Sixteen Precepts for Attaining Knowledge

Thomas Aquinas, a rather intelligent individual, was once asked how one should go about attaining knowledge. Here are his 16 pointers, all worthy of reflection. Keep in mind he was a monk with all stereotypical monkish behaviors. Not sure you need to go to that level, but in general, there is sound wisdom here.

1. Advance up the streams, and do not all at once plunge into the deep: such is my caution, and your lesson.

I bid you to

2. Be cautious of speech,

3. Slower still in frequenting places of talk:

4. Embrace purity of conscience,

5. Pray unceasingly,

6. Love to keep to your cell if you wish to be admitted into the mystic wine-cellar.

7. Show yourself genial to all:

8. Pay no heed to other folk’s affairs:

9. Be not over-familiar with any person, because over-much familiarity breeds contempt, and gives occasion to distraction from study.

10. On no account mix yourself up with the sayings and the doings of persons in the outside world.

11. Most of all, avoid all useless visits, but try rather to walk constantly in the footsteps of good and holy men.

12. Never mind from whom the lesson drops, but

13. Commit to memory whatever useful advice may be uttered.

14. Give an account to yourself of your every word and action:

15. See that you understand what you hear, and never leave a doubt unsolved:

16. Lay up all you can in the storehouse of memory, as he does who wants to fill a vase. ‘Seek not the things which are beyond thee’.

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Limited Atonement and Loving Your Enemies

If Limited Atonement (Christ only died for the elect) is true, then God does not love His enemies.

When God tells us to love our enemies, He is asking us to do something more than He did. He’s calling us to a higher morality than His own.

If we did love our enemies, our love and morality would be of a nobler quality, thus making us better than God.

You either conclude that, or you conclude that Limited Atonement is in error and God is calling us to be like Him, who loved His enemies and laid down His life for them.

Praying for Geographical Regions

Every time there is a natural disaster, and there is a new one at least once a day, we are told to pray for the place where it happened.

Pray for Houston
Pray for Texas
Pray for Florida

It just got me thinking: Why? What does this mean? Where does praying for a geographical region come from?

I’m honestly not trying to be snide here. I’m trying to understand something. Getting to the root. In no way am I trying to encourage people to pray less!

The closest thing I can see from Scripture is Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Mixed in with this psalm is a longing for The Kingdom and the Davidic promises fulfilled. “Peace in Jerusalem” means the Messiah came. It’s a longing for Messiah, not some sort of generic prayer for a geographic region.

Every other usage of “pray for” in the Bible is directed at people. No doubt “Pray for Houston” means pray for people in Houston. But then again, I don’t pretend to know what any Christian means by any of the words they use.

There is an idea within Christianity that the more people who pray for something, the more likely it is to occur. People assume that if so many people pray the same thing, God will hear the prayer and act.

I have no idea where this is from Biblically. The closest I can come is that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, so your odds of getting one of those to pray increases with the more people who pray!

Other than that, I see nothing in the Bible that if Christians all agreed to pray really hard for some geographical location that disasters would go extinct there.

The Bible is pretty clear that disasters happen to the righteous and the unrighteous. Time and chance happens to them all.

Again, I’m not telling you not to pray! We don’t pray enough as it is. I’m rather encouraging people to pray more specifically. Pray for the church in Houston, for specific believers there, to show the love of Christ. Pray for people you actually know who are affected.

Quite frankly, I don’t normally pray for places where I don’t know anyone. I’m not telling you to follow my example, I just have a hard time throwing out a general request for a general group of people that I’ll never know if it was answered because I’m not even sure what I actually requested!

More than likely, if you don’t know anyone in the affected area, you’ve moved on to the next geographical location and the latest disaster the news decides to cover, leaving last week’s disaster survivors on their own.

It is ironic that the only disasters we pray for are the ones the news tells us about. There are disasters happening on your street, few of which will be on the news. Why not pray locally more?

