Archive for the ‘ A Slice of Life ’ Category

Introduction

Nearly a decade and a half ago, when we moved into this house, I had one of the carport’s add-on rooms earmarked for myself.

We have a large, 4-car carport, where the previous owners built two rooms in the rear, which returned it to a “normal” 2-car size. These rooms are both 9.5×8.5×15.5 feet. The second room has been a spare bedroom for a couple of our boys now – but will eventually be my wife’s room to do with as she wills.

Previously, I had built an L shaped plywood desk, but had never finished the project. The room had become a bit of a storage room – because I went on the road as a truck driver for 6+ years. I didn’t even have a desktop for most of that time, and my plans for building a workbench for my PC repair side job went by the wayside.

I returned home in 2018, but the room had decayed so much in that period that the desk was no longer salvageable, and I was going to have to start over. The room continued in its role as storage catch-all, and it was basically ignored. I have a rather nice study with 3 workstation areas, after all – and I still didn’t have a desktop.

Disaster

In May of 2019, the creeks that bracket our property (and much of the county) flooded catastrophically. We had 28 inches of water in our house (I kayaked through my front door at one point, in the process of trying to salvage additional items and place them upstairs in our 2nd story bedroom), and practically everything downstairs suffered water damage.

The water is almost to the top of the porch rail, and to the bottom of the windows.

The carport rooms were hit just as hard. I lost my entire collection of discs, all my parts computers, most of my spare and specialty cables, all my specialty tools and instruments, and practically all of my peripherals.

Inside, the kids lost two laptops that were getting old, and typically stored in the bottom study cabinets. I lost two older laptops I was working on, a nearly new Saitek X52 I got for the previous Christmas. We simply forgot they were there in the rush. We were trying to save furniture, packing up clothes, bedding, toys, – and not least, making sure the babies got to the vehicles and stayed there while we hurriedly salvaged as much as we could.

All we lost was stuff when you come down to it. That can be replaced – and much of it had to be. Initially, only the smaller creek flooded – that only put about 18 inches of water in the house. Overnight, however, the larger creek flooded, to a degree that hasn’t been seen in a century. When I got to the house the next morning, the water was above my waist while wading down the road. I retrieved our kayaks on that trip, and we made a couple of trips that day, seeing what else we could salvage, or move out of danger.

Cleanup

Once the water receded, we had to do a very fast job of gutting the downstairs. We knew, from the cleanup work everyone in this area did after Hurricane Katrina, that once things get wet, if you don’t dry them out, you grow mold in a wet climate like ours – and you will never get that stuff out. We had to chuck everything out of the downstairs part of the house, triage whatever was salvageable – then gut everything. In the mancave, we basically had to shovel it all out. The cheap MDF that used to be a partially completed desk had become sludge.

After cleanup, we had an entire summer, and into the fall, of putting it all back together. Everything except the studs, the polyurethaned hardwood study shelves, our stained and polyurethaned furniture items that survived, and our treated wood bathroom cabinets had to go. The lower kitchen cabinets didn’t make it. The floor tiles were damaged by water undermining them, and large objects being repeatedly smashed into them as they floated. Practically everything, from 32 inches and below, was torn out and replaced.

After that all hands on deck renovation project was done, and we took a bit of a breather, it came to me: What better time would there be for me to re-do my mancave? It was already down to bare studs, I still had leftover paneling – why not? So, in the aftermath of a disaster, I took my room back. This is going to be my way to document that project for anyone that wants to do something similar with a space in their house.

Starting from Scratch: Phase 1

Starting this project, all I had left was bare studs and a door, up to about 32″. The whole room was previously paneled in bare plywood by the previous occupant – it was intended as a workroom/workout area. As such, all the outlets were installed around 48″ (they were not all installed at the same time, and they weren’t put at the same height, either – they vary from 45″ to 50″), presumably for use at workbenches. It has a single 32″ wide window, directly opposite the door. I’d bought a window A/C unit for it 10 years before – and I put the same one right back in now after I’d moved it upstairs to a bedroom for a time. I had replaced it the year before, but it was still operational, just not as good as its replacement. It had yellowed with age (and smoke damage – I used to be a smoker, I admit) – so I used some white appliance paint leftover from a refrigerator makeover to freshen it up.

The outside siding was still (mostly) good, except for one large hole near the front left corner where the siding had been damaged. It had two salvaged cabinets near the rear left corner that had held the previous occupant’s junk for the last 15 years, because I always planned on junking the cabinets, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I had what amounted to a blank slate – but a limited budget: I only had about 100-150$ per month that I could allot to it.

The primary concern I had was weatherproofing the room, at least on a macro level. It wouldn’t be airtight for quite some time, but it was actually letting rain in, in the one corner! We had just finished up replacing the front porch siding, and all the front windows – it had taken a beating from things floating into and battering the house – so I took one of the better scraps from the demolition, and patched that hole.

The siding around the carport wasn’t slated for replacement anytime soon. The first thing I bought for this project was insulation, from Jack’s locally. I had put in insulation previously, but obviously, it had all been dunked. I bought two rolls, and replaced everything up to 32″. The second thing I bought was several sheets of plywood. The plywood used in here was of varying thicknesses and types – which left the walls a bit of a patchwork. Further, at one point, some rodents had got into the walls and shredded the insulation at several places. I removed each and every panel, checked all my wiring, and replaced bad insulation out of the remainder of those two rolls, then replaced the odd-sized plywood sections, also with sheets from Jack’s. I left the right rear panels down, however. I had some wires to run in the walls first.

Cable Runs

Because this room is on the carport, I had to run some cables to get internet access out here. I had done that previously, with Cat-5 – but I really don’t want to run wires again anytime soon. This time, I ran Cat-7, which can run at multi-gigabit speeds (10gb). I could have gone with Cat-8 – but the price difference is significant – and there are length considerations. The run from the carport to the attic above the living room is just under 100 ft – I used this cable for that run. That’s close to the limit for Cat-8 (or Cat-6) – but that’s just fine for 7. From the attic, there is another 50 foot run (using this cable) to the modem & router in the study. For these runs, I tried to keep them especially neat, both while they were in the walls, and while running rafters; I stapled each cable to every other stud (using plastic d-clamp single-nail staples, which came with the cable sets I ordered). At the carport transition to the covered walkway (where I grommeted both sides of the hole through the header with these), I put both cables into a raceway, which terminates in another grommet, inserted into the hole I drilled into the siding, and into the attic space. The cables are again stapled in the attic and go to a switch that I installed in a weatherproofed utility box. I used the box simply because I don’t trust a vented attic to keep the switch dry enough. From the switch, I made another run to the top of the nearest study wall, where my old cable drop had likewise gone, and then down through several shelves to the new raceway I had built (out of trim) into my replacement wall panels behind the study shelves – and thence to the modem & router. One other thing to note is that I utilized keystone connectors (and plate) so that I could run pre-terminated cables. Cat-7 cables are a pain to terminate yourself, IMHO. Plus, it makes everything modular; everything in the system is easily replaceable.

Why two cables? Well, first, for redundancy’s sake. These were very time-consuming to do. It never hurts to have a backup. Second, I only have DSL internet, and no prospect of getting anything faster, anytime soon, as we’re fairly rural. So, if I end up getting satellite ‘net as secondary, or mobile broadband, I have an xmit as well as rcvr line, which can both be routed through the switch in the attic, as needed. I plan on at least a 16-port switch in here, and I plan on running the network for the whole house from this room if I can. The other use for the attic switch is to send Cat-7 runs to my upstairs bedroom and the living room – so that my wife’s desk in our bedroom (that doubles as a TV, with a monitor able to swivel around to be viewable from bed) and our multimedia center in the living room are both on a wired connection. We have a large house, and WiFi just doesn’t seem to cut it when sharing a DSL line while streaming. Wired seems to be much better in that regard.

The Walls

Once I had the cables run, I replaced the panels. At some point while I was working on those runs, I installed tongue-in-groove beadboard wainscoting panels (the same ones we used inside our house, during the renovation) in the bottom 32″ from the floor. These are painted in Glidden Pure White (also matching the inside of the house). As the slab in this room is not quite level, I had to do a bit of cheating at places, to get them all to fit together. White silicone is your friend, ladies and gents. They were all hand-nailed with 4d 11/4” finish nails, 3 per stud. I don’t have a nailer and didn’t feel like buying one. I was a carpenter as a young man, and I’m still decent with a hammer. I also just like the feel of hammering nails in by hand.

