Friday, March 5, 2021

Toxic Misotheists, Being Alpha, and the Bible - Part 1

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This is one of my more unusual articles, and it is difficult to categorize because there are several subjects involved. They may seem contradictory at first, but stay with me. Like my prospector friend Stormie Waters says, "See how it all pans out".

There are people in our lives that manipulate us and sap our energy. Many misotheists are often narcissistic, and are more dangerous than others.
Credit: Flickr / Subharnab Majumdar (CC BY 2.0)

It has a strange beginning that involved riding off on side trails and ending up a long way from where I had intended. It happens to many people on the internet, especially when they are not under an immediate deadline. "You may also like..." can bushwhack productivity.

Being the Robust He-Man that I Am

When you're done laughing, I want to tell you that I never viewed myself as an "alpha male". In nature, that is the dominant male in a group, and it involves mating, fending off challenges from other males, and being watchful to help protect the group. There are human males who want "alpha male" traits to be the man who stands out in the crowd, has friends, gets all the women he wants, and so on. There are shades of Darwinism in this. Think about it: Evolutionists say we are animals, so it is fitting to act like them. Or not, when it's inconvenient. Darwinian thinking is flexible that way.

There were several video channels I came across that had coaching on how to be the alpha male, and had things to sell so a man can become a better he-man. Some of the videos had some useful information, and I even realized some mistakes that I am making in my life. Many were interesting from a psychological point of view. What really struck me was that they tacitly agreed with biblical teachings in some places, but for the most part were contrary to Scripture — especially the parts about loving yourself and how you can't love anyone else until you do that. Many were emphasizing how to recognize and deal with harmful people so we can live our best lives. Yes, but...

Toxic People in our Lives

Terms like toxic relationships and toxic people are not exactly common in psychology textbooks, and they were unknown a few years ago. Still, they are apt descriptors. Such people infest our lives, whether at the workplace, social media, friends, family, neighbors, or just about anywhere. Toxies do not have your best interests at heart.

Most of us desire to help others, be liked or even loved, and these people key in on those things. They are very manipulative (especially those discussed later), and we can find ourselves giving them control over our lives before we realize what's happening. They come in various stripes: some are charismatic, others intimidating, and so on.

Looks good, but toxic
Credit: Pixnio (public domain)

Most people want to be loved (or at least liked), that's a given. We interact with each other in give-and-take situations. It feels good to receive, and it is often pleasant to do the giving. Toxies use the good part of our nature to manipulate us. This may not be deliberate, but can come from personality disorders, mental illness, unhealthy influences in their own lives, and so on.

These harmful people may smile to your face, but are using you for their own advantage. This may not necessarily be for material gain, but is often emotional. They "care" about you in that it helps them feel better about themselves. Sometimes this is because they put you down in order to build themselves up, or they get other dopamine advantages by using you.

Quick tip: While we want to be nice and helpful, they stay around people they use. When we refuse to let them manipulate us into doing things for them all the time, we are not helping them because they desire that dependency. Also, they are very resistant to the gospel message because they don't think there's anything wrong with them, no reason to repent. But the Holy Spirit can work in them.

One guy said that we let them "keep us in our heads" so we don't live our lives and express our views. This is also an opportunity to examine ourselves to see what we expect to gain from having harmful people in our lives. Validation? Permission to be ourselves? Mayhaps we think they have higher value than us. That's harmful, old son.

I came across some alpha male coaching videos as well as some by women who say that we do not need to live our lives on other people's terms

Screenshot from Facebook posted on Instagram
(Used under Fair Use provisions for educational purposes)

Sometimes we are unable to say no to requests or demands from toxies. We can be fearful of being negatively judged, but giving in can make us over-extended and increase our stress levels. Important things to which we have committed may be left undone or are incomplete. Decent people do their best to keep their word, but we may break our promises. More stress, more mental and emotional draining.

People who respect and value us will think and even expect the best of us. I have to indulge in a bit of self praise here. A woman came to our door and accused my wife of cheating with her boyfriend. I instantly said that there was no way. When she said my wife is a "lying b**ch", I slammed the door so hard, it damaged the metal frame. It turns out that the "other woman" had a similar name to my wife's name. The unpleasant woman offered no apologies. The door frame is still damaged.

