The name of this blog is from a speech by John Philpot Curran, given in Dublin in 1790.
The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance
said Curran. The shorter form of the original quote is variously attributed to the likes of Wendell Phillips and Thomas Jefferson, but no one really knows who first came up with the exact phrase. Here it is in the Virginia Free Press and Farmers’ Repository, May 2, 1833.
Sadly, the sentinels on the watch-tower slumbered long ago. We’re still not free, we never have been, and likely never will be. Eternal vigilance is a big ask.
Just as well we’re not commies and we never had a first five-year plan!
So what’s the good news?
One issue close to the hearts of libertarians in general and at least two Eternal Vigilance bloggers is cannabis law reform. I’d like to take this opportunity to review the dramatic progress made towards sane, sensible and just cannabis laws in the last 5 years. Not here in New Zealand (not yet), but in the original land of the free, the United States of America.
For example, in Colorado, fatalities and injuries on the road attributed to DUI dropped after legalisation but are trending up again. And, although arrests are down, the racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests hasn’t changed.
These things have occurred. And it is a true adage that, “what has happened once, may happen again.”
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (NIV)
I wonder and worry about what frightful bureaucracies may supplant cannabis prohibition in New Zealand once it is finally driven out.
As is his wont, my King James Bible believing Dispensationalist libertarian Christian co-blogger Tim tagged me in his post (of the above image) on Facebook. 🙂
Be sure to get your doctrine from the Bible, not the traditions of man! (Colossians 2:8)
I really do appreciate the pro-tip. It’s just that there’s a whole lotta problems with this instruction. At least one of which renders Tim’s advice utterly useless!
One problem is that the cited verse, Colossians 2:8, does not even mention the Bible.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (KJV)
See! What this verse is really saying is be sure to get your doctrine from Christ, not the traditions of man! I agree! But let’s be clear. There’s no mention at all of the Bible in this verse. And I’ve made it quite clear in previous blog posts what my view is. It is that Jesus is inerrant, but the Bible isn’t. The Word of God is inerrant. His scribes, not so much. Yes, that’s right. I basically equate the Bible with “the traditions of man”. I don’t equate the Bible with Christ. The Bible as we know it hasn’t even been around a couple of thousand years yet. Whereas
In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (DARBY)
Believe it or not, another problem is that the KJV mistranslates this particular verse. And don’t believe it or do, so does the NIV. But of course! 😉
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV)
See that no one shall be carrying you away as spoil through the philosophy and vain deceit, according to the deliverance of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ (YLT)
It’s clear that “spoiled” is a KJV mistranslation of “spoil”. Yet at least the NIV has the good grace to provide a footnote (see above) to the effect that it has construed “the basic principles” (rudiments) as “the elemental spiritual forces” of this world.
But here’s the fatal flaw with Tim’s advice—be sure to get your doctrine from the Bible, not the traditions of man!—which renders it useless. Which Bible?
Tim’s telling me to be sure to get my doctrine from the Bible, but which one? As we all know, Christians (e.g., Protestants vs. Catholics and Orthodox Christians) can’t even agree on which books belong in the Bible, let alone which translations of the canonical books are themselves canonical.
Which Bible? Tim will, of course, answer the Authorized King James Version of 1611. Which is a fair answer to a fair question. But if I accept this answer, one thing’s for sure. I’m now getting my doctrine from the traditions of man, and from the traditions of one man in particular, viz., my co-blogger Tim Wikiriwhi! And not necessarily from either the true Bible (if, indeed, there even is such a thing) or Christ.
It comes down to this. When all is said and done, we must decide—each of us individually must decide—in what and/or in whom to trust.
I trust in Jesus, the Son of God, whom I know from the first-hand accounts of his ministry by the original gospel authors, from his work in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ, from his work in my own life, and from personal encounter.
I trust in the deliverances of my own God-given moral compass when (not often, just occasionally) they conflict with what’s in the Bible.
So the Bible. What’s it good for?
Why, it’s profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, of course! 🙂
This is #4 in a series of posts on heavy metal and hard rock musicians who weren’t Christians when they started out on their careers but who made the choice to give their lives over to Jesus later down the tracks. (My co-blogger Tim’s already posted about Brian Welch of Korn, the legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Metallica fame.)
Featured musician #4 is Blackie Lawless. He’s the vocalist, rhythm guitarist (formerly bassist) and main songwriter for, and the last remaining original member of, the heavy metal band W.A.S.P. He’s also white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant.
In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Lawless talks about his Christian faith and about religion and the heavy metal and hard rock genre.
You’re talking about a genre that, in general, is obsessed with the idea of God and/or the devil. Jazz, pop, there is no other genre that is absolutely obsessed with it as this genre is.
The Bible tells us, ‘The truth has been placed in the hearts of all men.’ In other words, people know what the truth is. What I see is people in the search of the truth. They’re all on a journey, the people that are attracted to this genre are people who are really a lot more in tune with it than they think they are.
