've been arguing that life and doctrine are inseparable, then what would I be saying?

I realise I'm being convoluted here, so I'll just say it simply:

If a person is sound in theology but is ungodly, then he is not sound in theology.

If a person is loving and godly, but does not have sound theology, then he is not loving and godly.

You cannot have sound theology without godliness. The scriptures were written by the Holy Spirit and each time we are exposed to them He works in our hearts and our minds. Those people who read the scriptures and who "know" them well but who don't have their life changed or challenged are quenching the work of the Spirit and hardening their hearts against God's very word. Moreover, by resisting the power of the word in changing their lives, they do not experience nor understand true knowledge of God - which is essential for any true disciple. This is why I argue that those who have "sound theology" but who are ungodly do not truly have sound theology. A theology that does not lead to godliness is no theology at all.

And yet, at the same time, I would also argue that godliness and love without sound theology is not true godliness and not true love. If we are to be godly then we are to live lives that honour God, but we cannot honour God properly without God letting us know what it is that honours him. Like Israel and the golden calf at Mount Sinai, we may truly believe that we can serve the Lord in any way we may see fit. Our godliness is not determined by situational ethics, but upon what God reveals to us to be true. It is not we, but God, who determines what love and godliness are, and we cannot discern what God wants without the knowledge that he has given us.

The idea that somehow knowledge and godliness can be separated is ludicrous. For Jesus, a person who listens to his words and does not do what he says is like a builder who builds his house on sand. The point behind this parable is not to show that knowledge and godliness ("theory" and "practice") are separate, but that when they are separated, crazy and destructive things result.

I have a friend who is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by Reformed Theology. He is most definitely a Christian and he embraces much of what this theology teaches as being biblical. Yet he has had many bad experiences of unloving, arrogant, emotion-suppressing, and socially rigid reformed Christians - so much so that he occasionally calls himself a "post evangelical". To him I have said (and have to keep saying) that the culture that surrounds Reformed Christianity is not Reformed Christianity (btw, to me "Reformed Christianity" is actually "Christianity". I may explain this further in another post.) So while many Reformed Christians are arrogant and unloving and so on, it is not because they have embraced Reformed Christianity, but because they haven't embraced Reformed Christianity. How can the study of God and his grace lead us to arrogance, unloving behaviour and suppressing our emotions? The doctrines of grace must always lead to humility, joy and love. How is it that razor-sharp theology can lead to a razor-sharp tongue? Easy: The theology was never razor-sharp in the first place.

The normal experience of a person who is saturated with the knowledge of biblical theology is one of love and godliness. A lack of godliness is the same as a lack of theology.

From the Theosalient Department

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Scott Ritter on Iran's Nuclear "threat"

The fact that the IAEA safeguard inspections are at play in Iran may in itself come as a surprise to most observers of the ongoing Iranian nuclear saga. Iran is still very much a member, in good standing, of the non-proliferation treaty, and all of its nuclear activities continue to be under the stringent monitoring of the IAEA safeguard inspectors, an odd reality for a nation only 16 days away from being able to replicate the American attack on Hiroshima, if Stephen Rademaker is to be taken seriously. It takes an extraordinary stretch of the imagination to have Iran fabricating a nuclear weapon right under the nose of IAEA inspectors who today manage an inspection process that is not only technologically advanced, but seasoned after years of sleuthing after nuclear weapons programs in Iraq, North Korea, South Africa and Iran. To liken these professionals, as is the habit of many in the Bush administration today, to "keystone cops" is like comparing the US Marine Corps to the Boy Scouts. The IAEA inspectors are the best in the world at what they do. The fact that they have not found a "smoking gun" to back up what has been to date nothing more than irresponsible speculation concerning the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program should ease the fears of those politicians and pundits prone to panic. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, and as a result the world finds itself inching ever closer to a tragically unnecessary war between the United States and Iran.

See full article


Avoiding the mandate - the result

I've just spent a few great days at my sister's place in Bundanoon. While there we reminisced about an assistant pastor that her church had about ten years ago.

I remember Gary (not his real name) as a bit of a strange guy. My over-riding memory of him was when he led an evening church service and preached.

And when I say "preached", I mean that he spent time speaking to the congregation about God, supposedly.

His sermon appeared to be incredibly ill-prepared. In fact, he had no notes at all. Nothing wrong with that, after all I heard Reg Piper the other night preach a wonderful exposition of Ephesians 6.18-20 without notes. The problem was that, well, Gary had decided to let the Holy Spirit take him - shorthand for "I couldn't be bothered to prepare a real sermon and so therefore I've decided to justify it by appearing to be spiritual".

I remember Gary getting the pulpit and lifting it up ever so often during his delivery, with the result that he was slowly travelling down the aisle. At one point he spoke of going to a Charismatic conference where people were being converted as they heard a preacher get up and say "Hallelujah" over and over and over - and the entire sermon being merely repetition of that one word. He also noted that the current Archbishop of Sydney at the time, had he gone to the conference, would have come back with his hair green and red and all different colours as a result of the shock he would have after listening to such stuff.

So what did I conclude about the guy? First of all his theology was completely and utterly screwy. He had no basic understanding of biblical theology and his sermon was completely devoid of the gospel. Secondly I concluded that the guy had no real ability to teach or preach properly.

During the week just passed that I spent with my sister, I also heard that Gary, while he was at the church (he is long gone now, thankfully), had an "inappropriate" relationship with a 14 year old girl. Although there was no sexual element to the relationship, members of the congregation were compelled to confront Gary about his deep relationship with this girl - a process that may have saved him from being entangled with the girl sexually at a later date. My sister told me that he responded very angrily to these members of the congregation and could not understand what the problem was.

So, in addition to the fact that he could not preach and had little understanding of sound doctrine, his own Christian character was suspect.

According to the Apostle Paul, a church pastor should possess 3 basic qualities:

1. Good Christian Character
2. Sound Doctrine
3. An Ability to Teach

(These qualities are explained in detail in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1)

Now if we believe that God has given us sufficient information in scripture about what to look for in selecting church pastors, then we add or subtract to these qualities to our detriment.

Here's some salient examples:

1. I saw with my own eyes a young man who had both sound doctrine and the ability to teach, but who lacked Good Christian character (he was divisive, not sober-minded and arrogant) be sent to Moore College. While leading a college mission he managed to alienate people within the church that the mission was being held at with his attitude, including an attempt to circumvent the law in order to get more people to an evangelistic event (he tried to get more people into a hall that had a legal limit to how many people could be present). He is now an ordained Anglican minister.

2. I heard a report of a man who ministered in our presbytery who had no ability to teach, either in an up-front capacity or in small groups. After a few years, the church that he pastored could no longer afford to pay him, since the congregation shrank considerably during his ministry there.

3. At Bible college I met a lecturer who was a very difficult person. His personality was grating and he was often "off-putting". Despite this, he had the ability to teach, he had sound doctrine, and, importantly, he had a good christian character that was quite visible. Even though he could not be classed as a "people person", he is now successfully pastoring a church in Victoria.

4. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was friends with a Christian guy from my Sydney church who had sound doctrine and an ability to teach. Nevertheless, he would often go on trips with his girlfriend, alone. I never talked to him about it, but he did let me know that he was targeted by our assistant pastor as a potential ministry candidate. Despite these urgings from the pastor, my Christian friend eventually refused to go into full time ministry. I'm not saying here that my friend was necessarily immoral, but there was a possibility that he had been, and if he had been then he made the right choice in not entering full time ministry. (BTW He's married to his girlfriend now)

It is tempting that we should select a pastor or approve a person's pastoral readiness based upon characteristics outside of those three that I have mentioned, or ignoring one or more of those three characteristics. Here's some justifications:

1. Organisation: He's well organised (pro) / He can't organise himself properly (contra)
2. People skills: He's really good with people (pro) / He is difficult to get on with (contra)
3. "Entreprenurial": He's a self starter (pro) / He finds it hard to start new projects (contra)
4. Vision: He has a great plan for where the church can go (pro) / He doesn't have a plan for the church's direction (contra)

Remember that these issues are not dealt with by Paul. he gives us three basic characteristics and that's it. If the guy is a great organiser, then so much the better. But if he's not organised, it is not something that disqualifies him from ministry.

Churches can be badly damaged by pastors who are ungodly, or who have bad doctrine, or who cannot teach, or who have any combination of these. The fact that they may be good organisers or have great people skills or who are self-starters means nothing.

Paul, and therefore God, makes it plain and simple for us. A pastor should be godly, should have sound doctrine, and should have the ability to teach. If we add to or subtract from these biblically mandated characteristics, then the result will be a damaged church.

From the Theosalient Department

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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As if I need to point this out

Rolling Stone Magazine is running a major article entitled The Worst President in History? - One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush. The article pretty much shows that Bush is probably "down there with the worst".

Meanwhile, a Fox poll (18-19 April 2006) has Bush approval ratings at 33%, with a 57% disapproval rate.

As we know, approval ratings do not necessarily prove how "bad" a president is, as Harry Truman's example shows. But, when you factor in Richard Nixon, such polls can show how terrible such a president is.

I'm just hoping that there's enough intelligent people within the Republican Party who will cross the floor and vote for impeachment. If they don't more fool them. Within ten years I guarantee that many conservative commentators will label Bush as "the president who destroyed the conservative movement".


Public domain pics I have taken

Angry Neil

That's a picture of me (above)

2006-01-05 Glenn McGrath 03

That's a picture of my mate Glenn.


Wet weather for Australia's South East

ENSO figures these days are the highest since November 2000. The monthly average back then was +22.4, today's figure is +18.3.

Any figure above +5 indicates La Nina conditions for Australia - wetter weather in the South East, especially during the winter. Floods in western NSW occur during La Nina episodes.

Any figure below zero indicates El Nino conditions - dryer conditions in South East Australia and the harbringer of drought.

James Earl Carter Jr. - not too bad after all

Former President Jimmy Carter has got to be the most maligned American president in history. I studied his administration for a university course on American history and, I gotta tell you, no one would've suvived the presidency from 1977-1980.

Now it appears that Carter's star is rising again. George Conway, one of the most Republicanist of Republicans, has stated "Frankly, speaking of incompetence, I think (the Bush) Administration is the most politically and substantively inept that the nation has had in over a quarter of a century."

A quarter of a century is 25 years, and 2006 minus 25 is 1981 - the year Reagan's first term started. So Conway is essentially saying that Bush Jr. is the worst since Carter.

Carter's adminstration was nobbled by his own party, which used its congressional power to assert itself against the president's wishes. He brought some level of peace to the Middle East, despite the fact that innocent Americans were taken hostage. He called himself a born-again Christian. He also managed to fend off a killer rabbit stalking his boat.

By contrast, Bush's administration was served completely by his own party, treating him as king and doing most things according to his will. Bush has brought war and instability to the Middle East, despite the fact that innocent Arabs were taken hostage and tortured by CIA cells. Like Carter, he calls himself a born-again Christian but somehow managed to survive the deadly attack of a killer pretzel.

History will judge Carter kindly as time goes by, and Bush much less so.

From the One Salient Overlord Department

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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A rather telling quote from someone who knows

Pentecostalism is all about power, the power God gives man. They preach the power and personality of OT prophets. Their concepts of salvation are linked to “what man must do to maintain relationship with God and mankind”. No matter how hard they try to practice and preach grace they eventually have to say: God look at me, bless what I do, prosper me. In essence they cannot understand that offering anything of ourselves to be rewarded by God is to step away from grace and to step back into works. No wonder there are a host of tragic failures… anything that remotely looks like human fraility exposes the whole system to failure. Only those who are able to maintain their “awesomness” can continue to be confident of God’s “blessing”. It is blind to the reality of our universal sinfullness, our humanity. They see sin as an issue that we can do away with rather than a condition, a state of being that God alone must overcome. The cross was mankind refusing to admit the pointlessness of anything we do for God. We simply cannot do away with the power and prestige of measuring our worth by works. Jesus was not good enough for this system, for his message demanded us to admit our spiritual poverty and to receive “heaven” as gift rather to acheive as a reward. A gift leaves us speachless with the size of God’s generosity whilst a reward makes us boast. A gift says humble yourself, offer your brokeness to a shattered world that has lost hope, and speak of the grace that gives us hope to start again, whilst always stricken by imperfection. A reward says empower yourself, offer your diciplines to a world that simply refuses to believe that they can climb into heaven with you. A reward allows us to wash our hands and walk away, if people fail, they simply didn’t try hard enough, sing loud enough or give enough. But teaching “reward” gives us the power to make demands of our followers and to enforce a corporate mentality that prospers the “system” through the sacrifices of it’s “saints”. Great idea if you are enthroned on top of the system, no wonder Houston preaches prosperity, but absolutely lousy for all those who are “called” to support the “throne room”. Totally irrelvant to anyone who is stricken by their spiritual poverty, those who Jesus promises the “Kingdom of heaven” to, as a gift… if only they could accept the beauty of it… trouble is, the gospel of rewards gets in the way and condemns them to excomunication, isolation and failure.. they have been made deaf and blind to grace. Totally gives me the shits. If only the church could stop singing and dancing and attending conferences. I’ve said enough, I’m now really angry again.

- Geoff Bullock, former worship pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney.

A comment on Limited Atonement I made at Fide-O

It was in response to this posting.

Text follows:

I spent quite a bit of time looking through a greek concordance the other day looking at every occurrence of kosmos (world) in the NT. I did this specifically for the issue of researching Limited Atonement and to answer the question "For whom did Christ die?"

A blogger friend of mine pretty much asked this question and came up with the two potential answers: a) The Elect, or b) The World. Based on John 3.16 he chose "the world" as his final answer - and this is a guy who firmly believes in Predestination.

