Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gen Eds H7b: Kings Rising in the Middle Ages

This is the second post in the seventh unit of my treatment of world history, a unit called, "The Age of the Church and Jihad."

These are posts in the World History part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. This series involves ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
The Fall of the Roman Empire
1. The Western Roman Empire effectively ended in 476, when a "barbarian" named Odoacer overthrew the last western emperor, Romulus. [1] The Roman Empire had been in serious decline for two or three centuries already by that point, drastically declining in population and without enough soldiers to defend its vast territories. Augustine had written the City of God after the Visigoths had sacked Rome in 410, arguing that the city of mortals (Rome) must decline at the same time that the city of God was increasing on earth (the Church).

Of course the Roman emperor Constantine had moved his headquarters to Constantinople in the east in 330 ("Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople"). For the next 150 years there were usually two emperors, one in the east and one in the west. After 476, the eastern empire would continue, but the western Roman empire was at an end.

2. Germanic tribes had been steadily pealing off territory the Romans had previously held in northwest Europe. The Visigoths who had sacked Rome in 410 settled in what is now southern France, Spain, and Portugal. By 450, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes had taken England after the Romans had abandoned the territory earlier in the century. [2] The Franks were a factor in northern Europe from the late 200s. In the late 400s, Clovis I and the Franks would take most of the territory of modern day France and Germany. [3]

The Byzantine Kingdom
3. The Roman Empire in the east would survive another thousand years. After Constantine moved the center of the Roman empire to Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople, a succession of kings would continue all the way until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks finally took the city. It remained an independent and at times very powerful kingdom, even giving rise to the first Crusade to protect it from the Seljuk Turks in 1096. [4] However, it was sacked by crusaders themselves in the Fourth Crusade (1204) and never fully recovered. [5]

4. The Franks continued to rule the parts of Europe we know today as France and Germany in the centuries that followed. At the Battle of Tours in 732, Charles Martel successfully stopped the advance of Islam up through Spain. In the late 700s, his grandson Charles the Great would expand the kingdom to cover the easternmost parts of present day Germany, Switzerland, and Italy down past Rome.

Charles the Great, known more commonly as Charlemagne, is sometimes thought of as the Father of Europe. He was a devout Catholic and had a close relation with the Pope (Leo III). [6] On Christmas Day in the year 800, the Pope declared Charlemagne the emperor of the Romans, although the Roman empire had never actually ceased in the east. Some later looked to this event as the birth of the "Holy Roman Empire," which would last until 1806 when Napoleon brought it to its end.

5. Charlesmagne's empire was divided into three parts with his grandchildren. The westernmost part would eventually develop into France and speak French. The easternmost part would become a collection of states that would speak German. A middle sliver running from top to bottom would be a collection of states running from the eventual Netherlands in the north to Switzerland and parts of Italy in the south.

Holy Roman Empire
6. The "Carolingian" dynasty only lasted a little more than 70 years after the death of Charlemagne. But the torch of empire would be picked up again by Otto I, who in 962 was crowned by the Pope as emperor. So Otto was understood to be the heir not only of Charlemagne's empire but of the Roman empire itself. His son would take the title "Emperor of the Romans," and after 1184, it would be known as the Holy Roman Empire. [7]

The HRE did not have a single capitol and was actually a collection of states. At the time of its end in 1806, there were over 1800 such territories. The emperor was elected and so, although it sometimes passed from father to son, at times it moved around. From the mid-1400s on, the Habsburg dynasty would be emperors based in Austria.

Norman Conquest
7. In the 900s, Norse conquerors began to settle in the north of France, intermingling with the Franks there, mixing with the Latin-influenced language there, and switching out Norse religion for Roman Catholicism. In 1066 William the Conqueror would invade England, displacing the ruling Saxons. Many of the kings in the next couple hundred years were as much French as they were English.

Cultural Developments
8. We see in the Middle Ages a number of key human transitions that have been formative toward the world we now live in. For example, the Middle Ages saw both the development and eventually the deterioration of feudalism. Many of the tribes of Europe at the end of the Roman Empire were not firmly established in a location. They slowly migrated westward.

One transition of the Middle Ages was thus the establishment of permanent areas that coincided with permanent people groups. The Celts that ended in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales had wandered from Turkey in the time before Paul all the way to France (Gaul) and up into what is now Britain. The Germanic peoples followed them into westernmost Europe.

But after Charlemagne, these peoples reach a certain stopping point. Regions become established. Lines are drawn across a land by human minds. Kings become established in permanent locations. Of course the Romans and other peoples had done this long before, but this is the first time it happened in the lands of northern Europe.

9. With locations now fixed, a hierarchy is established. Kings rule barons who now own land. Then there are serfs or vassals who work the land owned by the nobility in exchange for the lord's military protection. Feudalism thus implies a rather decentralized power structure such as typified the Holy Roman Empire.

Given the power of the Roman Catholic Church, the church became integrated into this feudal system. At times the church dictated the politics. At times the politics ran the church. When the emperors or kings were strong, they sometimes picked the Pope. At other points, the Pope picked the emperor. This was often a bad situation.

The rise of monasteries provided an opportunity for those without any means to have a meaningful life with adequate resources. They provided hope on a grass roots level. At other times, priests became far too powerful and involved in local politics. When the church took the role of "lords," the same abuses of power became possible.

10. A bright spot was the Magna Carta in 1215. It signaled the beginning of rights for the landowners under the king of England. It put limits on how much the king could ask of them. It protected against illegal imprisonment. It called for speedy justice. Although it was not often followed, it became part of the cultural expectations of England.

It thus created a trajectory, a culture that did not consider it appropriate for kings to do whatever they wanted. It would create a climate in which first a House of Lords would exist in which the landowners had a say that, at least a little, counter-balanced the power of the king. Eventually a House of Commons would be added, where the ordinary person was represented as well.

This was the trajectory that would eventually lead to modern representational democracy.

Take Aways
  • No earthly kingdom lasts forever.
  • It is by far for the best for church and state to be separated structurally, to where the church is free to be the church and the state is not under the control of the church.
Next Week: History 7c: Medieval Arabia, India, and China

[1] Others identify Julius Nepos as the last emperor. In Rome he was just before Romulus (474-75), and he continued to be the official emperor until he died in Dalmatia in 480.

[2] They pushed the Celtic people that the Romans had conquered to what is now Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

[3] In 503, Clovis would convert to Christianity. His dynasty is known as the Merovingian dynasty.

[4] What is now Turkey had been part of the Byzantine empire, but the Seljuk Turks steadily conquered it in the late 1000s.

[5] See the previous post.

[6] Not least because Charles liberated Italy from the Lombards.

[7] Voltaire in the 1700s remarked that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Take Over a State

Started reading an old book today.

1. The first chapter is about how the Russian Tsar's secret police around the year 1900 took a document and re-brandished it as The Protocols of the Men of Zion. Their goal was to accrue power to themselves by creating a crisis that unified Russians against Jews and thereby empowered the Russian leaders in order to stop them. They wished to create a state-directed revolution, and several thousand Jews were massacred in Russia as a result.

Part of the recipe had to do with a real event--the meeting of Jews in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, to start a movement to bring Jews back to their homeland in Israel. So there was a kernel of truth in the propaganda.

2. But it was joined to an untrue conspiracy theory, in fact to a novel. In a 1868 novel (Biarritz), twelve rabbis from around the globe meet together in the Jewish cemetery in Prague. Their goal? World domination! So we have a pretend conspiracy and a document to go with it.

Obviously these Jews had to be stopped! ... even though there was no conspiracy to take over the world and, as it turned out, this was a document that had been re-purposed. It had nothing to do with Jews originally.

3. The original document was created as a satire about Napoleon III, written by a French lawyer named Joly. It's cynical point is that people are easy to satisfy and that a clever mind can easily dominate masses of people. This is VERY ironic, since the secret police used allegations that Jews were saying these things about them in order for them to dominate the minds of Russians.

