Why Would a Hurricane Hit Texas and Florida, and not, for example, Alabama?

Related essay: “False Apostles are Smacked Down by Hurricane Irma!

I offer the following difficult theme with, I hope, all respect to those who suffer and with prayer God’s blessings on the residents of Texas as they pull their lives back from the flood and the Caribbean and Florida and especially Puerto Rico. And we will close with an appeal for donations.

Hurricane Harvey, 2017

Human beings are wired to look for cause and effect. The car won’t start; that means the battery must be dead! That bell keeps ringing; there must be someone at the front door!

But we don’t always get it right.

My favorite “false cause” story comes from the great Northeast Blackout of 1965. Millions from Ontario through Pennsylvania went without power for hours. When it hit, a Conway, New Hampshire, boy was on his way home from school. As boys will do, he was hitting stuff with a stick. He swung with all his might at a telephone pole, and just as he connected, the lights went off all over town! He ran home distraught, telling his mother that the blackout was all his fault! (more…)

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“The Paranoid Style in American Politics” has its 50th Anniversary

[One of my few blog entries on politics, and how it relates to psychology, sociology, and modern apocalyptic eschatology. Here is a full pdf version: Paranoid Style Turns 50_Shogren]

Because of his ability to describe and predict American political behavior, Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” should be required reading for the citizen. And except for Sacred Scriptures and the US Constitution, I never say any text should be mandatory. “Paranoid Style” was a short, dynamite article in the November 1964 issue of Harper’s, and is still available on their website archive. [1] We will look at some of its insights for today, and in particular, its implications for the evangelical church.

His immediate interest was the conservative movement that backed Barry Goldwater for president in the 1964 election. As a confirmed liberal of the old style, that is, to the left of typical Democrats of today, Hofstadter argued that he was not simply being anti-conservative – and that he was! – but rather: “I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing.”

I offer my own summary of the script of the “paranoid style”:

Nothing is what it seems to be: there are evil forces at work, carrying out their treacherous actions and shielding themselves from the attention of the general public;

I and a small group of whistle-blowers are even now revealing this hidden reality;

the proofs are extraordinarily complex and interwoven, but the central truth is simple and can be explained in a few sentences;

we who are “in the know” are continually hampered or even checkmated due to powerful enemies and widespread public apathy and gullibility.

“Nothing is what it seems to be – there are evil forces at work, carrying out their treacherous actions and shielding themselves from the attention of the general public”

conspiracy-theory-top-secretExamples from recent decades would have to include Senator Joe McCarthy, who argued that the loss of Eastern Europe and China to the Reds could not reasonably have happened by accident, or by normal political (more…)

Published in: on December 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm  Comments (17)  
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Did a NASA supercomputer prove the Bible?

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NASA proved the Lost Day of Joshua, using a supercomputer! This story surfaces once in a while, and the internet only serves to give it more “credibility” by making it come at the reader from a hundred directions:

So, what happened is, NASA scientists fed all the data of history into a big computer program, and it turned out that there was a day missing. It turns out that NASA proved that the earth stood still for Joshua, and also that a sundial went backwards during the reign of Hezekiah, as recounted in Isaiah 38.

Although the story was long ago discredited, it has arisen again on Facebook. This blogger states it as a fact (click HERE). He implies that NASA covered it up, but provides no evidence. My friend Robert Newman – who has a PhD in astrophysics from Cornell – has a full, detailed study on this rumor and many other articles on the Bible and science (click HERE). He shows that the tale has been circulating since 1890. To repeat, this is not some random idea that I heard from a friend of a friend, you can contact Dr. Newman and ask him for yourself.

DO YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT OTHER CIRCULATING MYTHS? click HERE.

FOR SOME EXCELLENT, WELL-FOUNDED STUDIES
OF THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE, go to http://www.ibri.org

I love God’s Word (and believe in the book of Joshua!), and therefore react when I read long-discredited stories. In fact Stephen Jay Gould, an atheist opponent of our faith, uses the NASA story as an example of how Christians will believe anything we’re told. Let’s look sharp when we hear rumors, and look them up before passing them along! The easiest way to do so is to google something like “Joshua missing day hoax” – if it’s a hoax, you will soon find out.

