Monthly Archives: August 2009

A (Reluctant) Response to Rey

Normally, I just ignore Rey, but this time he brought up an interesting point. In a comment on my previous post, he said:

If we are really born at enmity to God and He is causing this to happen as his punishment of Adam’s sin, then He is as much at enmity with us by His nature as we are at enmity with Him by our nature. We both are then equally guilty, and shall not the equally guilty just mutually forgive one another if they are rational?

I agree that our natures are equally at enmity, but it doesn’t follow that we are both equally guilty. To be sure, there is a breach between the nature of God and the nature of man. We need to ask ourselves: who caused the breach?

There is a cause, and Scripture clearly reveals it. Therefore, it follows that someone caused it. Causes, and their resultant effects, follow in a logical chain. An agent caused the Fall, and we turn to the pages of Scripture to find out who caused the rift.

Go back to the text in Genesis 3. Read it carefully. As far as I can tell, humanity bears full responsibility for causing the breach between God and man, and therefore putting enmity between the nature of man and the nature of God. God, in all his wisdom, tried to prevent that and protect us by forbidding us to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was by disobeying him that the rift was created, for up to that moment everything in nature had obeyed God’s commands. The first act of disobedience was man’s fault, not God’s. Man transgressed God, not the other way around.

God is not equally guilty with us, I’m afraid. The text won’t allow that conclusion. But it would be evil for God not to offer forgiveness, a way out of this bind.

God does offer forgiveness, Rey. All those who call on his name will be saved (Joel 2:32). Not just some, but all who call on his name. Isn’t that a glorious promise? Repent of your sins, embrace the totality of Scripture, and call on the name of Jesus (Rom 10:9), for there is no other name by which you can be saved (Acts 4:12).

C. Michael Patton Nails it Again

Many atheists complain that God is a cosmic torture monger (in the words of C. Michael Patton), that he sends people to hell for little white lies and other minor sins. That a mass murderer who repents will go to heaven, while a virtuous atheist will go to hell simply for not believing in God.

C. Michael Patton dispels that myth here. The real problem is that people trivialize sin. Sin isn’t first what we do. Sin is first who we are. We inherit the sin of our forefather Adam, and from this flows a disposition of rebellion toward God.

No matter how we behave, we always have one fist clenched toward heaven’s throne, and are in constant rebellion to God. It is for this that we spend eternity in hell, not for going 27 in a 25 zone. It’s like the Jars of Clay song Two Hands, where the songwriter feels like he’s using one hand to pull God close while using the other to push him away. This is exactly what we do when we let sin rule our lives.

Fortunately, there is good news for those who no longer wish to be in rebellion to the Creator. Believe on Jesus Christ, and your sin is paid for, in full. Then live a life of repentance, a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1-2). You will spend eternity with your Father in heaven.

Questions? E-mail me or comment below.

P.S. -> TurretinFan disagrees with this here.

I think that it is worthy to note that sin is both action and nature, and that we are punished more for nature than action. Believing in Christ changes our nature, so that we are capable of not sinning against God as our normal nature would demand.

Grace Does Not Give Us Free Licence to Sin

It’s appropriate that Extreme Theology would reprint this sermon from Martin Luther, since Unreasonable Faith is trying to take a potshot at the Christian doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter.

Those are the words of George Sodini, the man who opened fire in a Pennsylvania gym, killing 3 and wounding 9 others. He used the above quote as his justification for the mass murder.

He’s right, of course. Eternal life is based solely on faith in Christ and not on works. However, he left the condition of repentance out of the equation. The sinner must repent of his former sins! This is a message that is left completely out of many churches today. Everyone likes the idea of eternal life with Christ, but not at the expense of the moment.

The above-linked sermon from Martin Luther points out that, while we Christians are forgiven our sins, this isn’t a license to continue to sin. As the apostle Paul put it:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:1-4)

We are dead to sin through our baptism. The apostle wants to make it clear that we are not to still live in sin. What George Sodini did was a clear sin–followed by the taking of his own life. He did not die in a state of repentance. That means that he is not with Jesus, which will likely come as a major surprise to him. But that’s what happens when bad theology mixes with an unstable mind. James White said it, and I’ll repeat it here: THEOLOGY MATTERS.