In The Protocols the Antichrist would come at the end of days. He would look like everyone else. He does not look like what he is, which is why he is so dangerous. He has a strong and seductive personality. He wins fame at first with a book that seems to respect ancient traditions and symbols. He is the type of man who comes to the fore when an epoch is dying. He will talk with the masses, and the masses will rise up and burn the culture to ashes.

The conspirators will take whatever view of political questions that the moment requires. What the leader says will spread through the whole country like wildfire. They will create unrest, struggle, and hate in the whole of Europe.

They will poison relations between the people and the states of various countries. They will create hunger, destitution, whatever is necessary to bring all peoples so that their only escape is in total submission to the dominating power.

"We shall paint the misdeeds of foreign governments in the most garish colors and create such an ill-feeling toward them that the people would a thousand times rather bear a slavery which guarantees them peace and order than enjoy their much-touted freedom. The peoples will tolerate any servitude we may impose on them, if only to avoid a return to the horrors of wars and insurrection."

"Outwardly, however, in our 'official' utterances, we shall adopt an opposite procedure and always do our best to appear honorable and co-operative. A statesman's words do not have to agree with his acts."

"By all these methods we shall so wear down the nations that they will be forced to offer us world domination."

4. So this satire on France was written in 1864. The novel about a Jewish world conspiracy was written in 1868. The Zionist movement--to resettle Jews in Israel--began in 1898. And the Tsar's secret police cooked The Protocols around 1903.

In the middle of the Russian revolution in 1917, the book by chance landed on the desk of a German-born Russian named Alfred Rosenberg. He believed it hook, line, and sinker. To escape Lenin and the communists, whom he wrongly took to be Jews, he fled Russia and, by 1918, was living in Munich, Germany.

Harry Shepherd Prophecy Final

This is the eighteenth and final installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, without comment.
A Recapitulation Plus
In this booklet we have tried to show:
  1. That the Fall of Man necessitated a Coming of the Lord.
  2. That the truth of a Kinsman Redeemer required the Coming of the Lord.
  3. That this Kinsman Redeemer would come into this world by a different process by which ordinary men came.
  4. That God gave to Abraham Four Promises in which may be seen the Coming of the Lord.
  5. That these promises applied especially to Abraham's descendants through Isaac (Israelites) and not through Ishmael (Arabs).
  6. That God began to work on this Four Promise Program when Joseph was sold into Egypt.
  7. That He has worked on it since then with some successes and hindrances.
  8. The World Setting at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.
  9. A Lost Golden Opportunity at Jesus' First Coming.
  10. How Far God has progressed with This Program in the time of people now alive and the prophetic meaning of this.
  11. The chronological order of chapters 36, 37, 38, and 39 of Ezekiel, a sign of the Coming of the Lord.
  12. The riddance of Palestine of the Turks in World War I, an indication of the end of this age later on.
  13. World War I was the first birth pang in the period Jesus called the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8) Armageddon will be the last travail pain which will bring the birth of the Millennial Dispensation, hence, a Second Coming Sign.
  14. That World War II, another birth pang, helped bring the New Jewish Nation and made way for, at least, a three fourths partial fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, indicating the end of the age.
  15. That the Jewish economic situation now following the groove of Ezekiel 38 is a sign of the coming of the Lord.
  16. That the Palestinian stage is so fully set now for the Russian invasion that it is a great sign of the Coming of the Lord.
  17. How the Fourth Promise has determined the destinies of Nations and Individuals.
  18. The Time of the Russian Invasion.
  19. The Purpose of the Tribulation.
  20. How the Fourth Promise applies to the antichrist and the False Prophet in connection with Armageddon.
  21. The details of the Battle of Armageddon.
  22. The Four Promises to Abraham as they apply to Christ's Millennial Reign and to Gog and Magog of Revelation.
  23. Two prophetic outcroppings in the Election of 1960 show the shaping of events pointing to the Coming of the Lord. The sentiment of incongruous Church Federation is a sign of His Return.
  24. Jesus Christ, at His Revelation with His Holy Angels, will wipe out all communists, including the Greatest, the antichrist, and destroy Communism forever. Amen!
  25. We are living in a world of smouldering animosity, trying to get rid of God. It is an hour of pent-up tensions. Smouldering animosities eventually will blaze and pent-up tensions will break.
VIII. The Count Down On The Launching Pad
In these days of missiles, we read about rockets on their launching pads before they begin their journeys—in case of war journeys of devastation and destruction. When these missiles are placed on their launching pads, there probably is a period of anxiety and tension, especially while the count down is on and very especially at the moment of the Zero Hour of firing. The Nations today are on a launching pad of Anxiety and Tension. In the light of the whole of prophetic signs, God, in His heaven, has already begun the count down. The Zero Hour is the shout and descent of the Lord for His upward-looking and deceased saints—the Rapture. The count down, seemingly already on, is 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-0. Only God knows where we are in it. For the nations, following the Zero Hour, is the terrible, incomprehensible Tribulation. For the redeemed, at the Zero Hour, is eternal salvation and immortality. Reader, are you, yours, your neighbors, and acquaintances ready for this Hour?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 17

This is the seventeenth installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, the second to last post. His opinions were quite intertwined with events almost 60 years ago, a good warning against tying contemporary events to interpretations of Revelation. JFK did not turn out to be the beginning of the end or the final push of communism (he actually sparred strongly with the Soviets). Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church would undergo a spiritual revival in the late 60s at Vatican II. My grandfather's thoughts, however, are fascinating from a historical perspective, as difficult as they may be to read at points.
VI. The Last and Greatest of the Communists
In our previous discussion of the Third Promise to Abraham in the Election of 1960, as well as in the caption above, we may, at first thought, seem far field. But not so, for the forces at work under both captions are headed eventually to try to block this promise to bless Abraham had to make him a blessing to all the families and nations of the earth, through his greatest Son—Jesus Christ.

In discussing this theme, we need to refer to some Bible truths. There's the truth of a Divine Trinity, comprising God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is also a truth of a True Church and a False Church. The former is hidden and known by God alone. The latter is already in existence, but not fully made up nor fully revealed. As there is a true Divine Trinity so, also, there is a satanic trinity, a counterfeit of the true. We find this given in Revelation, chapters 12 and 13 and chapter 19, verse 20. In chapter 12, we have Satan, counterfeiting God the Father or anti-father. In chapter 13, the composite Leopard beast counterfeits Jesus Christ the Son or antichrist. The beast out of the earth in verses 11 to 18, and called the False Prophet in Ch. 19:20, counterfeits the blessed Holy Spirit or anti-holy ghost. In chapters 4, 5, and 19, we have the True Church and in chapter 17, the false church—the purple and scarlet clad woman. Here this false church must be in peaceful co-existence for the time being with the scarlet-colored beast, for it is carrying her. But who is this beast? A comparison of chapter 13, verses 1 to 3, will show that it is the same beast in both chapters. But in chapter 17, the yellow leopard has lost his black spots and become, apparently, scarlet all over. What does this change of color mean? In my opinion, it indicates not only his ruthless, bloody disposition, but also his communist ideology of government. I would say, here is the last (with the False Prophet probably included) and greatest of the Communists—worldwide communism in its final form under the terrible antichrist of the Great Tribulation, which and whom Christ Jesus will destroy with the brightness of His Coming.

