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Posts by Springfield Reformer

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  • The Ancient Mass in the “House Churches” was not as Informal as Many Think

    08/21/2014 10:34:00 AM PDT · 70 of 78
    Springfield Reformer to Mrs. Don-o; LearsFool

    Another problem with your position is that the wording and grammar of Malachi 1:11 does not require the interpretation you suggest. The conversation between God and the priests is about their failure to present healthy, unblemished sacrifices to God, Who, as verse 14 says in parallel meaning, that God is the great king, and is worthy of only the best offerings. So although the entire sacrificial system does point to the perfection of Christ, the types of that perfection, the animals provided for sacrifice, had to be ceremonially perfect to fulfill their purpose as a type of Christ. Yet these wicked priests were cheating God and defiling the typology by collaborating with the laity to disobey the explicit requirement of the law, that the sacrifice be healthy and unblemished. God required sacrifice that was pure under the law, therefore it was possible for there to be such a sacrifice, even in the type. This means that it is not necessary to conclude that the pure offering spoken of here is Christ in any direct sense.

    Furthermore, because, as has been pointed out by others, that incense describes prayer in metaphor, it becomes possible to see the pure offering metaphorically as well. As has been pointed out, our thanksgiving, our devotion to God and His truth and submission to His sovereignty over our life are all accounted as sacrifices well pleasing to and acceptable with God. And as God told Peter, do not call unclean what God has called clean. Note that this is spoken in the context of Gentiles being admitted to God’s salvation and being blessed with the Holy Spirit, and thereby empowered to give the purest offering of praise to God, all without any mention of some bloodless wafer. So these too would qualify as fulfilment of a pure (I.e., ceremonially clean) offering to God.

    As to whether Malachi here refers to one offering or many, it is common enough to describe multiple events as a single event occurring in many places, such as Moses being read everywhere. There isn’t one act of Moses being read, but many such acts distributed over many places. We would not be confused by the statement, “in every city you will find a Holiday Inn.” We would not expect there to be only one of a franchise, though we do rightly expect each instance of the franchise to share common characteristics.

    And so it is with any pure offering made to God. It is acceptable, because God has made it so through Christ. It is offered in spirit and in truth, because that is what pleases God. And it does not, as with these wicked priests, cheat God, the offering of lame, lipservice worship, which is an insult to His dignity as Sovereign God.

    And that’s the decisive point here. God is reprimanding these priests for their failure to obey Him and be faithful representatives of Him to the people of Israel. Verse 11 makes no sense to that conversation if it is twisted into referring to some future act of swapping substances while keeping accidents, more conformant to Aristotle than apostolic teaching. Far more sense is made of this if God here is putting these priests to shame by telling them the offerings of the Gentiles are (or will be) pure and truthful compared to the sham these priests are trying to pull on their Soveriegn King.

    That’s one of the key principles of Biblical interpretation, BTW. The conversation has to make sense in its primary context, even if it has a secondary meaning, such as prophecy.

    Anyway, lunch break is over.



  • The Ancient Mass in the “House Churches” was not as Informal as Many Think

    08/20/2014 10:50:34 AM PDT · 56 of 78
    Springfield Reformer to Biggirl

    Again, I couldn’t agree more that we give thanks to God for all his bounty toward us. I think you must have misunderstood me. My objection has been to use the passage from Ezekiel as justification for directional praying. No such thing is taught in Scripture. The fact that one church has been found that did pray toward the east doesn’t have normative meaning to Christians. Rather, it suggests pagan influence. Only what God has required of us can be regarded as authorized worship. I still don’t get what you’re getting at. No need to overwork the point. I’m trying to understand you. Some days that works better for me than others. :)



  • The Ancient Mass in the “House Churches” was not as Informal as Many Think

    08/20/2014 8:57:18 AM PDT · 47 of 78
    Springfield Reformer to Biggirl

    Pardon my density, but how is that a correction? Have I said anywhere we should not be grateful for sun, moon, stars, rocks, flowers, popcorn, whatever? But none of those are a proper object of worship, nor should they or anything else be given power to influence the form of worship, other than what has already been prescribed for New Covenant believers by God Himself in His word.



  • The Ancient Mass in the “House Churches” was not as Informal as Many Think

    08/20/2014 7:48:28 AM PDT · 31 of 78
    Springfield Reformer to Biggirl

    Context, context, context:

    (KJV)Ezekiel 8:15-17
    Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this , O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. [16] And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord , between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord , and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. [17] Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this , O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.

    So we see here God is exposing false worship occurring right in the heart of the true temple. They prayed to the east because in truth they worshipped the sun. This passage is not a good one to justify directional prayer.

    I suspect the facility at Dura, if indeed it suggests praying to the east, was coming under the influence of pagan practices. One cannot assume that the late-appearing practices of one house church were normative from the beginning, or even normative for all Christians of that later period. Only God knows all the worship offered to Him in the name of Jesus during that period. No doubt much of it was done in secret, nondescript settings of which we have no known physical record today.

    Which is why it is impossible to establish a norm apart from Scripture. We know what we were explicitly told to do to worship God as Christians. Building a liturgical layer on top of that, involving practices clearly more aligned with pagan beliefs than Christian, is a bridge too far. It is a danger to the soul. We have no right to assume we can add to God’s directives for worship. Consider what happened to Nadab and Abihu, who offered “strange fire” to God. No matter how sincere their offering might have been, it was not according to the word God had given, and so was rejected by God. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take.



  • A Blot On The Jewish People

    08/19/2014 10:47:14 PM PDT · 140 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to daniel1212; Godzilla

    Just to be fair, while it seems almost certain he was an atheist, despite his denial, I don’t think he was an anti-Semite. Assuming he’s this Dov Ivry person, then he’s got those books of his on Amazon, and he’s written a fair amount there describing the content of those books. Based on what I saw in that content, he sounds to me like a totally secular Jew with a mission to discredit religion generally. He also thinks Obama is facilitating the rise of the Fourth Reich, of which he speaks disapprovingly. So I’m not seeing the anti-Semitism.

  • A Blot On The Jewish People

    08/19/2014 4:13:33 PM PDT · 102 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to idov

    You mean the victims of the wicked people Jesus predicted would come falsely claiming association with Him? No one who murders has any place in God’s kingdom. There are many degenerate hearts who have by birth been labeled Christian. But Jesus taught that without a new birth in the spirit, that person is nothing but an imposter. It is a fallacy to confuse the fallible labels we make for ourselves with the divine act of creating new hearts. Paul was an avid killer of Christians until he became one.

    BTW, I have been to Israel. Not with a tour group. I went on my own. It is a wonderful place.



