The Truth Project

From the beginning of time until about 1500, if you wanted to know something, you listened to somebody tell you verbally. Then the invention of the printing press started churning out printed books that people could afford to own and read, and "civilized" people switched from an aural culture to a literary culture. You still needed to know things but you could go to the library or a bookstore and get a book. Around the turn of the millennium the culture of the entire world (except a few isolated backwaters like North Korea where technology is still largely unavailable) switched again; now nobody bothers with reading books any more, they watch a video off the internet. People are becoming illiterate again. I once knew a guy with a college education who would believe any video -- Y2K, 9/11 conspiracy, whatever -- and refused to read text analyses debunking what he saw. It is to these neo-illiterates that The Truth Project is aimed. So it is appropriate for me to review this 7-DVD set here where I normally focus on books. But you need to understand, I'm prejudiced.

The Truth Project is still mostly a talking head walking around, harking back to the aural cultures before printing, with a few animations and visual props for illustration, but mostly just talk. It's not bad for Gen-Xers, but the producer seems like they are still feeling their way around. The packaging was slick -- I think three different cameras, dollying left and right, up and down, from different perspectives of the classroom, but you never saw any actual cameras in the video. Maybe they raised them to the ceiling when another camera was looking in that direction. There's got to be a lot of production money in that. The first episode or two looked rehearsed (or at least scripted), with the presenter calling out names without hesitation, even for "volunteered" answers to his questions, and the camera was right there showing the person responding. I think secular documentaries throw in a little ersatz fumbling to make it look less contrived. In later episodes he sometimes seemed less prepared for the individual student responses, and therefore more natural.

Me, I'm still literate. I think too slowly to capture very much in real time (and therefore prefer reading over watching a video or live action when dealing with important information) but these are high-quality DVDs (meaning they do what you want from a DVD, which is to let you watch the flick without unnecessary obstacles), so it's easy to stop and think, or to instant-replay stuff I missed. They even let you restart the next day, which is very unusual. Besides, he has said very little that is really new to me, and I have no trouble keeping up with -- even speaking ahead of (or with) him -- his salient points. A couple places I would have made a stronger argument than he did, but I can't fault his choices as appropriate for his audience.

The DVD set includes a Sunday-School-style study guide, you know, where they pick out pithy quotes from the presentation, then ask you to fill in a single word or two. I guess that's the best they can hope for from non-thinking factory-educated masses, but it's disappointing. That was one of my reasons for eschewing SBC churches in this region: those kinds of non-think rote training exercises really annoy me. The study guide is not a necessary part of the viewing experience, and I will not let it detract from my over-all approval of the product.

This is a one-man show. He repeatedly brings in short video clips of three big-name commentators (and a couple less-famous ones in later episodes), but essentially it's just this one guy I never heard of doing all the talking. He mentioned working on a doctorate -- I didn't catch what area, but it matters; for example, "science education" is essentially a meaningless degree, so I looked it up on the internet; "Doctor of Management" from an online-only diploma mill is probably down there with a PhD in science education from a state school -- but he most often did not go to original sources for his quotes. I guess he didn't have the time to go get original quotes. That's a bad sign, leaving him open to criticism of inadequate research or quoting out of context. Not that I saw much evidence of that, but using original sources is one of the hallmarks of a good education.

Being a one-man product has its disadvantages. Like self-published books, it deprives him of the benefits of other people's perspective, particularly when he gets stuck in a rut. For example, he picks up on the "transform" in Rom.12:2, telling us (correctly) that the Greek word is 'metamorpho' then goes off on a tangent about how this happens to a butterfly in its cocoon. That's OK, if he'd just stopped there. But his personal situation -- being a controler (MBTI Judger, see my "Personality & Biblical Values") -- makes it hard for him to let God be God, so he confesses repeatedly that it "threw me into a cocoon," from which he had to struggle to escape (by yielding to God's authority). Maybe there are a lot of people like that in his intended audience, but I'm not one of them, and it got a little tiresome. It's great that he succeeded in releasing that area of control to God and all that, but does all this confession help the other controllers out there in his audience? Or does it only give them cause for pride, because Judgers see confession as a sign of weakness? I don't know. I personally know Judgers who did not overcome that problem in their lives, and I fear for their eternal souls, but God does not seem to have given me the opportunity to help them out -- perhaps because I experience their pain only as victim of their abuse, and not in sympathy with their experience of needing to relinquish control. This is not a proper criticism of this guy's presentation, only that he does not reach out and touch me where I live, but I cannot speak for the Judgers in his audience.