VII. A League or Federation of Churches (Revelation, Ch. 17)
And who is this purple and scarlet-clad woman who is the Mother of harlots and Abominations of the Earth (v.5)? In the Bible, spiritual fornication consists in infidelity to the true God and the forsaking of Him for false gods—the sin of idolatry. Written upon this woman's forehead was, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots (or margin fornications) And Abominations of the Earth? The word, Babylon, has the idea of confusion in its meaning. This woman then is in religious confusion. She is the mother of spiritual fornications—evidently, the mother or originator of false and idolatrous religions. She was born over for millenniums ago (about 2347 B.C.) down at old Babylon under the institution of the mighty Nimrod, the rebellious panther and mighty rebel against God. Before the building of the tower of Babel, he and his wife, Semiramis, originated the beginning of idol worship from which have descended spiritual fornications of the earth. As The Scarlet-Clad Woman, decked with the outward finery of the world (17:4), she is here in her final form before her destruction. At this time of her life, there is a federation of ten nations, which we may call the Bible League of Nations that will have put their economic, political, and military might at the disposal of and under the terrible scarlet beast (Ch. 17:13)—the awful antichrist. They, for a while, will tolerate this idolatrous False Church and then finally turn on her and destroy her root and branch (Rev. 17:3, 15-17). In the light of her origin and nature, we may safely conclude that she is a religious monstrosity made up of idolatrous Roman Catholicism, Apostate Protestantism (the Modernists, including all churches who preach only a Social Gospel), the Orthodox Greek Church, Mohammadanism, possibly Buddhism, and some other false faiths—a League or Federation of Churches or Faiths.

But who is this miracle-performing False Prophet that directs and controls the religious side of the antichrist's kingdom (Revelation 13:11-18)? As he is likely the head of one of the federated religions above, and as the Roman Catholic faith is probably the strongest of these, could it be that some Pope will eventually be this Prophet? Whether this be true or not, he will finally establish the worship of the antichrist of God (Revelation 13:12, II Thessalonians 2:3-4) and the worship of the antichrist's image. Death will be the penalty for those who refuse to comply (Revelation 13:12-18), possibly including the martyrs of Revelation 6:9-11. If we are as near to these events as prophetic truth seems now to point, the only way to escape these two satanic possessed men, this through death or being translated at the coming of our Lord at the First Resurrection. The late election (1960) either began the acceptance of or toleration of the public sentiment that a man's religion does not make any difference as to his fitness to be President of the United States. As this election headed us as a nation in the direction of this idolatrous, purple and scarlet-clad woman, I wonder what God in Heaven thinks now of "the land of the free and the home of the brave?" As free enterprise and religious liberties will finally perish under the Last of the Communists (the antichrist, etc.) at or following the Coming of Christ "with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God” to rapture the true Church, (I Thessalonians 4:16) our hope is to pray that God will preserve these till that event. Amen! Surely, this coming is at hand in God's sight (Philippians 4:5).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Seminary PL28: Zwingli: No Compromise?

This is the fourteenth post on church management in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the twenty-seventh post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

The previous post in this series looked Athanasius as an example of a leader who didn't compromise on an essential matter of dogma. This week continues with a second example from church history: Zwingli, someone who probably should have compromised and didn't.
1. Athanasius stubbornly held on to the Trinity in the 300s even when it seemed all political power--and perhaps even most popular sentiment--was against him. Jan Hus (1369-1415) and Martin Luther (1483-1546) similarly refused to recant their positions, both against some of the problems in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) of their day. Luther especially refused to recant his belief in justification by faith unless he could be shown from the Bible.

Both Hus and Luther were willing to be convinced on the basis of Scripture. Although they were persistent, they were perhaps still not quite as unbending as Athanasius. Nor do they seem as dogged as another reformer of Luther's day, Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531). Zwingli became a priest of the cathedral of Zurich in 1518, in the Swiss Confederation of that time. [1] This was the year after Luther nailed his ninety-five theses of protest against the thinking and practices of the RCC of that day.

2. At the same time that Luther's situation was playing itself out in the German states, Zwingli was in Zurich pushing back on various abuses and doctrines of the RCC to which he objected. A defiant soul, one such protest took place in 1522 when he and some others cut up a couple sausages during Lent and distributed them (they were supposed to be fasting). He secretly married a widow in defiance of the requirement for priests to be celibate, and was publicly married in 1524. He was able to get away with these things because of the tide of Swiss independence that had become so strong in the decades before.

Zwingli and others in Zurich increasingly pushed back on the veneration of saints and on the rituals and opulence of the church. There were a number of public debates in which Zwingli took part. In the early 1520s, some in Zurich began to push back on the practice of infant baptism, believing it to be unbiblical.

One wonders if Zwingli was of a certain personality that vigorously wanted the right and freedom to air his grievances and make space for his perspectives but who could not allow for anyone else to disagree with his positions and who would not make space for the right or freedom of others to disagree. It was apparently okay for him to push back on the RCC on the basis of the Bible, but when some in his own church had a crisis of conscience, he did not tolerate it. Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and George Blaurock performed the first adult baptisms in 1525. They refused to leave Zurich. The next year a penalty of death was attached to anyone who would rebaptize.

Manz was drowned in the Limmat River for rebaptizing in 1527. More would follow. [2]

3. In 1529, Zwingli met with Luther at what is called the Marburg Colloquy. Zwingli had increasingly come to reject the idea that Jesus was in any way present in the Lord's Supper. [3] Zwingli's view was that the Lord's Supper was merely a remembering of the Last Supper, nothing more. Meanwhile, while Luther had rejected the RCC doctrine of transubstantiation, he still believed that the "real presence" of Jesus was there with the elements. [4]

The two came to a consensus on fourteen of fifteen points, but there was no agreement on communion. Luther had no real expectations of the meeting, although Zwingli thought he could convince Luther of his position. Certain personalities, perhaps like Zwingli's, always think they can convince their opponents if they argue long enough and think you perverse when you remain unconvinced.

What would have happened if Luther and Zwingli had agreed to disagree at Marburg? Might Protestantism have remained a singular alternative to Roman Catholicism? Probably not, for reasons we will explore in the next post.

4. I do not know the heart of Zwingli, nor am I an expert on him. But there is a certain personality that enjoys conflict and is unwilling to compromise on many issues that are neither dogma nor essential. They would rather blow up the world than bend on any point. Conflict obviously follows such individuals everywhere they go unless everyone around them is willing to do what they want.

Zwingli died in battle against five states in the Swiss Confederacy who wanted to remain Roman Catholic and believed that Zurich and the other states were in a process of forcing Protestantism on them. Luther is said to have believed God had a part in the death of Zwingli, saying, "All who take the sword will die by the sword."

Next Week: Pastor as Leader 29: Tillich's Protestant Principle

[1] These thirteen Swiss states were part of a sprawling collection of hundreds of county-sized states that made up the "Holy Roman Empire." These states covered territories that today are part of Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands, and more.

[2] Zwingli was not on the council that enacted these things, but we have every reason to believe that he fully supported and would have promoted this course of action. These "Anabaptists" or rebaptizers were a branch of the Reformation known as the "Radical Reformation."

[3] An influence on Zwingli here was Andreas Karlstadt, who had been a colleague of Luther's at Wittenberg and who, like Zwingli, was more militant in pushing his views than Luther.

[4] Luther's view is called "consubstantiation." Transubstantiation is the belief that the elements literally become the actual body and blood of Jesus in their underlying substance. This view drew heavily on the philosophy of the Greek Aristotle (384-22BC) as passed on through Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) in the Middle Ages.

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management
Conflict Management

Saturday, November 26, 2016

6.3 Variational Analysis

This is the third section of Module 6 in the Navy Basic Electricity and Electronics series, a module on parallel circuits. The sections so far are:

6.1 Rules for Voltage and Current
6.2 Rules for Resistance and Power

This third section is about how voltage, current, power, and total resistance change as voltage is increased or resistance is increased/decreased.

1. So the basic principles so far in this module are that
  • Voltage is going to be the same in every branch of a parallel circuit.
  • Total current is the sum of the current in every branch.
  • The total resistance goes down if you add another branch.
  • E = IR
  • P = EI
So this section plays out a few scenarios.