Remember James’ warning that saying nice things for someone without doing anything to help is worthless. How can you be doing this for every geographical region the news tells you a disaster happened in?

Also wondering how plastering #PrayForSomeplace all over the internet is consistent with that whole pray in your closet and don’t let others know what you’re up to command. When you post this, are you actually praying, or are you virtue signalling? But alas, I imagine I’ve stepped in it enough for one day.

Anyway, not trying to be obnoxious. Just thinking a thing through. Pray. Pray more. Then pray some more. At some point it’s helpful to pray for something you actually know about and can help. Don’t let your prayers be driven by the news; let it be driven by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.

I’m willing to be wrong. Any verses I’m missing on the issue?

Is the Bible Inspired? Decide and Act Accordingly

Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
–Satan, in Genesis 3:1

This is the first temptation that led to the first sin.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Each generation has their moment of temptation, the Big Cause, the newest sin du jour, that makes people question “hath God said?”

People have spent most of human history ignoring God. When they do hear Him, they get busy figuring out how to circumvent His words and yet still feel “religious.”

The best way to excuse your sin is to ask “hath God said?”

Attacking the integrity of the Bible is a fundamental step to okaying sin.

Most of these attacks go like this:

The Bible is a collection of ancient truths that worked in that day. But their societies were backward, their authors were tainted, and we know better now.

The underlying assumption behind not listening to the Bible is that it was written by people and you can’t trust people.

I agree we can’t trust people. One of the reasons I don’t trust people is because of how much irony they miss.

People say we can’t trust the Bible because it was written by people and people are untrustworthy.

If we can’t listen to people, why would I listen to people’s attacks on the Bible?

Most attacks on the Bible exist to OK a sin that modern people don’t want to call sin anymore.

But why use the Bible at all then? What other biblical passages will future generations discover are outdated or wrong?

If the Bible can be changed due to societal demands, why bother with it?

People who question the authority of the Scripture should just be honest and chuck the whole thing. Bashing the Bible, yet paying it lip-service, is probably called being “lukewarm.”

Make your call. Are you in or out? Is the Bible inspired or not?

That’s the ultimate question.

If it’s not; then leave it alone and carry on.

If it is; adjust accordingly.

How to Get Politicians to End Legal Abortion

Politicians are primarily motivated by getting votes. When they keep their jobs with your votes, they make money. To get your vote, they give you other people’s money.

A politician will magically appear to grant any wish, as long as you rub their bottle with a vote.

Abortion has been legally killing American humans for over 40 years.

Many efforts have been made to stop abortion, yet it continues. Voting has us in a stalemate. Vying living people can’t settle the matter, and politicians/Americans are not motivated by morality (if they were, abortion never would have become a political issue).

Democrats and Republicans both seem inept at ending this mass slaughter.

Here’s why: fetuses don’t vote.

Politicians don’t care about the unborn because they can’t use the unborn for anything. I think this is the main reason euthanasia is not an American thing: don’t kill old people; they actually vote!

Here are two possible ways to get politicians to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  1. Give fetuses the right to vote.
    This obviously presents a challenge: how do you discern how a fetus is voting? I don’t know, but certainly a way can be devised. Quite frankly, it doesn’t even matter, they just need to have the semblance of voting. If nothing else, you could give pregnant mom’s two votes. Say they have more voting power to make up for obvious male oppression, and everyone will be happy.
  2. Tax birth.
    I am fundamentally against more taxes, but this seems like a good one. If each of us owed a $10,000 Birth Tax to be paid gradually over our working life, politicians would end abortion immediately.

Either of these options has a good chance of working. The system is corrupted. We need to use the materialistic bent running our nation. Nothing we’re doing now is working, might as well try something new.

Some Short Observations on Modern “Culture”

–We now live in a time when parents are shooting their kids full of hormones so they can “change genders,” while simultaneously protesting the injection of hormones into cows and chickens served for dinner.