Once those were all up, I purchased some 1/8″ smooth finish paneling, and installed that (this time, with 1″ wire nails) over the plywood, from the wainscoting join to the ceiling. The plywood was perfectly serviceable; this paneling is purely aesthetic. I wanted a smooth, semi-gloss painted surface.

The upper panels are painted in a Glidden Slate Grey Semi-Gloss.

Once those were finished, I installed some new electrical outlets and covers. The idea was always to have all of those black – and they were – but the previous outlets were well over a decade old, and had been altogether too closely adjacent to water recently – so I changed all of the “desk” receptacles and covers to glossy black TRR models, and the two closest to the door (which would have the highest loads, due to use by sound equipment and appliances) to 20A receptacles.

The Desk: Construction

Okay, this part is pure overkill; but it’s my desk, so I can overkill it if I want to! The main desk is 91/2x2 feet wide. The wraparound wings on either side are another 6×2 feet wide. The inside corners are both cut in at 45-degree angles for a more convenient desk area. It features a drop-down fixed tray sized for an extra-large keyboard/mouse pad at 36″x14″. It has one “command” station, with two smaller stations at each inside corner, all reachable from a center chair – and 2 additional workstations down each side of the desk “wings”.

It has a built-in multi-tier cable management system (J-channel on the desktop, two sets of cable loops below – top and bottom), pass-through cable ports, integrated USB ports for each auxiliary station (2 for the command station), and adjustable monitors pre-positioned at each (3 at the command station). Each auxiliary station will also have it’s own combination under-desk wall-mounted UPS/powerstrip, and its own slide-out keyboard/mouse tray.

The desktop itself is constructed of two full sheets of 3/4 plywood. The center of the desk and the drop tray are made of one sheet, the two wings of the other.

To support the desktop, I screwed 2x4s end on to the wall studs all along the rear of the desk (which I refer to as backrails, throughout), on all 3 sides, and support the desktop underneath with solid legs at various points along the desk’s run. In both corners, there are 2x4s fastened face on beneath the primary backrails, meeting at the corner, for additional support. This was a solution which provided me uninterrupted “storage corners” – shelving areas beneath the desk for items I wasn’t planning on using frequently, but would like stored close to hand.

While the legs are constructed of solid 2x4s, I subsequently paneled them with beadboard (from Jack’s) as wainscoting, to avoid an unfinished look. Each leg assembly is anchored to the concrete with hammer-in extension wedge anchors and attached to the respective wall’s anchor base by additional deck screws, toed in on each side. Each leg is constructed with a large gap between it and the wall, for ease of cable management.

Leg Construction

I sketched out a plan for the legs that would allow cable pass-through and easy access. (Notice on my drawing that I forgot to move the rear leg out from the wall for both the backrail and the rear of the top vertical to split – don’t be like me. The rear vertical should be set out 23/4” from the wall along the bottom horizontal.) The front vertical is set flush between both horizontals, with the bottom horizontal terminating at the paneling covering the walls’ anchor plates. The rear vertical is placed so that the top horizontal lands halfway, and the rear of the vertical can be secured to the backrail, which lands on the other half of each rear vertical support. This design allows for about a 23/4” gap behind each leg – but still gives the desk surface the full support of the vertical members. As you can see, I had originally intended to add an additional vertical in the center, but once I had the primary structure put together, I realized that I just didn’t need them. The measurements for each piece are as follows:

  • Bottom horizontal: Cut to 231/2
  • Top horizontal: Cut to 20″
  • Both verticals: Cut to 261/4
  • Rear backrail: Longer cut to butt against left side backrail, and land on center of right rear leg; shorter section cut from same center to right side backrail
  • Side backrails: Full 8ft boards
  • Corner supports: 2ft sections, meeting in corner on each side.

With 3/4″ plywood for the desktop, this design puts the desktop level at 30″. Corner supports are attached with their top faces at the level of 273/4“, which will provide a support in each corner at the same height as the rear backrail notch of each leg section.

All told, it features 3 legs to each “wing”, 2 in the center section, supports under each corner’s backrail. The end product framing looks like this:

The Desktop

To make the “two wings” – just cut a full sheet of plywood exactly in half. End of line. For the center… a bit more complicated. I had to measure the entire center section out precisely, to fit as closely as possible to the two wings. The 45 degree flyouts that meet the wings gave me the most trouble. Once I drew it out on the plywood, and verified all the measurements, I cut the excess off the sheet in two chunks, then used a jigsaw to carefully cut this section out to my specifications, then cut the tray out, which was drawn out in the same process. The desktop itself is fastened to the backrail, and to each leg assembly, with countersunk deck screws, which I then filled in with wood putty.

The center desk 45s were clamped to either wing for about 24 hours after attachment, joined to the wings as outlined below, then smoothed together cosmetically with more wood putty.

You can stand (or even jump) on this desk, with no problems whatsoever. It’s very solid. The only places where that might not be advisable are the joins between the three pieces, but to counter any structural weaknesses, I have 1) an additional 2×4 support centered underneath each join, butted into the backplates, as well as the closest leg, and toed in to both with deck screws. 2) Small steel join plates about 2 inches from the end of each 45-degree join. 3) Small 90-degree supports that are attached from the front of the appropriate legs to the underside of the desktop. As an example, I did much of the later ceiling work from on top of the desk, rather than a ladder. I step a mite gingerly at those two points, but I don’t worry too much about it. I’m more worried about the paint job than any structural failure, in any case.

Note, for those wanting to duplicate this project: Unless you have a good sized space, this desk size and shape may not work for you. For any other size space, you’re going to have to modify the plans to fit. It is very custom, (it is built into the walls, anchored to the floor) very overkill – and admittedly, very cool – but I have a wall to wall U-shaped desk that takes up over half of a 9.5×15.5 ft. room. This desk dominates the room. Much wider, and I’d have too much room in the center for a convenient “swivel to station”; much narrower, and it’d be cramped quarters. Think about what you want your desk to do. I’ve been planning this redux project for about a decade, with all the features I might want in a blue sky project. I designed it for my side work as a PC builder, light network admin, and repair tech – but with the added bonus of doubling as a killer LAN party hangout. You might want other things – build accordingly.

Keyboard Tray

One feature that I really liked about my previous custom desk, and had to retain, was the drop-down keyboard tray. I had built it to a scale slightly less ambitious last time, and used cheap MDF; but that feel of solidity – and fixed location – was a decided preference. The arms of my chair are precisely at the level of the keyboard tray. It is set at 33/8” below the main desktop level, at 265/8“, for no better reason than that I like it there. The side and backplates for the keyboard tray are 1×4, with scraps from the wall paneling covering the side plates, and filling in the slight gap left by the saw width difference, allowing a more secure attachment of the side plates, flush with the desktop edges. The keyboard tray is cut directly out of the same piece of wood the center of the desktop was constructed of. The legs to either side were placed so that the tray could be fastened directly to them, as well as to the backplate. I have an additional 2×4 running from leg to leg (and toed into each side) beneath the center of the tray, for further support. It measures 3’x14”, and comfortably fits a (very) large keyboard/mousepad.

The Paint Job

Not gonna lie, this is the part that made me the most excited about this space. The functionality is awesome, it is entirely my design, and I did it all myself – but this is the one place where I can let my love of the color red go wild. We’ll come back to this in a bit, but as you can see, it simply dominates the space.

It’s painted in Behr Ultra Dark Crimson Semi-Gloss Enamel. The enamel paint is fantastic, and can be applied by a roller with no problems. The desk also has my logo applied to it in vinyl, and is then coated with about 4 layers of high-gloss clear polycrylic for protection.