2. What if you double the voltage from the source?
  • Voltage in every branch will go up.
  • Therefore, current in every branch will go up because I = E/R.
  • Resistance will stay the same--it's a physical factor.
  • Power will go up because P = EI.
3. What if you add another resistor in another branch?
  • Voltage remains the same in every branch.
  • There will now be current in that branch and since current is additive, the total current will go up.
  • That means the total power will go up, since P = EI.
  • Total resistance will go down, due to the reciprocal method.
4. What if you change the resistance in one branch, say decreasing it?
  • Voltage remains the same in every branch.
  • Current goes up in that branch because I = E/R.
  • Therefore, total current goes up.
  • Therefore, total power goes up.
  • Since Rtotal = E/I and total current goes up, total resistance goes down.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Gen Eds MS6: Chemical Reactions

This is the sixth post in the math/science part of my "Gen Eds in a Nutshell" series. It's a series of ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. I've already done the subject of philosophy, and I'm over half way through the world history subject on Wednesdays. I'm combining the last two on math and science into one series on Fridays.

Thus far in the math/science subjects:
1. There are two basic kinds of changes that substances can undergo. Physical changes do not change the chemical structure of something. Molecules remain the same molecules. Ionic compounds remain the same ionic compounds. But a chemical might change its physical state without changing its chemical structure. A gas might condense into a liquid or a liquid might evaporate into a gas. A liquid might freeze into a solid or a solid might melt into a liquid. These are examples of physical changes.

Chemical reactions, on the other hand, actually involve a change in the chemical structure of the elements or compounds that are reacting. The law of conservation of matter means that no element can be destroyed. [1] Accordingly, if there are a certain number of atoms of certain types before the reaction, there must be the same number of atoms of the same types after the reaction. The elements just get arranged in different ways.

2. So two very simple kinds of reaction are a "composition" reaction and a "decomposition" reaction. In the first kind of reaction (composition), two different elements or compounds come together to form a single compound. In the second (decomposition), one compound breaks down into two or more elements or compounds.

Take the following reaction:
H2 + O2 → H2O

This is a composition or "synthesis" reaction because a hydrogen and an oxygen molecule combine to form a water molecule. It is also, by the way, a combustion reaction because this process normally takes place by burning hydrogen. Sometimes a little Δ (delta) is put above the arrow to indicate the addition of heat.

3. The equation above is "imbalanced" because there are two oxygens (O) on the left side of the reaction (the "before" side) but there is only one oxygen on the right side (the "after" side). "Balancing" an equation is when you make sure there are the same number of each type of atom on both sides of the equation. This is necessary because you can't create or destroy matter.

After a little trial and error, here is what a balanced form of this same equation looks like:

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O

The number in front of a chemical symbol indicates that many of that particular molecule. So 2H2 means two hydrogen molecules. [2] So now we have 4 hydrogens on the left side of the equation and 4 hydrogens on the right side. But now we have two oxygens on the left and two oxygens on the right. The equation is "balanced."

4. The process can also happen in reverse in a "decomposition" reaction. If you put electricity through water (electrolysis), water will begin to decompose into hydrogen and oxygen gas molecules. The balanced decomposition reaction looks like the following:

2H2O → 2H2 + O2

5. Two other kinds of reaction are single replacement reactions and double replacement reactions. In a single replacement reaction, an element in one compound trades places with an element in another:

AB + C → AC + B

For example, if you take silver nitrate (AgNO3) [3] and add it to copper in solid form (Cu), the copper trades places with the silver, forming copper or "cuprous" nitrate (CuNO3) [4] and the silver coming out in solid form. The balanced formula looks like the following:

AgNO3(aq) + Cu(s) → CuNO3 + Ag(s) [5]

When a solid comes out of solution, as the silver does here, we call it a "precipitate."

6. Another way of thinking about many single replacement reactions is as oxidation-reduction reactions or redox reactions. "Oxidation" refers to some component of a reaction losing electrons (OX-loss). "Reduction" refers to some component of a reaction reducing its charge or gaining electrons. "OIL RIG" might help a person remember what the definitions mean. "Oxidation is loss, Reduction is gain" of electrons.

So in the silver nitrate reaction, silver gains electrons (it goes from +1 to 0) and copper loses electrons (it goes from 0 to +1). So the copper is "oxidized" because it loses electrons. The silver is "reduced" because it gains an electron and gets more negative, in a sense. We say that the silver is an "oxidizing agent" and the copper is a "reducing agent."

Elements are assigned an "oxidation number" somewhat depending on what column they are in on the periodic table. Any element in column 1 has an oxidation number of +1. Any element in column 7 has an oxidation number of -1. The rest is predictable. Oxygen is -2. Nitrogen is -3. Carbon can be either +4 or -4.

7. In a double replacement reaction, two elements in two compounds trade places:

AB + CD → AC + BD

For example, if you take sodium chloride (NaCl) and mix it with silver nitrate (AgNO3), the sodium and the silver will trade places, yielding sodium nitrate (NaNO3) and silver chloride (AgCl), which will come out of solution as a precipitate. The balanced formula is:

AgNO3(aq) + NaCl (aq) → NaNO3(aq) + AgCl(s)

8. A slightly more complicated example is when you dissolve marble, calcium carbonate (CaCO3), in sulfuric acid (H2SO4). The calcium will take the place of the hydrogen, yielding calcium sulfate (CaSO4), and the hydrogen combines with some of the oxygen to form water (H2O). Carbon dioxide is also formed (CO2).

The equation is CaCO3 + H2SO4  CaSO4 + CO2 + H2O

9. In the previous post, we mentioned that acids are compounds that want to give a proton and most typically have hydrogen ions as part of their formulas. Bases are then compounds that attract protons, often having an OH- ion at the end of their formula.

One special kind of double replacement reaction involves the neutralization of an acid with a base. [6] One example would be the neutralization of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) with sodium hydroxide (NaOH):
H2SO4 + 2NaOH → NaSO4 + 2H2O

Next Week: Math/Science 7: The Basic Tools of Algebra

[1] Some radioactive degenerations involve one type of atom deteriorating into two lighter atoms.

[2] One molecule of hydrogen (H) consists of two hydrogen atoms (H2). We say that it is a "diatomic" molecule for this reason. The reason there are two is because with each hydrogen sharing its one electron with the other, the outer shell of the hydrogen is full. Hydrogen and helium don't follow the octet rule because they only have one "s" shell, which only can take two electrons.

[3] Ag is the symbol for silver because it is an element that has been known long enough to go by its Latin name argentum. The ion NO3 is the nitrate ion. It has a negative one charge.

[4] Some elements, like the transition metal copper, has more than one ionic charge. So copper can either take on a +1 charge or a +2 charge. When the +1 form combines to form a compound, it is called "cuprous" something. When the +2 form combines it is called "cupric" something.

[5] (aq) means that the compound is dissolved in water and is "in solution."

[6] One way to neutralize is by a method called titration, where an acid or a base is dripped into the other until the resulting solution is completely neutralized.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gen Eds H7a: Church Schisms in the Middle Ages

So finally we begin the seventh unit of world history: "The Age of the Church and Jihad."

These are posts in the World History part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. This series involves ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
Schisms in the Church
1. Most historians, both Catholic and Protestant, would agree that the Roman Catholic Church in the late Middle Ages was not particularly true to its professed identity. Some have said in recent years that Luther would not have withdrawn from the Roman Catholic Church of today. But the church of the late Middle Ages was often corrupt, inconsistent to its own values, and typified by the kinds of power and money struggles of any purely human organization.

The problem, it would seem, is the way in which political power and religious authority became intertwined, a strong argument in itself for the separation of church and state, of religion from political leadership. As the papacy became more politically powerful, those with political ambition found it more and more desirable. Rather than seeking the office to do good, they sought it to have power and wealth.

No one should be able to get rich off of religious or political office while they are in office. It's too dangerous a conflict of interest and often leads to disaster for the governed.

Simony became rampant in the Middle Ages. This was the practice of buying your way into religious position--"pay for play." It is no wonder that churchmen like John Wycliffe (1320-84) and Jan Hus (1369-1415) began to protest the church's leaders and practices. In their day, they did not have the political power to launch a "protesting" movement that could successfully reform or escape the power of the Roman Catholic Church. It would take over a hundred more years for Luther to do that. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415. Wycliffe escaped such punishment while he was alive, but his bones were dug up and burned in 1428.