Not entirely unrelated, he argues (as many others have) that if we really appreciated the radical thing God has done in and for us ("Dou you really believe that what you believe is really real?") we would live very different lives. The implication -- in most people who make this claim, it's explicit, but not here -- is that we would all become full-time preachers and evangelists. I don't think that God, in His creation of such diversity as we see, would have such a monochrome view of what radical Christianity would look like, and in a later episode this guy agrees. The Bible is full of Peters and Pauls and Philips and Johns, and says less of Bezalel and Nehemiah and Thomas. Yes, that Thomas, the one I got named after. What wonderful thing did he do? Other than his sarcastic whine about going back to Judea "so we can all die with [Lazarus]" and refusing to believe Jesus was resurrected "until I stick my finger in the holes." Tradition says he was a missionary to India, but the Bible says nothing. My father was a missionary, and I wanted to be a missionary or a preacher, and God said No. I need to accept that if God is indeed sovereign (as this guy says, and as I believe), and if I am actively seeking to do God's will (as I believe I am and was, most of my life), then I am doing God's will, even if it looks like a nothing. It's harder to hold onto that perspective when people like this guy seem to imply (or actually come out and say, as he did not, but others do) "if you are not evangelizing, you are not doing God's Will." It's a very subtle thing, and not a criticism against his philosophical and theological points, only the application to people whom God has not called to formal ministry.

Even more picayune (he's got to be good, if my criticisms are so inconsequential, right? ;-) he builds much of his argument on a metaphor of foundations, with a model in the corner of the classroom that he repeatedly goes back to, but the foundations he builds start at the top and build down to the ground.What kind of builder does that? Although the information he associates with those aerial foundations is good, thinking of them as firmly floating on nothing until he gets to the steps below them in subsequent sessions is somewhat distracting. I would have hoped a good editor might have encouraged him to arrange his construction more credibly from the ground up. Maybe he expects to address students who can do neither math nor physics, so such trivial considerations are irrelevant. That is significant: the American church does not welcome the kind of people who care about math and science, so perhaps not many of them will be seeing this video series. More's the pity.

The first session starts out with the nature of truth. It's very important, and probably the best possible starting point for our culture. The name he picks for his study is a goofy amalgam of Latin and Greek, "Veritology." Usually scholarly names ending in "-ology" (from the Greek for "the study of") begin also with a Greek word describing what is being studied. Maybe "Aletheology" didn't sound pompous enough. Whatever. But it makes him look less educated.

He asks the question, "Is the lie wrong because God says so, or does God say so because it is wrong?" (or something like that, it's hard to get quotes accurate with a bad memory and no printed text to read) like as if it's an either/or question, but finally comes down slightly left of center. Both are true, but ultimately the lie is wrong because Truth is in the nature of God. I won't disagree, but I think that degrades the nature of God somewhat. Truth is a moral absolute, not only because God is true, but in and of itself. Because truth is a moral absolute, the Perfect and Almighty God must by nature be Truth. I get this from Abraham's argument with God in Genesis 18:25, where he appeals not to the sovereign nature of God, but to the moral absolute (in this case) of Justice: "Will not the Judge of the universe do Right?" If it is only God's nature he can appeal to, then whatever God has already decided is irrevocable. It's subtle, but important. We can demand with moral authority that our neighbors do Right (frex, not lie) not because some far-off deity they do not personally acknowledge says so, but because it is a moral absolute, to which all persons everywhere, and all the way up and down the ladder -- including any possible Supreme God Himself (and even Satan) -- are morally bound. There are no exceptions. It doesn't even matter whose ladder. I think this guy could have done better.