Incidentally, polycrylic is suitable for use over vinyl, and over painted surfaces. It doesn’t yellow the paint, and it won’t affect the vinyl. I used to work at a sign shop, so a word of advice – if you apply vinyl, make sure there are absolutely no air bubbles underneath. Use a scalpel or pin and poke pinholes at points to help you get air out, and smooth it down repeatedly with a plastic ruler or another straight edge. I used a new plastic scraper of a type that we usually use for dishes. On this rough plywood surface, I had to do a good bit of that before I was satisfied. Once the poly is applied, you cannot access the vinyl again. If you left the air, it’s there forever, and you will have a gap underneath your protective coating due to slack in the vinyl. So, don’t leave any. Also, another tip – DO NOT use a roller of any kind to apply polycrylic. I did that on one coat, and regretted it, immensely. Took forever to sand a myriad of tiny bubbles back out of coat #2 with ultra-fine grit sandpaper – and I basically wasted that entire coat.

The Ceiling

Once the desk structure was done, I moved on to the ceiling. Like the walls, it was simply covered with plywood, as you could see in previous photos. While perfectly serviceable, it just didn’t have the look I was going for. So, I bought some more paneling. Home Depot sells a variety of decorative paneling, typically used for walls. I wanted it for my ceiling when I saw it.

It is a printed faux-pallet wood panel, mostly greys. It has fairly realistic (if you aren’t looking too closely) nail holes, a variety of “wood” types, and an interesting variation in color. The only problem is, the room wasn’t exactly square – so I had to fudge it a little bit, as you can see in the final picture. There’s a solution for fudging – other than silicone.

Trimwork

The desk itself is the major eye-catcher, as was intended. The trim work, however, is what sets it off. Every bit of trim in this room is a glossy onyx black. The desk, while great on its own, needed some contrasts. The ceiling, while fun, needed something to draw eyes away from flaws and irregularities. There are several elements of trim that I used to make this room stand out.

First, the “chair rail” was expanded, using 1×4 composite boards, into a combination backsplash for the desk as well as chair rail for the rest of the room. A typical chair rail would have left an awkward gap between the desktop and the bottom of the chair rail. Using these boards gave me a nice clean “cut” between wall sections, as well as a nice finishing touch to the desk.

On top and bottom of the rail, (not counting the desk area, where it is mounted flush on bottom) I installed some shoe molding, to round them both over, and make it look more organic.

To avoid joining issues at the corners, I put in corner blocks on top of the rails, and at the floor.

Second, in the corners, I have 1/4 round molding.

Third, the desk itself is trimmed on the outer edges in a purely ornamental 3/4 molding that happened to catch my fancy. The drop tray is backed by a 1×4. The legs are trimmed with 1×1 outside corner. Shoe molding is used for base all the way around the walls and desk legs.

Fourth, the ceiling trim is made of 1×2 furring strips, and the center pieces are 1/4″x11/2” lattice molding. These cover all the joins, and mask any pattern inconsistencies; while providing a gridwork to enhance the look of the ceiling. Instead of replacing the overhead light socket, I boxed it in, painted it black – then installed a special light.

Fifth, the door is similarly trimmed in black, and painted red – the only other element painted to match the desk.

The window originally had no sill. I put one in, and cased the window’s interior and frame in 1×4 boards.

Floor, Desk Legs and Base Trim

For the floor, I just went with a slate grey that matches the walls. This may change to a darker shade later.

I was going to do this earlier, but I ended up putting it off for quite a while, due to the purely cosmetic nature of this step. This is what the leg paneling looks like when completed. All that remains is to trim them out to match the rest.

Other Desk Features

Initial Command Station Rollout

I won’t lie – I got to the point where I could move the computers in, and just… did. It has made the rest of the work slightly more awkward, but it is worth it, to enjoy the fruits of my labors in the meantime.

Cabinets, Storage and Shelving

As I mentioned, there were two salvaged cabinets still in the room when we began this project. Before I started, I removed them both. One was made of an MDF or something similar and was falling apart. The only solid wood in it was the two shelves. Those were salvaged and will be used for shelving beneath the desk. The other cabinet was mostly solid wood, save for the backing, which was still serviceable, nonetheless. I sanded the cabinet down and repainted it the same color as the wainscoting. The cabinet is now mounted against the ceiling to the right of the door. Currently, that space is being utilized for two chest freezers. I will add a narrow standing storage cabinet to the left of those freezers, about their same height.

Eventually, I will build a workbench to replace my salvaged kitchen countertop bench, once there is sufficient space elsewhere to move the freezers. In the meantime, I’ve begun to install a pegboard in the space between the cabinet and the desk area, to hang my cords, tools, and toolbelt. This will probably get expanded soon, as it is already crowded.

The space beneath the desk will have 1×12 shelving from rear wall to front leg. Above the desk, there will be 8 foot of 1×12 shelving approximately 18 inches above the desktop on the east side, but only 6 feet on the west side, to accommodate the server rack that will be in the west rear corner. I will also have (at least) 2 rolling cabinets that fit beneath the desk.

I prefer my computer towers off the desk when possible. My main computer’s tower is in a sliding under-desk mount in the niche between legs to the right of the drop tray. I have a garbage can beneath the desk in the matching niche to the left.

Phases 2 and 3

Phase 2: Server Station

As I mentioned in passing earlier, I plan to install a 12u rackmount system to the right of the command station. The pass-through cable port was installed with that in mind and will sit at the rear of the rack. It will have a 1500 VA UPS, 8-outlet power conditioner/surge protector, 16-port gigabit switch, rack server (tbd), and secondary NAS system.

Phase 3: Music Corner

Currently, I have this area to the left of the door set up to accommodate small kids. Indoor/outdoor carpet, beanbags, a small wall-mounted TV with a FireStick. It has messy cable management currently, but it is a temporary setup.

Once they’re a bit older, however, I’ll expand this section to include a rolling rackmount for music equipment that will double as a gig system.

I already have my primary guitar hanging on the wall, an amp on the floor beneath the last desk station on that side, and space for my pedalboard – but I have plans for that to be a mini-stage area with a playing stool, I/O for computer interfaces, space for a half dozen guitars, and easy workbench access for guitar repairs and mods.

Current Amenities

I have a color-matched coffee maker, a weight-activated coffee warmer for my oversized mug, a cupholder mounted to the desk for when a cold drink is preferable; a bottle rack for when I just need a splash of something, a headphone holder, a controller rack, deformable 8,000 lumen 3-panel LED overhead lighting, color-matched leather gaming chair, 7.1 sound system, Thrustmaster HOTAS for flight simulators, display hangers for 3 swords, 2 bows, a rifle, and my trusty hockey stick. (I used to play. Don’t judge.) I also have lots of room for posters and other media – which I’m sure I will add to in time.

Command Computer Specs

As I’ve alluded to, the command station is served by a 32″ LED monitor, flanked by 2×24″ LED monitors. The computer itself is in an Antec GX202 case with twin front led fans, currently utilizing an MSI B450 Tomahawk Max mobo, AMD Ryzen 3 3200G CPU, 16gb G.SKILL Ripjaws V DDR4 3200 RAM, ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 O4G GPU, powered by a Corsair GS650 PSU.

James White Dashcam Post Archive

Recently there has been a bit of a firestorm, chiefly on Twitter, so I gather, regarding the following post by Dr. White, since removed by him. I’m posting it here for you, so that there is somewhere to link other than the site of the slightly infamous “James Ach”. He used his opportunity to make a number of rather uncharitable claims in both the title and the text of his post, so I figured it would be helpful to link somewhere other than to the site of someone who is obviously reading the material with the hermeneutic of suspicion, not of charity – and who isn’t adding bracketed commentary into the post as if the author wrote it. Sending him traffic does little good, and more than a little harm. I’m also planning on writing up something to further discussion, so stay tuned to CH.

Edit: Some have claimed that the DRC post is unedited – for those folks, note the contents of the blockquote. 579 words, 3034 characters, due to the 4 bracketed insertions within the blockquote. That is an edit. He notes the bolded portions prior to posting – but does not inform the reader that he is adding commentary – in a blockquote. The actual post was 549 words, 2843 characters. Thus, the DRC post added 30 words, 193 characters. That is why this one is here. For the author’s rendering of his own comments, see this: Ethnic Gnosticism and the Gospel

I bought a dash cam recently. Seems everyone in Russia has one (I guess you have to for insurance purposes), and I thought it would be pretty good to have to document some of the crazy things that happen while driving. So I was coming home this evening and happened to be the first car at Glendale and 35th Avenue in Phoenix. And as you will see, a young black kid, looks to be 15 years old or so, was crossing the street. Now if you watch, you will see a police SUV cross in front of me first going east. The kid then comes into the screen, and though he sort of hid it under his elbow, he plainly flips off the police vehicle. Then he is emptying the drink he is consuming as he walks out of the frame. What you can’t see is that he then simply tossed the bottle into the bush in the corner of the gas station. I happened to notice the two ladies in the car next to me had seen the same thing. We just looked at each other, put up our hands in exasperation, and shook our heads.