The ability to obtain positions of power should not be a matter of wealth. Anyone in theory, no matter how much status or power he or she has, should be able to reach the highest offices on merits rather than money or legacy. This is why limits on the amount of money that can be used to advance a candidate for office seems to make sense.

2. You might say that the Roman Catholic Church was born in 1054 when a series of events led the Western church to excommunicate the Eastern church, with the Eastern Church excommunicating the Western church in turn. [1] This event is called the Great Schism between the East and West of the church catholic, the church universal.

The power of the "bishop of Rome" had steadily grown over the centuries in comparison to other leaders of the Christian church in key cities of the Mediterranean. Leo the Great was the first to use "Pope" regularly in his title (Pope from 440-61). [2] Around the year 600, Pope Gregory I established the bishop of Rome as the "first among equals," the "servant of the servants of God" (Pope from 590-604).

At that time, there were prominent bishops in Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria  as well (the "Pentarchy"). With the Muslim conquests of the 600s, only Rome and Constantinople remained as the primary bishops of Christianity. The split in 1054 was really over who was the greater authority of the two. As usual, there was a presenting issue that brought the underlying issue to the surface, namely, the right of the western church to add the words "and the son" to the Nicene Creed without the East's permission.

The original Nicene Creed of 381 said, "I believe... in the Holy Spirit... who proceeds from the Father." The western church had long added the words "and the Son" to its version. The Eastern church objected that Rome did not have the authority to add to the creed without a universal ("ecumenical") meeting ("council"). The situation came to a head in 1054 with both sides excommunicating the other.

The result is that we have the Eastern Orthodox Church in the east and the Roman Catholic Church in the west. Both claim to be "catholic" or universal churches, so the word "Roman" becomes necessary after that point when we are speaking of the Catholic Church based in Rome.

3. Some aspects of the Roman church that Protestants later objected to came to the fore in the five hundred years after the Great Schism. For example, the celibacy of priests was not an absolute practice of catholic Christianity until after the split from the East. In the eastern church, you can still become a priest if you are married, although you cannot remarry if your wife dies after you are a priest and a "patriarch" cannot be married.

The Crusades also took place after the great split. The Muslim invasions of the west in the 600s and 700s took all of Turkey and Africa, not to mention Jerusalem and the Holy Land. In 1095, Pope Urban II came to the rescue of the Eastern church (perhaps hoping to reunify it) as the Muslim Seljuk Turks were advancing in the direction of Constantinople. By 1099, Jerusalem had also been restored to Christian control.

This version of the First Crusade sounds noble, but war always brings atrocities. The overall intentions might be good--or not--but on the level of individual versus individual, atrocities always take place. There is always the death of the innocent. There is always rape and plundering. In the lead up to the First Crusade, for example, the "People's Crusade" or the "German Crusade" involved the murder of thousands of Jews in Germany (1096).

The Muslims would reassert themselves and a Second Crusade took place from 1147-49 to try to regain lost ground, but it did not succeed. The Crusaders were defeated by the Seljuk Turks. Then in 1187 Jerusalem fell again to Saladin, the greatest of the Seljuk Turks. This led to the Third Crusade in 1189-92, the "Kings Crusade." This is the crusade in which Richard the Lionhearted of England (of Robin Hood fame) participated.

The Third Crusade saw great military success, but Jerusalem was not retaken from Saladin. In 1192 unarmed Christian pilgrims were however granted access to Jerusalem in a treaty with the great Kurd.

The desire to retake Jerusalem led to the Fourth Crusade (1202-4), but these crusaders never even made it passed Turkey. Instead, they turned aside and sacked the Christian city of Constantinople in 1204. The Fifth Crusade (1213-21) never made it past Egypt and was defeated. A Sixth Crusade (1228) restored Jerusalem for a few years (and banished Jews once again from the city). A Seventh Crusade failed to get back Egypt and was led by King Louis IX of France (1248-54). He tried again on an Eighth (1270) and a Ninth (1271-72), both of which were failures. Here endeth the crusading.

4. There was a time in the Middle Ages, when the popes were not located in Rome but in France (1309-77). As background, one of the most powerful Popes of the Middle Ages was Pope Boniface VIII (Pope from 1294-1303). He issued a papal decree (called a papal bull) in 1302 which declared that the Pope was supreme over all human authority, including political authority, in effect declaring himself the final authority on earth over every other human being. [3]

Boniface excommunicated lots and lots of people. His conflict with the King of France at the time (Philip IV "the Fair") was particularly fierce, as Philip began to tax the lands of the church in France. Dante puts Boniface in the eighth ring of hell in his Inferno, the ring for those who commit simony, fraud, and hypocrisy. After Boniface's death, the next pope lasted scarcely eight months and left Rome for his own protection.

The next pope was elected by force and moved the papacy to France, where it would basically stay under the control of the French king for some 68 years. This is the period of the Avignon Papacy, since all the popes were French and served from the French city of Avignon. This period is also sometimes called the "Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy."

Boniface had tried to assert the power of the Pope more than ever before, and the end result was a more or less enslaved papacy for almost 70 years. Here is a lesson. When you go all in, if you lose, your loss may also be total.

5. Pope Gregory IX returned to Rome in 1377, the year before his death. As the cardinals sought a successor, a mob formed around the papal enclave demanding that the next pope be a Roman pope rather than a French one. Pope Urban VI was selected. The problem is that he wanted reform, many of the same kinds of reform that Jan Hus wanted and was preaching on in the empire of Bohemia at the time (today, the Czech Republic).

His bullish manner was so offensive that the cardinals wanted to reverse their selection. Another pope (or perhaps, anti-pope) was selected at Avignon, beginning what is known as the Western Schism. There would be two popes from late 1378 until the Council of Constance in 1417--the one in Rome now considered legitimate and the one in Avignon now called an antipope.

6. The Council of Constance (in southern Germany) was called in 1417 to end this Schism. By this time there were actually three people claiming to be Pope, since a council in 1409 had claimed to depose the other two and impose a new one. The remaining popes abdicated, and a new Pope, Martin V, was elected. This was also the council that condemned Jan Hus to the stake.

Take Aways:
  • No one should be able to get rich off of religious or political office while they are in office. It's too dangerous a conflict of interest and often leads to disaster for the governed.
  • The ability to obtain positions of power should not be a matter of wealth.
  • War always brings atrocities--rape, murder of the innocent, stealing
  • When you go all in, if you lose, your loss may also be total.
  • Great conflicts often cannot be resolved until both sides are willing to give up their rights and claims.

Next week: History 7b: Kings Rising in the Middle Ages

[1] To excommunicate is to kick someone out of the church and, in effect, to consign them to hell.

[2] Other bishops also called themselves Pope at this time as well, and it was not until after the great split between east and west that the Pope of Rome insisted only he had right to the title.

[3] Unam Sanctum.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 16

The sixteenth installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, copied here without comment.
The election through which we have just passed (1960) has, at least, two significant prophetic outcroppings. Both should be cause for profound misgivings and consideration on the part of all patriotic Americans and should not be brushed aside or forgotten because the election is apparently over. The First One is the part and the success the big labor bosses had in one of the National Conventions, as well as in the voting, which is heading the groove of the Book of James, chapter 5:1 to 9. Here is the Capital and Labor struggle of the end of this Gospel Age with its predicted outcome. In this, we can see a period in which those with money heaped up colossal fortunes partly because they, by fraud, retained the hire, or at least part of it, of the laborers. Then the laborer raised his cry and the Lord of hosts heard it and took record of the struggle. In this record, the struggle began with the advantage in favor of the capitalist. Finally, the advantage shifts to the laborer, for the multi-millionaires weep and howl for the miseries that have come upon them. These miseries will probably stems from the loss of their possessions, their stocks and bonds, their money, and probable physical inflictions which shall come upon them at the hands of their despoilers. Verse two says their riches are corrupted. The Greek word (sepo) translated corrupted, means to cause to become putrid. It would seem to indicate that some of this great wealth was acquired through smelly ways. Verse three declares that their gold and silver is cankered. Here, the Greek word (katioomai) translated cankered, means to be rusted. Rust indicates lack of proper use, decay, and eventually loss. They had wantonly used their wealth till now it is lost and the loss burns their minds as fire.

