Trail Blazer Ministries
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Pacifism vs. Just War Theory

3:44 PM
An old friend of mine recently brought this subject to my attention with an essay that discussed the film, Prince of Peace, God of War by John Campea. To get this conversation started, click here to download or watch it right here:




Now, if you've taken time to watch the film, you probably already have an opinion on this subject. I must confess, I am still searching for answers because I have heard plenty of good arguments on both sides of this issue. I wish I could post my friend Scott's rebuttal to this film but it is rather long (if you are on facebook, join the group Trail Blazer Ministries and add me as a friend, I have Scott's essay posted).

With a quick Google search on the Just War Theory, I found the site www.justwartheory.com which has a bunch of information that I found very hard to disagree with. This site has been helpful for me to understand that not all Just War Theorists are the same as Campea's film might suggest:

"Just war theory is not a settled doctrine. It is a field of critical ethical reflection. That's why there are as many just war theories as there are just war theorists. So, rather than allow traditionally accepted (yet highly contested) theoretical principles dictate what is required to justify the use of armed forces, let your first lesson in just war theory be one which you teach yourself in a simple introductory exercise of reflection: Start by thinking of a paradigm case or prime example from history which strikes you intuitively as being an instance of an ethically acceptable, or perhaps even laudable use of armed forces. And ask yourself what makes it so. If you can neither think of a single example in history, nor imagine any possible future instances of the justifiable use of arms, then you may be an absolute pacifist. If you cannot think of a single ethically condemnable act of warfare, and you "love the smell of napalm in the morning," then you may belong to the realpolitik camp. If you can think of some limited class of ethically condemnable instances or forms of warfare, and your head is swimming with great examples of ethically acceptable and even laudable warfare, then you may be a relatively hawkish just war theorist. If your head is swimming with historical examples of condemnable warfare, and you can think only of a relatively limited class of ethically acceptable instances, and few or no laudable ones, then you may be a relatively dovish just war theorist (like me). The theoretical task of the just war theorist is to figure out what sets the ethically acceptable and laudable examples apart from the rest."

I suspect we have one at least one of each of these (in relation to the above definitions) in our little Thursday morning study, which will no doubt lend to a lively discussion. My own personal leanings are proabably more towards the relatively dovish JWT. Blogger Ricky Carvel makes a statement about this film that coencides with Bruce's discussion last week on how different believers approach the bible,

"The most striking difference between the two sets of theologians was their point of reference. All the 'pacifist' theologians used Jesus as the basis of their position, all the 'just war' theologians used the Bible as their basis. This, once again, made me consider the way believers approach the bible - is the whole thing the equally valid Word of God, or is Jesus himself the Word of God and the bible merely the book that points to him?"

I feel that this subject is very important to understand in our current situation at home in America and in our exploits around the globe.
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April 10th Good Friday Service at Hope Lutheran

8:02 AM
The Bridger String Quartet will be playing at Hope Lutheran for Good Friday. We will be playing the Gabriel Faure Requiem op. 48. We will also play 3 movements from quartets by Mozart, Dvorak, and Haydn.
Admission is free and the performance begins at 7:00pm.
2152 West Graf • Bozeman, Montana 59718 (south on 19th, take a right at the blinking yellow light)

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Happy St. Patty's Day!

12:01 PM

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Guinness, Statistics & Christianity: A St. Patrick's Day Meditation

By Richard Beck.

As a research psychologist I spend a great deal of my life teaching undergraduate and graduate statistics courses. Which I love. I rarely discuss statistics on this blog but there is so much I'd love to share with you about factor analysis, multiple regression, and One-Way Analysis of Variance.

But since it is Saint Patrick's Day I thought I'd share a story about statistics and Guinness beer and how my telling this story in class one day revealed an intriguing link between Guinness and Christianity.

If you don't know anything about Guinness beer know this: A lot of it is being consumed today. Guinness is, perhaps, the most recognizable beer in the world. And as the quintessentially Irish beer it is the drink of choice on St. Patrick's Day.

The connection between Guinness and statistics is this. In 1899 Young Lord Guinness wanted to bring scientific principles into the brewing business. Toward that end he hired a recent Oxford graduate, William Gosset. Gosset had a degree in chemistry and mathematics.