His answer didn't sit right with me, thus being the motive for my research into kosmos. But the research was quite confusing and I'm still trying to nut it out in my head. Your posting has helped me to think about the issue further.

A few notes about your exegesis:

John 3.26 and 32 do not contain kosmos. Moreover they exist in a separate pericope: 3.16 is part of the Nicodemus narrative (which contains very complex theological points) while 3.26 and 32 exist in a section about John the Baptist. Although it is certainly important to emphasize context, I would argue that the context, in this case, is merely in terms of the narrative rather than in the meaning. To put it simply, the fact that 3.26 and 32 occur in chapter 3 is not enough to link them strongly to an understanding of what John's definition of kosmos is.

Let me explain my vague thoughts:

To interpret kosmos in John 3.16 as being "everyone in the world" would mean that the verse could be rendered "For God so loved everyone that he gave his only son...". However, this is one of those times where I think kosmos has been oversimplified. kosmos also refers to the created order; the earth in contrast to heaven; Gentiles as distinguished from Jews (Rom 11.12,15); the present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God (John 7.7). It therefore stands to reason that you can't simply say that world=everyone. (note: much of this info on kosmos was a direct quote from Vine's Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

I think Colossians 1.15-20 helps immeasurably in this. Although this passage does not contain kosmos it talks about Christ as being the firstborn of all creation (15); through whom the whole universe was created (16) including even "thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities" which can be taken to both mean world governments as well as the dark forces of evil (16); everything in all creation is held together by Christ (17); he is the head (kephale) of the body, the church (18); the firtborn from among the dead (18); the fullness of God dwells in him (19); and, finally, Christ existed "to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.".

These are great verses because it puts the church in its context within the world. The church is part of the world, the kosmos that God has created through Christ. Moreover, verse 20 seems to indicate that "all things", (ie the world, but not "everyone", but all of creation) is reconciled by the blood of the cross which, of course, is an explicit mention of the atonement.

So these verses in Colossians could appear to support the anti-Limited Atonement view but in fact do not. Christ did die for the elect and he did die for the world - there is no scriptural support for "world" and "church" to be separated in this context.

This is certainly not a perfect understanding - I am still trying to struggle with how it is possible for Christ dying for the sins of the elect is the same as Christ dying for the sins of the world (John 1.29) when there are often other mentions of "the world" in scripture as being shorthand for those opposed to God. I suppose it is similar to the use of certain English words that can say two different things and require context to work it out.


Al Mohler on scientists lying

Mohler asks Would Scientists Lie? and pretty much says yes they would.

Mohler, as part of his job as caped crusading culture warrior, gives us more ammunition against trusting those demon worshipping secular humanists. It is obviously important for Mohler to communicate to his audience that we should distrust the scientific community.

What Mohler should be really concerned about are all the born-again Christian politicians who are being linked to corruption and lying - people like Randy Cunningham, Ralph Reed and Tom DeLay.

But, of course, we can't have Mohler eroding the confidence that evangelicals have in the Republican party now can we?


Theteak - a weapon of disinformation?

churchsign1I love my mate Matt. I'd love to chat with him and find what he's doing in his life - what his job is and so on - but he won't answer me.

But now Matt's being a neo-con stooge. I have no idea why. But this last posting essentially accused the ABC's Lateline of "avoiding the truth about Iraq".

As Jesus Quintana says in The Big Lebowski, "Laughable man!"

Things to note:

1. If you're going to go out and criticise someone or something, give a link to the article involved. It took 10 minutes of my precious time to locate the article that was being referring to.
2. If you're going to accuse the ABC of trying to dodge the issue, then it might be a good idea to look at the interview in context. From your exerpt, it looked as though Tony Jones was trying to stop Neo-con Frank Gaffney from coming out with the truth about WMDs in Iraq. Yet when you look at the entire interview, Frank had ample time to get mad and tell it like it is and accuse Tony of covering things up. Instead the interview continued for ages about other things that Gaffney was quite happy to answer. What does this mean? Simple. Tony was trying to move things on in order to prevent Gaffney from embarrassing himself too much by reciting some looney conspiracy theory he made up after watching the X-Files.

Fact: Iraq had no WMDs.
Fact: Iraq was not a threat to America.
Fact: Iraq was not a threat to any other nation.
Fact: More people are dying per day than the average under Saddam.
Fact: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld made all the WMD stuff up.

This is not a matter of being anti-American or Pro-American - it is a matter of facts. When I get proved wrong, I change my mind. What about you Matt?

Depravity within the church


Shaun Pollock - Missing in action

South African Cricketer Shaun Pollock is a champion. He has taken more wickets than any other South African player including Allan Donald, his bowling mentor in the early part of his career. When Pollock retires (he is nearly 33) he will rightly look back on his career with pride and deserve all the accolades he receives.

But in the back of his mind will always be the nagging thought that he was unable to fully unleash his potential when it was most needed - in tests against Australia. In the recent series just gone by, Pollock played in all three tests, sent down 550 legal deliveries and took 4 wickets at the unflattering average of 66.25. Hardly the mark of a champion.

Moreover, an analysis of Pollock's career figures tells a similar tale. All up, Pollock has played 13 tests against Australia and taken 40 wickets at 36.85. Contrast this to his magnificent career figures of 389 wickets at 23.21 and you can see what the difference is.

But then all champions leave the game with personal desires unfulfilled: Allan Border retired before Australia defeated the West Indies in a test series; Steve Waugh retired before Australia defeated India in India; even Bradman himself was denied 4 vital runs to give him the perfect batting average.

Pollock has one, perhaps two more series against Australia up his sleeve. It would be good for him, for South Africa, and for cricket generally, if he were able to successfully impose himself on these future Aussie batsmen.


Resignation #2: Tom DeLay

The Hammer has resigned. He is not seeking re-election to the house.

This is a rather bizarre set of circumstances, and there is much left unsaid that speaks volumes:

1. DeLay's advisors have apparently been falling like ninepins, being indicted with all sorts of felonies in the past 12 months. Much of this is essentially corrupt behaviour, especially with the Jack Abramoff affair. None of these scandals have been directly linked to DeLay personally, but there was virtually no doubt whatsoever that investigations into the guy have been held off in order to collate evidence against him.
2. DeLay himself is under investigation in Texas for corrupt behaviour.
3. Primaries for the 2006 midterm election of a Republican candidate for Texas District 22 recently renominated DeLay. The guy went through this process apparently confident that he would be the Republican candidate.

So what is being left unsaid? It's my theory that DeLay has been given new information about the corruption scandals that is fairly likely to indict him. Rather than stay there, he's resigned. Rather than simply waiting out the 7 months or so he has left in his term, he's left a few months early.

DeLay's resignation comes on the heels of another Republican resignation, Randy Cunningham from California, done in also for corruption. The Abramoff affair is linked to a number of other high-profile Republicans, but DeLay's departture is one of the biggest political bombshells for a while. This will not help the Republicans.