I have no comments on the second session, perhaps because I agreed with everything he said, or maybe it went whizzing by so fast I didn't catch any. It took me two or three days to work through my problem with the question I mentioned above, whether God or Truth is the primary absolute, and when that kind of thing is happening, whatever is going on around me doesn't get much attention. I can go back and review a text to see if I missed something, but that's really hard to do in real time -- even in a video like this, because I'm constrained to the presenter's timing, and he will lose me when it's too slow (like the second time through) maybe even worse than when it's too fast (like because I'm still chewing on an earlier topic). Basically I'm not functional in real time, and anybody trying to compel me into that kind of situation is either stupid or cruel. Maybe I should have waited before starting #2, but I didn't know. It's my problem, not yours. I still prefer books. So I have no comments on the second session.

About halfway through the third session he said something I theologically disagree with. In context it's probably not important, like in all his discussion of "science" (Darwinism) during Lesson #5 he never comes out and says God could have (and probably did, because He said so) create the universe in 144 hours, because that's actually irrelevant to the question of whether man came about by time chance and natural causes, or if he was created in the image of God out of lifeless clay. In Lesson #3 he shows the atheists claiming that humans are pure material, without even such a thing as free will -- with a comical put-down, should he ever be in a position to challenge the notion to their face -- while the Christian position has us being "both body and spirit." I realize that's a little like the Arminian/Calvinist divide, where some theologians argue dichotomy from Scripture, and others argue trichotomy (body + soul + spirit), also from Scripture. Me, I think trichotomy better models the Tri-unity of the Godhead, and it better fits the three uses of "create" in Genesis 1 -- the physical universe = body in Day 1, organisms with a central nervous system = soul in Day 5, and Adam in the image of God by the "breath of life" = spirit in Day 6 -- and 1Th.5:23 also explicitly puts the three together equally for us. But like I said, in context, it is not so significant.

In his discussion of evil, he could have said (and it's sort of implicit in what he did say, but not clearly) that if mankind is basically good, then there is no such thing as evil, because people are doing only what they are (deterministically!) programmed to do. More than that, evil cannot be a product of environment, because the environment is only people doing inherently good, or else infected by other people either themselves infected, or else doing inherently good; somewhere you need the first evil to cause evil environments. Moreover, Hitler (the poster boy for "evil") was not doing his "evil" as a religious thing, he was only self-actualizing, and therefore "good" by that analysis. He didn't say  all that, but it's sort of implied in what he did say.

Which leads to the question he did not address at all (because it's off-topic to his chosen agenda), Why are any of the atheists talking about evil at all? Why not just admit that (from their perspective, as some of the more honest atheists do) there is no such thing as evil, therefore there is nothing to discuss. The answer to that question is that the atheists are not arguing in a vacuum, they cannot even consider moral questions within their "box" framework (he sort of said that), but they live in a culture profoundly determined by 20 centuries of Christian thought. Christians (and religionists in general) ask the question about evil, and Christians have an answer to that question (I assume he will get to it in some future session). The atheists are trying to grapple with a Christian question in an environment (the "box" is his term for the physical universe with no supernatural to consider) where the question doesn't even make sense. They must do that, not because they are atheists, but because the Christians set the moral context for the debate. The atheists have lost it from the get-go. He sort of said that, but not strongly.

It is true the atheists cannot live their philosophy (he got that idea from Francis Schaeffer), which is why there are no long-term atheist cultures. They can only function as a minority in a majority religious culture, and they only get to be a majority in a Christian culture, because every other religion kills them off, only Christians tolerate unbelief in their midst. Once the atheists (or any other religion, like Islam) become a majority or at least they gain the reins of power, then they do what every other religion does (and some "Christians" also do, but should not), which is to kill off the competition. The atheists are not yet at that stage of power in the USA, but they are close.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Session #3.

Hmm, I seem to have no particular recollections (and no notes) about Lesson #4, maybe I lost that one too, or maybe I agreed with everything he had to say, so there were no particulars to remember. Let me go look. Ah yes, it's "Who Is God?" Other than to differentiate the God of the Bible from the man-made idols of paganism, and from the made-up human-like deities of the Greeks, Romans and Norse, and the not-so-human deities of the Hindus, we cannot know anything at all about God, except and to the extent that God chooses to tell us. He did, and we have it in the Bible, but asking the question in isolation as this guy did in this session seems to me sort of silly. It's an important question to Relationshipists, which I can only guess that this guy might be, because almost all evangelicals in the USA (and increasingly, the whole world) are Relationshipists; perhaps in some future session he will come out of the closet and say so. Relationshipism is not the religion of the Bible, and it only got to be dominant in American churches because the churches have systematically ejected from their midst all Thinkers (people who value truth more than affirmation = "relationship"). Otherwise the Truth Project would be unnecessary and superfluous, as it was for most of the first 18 or 19 centuries of church history.