I’m speaking from a direction where I know what I’m talking about. I was in the church until I was in my late teens, and when I left and came to California, I went as far away as you could possibly go. I ended up studying the occult for three years. I understand what they’re looking for — they’re looking for the same thing I’m looking for. I’m at a point now where I’m bilingual: I can speak their language. They can’t necessarily speak my language, but I can understand where they’re coming from.
When we say ‘religion,’ we kind of use that as a general term, and when people have the resistance that they have to it, they have every reason to feel that way. That’s part of what drove me away — the indoctrination of men that I received; it’s man’s indoctrination. Now, from my perspective, my faith is based on Jesus Christ and the Bible — nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t want to hear anybody telling me their ideas or their interpretations or interjections of what they’ve put into the Bible, like telling me I can’t eat meat on Friday, or I got to go and worship somebody’s old dead bones somewhere. That’s not in my Bible. There’s a lot of it. Every organized religion has it, every organized faith has it. That’s not where I’m coming from.
When I left the church and then I studied the occult, I walked around for 20 years and thought I was mad at God. I realized after 20 years I was not mad at God, I was mad at man for that indoctrination I received. For me I had to settle this issue once and for all, because I am not going to walk around with this anxiety of what’s going to happen to me and where I’m going. I got to know the truth. I got the Bible and I started reading and I thought I was going to disprove this thing once and for all.
Everyone says the Bible is written by men, but the Bible says it was men who were directly inspired by God. But I didn’t believe it for a minute. So I start reading and I start discovering and you have 66 books written by 40 different authors spread over three different continents, in three different languages, over a 2,000-year period. Most of the authors did not know each other, had no knowledge of each other, but yet I see consistently that they’re not just answering each other’s questions, they’re finishing each other’s sentences. It was mind-boggling, the deeper I got into it, and one day it hit me like a shot. I’m reading the living word of a living God. After that, I was just scratching the surface. Then, when you get even deeper into it, it’s beyond comprehension.
I cannot say it strongly enough. It is beyond impossible that it could’ve been written by men. I’m a writer, and even the writers that I know that I admire, I look at how we write, I know what our limitations are, and, like I said, it’s so far beyond our comprehension.
(Apart from the bit where he’s a rock star) I have much in common with Blackie Lawless. 🙂
I share his view that all too often “when people have the resistance that they have to [religion], they have every reason to feel that way.” Lawless says that he was driven away from Jesus by “the indoctrination of men” that he received in his youth. I can tell a similar story about the off-putting beliefs and behaviour of proselytisers in my own past. As can others I know. A friend on Facebook says
I stopped going to church in my late teens after being exposed to too much conservative fundamentalist theology. If this was Christianity, I didn’t want to know about it.
It took me 20 years to find my way back.
[T]he sad reality [is] that sometimes people who claim to speak for God make a very bad impression on people and it can turn them right off.
This has happened to many people. Myself included.
I found my way back. But many don’t.
[T]he same attitudes and behaviours that drove me away are still driving other people away. And this is no good for them. And no good for the Church, which is the Body of the Christ in the world.
More about me and Blackie another day maybe. 🙂
Meanwhile, here’s the opening track from W.A.S.P.’s new album Golgotha.
Jesus is the Word, and the Word clearly says that the most important rules in life are to love God and to love others.
Then one of [the Pharisees], which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
I’m an abject sinner. Nonetheless, I do try to do what’s right. In fact, I’ve mostly always tried to do what’s right. Even before I turned to Christ. You see, I have an inbuilt moral compass. A God-given moral compass. God is the font of morality.
Just as we all have an inbuilt knowledge of God, so, too, we all have an inbuilt moral compass. What is a moral compass, exactly? The term ‘moral compass’ is shorthand for a set of moral sentiments, certain basic moral beliefs and the ability to engage in moral deliberation. And empathy. Hence the Golden Rule.
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. (ESV)
Your moral compasss is kind of like a speedometer in a car. If you’re trying to keep to the speed limit (as, of course, you should) then respect what your speedometer tells you.
We’re all supposed to have a God-given moral compass, one that points due moral north. Just in case it’s a bit broken and wavery, our parents are supposed to teach us right from wrong.
Not all parents are perfect, however. As a result of imperfect parenting, sometimes our children turn out to be gluttonous, stubborn, rebellious drunkards, who curse us.
Sometimes our children even commit heinous crimes and end up in jail.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them. (ESV)
As parents, we stand by our children. We love them, no matter what. At least, that’s what most parents do or would do and it’s what my moral compass tells me is how parents should treat their prodigal offspring. (I’m lucky in that my own children are model citizens. 🙂 )
But certain passages in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch) tell an entirely different story.
For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him. (ESV)
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (ESV)
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (ESV)
I wish that others wouldn’t batter me with rubble.
I was once a stubborn and rebellious son who didn’t obey the voice of his father. Had I been stoned to death with stones by all the men of the city I wouldn’t be writing this here today. Luckily all that happened was an interview with my school headmaster. Hang all the Law and the Prophets!