And there is another group that it will not help either - Evangelicals. DeLay and Cunningham openly spoke about their faith in Christ. I find it an absolute tragedy that those who claim to be disciples of Christ are unable to act in a responsible and ethical manner when in positions of power.

Remember the mud that was flung upon American evangelicals during the "televangelist" phase back in the 1980s? People like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert allowed the name of Christ to be sullied by their sinful actions. This time it is even worse, since it affects the running of government and public trust in Evangelicals to be open and honest.

It would be nice to see DeLay exonerated for everything that he has been accused of - but I somehow doubt that he is innocent.

Years from now American Evangelicals will look back at this period of time and identify it as the point where their influence reached its peak - and where it became clear to everyone that they had lost their way.

Resignation #1: Trevor Hohns

Hohns has resigned from his job as Cricket Australia's chairman of selectors. The writing seemed to have been on the wall ever since Mark Waugh called for this a few weeks ago, and for some selectorial errors lately.

What is stunning is the following quote from the SMH article:

A CA statement said the decision came due to Hohns's increasing business commitments, which will occupy a lot more of his time due to the pending retirement of his business partner.

Two things about this quote:

1. At least it didn't use the old "he needed to spend more time with his family" reason, although I think "business commitments" is similar in being a clayton's reason.
2. CA has gazillions of dollars that it pays its staff and the players. Surely there is room to have a full-time paid selection committee, made up of experts and/or former players?


"Contrast Swing"

For all you Cricket lovers out there, a new discovery has been made about how cricket balls swing after being delivered.

The bad news is - the English cricket team knew about it last northern summer and it was instrumental in Australia losing the Ashes.

The good news is - the guy who
is the world expert in it is now employed by Cricket Australia to teach it to the Aussies.

As you know, "Swing" occurs when the ball's line shifts as it travels down the pitch. By polishing one side of the ball, and adding sweat and saliva to that polished side, while leaving the other side scuffed and worn, allows the ball's flight to change. This knowledge has been around for over 100 years, and has been instrumental in the armoury of bowlers.

About 10-15 years ago, "Reverse Swing" was discovered - mainly by Pakistani bowlers Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. This discovery showed that balls that were sufficiently aged (that is, around half-way to being replaced by a new ball) could actually swing the other direction to what the batsmen could discern.

Now there is "Contrast Swing". Whoever thought up the name should be shot, but it appears to be a deadly new development for bowlers and may, in fact, shift the balance away from the batsmen dominating the game.

Essentially, contrast swing is the discovery that balls delivered at between 105-115 kph will swing to the opposite direction of balls that are delivered at speeds faster than 115 kph. What this means is that the bowler, simply through varying his pace and not through any change of action at all, can cause the ball to swing the opposite direction. The bowler comes in, delivers an outswinger at 119kph, and then bowls an inswinger at 113kph the next ball - and all without changing his grip, his approach or his line. To the batsman, the second ball appears to be another outswinger, but swings in instead.

England used it against Australia during the Ashes series, with Simon Jones and Andy Flintoff especially effective. In the latest England v India test, Matthew Hoggard was able to take wickets using contrast swing, giving England victory.

The guy who is expert in contrast swing is the former Tasmanian bowler Troy Cooley. Cooley played 33 matches for Tasmania and took 54 wickets at the incredibly poor average of 61.35. For some reason, this very unsucessful bowler got himself involved in coaching and, after learning the secrets and the science of contrast swing, was employed by the English team as its bowling coach.

This is an exciting development from my pov. Most of the technological developments in cricket during the past 30 years have helped the batsmen: better manufactured bats with high-tech sweet spots; better pitch and outfield preparation; better helmet and pad design and so on. This has resulted in batsmen with inflated averages and bowlers whose job merely seems to be glorified pie throwers.

Cooley's job will be to teach and train the younger generation of Australian pace bowlers as well as offer advice and assistance to the current crop.

Imagine if Glenn McGrath was able to improve his performaces with contrast swing!

See the SMH article that this was reported on here.

Criticisms of Charismatic and Pentecostal Belief

This was my Magnum Opus at Wikipedia and is now in danger of deletion. To keep it from disappearing forever, I'm pasting it here:

Charismatic is an umbrella term used to describe those Christians who believe that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit seen in the first century Christian Church, such as glossalalia, healing and miracles, are available to contemporary Christians and ought to be experienced and practised today.

The word charismatic is derived from the Greek word charis (meaning a grace or a gift) which is the term used in the Bible to describe a wide range of supernatural experiences (especially in 1 Corinthians 12-14). [1]

Often confused with Pentecostalism (which it was inspired by), Charismatic Christianity tends to differ in key aspects: many Charismatics reject the preeminence given by Pentecostalism to glossolalia, reject the legalism often associated with some sectors of Pentecostalism, and tend to stay in their existing denominations instead of forming new groups (although this is no longer as true as it once was, and most house churches freely use charismatic gifts).

Charismatic expressions are not exclusive to any single denomination, nor is Charismatic theology uniquely Protestant. There is a burgeoning Charismatic movement within the Catholic Church.

Pentecostalism is a specific movement within evangelical Christianity that began in the early 20th century. It is typified by enthusiastic religious gatherings and the firm belief that God can empower the Christian for victorious life and service via the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - proof of which is found in part in the external evidence of tongue speaking. Historic Pentecostalism has its roots in the Holiness Movement and the Revivalism of the Second Great Awakening in America during the early 19th century.

More recently, the term Neocharismatic has been used to designate those groups with pentecostal-like experiences that have no traditional connection with either the Pentecostal or Charismatic movements. The Third Wave, a term coined by American theologian C. Peter Wagner, is regarded as part of the larger Neocharismatic movement, and it is typified by the growth of churches in the Vineyard Movement, among others. For the purposes of this article, this new movement will exist under the Charismatic terminology. More detailed information on these movements and what they believe can be found in their respective articles.

* 1 The nature of criticism
* 2 Criticisms from Evangelical Christians
o 2.1 Blessings, money and prosperity
o 2.2 Exegesis
o 2.3 Influences of the Latter Rain Movement
o 2.4 Oneness Pentecostals
o 2.5 Scripture, authority and guidance
o 2.6 Speaking in Tongues
o 2.7 Theology of worship
* 3 Criticisms from Catholic and/or Orthodox Christians
* 4 Criticisms from other religions
* 5 Criticisms from society generally
o 5.1 Faith Healing
o 5.2 Prosperity and Faith
o 5.3 Religious ecstasy as a psychological phenomenon
o 5.4 Word of Faith theology
o 5.5 See also
* 6 Criticisms from within the Pentecostal / Charismatic movement
o 6.1 Authoritative leadership
o 6.2 Psychological Abuse
o 6.3 Theological scholarship
o 6.4 See also
* 7 External links

The nature of criticism

Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians and organisations have, either fairly or unfairly, been subjected to numerous criticisms by both those within the Christian faith, as well as by those in the wider world.