Sometimes, especially in moments (lifetimes?) of low self-esteem, we try too hard to please others — especially those that are not invested in our lives and don't care about our well being. Healthy self-esteem is good, bad self-esteem is very harmful, and some folks use building their self-esteem as a manipulative tool. They are actually idolizing pride and self

True friends as well as good supervisors will encourage and believe in us. (One supervisor I had would tear me down when I would say that I was getting the hang of a certain aspect of the job. Instead of encouragement, he would point out my other shortcomings, real or exaggerated.) I'll allow that sometimes there's a fine line between influencie and encouragement as opposed to manipulation. It seems that manipulation is based on bad motives, including the other person's enrichment.

In one of the videos by Ashley Berges, she mentioned forgiving the other people in addition to setting up boundaries, and even removing harmful people from our lives. Indeed, we should forgive ourselves for allowing manipulations to occur and letting them get control of our lives. Then we try to improve so that we won't fall prey to those people in the future.​​​

Asking Permission

A phrase making the rounds on social media is, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Sometimes the phrase is a mite longer. It is falsely attributed to Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss), but there is some truth in it.

Variation on a theme, but very important: If you don't care about someone's opinion, they have less power over you. This works when someone is attempting to demean you. In fact, it irritates them when you don't defend yourself and take the bait on an personal attack. It makes it harder to bring you down to their level and get attention.

More importantly, I am a Bible-believing Christian, biblical creationist, politically Conservative, supporting the Second Amendment, heterosexual, and male. Those things make me "evil" to some people, but that's too bad for them. I am not living to please the crowd and don't seek permission to be who I am.

One place I have this problem is in my writing. While I seek to glorify God and edify the saints, I can also become timorous. For example, I wanted to embed a song by Black Sabbath in an article that would have complemented it. But people may not like me anymore! Instead of praying about it, I fearfully sought advice and ended up apologetically linking to it. That may have been the right choice because I don't want to make a brother or sister in Christ stumble, even though I don't need those petty people who would judge me in their sanctimonious pride. Well, another motto I have is, "When in doubt, go without".

Note that standing up for yourself is not an excuse for being rude.

Never Argue with a Narcissist

If I recollect rightly, my original search was about narcissism. While that word is bandied about to describe people who are vain and seem to have an inordinate fondness for themselves, the real problem is narcissism personality disorder. These people are very taxing, and it is best to keep them out of our lives whenever possible. If we cannot, we need to minimize their damaging effects, such as discussed in this video.

Up a level from the personality disorder is the narcissistic sociopath. These people are actually dangerous. Although they are capable of violence, those that walk among us are harmful to our mental health. They have some similarities to "psychic (or energy) vampires". (While some people take a notion to make that a supernatural thing, it refers to how such people sap your mental and emotional energies.) Psychopaths and sociopaths have traits in common, and need to be avoided whenever possible.

Unfortunately, kind-hearted people are their targets. Narcissists and various sociopath types seem to sense the people who will be their long-term victims. Some people want to help these needy sociopaths, even if they hurt themselves in the process. This can happen by making excessive commitments — and having their priorities hijacked. Too late, they realize that their "friend" is a narcissist or sociopath. Or both.

By the way, don't offer psychological analysis. Saying, "You're doing this because..." makes you look petty, and besides, toxies are not interested. Indeed, we can lose ourselves when trying to "save" people who don't think they need help.

We'll end this part now. I'd be much obliged if you'd come back for the conclusion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

God Continues Creating

The immediate reaction from some people would be that God stopped his creation work, as stated in Gen. 2:2, Ex. 20:11 and 31:17. It may be surprising to learn that God is still creating today, but in a different way than he did in the beginning.

It may surprise many, but the answer to  the question of God still creating today is a decisive no - and yes. New things are important to Christians.
Credit: Photos Public Domain
This is not like some owlhoots who say God is still creating today through theistic evolution. No, he didn't transform a pre-Adamite group of subhumans by giving them souls in a mangled metaphor of Genesis. There are certain acts of creation that are still happening today. God created both man and animals with nephesh, which means life or soul (see "Brain and Body are not the Soul" for more in-depth material that also refutes naturalistic claims). He is not creating new stuff like he did during creation week, but makes some things out what already exists. Then there's the news in 2 Cor. 5:17 that is so important to Christians.
But didn’t God rest from His creation work on Day Seven? The correct answer would be “yes” . . . 