  • A Blot On The Jewish People

    08/19/2014 4:01:00 PM PDT · 94 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to idov; redleghunter

    You’re the one who raised “Jewish tradition” as a source for some of what you’re trying to sell here. I read that and thought I too would like to know the actual source. One needs primary sources for something so obviously controversial. If you are unwilling to provide such a source, what does that mean? Don’t you think you can defend this alleged tradition if we have a fair shot at evaluating it in its original context? That’s why serious folks cite, and everyone else just bloviates. And bloviating is fine as long as you don’t expect to be taken seriously. :)

  • A Blot On The Jewish People

    08/19/2014 12:28:14 PM PDT · 24 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to idov

    The nonsense here is your etymological “analysis” of Christos. You know, of course it is derived from the verb chrio, which is simply to smear or annoint. It is used in numerous texts of Scripture having nothing to do with the Messianic title Christos. The act, for example, of Jesus smearing the eyes of the man born blind with mud. Conversion to nounal form simply takes the root and infers a subject to the act of anointing or smearing, oil or some medicinal substance typically implied as part of the process. So not your nonsensical “rubbie,” but rather “[one subjected to] smearing or anointing.” Hence a valid title for Messiah, who is anointed by the Spirit of God. And Christos would be well understood as a direct translation of that title, especially as a noun.

    BTW, I am at work now, but if you are open to it, I have a number of lexical resources that I can bring to bear to back up the foregoing assertions. If you are interested, you can look it up for yourself in the Low-Nida lexicon based on semantic domains, which is helpful to overcome the novice error of looking to strict etymology as opposed to analysis of usage in the full range of contemporaneous literature, of which we have much more than we did a century ago. It’s important to stay current with our expanding knowledge in ancient Greek, whether Attic or Koine.

  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/16/2014 11:01:19 AM PDT · 106 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to LurkingSince'98

    Ah, now I understand. Thanks for the clarification. Having said that, my experience is opposite to what you are describing. Nearly a mirror opposite. The only protestants/evangelicals I know personally who are concerned about the errors of Catholicism are deeply committed Christians given to regular attendance. In my experience, those with the marginal attendance habits tend to be squishy on the whole thing. They don’t go because they don’t see the importance in the differences the way you and I might.

    I think also it’s possible some are confused over “self-church” versus “house church.” In China the government regards the entire house church movement as illegitimate. The lack of an approved institutional tradition is the basis of condemnation. Yet these house churches are anything but “self-church.” They are rapidly growing, highly active and dynamic fellowships who have an entirely different perspective on church life than we who live in the lap of luxury and convenience. I remember reading somewhere of a house church pastor who was interviewed and his concern was visiting places where some of their people had been killed and praying to see if God might raise them from the dead, which, according to this interview, was happening on occasion.

    Jesus said wherever two or three are gathered in His name, he is in the middle of that. So to have a true “ecclesia,” (assembly) you only need two people and Jesus. So you see why I am not quite able to buy into your theory. My church has many more members and a building and worship services with singing and praying and remembering the Lord’s death by way of the Lord’s supper. But Jesus spelled out the minimum. Do you think these FR self-churchers have zero contact with other believers?

    Don’t misunderstand, BTW. I am not trying to endorse “self-churching.” I am however interested in avoiding being critical of fellowships that don’t conform to typical expectations of what Christian fellowship should look like. The criteria for that is set forth in Scripture, and that’s good enough for me.



  • what would you do? (vanity)

    08/16/2014 8:46:57 AM PDT · 51 of 118
    Springfield Reformer to RegulatorCountry

    Nope. In the hypothetical presented, hostilities are renewed by the subject, only this time with a proven history of intent to do great bodily harm. In law school we had to answer the hypo for what it was. Yes, avoidance and de-escalation would be better if they could be carried out safely. But that’s not the hypo, and neither is the idea of the subject just walking away. Both parties have access to the public space. If the subject charges you from 35 feet, you have a second, new event, and the threat is immediate and potentially lethal. Safe escape is not assured. Shooting in response is defensible. IMHO.

  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/16/2014 1:00:58 AM PDT · 104 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to LurkingSince'98
    I honestly don't get where you're coming from on this. Take another look at that Pew chart:

    The number of evangelicals (which I assume includes conservative Baptists among others), the number of self-identified evangelicals who never ever go to church is 4%. Now that's 4% too high.

    But if your intent is to get some favorable comparison for Catholics, you can't get there with this survey because the number of self-identified Catholics who never ever go to church is 6%.  So it seems, if your reasoning applies equally to both, that would mean there were more "self-churching" Catholics that there are "self-churching" evangelicals. So explain to me again how this helps your case?

    And here's another study which corroborates the superior attendance habits of Baptists, evangelicals, and even Mormons over Catholic attendance habits:

    In this one, baptists are separated out for special attention, and while we don't make the top of the chart, clearly we are ahead of the Catholics on this:

    Gallup church attendance bar chart

    But see how the Mormons are ahead of us both.  And the Jehovah's Witnesses do pretty well too, in that Pew poll of yours. So what does that mean? Are they better off for their more frequent attendance? Not if they are sitting under false teaching.  But those who do belong to Christ must be in fellowship.  It's not optional.  The fact that some do it for the wrong reason shouldn't stop believers from doing it for the right reason.

    So that's why I don't get where you're coming from.  Apparently we both have "self-churchers" in our respective denominations, and yours more than mine. But it's downright silly to use that as an argument for or against a given body of truth. It's true or its false, even if large numbers of a group's professed adherents are screwing it up. It's just not a good basis for determining divine truth. Like Paul says, let God be true, and every man a liar.

    But if I were looking for signs of the true "ecclesia" of Jesus, the one He said would never fail, I would look to the one sign Jesus explicitly gave as the true marker of His people:
    John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  (35)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
    Which is why I do not understand how some of these FR religious debates devolve so rapidly into bitter personal sniping, which is the opposite of love. Not talking about you and me. But we both know it's true. It breaks my heart.



  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/14/2014 7:16:43 PM PDT · 94 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to NKP_Vet; will of the people
    The reason Angelicans (Episcopalians), Lutherans and Presbyterians wear vestments is because they they made their services to be almost identical to the Catholic Church, especially Lutherans and Episcopalians who like to call themselves Catholic-lite.

    I can't speak to Lutheran or Episcopalian practice, but most Presbyterian ministers I have known have not been interested in vestments of any kind. According to this fellow cited below, the current practice of some Presbyterians has arisen fairly recently in consequence of the ecumenical movement, which the conservative Reformed such as myself regard as being driven by heresy and theological liberalism (redundant, I know).  This is probably why my experience with Presbyterian ministers is that they do not do vestments. When I do visit Reformed assemblies, I hang out exclusively with the conservatives. I have seen what the author below refers to as Geneva gowns, but rarely even that. Anyway, interesting to find someone who actually researched the evolution of vestments:

    Disclaimer: Citing this article in no way suggests I agree with everything the author says.  Only that I found his research enlightening.


