How Not to Present An Argument

I recently ran across a post browsing through my “Calvinism” sparks links in Google + and ran across this excerpt that was reply by a person, named David.

I am choosing to address your comment, not because I strive to change your mind, but for the sake of other readers who have ears to hear.

If there is a set of doctrines that are not supported by Scripture, particularly in how to inherit eternal life, then such a belief system is a false gospel. Besides this, if this false gospel describes a god (the one we are supposed to be seeking and obeying) with attributes that are not the attributes that Scripture describes of Him, then the belief system is doubly false. Such a religious system would have to be deemed a cult.

You are saying (at my comment page –8/18/11) that Calvinism matches “the historic views of the church at large the past two thousand years.” This is an unimpressive claim when it was Calvinism which, throughout much of Europe, merely got its way like Catholicism did, through the persecution of those who would not adhere to their enforced state religion. Augustine, whom Calvin quoted extensively, was a very influential Catholic who believed that Tradition and the Church were as authoritative as Scripture, yet Calvinists insist (dishonestly) that it is Scripture alone which they follow. No, Calvinists follow men’s interpretations of Scripture, which means you, as a Calvinist, are not following Christ, but following men’s doctrines –particularly, Augustine’s, Luther’s, and Calvin’s. By the very title “Calvinism”, your belief system is one that adheres to what John Calvin wrote in his “Institutes”. Please do not side-step this fact by talking about “hyper-calvinism” and a “straw man”. Those are typical phrases of evasion I’ve heard numerous times by those who don’t want to own up to what their system does indeed teach.

Now what I find interesting is that the writer seems to define a cult as any religious system that persecutes a group of people like Roman Catholisim did. The other problem is the author is not even addressing the “system” of Calvinism, which is actually what it is. The other problem is the author throws a statement saying that Calvin quoted Augustine saying that since Augustine believed that the Church and the Bible were on equal authoritative grounds that is what Calvin believed.

So what can we learn from this when presenting an argument? A number of things, namely:

  • Context is Everything – Our author, despite her strong convictions really gave no context to her argument nor the context around the quote from Calvin quoting Augustine.
  • Define your Terms – She throws out the term, “Calvinism” without ever defining it.
  • Genetic Fallacy – She attributes what Augustine believed about the weight of Scripture and Church to Calvin, simply because he quoted him.

So it is important to think your presuppositions to their logical conclusions with chains of reasoning that can be used to defend your position and what you are actually trying to prove.

Emacs Cursor Movements

In this weeks segment on Emacs wizardry let’s learn some of the basic cursor movements so you can move around your Emacs buffer faster than the speed of light.

Keystrokes Command Name Action
C-f forward-char Move forward one character(right).
C-b backward-char Move backward one character(left).
C-p previous-line Move to previous line(up).
C-n next-line Move to next line(down)
ESC-f forward-word Move forward one word.
ESC-b backward-word Move one word backward.
C-a beginning-of-line Move to beginning of line.
C-e end-of-line Move to end of line
ESC-e forward-sentence Move forward one sentence.
ESC-a backward-sentence Move backward one sentence.

How to Find Kindle Books with Google

Here is a very simple search for finding Kindle books with a Google query:

intitle:index.of (mobi | epub | plucker)


Exporting Your Kindle Library

As much as I love the Kindle that I received this past Christmas, there are certain things that I have found wanting. Recently one of my Facebook friends asked me what books I had on my Kindle. I thought, “This should be a no brainer,  I’ll just export the list from the as a CSV and send it off to her.” That would be great, except that the current “Manager Your Kindle” portal does not have an export feature of any kind. Then I had an epiphany; I used to use a cool e-reader app for Linux…What was it called…Oh yes, Calibre! So as any committed Ubuntu user would do I fired up the Ubuntu Software Center and found it and a couple of clicks later I had it installed on my desktop. Then I noticed there was not an export option in the GUI. Oh no! But wait, Google is my friend and I have a lot of confidence in my friend. I then ran across this handy little guide
that documents how you can access the Calibre database from the command line. Oh yes, geek heaven! Then all I had to do was to run the list command and I just had it return title and author in a nice fixed-column width format and piped it to a text file and sent to my Facebook friend.

So what is the moral of this story? You will inevitably run into obstacles when your are attempting to solve a problem. The point is to continue to divide and conquer and never give up until achieve your objective.

P.S. I’m still curious as to why as something so basic as an export function is lacking in the Amazon Kindle portal.

Fedora Instrastructure Compromised

The Fedora Infrastructure was recently compromised. Hopefully they secured the systems using the CIS Redhat Linux hardening guide.