To appreciate the specific ex nihilo creation works3 God has done for every believer in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to review the usage of the verb “create” in both the Old and New Testaments. (This review only concerns humans, so God’s creation of nephesh-life for animals in Genesis 1:21 will not be analyzed in this article.) An exhaustive review of the relevant verses reveals four specific creation works that together define the created life of each Christian living today:

To read this article in its entirety, see "'New from Nothing': Is God Still Creating Today?"

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

After Question Evolution Day — The Narrow Path to Creation

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

February 12 was the 10th annual Question Evolution Day, an event in which almost anyone can participate. People may object, thinking that origins is an academic issue. Some even think that there is a message of hope in evolution, but that is the opposite of the truth.

People get excited and make commitments, but then grow cold. Creation science enthusiasm and the Parable of the Sower are considered.
Image for the 10th annual Question Evolution Day by Why?Outreach
Seekers after the truth become excited after attending seminars, reading articles and books, watching videos, and so forth about how recent creation affirms the Bible and refutes evolution. Then many lose their enthusiasm. Indeed, people were excited about QED and promised to get involved, but failed to keep their promises (there were some, however, that did their part, and even more. I am grateful to them.) There are parallels in the Bible to consider.

What Kind of Soil?

While the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15) is about people who hear and receive the word of the Kingdom, similarities between enthusiasm for Question Evolution Day and the creation message can be seen. People listen to the truth, but the devil snatches it away from them. There are others who are excited to share the biblical creation science message, but have no root and fall away when challenged by seemingly reasonable evolutionary claims. Another group will hear the message but are more concerned with other things, so they do not learn and grow in this area. The last group is excited, perseveres, learns the material, and the people grow in it. Like the Christian life itself, learning and standing up for the truth of creation requires dedication, perseverance, and obtaining solid teaching. Biblical creation science upholds good theology.

Biblical History

Rejecting observed truth goes all the way back to Adam. Both Adam and Eve were perfect and had not only seen the glory of the original creation, but had also spoken with God as well (Gen. 2:16). Even so, they listened to the serpent and rebelled against the truth that they already knew (Gen. 3:1-13).

Moving forward, the Israelis had prospered in Egypt until they were enslaved. God heard their cries for deliverance and sent Moses. Israel was delivered out of Egypt, led by the Lord with a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke (Ex. 13:21-22). They saw the miraculous parting of the sea (Ex. 14:21-22) and the drowning of the pursuing Egyptian army (Ex. 14:28). Even after these experiences, the Israelis "got up to play" by indulging in immorality and idolatry (Ex. 32:1, 6) — while Moses was still on the mountain talking with the Lord! Sometime afterward, they were punished for their disobedience, Korah had the notion to rebel against Moses and Aaron (God's appointed leaders). It did not go well (Num. 16:31-35).

In the New Testament, many disciples who had seen and experienced the feeding of the 5,000 were offended at the words of Jesus and turned away (John 6:66). Indeed, the Twelve had seen and participated in miracles and the teachings of Christ, but Judas betrayed Him (Luke 22:47-48), Peter denied Him (Matt. 26:75), and the rest ran away (Matt. 26:56).

Later, we read that false teachers would arise and deceive Christians. Jesus warned that false teachers would come (Luke 22:8). In Jude 1:7-11, Jude hearkens back to the rebellion of Israel and likens false teachers to the rebellion of Korah. Peter spent a great deal of time warning against false teachers (such as in 2 Peter 2:1-3 and following). Much of the epistle of 1 John is written as a warning against Gnostic heresies.

Applications for Today

Question Evolution Day was something that I initiated and put a great deal of time, effort, and heart into. It was intended to take off by its lonesome, but I've helped it along for all this time. If it dies out, it's not from lack of effort. One major reason is apathy on the part of Christians.

In case someone wants to assert that we claim that belief in recent creation is a requirement to be saved, well, that is the opposite of the truth. Remember, we are considering how some people get excited and then wander away for various reasons.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14, NASB)
Using the narrow path as well as the Parable of the Sower, the similarities become quite clear. To be blunt, spiritual things are not exciting or entertaining to fleshly desires. In addition, the study of origins is not entirely about evidence. (If it were, then Darwinism would have been plopped alongside the dusty trail decades ago.) Instead, the study of origins is a spiritual matter — very important one.