I think that is simply dishonest of Unreasonable Faith to draw parallells between Sodini and biblical heroes who also killed. The biblical heroes had a clear command from God to kill when they did. God doesn’t speak directly to us today. He has already spoken fully and finally through Jesus and the Scriptures.

Any quick perusal of Jesus or Paul should be sufficient to tell that we are not to take lives in the way that this man did. This is not living peaceably with others (Rom 12:18). This is not allowing the wrath of God to take its full effect (Rom 12:19-20).

Is every encounter with God therefore false? Probably not, but if it contradicts the revelation of the Scriptures then it most certainly is.

The final objection that can be raised is that even a command from God to kill is wrong, not to mention contradictory. But that is simply false. God gave us life and sustains our existence; he is unique in that he can give life. That gives him the right to take it away when he sees fit, and his judgements in such matters are perfect. We humans are not in the position to both give life as well as take it away. We are also not perfect, and therefore do not have a perfect sense of judgement and cannot know for certain that taking someone’s life is the right thing to do.

God, however, is perfect and can make such a judgement.

So, if humans are so imperfect, how do we know that the commands to kill in the Bible came from God? Could our perceptions not have mucked up the whole thing? Well, that would play havoc with biblical inerrancy, which is something that I subscribe to. Not only that, but the ancients were much more biblically literate than we are today, so they were in a better position to know if a command from God was contradictory to Scripture. Finally, Jesus promised that we who are his sheep will know his voice (Jn 10:27). Therefore, if someone is truly of God, that person will recognize God’s direct command.

But that raises another issue. How do you know something like that for sure? Well, the answer lies with the Holy Spirit and with Scripture. If one knows one’s Scripture, and is truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit, one will recognize that direct command from God. In such cases, our hypothetical person will also recognize false commands that don’t come from God because that person will know that they contradict Scripture.

Atheist Video Misses It… SURPRISE!

In my previous post, I gave a brief outline for why Christians no longer follow the Mosaic Law. The apostle Paul condemns the Law in the letter to the Galatians, and James agrees in the opening chapters of his epistle. The Law never made anyone righteous, and therefore we are no longer bound to obey it. Christ is the end of the law (Rom 10:4).

That doesn’t mean it disappears! The Bible says that the Law is written for our instruction (Rom 15:4). We are no longer bound to its letter, but its spirit (2 Cor 3:6).

There are basically three components to the Law. The first are absolute moral guidelines. The second is ceremonial law. The third are Jewish cultural norms. Commentators agree that the second component is not with us today, as that includes things like feast days, dress for priests, and other such requirements. For the third component, we use the spirit in which it is given for a guide on how to apply it to today’s culture. But the first component, absolute moral guidelines, are very much still with us today. For example, the Ten Commandments fall into this category. No one would argue otherwise.

This video asks the man on the street to enforce an absolute moral standard with the death penalty. This is wrong, because we no longer are able to enforce the penalties, that is God’s domain (see Rom 12:17-19). It also asks us if we should enforce some of the more ridiculous aspects of the Jewish ceremonial law, which is also wrong because that component is out completely.

Saying that certain components of the Law are not to be enforced isn’t selectively ignoring the Bible. This is taking the whole Bible for a progressive revelation. The average Joe on the street would have difficulty articulating this, as evidenced by the video. Christains are the ones taking the Bible at face value, not the atheists. But the atheists have us believe otherwise.

Vjack Uses a Refuted Argument… AGAIN!

One of the complaints that I have about atheists is that the don’t pay attention to what the other side says. Vjack has proven, once again, that this is so here.

Vjack, of Atheist Revolution, argued in 2005 that the Bible requires that Christians kill unbelievers. Four years later, he has reposted the same trash, even though I refuted it here.

First, Vjack has misrepresented his proof text. Deuteronomy 17 was written to the Jews of the nation of ancient Israel–a nation which no longer exists. Therefore, the text is no longer in effect. Even it it were, the text says that if there is an unbeliever among you, that is, a Jew, that he is to be put to death. Vjack is reading into the text a general command to kill unbelievers, which is not there. But there’s another problem.