As I drove away I thought about that boy. There is a more than 70% chance he has never met this father. In all probabilities he has no guidance, has no example. He is filled with arrogance and disrespect for authority. He lives in a land where he is told lies every day—the lie that he cannot, through hard work and discipline, get ahead, get a good education, and succeed at life. He is lied to and told the rest of the world owes him. And the result is predictable: in his generation, that 70% number will only rise. He may well father a number of children—most of which will be murdered in the womb, padding the pockets of Planned Parenthood, and those that survive will themselves be raised without a natural family, without the God-ordained structure that is so important for teaching respect, and true manhood or womanhood.

It never crossed my mind to flip off a police car as it passed me by when I was his age. Of course, it never crossed my mind to walk around with my butt hanging out of my pants, either, as if the entire world needed to see what kind of underwear I was sporting that day. I know I would have been mighty guilty had I tossed my drink bottle into a bush—and I never would have dreamed of doing that in front of everyone like this young man did. But I had a father. And a mother. And I was taught to respect others, and myself. If I had not had those things, I still would not have acted as he, simply because times have changed, and not for the better. There was simply more restraint in my day. It surely makes me wonder what the future holds. Oh, I know—this is nothing. There are videos on line of kids like this shooting guns in the air and robbing people and doing car jackings. I know. But you need to understand: those folks didn’t get there without first finding it “fun” to strut, flip, toss, and live an attitude of disrespect.

Kinism

Note 1:21ff especially. Enjoy 🙂

Ben just wrote a post about dispensationalism – clearly delineated into three general groups, then further delineated into 2 groups actually being addressed. Unfortunately, Fred Butler (of the blog Hip and Thigh) responded on Twitter:

Fred Butler

Something tells me I’m about to watch an army of strawmen burn to the ground, http://t.co/chz1EQFE . Eat your heart out Ed Young Jr.!

Ben responded:

Ben Woodring

@Fred_Butler don’t get your hopes up.

Another contributor at CH – Justin – also responded:

Justin Mccurry

@Fred_Butler Let’s try not to poison the well

Here’s where it gets interesting. Fred’s response was quite puzzling.

Fred Butler

@Resbyterian As soon as anyone invokes “transcendental” your poisoning the well.

Really? So, for instance, when Van Til says this:

[T]his brings up the point of circular reasoning. The charge is constantly made that if matters stand thus with Christianity, it has written its own death warrant as far as intelligent men are concerned. Who wishes to make such a simple blunder in elementary logic, as to say that we believe something to be true because it is in the Bible? Our answer to this is briefly that we prefer to reason in a circle to not reasoning at all. We hold it to be true that circular reasoning is the only reasoning that is possible to finite man. […] Unless we are larger than God we cannot reason about him any other way, than by a transcendental or circular argument. The refusal to admit the necessity of circular reasoning is itself an evident token of opposition to Christianity.[1]

Is this poisoning the well, Mr. Butler?

Now, more importantly – is this poisoning the well, Mr. Butler?

Apparently, Mr. Butler, if we are to take his aforementioned statement at face value, has poisoned the well at least 8 times. Now, were I to multiply the instances where Van Til, Bahnsen, or other presup apologists use “transcendental,” this post would be quite impossibly long. Are we also to understand that the use of “transcendental” by, say, Kant, is also well-poisoning? In short, Twitter is really suited to people able to express themselves within a 140-character limit without delving into broadbrush and unfortunately inaccurate statements. Making absurd statements such as “as soon as anyone invokes ‘transcendental'” they are “poisoning the well” is not responsible tweeting. Not even remotely.

Further, note the amazing statement made by BibChr of PyroManiacs fame.

Dan Phillips

@Fred_Butler He mentions Jamin Hubner as in any way a credible source, I tune out.

Now, note that there is no reason given for why Jamin’s posts about hyper-dispensationalism (which was the reason for the link – to move the discussion of that movement out of the bounds of the current discussion) were considered to be not “credible.” This seems to be either a case of “guilt by association” – the argument being presented (which has nothing to do with Jamin’s posts – as the post itself states) is ignored because Jamin is considered to be not-credible for whatever reason. However, there is no relation of the post in question to Jamin’s series of posts on hyper-dispensationalism. In fact, during the writing of this post – as I was writing this paragraph, in fact, Dan tweeted the following:

Dan Phillips

@bkben3 @Fred_Butler That was a FAIL, not unlike beginning a study of Calvinism by recommending Dave Hunt’s probing insights

Now, how are we to understand Dan’s comments as being relevant to the content of Ben’s post? He did not cite Jamin as someone interacting with dispensationalists – but as someone interacting with *hyper* dispensationalists. As such, I don’t see what relevance there could be to the remark. Lets put this into perspective. Let’s use Dan’s remark in his comparison. Imagine that he didn’t completely ad hominem there, but was actually trying to make a valid comparison. Let’s say that Jamin is interacting with hyper-Calvinists. That doesn’t mean that anyone who links to his resources on hyper-Calvinism agrees with his conclusions on Calvinism – it means that he is being referred to for a discussion of hyper-Calvinists – right? So, without regard to what his problems are in regard to Calvinism; if his resources on hyper-Calvinism are generally accurate, does that mean they are invalidated if his resources on Calvinism are not accurate? Should we disregard anything he says on other topics due to his problem, in our little comparison, with Calvinism? That doesn’t seem to follow. For instance – let’s say that Dan Phillips is generally correct when it comes to the Gospel. When he addresses Covenant Theology, however, he starts calling it “replacement theology”, and things such as that – things which cannot be remotely accurate concerning the Covenantal position. Should we disregard every post Dan has written on the topic of the Gospel due to his inability to correctly characterize Covenant Theology? Just as with our last example, I don’t think this is the case. Nor do I think it even makes sense.

For another example: I don’t think the post series in regard to dispensationalism is even going to mention JMac-style dispensationalism. First, because it’s tiny, and second, because it’s so odd in comparison to the two major branches. I hinted at that in an earlier tweet.

Joshua Whipps

Hint: If you’re a JMac-style dispy – most likely nobody is talking about you, because you’re such a miniscule group that you’re irrelevant.

Note: I used “most likely”. This should be fairly obvious as far as meaning goes, but apparently not to Fred. It means that it’s probably not the case that anyone’s talking about you, since you’re such a tiny fraction of dispensationalism. For some reason, Fred decided to respond to this, hours later.

Fred Butler

@RazorsKiss What?! Sam Waldron wrote a book. Demar pounds us unmercifully. And let’s not forget Riddlebarger.

My response, obviously, was to point out that I used “most likely.” Perhaps not especially “nicely” – but it’s not like Fred is all sweetness and light, as a rule – so I think he’ll manage. In any case, what’s the beef here? The beef seems to be that someone they don’t like got mentioned, therefore there will be strawmen. Of what, we might ask? Of Fred and Dan’s position? As I’ve said, I don’t think Ben will even address their position, as he is dealing with the classical and progressive positions – as he states that he will. Their particular position is neither fish nor fowl. Again, however, we see the JMac types up in arms because they aren’t “in the crowd”. Well, here’s what we should be asking – which way do they want it? If we don’t address their minority view, they get upset. If it is addressed in with other dispensational views, will they complain because we don’t treat them the “best”? I don’t see where you can win with this. If, as I’m sure they would affirm, they aren’t classical or progressive dispensationalists – what is their problem if we address those views? Don’t they also believe they are wrong? If we do address their own views, would they be upset if we did? I don’t see the issue they seem to be having.

