Friday, June 09, 2006

Standoff in New Caledonia

Interesting news report at about the standoff at New Caledonia.

Two factors are disturbing. First, the possibility that police officers stood around while the assault ws happening.

Second is the statement, "The most recent incident took place on June 4, when two OPP officers who were apparently new to the Caledonia standoff drove into an area that police had agreed not to enter." So apparently there is a place in Ontario where the police have decided they have no authority and no obligation to enforce the laws of Ontario. Don't get me wrong; maybe the protestors have a valid case, and maybe they don't. I expect the police to act respectfully to all parties. But the police do not have the option of abdicating their responsibility.

Let me give an illustration. What would happen if I decide the police do not have the right to set foot on my land. I can assault people on my land, steal or do whatever I want. And then I issue an ultimatum to the police that if they dare to set foot on my land I will become violent and several hundred of my friends will show up to become violent. A judge tells me to stop blocking the traffic that runs down the street in front of my house, but I don't bother complying. Do the police have the option of just letting me be, so as not to provoke me? Will the Attorney General of the province ignore a court order? Not a chance. The tactical squad will be there within 30 minutes and snipers will be on the roofs. So why is it different for natives? Again, this has nothing to do with the strength or weakness of their case. It simply a matter of law.


Blogger Blake said...

I would say the reason the police had "agreed not to enter" a certain sector is due to the ongoing dispute, for lack of provocation's sake and for the sake of their own safety. Until the dispute is resolved, it's probably not safe for the police to go there, either for themselves or to the citizenry of the area who may be subject to reprisals for the provocation.

What you're asking for is akin to asking the AEF to attack Berlin on June 7, 1944. First things first, dude.

You will eventually learn that this world is not black-and-white. To quote "Angel", "Nothing in this world is the way it should be," and police and other officials are forced to work within the confines of reality. Politics is a world of needed finesse in difficult situations, circumnavigating wisely stormy seas. I know it's not as easy or as satisfying as saying, "the police should just maintain order of law" and storm in there, but then again, ask Dudley George's family how that worked out last time they tried. Or the SQ officer who died at Oka. Et cetera.

1:14 a.m.  
Anonymous jgriffin said...

The question is, why are the protesters being allowed to attack and intimidate people _outside_ of the barrier. The camera crew in question was clearly outside of the disputed area. This is shown in the video at

6:35 p.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

Analogies are always difficult because they are imprecise or carry details that might not apply. To use the anology of the AEF on June 7, 1944, it would have been folly for them to agree with the Axis that there were areas they would not attack and that they were content to allow the Axis to maintain control. On the other hand, where this analogy breaks down is in the idea of attack. I am not calling upon the police to attack the native protesters. I am calling upon the police to maintain the law in a fair and impartial way, and allow the courts to determine the right or wrong of the protesters actions. So for example, if residents of Caledonia were beating up a native protester, I would expect the police to intervene and arrest the residents, even if a hundred residents were present and even if they needed the tactical squad to complete the job.

Your statement that the world is not black and white is interesting. Do you believe absolute truth exists, and that definite right and wrong exist?

8:27 p.m.  
Blogger Blake said...

"I am calling upon the police to maintain the law in a fair and impartial way, and allow the courts to determine the right or wrong of the protesters actions. So for example, if residents of Caledonia were beating up a native protester, I would expect the police to intervene and arrest the residents, even if a hundred residents were present and even if they needed the tactical squad to complete the job."

And sometimes the best course of action is letting things simmer down and resist the urge to go in with a mallet without thinking about the consequences first. Going in hard now could incite riots on reserves all across the province or the country, and if that is the case, it would be best to seek an alternative solution, don't you think? If that situation could be defused and life can be restored to normalcy in even a month or two by a calm and patient approach of containment, instead of touching off a powder keg, I think that would be the wiser course of action, don't you agree? Justice delayed is not always justice denied. And justice is usually determined by the outcome, not the means to get there.

"Do you believe absolute truth exists, and that definite right and wrong exist?"