Our presenter keeps wanting to "gaze on the face of God," nevermind that the Bible says you can't do that. I guess he means that metaphorically, something like when Jesus said "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." God is by nature Truth, so when we get ourselves aligned with Truth, we can see something of who God is, but I wouldn't call it "gazing on the face of God." Whatever. I can't help wondering, when these 36 students go home and are forced into situations where they are required to affirm their wives -- or conversely, they desire to affirm their husbands (there is a difference) -- will they revert to the "little white lies" that everybody is taught in Kindergarten and from their mother's knee? Or will they try more vigorously to speak only the truth? That can get you fired, or thrown out of church, or worse. I know.

Lesson #5 on science is a double session, and could have taken even more time. The Christians have ceded far too much territory to the atheists. We, not they, invented modern science. If there is no purpose for life, no God of Reason to create an orderly universe, if there is only time and chance, then there is no reason to do science, no hope to get anything out of it. He said that, briefly. If he'd had a broader base of Christian philosophers to draw from, he could have made that point more strongly. He did a credible job of refuting some of the major icons of Darwinism, but he could have done better. The Galapagos finches oscillate back and forth, the peppered moths were faked, there simply aren't the continuous sequence of fossils that Darwin predicted (he said all that), but he also could have mentioned Lenski's E.coli experiment, now at 50,000 generations, but which stopped evolving at 20,000 generations. We -- science: Lenski is still a Darwinist (he must remain so, or lose his funding) -- have proof, evolution is not unbounded.

As far as I know, I'm the only one asking any and every scientist doing peer-reviewed research in any field whatsoever, "What in your specialty supports the descent from a common ancestor hypothesis over the fiat creation model?" (see "The Question"). In almost 40 years asking that question in universities, on the internet, anywhere a qualified researcher might be found, no qualified person has ever even attempted to answer it. Sometimes I can get the information from their own websites: they believe in Darwinism, they are doing original peer-reviewed research, but their faith is based entirely on other people's research. In one case the guy actually admitted he had to fudge his research to make it fit his Darwinistic faith (he used other words so it sounded more scientific and acceptable, but the message was clear to anyone other than die-hard atheists). There is no peer-reviewed research supporting the Darwinian hypothesis. There are lots of second-hand anecdotal claims, cobbled up and inferred by third parties from what the primary researchers declined to say themselves, but no primary researcher says that of his own work. None, not even Richard Dawkins. That's significant. But nobody is saying that out loud (besides me).

Session #6 is about history -- we Christians have a faith that is essentially historical, but he didn't say that -- versus post-modernism. It was good stuff, but nothing jumped out and grabbed me. I guess this is where he made his remark about "Seeing ourself as part of God's grand story," with the implication that we would be more radical in our behavior. I agree, but I come to slightly different results than the preachers who usually say that. I was in high school when I heard the line, "If being a Christian became a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" I decided right then that there would be, and I think I succeeded, nevermind that I'm not in full-time Christian ministry. Unless you count writing Bible-translation software...

Session #7 is where he finally gets into what I call "Relationshipism". Everywhere we look, we see relationships. I said that myself, while criticizing Relationshipism (see "Against Relationshipism"), but that does not mean the Bible teaches it as normative. There are also molecules everywhere, and (like "relationship") the word does not occur in the Bible, yet nobody argues for Moleculism. One must be careful not to argue from "Is" to "Ought" and this guy both knows it and said so in an earlier session, but he fell into that trap anyway. Relationships are great and wonderful, and everybody ought to have some, perhaps even many, but the Bible does not teach any general principle of "relationships" as a moral absolute, nor can it (see "Against Relationshipism").