On the one hand, we’re being told that even a *mention* of a particular person in regard to a completely different subject makes someone’s material “ignorable” – but on the other hand, we are told that there will be strawmen in the series on Choosing Hats. What we are not told is why. While I (and two other Choosing Hats contributors) have an article in the first version of one of Jamin’s books – they didn’t make it into the second edition, and apart from moderating one debate for Jamin, we really don’t have much contact anymore. Ben, on the other hand, hasn’t done anything with Jamin Hubner, to my knowledge. He recommended Jamin’s work on hyper-dispensationalism because he thought it adequately dealt with a position pretty much universally considered heretical. As we’ve already established, I don’t see that even if it were true that Jamin incorrectly responded to dispensationalism, that it is the case that he incorrectly responds to hyper-dispensationalism. In fact, there has been no presentation of Jamin incorrectly responding to hyper-dispensationalism. Fred tweeted something to me earlier, but I found it to be incoherent and vague.

In closing – I want you to note a few things. First, some folks should just stay off of Twitter. They can’t frame things within 140 characters and still make sense. When you simply say “As soon as anyone invokes “transcendental” your poisoning the well” – to a presupper – you’re quite obviously not thinking clearly. Are we to imagine that Van Til was saying that the only way to argue is to poison the well? Hardly – yet this is what Fred insists upon. It’s quite obviously wrong. Secondly, it’s hardly logical to insist that the very mention of a person you dislike means that a post is problematic. This is a fallacy. I’m trying to figure out which it is, actually. Is it the genetic fallacy? If the origin of the claim is that which makes the claim itself wrong.. maybe so. But I think it’s probably the “guilt by association” fallacy. For instance: If someone said “Taxation is great” – and the response was “but Hitler liked taxation!” That is a guilt by association fallacy. In this case, Ben mentioned that he wasn’t going to address hyper-dispensationalism. This means that he isn’t even addressing that topic, does it not? At least if you happen to read English. However, he linked to someone else – on a topic he doesn’t intend to address. Does this have any bearing on the topic in question? Not in the slightest. To claim that it does is to commit a fallacy. It’s a bit odd, though – because it isn’t even the point itself that is in question – it’s that someone’s name was mentioned at all! That’s quite puzzling.

Third, don’t let friends tweet if they can’t do it without saying silly things. It’s bad for them, and it’s bad to have your view given bad press by the use of fallacious argumentation. Don’t let friends tweet irresponsibly. Especially if they are dealing with topics like “transcendental” – and making their assertions about it in 140 characters or less. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

  1. [1]A Survey of Christian Epistemology, pg 12

There are the Jehovah’s Witness claims that the entire Christian church has always been wrong about, well, almost everything. Except for those few ECFs they could massage into some sort of superficial agreement, of course. Mormonism likewise asserts that all churches ceased to be true churches rather quickly following Christ’s ascension. Islam, with it’s idea of scriptural supercessionism and their revisionist version of what the Scriptures actually are, or taught, have a similar view of Christianity as a whole. It’s much the same with any other warmed-over historical error – be they large, as the wholesale replacement religions seen above – or be they smaller, specific, targeted errors like conditionalism/annihilationism, with their aberrant views within anthropology and eschatology.

In both cases, the assertion is made that despite the fact that we are told the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church, in Matthew 16:18 – they did in fact, prevail in some specific sense – be that in a wholesale fashion, or in a specific area. In the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is some attempt to try to support their claims from the ECFs (failing miserably upon any detailed examination), but in the case of Mormonism, there is usually the flat assertion that the church was essentially defeated entirely for 1700 years or more. Islam’s claims are far more modest, despite the more militant nature of the religion as a whole. In the specific case we’re addressing, the assertion is made that the church, in a practically universal fashion, has lost entirely what is supposed to be meant by “Hell” – and we must “rethink” Hell to somehow recover the original beliefs as taught in the Scriptures, but were “hijacked” by one or more foreign belief systems. Your mileage may vary. Sure, there are books like “The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers” – but like any other book of this kind, the assertions therein are quite similar to those made by the Arians, the Pelagians, the Romanists, the Socinians, or the Landmarkers; “There have always been people who believed what we believed!” Athanasius addressed such claims, as did Augustine, and their respective counterparts throughout church history, defending the Christian faith. Whether we are dealing with the trail of blood, the trail of Racovian models of theology, the trail of Papal authority, the recurrence of Pelagianism, or even of Arianism, there is always recourse made to either “brave dissenters” throughout history, when it is clear that their position was not that of the universal church, or in the case of positions like that of Romanism, that it was always the majority view – even at times when their church did not exist as the current entity – such as during its period as a multiple-elder ruled body – which can be quite an interesting subject of study, incidentally.

Similarly, volumes such as “The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers” try to recruit early church fathers, or famous figures to their cause, and then proceed to ransack the annals of church history for any and every viewpoint that could possibly accord with their position in some fashion. What is also tiptoed around, at least in some evangelical circles, is that Froom himself is a Seventh-Day Adventist. Although considered by many in the general evangelical community to be “orthodox” – is considered to be “unorthodox” by many in the conservative side of that community, and to be a cult by a significant minority. This cannot be de-emphasized when the appeal is so often made to the “Protestant” heritage of the SDAs. Even Fudge’s book does a bit of “recruiting” in the ECFs, and it’s essentially a topical overview of the subject, if not from an SDA perspective, but a (generally) Church of Christ background. What isn’t clearly depicted, however, is that they are pulling a few dozen or so names from a cast of hundreds of thousands of historical writers, and that those who share their position are typically the only ones who think many of these ECFs were saying anything of the sort. What is even more often neglected is that many, if not most of their supporting cast they appeal to beyond the ECFs were themselves members of a great variety of historical heresies – where there were bigger fish to fry when dealing with their various problematic theological positions. For instance – do you address the Socinian adherence to an Arian view of Christ first, or their aberrant view of Hell? Quite obviously, the answer is the former. When dealing with heresies, you must do triage. When you address Millerites – what do you deal with first? It’s not quite as simple as “this has never been addressed before” – it’s also not quite as simple as “conditionalism hasn’t had a thorough response,” either. Conditionalism as distinct from other heretical views is a fairly recent phenomenon. How does this matter?

As has long been recognized by theologians, positions are refined and obtain precision through apologetic engagement. Christology was refined by Arianism’s challenges, and the challenges of Docetism and Nestorianism at Nicaea, First Ephesus and Chalcedon. Trinitarianism has always been refined by challenges from Unitarianism, the nature of man’s slavery to sin refined by the challenges from Pelagianism and it’s natural heirs, and, of course, Justification was given elegant refinement by the Reformation’s disputes with Romanism. Apologetic encounters with the challengers to orthodoxy is nothing new, nor is it original with the modern church. In fact, it is something that has always served as tempering for our doctrinal steel. What must be remembered is that Conditionalism and the oft-resulting Annihilationist credo is nothing new to the annals of the church’s apologetic encounters, either. What makes it an interesting study is the frequent pairing it seems to have with other heretical views. Compared to the denial of the deity of Christ the Socinians made, their ideas concerning conditionalism seem rather trivial in comparison. Unitarian denials of eternal damnation seem rather mild in comparison to their denials of the Trinity, similarly.

It should be noted, however, that the idea of an otherwise “orthodox” conditionalist or annihilationist is a rather modern conception. Why is this the case? Even granting Pinnock’s claim, for the sake of argument, that the belief in eternal damnation was fixed in the 6th century, that leaves how much of church history with practically every adherent to Christianity with no earthly idea what the Bible teaches about Hell? Such an argument proves entirely too much for even the “general evangelical” to stomach when seen in those terms. The resort to “traditionalism” as the favored explanation for this practically universal ignorance smacks entirely too much of the revisionist histories of the LDS and the Watchtower. Church history does not allow us such ghastly, lasting rents in the fabric of historic orthodoxy. Even in the Roman communion there was always the Pauline/Augustinian emphasis on Sola Scriptura in at least some fashion – as well as the persistent, recurrent witnesses to justification by faith, and the persistent, nagging memory of days in the history of the church where one bishop could not set himself up above the rest. The Roman version of church history simply does not accurately portray what actually transpired – and neither does the conditionalist version of events in church history.