–If it is true that anti-abortion Conservatives “care about babies before they’re born and not after,” then isn’t it also true, by that same logic, that abortion-supporting Liberals kill babies before so they don’t have to care after?

–Parents have taken it upon themselves to be their kids’ friends, not authority figures, not people who make rules and enforce them. It’s all but impossible for a kid to rebel today since society so readily approves of all their trying-to-be-rebellious sin. Since there are no longer any human standards to rebel against, kids are now rebelling against biology.

–The two main arguments atheists use against God are:
1) How can a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t God do anything to restrain evil?
2) How come the God of the Old Testament is so angry about evil and judging evil people all the time?
They see no contradiction in these criticisms of God. I do and I’m pretty sure God does too. The point of these arguments is: no matter what God does; people don’t like it.

–Everyone keeps saying they want the truth, no more fake news. What Liberals mean by this is “shut up the Conservatives!” What Conservatives mean by this is “shut up the Liberals.” In the end, neither side wants the truth. Both sides want the other side to shut up so they can control power.

–More and more sins are being chalked up as diseases. C. S. Lewis once pointed out that the more people view sins as diseases; the more our diseases will become sin. We are already suggesting people with handicapped “fetuses” should abort. At what point in our healthcare crisis will we get tired of paying for other people being sick? Sick people are good for nothing, just draining the system. If Lewis is right, it won’t be long before being diseased is viewed as sin.

–How many times have you watched a news report about a tragedy, only to find out later, all that they said was wrong? You should not watch or pay attention to the news. The immediate reporting of news begs for misinformation. History gives context. Even waiting a week will benefit you greatly. Everything needs context to make sense. Wait for context before freaking out.

3 Kinds of Works Christians Argue Over

Works have long been a source of argument among Christians. “What place do works have in salvation?” is generally the question that gets Christians at each others throats, which is wonderfully ironic.

One of the sources for the incessant arguing is a confusion of definitions.

When Christians talk about “works,” I have discovered there are at least three different things they are talking about.

  1. Works of the Law
    When Paul speaks about salvation being by faith and not works, he’s referring to works of the law: circumcision, Sabbath keeping, food laws, etc. “No flesh is justified by deeds of the law” is Paul’s main point. The law can’t save and was never intended to save anyone. The Law was given as a covenant between God and Israel to stay in their Promised Land. If there was a law that could give life, then Christ died in vain. I am all for people who maintain that salvation is not by works of the law.
  2. Works of Religion
    Other Christians are talking about religious ritual when they talk about works. These kinds of works are “things you do in church.” These works include: baptism, communion, catechism, confession, etc. The Catholic Church tends to stress these. When Luther was against works and said salvation was by faith alone, he was primarily talking about Catholic works of penance. These works are not anything that helps anyone else, but rather stuff you do to make yourself have a better standing before God, in your mind. I am all for people who maintain that salvation is not by works of religion.
  3. Works of Love
    The New Testament says Christians are supposed to do works and there are several passages that flat-out say that a lack of works means no faith. “Works” in these passages are not works of the law, nor are they works of religion. When the Bible speaks positively of works (which it does frequently), it is talking about loving acts for others. When James says “Faith without works is dead,” the works he refers to are fulfilling the Royal Law, love your neighbor as yourself. As Paul says, “faith works by love.” If I do all kinds of works but have not love, it profits me nothing. I am all for people who maintain that salvation goes hand-in-hand with people who do loving works.

Works can be either good or bad. Good works are always things done to reflect the love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We show our salvation, our new birth, our new creation in Christ Jesus, by demonstrating His love to those around us.

If these new works of love are not a growing part of who you are, you should have zero assurance of salvation. How do you know Christ is in you, unless Christ is living through you?

Works of the law and works of religion result in self-righteousness, pride, and judgmentalism. Works of love forget self and seek to please your neighbor for his good to edification. As we do to the least of these, we do to Christ.

Love is the good works the Bible wants you to do. Faith works by love. If love is not working out of you, then faith is not in you.