It's all well and good to argue for moral virtues because they are (presumed or stated) attributes of God: God is love, so therefore we also ought to love one another (it says that in the Bible). God is holy, so we should be holy (it says that too). God cannot lie, so we ought not to lie (the Bible does not make that connection, but it does teach both parts). God rested on the Seventh Day, so we ought also to rest one day out of each week (that is in the Bible, but not taught by most Christians, except this guy did in a later session). However, the Bible does not specify "relationship" as an attribute of God (the Relationshipists only find it by seeking diligently where God has not spoken), nor does it teach that we should be in relationship generally -- we need to be connected to Jesus Christ, but that is a particular connection and not a teaching on relationship in general. Finding ourselves in relationship with other people as part of the image of God is a stretch, and all the more unsatisfying because the hermeneutic is inconsistently applied (frex, not to Sabbath-keeping).

There are places where relationships are inappropriate. "Be not conformed to (in relationship with) this world," the great Apostle told the Christians in Rome. When Jesus was teaching about that quintessential of all relationships, marriage, it sounded really hard and difficult -- at least his disciples thought so, despite that many modern interpreters try hard to loosen the bonds -- and Peter exclaimed that maybe it would be better not to get married at all, and Jesus did not disagree! It's not for everybody, he said. Some people voluntarily forego marriageability for the Kingdom, he said [Matt.19:12], apparently with approval and not as a criticism. Why would Jesus say that if the relationship of husband and wife and family is so important in God's view? Relationshipists don't get it. It's not about relationships, it's about God. Not everybody can get married, and they are no less in God's eyes than those lucky enough to be in a marriage that works. Those who abandon marriage after getting into it -- that's what Jesus was teaching against in that chapter. Don't go there. That's not about "relationship" but rather obedience.

Most of what he says in this session is good stuff, very insightful, but I would not give it the same level of importance as the series title, "Truth." We are told explicitly that "God cannot lie," but we are never told that "God cannot be out of relationship." We might infer it from what is there, but that's a second-order inference. The Trinity itself is an inference, but it's first-order, directly derived from specific Scriptures; this guy derives his Relationshipism not from specific Scriptures, but from the inferences of a doctrine (the Trinity) that is itself inferred. You can make uncaught mistakes that way. You can make mistakes at the first order too, but the church has been working on that doctrine for a millennium and a half; Relationshipism is hardly a hundred years old, and as a second-order inference, you cannot directly correlate it with explicit Scriptures.

There are explicit commands -- one of the Ten, f'goodness sake -- requiring us to be honest, but there are no commands to be in relationship, none. As far as we know, Jesus was not married. He was in communion with the Father, and he told his disciples that everything he did, they -- I assume including us -- could do also (and better). Does that include celibacy? The Roman Catholic church seems to think so, but you can't get there from Scripture any more than you can get to a requirement to be married from the same Scripture. Relationshipists -- including obviously Del Tackett, but I would say this of every person trying to formulate a consistent theology from Scripture, including Calvinists and Arminians and Catholics and Seventh-Day Adventists and Baptists -- they err when they try to elevate their ism (whatever it may be) to the level of Revealed Truth that should be occupied by God's Word alone. That is a very dangerous place to be, forbidden both at the front [Dt.4:2] and at the end of the Bible [Rv.22:18], and also in the middle [Pr.30:6]. Don't go there.

All that said, he did have an insight or two that I had not yet encountered. Every Relationshipist points to Gen.2:18 in support of their preferred religion, but I don't think I ever heard it called "The Divine Pause," where God is supposed to have stopped in His creation of "good" things to make a statement about the nature of God. "There had never been aloneness before this time..." It's a reach, but at least it doesn't contradict any Scriptures I know of. I'm not opposed to relationships any more than I am opposed to computers, I just don't find either of them taught as a moral principle in the Bible.

The bottom line is that, aside a tiny minority of very rare exceptions like myself, everybody who watches this video is already either a Relationshipist (because nobody gets very far inside the church who does not at least pretend to be, and mostly only actually are Relationshipists), or else vigorously trying to shed their God-given Thinker personality at the door. All those people in the church really need to hear the Truth part of his message (the first half), because they have already bought into the Relationshipist lie. If the church in America were to toss Relationshipism into the dustbin and teach Truth -- including the Gospel as defined in Scripture, where there is not one word of "God's (unconditional) love," but only "repent" (stop sinning) -- we might find a lot more acceptance among the other half of the population. But that's my hobby horse, obviously not his.

So my advice is, skip over Lesson #7. But if you don't, you won't get anything you don't already hear every Sunday morning in almost every church in America. Maybe less preachy, but not much.