“Did a NASA supercomputer prove the Bible?” by Gary Shogren, PhD in New Testament, Professor at Seminario ESEPA, San Jose, Costa Rica

14 things your missionaries might like to tell you, but feel inhibited

NOTE: Many thousands have read this little article, thanks so much! May I invite you to share it with your mission board; your friends; sign up for my blog, at right; to read an article about missionary letters;  a recent article on Acts 1:8; and our missionary website where we describe our works as theological educators in Costa Rica.

Let me put on my missionary hat!

When Paul and Barnabas returned home from their journey, they “gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). Your church’s missionaries periodically pay you a brief visit. They will tell you about their successes and failures, and thank you for your support.

 There are things your visiting missionaries might wish to tell you but feel they cannot:

 When we’re visiting you, we haven’t actually “come home.” We live elsewhere, and are temporarily visiting the place where we used to live. Especially for missionary kids, “home” is far from here. We are usually keen to get back to where we belong.

Don’t assume that we are up to date on all the latest U.S. culture.

“So, where was I? Anyway, that was so sad when Billie Dee got hurt. And, AND!…I think that Meryl and Maks might have a little romance going…Well of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead voting for Chelsea…”

We are aware that we look older-heavier-greyer-balder than the last time we passed through town. Everyone at your church does, too, but it’s basic courtesy not to mention it! (more…)

The just shall live BY FATE?

I occasionally visit an English-language church in San José, attended by African-Caribbean believers. For me, their English is harder to understand than most Spanish.

A few months ago, a lady behind me was leading us in prayer, and for a heart-stopping 15 seconds I thought she said that we Christians “live according to Fate.” What in the world…? Then I realized that with her accent the “th” sound comes out as “t” – ah, that’s better, she said that we live according to faith. Phew. One the truth, the other not, and just one letter separating them.

Two philosophies vie for our attention. One is Fatalism, the belief in Fate: qué será, será, whatever will be, will be.

The 3 Fates from Greek myth

And so, for example, a girl asks, Will this boy like me? and her friend answers, “Well, I believe that if it’s meant to be, then it’ll happen.” Into this category of Fate we can also throw other odds and ends: astrology, Mayan Calendars, Nostradamus. But some Christians view the world that way: “If it’s God’s will, it’ll happen, if it’s not, it won’t, so relax, what will be, will be.” Listen, I believe in the Sovereign God, but we sometimes act as if “God’s Will” is binding on God himself. “God cannot act contrary to his will,” to be sure; but that doesn’t mean that his will is a straitjacket.[1] Part of this error is the idea that prayer does not change things, but only changes the attitude of the pray-er to accept what would have happened anyway. More about prayer later (more…)

Where is MY special someone?? [Studies in 1 Corinthians]

The New Testament gives no formula for choosing a husband or wife. Yes, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul speaks to a widow who wishes to marry ‘is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord,’ that is, only if the new husband is a Christian. Apart from that, the instruction that Paul gives in that chapter is directed to very specific questions about singleness and marriage. He does not offer a full set of rules. In short, the apostles are concerned that we marry a Christian and that we live righteously within marriage; they say nothing about how to figure out which Christian to marry. In the first century and in many cultures, it is not the young people who decide on a mate, but rather parents or other members of the family or tribe. In many Latino cultures up to the 20th century the Catholic church required signed permission from both fathers.

The Western church of today adds to the apostolic teaching and at times sets it aside. Christians have adopted a romantic view of marriage that has more to do with 19th century philosophy and Hollywood movies than the New Testament. What comes out is the assumption that there is a special someone for everybody, that you have to find just the right person, that marriage vows are not as important as following your heart.

Despite the single story of Rebecca in Genesis 24:10-21, God never promises in his Word to give us a special revelation to show whom we should marry. (more…)