The debate between Charismatic and non-Charismatic Christians occurs at several levels. One fundamendal theological question is usually whether the charismata described in the New Testament and apparently widely used by Jesus, the Apostles and early church leaders were a special dispensation for New Testament times only, or whether the gifts were for the Christian church down the ages.

At one time (1958) Pentecostals made up two-thirds of the membership of the National Association of Evangelicals, and by some estimates they still comprise the largest segment of Evangelicalism. Nevertheless, today many Evangelicals are not sympathetic to the beliefs and practices of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Evangelical critics hold that the movement has departed from the Bible and is teaching unbiblical ideas. The Cambridge Declaration, written in 1996 by Reformed Evangelicals, is an expression of resistance against modern trends within the evangelical movement, as well as some of the issues raised by Charismatic and Pentecostal belief.

Since the Roman Catholic Church has been influenced by Charismatic teaching since the late 1960s, there are also critics within the movement that argue that Catholic Charismatics have departed from the church's traditions and teaching, and have replaced the authority of the church with a subjective way of guidance.

Both Charismatic and Pentecostal churches aggressively evangelise "non-believers", and although intentional proselytizing from other evangelical groups is discouraged, the recruiting of members from other religions does occur. Adherents of these other religions may also find the movement's tenets to be offensive to their belief system in a way that is unique and not simply part of the general offensiveness they might find in all forms of Christian belief.

Society generally is beginning to experience the movement as well, and have critiqued it according to psychological and behavioral norms, finding in the movement expressions of human behaviour that they might find offensive.

The movement itself has also spawned its own critics. Many of the fiercest critics of Charismatics and Pentecostals are those who have either "given up" the Christian faith altogether, or have moderated their beliefs somewhat to bring balance to what they see as offensive.

Criticisms from Evangelical Christians

See also: Cambridge Declaration

A number of critics of Pentecostal / Charismatic beliefs have established themselves in Discernment Ministries to promote their theological viewpoints. The main areas of criticism are outlined below. Please note that the use of the term Evangelical here refers to those Christians who claim to be Born-again but do not hold to many Pentecostal or Charismatic beliefs, rather than the broader common definition. These Evangelicals are likely to come from a Reformed or Dispensationalist point of view.

Blessings, money and prosperity

See also: Word of faith, You Need More Money (Book)

A significant portion of the Charismatic movement and a number of Pentecostals believe that the Christian life is lived in a better way than a non-Christian one, and that, as a result of this better life, God will bless them and make them prosperous. Many Charismatics believe that their faith will lead to better health (physical, mental and emotional), more money and worldly possessions, and a much happier and joyous lifestyle. Although this belief in health, wealth and happiness is common throughout some of the Charismatic movement, there are different degrees and emphases throughout.
Many Charismatic and Pentecostal teachers believe that God will reward us in this life with riches and health.
Many Charismatic and Pentecostal teachers believe that God will reward us in this life with riches and health.

There is no doubt that many new converts give up common worldly vices, such as smoking and gambling, and, as a result of this change of spending habits, end up with more money in their bank accounts and a healthier body. There is also no doubt that conversions to any religion will often lead to a subjective sense of peace and happiness in those involved. Furthermore, a religious conversion almost always leads to the individual subjecting themselves to external rules and ways of thinking, which allows a different perespective on their lives and the ability to make relatively objective choices that will lead to greater levels of prosperity. What all this indicates is that there is some truth in the claim that the Christian faith can lead to greater health, wealth and happiness - at least from a behavioural point of view.

The difference between Evangelicals and Charismatics on this issue is that Evangelicals, while agreeing that some level of worldly prosperity may result, will contend that God is not really interested in worldly possessions. For many evangelicals, the Christian faith is not about worldly prosperity at all, but about heavenly riches especially those given freely through the death and resurrection of Christ. For Evangelicals, it does not therefore follow that the Christian faith will automatically lead to health, wealth and prosperity, and nor should a Christian expect it or ask for it.

Evangelicals have, however, argued that such an emphasis in the Charismatic movement has led people away from the heavenly riches that are promised in Christ. Rather than focus upon Christ and the Cross, Evangelicals argue that, when Charismatics focus upon worldly prosperity, they are both teaching serious theological error and failing to teach the true Gospel. Additionally, many Evangelicals believe that Christians have every Spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), a position that precludes any demand or promise for further blessings from God. For the Evangelical, Christ is all the blessing a Christian needs. Many Pentecostals and Neocharismatics are in agreement with this aspect of the Evangelical argument.

A problem therefore arises when Charismatics claim that God is offering Christians more blessings than the gift of Christ. Since they are not given automatically to Christians, Charismatics hold to the idea that these blessings can be appropriated by obedience in the Scriptures, specifically, faithfully tithing 10 percent of one's income to his or her local church. However, Charismatic Christians believe that the mere act of the giving of tithes and offerings does not automatically return blessings. Giving must be done in faith and out of a heart of worship. The beliver must have the motivation of advancing the Gospel, not the accumulation of wealth. Many Evangelicals believe that this idea seriously undermines the biblical teaching on God's grace. Evangelicals would pose such questions as Why would God give a Christian salvation and eternal life as a free gift, but offer worldly blessings only to those who perform better than others? For the Evangelical, if God specially rewards greater faith in Christians by giving them worldly prosperity, then it is one step away from saying that all of God's blessings, including salvation, are based upon works. The Charismatic response would be that faith is not a work; rather, it is a trust in and reliance upon that which God has revealed in His Word regarding these matters.

Teaching on prosperity, while common throughout some of the Charismatic movement, differs in emphasis from church to church. As in the Evangelical Christian world, Charismatics themselves can be wary of false teaching and will often self-regulate against any obvious excesses. Evangelicals would argue, however, that such self-regulation is not enough.

Several leading Pentecostal denominations, including the Church of God (Cleveland), openly renounce the hyper-prosperity message. To the credit of Pentecostals, many have been confronting this error for a number of years. Recent efforts of the Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care, directed by Dr. James P. Bowers, have resulted in the publication of a document entitled, You Can Have What You Say: A Pastoral Response to the Prosperity Gospel. This volume evaluates the threat posed to the faith and practice of Pentecostal believers by the “prosperity gospel” and provides a practical analysis of its roots and appeal. The book (1) considers how prosperity theology is affecting local congregations, (2) examines the philosophical and theological roots of prosperity teaching against the backdrop of classical Pentecostal doctrine, (3) addresses how Pentecostal pastors can strategize a response within the context of the local church and (4) offers resources, exercises, and activities that will assist the pastor in implementing an effective and faithful approach to this concern.


Exegesis is the way in which Biblical passages are examined and interpreted. Although Charismatics and Evangelicals alike believe that the Bible can be understood and applied by all believers, Evangelicals are often critical of the way in which Charismatics (and Pentecostals) interpret and apply scripture.