Many believers in dust-to-Darwin evolution have been conditioned in what to think, knowing naturalistic paradigms. Add to this the facts that the god of this world has blinded the eyes of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4) and they are unable to understand deeper spiritual matters (1 Cor. 2:14). These problems are compounded by the drift away from not only biblical authority, but from truth and reality in postmodernism (Phil Johnson has an MP3 titled, "A Beginner's Guide to Postmodernism" linked at the bottom of this post.). Christians on the narrow path are to uphold the truth. We must not treat unbelievers poorly, but remember that presenting biblical creation in the right way is honoring to God.

I have to remind myself of these things after the apparent failure of what I had hoped would be the biggest Question Evolution Day yet. I had thought that being a nobody was an advantage, that people could make things happen at a grass-roots level, but apparently this needed creationist celebrity support. Broken promises and apathy on the part of Christians are distressing. Not just because of QED, but I have seen indications that there is far too much country club Christianity. That is, there carnal Christians as well as CINOs (Christians In Name Only) who may not even know the Lord and need to examine their faith. These types of professing Christians are in a dangerous place.

One major problem is that modern society and social media contribute to short attention spans. Captioned pictures do not equip people to defend the gospel or refute evolution, pilgrim. It is necessary to become rooted, first and foremost in the Word of God, and also in biblical creation teachings. That way, people can be knowledgeable as well as enthusiastic when sharing material.

If someone sees flaws in my theology, I want to know. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Augustine Did Not Support Old-Earth Views

There are professing Christians who falsely claim that the church fathers believed that the earth was far older than Scripture indicates, and that biblical (young age) creationists are wrong. It would be a mighty big help if they did their homework on people like Augustine.

Professing Christians who claim that Augustine and other church fathers should do their homework. They dishonestly claim that those were old-earthers.
St. Augustine in his Study, Sandro Botticelli, 1490
It is important to note that Augustine did not consider his writings to be sacred writ, his views changed in some areas, and he freely admitted that his understanding was imperfect. It did not help matters much that he was unskilled in Hebrew and Greek, and he had access to weak Bible translations. He believed that everything was created in an instant (he should have consulted Exodus 20:11, 31:17). Old-earthers must reject the global Flood as well. While Augustine was in no wise a young-earth creationist as we understand the term, claims that he believed like the pagans that Earth was far older are disingenuous.
Old-earthers claim Augustine as support for figurative interpretations of Genesis 1. But what did Augustine really say? In the video series The Great Debate (watch | buy), AiG’s Ken Ham, Jason Lisle, debate astronomer Hugh Ross (of Reasons to Believe) and Bible scholar Walter Kaiser (of Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary). Both of the latter are Christians who believe that the creation is billions of years old. The debate series was hosted by old-earth proponent John Ankerberg on his television show in early 2006.

On AiG’s DVD release of the debate, AiG historian of geology Terry Mortenson offered extensive commentary from a young-earth creationist perspective. The following article is rooted in Dr. Mortenson’s commentary on Ross’s and Kaiser’s appeal to Augustine in defending old-earth ideas.

This may seem like a study for academics, but it is both interesting and relevant. To finish reading, see "Augustine on the Days of Creation". 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Trusting God in Apologetics

There are Christians who are excited about using apologetics to defend and present the faith, and there are others who think that is a job for experts. All Christians are commanded to present the faith (2 Cor. 10:5, Col. 4:5-6, 1 Peter 3:15, Acts 17:22-31), but some are called to be more intense with it. And "tense" can apply to many of us.

While all Christians are called to do apologetics, we can lose sight of the fact that God is our Father. We do our part, relax and trust in him.
Mostly made at The Keep-Calm-O-Matic using an image from NASA
(Usage of images does not imply endorsement of site contents by anyone)
It is indeed unfortunate that some are intent on winning arguments rather than helping the lost come to Christ. Similarly, we can expend mental energy trying to analyze (and sometimes rehash) situations so we can give the most devastating arguments. Yes, by all means, do the best you can. Sometimes we may feel that we botched it. That happens. However, convicting of sin and saving people is the work of the Holy Spirit; we do not do the saving.