Yes, I reality exists. But let me ask you where "absolute truth" is? Is it in some hidden world of forms (be it in heaven, in the mind, somewhere else)? Show me absolute truth. Show me any thing you know in an absolute and abstract sense, that isn't at all contingent or based upon interpretation.

I don't understand this Josh McDowellian epistemological morass that evangelicals - especially Brethren folks - love stumbling into. We do not know anything absolutely; all knowledge is contingent upon interpretation, and no interpretation is absolute or abstract. A high theology admits - frankly, demands - this: we are not God. God knows things we do not. God has designed things that way, and I for one am thrilled about it.

I highly suggest you do some serious reading in epistemology. Even most modernist epistemologists would take issue with your presentation, and serious conservative evangelical epistemological thinkers, like John Frame, would denounce it in a heartbeat as being simplistic, passé, and promoting an unduly high anthropology.

I'm still waiting a response on Andrew's blog, by the way, or even on my response to your Uplook article. I find it ironic to see a person talking about absolute truth, and a black and white world, is so slow to defend his - presumably - absolutely truthful position.

3:42 p.m.  
Blogger Blake said...

Still no response - on this post, on my blog, or on Andrew's. What's taking so long, if you have absolute truth on your side, Shawn? Shouldn't you be able to refute my assertions so easily? I wonder what kind of commentary it provides about your position that nothing substantive has been offered.

Or do you think not believing "absolute truth" is abstractly discernable by individuals is so heretical that it doesn't deserve a response? (Which would make most conservative Protestants who knew the first thing about epistemology who ever spoke on the subject heretics, but we'll pass that one over for a minute.) Which is it?

8:03 p.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...


You seem to be trying to make a case from my silence, as if that proves your point. For anyone who claims to be as logical as yourself, it should be obvious that my silence does nothing to prove your point.

In the first place, your posts are extremely long. Whether this represents a rambling communication style or whether this is part of your standard tactics (write so much that nobody could possibly answer all of it, and then accuse them of evading your questions), I don’t know. What I do know is that each of your longer comments has dozens of points, and not having much in the way of typing skills, I can’t match your output.

Second, I’ve been very busy leading up to this weekend, and blogging has been a lower priority for me. I had some family celebrations to attend to this weekend, and I was also preparing and delivering the first sermon in a series on theology. You might be surprised to know that I share many of the same concerns you raised about “Brethren” churches. I said that I told the church young people that I wanted them to be thinking Christians, but this doesn’t seem to have much of an impression on you. I had an article published in the May 2006 Uplook urging “Brethren” churches to display more humility and forbearance, but you actually tried to suggest this was evidence of my arrogance.

Now perhaps I’m revealing more about myself than I am comfortable with, but there are a few other points you should be aware of. One of the written goals I have for my children is “That they would train their minds to think, question, and apply knowledge.” Over the last year I’ve wondered where I should focus my energy in Christian labours, and one of the written objectives I have for myself is that I should help “raise a generation of thinkers” within the local churches I attend and visit. I’ve started writing a book entitled, “The Life of the Mind.” I’ve given several seminars on homiletics, in an effort to try to improve the overall quality of Bible teaching in “Brethren” churches (at the last seminar I gave, 4 different denominations were represented). Over the years I have tried to see if there is any way I could attend a seminary, in an effort to even out my theological studies, but I’ve been quite disappointed that the path has never opened. I’ve been praying for years that a seminary would open in Ottawa, not because I would benefit from it and not because I think it is a prerequisite for ministry, but because I would like to see the overall level of theological understanding raised in this area. I have a conviction about making sure the “Brethren” churches in the area get in-depth Bible teaching, and so I just finished the last of 22 sermons on Romans and previously dealt with Hebrews in similar detail. I recommended a certain speaker come to our church who was from a very different background than “the Brethren” because I thought he would have something to say which would help develop our minds. I wasn’t disappointed by the guest speaker, but I have taken considerable flak for not following the standard Brethren line. I’ve pointed out the hypocrisy of those who criticize homosexual sin, but fail to judge their own heterosexual sin. I once corrected an elder who said something unacceptable from the platform, causing him to make a public apology the next week. And I do review my own theology for holes. There are a few points I am not satisfied with, and continue to seek answers.