This issue is a much larger one in modern society because it has to take into account modern ways and methods of interpreting written text. Evangelicals tend to take a Structuralist view of interpreting the Bible. This means that Biblical texts should be interpreted according to their literary type and takes into account the text's purpose, its audience and its historical and philosophical context. Moreover, an Evangelical will argue that a Biblical text can only be understood and applied in this manner, and that any departure from this will lead to a misinterpretation of Scripture. In this sense, Evangelicals believe that the Bible is like any other text in the manner in which you read it, but unlike any other text because its ultimate authorship is divine.
A Pentecostal preacher. The content of preaching is often determined by Biblical interpretation (exegesis)
A Pentecostal preacher. The content of preaching is often determined by Biblical interpretation (exegesis)

Charismatics, however, are less likely to follow a Structuralist approach to interpreting scripture. While they may not discard the Evangelical approach, many Charismatics believe that the Bible's divine authorship allows it to be interpreted in a more subjective and reader-centred manner. In many ways, it could be argued that Charismatics are more likely to take a Post-structuralist or even Post-modernist way of interpreting Scripture. Thus a Charismatic will be able to take a verse of Scripture out of its literary context and apply it in a subjective manner. Such an approach could be defended by arguing that God's power to guide cannot be limited by human conventions such as textual structure. Furthermore, since it is God who is guiding the individual through this interpretive process, it could be argued that it is a superior way of interpretation since it assumes that God is able to give the Christian immediate and clear guidance. The Evangelical approach to interpretation, however, could therefore be seen as a limiting of God and has an overly intellectual and transcendent view of God, rather than a personal and immanent view of God that typifies Charismatic interpretation.

Evangelicals argue, however, that many modern day Charismatic leaders have gone beyond this subjective interpretive model and are actually teaching things that are contrary to orthodox Christian belief. The fact that there is such a diverse range of beliefs within the Charismatic movement (beliefs which are often contrary) is proof, according to Evangelicals, that such an interpretive model is flawed. After all, the Evangelical would say, why is God not guiding his people in a consistent manner?

An example of the difference between a Charismatic and an Evangelical interpretation of Scripture can be seen in a quick examination of 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, which says My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power (NIV).

One way that this verse could be interpreted by Charismatics is that it backs up the belief that God is acting in our world to produce miracles. Therefore, it could be argued, church meetings should include times when God can work miracles. On the other hand, preaching conducted solely on the basis of the human understanding could be classed as the “wise and persuasive words” mentioned in this verse, and such preaching should not be the focus of the Christian meeting. This interpretation basically assumes that Paul's ministry in Corinth was both a preaching ministry and a ministry that involved supernatural manifestations. The implication for Charismatics is that since Paul did this, so should the modern-day church.

Another way this verse could be interpreted by Charismatics focuses on the phrase “so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power”. What this could prove is that the Christian should trust not in various arguments or in intellectual knowledge alone, but upon a more experiential knowledge of God. On the basis on this rationale, some Charismatics conclude that it should not matter, therefore, if someone disagrees with them or challenges them in their faith – they can trust in their personal experience. However, many Charismatics and Pentecostals alike hold that all subjective experience is subject to the authority of the objective Word of God.

The Evangelical interprets these verses in a very different way. The verse needs to be taken in context with the rest of what Paul says, especially chapter 1:22-23 which says Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. Critics of the Charismatic understanding of the supernatural would say that these verses contradict the idea that Paul's ministry was primarily one of performing miracles. 2:2 is also important to the Evangelical because it states that I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Thus the demonstration of the Spirit's power found in 2:4 could in fact be the conversion experience of the Corinthian readers, and “God's power” in 2:5 is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Evangelicals argue that this way of interpreting the text fits into a structuralist model because it takes the verses in its historical and grammatical context. Charismatics and even Pentecostals would counter-argue that such an interpretation reads more into the text than is clearly stated and ignores the historical context -- a context that was characterized by the dynamic of the Holy Spirit manifested through supernatural signs and wonders. Furthermore, if 1:22-23 is a condemnation of reliance upon signs and wonders, then it is equally a condemnation of an overly intellectualized approach to the Gospel.

It needs to be pointed out that claims of "faulty" exegesis are not a criticism that can be applied solely to Charismatics. It is entirely possible for Charismatic Christians and leaders to understand and apply a Biblical text in a manner which is acceptable to a Structuralist approach (and thus meet the interpretive framework that many Evangelicals hold to). It is also entirely possible (in fact, it is probably very common) that many Evangelicals themselves are guilty of "faulty" exegesis. Evangelicals will argue, however, that this phenomenon is far more likely to occur within a Charismatic church than in an Evangelical church. On the other hand, Charismatics and Pentecostals hold that Evangelicals do injustice to the Scriptures by forcing interpretations that reinforce what might be called preconceived cessationist conclusions -- ideas based more on experience than on the message of the text.

Influences of the Latter Rain Movement

Main article: Latter Rain Movement

The Latter Rain Movement was a religious movement that was prevalent in American Pentecostal churches in the 1940s and 1950s. Led by William M. Branham and others, it taught that the Five-fold ministry would be returned (including prophets and apostles), that special Christians would arise who would have supernatural powers (the Manifest Sons of God), and that specially ordained "overcomers" would rise to political power and take over secular institutions in the name of God (Kingdom Now theology). This movement denied some of the more Fundamentalist teachings such as the Rapture, and also held to Jesus-only doctrines popularized by Oneness Pentecostalism.

The US Assemblies of God declared the movement heretical but its teachings remained influential for some years. [2]

There appears to be evidence that suggests that, since 1975, Charismatics have engaged in fellowship with all Christians who have had the same religious experiences as they had - which included both the traditional Pentecostals and the Latter Rain movement. As a result, both the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement presently share a great deal in common theologically, and this has come from a resurgence in Latter-rain teaching in both movements.

Evangelicals and traditional Pentecostals would still argue that the teachings of the Latter Rain movement were heretical. There is evidence to suggest that, while the term "Latter Rain" is not associated with modern Charismatic and Pentecostal theology, the teaching certainly is.

Oneness Pentecostals

Main article Oneness Pentecostal

An offshoot of the Pentecostal movement, Oneness Pentecostals believe that there is one God with no essential divisions in His nature (such as a trinity) . He is not a plurality of persons, but He does have a plurality of manifestations, roles, titles, attributes, or relationships to man. Furthermore, these are not limited to three. Whereas Trinitarian Christianity teaches that God is existent in three Persons, Oneness doctrine states that there is only one member of the Godhead, namely Jesus. He is the incarnation of the fullness of God. In His deity, Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The rejection of the trinity has also been called Sabellianism, or modalism, and is considered heresy by most evangelicals and those within the Charismatic and Pentecostal Movement.

These churches are sometimes known as Pentacostal churches - the difference in spelling being an indicator.

