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30 August, 2003 (again)

Tom Hinkle is my new hero.

Here is a link:

This book pissed me off because it is poorly argued and full of straw
men and red herrings. I submitted a review to Amazon that did not
get posted (so far as I can tell). Tom Hinkle submitted a review that
said much the same in a rather eloquent manner. Here are both reviews,
with Tom's first:

Unconvincing, August 25, 2003
Reviewer: Tom Hinkle from
Tulsa, OK USA

When I ordered this book, I had hoped it would give me a good, solid
Biblical argument for universalism; not only presenting scriptures
that seem to support that position, but also giving an explanation of
scriptures that explicitly go against the universalist doctrine. This
is not that book.

Here is how the book deals with seemingly anti-univeralist scriptures:
it simply says those scriptures are wrong. So much for wrestling with the
text. The authors make no pretense of accepting the Bible as the Word of
God, well, that is unless it's those passages that seem to support their
position. Instead, "experience" takes precedent over scripture. That's
pretty dangerous ground. And if there was any chance in me being won
over to the authors' position, it totally went south when later in the
book they explicitly denied the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and
the substitutionary atonement. About the only thing that distinguishes
the authors from the most radical liberal is their belief in Jesus'
literal resurrection.

I would love to be a universalist, but there are too many scriptures,
even from the mouth of Jesus, that teach just the opposite. I gave this
book a chance to convince me, and it failed miserably.


A poor defense of Universalism
Reviewer: Daniel Olson from Union Grove,
WI United States

The authors of this book have managed to write a seemingly brilliant
defense of standard Universalist doctrine, but upon closer examination
it becomes clear that this book will only convince those who already
agree with the thesis or are very unsure of what they believe.

The authors lay out their position on Universalism and Scripture
very clearly in the first chapter. It is made clear that the authors
believe in this doctrine because they want it to be true. Readers are
fed anecdote after anecdote about people the authors think should be in
Heaven, despite clear Biblical teachings about the existence of Hell and
accountability for sin. The authors go to great pains to explain that
where the Bible and their view contradict, it is because the Bible is
incorrect and their emotions or perceptions of God are correct. Need I
mention the volatility of human emotions or the limited nature of human
experience? A more reliable source of doctrine is needed, and I turn to
the Bible which the authors dismiss so casually as being contradictory.

This book contains many strawman arguments when it discusses traditional
Christianity, and rejects the deity of Christ, which is the primary
tenet of Christianity. Unlike the Bible, it does not present the whole
picture of the God who created us, who is both loving and just, and
it detracts from the true nature of Grace: a gift offered to all, but
accepted by few. I have met one of the authors, who is incidentally a
distant relative of mine, and he is a very nice man, but sadly I feel
his beliefs are very flawed.


The positive reviews on Amazon distress me, but I suppose when you take a
book that has this many misleading statements, it's unsurprising that it
would convince those who are unsure of or cannot defend what they believe.
This is exactly why people should know what they believe and why they
believe it... something lacking EVERYWHERE.


30 August, 2003

So the FBI tracked down a person somehow related to the Blaster worm.
Good for them. Now all we have to do is listen to the DoJ brag and brag
about how they are cracking down on cyber-terrorism. I certainly proud
of them for knowing how to use whois(1)... I had the kid's home address
in a few seconds after I became aware that he owned the domain

Now, I don't care much about Blaster, but the effects of the more
productive worms are certainly annoying to me. At one point last week
I had to download over 10 megabytes of email over my dialup. But I'm
not mad at the people authoring the worms. I'm mad at all the people
around the world who are ignorantly spreading the worms.

It is altogether clear to me that Microsoft has not done nearly enough to
combat this problem. Instead, they are filing charges against the authors
of the worms, who sometimes are stupid enough to get caught, like "poor"
Jeff Parson. Sure, there needs to be some accountability on the side of
the worm authors, but why isn't anyone pointing the finger at Microsoft?
They could easily wipe out all trace of email worms with a single patch
to Outlook. The only problem would be getting their already undereducated
users to upgrade.

When this .plan was written: 2003-08-30 03:10:09
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