Expanding the representation of Document Acts

What is a document act? It is an intentional act that changes social arrangements by means of a document. A deontic role is a social role that inheres in an agent (an individual, aggregate of individuals, or an organization) that is grounded in the normative expectations of others. Some document acts can only be performed by those who bear the appropriate roles. E.g., a pastor in virtue of bearing the role has the power to pronounce marriage and sign a marriage license.

Sending the Disciples (CCB)

August 14, 2022 – Christ Central Buffalo (www.christcentralbuffalo.com)


Sermon Text: Matthew 10:1-15

“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.'”

Sending the Disciples (CVPC)

August 7, 2022 – Colonial Village Presbyterian Church (www.cvpchurch.org)


Sermon Text: Matthew 10:1-15

“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.'”

Praying for the Harvest (CVPC)

August 7, 2022 – Colonial Village Presbyterian Church (www.cvpchurch.org)


Sermon Text: Matthew 9:35-38

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”

Praying for the Harvest (CCB)

June 26, 2022 – Christ Central Buffalo (www.christcentralbuffalo.com)


Sermon Text: Matthew 9:35-38

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”

Fallacious and non-fallacious Whataboutism

In my view, many so-called ‘fallacies’ have rational counterparts. A fallacy is just a counterfeit for sound or cogent reasoning. It looks like good reasoning, but it is off in a subtle way. It is because there is a legitimate form of reasoning adjacent to the fallacy, which explains why the fallacy is so appealing.

Someone asked on Reddit “Is whataboutism always fallacious?

Here’s my reply:


Bringing up someone else’s lack of consistency across cases is not fallacious in and of itself. It’s basically an appeal to say “Show me your principles, so I can understand you” and follow-up “But are you really even relying on these principles? It appears you aren’t in this other case.” It is not fallacious only because if there is a double standard, it would best to find which standard should be applied. The rational inquiry is about what is the standard to which one ought to appeal.

Likewise, bringing up another case can highlight that the same principles are applied consistently, but there is a morally relevant difference between the two cases. The appeal to consistency, that like cases should be treated alike, can be satisfied, when one shows that the two cases are importantly dissimilar.

Bringing up someone else’s lack of consistency can be fallacious, if the effort is designed to distract, divert, or otherwise ignore the reasoning of the argument. At that point, the ‘what about’ isn’t brought up to find out either the principles or the morally-relevant differences between the two cases, but rather to gainsay the conclusion in a snarky way. In other words, it is fallacious when the charge of hypocrisy is irrelevant to the truth of the conclusion.

I’ll give a positive example:

Pro-life advocates believe that some people have special obligations to the vulnerable. Some positive rights (and positive duties) can accrue naturally. E.g., biological mothers have a unique relationship with duties to their unborn child.

But some pro-life advocates don’t think this clearly, or don’t really hold this view. They get confused or they get accused for holding a general obligations view, that we general obligations to anyone who is vulnerable. If you can help save someone’s life, then you ought to save that person’s life. If you can help stave off starvation, then you should do it.

And so critics might say what about charity work, welfare programs for poor mothers, welfare programs for children, government funding for adoption and foster care, sending government aid to other nations, etc. In other words, pro-lifers who appeal to the principle “we all, in virtue of being persons capable of saving lives, have obligations to care for any person who is in need of life-sustaining care.” Such a pro-lifer could be inconsistent in their principles, if they want to make abortion illegal but think that the government should never impose a tax to help the poor.

This is a NON-FALLACIOUS whataboutism.

Some critics say “You only care about them when they are in the womb! What about when they are born? You don’t really care about their welfare!”

This is a FALLACIOUS whataboutism.

Why? The pro-lifer thinks that the mother (and father) still have special obligations to the child after birth, unless she (they) can responsibly delegate them to another, say adoptive parents, extended family, etc.

Some critics say “You only care about the fetus’s rights. What about the mother? Doesn’t she have rights?”

This is a FALLACIOUS whataboutism.

The pro-lifer cares about the rights of the mother too. But some rights are more fundamental than others; say, my right to property is less fundamental than my right to life; likewise my right to autonomy is less fundamental than my right to life.

Some critics say, “You only care about the right to life, but what about standards of living? You seem to think you gotta keep them alive even if their life is horrible.”

This is a FALLACIOUS whataboutism.

The pro-lifer thinks that welfare is morally important. Welfare programs do not automatically get legal justification because welfare is morally important. Moreover, special obligations (individual to individual) are not the same, but grounded differently, as general obligations (individual to group, or group to individual).

Advent Reflections, part 3

Advent Season is characterized by waiting and yearning. A sometimes patient, other times impatient, desire to see God’s chosen one. He will deliver all God’s people from oppression and establish justice forever. Just as God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to Jesus, the promised offspring who will rule with compassion and vanquish all evil, so also does the church today.