When my moral compass and the Torah collide, I follow Jesus.
How could it ever all be otherwise?
There is no place in our philosophies
For Christ, as when His story did begin
At Nazareth there was no room at the Inn.
If He could come and force us to fulfil
His Law, which now we play with as we will,
So that we did those things humane and true
Our Churches tell us that we ought to do
(Setting us no example), all our scheme
Of being would unravel like a dream,
The gauds that please us now we should despise,
Nor tread each other down that we might rise,
Religion, business, politics would preen
Their leprosies away and be made clean:
So, loving one another more and more,
How could we bear to see our brethren poor—
How, if the great were brother to the least,
Leave them a-cold and hungry while we feast?
It is far better He should only be
A tale we need not take too seriously,
An Ideal throned above our fallen state
For us to worship, not imitate.
The great Reality we praise in prayers
Could ne’er be fitted into our affairs;
If It came down, we must in self-defence
Reject It, and restrain Its influence,
Harden our hearts, and warn It from our bowers
With, “No admittance during business hours.”
When a blithe infant, lapt in careless joy,
Sports with a woollen lion—if the toy
Should come to life, the child, so direly crost,
Faced with this Actuality were lost. …
Leave us our toys, then; happier we shall stay
While they remain but toys and we can play
With them and do with them as suits us best;
Reality would add to our unrest,
Disturb our game, our pleasures intermit—
We could not play with It! …
We want no living Christ, whose truth intense
Pretends to no belief in our pretence
And, flashing on all folly and deceit,
Would blast our world to ashes at His feet.
Since if he came, a presence to be seen,
We could not hide our hearts from His serene
Regard and play with Him and His decree,
We do but ask to see
No more of Him below than is displayed
In the dead plaything our own hands have made
To lull our fears and comfort us in loss—
The wooden Christ upon a wooden Cross!
I missed the deadline for an Easter Sunday blog post, partly because, unlike Jesus, I’m not an early riser, and partly because I got a bit carried away studying scripture. I might have to lay off the Bible study for a while, because I’m starting to see things that aren’t really there. Or are they? Incipient psychosis or hidden meanings in scripture?
So I was listening to my favourite metal band, Slayer. In particular I was listening to my favourite track on their Christ Illusion album, Skeleton Christ. And reading the lyrics. And I got to wondering, is Slayer, in fact, a crypto-Christian band and their lyrics also the product of supernatural engineering?
Psychosis. That’s what you’re thinking. But bear with me. The idea is not as crazy as it might at first seem. A strong case can be made that the band who gave birth to the entire heavy metal genre, Black Sabbath, was the first Christian rock band. If Black Sabbath is a crypto-Christian band, then why not too the undisputed (by me) masters of the genre, Slayer?
Here’s a verse from the Second Epistle of John.
many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (NIV)
And here’s an excerpt from the lyrics to Skeleton Christ.
You’ll never touch God’s hand
You’ll never taste God’s breath
Because you’ll never see the Second Coming
It’s all a fuckin’ mockery
No grasp upon reality
It’s mind control for compulsory religion
And the Skeleton Christ
What if this song is not the attack on Christianity it superficially appears to be, but an attack on corrupt organised religion (“mind control for compulsory religion”) and the false gospel of the antichrist and those he’s deceived into worshipping a false Skeleton Christ? A skeleton, you see, is not “coming in the flesh”, it’s all dead bones, such as you might find in a whited sepulchre. It’s worth a thought, don’t you think? Feel free to take it cum grano salis.
Speaking of sepulchres, back to the main story.
I got to pondering the symbolism of stone in the Bible, and found this verse.
Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ (NIV)
You see where I’m going with this? Jesus is the stone. It’s no wonder the women couldn’t find Jesus in the tomb. He’d been rolled away! But by whom?
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. (NIV)
Please understand that I do not deny that it was “an angel of the Lord came down from heaven” who rolled away the stone. That is the plain meaning of this passage from the Gospel of Matthew.
But please do consider the possible hidden meaning in the possible alternative scenario I’m sketching.
Who would roll Jesus out of the way, so that his own disciples couldn’t find him, finding instead a decaying soon-to-be-Skeleton Christ? One of the Devil’s angels, for sure, if not the Devil himself.
Here are a couple of clues.
[Jesus] replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (NIV)
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (NIV)
The angel’s appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow … like an angel of light or, indeed, Jesus himself transfigured. And, in a final coup de disgrâce, the angel then sits on the stone, making the Devil’s most feared enemy a buttstool for his sulfurous butt.
It’s a complete inversion of Bible truth. Which is, of course, the Devil’s calling card.
Beware of false prophets and false messiahs. And the Skeleton Christ.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
“Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him. (NIV)
Does Jesus contradict himself?
Very well, then, he contradicts himself. (He has loaves and fishes, he feeds multitudes.)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (NIV)