  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/14/2014 12:31:34 PM PDT · 70 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to LurkingSince'98

    Do you have statistics? Or are you simply guessing? Fair question, yes? :)

  • Officer Saves Choking Woman Who Ran Red Light

    08/14/2014 7:03:38 AM PDT · 8 of 8
    Springfield Reformer to Enterprise

    Ping for later

  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/14/2014 5:06:20 AM PDT · 45 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to JSDude1

    Nope. It just says we need to meet and not give up on fellowshipping. Nothing in there implied or explicit about priesthood. Just the duty of Christian love, which cannot be expressed in a vacuum.

  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/13/2014 11:31:57 PM PDT · 42 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to matthewrobertolson
    presbuteroi/presbyteros (ministerial priesthood, Greek, Strong's #4245) [1 Timothy 5:17, James 5:14-15, Lexicon]

    Odd that. He uses Strong's number but not his definition? From the Strong's in my eSword:



    Comparative of πρέσβυς presbus (elderly); older; as noun, a senior; specifically an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian “presbyter”: - elder (-est), old.

    Hmmmmm, not a hint of any ministerial or sacerdotal dimensions to the word.

  • The Priesthood of All Believers?

    08/13/2014 10:57:45 PM PDT · 40 of 106
    Springfield Reformer to LurkingSince'98; JSDude1
    so it’s just you and the Lord, so are you one of those who stay home an the Lord’s Day and just ‘church yourself’?

    That would be a violation of this apostolic directive:

    Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

    Which is a passage most faithful Protestants/evangelicals know about and honor, because they honor the word of God as the supreme authority in their lives.

    Caricature much?



  • 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

    08/13/2014 7:37:33 AM PDT · 220 of 268
    Springfield Reformer to Blackirish; daniel1212

    I am sorry for your loss. Cults can make otherwise rational people go to some very strange places. However, I fail to see a logical connection between the Christian Science cult’s fallacy and a straightforward understanding of Genesis. Mary Baker Eddy devised a system that effectively rejects physical reality in toto. Traditional Christian supernaturalism accepts physical reality, but allows that God can, at His sole discretion, act outside that material reality.

    And if you are a good Catholic, you already the premise that God does intervene. You believe Jesus rose from the dead, correct? That’s an intervention. It would not have happened but for God acting from outside natural processes such as death and decay.

    So whether God acted in creation in some ways that went beyond purely natural processes is a factual question. It cannot be answered by our predisposition to believe it or not. For a believer, the question is not what we can accept about God’s acts in light of current scientific thought, but what does God say He did.

    As for what Catholicism teaches, I assume there is no hard and fast magisterial dogma one way or the other. But I would suggest the Roman church had no position on evolution until Darwin postulated it. I suspect the reality is there’s a mixed bag of beliefs within the Catholic clergy. Daniel, what do you think?

  • 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

    08/13/2014 7:08:38 AM PDT · 217 of 268
    Springfield Reformer to freedumb2003

    No problem. I too have wanted an edit button for some of my less “elevated” FR posts. But one can see the benefit. Can you imagine how bad it would get here if we could post wildly, edit, then claim we never said thus and such? Oh the chaos! Besides, I think it makes (or can make) us more disciplined writers. My dad used to do crossword puzzles ... wait for it ... in ink!

  • 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

    08/12/2014 11:36:01 PM PDT · 176 of 268
    Springfield Reformer to freedumb2003; Parody

    In one sense you are right. The notion of stochastic process has scientific utility. For those who wish to peek at the mathematical description, see this:

    However, most everyone on the internet of any persuasion is a “philistine” with respect to understanding, really understanding stochastic process to any degree of usefulness. My uncle was probably one of the few people on the planet who actually worked with such concepts on a daily basis, as he did serious fluid modeling back when computers were just giant collections of relays that could barely outperform modern four-function calculators. He could do in his head what most people even today would be unable to do without significant computing horsepower.

    The funny thing is, I never felt like a “philistine” in his presence. He was a quiet, humble, happy man, who distributed Gideon Bibles to hotels. And because he really understood these things, he could explain them to those of us less gifted, in a way that made it easy to grasp the main concept.

    But without a brilliant mathematician in your life to help explain these things, it is easy to see how the concept could be degraded by some and even made the basis of a quirky religious theory that embraces randomness as a philosophy and tries to give it respectability by dressing it up in a term of scientific origin.

    However, as a tool to evade the essentially deterministic arguments of intelligent design, stochastic process may not be the holy grail you seek. Dembski has written a book called Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, in which he dismantles the case that stochastic process works as a wildcard to escape the effect of deterministic process in biological system. You may be interested.



  • What Did the Saints Say about Islam?

    08/12/2014 7:12:42 PM PDT · 12 of 27
    Springfield Reformer to ebb tide
    “As we have seen, Muhammed had neither supernatural miracles nor natural motives of reason to persuade those of his sect. As he lacked in everything, he took to bestial and barbaric means, which is the force of arms. Thus he introduced and promulgated his message with robberies, murders, and bloodshedding, destroying those who did not want to receive it, and with the same means his ministers conserve this today, until God placates his anger and destroys this pestilence from the earth.

    The worship of pure, brutal force is the common thread that unites Islam with atheistic totalitarianism. It does bring to mind the prophecy:

    Dan 11:36-38 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. (37) Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. (38) But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

    Religions that must use carnal force to grow have no spiritual power beyond that of the Destroyer, Satan. They, like their atheist counterparts, have succumbed totally to the wickedness of Nietzschean lust for raw power. Islam is Satanic, and I would not be at all surprised if the final, screeching expression of the antichrist spirit comes to us by way of the emerging caliphate. There will be such shock among them when the full evil of their true master is revealed to them at the end, when there is no turning back.

    Which, BTW, is why it is a high crime against the love of God to fail to at least try to win them to Christ.

  • Robin Williams dead of suspected suicide: Are comedians more plagued by depression than other stars?

    08/12/2014 11:26:41 AM PDT · 77 of 97
    Springfield Reformer to cuban leaf

    Good points all. No doubt RW was a full tilt genius. Sharp humor in general is considered a sign of high intelligence. But like you say, at the end of the day, what does brilliance get you? A longer, higher view of oblivion, if that’s all there is. Thank God there is so much more.

  • Is the IRS Going to Censor Sermons at Your Church?

    08/09/2014 11:37:13 AM PDT · 36 of 40
    Springfield Reformer to markomalley

    I’d be curious to know which 99 churches are on that “hit list.”

  • Facebook Crosses The Line With New Facebook Messenger App

    08/08/2014 9:16:03 AM PDT · 34 of 41
    Springfield Reformer to going hot


  • Facebook Crosses The Line With New Facebook Messenger App

    08/08/2014 9:01:09 AM PDT · 32 of 41
    Springfield Reformer to AppyPappy

    I already deleted my FB account. As for my phone, I am looking into ways to make it less useful to strangers.