Installing Nmap from SVN on Ubuntu 10.10

If you are an Ubuntu user and simply cannot wait to get the latest nmap features, follow the procedure below. Throw this into a file and call it, ‘build_nmap’ and copy it to the /etc/cron.daily directory and you will have a daily build of the latest and greatest version of nmap.

P.S. The same procedure will also work for you Backtrack geeks.

1. Open a shell terminal.

2. svn co –username guest –password “” svn://

3. cd nmap

4. ./configure

5. make

6. sudo make install

The Genius of Puritanism

The Genius of PuritanismThe Genius of Puritanism by Peter Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thought this was an excellent summary of Puritan thought and how necessary it is for the church never to forget the tokens of grace that they have left for us. I particularly enjoyed the focus on Christian depression and the remedies that were provided. The author also had a pretty good balance of quotes from a variety of Puritan sources.

View all my reviews

Thoughts on Van Til: Scripture & Philosophy

From Van Til’s “The Defense of the Faith”:

“But to engage in philosophical discussion does not mean that we begin without scripture.
We do not first defend theism philosophically by an appeal to reason and experience in order, after that, to turn to scripture for our knowledge and defense of Christianity. We get our theism as well as our Christianity from the Bible…It is therefore the system of truth as contained in Scripture which we must present to the world.”

The starting point for the Christian worldview is always the scriptures, but if you listen to Christians attempting to defend the Christian faith, they seldom start with the Scriptures. Instead they feel it is necessary to “put themselves in the mind of the unbeliever” in order to establish a “common ground” to have sound discourse with them. When this approach is utilized the battle is over.

Why would the battle be over with defending the Christian faith with this approach? The moment the Christian concedes(Even just for the sake of argument) they have already agreed that there is a possibility that God and the Bible may not be true. The Scriptures never grant the Christian such liberty. Let’s look at the verse below and see if we can apply it to our example above:

(ESV) John 8:24: “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

Jesus was speaking to the Jewish religious leaders and you say he was engaged in an apologetic for the faith. He does not once concede and say, “OK, let’s just for sake of the argument I”m not who I say I am, namely the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world…?” No, this is never once entertained, but the unbelieving leaders are forced to either accept His testimony and therefore to believe that he is the promised Messiah or they will perish in their sins. There is zero room for neutrality. And this is the point; to concede to the unbelievers position is to believe that God is neutral and we not from the Scriptures that this is not the cause. The Lords judgements are binary; we are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers. Saints or reprobates.

So this is why the presuppositional method of apologetics is the most faithful defense of the Christian faith to the scriptures. We have committed our way to the King of Kings and as Christ said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

The Doctrine of Repentance Book Review

The Doctrine Of RepentanceThe Doctrine Of Repentance by Thomas Watson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As is the case with most of Thomas Watson’s books, the exegesis of scripture is superb and the practical advise that he offers is timeless. This book really hits home by expounding that for the Christian repentance is a continual process and is part of the sanctification process that God uses to conform us to the image of His Son.

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Blackbox Engineering & Ordo Salutis

I think any rationale person would agree that in order to understand anything you need an adequate of the thing being discussed. For our purposes we will be referencing “thing” as a system. Our model will be simple. We will create a system that simply adds two integer values together and outputs the sum of the two values. That being said we can view the conception of the things defined in what historically engineers have referred to as “Black Box Engineering”. This method is commonly used in engineering disciplines and is really very simple.

In the diagram shown above the model consists of 3 parts:

1. Input – Before anything meaningful can be done with our system we need some type of input to act on. For example, we will pass two inputs: a = 1, b =2.

2. Blackbox – This is where our input collected in step 1 is transformed into something that we desire. In our model our blackbox will compute the sum of the two input values.

3. Output – This is the result of our transformation produced by our Blackbox in step 2.

Now let’s make this a little more interesting. Can we apply this method to the order of salvation in relation to the Christian religion? Yes, we can and more specifically as it relates to the Ordus Salutis (Order of Salvation):

1. Inputs – The inputs to feed into our Blackbox consist of biblical means of grace that includes:
A. The preaching of the Word. (Romans 10:17)
B. Prayer (I Tim 2:1)

2. Blackbox – Regeneration that occurs by the Spirit of God working with the inputs of A & B primarily.

3. Output – The resulting output is a new creature in Christ that is justified, sanctified, adopted in the family of God, faith, and eternal life to name a few.

So we see everything human beings deal with are systems in some form or another weather they be buildings, bridges, or the order in which Christ saves a man.