Scripture, authority and guidance

See also: Sola scriptura

One of the issues that Evangelical Christians have with Charismatics and Pentecostals is the place of the Bible in terms of authority. Most Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians will agree that the Bible is divinely inspired and was written by men under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. This belief is also held by evangelicals and serves as one of the many points of agreement. However, many evangelicals see the Bible as not only divinely inspired, but also divinely sufficient - that the Bible is all the Christian needs to be guided by God and to live the Christian faith. The protestant reformers called this Sola scriptura. This point of view appears to be backed up by 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which states that the scriptures are not only "God breathed" but "thoroughly equip" the believer for every good work - the idea here being that "thoroughly equip" is synonymous with sufficiency. Pentecostals and Charismatics, on the other hand, expect direct guidance from the Holy Spirit in the form of dreams, visions and various other subjective experiences. The fact that many biblical figures (such as Noah, Moses, King David, Jesus, Peter, Paul and so on) have been guided directly by God appears to back up their belief that God can and will use subjective experiences to guide his people.
Image:Bible old.jpg
Many Christians believe that the ultimate author of the Bible is God himself.

Evangelicals have criticised this approach to guidance because, firstly, just because direct guidance is described in the Bible does not mean it is prescribed for the Christian life and, secondly, because the individual relies upon subjective experiences for God to guide then there is a temptation to rely solely upon these for living the Christian life - a process which takes the believer away from the Bible as the means by which God speaks. Many evangelicals have been concerned with what they perceive as "misleading" or "false" teaching arising from the movement - with teachings such as Word of faith (prosperity), the Toronto blessing and Signs and Wonders as examples of this. Many evangelicals have labelled popular televangelists (such as Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey and Kenneth Copeland to name just three) as being, at best, seriously misguided and, at worst, satanically inspired. To be fair, many Pentecostals and Charismatics do not adhere to these teachings, which indicates the complexity of criticism in this area. For evangelicals, however, an over-reliance upon subjective experience as the means by which God guides will lead to lower levels of Biblical knowledge. This, they argue, will inevitably lead to the Christian being influenced by people and movements that teach and preach strange and misleading doctrines.

Although it may appear that there is a clear polarization between guidance by the Bible and guidance by experience, most evangelicals and pentecostals accept a combination of the two - with Evangelicals accepting some form of direct experience (so long as it does not contradict the Bible), and with Pentecostals accepting some level of Biblical authority (so long as it does not prevent God from guiding directly).

External links

* List of articles that defend Sola Scriptura
* Continuing Revelation: What's the big deal?

Speaking in Tongues

Some Pentecostals believe that Speaking in Tongues is a direct result of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and that believers who do not undergo this work of God are unable to experience the fullness of being Christian. By contrast, Charismatics accept that Tongue Speaking is a valid Christian experience, but, like other Pentecostals, do not always accept that the Baptism in the Spirit automatically leads to Tongue Speaking.

Evangelicals generally believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the point of conversion - in this sense all Christians have been baptised by the Holy Spirit, and there is no "dual-stage" in the Christian faith. They also question the validity of Tongue Speaking in two ways. The first is to argue that Tongues were for the first-century church only and that it, along with Prophecy, have "passed away" (1 Cor 13:8-10). The second is to identify Tongues as Xenoglossia (the supernatural speaking of another human language that is recorded in Acts 2:1-13) which is purportedly not what is manifested in Pentecostal or Charismatic Christians today.

However, the belief that prophecy and Tongues have "passed away" as some non-Charismatic Evangelicals state 1 Cor 13:8-10 says, is challenged by Charismatic Christians. They say that while Scripture is the infallible authority in our lives, man is not perfect, and therefore, man cannot know everything about God in his sinful state (I Cor. 13:8-10). This argument does not mean Charismatics believe the Holy Bible is not the sufficient, infallible Authority in the life of a Christian. They defend the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture fervantly. However, what is meant by this is that while on earth, man cannot know God in His Entirety. As a result of the infiniteness of God and the finiteness of mankind, this is not possible. The Charismatic Christian believes that when they are with God after sin is destroyed and all believers are raised up and their physical bodies are freed from the grip of sin and death, then "the perfect" will come and gifts of the Spirit will no longer be necessary. In short, Charismatics believe this passage is referring to the Christian, not Scripture. "The perfect" is interpreted as referring to the Christian's regenerated state in Heaven.

Theology of worship

Public expressions of Worship in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches can generally be described as energetic and intensely personal, often accompanied by a specific style of music that can include Gospel music in Black Pentecostal churches and the contemporary worship music of Hillsong Church.

Many Charismatic churches in the early 21st century have adopted a contemporary worship style that focuses heavily upon "uplifting" music and repetitive and simple lyrics. Charismatic churches that have embraced Transformationalism are likely to have a worship style that reflects this theological stance.
Pentecostal Worship is often spontaneous, emotional, uninhibited and honest.
Pentecostal Worship is often spontaneous, emotional, uninhibited and honest.

Evangelicals have levelled a number of criticisms of Charismatic worship.

One major criticism is that there is an over-emphasis upon the subjective experience of worship rather than upon any objective experience that finds its basis in the Bible. Evangelicals, particularly those from a Reformed background, argue that Worship should be regulated by what God has revealed in Scripture. Meanwhile, the Pentecostal or Charismatic believer would most likely point out that focussing on one's subjective experience of God's biblical nature is quite valid.

Additionally, many Reformed Evangelicals place a great emphasis upon the centrality of the Gospel and the Word of God throughout public worship. This means that the Bible is publicly read during worship, that the congregation is exposed to carefully researched Expository preaching on a regular basis, and that all songs and hymns are clearly biblical and Christ-focused. By doing this, Reformed Evangelicals believe that the Holy Spirit will be working in the lives of all people present - and that such a work of the Spirit cannot necessarily be recognised by a subjective feeling or any visible, measurable occurrence.

By contrast, Charismatic worship does not necessarily involve a public reading of scripture, nor would the preaching be based upon a systematic explanation of a Biblical text. Evangelicals have often criticised Charismatic preaching for misunderstanding the Bible, with many preachers allegedly guilty of inaccurate exegesis. Since Charismatics have a higher regard for personal experience, preachers can often use their own subjective experiences, or even what they consider to be direct guidance from God, as the basis of their teaching. Since many Evangelicals see Scripture as divinely sufficient, they find such Charismatic teaching problematic.

Charismatic song lyrics, although simple and honest, may not necessarily be Biblical in their content. Some evangelicals have even (either fairly or unfairly) labelled such songs as having "Jesus is my boyfriend" lyrics. Evangelicals argue that any Christian hymn or song should be explicitly Biblical in nature, and focus upon what God has done rather than on what we feel about God. For the Evangelical, "Declaring God's praise" involves singing and preaching about God's divine characteristics, such as his omnipotence, omnipresence, providence as well as his love for his people in sending Jesus Christ to die on the Cross as a sin substitute. Hymns and Songs that explain the person and work of Jesus Christ are also important to Evangelicals.