    But as for who at FB might care, anybody can be made to care in a thugocracy, which is what we have, more or less. The big picture for me is just saying no to anybody uninvited. Period. I don’t need to know whether they’re motivated or not. The question is, have I made it easy for them to snoop? Have I given them permission to be voyeurs? If so, then when it happens, I will have only myself to blame. Not going there.

    BTW, the legal angle you mentioned is a nonissue to me. I don’t care if they fear exposure to risk. They need my permission to invade my privacy, and I won’t give it to them. So if they have access when they shouldn’t, too bad so sad for them. It’s their job to mitigate such risks, not mine. If I have to opt out and look for alternatives to FB, so be it. I got along fine without it for half a century, and I haven’t missed it since I left. The market will sort this out, but only if people have sufficient information to make meaningful choices.

  • Facebook Crosses The Line With New Facebook Messenger App

    08/08/2014 5:18:27 AM PDT · 19 of 41
    Springfield Reformer to AppyPappy

    From what the article says, its audio too, so any use of the phone could trigger an opportunity for them to snoop. The bigger question, as the writer hints, is the radical change in our perception of the need for privacy. We are being systematically seduced into accepting as normal the continuous presence of invisible strangers in our lives, strangers we are supposed to trust blindly with some of our most intimate data. Socialism has always had a hard time taking root here because we have been a people who fiercely protected our privacy. It is fundamental to a system of private property that the idea of “private” really means something. The near absolute surrender of digital privacy threatens to change our culture fundamentally, eroding our belief in privacy to the point where one day the notion of private property will give way to the higher needs if the hive. We will become Borg. Unless we resist.

  • reality of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome

    08/07/2014 9:45:17 AM PDT · 11 of 12
    Springfield Reformer to John O; Morgana

    Someone I dearly love has been through this. Morgana is right. The person was told the “blob of cells” line. Even so she was reluctant, more so at the critical moment, but was pressured by her family to go through with it. And this by a Catholic family. None of that legitimate culpability of her entire family has ever relieved the pain and the regret. If these precious children, as so many of them are, could only believe that things might get better if they just hang in there and wait a little while, that the family pressure is temporary, that the life they save by keeping their child might be their own, then the fear mongerers in their life would lose their power, and God would draw good out of even this. A child is always a blessing from the Lord, even when they come into our lives unexpectedly, and through difficult circumstances. Love covers a multitude of sins, and a child’s laughter is a cure to many an ailment.

  • Just watched "God's not dead" on Amazon. Terrific film!

    08/06/2014 5:47:33 PM PDT · 4 of 12
    Springfield Reformer to RoosterRedux

    I saw it just the other night on dvd. Pretty good. I’d like to comment on it but now you’ve got me worried about spoliers.

  • Gun Control in Action: Amtrak Safety Video Suggests Throwing Duffel Bag at Gunman for Protection

    08/06/2014 9:36:04 AM PDT · 31 of 40
    Springfield Reformer to TigersEye

    Sure, as long as it’s not a camouflage pattern. That would make it an assault duffel bag, and therefore clearly nefarious.

  • Gun Control in Action: Amtrak Safety Video Suggests Throwing Duffel Bag at Gunman for Protection

    08/06/2014 9:30:25 AM PDT · 27 of 40
    Springfield Reformer to Old Yeller

    Being logical is a thought crime in Obamatopia. Find a reeducation facility near you and turn yourself in, immediately! /s

  • Gun Control in Action: Amtrak Safety Video Suggests Throwing Duffel Bag at Gunman for Protection

    08/06/2014 9:25:05 AM PDT · 22 of 40
    Springfield Reformer to TigersEye

    However many you can fit on your duffel bag clip. For more impact, fill each duffle bag with magazines. :)

  • You Might Want to Fact-Check Your Pastor’s Sermon

    08/05/2014 8:53:50 AM PDT · 19 of 19
    Springfield Reformer to Gamecock

    In law school we actually had coursework in how to do research, the importance of primary sources, putting things in a flow of historical context, etc. These are relatively easy concepts, but there’s no room for laziness. I believe we should have similar courses aimed at high school aged children. It would teach at least that there are expectations and standards for serious research, and hopefully make for a more demanding “information consumer.” That in turn would make it a lot harder for the snake oil salesmen of our culture, whether religious or political, to get away with their house-of-cards propaganda games.

  • The Gospel For Mormons Who Reject It. A review of a book by a devout Mormon ...

    08/04/2014 9:50:36 AM PDT · 6 of 15
    Springfield Reformer to Vigilanteman

    My dad was Navy too. He married a saved girl. That saved girl took God seriously her whole life, shared the Gospel with everyone she could, up to her dying day. I think very highly of saved girls.

  • Dear Gabby

    08/03/2014 4:35:43 PM PDT · 88 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981
    I am pleased to hear you hold that verse to signify a real presence rather than a church.

    Then you misunderstand me, which is probably my fault. The passage quoted does not mention the Lord's Supper as the basis for Christ's presence, yet I added that as what must have looked like a qualifier, when it was not so intended. I only mean that whenever the ecclesia ("assembly") gathers in His name, we know He is already there (like the country song). Hence it is logical to conclude He is there for the commemorative meal as well, though not more so or less so for the meal's sake. It is for our sake He is there. Not the bread and wine.

    I will be off line for a while now. Family thing. Talk to you later. Have a good evening.



  • Dear Gabby

    08/03/2014 1:41:28 PM PDT · 86 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981
    Just trying to apply Jewish customs, not western standards, in order to understand the text.

    That was my point. Ah me. We seem to be talking past each other here. First Century Jewish culture cannot be read off in a few easy rules. Westerners like us are tempted to say, well, why doesn't the extended family do it? That's the rule, right? But Jesus was the birthright son, the de facto leader of the family in the absence of Joseph, and his judgment would prevail over the prima fascia rule. Furthermore, as I stated last post, there is a distinct possibility that John met the criteria of being family anyway, assuming him to be son of Salome the sister of Mary, and Salome being wife of Zebedee., which in turn would make Jesus and John first cousins.

    This illustrates BTW the difference between trying to map a later evolved tradition alongside whatever faint hints one thinks they are finding in Scripture, versus insisting on hard evidence that the Scriptures teach a specific doctrine before regarding it as binding.  The hermeneutic of the conservative Protestant is always going to look reductionist to those with a tradition to defend. But it is critical to not lay burdens upon men through the traditions of men that have no real basis in God's word. We know Jesus was vehemently opposed to that:
    Mat 11:28-30  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (29)  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  (30)  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
    And see how He cleared out His Father's temple to overturn the burdens imposed by a priesthood that was true in earthly pedigree but false in heart. If there is anything that lies deepest in the heart of the Protestant hermeneutic, it is to make the way clear for lost sinners to come to Jesus, in that same spirit of clearing the temple of those who would, without warrant, make themselves the door to redemption, instead of Jesus.