This capital and labor struggle was already underway when the American Federation of Labor was organized December 7-8, 1886, and Samuel Gompers became president. Strikes since World War II and the 116-day Steel Strike the summer of 1959, with the president election campaign, indicate how far Capital and Labor have traveled in the predicted groove of this Fifth Chapter of James. During the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1908) Capital was in the saddle and he brought suit against big trusts to curve them. Now the big Labor bosses are in the saddle as predicted, and no one seems able to curb them but the Federal Government, and the politicians seem afraid to buck them. We, the innocent consumers, have to suffer and eventually pay the bills for the strikes which are passed on to the public through increased prices. This is unchristian and when God's Great Judgment Day rolls around, Capital and Labor both will have to meet whatever is unjust in this gigantic struggle.

According to the news press, the Los Angeles National Convention was rigged and one of the most powerful Labor barons pulled the strings which nominated the head of the ticket. He, and others, also helped deliver the votes, no doubt, which brought success to that candidate. The continuance of this type of work will eventually dominate and control the government. Free enterprise is facing jeopardy and the final loss of their holdings by the rich, in all probability, will come under a socialistic or communistic in government, which is already looming on the American political horizon. This type of government seems to be the final end of this fifth chapter struggle which, apparently, was near enough to the Coming of Christ that the Christians were told to be patient and, of course, get their deliverance through that Coming. The left-wing liberals in both major parties unknowingly and unwittingly pointed in this direction in the recent campaign. Many blindly and ignorantly are swapping off Individual Liberty for the idea of "Security from Cradle to Grave.

I have been thinking for some months, that we are seeing the struggle between the two Great Personalities in the universe in the end of this Gospel Age, namely—God Almighty and Fallen Lucifer or Satan. During this recent election campaign, I had a feeling that a master mind was working out a satanic design and plan and the people high up in our land and lower were blind to Satan's work and plan to destroy our land and liberties through the twins—socialism and communism. Apparently, providentially, an article came into my possession at this time on a similar theme. I will pass out of its ideas on to the reader. Forty-eight years ago (1912), Colonel E. M. House, a personal adviser to President Woodrow Wilson, put out a book with its authorship concealed, advocating a revolutionary movement in our country. He tried to influence President Wilson in the direction of his book's idea, succeeded some, and then failed, with Mr. Wilson repudiating him on Mr. Wilson's death bed. Later he turned to Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt and influenced him in the direction of the revolutionary movement, advocated in Colonel House's book. In the year Mr. Hoover was elected President, (1928) a Socialist Professor of a London school, who also believed in Carl Marx communism and whose name was Harold Laski, came to the United States to help Felix Frankfurter teach a nucleus of Harvard University students in revolutionary socialism. The object was for these, later on, to turn our government in the same direction. After Mr. Roosevelt was elected President, Professor Laski was asked to come to America and help plan the New Deal with its NRA, WPA, etc. During the summer of 1935, young John Kennedy was sent by his father to take work in the London school above, under the revolutionary Professor H. Laski. Later, he returned home and went to Harvard where were the revolutionary sowings of Mr. Frankfurter and Mr. Laski. It seems to me, from all of this, that Satan is the master mind behind a set program, working through people ignorant of his purpose, to turn our country away from blood-bought liberties and privileges and set up a Godless dictatorship.

The Second Prophetic Outcropping in the recent election (1960) is to be seen in the breaking down of what may be called an unwritten, verbal precedent of thinking that a true Roman Catholic cannot be a true and safe President of the United States because of the views held by the leaders of his church by which he must abide. According to printed statements which appeared during the late contest in the publications fearful about American religious liberty, this church does not believe in the American doctrine of separation of church and state. As far as I have ever read, the Pope has never renounced the claim to political authority as well as to spiritual authority and infallibility. Hence, it is not being a bigot to feel and say that no American can be safe and true American leader as long as he is under the authority and control of such foreign power. The late election, at least, began a breach in the thinking barrier against such leadership and danger, and with a hole in the dike, this election trickle unless dammed up four years hence, may become a flood which can never be turned back. Suffice it to say, very little change may be seen in the coming four years, but may we not reasonably expect a considerable widening of the break in the dike if four years more are added? And we may add this, that in states where a governor of this church has been elected, legislation has been passed, granting rights not existing before, such as public bus transportation to Roman Catholic schools and allowing garbed nuns to teach in the public schools and be paid out of public tax money, which then finds its way into the coffers of this church. Let Americans beware!

Philosophy for Secular University Students!

Are you a student at IU or Purdue? Ball State? Some other college?

Are you a high school student, a junior or senior looking to get some college credit before you even go to college? Are you at a Christian high school like Lakeview or Heritage Christian? Are you home schooled?

Are you a minister in training who wants to knock off an ordination requirement and actually get transcripted credit for it?

2. By the end of the Thanksgiving Break (November 28), we need to decide whether to offer an online philosophy class just for you in the spring (January 9 through April 27). So you need to act now if you are interested. In many cases, you can actually use your financial aid at your university toward this course. IWU has agreements with the other colleges of Indiana.

This is a 14 week course taught by Scott Burson, probably IWU's best online teacher on the residential campus. Most colleges require a course in philosophy. Why not take it from someone who actually believes in God?! It's a "God is NOT dead" philosophy course. Then just transfer it back into the school you're at.

To register, click on the following link: IWU Philosophy

Also, feel free to email me ( or Scott ( for any questions. It's a steal compared to most college tuitions ($345 a credit hour) and very competitive as far as high school students ($150 a credit hour).

Philosophy is the study of topics like 1) right and wrong, 2) why is there evil and suffering, 3) arguments for God's existence, 4) do I have free will, 5) what's the best way to govern society, 6) how do I know that I know what I know, 7) what is real, and more.

Register (or at least tell us you plan to) today!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Five Personal Take-Aways from the Election

I've come up with five personal take-aways from this election so far. These are just my intuitions to do with as you will.

1. There are many kinds of forgotten.
No matter who lost this election, there would be a major part of the American populace who felt left behind. Those who are terrified right now and those who are protesting are the left behind of this election. Unless the system actually does get rigged, I have little doubt but that they will be back.

2. This is the age of transparency.
Whether he actually is or not, Trump seemed more transparent than Clinton. Whether she actually is or not, she seemed sneakier than Trump. She didn't have press interviews. She was calculating behind the scenes, as her leaked emails seemed to show. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered in the 90s. It doesn't seem to work in an age when nothing seems to remain a secret.

3. Hate trumps love.
Not of course for God, not of course for Christians, but for the majority of fallen humanity. Jonathan Haidt has put it well when he says that conservatives understand human nature better than liberals. I thought during the election that if there were a strength meter for slogans like there is for passwords, "stronger together" and "love trumps hate" would have come out pretty weak. "Make America great again" says, "Fight for freedom! To the death! Storm the Bastille!" Liberals just aren't very good at slogans that appeal to the majority of men.

4. Charisma beats competence.
I know that many will question whether Clinton was truly competent, but she certainly looked more qualified for the job on paper. In part this was an election of "leader" (understood as the propensity to gather followers) versus "manager." She had all the data. She followed her spreadsheets.

But it is charisma that starts revolutions and movements. Few will follow a manager into battle (although managers seem essential to actually winning battles). The night before the election I listened to rousing speeches from Michelle and Barack Obama, but was bored to death when Clinton started speaking--even though I thought she was a much safer candidate than Trump. Reagan beat Carter. Bush II beat Gore. Charisma wins.

5. There is no divine right to the presidency.
In the last couple months of the campaign, I kept thinking of a statement tucked in the emails of Colin Powell, probably stolen by the Russians and passed on to the public through Wikileaks. Powell said, "Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris." I don't know what her attitude really is, but someone has done a really good job of giving us the impression that she thought she deserved the presidency, like it was her turn, her "divine right." I certainly got this impression in 2008 when Obama sped past her.