Session #8 is about what he calls "Unio Mystica," some deep "mysterious" relationship between God and the redeemed human. Part of his problem is that he tends to prefer translations of the Bible that have an "S" in their initials (NASB, ESV, etc). None of these are as bad as the KJV, but it isn't through lack of trying. The better translations render the Greek word 'mysterion' more accurately as "secret" instead of leaving it untranslated "mystery" which is misleading. The modern English word means "deep dark secret that cannot be understood," whereas the Greek word as used in the New Testament more closely matches the English word as used in describing a genre of literature, where there is a secret at the beginning, but at the end it is all explained so that the reader understands it very well. Del Tackett clings to the "cannot be understood" definition which the inaccurate ("-S-") translations favor, probably because it gives him mystical (yes, that kind of warm fuzzy meaning) goosebumps to think about it.

I wouldn't deny him his warm fuzzies -- and there is indeed some of that in the Bible, just not in this connection -- but it's a Relationshipist kind of thing. The other half of the country, the ones who never darken the door of any church for any reason, but tend to dominate science and technology, we (including myself among them) are more likely to understand the idea of sonship as closer to the Biblical notion of rights and responsibilities (see "Relationship, Not Religion"). It seems to me rather silly to go to so much effort to train Christians in why truth is so important, if we pile on top of it so much Relationshipistic fluff that you cannot find the truth part. But I recognize that I'm among the people the American church does not want in their pews. I just wouldn't want to be one of those evangelists on Judgment Day, when God reminds them of their Ezek.3:18 responsibility and the fact that they didn't do it.

I think this guy got himself such a buzz from contemplating his "Unio Mystica," that he wasn't as careful with his logic. At one point in this session he is insisting that you cannot blur the different social values between "spheres" (different social environments, such as family vs. church vs. government, etc.), and then not five minutes later he is doing just that. Worse, the verses he is quoting did it: Eph.2:19 tells us about a family relationship, then verse 21 blurs it to the church. He did not give any Scriptural support for his "don't blur" mandate (and I don't know of any), so while he may be contradicting himself and making himself look foolish, at least he's not teaching false doctrine -- except insofar as he claims the principle is Biblical. Whatever. I think he shot all his big guns in the first half, and is just stumbling around in the dark on this later stuff.

Continuing to discuss the outworking of his "face of God" metaphor in the different areas of life as "spheres", Lesson #9 delves into God's teaching about government. He credits Abraham Kuyper with the notion of "sphere sovereignty" and not any Scripture, but he gets close to teaching the notion as if it were God's idea. Me, I doubt it. It's hard to avoid getting politicized when you discuss models of government, and while he never said so, I suspect from his anti-statist remarks that this guy is a Libertarian. He did admit to working in a Republican White House. He tries to argue that taxation and redistribution are "stealing" from the story of Naboth's vineyard [1Kings 21], but the crime that Ahab (or rather, Jezebel in his name) commits to gain that vineyard is not so much theft or murder, but lying. The King could have simply killed the guy without excuse (murder), but he didn't do that. He could have simply had the cops forcibly eject the guy from the property without killing him (theft), but he didn't do that either. He had somebody lie about Naboth, claiming he had committed a capital crime, then he had him killed. This event is actually about truth, which is the title of the series. He should have said so, but he got blindsided by his Libertarian politics.

There are some important insights to be gained from Rom.13, but God's approved form of government is not one of them. Opposition to taxation and redistributionism cannot be inferred clearly from Scripture. Joseph instituted a heavy (10%!) tax in Egypt to save the people from famine, and God blessed it. It wasn't exactly redistribution the way the socialists in America want to do it, and the way the (former!) Soviet Union actually tried to do it (that's why they are "former"), but it was close. We have incredible wealth in this country, so a 50% tax on the people who have that wealth is not onerous -- discouraging to be sure, but not burdensome -- and redistribution is a stupid way to spend those taxes (and those deferred taxes aka inflation), but a reasonable interpretation of Paul's advice to Rome on the subject is that the government defines as "good" what it promotes, which Tackett did say is the consequence of their atheism, but without connecting it to Paul's teaching. First-century Rome was a far more abusive government that we have in the USA today, and even more abusive than some of the more heavily socialist governments elsewhere in the world, but they were still God's servants. That applies even today to Christians living under abusive Muslim or atheistic governments. He should have said that, but he didn't.