One reason that there has been fairly little in response to the conditionalist case in church history is that there is no distinctive conditionalism in church history, even as we see it in chiefly centered in today’s modern Anglicanism, General Baptists, and the doctrinal descendants of certain strains of Millerism. Anglicanism and the Particular Baptists churches had a serious bout of trouble with Unitarianism/Socinianism that they have never fully recovered from. The Presbyterians and Particular Baptists contemporary with the English Unitarians (often called Socinians) went to great lengths to address this movement, as we should expect from the doctrinal heirs of the Reformation; but Anglicanism and the General Baptists did not fare nearly as well. Anglicanism fared far better than the General Baptists – who were all but destroyed by the inroads of Unitarian influence, and are effectively scattered wholesale into other groups – but the influences are still seen to the present day, despite their attempts to curb that influence. In the Americas, the Millerite movement, born of disaffected members of a number of denominations, spawned a great number of sects which show a distinct influence of the conditionalist influences – which I submit to you is due to the leavening of General Baptist and Methodist Anglican thought in the Millerite movement, the descendants of which have elements scattered throughout more mainstream channels of evangelicalism. Members of the Millerite movement with conditionalist stances also influenced Russell, the founder of the Bible Student movement, which became the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The fracturing of the Millerite movement is complicated and laborious to track – but there are common themes to be seen throughout, if you take the time to do so.

In summary, you will notice that there has not been a distinctly “otherwise orthodox” conditionalist movement until very recent times. When a particular subject is made the center of controversy, that is when the apologetic response is most fully brought to bear. Since it is a thoroughly Biblical picture, let’s use some military references to illustrate what we mean. When a front is not central to, but peripheral to the the main theatre of warfare, the troops assigned to that front are sufficient to “hold the line” in skirmishes. The more pressure that is brought to bear on that front, the more troops are assigned to it, and the more attention is given to the defense of that area. Far from demonstrating that we need to “rethink Hell” – the lack of a thoroughgoing apologetic response in church history demonstrates most clearly that there has not been much of an assault made on this position. When not coupled with other heretical views more in need of a response, there has been vanishingly little historical “push” on the topic of Hell. My prediction, hope and prayer is that the desire of modern annihilationists to make this subject a central focus will have the effect it has always had in the history of the church – to cause the opposite of their intent in bringing that sequence of events about. There will not be a “rethinking” of Hell – but a “refinement” of the historic doctrine which more clearly and more precisely outlines the Scriptural teaching on the subject, and again vindicates the Scriptural promise that the church will not be left rudderless, or the Spirit without a witness to the truth, and the Scriptures without right division. A lack of precision on a subject has never been a sign of a lack of orthodox agreement – it has been a sign of a quiet front, on the whole. Such is the history of apologetic disputation, and as such we can be confident that this historical sequence will transpire yet again. It is whenever orthodoxy gets pushed that there is a cohesive, controlled, and coordinated response to that push. I hope that the annihilationists do push the way they say they will. That’s what engenders the responses that improve precision and detail.

As I stated in a previous post:

[W]e must see that only those with adequate preparation should be engaging unbelievers. Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord. Paul, of course, had intensive training as a Pharisaical student – but even that did not suffice, did it? He spent 3 years being “taught of God” before he began his ministry – interestingly, roughly the same amount of time the other Apostles spent with Christ. I’m not trying to say we should all go be desert dwellers of some sort – or that we are all called to be seminarians, either. What I am saying, however, is that we cannot neglect an intensive, intentional course of study in the foundations of our faith, if we are to be apologists. This is not negotiable. In order to defend the faith, we must know what we believe, and be unshakably convinced of the truth of what we know before we are involved in ministry of this sort. Apologetics is no ministry for neophytes. The Christian life is likened to warfare, in Ephesians and elsewhere. Front-line troops are experienced, well-trained soldiers. They know precisely where they fit into the ranks, what their duties are, and have undergone systematic training in the art of war. No soldier learns his trade by osmosis. His trade is soldiery. Soldiers are trained; so must we be. This training is primarily not in the assemblage of arguments, philosophical justifications, or evidenciary studies. Those of you who are in the military; where did your training start? It started with the discipline a soldier required. Next, it moved to the care and operation of your equipment. Then, training moves to the proper movements of troops, of which you are a part.[1]

Here’s exactly what I was talking about.

Superficiality is not what we are called to. A large amount of Bahnsen’s lectures is not what we’re called to. I have a great many of Bahnsen’s lectures. So what? Is that the central focus? Having an extensive library of Van Til is not it, either. I have an extensive library of Van Til – but that’s not my prized set of books, as much as I enjoy them, and as much as I have learned from him. My prized (and most-referenced) books are Calvin’s and Gill’s theologies. When I reference Van Til, it’s typically to show that he was, in fact, pointing us to the same aspects of theological study that those men spoke of. The title of this gentleman’s blog is “Apologetics with a Hammer” – might I suggest an instrument with a bit more delicacy is more appropriate to the task? There’s a reason that we do things the way that we do, and with the approach we have in doing so. As a student of military history and strategy, let me say this, in closing. There is a significant difference between charging off alone directly at an enemy stronghold, and doing in the company of a great force, arrayed in precisely the correct configuration to encircle, besiege and successfully assault that structure. When you play “lone ranger” apologetics, when you do so without reference to the Scriptural methodology of spiritual warfare, you are asking for a resounding defeat. In any case, that’s all I have to say about the subject.

  1. [1]So, You Think You’re a Presuppositionalist?

Thoughtful Young Men

How often have we heard an excuse for heresy made out of the desire to impress “thoughtful young men”! Young men, whether thoughtful or otherwise, are best impressed by the gospel, and it is folly to dream that any preaching which leaves out the truth is suitable to men, either old or young. We shall not quit the Word to please the young men, nor even the young women. This truckling to young men is a mere pretence; young men are no more fond of false doctrine than are the middle-aged; and if they are, there is so much the more necessity to teach them better. Young men are more impressed by the old gospel than by ephemeral speculations. If any of you wish to preach a gospel that will be pleasing to the times, preach it in the power of the devil, and I have no doubt that he will willingly do his best for you. It is not to such servants of men that I desire to speak just now. I trust that, if ever any of you should err from the faith, and take up with the new theology, you will be too honest to pray for power from God with which to preach that mischievous delusion if you should do so, you will be guilty of constructive blasphemy. No, brethren, it is not our object to please men, but our design is far nobler. – Charles Spurgeon

Just for fun

One of the disadvantages of having an eclectic position is that you might be the only one who holds that position, and the first to use the words you use. Case in point:

“be slaughtered, never to live again”

“lifeless, unconscious corpses”

Reminiscent of StrongBad:

“For death metal, you have to scream from the bowels of your lungs; words like decay, deranged, decrepit,and… um, deloused.”

“Creeping, rusty, meat. Truly the heart and soul of all death metal.”

For days, the blogs and facebook statuses have been replete with pro and anti Prop 26 messages. What I haven’t seen from the anti side, however, is much of anything that isn’t a Slippery Slope fallacy.

The common refrain is that this proposition will *likely* lead to the banning of abortion, IVF treatments, stem cell research, and human cloning. It will keep women from receiving chemo while pregnant, deny them treatment in case of ectopic pregancies or other life-threatening pregnancy problems, “most” birth control options will be removed, that if a woman’s miscarriage is “suspicious” they will be subject to investigation,in vitro fertilization will almost certainly be regulated and priced out of existence, the State should force a pregnant woman to carry a dying fetus until it miscarries naturally, victims of rape (including the mentally disabled and girls as young as 8 ) should be forced by the State to carry and give birth to their rapists’ babies, that there will be additional thousands of babies brought to term and in foster care. That’s a selection.

The problem with all this being; it’s a fallacious argument. Namely, the Slippery slope fallacy. This fallacy is presented in this form:
Event X has occurred (or will or might occur).
Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.

Unfortunately, there is no argument typically given for *why* this will inevitably happen. More often, the wilder the claim concerning what will occur, the better. For instance, I read on a forum that this means “reproductive rights are being stripped away right before my very eyes.” Followed shortly after by another saying that the passage of this bill will make us “a country that reduces women to incubators.” Such rhetorical silliness is truly amazing, but it gets better. A woman wonders what the “future would hold in a country where abortions & birth control are illegal, and a woman is a second-class citizen compared to the fetus she carries.” One opines that women will be “required to go through inquests when they have miscarriages to determine if they were somehow at fault for “murdering” their fetus.” This is the kicker: “Do you not realize this is the first step to taking away freedom? What’s next? Your freedom to religion? Speech? To vaccinate your kids or not? Its a slippery slope.” That’s a fallacy, folks. There’s no argument for why this is the case. It’s just stating that it is the case. X, therefore y – no intervening premise.