Did Democrats give her a pass because it was "her turn"? If so, they did so to their detriment. Biden probably would have won. Certainly Bernie would have.

I mean no one any offence. I hope you will excuse me for putting down some of my reflections in electrons. I welcome civil push-back.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Seminary PL27: Athanasius: No Compromise!

This is the thirteenth post on church management in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the twenty-sixth post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

The previous post in this series looked at how to navigate issues where Christians disagree. This week continues with an example from church history: Athanasius. When do you stand firm no matter what?
1. Almost all Christians have believed firmly in the Trinity now for 1600 years. The Trinity of course is the belief that, although there is only one God, God exists as three persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You cannot divide the substance of these three--they are one God. But they are distinct persons, three persons.

It is difficult for us to imagine, but the Trinity was a matter of strong debate in the 300s, during the fifty or so years after the emperor Constantine made Christianity a legal religion. Up till the year 313, Christianity was an illegal religion, so Christians did not really have the opportunity to meet together on a universal scale to hammer out theological debates like this one. [1] Every so often, there would be a time of persecution where the concern was more about survival than the precise nature of Christ.

2. Enter a man named Arius (256-336). Egypt at this point of history was Roman, with a vibrant Christian community including both mainstream believers and other groups. [2] Arius was part of the mainstream at that time--indeed he probably represented a majority position in Egypt then. Decisions on the precise nature of Christ in relation to God the Father had never been settled at large.

Arius argued that Jesus was the "firstborn of creation" (cf. Col. 1:15), meaning that God created Jesus first before any other being or thing in the creation. Accordingly, Jesus was the most exalted person and being in the whole creation. Arius used Scripture to argue for his sense that Jesus was not God in substance because there was a point before time when God created him: "There was a point when the Son was not."

The bishop of Egypt, Alexander (d. 328), did not agree. Alexander argued that Jesus was "of the same substance" (homoousios) as God the Father. The emperor Constantine, in the interest of unity, called the first "ecumenical council" at Nicaea (located today in northwest Turkey) for Christians to decide what they thought on this issue. He thought that Christianity might be able to unify the Roman Empire, an empire that was on the decline because of a sharply declining population spread out over such a large area that he scarcely had enough troops to defend it.

Constantine himself looked to some sort of a compromise position between Arius and Alexander. Eusebius (ca. 260-340), the first major church historian of Christianity, suggested that Christ was "of similar substance" (homoiousios, with an added i in the middle) to God the Father. But this was not far enough for Alexander, who had brought his assistant Athanasius (ca. 296-373) with him, still a deacon at that point. Athanasius argued strongly for the Trinity at the council.

3. The Trinitarians would win the vote at the Council of Nicaea. For the first time, the Trinity was the official position of Christianity. But they had only won on paper. The empire and the bishops of the church still favored unity over doctrine, and they had the power to enforce the continued acceptance of "Arians" within the church as Christians in good standing. Nor did the decision of some leaders at a council immediately change the popular positions of everyday Christians throughout the empire. If you had taken a poll in the year 350, it is quite possible that more Christians were still Arians than Athanasians.

We are trinitarians today largely because of the persistance of one man: Athanasius. There is a Latin expression, athanasius contra mundi, which means "Athanasius against the world." Athanasius would not accept compromise on this issue under any circumstances, and his long life kept his influence going for almost eighty years. Less than ten years after his death, The Council of Constantinople would issue the Nicene Creed as the official belief of Christianity and there would be little debate over the Trinity from that point on in history. [3]

In the year 380, the emperor Theodosius I would declare Nicene Christianity the only legal religion of the empire.

4. Athanasius was repeatedly exiled, not for his theology but because of his rigidity. After Alexander died in 328, Athansius became the bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. In 335, Athanasius was exiled for his treatment of Arians. Possibly, Athanasius was willing to go so far as to try to cut off grain supplies to Rome. [4]

After Constantine died, his son Constantine II banished him again, but his support was growing. Athansius was able to hide in Rome where there was now a parallel emperor to Constantine II. Constantine I had moved the center of the empire to Constantinople in what is now the northwestern tip of Turkey. So Athanasius was able to use political division in order to gain theological support in the western empire for his positions.

A third time he fled Alexandria for the desert monastic communities that had developed in southern Egypt. This allowed Athanasius to influence the thinkers of the church. He would be exiled a fourth and a fifth time before his death. In 368 a regional council of the church declared that a person could no longer become a bishop unless he held to Nicene Christianity.

5. So what can we learn from the uncompromising attitude of Athanasius? Hindsight is 20/20. We believe in the Trinity. It was the right position for him not to compromise on. His doggedness got us to where we are. Maybe we would have got there anyway... or maybe not.

So at the time, he probably seemed like a very, very annoying personality. Stubborn, unbending, willing to use his power to get what he thought was right. Normally such people are not helpful. Again, could the church have come to the same destination without this uncompromising person? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

The problem is that this personality type often thinks that everything they think is essential and not to be compromised on to the bitter end. This is the type of person that starts wars over his or her ideas. On the whole, we should probably consider Athanasius the exception, rather than the rule--at least in terms as what is ideal.

In fact, the unifying and conciliatory attitude of Athanasius' opponents was far more biblical and Christian than that of Athanasius. The theme of unity runs strongly throughout Paul's writings. There were matters that Paul was uncompromising on--the Gentiles being justified by faith, staying away from sexual immorality. His insistence on the first was actually an insistance on the unity of the church, particularly the unity between Jewish and Gentile Christian.

6. At the same time, it is usually those who are dogged like Athanasius that are the winners of history. When we think of how driven the ideology of Hitler was, how devastating it was to the world, it took the concerted, unified effort of a massive number of people, supported by the grace of God, to stop this stubborn, persistant force for evil. If you aren't willing to fight human personalities with such force, your cause is--at least from a human perspective--likely to lose. Arguably, God would have brought us to the Trinity some way, but God used this extremely uncompromising figure to do it.

7. There is a time to refuse to compromise. But a certain personality thinks almost every occasion is of this sort. Such individuals are not likely to be right--they enjoy fighting for its own sake. They are what we might call "contentious" people. When those who normally would find middle ground do not compromise, that is a time to take notice of.

In the end, there are very few Athanasius level issues. We should be very careful about identifying issues as "fight to the death" ones. There are especially few ideological issues that are on this level. We are so unaware of the forces that lead us to take certain positions that there is a high likelihood that much of what we think and how we think it is more a product of tradition and culture than God or the Bible. Standing up for others who are being harmed is a much more likely area where we should stand firm than on matters of ideas.

Next Week: Pastor as Leader 28: Zwingli: No Compromise?

[1] Christians who argue for contemporary political positions merely based on the idea of the rule of law should always consider the fact that Christians have always disobeyed civil law when they believed it to conflict with God's law (Acts 4:18-20). Civil disobedience follows as a possibility directly from the fact that the city of God never coincides exactly with the city of man. God's law wins.

[2] We are still 300 years away from the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 640.

[3] It is also around this point that the precise contents of the New Testament seem settled, first declared in an Easter Letter from Athanasius in 367.

[4] Barnes, Timothy D., Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993), 23.

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management
Conflict Management

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Friday Gen Eds MS5: Molecules and Ions

This is the fifth post in the math/science part of my "Gen Eds in a Nutshell" series. It's a series of ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. I've already done the subject of philosophy, and I'm half way through the world history subject on Wednesdays. I'm combining the last two on math and science into one series on Fridays.

Thus far in the math/science subjects:
1. Atoms come together in two basic ways. They either come together by sharing electrons or they come together because their opposite charges attract. The first kind of "bonding" is called "covalent bonding." The second is called "ionic bonding."

2. In the previous post, we talked about how, depending on where an atom sits on the periodic table, it may be prone to gain or lose electrons. So sodium (whose symbol is Na) in column 1--along with lithium (Li), potassium (K), and two more--tends to lose its outermost electron and take on a positive one charge. In column 7 far on the right, chlorine (Cl)--along with flurorine (Fl), bromine (Br), iodine (I) and one other--tends to gain one electron and take on a negative one charge.