A simple (but not always accurate) assertion that Charismatics make about differences between themselves and Evangelicals is that they focus on worship while Evangelicals focus on teaching. While this assertion has some truth in it, it fails to recognise that, for the Evangelical, bible teaching forms an integral part of true worship. In his book Engaging with God,[3] Evangelical author David Peterson[4] asserts that true worship involves the church approaching God in worship on God's terms, and that God himself is engaging with his people during the ekklesia (gathering) as his Word is read and explained, and as the Gospel is proclaimed.

But while Evangelicals will criticise Charismatic worship as being too subjective and shallow, Charismatics will criticise evangelical worship as being too impersonal, unemotional and intellectual.

Criticisms from Catholic and/or Orthodox Christians

The Catholic and Orthodox churches would agree with the basic belief that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit seen in the first century Christian Church, such as glossalalia, healing and miracles, are available to contemporary Christians and ought to be experienced and practiced today. Many stories of the saints include examples of these things occurring throughout the history of Christianity. It is often believed that God can and does work such miracles both through the normal exercise of the sacraments of the Church, and at times in unexpected ways. However, they also believe that such miracles would not and should not generally be disruptive to the prayers of the assembled church, believing instead that all things should be done "decently and in order."

Criticisms from other religions

Criticisms from society generally

Faith Healing

The following articles are useful in examining the possible reasons why Faith Healing in Charismatic churches continues to be popular.

* Faith Healing
* Correlation implies causation (logical fallacy)
* Post hoc ergo propter hoc
* Regressive fallacy

Prosperity and Faith

Many Charismatic and Pentecostal churches champion the idea that God will materially bless those who love and serve him. In order to prove this assertion, many examples and testimonies exist within these churches that appear to validate this belief.

Since Charismatic and Pentecostal churches exist within growing market economies, the belief that God will bless you if you "go out" in faith simply produces an environment of entreprenurial risk-taking. If this environment develops enough, the church community will eventually produce successful businessmen and -women (not to mention a number of business failures). The presence of these people within the church therefore only validates the assumption. Thus the belief that God blesses certain people materially could actually be a logical fallacy.

Religious ecstasy as a psychological phenomenon

See also: Ecstasy (state)

The stereotypical worship service that is prevalent amongst many Charismatic and Pentecostal churches involves repetitious phrases uttered during emotionally uplifting music, the raising of hands and the closing of eyes, an open and willing attitude to the "presence of God", a dependence and focus upon the preacher or worship leader who himself/herself is acting and speaking in an emotionally charged way. This sort of experience is common amongst many non-Christian religious adherents and has been described as Religious ecstasy.

Therefore, it could be argumed that Charismatic and Pentecostal churches that exhibit these features are only reproducing a psychological phenomena that is common to humanity regardless of their religion, rather than engaging in an entirely unique Christian activity where a supernatural force is present in the gathering. That this phenomena can be exhibited in a group of people engaging in a common religious activity actually makes this explanation more likely.

Charismatic and Pentecostal manifestations such as Speaking in Tongues, being Slain in the Spirit, the laughing and crying caused by the Toronto blessing and the placebo effect of Faith healing can all be explained by the prevalence of Religious ecstasy in these gatherings.

Word of Faith theology

An examination of Word-Faith theology seems to match the experience of those who advocate Neuro-linguistic programming as a form of behaviour modification. Thus Charismatics and Pentecostals who "succeed in life" due to this brand of theology may only be replicating the efforts of secular proponents like Anthony Robbins.

See also

* Autosuggestion

* Suggestibility
* Visualization

Criticisms from within the Pentecostal / Charismatic movement

Authoritative leadership

Some people tend to follow the leaders within these movements from a motivation of either loyalty or a belief the leaders are anointed (chosen by God to be a spiritual leader). This could create problems as many will often believe what the leaders say and tend not think critically through these issues. Objective biblical and theological research may quite often be discouraged. The leaders may often wield enormous power within their churches and often try to harness this power for good; Many former Charismatics would argue, however, that this power has no Biblical basis.

At an even deeper level, the issue becomes goes back to authority and guidance. Charismatic and Pentecostal leaders will often claim the bible as their final authority in all matters of faith and life. Many former Charismatics would argue, however, that when these leaders believe the Holy Spirit is speaking directly to them, this often becomes the final authority. It really comes down to which view of God's guidance has greater emphasis - personal experience or the Bible.

Psychological Abuse

See also: Psychological abuse

Many former Charismatics and Pentecostals have complained that they have experienced undue psyschological pressure and abuse from their former churches. Church members who openly complain about the church or the leadership, or dispute decisions, have been subjected to this abuse because they pose a threat to the church's leadership and stability.

Some organizations argue that this abuse is endemic to the movement, and is a result of a combined number of issues. These include rapid numerical growth; uneducated pastors; an anti-intellectual attitude; the need for order and strong leadership; the belief that God is dealing with the church in a special way; a lack of accountability; and the need to suppress dissention.

It needs to be pointed out, however, that many people are attracted to the Charismatic and Pentecostal movement by the genuine love and care exhibited by individuals in these churches. It is erroneous to assume, therefore, that all churches in the movement are naturally abusive. It is also erroneous to assume that psychlogical abuse is unique to these churches, and that other churches, including evangelical ones, are immune from it.

While this love and care may be genuine, it does not necessarily mean that the church is not abusive in some way. Many Charismatic and Pentecostal churches exhibit the phenomenon of Communal reinforcement whereby community belief in someone or something is so strong that even empirical evidence to the contrary is discounted. A dissenter may therefore be ostracized by the church community despite having a reasonable and objective point of view. Alternatively, the dissenter may choose to keep their reservations to themselves, thus creating a spiral of silence.

While there have been cases akin to Brainwashing within these churches, such extreme activity is actually quite rare. Nevertheless, The Children of God developed out of the Jesus Movement in the 1960s, which was closely linked to the Charismatic movement, and The People's Temple was heavily influenced by the Pentecostal Movement in the 1950s. [5]

Theological scholarship

Some former Charismatics are of the opinion that recognised Pentecostal and Charismatic theologians are very difficult to find and that the movement is highly dependent upon scholars from Evangelical or Reformed backgrounds to formulate any rudimentary beliefs. In the early years of the Pentecostal movement, this assessment may have been true, for in the formative years of the movement Pentecostals were given more to the practice of their faith and engagement in their mission than to theological reflection. However, in recent years Pentecostals have become much more adept in reflecting upon and articulating their theology. More information related to Pentecostal, Charismatic and Neocharismatic theologians is covered under Renewal Theologians.

See also

* Consensus reality
* Group-serving bias
* Groupthink
* Herd behavior
* Informational cascade
* Love bombing
* Mind control

External links

* An Evangelical laments over how he feels Pentecostal and Charismatic beliefs are now dividing the body of Christ
* Ex Pentecostal forums - a forum for those leaving Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations (formerly ex-pentecostals.org)
* "I was a Flaky Preacher" - how a pastor gave up on the Charismatic movement but retained his faith and ministry.
* A Charismatic Apologetics Directory - scholarly articles defending Charismatic doctrine

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