It is not up to our brilliance (1 Cor. 2:1-5), which can lead to pride. I was associated with someone who became full of pride, and it seemed like he was constantly promoting himself and seeking his glory (a problem we must constantly guard against), hawking his self-published apologetics booklet.

We need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), and remember that God is our Father. We have a relationship with him, not a high-power position in a cutthroat business. We need to trust God in all things. You savvy? I hope this article will minister to all of us.
Apologetics is a broad and deep subject. Since it has such deep spiritual ramifications, its easy to understand how the study of apologetics can become an all-consuming endeavor for some. However, this is not without its potential pitfalls. An example my pastor gave in a sermon recently really struck a chord with me, and I want to relate it for you (my own paraphrase, not my pastor’s):

Read the rest of this short but helpful article at "Apologetics—a steppingstone, not a crutch".

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Distinguishing Between "Make" and "Create" in Genesis 1

There are some professing Christians who insist on finding ways of adding long ages into the Bible, but they ignore the context. While the context is frequently the surrounding verses, it can also mean culture, languages, and more. We look now at make and create.

Credit: Freeimages / Fernanda Ferrari
Those owlhoots have attempted to bushwhack the plain meaning of Scripture by saying that they are different aspects of creation, and that make means using material that was already created. Their eisegesis becomes heinous when their alleged distinction is used to give them license to add millions of years. Some even try to shove evolution into the picture. It won't work, especially when the greater context includes the New Testament.
Many people who have written on Genesis 1 have attempted to make a very significant distinction between two Hebrew words found there: bara (בָּרָא, to create) and asah (עָשָׂה, to make or do). Theistic evolutionists (TEs) and old-earth creationists (OECs) both accept the millions of years advocated by the scientific establishment (although the OECs do not accept neo-Darwinian evolution while TEs do). They sometimes try to defend the acceptance of millions of years by saying that bara refers to supernatural creation ex nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”) but that asah means to make out of pre-existing material and therefore allows for creation over a long period of time.

This article should prove helpful when encountering people who use these words for long ages. To read the rest (you may want to bookmark it), head on over to "Understanding Genesis 1 Hebrew: Create (bara) & Make (asah)".

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Secularists Using Dinosaurs to Indoctrinate Children

Now there is a provocative title! Believers in an old Earth, evolution, and similar things are probably clutching their pearls while expressing their outrage. Secularists (and many professing Christians, unfortunately) insist that deep time is a scientific fact. We must teach children real science, right?

Evolutionists are skilled in using dinosaurs as propaganda tools to indoctrinate children in evolutionism. We can use dinosaurs for the truth.
Credit: Flickr / Marco Verch (CC BY 2.0)

What is actually happening is that children (as well as the rest of us) are being given stories based on naturalistic interpretations about the past; there is no actual empirical evidence that obliges us to believe that the earth is billions of years old.

Children have been enamored with dinosaurs for many years, and this has been increasing in recent years. It is not surprising to find a youngster who can rattle off the names, secular dates, locations, and more of those terrible lizards.

Movies and merchandising helped fuel the interest of many people. (I wonder how many were annoyed when the Jurassic Park movies made the Velociraptors much larger than real: the size of turkeys?) Those dinosaurs bring along evolutionary tall tales, opinions taught as facts.

With such concentration and repetition of evolutionary propaganda, plus being confined for many hours a day over several years in secular indoctrination centers operated by the Ministry of Truth, no wonder children are rejecting the truth of the Bible. Especially the creation account, since they are brainwashed into accepting the latest secular religions myths of origins.

Atheists and evolutionists hypocritically say that Christian parents are the ones doing the brainwashing because we teach biblical truth. Or should be doing so! In fact, dinosaurs can be a starting point to teach the truth of creation, essentially making dinosaurs into missionary lizards.

I know that children love dinosaurs because of the great demand for dinosaur books, posters, toys, costumes, DVDs, movies, character memorabilia etc. If you were to search the internet under the category “books” for the topic “dinosaurs” you would find that over 53,000 titles (at last count) are available. A statistical sampling of the contents of those 53,000 titles result in the conclusion that nearly all of these titles were written with atheistic presuppositions and within the secular worldview that is founded on the ideas of naturalism (evolution and millions of years).

Let me remind you of the atheistic presuppositions in play here:

Let me remind you that you can see the full article at "Children & Dinosaurs".