This is a match made in heaven. When you put these atoms "in solution," in water, the electrons are free to trade up. Sodium and chlorine become ions, positively charged atoms attracted to each other. When they crystalize into a solid, we call the resulting compound, "sodium chloride," otherwise known as table salt.

As you look at the periodic table, the tendency of an atom to gain an electron goes up the further to the right you go and the further to the top you go. This characteristic of an atom is called its electronegativity, its propensity to gain an electron. So fluorine is the atom with the highest electronegativity because it is the atom most likely to grab an electron.

Related to this characteristic is the ionization potential or ionization energy of an atom. The more energy it takes to dislodge an electron, the higher the "ionization energy." So like electronegativity, the ionization energy increases as you move from left to right on the periodic table, being its greatest with the noble gases, which hold their complete set of outershell electrons the most tightly.

3. So elements combine in certain ways to form compounds. When they combine on the basis of their charges, the total charge has to cancel out to zero. So sulfur is in column 6. When it becomes an ion, it gains two electrons and fills its outer shell (it has 6 electrons to begin with, so two more makes 8, the octet rule). So sulfur can take on a +2 charge.

Hydrogen sulfide is thus a compound where the charges of hydrogen offset the charge of sulfur. But the charge of a hydrogen ion is only +1. So we need two hydrogens to offset the charge of every sulfur. The chemical formula for hydrogen sulfide is thus H2S.

4. An ionic compound of this sort, with hydrogen contributing its positive ions, is called an acid. We know acids in real life because strong acids are dangerous and are used to clean things. The hydronium ion (H+), if it is very "concentrated," can eat skin or your throat if you swallow it. There are weaker acids that are actually helpful or enjoyable in food. Orange juice has citric acid in it, for example. Acids tend to have a sour taste.

Two of the most common strong acids are hydrochloric acid (HCl) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4). In the second instance, you can see that 2 hydrogens balance the charge of an SO4-2ion. [1] The "ph scale" was invented to identify how strong an acid is. Something with a ph of 7 is neutral in strength, like water. But if something has a ph lower than 7, it is an acid.

5. To balance out acids is another type of ionic compound called a base. The earliest sense of a base came from a man named Arrhenius, who identified a base as a substance that has an OH- in its formula. So sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is one of the most famous bases and, like hydrochloric acid, it will eat your throat or eyes if you come into contact with a high concentration of it. The concentration of a base is any number higher than a 7 on the ph scale.

From a more sophisticated perspective, a base is a substance that attracts protons. So ammonia (NH3) has no net charge, but it attracts protons for other reasons. In the Brønsted-Lowry and Lewis approaches to acids and bases, ammonia can also be considered a base. Bases tend to have a bitter taste.

6. We have strayed a little from our discussion of ionic bonding. Ionic bonds, again, are attractions between atoms or groups of atoms based on charge. This kind of bonding applies especially to the elements in the first two columns of the period table (which tend to go positive) and the sixth and seventh columns (which tend to go negative). The ten columns of transition metals in the middle (between column two and three) also often form ions.

But many other atoms bind together by sharing electrons, a kind of bonding called covalent bonding. This is especially true of organic compounds that are essential to life. Such compounds typically involve carbon. [2] Natural gas and many fuels are based on organic chemicals.

Compounds that are held together in this way are called molecules. An example of a molecule held together by covalent bonding is sugar C12H22O11. The formula indicates that a single molecule of sugar has 12 carbons, 22 hydrogens, and 11 oxygens.

In covalent bonding, you might think of a molecule as having a certain number of "docking stations" for other molecules to "dock" at. Carbon, for example, since it is in column 4, has four "docking stations." That means that four other atoms can link up with a carbon atom. Hydrogen, in column one, only has one "docking station."

Voila, CH4 is a natural. Carbon has four openings, each hydrogen has one opening. One hydrogen links up with each docking station of the carbon and we have a bunch of happy campers. There are a total of 8 electrons docked, four provided by the carbon and four provided by the four hydrogens. The octet rule is satisfied. CH4, by the way, is methane gas. We might draw this situation as at the right.

These sorts of molecules have a certain chemical architecture. Methane, for example, has a "tetrahedral" structure. See below.

So covalent bonding is a matter of sharing electrons. The number of electrons an atom has to share fits with which column it is in and to have a good molecule, you want a total of eight electrons shared.

7. There are of course many molecules that form covalent bonds that do not involve carbon. Nevertheless, there are so many that do involve carbon that a whole branch of chemistry, "organic chemistry," is dedicated to such molecules. Here are just a few of the types of molecules studied in organic chemistry:
  • hydrocarbons - molecules involving carbon and hydrogen
  • alcohols - have the subunit C-O-H
  • ether - have an -O- in the middle
  • aldehydes - have the subunit O=C-H (oxygen requires two bonds)
  • ketones - have an O=C somewhere in the middle
  • carboxylic acid - have a COOH
  • esters - have the subunit O=C-O- in the middle
  • alkene - have a C=C in the middle
Next Week: MS6 Chemical Reactions

[1] The SO4 ion is bound together mostly by the second type of bonding, mentioned below.

[2] In the very first Star Trek movie ever (1979), humans are referred to as "carbon based units."

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 15

The fifteenth installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, copied here without comment.
The Four Promises To Abraham, 
The Millennium And Magog

Let us now give some consideration to God's Four Promises to Abraham in connection with Christ's Millennial reign. In point of time the first part of Promise Three, namely, to give him a blessing, would come first. Only a third of the Jews in the Promised Land had survived the awful Tribulation (Zechariah 13:9) and they needed to repent and acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Saviour. In verifying this promise in the hour of their great need Jesus lets them "look upon Him Whom they have pierced" and then "pours upon them the spirit of grace and of supplications". Immediately follows their great national repentance in which their anguish is so great that each family mourns apart, the men mourning to themselves and their wives mourning to themselves (Zechariah 12:9-14). Christ hears and gives them redemption (Ch. 13:9).

Next it would seem that the Holy Land would need some kind of rehabilitation after the world-shaking events of Armageddon. Possibly this may be referred to in the blessing of Daniel 12:12. Then God could really give Israel the land as originally promised in Promise Two, all of the way to the Euphrates.

Promise One would now be in order as the Jews had been scattered by the antichrist (Daniel 12:7). Jehovah (Christ) will gather them from the corners of the earth from their last dispersion. The woman of Revelation 12:14-17 who fled out of the Tribulation into the wilderness for three and a half years—probably to Petra in Edom—will be gathered also and the Nation rebuilt and reunited under one ruler (Ezekiel 37:22 and 24). In the light of this last reference and of Matthew 19:28 and Revelation 3:21 there might be some sort of tribal dividing of the land again. Also the millennial form of government would seem to be Jesus Christ, Lord of lords, "king over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9, Revelation 19:16), David sub-king and prince over the whole nation again, the twelve apostles sitting "upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28) and the glorified church sitting with Christ in His throne of glory and associated with His ruling. With this setup established there will follow the most glorious period of government and peace that this world has ever seen. In it will be seen the millennial Temple of Ezekiel chapters 40-43. Also in it, "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit" (Isaiah 27:6), probably spiritual fruit more especially than economic and physical, she being the head nation of the world (Romans 11:12). From these scriptures, from Zechariah 8:21-23 and Isaiah 11:9 we infer that Israel, under their Messiah, will be the missionaries and evangelists of the Millennium with astonishing results.

At the end of this thousand years and after the devil has been loosed from the bottomless pit he will lead a senseless rebellion out of earth's millennial population against Jerusalem, the capital of Christ's millennial kingdom. Those involved are called Gog and Magog. Then will God verify the Fourth Promise to Abraham again that his descendants shall in great measure determine the destinies of nations and individuals, devouring these by fire from heaven. There is a sense in which this Fourth Promise will apply in the Cycles of Eternity, as destinies finally determined are eternal.