Is there a good reason not to vote for Prop 26? Yes, actually. Because it’s considered by some to be unconstitutional. Does that mean it isn’t right? No. That’s the best argument I have seen on the matter, bar none. However, there are arguments on the other side, as well. It is not a *direct* ballot initiative – it requires legislature review. It was presented to the MS legislature early this year. Hence, the counter-argument goes, the constitution is speaking of direct initiatives. As this was reviewed by the state legislature, it does not fall under that purview. Clear as mud? Good! That will likely be the “best bet” of the folks arguing against this, if it gets adopted – but we’ll see how far they get. That, however, is just my opinion on the matter. I’m also not sure they have any federal appeal in this instance, as it’s an article of a *state* constitution.

Here’s the argument: The State Constitution says that “(5) The initiative process shall not be used: (a) For the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this Constitution”
This initiative specifically states that it is amending Article III (the Bill of Rights, in the MS Constitution).
Therefore, the initiative is unconstitutional.

However, there are a couple ways to go, here. The first is that this isn’t a modification, addition, or repeal – but a clarification. The second is that since it was an indirect initiative, and under the supervision of the state legislature, that it doesn’t qualify under that heading. I don’t know how far that one goes, but that’s one response I’ve seen. I’m sure there are others, but there are two quick outlines.

I have yet to see an objection, save the objection of it’s illegality, that is not a slippery slope fallacy. Saying what you *think* will happen in the future is something else altogether than making a logical argument. It’s simply stating your opinion on the matter of it’s eventual result. On the contrary, I can pretty clearly tell you what it does prohibit. 1) Abortion 2) The intentional destruction of any fertilized embryo 3) Human clones being considered “non-persons” in such an eventuality 4) Killing unborn children with the “morning after” pill. This is in terms of how it defines a person; the language used, not my feelings concerning it. This is always a tough thing to do – look at an issue from the standpoint of it’s logical implications, not it’s emotional ones. Logically, murder is of a person. If a person is a fertilized embryo, then destruction of a fertilized embryo is, therefore, murder. Abortion, obviously, is murder – as is the use of the “morning after” pill. These are all issues that have surrounded the pro-life movement for the last couple decades. There should be no surprise from anyone to see the oft-discussed logical implications in other areas besides abortion.

Does this mean we will be faced with some tough choices? Sure, it does. Does it also mean that we’ll have to be ethical in terms of unborn children in a similar fashion to the way that we have to be in the case of adult or infant persons in the case of triage situations? Yes. Is there established law in these cases? Yes, there is. Saying that there isn’t is simply just untrue. Putting an unborn child on a “level playing field” with a child a matter of months older is nothing more than being consistent. What is at issue is establishing, legally, what a person is. Using rhetorical tricks such as were outlined above is, simply, beneath us. Thinking logically about these sorts of issues is what we should be doing, not making emotionally laden accusations without anything more than speculation to go on. It is not “mean”, or “condescending” to point out that an argument is fallacious. In fact, we should welcome such criticism, if it helps us think more clearly about the issue.

Since I am a Christian, let me clearly state my position. I believe that life begins at conception. This is not a slogan, but a Biblically exegeted position, culled and exposited from Scripture. This means that we are making a point of *principle*, and applying those principles to the world around us, as we all do with our principles. In the case of this position, it is exposited from the story of Samson, in Judges 13. His mother was promised a son, after having been barren for many years. She was told that this child would be dedicated to God – a vow called the “Nazarite” vow, discussed previously on this blog. She is told 1) That she *will* conceive. 2) She is told to be careful not to eat anything unclean, or to drink any wine (things forbidden by the vow) – starting now (vs 7). 3) The child is dedicated from when? From the womb. With conception explicitly mentioned, and all things related to this vow were to be put in effect, as of now, in order to ensure there was no violation. If the point at which we are concerned is not conception, then what shall we say it is? There is also the witness of John’s recognition of Christ “from the womb”, and being filled with the Holy Spirit “from the womb.” There is David’s testimony that God knit him together in his mother’s womb(Psa 139), and God’s concern for him there. There is the recognition of a spiritual state, even while in the womb, in Psalm 51. I also note Stott’s words on Psalm 139; “The psalmist surveys his life in four stages: Past, present, future, and before birth, and in all four refers to himself as ‘I.’ He who is writing as a full-grown man has the same personal identity as the fetus in his mother’s womb.”

Not only that, but human life is just as valuable in the womb, as it is outside of it. Shedding of innocent blood is often remarked on, in Scripture. This, incidentally, does not mean “innocent” as in “sinless”, but “innocent” as in “unworthy of being slain.” In Gen 9, we are told that whoever sheds the blood of man, by man will his blood be shed; but this is because man is created in the image of God. The doctrine of the imago dei is far-reaching, and central to why we take the position we do. We know when life is considered to start; and we believe that the image of God is intrinsic to the life of His human creatures. As such, they are the imago dei from the very beginning. In Exodus 21, we are told that even causing a woman to give birth prematurely (even though there is no lasting harm) is worthy of the husband choosing what to fine the guilty party. Directly after, we are told that any harm is to be met with life for life, etc. This is very plain. The unborn child is considered to be human life on equal footing with the adult. Just the potential of harm, in carelessness, is worthy of punishment, because they endangered a child. Proverbs 24:11-12 commands us to deliver the innocents from slaughter. (This verse is often cited in relation to the Holocaust, as well.) Deu 27:25 states that the one who accepts money to kill the innocent is cursed. In Amos 1:13, killing unborn children is cited as a sin. In 2 Sam 4:11, David tells men who killed Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, in his bed, that that deed was worthy of them being blotted from the earth. How much more, if children in the womb are being killed in the only bed they know?

In the case of rape; are children to be held accountable for the sins of their fathers, contra Deut 24:16? Do they deserve death? In the case of “freedom”, are we allowed to use that a covering for sin, contra 1Pe 2:16? Are we to kill the disabled, rather than care for them, contra Lev 19:14? Third, a woman’s body “belongs” to her no more than a man’s does. We belong to God. Instead of using speculative excuses for why it might not be most convenient for us were we to adopt an equitable law, it would behoove us to submit our convenience to the principles laid out in Scripture. Equity is found in just laws, not in the speculative enumeration of possible abuses or inconveniences we might face as a result. Scripture tells us that conception is when God considers life to begin. We are being given problems, but no solutions for those problems in reply. A fallacy is not excused by convenience. Immorality is likewise not excused by convenience. Even if IVF is made more expensive as they retool their procedures, for example – what is that to you, if it preserves life, and restrains evil? What else is it the government’s principal job to do? Instead of offering your personal nightmare scenarios, offer me an alternative. Further, tell me why the amendment *itself* is wrong – not why the potential consequences are wrong. There is a whole network of fallacies involved in that sort of argumentation. Speculative consequences are not a conclusion for an argument, if you don’t connect premise a to conclusion c. You can’t skip b, and call it a valid argument.

To wrap this up; if you want to offer an argument, offer us a premise b. Offer us a premise b, further, which the conclusion can be shown to follow from. Saying that y will occur if x occurs, without any reason given to think that y will occur is just simply illogical. Also, note that we are talking about something 1) Unprecedented and 2) That hasn’t yet occurred. Saying that we are speaking of “facts” in a case such as this is absurd. There are no facts to be had about the consequences of a future event. You might make an inductive case, but you have to make the case! So, please work on those arguments, boys and girls.

There are a significant number of newly “converted” (to presup, at least) folks that are quite zealous for the defense of the faith. This, I consider good. On the other hand, Scripture warns us against “zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge”, in Rom 10:2. This is especially important for us to consider. All too often, we have a tendency to “jump right in,” whether we are prepared to do so, or not. Zealousness leads us, with inadequate preparation, all too often to imbalance, and from or along with imbalance, to a sub-Biblical defense. Additionally, there is the problem of not knowing what it is you are to be defending! As putative apologists, we must not overestimate our own abilities, knowledge, or proficiency. This isn’t to say that I consider myself to be “perfect” – or that anyone else should, this side of glory; What I am saying is, we must be very watchful that our desire doesn’t outrun our wisdom.