    This is why I will not, by God's grace, ever "progress" to seeing such things as Mary rising to Heaven without dying.  There is no warrant for such a belief in Scripture.  Furthermore, even as an inference, it is unsustainable. Elijah and Enoch, who were sinful men like the rest of us, did not have to die, for reasons known only to God. Jesus, who was sinless, both died, and rose, as was taken to Heaven in the clouds.  So what basis for Mary then not to die?  Even if she was sinless (which cannot be true of any human but Jesus), she might well have been subjected to death, as Jesus was.  So nothing in the NT narrative gives us any reason to think she was anything but mortal like us, and will share in the resurrection like us, when that day comes. To take a later developed story like this, and make it obligatory of Christian belief, is to impose burdens not imposed by Jesus.  It obstructs rather than helps the way of the sinner looking for Christ. It is Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. Not Mary. Not you nor me nor any saint of God or would-be saint among men. Only Jesus. The best any of the rest of us can hope to be is "God's little helpers." That's it.  And I'm happy with that. It is an honor, and one which I would not becloud with fanciful tales of johnny-come-latelies.

    As for the Lord's Supper, I am a strict memorialist.  Zwinglian, if you prefer that sort of label.  And yet I believe the Lord Jesus is really and truly present whenever believers gather to remember His sacrifice on our behalf:
    Mat 18:20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
    So I would reject as idolatry any attempt to represent Christ as physically present through philosophic trickery such as transubstantiation, in such things as the bloodless wafer sitting at the center of the monstrance, which so resembles the solar image I could never subscribe to such without fully believing I was compromising to sun worship and denying the faith.  It is the blood of Jesus that was spilled to set me free from my many awful sins. My remembrance of Him could never be done right without the cup of the New Covenant in His blood, "for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." It is His blood that made the difference, and without it, I would still be lost, and have no cause for celebration of my newfound life in Him.

    What about John 6 and the other usual proof texts?  I'm sure you can guess I see those as intentional metaphors provided by Christ as a means to draw us closer to Him through regular remembrance of His unstoppable love for us, both in word and deed. His presence at the meal is spiritual, but no less real for being spiritual rather than physical.  God is spirit, and there is nothing unreal about Him.  Others on this thread have tried to say that the Eucharist is exclusively about Christ, not one's fellow believers.  That is a false dichotomy.  It is about Christ, and us being knit together in Christ in love, a spiritual body, which we are to discern, lest we partake unworthily, which risk we remove, if we treat each other with love and respect, as the body of Christ.

    I know I have said some things here which may offend.  That is not my intent, and I hope you do not take it that way.  I have appreciated the irenic nature of our conversation, and hope that it may continue.



  • Dear Gabby

    08/02/2014 2:04:59 PM PDT · 84 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981
    If it were for Mary's physical care or for the sake of not going against Jewish tradition and custom, it would seem logical that her sister and sister's children should care for her as a widow, rather than someone who was not a relative.

    Logical applying modern western standards, but not necessary, and not necessarily best for Mary. Besides, look at the direct consequence.    What does the text say John's response is?
    Joh 19:27  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
    Where is Mary's "extended family" here?  They are no-shows, as so often happens with these things.  But here we see John taking her into his home.   That single consequence, John assuming the role of caregiver, confirms that the exchange was about taking care of Mary, because that's exactly what John does in direct response to Christ's command.

    John had no income, no prospects for wealth in this world. I see this as a spiritual assignation. John and Mary never betrayed Jesus nor left this side. They clung to him through it all and he told them to regard each other as mother.

    You say John had no income.  Maybe the others were even worse off.  This was not a time when it was normal for Jews in occupied Israel to be wealthy.  John and Mary I suspect were well cared for by the contributions of the church in Jerusalem, as John ministered in the word.  And who better to live among the disciples in the early days, when the message was still coming together, than one who knew Jesus from infancy.  Can you imagine the conversations they must have had!  Perhaps this is part of what lies behind John's parting comment in his Gospel, that so much more could be written about the many works of Christ, "but these are written that ye may believe..."

    BTW, this just in:  John was probably a cousin to Jesus through Salome, if in fact Salome was Mary's sister, as well as the wife of Zebedee.  This would mean John was extended family and the beloved disciple, at the same time.  See here for the discussion:

    Which, if true, makes John the ideal candidate, even on your terms, for being the final earthly caregiver to Mary.

    I think approaching this with an antiCatholic bias is a mistake. Just take it as it is.

    This is the interesting bit of psychology here.  I fully believe I am taking it just as it is.  I've read this passage for years and it has always been both spiritual and practical to me, in that Jesus loved His earthly mother and wanted her to be taken care of by one who would truly love and respect her.  How that transforms into "anti-Catholic" is the dark magic here.  It makes no sense to me.  I am not anti-Catholic.  I am pro-Scripture. In many things that puts me on the same side of a given issue as any conservative Catholic might be, and I'm just fine with that. In some other things, that puts us at odds.  But not because of animus toward any of you.  Only because I try to always be honest about what I really see in the text. The later developments of Marian theology, especially her alleged mediatorial role, simply cannot be drawn from the Biblical text without standing it on its head. 

    It fits with Matthew 12:46-50, which is a more complete version of his words than Luke 8: 19-21 which some erroneously interpret as a personal rebuke to his mother and cousins, and miss the tremendous truth and beauty that when we are in Messiah and walking in the Spirit we have these spiritual relationships.

    I don't see it as a rebuke, but as a teachable moment that would be essential for the life of the newborn faith to flourish, lest it become bogged down by improper partiality. Both passages are holy writ, and Luke give clarity that what Jesus is saying in Matthew is about the closeness and access we all have as believers to Christ Himself.  It is taking the Matthew passage off focus to somehow divert it from being about access to Christ and turn it upsidedown into a proof text for Marian doctrines that were not even part of the conversation until hundreds of years later.  That's why it's beneficial to take the two passages in combination. Scripture interprets Scripture.  If Christ is here teaching that the faithful all have equal access to Him through their faith and obedience (as you evidently agree), it is wrong to subvert that meaning by redirecting believers to erroneously infer they have less access to Him (though I realize that is not your intent), by reintroducing the biological hierarchy as a model for a spiritual hierarchy never taught in Scripture.

    No, I don't agree. The prophecy Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also was no doubt fulfilled, yet John and Mary were already there. They were faithful through it all because of their deep love for Jesus. It is altogether logical and proper for them to have a spiritual relationship as son and mother because it is completely rooted in, and centered on, the LORD Jesus Christ. Obviously they understood Jesus' words and remained together until Mary's passing. Now they are together again.

    The prophecy as you say was fulfilled.  But that doesn't mean Mary was some unnatural superhuman in her feelings.  I have no doubt that her joy returned in good measure as she witness the unfolding of the church.  But what mother would not miss her little boy?  Especially with Joseph off the scene. The deeper the love, the deeper the pain of waiting for that reunion.  John, in sharing that love for Christ, as you rightly say, would share also in that sorrow of parting and waiting, and they two would be uniquely suited to comfort each other during those quiet moments of reflection that come ever more frequently in the winter of life.