In this series this Advent season I will be reflecting on passages exclusively from the Old Testament that foreshadow and anticipate the arrival of Jesus Christ.


Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (ESV)

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”


Moses is referring back to the time when God appeared on Mt. Sinai. Israel had been rescued from Egypt and on their way to the Promised Land, but in the meantime, they were wandering in the desert and wilderness. When the people came to the mountain there were flashes of lightening and the top was filled with fire and smoke. God’s presence was so immense and great, that the people were terrified. God commanded that no one may approach unless he calls them up. When God spoke, they could not handle hearing from God directly. They begged for someone to mediate between them and God. So, God called Moses and brought him up, in order to give him the law. Moses was their mediator who will hear the word of the Lord and bring it to the people.

God will raise up a prophet like Moses. In what ways will the prophet be like Moses? Like Moses, the prophet to come will be “from among you, from your brothers”. This phrase is repeated twice. Perhaps it goes without saying, that the prophet will be a human, rather than an angel or someone else. The prophet to come will also be a true Israelite, and not born in a foreign land. The prophet will be raised in the law of Moses, and will have their heritage in Abraham’s promise. He will be in the family, their kin.

God promised to raise up a prophet like Moses

Like Moses, this prophet will speak the words of God. The prophet won’t be speaking on his own terms or his own thoughts. He will faithfully present what God has shown. Just as people would listen to Moses as if they were listening to God, the prophet to come will have the very words of God on his lips. Moses brought the law and taught God’s standard. He was called the great Law-giver. As a prophet, Moses foretold blessing and curse, based on obedience and faithfulness.

Moses was not only a prophet, but also had a role as a leader when Israel had no king. He led them out of slavery, delivered them from oppression, and went out ahead of them toward the promised land. He led people into battle in the wilderness and anticipation of entering the promised land. And the people followed – they didn’t splinter off into going different ways, but all united behind Moses. He was the closest thing to a king that Israel would have in the wilderness.

The prophet will be different from Moses, though, because the prophet will speak all and only what God commands. Moses failed in this, and it is the reason he never crossed the Jordan in the Promised Land. The prophet that Moses anticipated would be greater than himself.

And so, the people waited for hundreds of years for “The Prophet” like Moses to come, that they might hear the word of the Lord with authority once more. Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah came, but they also spoke of the one to come. When Jesus came, he was identified as that prophet. The people marveled at his wisdom and teaching, and that he spoke with authority. The apostles announced that the Prophet has come.

When will we see the Prophet like Moses? When will we see one greater than Moses? When will we feast on the word of God, taught with the authority of God himself?

When Christ returns.


And so we, the church, wait for our savior to return to us.

Revelation 22:20-21: He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Advent Reflections, part 2

Advent Season is characterized by waiting and yearning. A sometimes patient, other times impatient, desire to see God’s chosen one. He will deliver all God’s people from oppression and establish justice forever. Just as God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to Jesus, the promised offspring who will rule with compassion and vanquish all evil, so also does the church today.

In this series this Advent season I will be reflecting on passages exclusively from the Old Testament that foreshadow and anticipate the arrival of Jesus Christ.


Genesis 22:17-18 (ESV)

“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”


God appeared to Abraham, telling him to leave his parents and extended family, even his whole community, to turn away from false gods and instead follow after the true God. This was a calling to leave the rebellious line of the serpent, in order to be among those who will be faithful to God and will be delivered from sin and sorrow.

In this passage we see that God appeared to Abraham and promised offspring – a child, even a firstborn son, despite the fact that both Abraham and his wife Sarah were in their old age, and childless. They wanted children, but Sarah was infertile. She couldn’t have kids. But God promised a miracle, and this miracle would not just be for them, but for all people.

This promise has at least three parts.

First, God promised to make people numerous, who belong to Abraham. While Abraham was childless, he will have so many descendants, nobody could count them if they wanted. God’s people will be fruitful and multiply on the earth.

Second, God promised a secure home for them to inhabit. They would have a place to belong. But this is not all. It is clear that Satan also has a sort of dominion in the world, in enmity with God’s people. God did not promise here that they would simply be able to defend against Satan’s attacks. Instead, God promised that the offspring will be on the attack, taking over the gates or entry of Satan’s territory.

Third, God promised that life will be high quality, in that they will be blessed, and this blessing will be so abundant, that it will overflow and be passed on to everyone. To be a nation and to have a place to live are not enough – they will thrive. Under the rule of the promise offspring, justice and peace will bring prosperity and the good life.

The promise for Abraham is a promise God kept. Jesus Christ is that promised offspring who will bless all nations, making a people for himself to inherit, and a dominion that conquers his enemies. In the culmination of his victory, Jesus will bring justice for all peoples.

Jesus Christ is that promised offspring who will bless all nations

Just as Abraham waited years longing for the offspring to come, so also the church.


And so we, the church, wait for our savior to return to us.

Revelation 22:20-21: He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.