Now given your past history, you will probably try to pick apart everything I’ve written above, but I didn’t write it for your benefit. I wrote it for the benefit of those who have seen the criticisms you have written about me, and to help them understand that your criticism of me is yet one more retreat from reality on your part.

You see Blake, the final reason why I haven’t responded is because I’ve been trying to figure you out. At first I thought you were someone who had some bad experiences, and thus someone I could learn from. Then I thought you were a strong proponent of Calvinism who wanted to debate. While I’ve had enough of these debates in the past, there would at least be the possibility of discussion. Then I thought that maybe you were someone who honestly sought a dialogue. But then I realized that your angry, rude and mocking tone precluded dialogue in any real sense. I considered the possibility that you were someone who could recommend some books and authors that would stretch my mind. But then I realized that you just toss books and authors around as a defense (i.e. in effect saying “if you haven’t read every book I have, then you have no right to speak”). I could of course do the same thing, but it’s a rather transparent tactic. Then I thought you were someone who simply enjoyed endless debates. But finally, I think I’ve come to understand you. It started when you said that only a moron didn’t realize the Bible requires interpretation. Then you said the church couldn’t know the will of God. You asked when I would “realize” that there is no such thing as black and white. And finally you said that all truth is, “contingent or based upon interpretation”. So it all came together, and I’m surprised it took me so long to figure it out. It seems you have bought completely into a post-modern mindset, and you fit the description of an “emergent church” follower to a “T”.

As such, I now realize why you dislike “Brethren” churches so much. For all of our faults (and believe me, I know most of them), we will never fall for the errors of the emergent church as it seeks to redefine Christianity. Postmodernism will never gain a foothold in a “Brethren” church, in postmodernism’s attempts to doubt the fabric of reality. We’re not alone in all of this, for there are many fine churches that stand with us in an attempt to follow normative Christianity. I’m still a bit confused by your defense of Calvinism, because if interpretation is such a huge problem that truth is essentially unknowable, you are definitely out of step with all the Calvinists I’ve known (who invariably make their case from Scripture and have no doubts that the truth of Calvinism can be derived and taught from the Bible). Maybe you should read (or reread) Calvin’s “Institutes” and ask yourself what Calvin means if interpretation is really such a difficulty.

In any case, I was the target of dislike of the “Brethren”, not because I have bought into old-style Brethrenism, but because I was simply available. That is an availability I’ll be removing, because I will no longer be accepting comments from you on my blog. You are of course welcome to blog for yourself, and add comments on other people’s blogs, but you won’t be getting any more opportunities on “Shawn’s Place”.

I doubt you will ever return to a “Brethren” church. With your current beliefs and attitudes, that’s probably a good thing. However I hope you will come to realize that an Almighty God can reveal spiritual truth in an inerrant and authoritative manner. While interpretation is an issue, some verses are difficult to misinterpret (John 3:16 and John 14:6 come to mind). And while people like myself accept that we could be wrong about many things, the historic Christian faith requires us to be confident that we are correct about some things (such as salvation by grace through faith). I’m sorry if you had some negative experiences in “Brethren” churches. This isn’t everyone’s experience, and there are many of us who are devoting our best efforts to help make our local churches into something that is pleasing to our Lord. I’m sorry that your experiences played a role in driving you to where you are now. I can only hope that wherever you find local church fellowship, you will accomplish wonderful things in the Lord’s service, and one day hear the “well done, good and faithful servant”. Blake, I bear you no ill-will. I hope you have joy every day of your life. Goodbye.

10:39 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two things:

1. I was very glad to hear there might be a vaccine for cervical cancer since most women have to check annually about that, and I believe that predates anything to do with A.I.D.S., so cannot really be construed as exclusively an issues along those lines, really.

There may be a larger question that this question begs, that of whether it would be appropriate to give medical treatment to, for instance, drunken drivers who were in a sinful state and any other such matters of illness arising out of sin.

I do think that in the case of sinful man, we may also try to keep people in life so long as is possible, because "after death, cometh judgment," so, as long as they're alive, there's a hope that people might come to the knowledge of the truth.