Now you might think that a mathematics degree would be wasted working at a brewery. But while working at Guinness Gosset developed one of the most frequently used statistical tools in use today: The t-test. I use t-tests all the time. My thesis students this year are using t-tests. It's a wonderful statistical tool.

The problem the t-test solved was this. To make beer you need yeast. Yeast, as a living and growing thing, was stored in jars in the Guinness brewery. Given that yeast is dynamically growing one never new how much yeast was in a given jar. Thus, the brewmasters would have to take a sample of yeast from a given jar and examine it under the microscope. Based upon this sample the brewmaster would try to estimate how much yeast was in the full jar. The problem Gosset solved was this: Just how accurate were the samples in estimating the contents of the jar? The t-test is the tool he developed that can help answer that question.

(The application in the social sciences is fairly straightforward. We want to study "the jar", otherwise known as the human species. But we only ever get to study a small sample of the human species, the people who visit our laboratories. Thus, once we study the behavior of this sample of people we are faced with Gosset's Guinness problem: How well does this sample estimate what is going on in the larger population/jar?)

Whenever I get to t-tests in a semester I tell Gosset's story. It helps break up the monotony of a statistics lecture. Well, one day I was telling this story in a class out on Dyess Airforce Base here in Abilene, TX. (I used to teach night classes out there.) After I told the Gosset story one of the airmen who had spent time in England and Ireland told the class this story:

Arthur Guinness was a Christian. And he was appalled and saddened about the toll Irish whiskey was having upon his countrymen. Thus, Mr. Guinness set about making a drink that was so heavy and filling (Guinness is a thick, stout beer) that his countrymen would drink less and more slowly and, thus, reduce drunkenness, intoxication and addiction.

I have no idea if this story is true (it is true that Guinness was a Christian). But I like it.

Guinness beer: One of the lesser known spiritual formation efforts Christianity has offered the world.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.
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Downtown Explosion

5:42 PM
Can anyone tell me how this morning we all missed hearing the firetrucks and other emergency vehicles that must have driven by Wild Joe's? I guess we were really into our discussion!

From what I've heard throughout the day and this evening, there are (thank God) no confirmed injuries, although one person is unaccounted for. And it looks like that part of downtown will be off limits for several days.

The story was on the homepage of the CNN site earlier today.
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The resurrection of the dead

5:29 AM
The resurrection of the dead

I have a few preterist friends who take the resurrection as a “spiritual” resurrection and that it already has taken place. They take this view in part by viewing that Jesus already returned “spiritually” in 70ad. I do consider myself as a partial preterist though I do not suppose that I fully understand the view so in part will not address the full preterist view directly. In the discussion though I want to look at what the Bible states specifically about the “bodily” resurrection as well as look at the early church fathers view on the topic.

I start my view in Genesis.

2:15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it. 2:16 Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”


Now as the story continues we find that Eve is deceived and both Adam and Eve eat of the fruit and their eyes are opened and they begin to know both good and evil. At this point in Chapter 3 they are cast out of Eden before they can eat of the Tree of Life and become immortal. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life, then they could not have been redeemed.

3:22 And the Lord God said, “Now64 that the man has become like one of us,65 knowing66 good and evil, he must not be allowed67 to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

So man who could have eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Life and live forever, now will die. Most biblical scholars will point out that though man did not die physically, there was a spiritual death and separation from the Presence of God and the relationship that once was at that point now was severed. My understanding of the Preterist view is that they point out that Adam was not the first to “die” physically and that Able was the first to die physically. This is true yet what is overlooked is that Able was made in the “image” of Adam. The mortality that was now impressed on Adam was passed on to his son Able.

4:1 Now1 the man had marital relations with2 his wife Eve, and she became pregnant3 and gave birth to Cain. Then she said, “I have created4 a man just as the Lord did!”5

So instead of the dependence of the fact that Adam needed to die first man, does die as God states. Death does reign from Adam though he is not the first to die, death does take a human life and that being Able first born son of Adam.

Death begins its reign at Adam and Able is the first victim of death taking the mortal life of a human. To say that Adam needed to die first, misses that Death began in Adam and was passed on to Able. This does not mean that because Able died first, God was wrong in that the mortal body of man died the very day Adam ate of the fruit of good and evil.

Now as we press on, we see that in the Jewish view there is no doubt they believed in a physical resurrection of the dead. In fact it is considered one of the 13 principles of the Jewish faith.

Click here to read the rest of the post.
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