    If it were a private family matter, why would it appear here ? Everything word has a reason to be in this book.

    True, and there are many events described in Scripture which would have been private, but for their benefit to those of us who would later follow in faith. The Lord's Supper, for just one example. Or Christ's heart-rending prayer in the garden. But these are there for our benefit, are they not? As I have indicated above, anyone who has ever been involved in the difficulties of the sorrows of life, the duties of care and love we have to each other at those times of transition, can see a great beauty in the love Jesus had for both His disciples and His mother.  He never stopped being perfectly righteous.  One would not need to be told this was the fulfillment of a prophecy or law.  It was a general fulfillment of "all righteousness," as He put it when being baptized by John. In this particular instance, the law to "honor father and mother" is seen here, not as some dry didactic teaching, but as a moment of love lived, in which we should all follow His example, and thus it is very transparent why God should include this in Scripture, however personal it might have been.

    We are all one in his holy catholic apostolic church

    I appreciate that you did not capitalize the "c" in "catholic," because it enables me to agree with you. "[c]atholic" is just an old synonym for "universal," and as such, all who hold true to the faith as accounted by the apostolic witness (as recorded in Scripture) are indeed united in Him through the work of the Holy Spirit. I have experienced this time and time again, in meeting a total stranger who happens to be a sincere Christian, we have an immediate bond of heart and mind, regardless of accent or skin color or any other accident of natural birth.  It is the new birth, being made alive in Christ through faith, that makes us family, with Christ the Firstborn, our Elder Brother.  This is the universal, hence truly [c]atholic assembly of the faithful of all times and places, who are in Jesus, Messiah, Son of God, God the Son, blessed for ever. Amen.



  • Dear Gabby

    08/01/2014 11:36:17 PM PDT · 80 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981
    Just prior to his commands to his mother and his beloved disciple there are two prophetic fulfillments. Both include the language "that the Scripture might be fulfilled."

    The two events are in a single prophecy, here:
    Psa 22:18  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
    And they are a wonderful prophecy, being so obviously unique to the circumstances of Christ's death.

    That phrase is not found in, and does apply to, verses 25 through 27 which happened at the same relative time.

    I honestly am not sure what you're getting at here.  The death of Christ in general is fulfillment of numerous other OT prophecies, some right in Psalm 22, some in Isaiah 53, and elsewhere.  But I am not aware of any specific prophecy that would have anything to do with the relationship between John and Mary specifically, and in that sense I would have to disagree that versus 25 through 27 represent the fulfillment of a specific prophecy.  If indeed that is what you were trying to say.  If I have misunderstood you, please feel free to correct me on this.  I am somewhat guessing as to your meaning.

    On the broader matter of a command of relationship, Jesus did have half-brothers (extended family), but they were all younger than Him, and it was His decision as the eldest with whom she should live, and He chose John.  However, I agree with you in the sense that this was not a strictly legal decision, though it had that aspect. As an attorney, I have seen some of the difficult decision-making that goes into caring for aging parents, and a genuine spiritual love between the parties is extremely important to the happiness of those final years. We know Mary was deeply wounded by these events, and who better to bear her up than Jesus' most faithful student during His moment of deepest need, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

    As for commanding a unique spiritual relationship between the two, Christ had already commanded all his disciples that they love one another with the same kind of love that existed between the Father and the Son, and you can't do better than that, no matter who you are.. Commanding such love here, as though it were something new, would seem redundant.  And again, the commands are two, one to Mary, one to John, and they are equilateral. So whatever you make of the content of the command, you must apply it equally to both.  Mary is not being set over John in some mediatorial sense that can be extended to all believers. This is strictly between Jesus, Mary and John. There is no textual warrant for taking it further.

    Your references confirm as much. See this parallel passage:
    Luk 8:19-21  Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.  (20)  And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.  (21)  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
    Jesus is not accepting the strictly biological definition of family, but wishes us to see ourselves, as believers in Him, as members of a much bigger and more important family, those whose unity is in love for God and love to both hear and do what God says.  This passage is saying that whatever familial connections He may have to Mary and His earthly brothers, those are secondary to being connected to Him through faith in Him.  Thus any of us who are in His spiritual family have as much access to Him as Mary or His brothers ever had.  Again, this eliminates the possibility that Mary or any other uber-saint is intended to act as mediator between us and God:
    1Tim 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    If there is only one designated mediator, there can't be two.


  • Hilarious Parody Skewers Mike Bloomberg Ad Trying to Scare Women About Guns

    07/31/2014 1:47:24 PM PDT · 12 of 16
    Springfield Reformer to montag813

    Ping for later

  • No, Christians Should Not Believe in 'Left Behind's' Rapture Theology, Says Prominent Apologist

    07/31/2014 10:55:15 AM PDT · 121 of 155
    Springfield Reformer to piusv

    Yep, it is disappointing. But the popularity of Darbyism was something of a reaction to the enlightenment. They wanted to show they could do theology as well as any other science. So weakly inferred doctrines that might well have been OK as nonbinding speculation among friends took on the status of a litmus test of Christian rationality, when biblically, the support just isn’t there. Happily, since the 70’s and 80’s, many believers who DO accept the Bible as their principal authority for doctrine have been walking this back. Keep in mind that there was a time before Nicea when Arianism was rising in the churches, until Athanasius, nearly single-handedly, beat back the tide of error by a strong appeal to Scriptural authority. Likewise now, Darbyism is a fad, and it is passing, as the light of Scripture is applied. The focus will return to where it belongs, the glory of God in Christ.

  • No, Christians Should Not Believe in 'Left Behind's' Rapture Theology, Says Prominent Apologist

    07/31/2014 10:38:27 AM PDT · 116 of 155
    Springfield Reformer to cuban leaf

    Similar here, though I disagree with you on the nature of eternal damnation.

    One thing to add here is I think the pretrib focus is largely an American/British phenomena, largely because its easy to believe. Who doesn’t want donuts and a seminar on our coming great escape? But go to Iraq or Iran and see if you can find folks who think Christians will be spared from the persecutions of of the antichrist. And such persecutions are not God’s wrath. Remember Israel in Egypt was oppressed as well, but never suffered under the 10 plagues, which were God’s wrath on unbelievers then. So there is no argument that we must be evacuated before His return in the clouds, as He promised, for He will never subject us to His wrath, who are in Christ, though all the worlds grows dark around us, in Him we will always have our light, no matter where we are.

  • Dear Gabby

    07/30/2014 11:26:30 PM PDT · 58 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to boatbums
    Though I have sincerely uttered parts of the Psalms when I have fallen upon the mercy and grace of Almighty God and even sung a few in worship services, I don't use them as rote prayers. The impression I get from Scripture is that God is most interested in the words of our hearts - those we utter from genuine worship and gratitude - rather than the same words repeated again and again almost mindlessly while we think about something else. I would think ten words of deep, heartfelt love hold more value to Him than a hundred repetitions of the same ten prayers memorized since childhood.