I consider #9 to be deeply flawed. There is good stuff there, but it is irreconcilably comingled with his own personal politics. He did so much of that in Lesson #10 that some editor insisted that he put a disclaimer in front. The focus, however, is very different. He is not teaching from the Bible here, but rather showing how very different modern "separation of church and state" is from what the American Founders had in mind. This session should be required viewing in every civics classroom (public as well as private) in America. Or at least in every teen (and adult!) Sunday School class. I would have preferred going to the original documents to read those amazing quotes in context, but this is a video, not a text. sigh It's still truly awesome.

This being a high-quality video (unlike some of the poop that comes out of Hollywood, which I get from the library from time to time), I was able to go back and pause it just before the image of one (partial) page from the NorthWest Ordinance was covered over with a retyped pull-quote, and I could clearly read that Article 3d, which began with the insistance that public schools in any new states as might arise form the NorthWest Territories covered by this Ordinance should teach Religion -- that was the substance of the pull-quote -- went on to explain in detail how the rights of native tribes therein should be protected. The schools quote was in fact there, but it was taken out of context. Maybe some of the other quotes in this video series had the same problem, but we were not shown the full context. Tackett neglected to say (it was not his point, but it could have emphasized the wickedness of our government in ways they themselves would admit to) that the Ordinance was violated in many ways, and not only in the abandonment of the Bible as the source of what made this country great.

We need to understand, and he did not say so clearly, that the American form of government not only does not work except over a moral (read: Christian religious) people, but like modern science, also would not have even been considered apart from that context. This country is way ahead of whoever is in second place because of the Christian heritage of the Founders. Even the least Christian of all of them, Ben Franklin, is quoted as insisting that every session of their deliberations should begin with prayer to God. You won't hear that in modern public schools. You won't even hear that in many "Christian" schools. Like I said, Lesson #10 should be required viewing for every American.

Session #11 discusses a Scriptural view of labor. It is not particularly new to me -- indeed I have seen my own work that way for many years -- but most people (including most Christians) do not see it that way. They should. Tackett's so-called doctorate is in "Management" so he infers from Gen.1:28 the wisdom of managerial delegation. That's pretty subtle, but more credible (to me) than seeing there also the institution of private ownership, which is more Libertarian politics than Scripture. There is private ownership elsewhere in Scripture, mostly I think as a description of what life after the Resurrection will be like. However, Scripture wisely does not criticize the different forms of government people -- especially Christians -- find themselves under today. Americans are lucky (read: "blessed") to have had what we are already losing, but God also has His people in China and Somalia and Iraq, and I wouldn't want to discourage those people, particularly in their time of persecution. They need to be good citizens where God has placed them, and we need to continue to be good citizens of whatever rotten government replaces what we grew up in. It's happening, and we cannot stop it, but we must not stop being Salt and Light in it.

But most of Lesson #11 is about work, and it's awesome.

The final session is a very good treatment of the Second Great Commandment, but he has to reach some to fit it into his framework of "spheres." That's a problem with us humans, we like regularity and rules and order. God doesn't seem to have that problem. This guy calls his final sphere "community" but he cannot find any Scripture that says so, nor even that establishes any such thing. Work (#11, "Labor") was established by God in the Garden. You can sort of get "family" from the "one flesh" also in the Garden, and from the commands on relating to parents and children. Government is clearly established by God in Romans 13. But his primary teaching about "community" comes from the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which if you look at the parable, it's not about your community at all, but an outsider (in another context Jesus called him a "foreigner") who happens across your path and is in need. The bogus superstructure does not interfere in any way with the good things he says about relating to other people, so ignore the sphere-ness nonsense and concentrate on what God tells us to do.

He did say one thing that didn't sit well: "Do not work alone." That may be well and good, and I'm all for "community" and shared labor and all that, but what if God gives me a job to do, but does not give any part of it to anybody else? Elevating "Do not work alone" to the level of a command can only be honored by abandonning what God gave me to do. I have a problem with that. Fortunately, I cannot find any such command in my Bible, and Del Tackett did not cite any.

All in all, this is a good package. Skip Lesson #7 and maybe #8, but the rest are awesome.

Tom Pittman
2016 February 6