We might also bear in mind "Such were some of you," and so on.

Just a thought.

2. Re: theological training -- offers some for fifty bucks to cover expenses on an on-line school. I think that does something like that, as well, no? For free.

3. As an assembly lifer, of some duration, I am concerned that we have lost the theoretical underpinnings of what we practice, to some degree, at least in popular knowledge, and are dwelling in the land, so often, of applications rather than of theory, at least as a beginning point. A lot of times, I agree with content that Blake raises, and I find it within the realm of considerations that 'brethren' deal with. I disagree with the way in which he sometimes gets adversarial, but I do know that it IS, indeed, difficult, at times, to raise theoretical issues without being thought at least apocryphal.

So, I think he could grow in grace, and, sometimes, in realizing that people are in essential agreement with him on some of his points. I doubt the grace thing's been taught wherever he's been, but I think that others could grow in frameworks in which to construe his questions and such. I don't agree with him in every moment, but I think he raises real questions that must be dealt with.

At time, though, he's been utterly gracious -- I think he feels that the 'system' is stacked against him, right now, and that he's like a cornered rat, and must fight to survive, and stuff like that.

It's really, really really hard when you feel an assembly is against you, because you love it so very, very much, you know. SO, that could account for something, I think, you know.

At other times, he's not so adversarial.

Also, for years, I've not heard much about that new man/old man kind of teaching in the assemblies. I find it helpful, although I'm probably misnaming it, now.

So, we proceed as does the world, unless imformed otherwise. You know, the daily life aspect and stuff.

2:45 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, also, in places where Blake's been, people have said things like it not being good to learn the original languages, or you'd lose your faith, kind of thing. So, there's a bit of provocation out there to studiers, eh?

6:18 p.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

I too am glad that a vaccine against cervical cancer exists. What I am concerned about is the assumption that all children are in an “at risk” group, when this is essentially a sexually transmitted disease. The vaccine should be available if parents request it, or if a child of a certain reasonable ago requests it, but I don’t believe it should be mandatory for all.

With regards to medical treatment, I believe it should be available to all. Yes, any act of mercy could be misused, but additional sin that may result is the fault of the sinner rather than the one showing mercy. So for example, even if I knew a person would never repent (not that I can know this, but assuming I was able to know it) I would still offer medical treatment. We have a Father in Heaven who shows mercy to unbelievers every day and He knows who will or will not repent. I support efforts to find a cure or vaccine for AIDS, even though I fear it will unleash a floor of immoral behaviour.

I think Francis Schaeffer summed up something important. It was one of those ideas that was half formed in my mind until he gave it a title that put it all in place for me. He referred to “the compassionate use of accumulated wealth”. This got me to thinking about how Christians are to demonstrate mercy in our society. Yes, it is part of maintaining a testimony and hopefully some will respond. But beyond that it is to be a simple part of Christian character, reflecting the merciful attitude of the Lord Jesus.

With regards to theological training, there are some excellent sermons available on the Internet. and are a couple of my favourites.

With regards to “the Brethren” it is true that we no longer have the foundation we once did. People can criticize Darby, and indeed some of his actions and teachings were wrong. But he was blazing new ground, and was well equipped to do so. Kelly had a feel for New Testament Greek that few could match. Some of the standard study tools in use within evangelical circles were produced by “the Brethren” (Vine’s Dictionary and Wigram’s Concordance). But I don’t see a lot of that happening now.

My own efforts to learn Biblical languages have been frustrating. I have two semesters of Biblical Hebrew (and had the instructor all to myself, which was an excellent experience). My attempts to learn Greek with a 40 year old brain (and acknowledging that I am not gifted when it comes to languages) have been limited. Wherever possible I have encouraged young people to learn Greek and Hebrew, but also reminded people that a lack of Biblical languages should not prevent them from doing what they can do (i.e. learn the English Bible really well, and use study tools and decent commentaries).

Thanks for your comments. They are appreciated!

7:56 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Re: biblical languages, I know the feeling! I had three weeks of intensive Hebrew and don't remember anything beyond aleph and beth, really, right now, almost.

8:10 p.m.  

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