    Ecc 5:1-3 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. (2) Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (3) For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.



  • Dear Gabby

    07/30/2014 10:50:04 PM PDT · 55 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to metmom; boatbums

    Oops! Meant to ping you to #54

  • Dear Gabby

    07/30/2014 10:47:43 PM PDT · 54 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to ebb tide; Elsie
    If someone walked up to you and said "Glory be [to] the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," you would have no problem discerning they were speaking about God to you.  Such salutations are easily understood as giving proper praise to God, not man nor woman.  

    If I walk up to you and say "Be happy.  God's going to do something amazing through you," would you mistake that for prayer?  

    If your best friend came up to you and said, "Wow, you are so blessed and you are going to be considered blessed by God for generations to come," is there really any way you or any rational person would consider that an act of prayer?

    But there is in Scripture a salutation between two men that is both prayer and worship:
    Joh 20:26-29  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.  (27)  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  (28)  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  (29)  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
    You see, though the traditions of men have muddied the waters and confused many concerning the proper worship of God, in the Scriptures it is clear. No one is ever worshiped or prayed to righteously but God.
  • Dear Gabby

    07/30/2014 10:12:20 PM PDT · 53 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to ebb tide; Elsie
    Lots of commands in the Bible.  Even commands related to prayer.  This isn't one of them:
    Joh 19:26-27  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  (27)  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
    So was he telling Mary to pray to John?  Nope.  The only explicit command is to look.  She is to look at John as her son, and John is to look at her as his mother.  Though he had half-brothers, Jesus was the oldest son of Mary, and so was obligated to ensure Mary was cared for, seeing that Joseph was no longer there.  That he does so, even as He is dying a horrible death on our behalf, testifies to His sincere and natural righteousness. It simply was (and is) His innermost nature to always do what is right and good.
  • Dear Gabby

    07/29/2014 8:07:53 PM PDT · 24 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to ebb tide; metmom
    And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:28

    And she [Elizabeth] cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Luke 1:42

    Neither of those are prayers. The angelic greeting is just a greeting, and an announcement of great blessing. If a greeting can be accounted a prayer, then saying hello to someone on the elevator at work is praying and we are all in a lot of trouble. But of course it isn't, so there's no reason to see this as prayer either.

    The greeting of Elizabeth is again a pronouncement of blessing, and here said with great feeling and intensity. But in no sense is Mary being addressed as one with supernatural power to mediate between Elizabeth and God, either in the giving of worship, which Elizabeth would know to be blasphemy to offer to anyone but God, or in the granting of supernatural aid, which is precisely what most people think of on hearing the word "prayer."

    But what about the "Hail?" It is simply the word χαιρε ("chaire"), which is basically "cheers!," "be of good cheer!" etc. There is no way to twist that into a term of worship. It's just "Be happy," because something wonderful is going to happen to you. Which is all true. And has nothing whatsoever to do with either worship or prayer.

  • Dear Gabby

    07/29/2014 7:53:43 PM PDT · 23 of 88
    Springfield Reformer to ebb tide; metmom
    Here's a command:

    After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. John 19:27

    Radical abuse of Scripture. Yes, there is a command, but it is Jesus telling John to care for Mary. Not a hint of praying to her. This is demonstrated by the preceding verse:

    John 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

    Notice how Jesus gives the exact same command in reverse to Mary. He is establishing a new family relationship for both of them. And this made sense under the circumstances. Jesus knew John was going to outlive the other disciples. He was the most logical candidate to care for Mary in her old age. He was just being a good Jew, enlisted here to help Jesus meet His commitments to His earthly parents, "Honor thy father and mother," which is a duty we all have to our own parents. Mary was indeed blessed above all women, for being granted the grace to bring Messiah into the world. But nothing in this passage speaks of prayer to her at all. God will not give His glory to another. See Isaiah 48:11.

  • Sarah Palin's new site is being blocked by Microsoft

    07/29/2014 9:40:46 AM PDT · 58 of 68
    Springfield Reformer to Kirkwood

    Yep. Rush has a two tier approach like that, and it appears to work for him.

  • Son 'did what had to be done,' kills man attacking mother in their N. Minn. home

    07/28/2014 6:51:42 PM PDT · 8 of 50
    Springfield Reformer to Jeff Head; ButThreeLeftsDo

    Yep, defense of another would work here, all things else being equal, because even an unarmed man could easily kill an elderly woman, and that’s the threshold for responding with lethal force. Proportional response.

  • Responding to “Spiritual but Not Religious” Christians

    07/27/2014 5:36:11 PM PDT · 164 of 177
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981

    In the last paragraph, “discourage his readers” should be “encourage his readers.” Typo, and no droid auto-correct to blame. :(

  • Responding to “Spiritual but Not Religious” Christians

    07/27/2014 5:17:58 PM PDT · 163 of 177
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981
    There are a fair number of issues here in which we substantially agree.  For one example, no one can dispute that accurate interpretation of Scripture is critical to the spiritual well-being of Christians, whether considered individually or corporately. The reason for this is simple.  Anyone who truly loves God both wants and needs to know His mind, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee."

    But here we have a problem:

    I think Peter gets to the heart of the matter immediately when he lays out the great gift and promises to us from God, and explains how to make sure we are not led astray by those who personally interpret the scriptures incorrectly

    The problem is, the set of all believers who have ever personally interpreted a Scripture is 100% of all believers who ever read the Bible, which I hope would be most of us.  Of all those, I'm willing to bet well over 99% have been incorrect on occasion, simply as part of the learning process. Therefore virtually all believers have been "heretics" at one time or another IF "personal interpretation" is the offense you say it is.

    But the above analysis is of course absurd, and intentionally so.  You can't even think without doing some sort of interpretation, of words, sounds, whatever the media, and if it is you doing it, it is by definition personal. You are doing it.  Not someone else.  You are a unique individual.  All of your experiences condition and color how you interpret anything that comes to you. There is no way to interact with the world at all without that personal lens affecting it.

    So the problem is not with personal interpretation per se, but with subjective interpretation.  The word of God is objective truth. If by rejecting "personal/private interpretation" all you meant was that Scripture is not theological putty that I can reshape at a whim to conform to my personal preferences and defects of mind and soul, then I would gladly agree with you.  But as I understand it, the typical Catholic meaning assigned here goes well beyond that, to imply a monopoly on comprehending the word of God held by an elite within a single human ("visible") organization.  It is the latter view to which I object, for reasons which I hope to show are consistent with Peter's own argument concerning the origin of Scripture.

    For one thing, a great deal of interpretation has already occurred by the time the phrase "personal interpretation" shows up in these discussions. The original text never even uses a word that directly translates as "personal" or "private."