When we have something we desire to do, we often run ahead, to the detriment of our preparation for doing so. Similarly, we often dismiss preparation for either pragmatic or pietistic aims, at the expense of doctrinal orthodoxy. Part of an adequate apologetic is the ability to teach. If you aren’t convinced of that, I would point you to the instances of apologetic encounters in Scripture. If you are defending the faith, there are certain preconditions for doing so. Principally, there is the precondition of knowing what you are defending. Secondarily, there is the precondition of an ability to teach what Christian doctrine is, so that it may be clear to your audience what in fact it is to be defended. Thirdly, it must be clearly said that there is the precondition of grace; and that graciousness is the product of sanctification, not of formal study. None of these aspects can be overlooked or dismissed; and they must not be dismissed, because Scripture clearly commands them of us. In fact, dismissal of these requirements is tantamount to rebellion. To overlook these requirements is a function of ignorance – but the intent of this post is to render you, the apologist, without excuse – and hence, repentant. We cannot afford ignorance in the cause of Christ.

So, let us look at what we are called to do. Those who are called to apologetic ministry must be within, and under the authority of, the local church. They cannot be “lone rangers,” and they cannot be “loose cannons”, or “independents”. If we are of those who believe, we must be within the fellowship, and be in fellowship (Acts 4:32). If we are of those who believe, we must be under the authority of elders (Acts 14:23). Apollos, we know, was a powerful advocate for the cause of Christ. Yet, he was amenable to being instructed by those who were older and wiser than himself. In addition, he was willing to be sent, and not to send himself. It was the brethren that sent him, and encouraged him – and in that fellowshipped sending, he in turn encouraged the elect, and refuted their opponents. (Acts 18)

Next, we must see that only those with adequate preparation should be engaging unbelievers. Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord. Paul, of course, had intensive training as a Pharisaical student – but even that did not suffice, did it? He spent 3 years being “taught of God” before he began his ministry – interestingly, roughly the same amount of time the other Apostles spent with Christ. I’m not trying to say we should all go be desert dwellers of some sort – or that we are all called to be seminarians, either. What I am saying, however, is that we cannot neglect an intensive, intentional course of study in the foundations of our faith, if we are to be apologists. This is not negotiable. In order to defend the faith, we must know what we believe, and be unshakably convinced of the truth of what we know before we are involved in ministry of this sort. Apologetics is no ministry for neophytes. The Christian life is likened to warfare, in Ephesians and elsewhere. Front-line troops are experienced, well-trained soldiers. They know precisely where they fit into the ranks, what their duties are, and have undergone systematic training in the art of war. No soldier learns his trade by osmosis. His trade is soldiery. Soldiers are trained; so must we be. This training is primarily not in the assemblage of arguments, philosophical justifications, or evidenciary studies. Those of you who are in the military; where did your training start? It started with the discipline a soldier required. Next, it moved to the care and operation of your equipment. Then, training moves to the proper movements of troops, of which you are a part.

The disciplines required of the apologist are both mental and spiritual. The primary discipline is the systematic study of the Word of God, and the doctrines therein. We must also be as fervent and constant in prayer and the confession of sin as we are fervent and constant in study. We must systematically practice the spiritual disciplines along with the mental disciplines we work to cultivate.

We must also be able to teach. In a Biblical apologetic, we are responding to the anti-Christian from, and with, Christian doctrine. As I have said for some time, it seems to be the case that the vast majority of objections stem from a fundamental ignorance of Christian doctrine. As Christians, we must admit that this is often the fault of those whom we have championed; and those champions themselves are either unable, or unwilling, to defend the Christian faith as a system of doctrine, rather than a philosophical abstraction. The defense of “a god” flies directly in the face of the Scriptural testimony. Keeping the doctrines of Christianity at “arms length” in their putative defense is nothing more than folly, if that is what we are truly defending. We cannot make an arbitrary distinction between what we believe and what we defend. We can do only damage to the doctrines we love by defending an abstraction rather than the reality. If you do not know, love, and cherish the doctrines of Scripture, you are simply fighting for yourself, not the fellowship of Christ. If what you defend is unrecognizable in comparison to the God you claim to know – it is readily apparent, and worse than useless. The knowledge of the Holy is understanding, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Do not forget it for an instant.

When we as apologists engage in the defense of the faith we must be able to both recognize and correct the misconceptions that are foundational to, and undergird the objections raised to that faith. When we hear an objection, we must compare it to what it is we know. We waste an enormous amount of time responding to things that we know are inapplicable, or false. We waste so much energy that could be better used in teaching these objectors what it is they need to know about the God they reject. Objections should be filtered through the matrix of sound doctrine – and responded to as they warrant, not as the unbeliever assumes. We all too often consider the unbeliever’s conception of God to be “plausible”, or “possible” – while in reality, they are objecting to a man of straw. Instead of letting this pass unchallenged, take the opportunity to correct their misapprehensions. This is helpful to your fellow believers, as well! It is quite a redemption of the time (that unbelievers waste for themselves in their ignorance) to grasp that opportunity to teach what it is they should be addressing, and to outline for your fellows (and for other unbelievers) where it is they went wrong in their approach. Granted, we know that unbelievers both applaud and prefer their ignorance – but in responding in such a way, we leave them without an excuse, don’t we?

Lastly, we are to answer with gentleness and reverence. This does not mean that we do not step up boldly to answer; it does, however, mean that we are not to savage our opponent on a personal level, or to respond in kind when we are personally attacked. This does not proscribe a righteous zealousness for the doctrines of God; it does, however, proscribe an unrighteousness zealousness for personal vengeance and returning offense when it is given. It is often the case that unbelievers act like fools. We are to answer a fool according to *their* folly – as it deserves – but NOT to become like them. This is a trap many fall into – myself included. We are to be reverent of God, and mild in our responses.

We must also see that the Lord’s slave must NOT be quarrelsome; must be able to teach; must be patient when wronged; and must gently correct those in opposition. They must not engage in foolish or ignorant speculations – they produce the quarrels warned against.(2 Tim 2) Be mindful of your limits. Be watchful of your temper. Be wise concerning where and when you engage with unbelievers. Be discerning in your responses, and teach whenever and wherever it is appropriate. Be patient when you are attacked, or offended, or wronged. Do not engage in endless quarrels; know when and where to enter, and when and where to leave a discussion.

All of this I have given above is the product of the work of God, friends, not of your own efforts. It is the work of God; sanctifying and preparing you for His own work, not your own. We are bought and paid for – we are not our own possession, but His. Whatever you think you might be, you are either His, or you are your own – and God surely knows His own. You think you’re a presuppositionalist? Let me tell you what a presuppositionalist is.

We are to be those who have a deep, abiding love for the Scriptures, and the God whose revelation they are. We are to have a healthy, humble assessment of where we are in our relationship to God, and a deep understanding of whose we are. We are to immerse ourselves in the doctrines of Scripture; We are to flee speculation, and embrace the certainty Scripture provides us. We are to teach patiently, correct patiently, and learn patiently. We are not to be self-serving, not arrogant, and always mindful of the grace which we ourselves have received. We are to understand that what we have, is ours by the grace of God, and by no other means. We are not to coddle doubt, but to destroy it by the means God has provided. We are to know, to the depths of our soul, that what we defend is that which God has given – and how we are to defend it is also given by that same grace. Does all of this humble you? Does all of this make you feel inadequate? Does it remind you that we are, indeed, bought with a price, and not our won, and must thus work to the benefit of His church? If so, you might be a presuppositionalist – but be wary, lest you fall. We are all warned, and we must heed those warnings.

I’ve mentioned before that Presup is Sola Scriptura in an apologetic context. If you study Ephesians 6, the only weapon we have is Scripture. Hence, that is the only weapon we use. All of defenses are also God-wrought, so we have nothing to fear. Fear not – and stand.

Hosted by: Dreamhost