    (Greek sidebar: The Greek word thus translated is ιδιας ("idais"). Here it means "of one's own," being in the genitive, though really it is in the feminine, not the neuter.  This is an odd property of the Greek, in that words are often grouped to show relationship by conforming the gender to the main term, but with no necessary implication of actual gender in the other words of the group. This idea is awkward to represent in English, so we default to using the neuter "of one's own.")

    The main term in this gender-group phrase is epiluseis, what we might see as "interpretation," or here more likely "disclosure." Compare for example Acts 20:3, where the critical text (though not the Byzantine) contains the expression εγενετο γνωμης.  This is speaking of Paul's resolve to go to Macedonia. Like 2Peter 1:20, the base verb is ginomai ("to come into being"), not estin ("to be"). And like 2Peter1:20, the noun gnomes ("opinion/resolution") is in the genitive, which in this scenario depicts source or origin, thus the genitive points us back to ginomai to describe the origin of the opinion/resolution. The simple translation would then be "[he] came to be of the opinion ..." or more loosely "[he] arrived at the resolution to ..." In other words, we now know something about the origin of Paul's resolution to go through Macedonia. There was a time when it was not, and then it came into being.

    This is exactly the structure of 2Peter 1:20. For any given prophecy, there was a point in time when it did not exist.  Then it came to be. That's why the verb is ginetai, not estin. Peter is addressing how it came to be, because he wishes to assert that the prophetic text is NOT fable, but comes to us directly from God.

    BTW, I have noted your argument that if the KJV's "private interpretation" is ambiguous as to whether he speaks of the reader or the prophet, you contend that ambiguity can be resolved by determining who is Peter's audience, such that if the audience is primarily Jewish they have no need to be reminded of the divine origin of Scripture, and therefore the focus must be the reader, not the prophet. Then you proceed to marshal evidence that the audience in other places is presumed aware of Jewish biblical traditions, and this diminishes the probability Peter was addressing Gentiles, despite the potentially conflicting evidence of the addressees listed.

    That is certainly a creative argument, but I do not think it holds water, for the simple reason that both Jew and Gentile are human, and by definition in need of constant reminding of important divine truths. Consider the Lord's Supper. Why did Jesus say, in plain terms, we should do this? To remember Him. You would ask, how could it be forgotten? Not only were the apostles Jewish, but they lived with Messiah in person.  Yet here is Jesus telling them to do this in remembrance of Him. Indeed, the passover itself was given as a celebration of the exodus, to remember the deliverance Israel received from God, liberation from bondage in Egypt, yet Israel would forget time and time again, as a nation, and fall into idolatry and need to be delivered yet again, after being reminded by God to whom they belonged.

    So I do not think the Jewish audience factor has any bearing on the question of what is being said in verses 20-21.  The structure and grammar and purpose within the flow is all about setting up the contrast between a true message of divine origin versus a false message of human origin. I do not see how to evade that, least of all with the question of who the audience was, and remains to this day. It is all believers who wish to keep in mind the authenticity of God's promises, and especially the promise of Christ's return in glory, despite a discouraging torrent of unbelief, so that we may remain faithful to Him until that happy reunion.

    So let's get back to Peter's game plan for this book. We agree he wanted to protect his flock from false teaching and the harmful divisions it brings. His method is where we disagree. Of course he is concerned about wrong interpretation of Scripture, and he expresses that elsewhere, warning against those who "are unlearned and unstable" twisting the Scriptures (2Peter 3:16).

    But his focus is establishing the truth claims of Christian faith by eyewitness testimony of the glory of Christ, and the even better testimony of the Spirit-driven Scriptures. This is like preparing someone to recognize counterfeit money. The method is NOT to catalog all possible variations of error.  Nor is it to deny someone the ability to objectively review the authenticity of the currency for themselves.  To the contrary, the technique is to firmly establish the true pattern in the minds of everyone who will have contact with the false patterns, so that they may spot the false by noting it's disagreement with the true. And that is exactly what Peter is doing here. He's making all of them "truth detectors," by confirming to their hearts and minds the authenticity of the apostolic and Scriptural witness, which is the single best defense against heresy in any form.

    As for your commentary on the definition of heresy, I note you are using Strong's definition. Nothing wrong with that, except it is overstating the case to speak of "self-choice" as the raw etymology.  αἵρεσις ("hairesis") is more purely just "a choice." Then it moved beyond it's etymology (as most words do) and came to mean sect or school.  The Louw-Nida lexicon uses semantic categories that account for these shifts away from etymological roots and get at the sense of a word in its contextual usage, and it describes two usage categories for the term:
    33.241 αἵρεσιςb, εως f: the content of teaching which is not true—‘false teaching, untrue doctrine, heresy.’ οἵτινες παρεισάξουσιν αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας ‘they will bring in false teachings which are destructive’ 2 Pe 2:1.

    63.27 αἵρεσιςc, εως f: a division of people into different and opposing sets—‘division, separate group.’ δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι ‘for it is necessary that divisions exist among you’ or ‘the existence of divisions among you is inevitable’ 1 Cor 11:19.

    See also Liddell and Scott:
    So while one can certainly infer that one must make an individual choice to follow false teaching, one must also make an individual choice to follow true teaching.  Therefore "self-choice" factors out.  It's not the complaint Peter has. On the contrary, Peter wants each of his readers to choose, personally, to follow the apostolic witness, confirmed as true by eye-witness testimony, but verified by an even more certain testimony, the word of God given to the prophets, not by some secret, personal mediation of the message, but as mere mail-carriers for the Holy Spirit.

    Now I have no doubt these false teachers tried to bolster their position among the gullible by claiming such secret revelations, alleging for themselves some "edge" in getting in with God.  If so, this would almost seem to suggest they were the precursors of the coming gnostic syncretism, which tried to infiltrate Christianity in the First and Second Century. They seem given over to lust, whether for money or for sex or for souls.  They appear to be some group that was expert at justifying their carnality while at the same time convincing the gullible they were spiritually superior to the apostles themselves, which evidently is one of the dignities against which they railed.

    All of this is consistent with the gnostic incursion, because one of the principles of their dualism was they imagined they could be spiritually enlightened through their secret knowledge (which apparently had something to do with pagan temple prostitutes), yet carry on in wild, libertine excess, because deeds done in the material self were irrelevant to the spiritual self. So they found a way to make a living by telling people they could have their cake and eat it too.  And I agree with Peter.  Their condemnation is just, and they will pay a horrible price for their wickedness and how they inflicted it on the tender sheep of Christ's flock.

    But in none of this does Peter discourage his readers to defer all theological thinking to an elite. Exactly the opposite. The false teachers he excoriates were the very ones trying to become that elite. His solution? Simply telling his readers they can trust his eyewitness testimony, and even more so they can trust the Scriptures, to tell them the truth, so that they may, as you have rightly said, remain steadfast in the faith until the day our Lord returns.

    2Pe 3:17-18  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  (18)  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
    May it be so.