Deuteronomy is part of the Mosaic Law, which Christians are not bound to. Christ is the end of the law for believers (Rom 10:4), and the Law exists only for instruction (Rom 15:4). Remember that the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit brings life (2 Cor 3:6).

Jesus taught in the Great Commission that we are supposed to evangelize unbelievers, not kill them (Mt 28:19). Paul says that we are supposed to live at peace with everyone (Rom 12:17). It seems that Vjack is mistaken.

I have a feeling that no matter how many times I refute this point, Vjack will still bring it up. So I guess I’m wasting my time.

Reader Question

An atheist writes:

The reasoning you present here could be used to defend an evil God.
So, if I say “God is evil”, I could point out at all the bad things that happen in the World.
You could then say that in the World there are actually a lot of good things happening, too.
At this point, using your very argument, I could reply that God works in mysterious ways, he deceives us, but his ultimate goal is always our suffering and misery.

Assuming that God exists, can you make a case for Him being good that cannot also be used for Him to being evil?
Mind you, if you just add another unproved assumption, such as “I have Faith that God is good”, you allow anyone to state “I have faith that God is evil” and act according to such horrible belief.

This is quite a practical problem, because “I have faith that God is evil” is not too far from “I have faith that God is good” provided that “good” means “wants me to kill the unbelievers”.

What if God gave us the Bible to test our rationality and skeptical thinking, and will reward only those that do NOT BELIEVE in Him?
Can you exclude this, or prove that it is less probable than Him sending to Heaven only the believers?
He works in mysterious ways, after all.

See also this post.

The comment boils down to two important questions. The first one is, How do I know that God is good? The second one is, How do I know that what he presented in the Bible is true? Because the second question has been asked, I will have difficulties in using Scripture to answer the questions. I must instead turn to natural theology.

Before I do that, I think that it is really important to mention that Scripture confirms all throughout that God is good, and that his promises are trustworthy. The problem that our atheist friend wants me to address, however, rejects the authority of Scripture outright. Therefore, I cannot simply point to Scripture and say, “Look at verses like Psalm 100:5, 34:8; Nahum 1:7; 2 Peter 1:3; or Matthew 19:17!”

The Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17), and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the promises of Scripture are true. According to Scripture, God is good and his promises are trustworthy.

But what do I say to someone who rejects the authority of Scripture? Obviously, quoting Scripture won’t work. Instead, we look to natural theology to prove that God is good. After we look at that, we can then move into using fulfilled prophecy to prove that Scripture is trustworthy. Finally, we can arrive at a conclusion from Scripture that God is good and his promises are trustworthy.

But is all of that necessary? See, I’m dealing with an atheist. I can only assume a postmodern, naturalistic worldview. Postmodern viewpoint assumes that all truth is relative and that there is no such thing as an absolute truth. Naturalism precludes the possibility of miraculous fulfillment of prophecy. So already, because of my respondent’s worldview, I’m starting the count at 0-2.

Scripture claims absolute truth, which assaults the sensibilities of the postmodern mind. In the mind of the naturalist, fulfillment of prophecy is a coincidence rather than a miracle. Miracles are simply not yet explained by science; so attributing them to God is fallacious in the mind of the postmodern naturalist.

My best weapons are moot to the mind of the postmodern naturalist, and I can do nothing to alter my respondent’s worldview by clever argumentation. Therefore, my entire response to his question will be an exercise in futility. So unless I hear that my commenter is sincerely willing to learn something about theistic views, I will leave this essay for another time. Perhaps it will never get written.

More Creation/Evolution Posts Coming!

I have to take a science class this term for my business degree. I’m looking forward to it, as I think that it will give me a chance to bring in some more creation/evolution debate to this site. I admit that I am pretty ignorant as to what evolution actually teaches.  All I know is what groups like Answers in Genesis have to say about it. I’m told that this is pretty inaccurate, but I have yet to have an evolutionist show me anything that contradicts what I’ve read from creationist groups. The science book that I have to read for class has an entire chapter devoted to the evidence for evolution, which I am particulaly looking forward to. I’ve read through Icons of Evolution, which raises serious doubts about much of the evidence for evolution. If there’s other evidence aside from what that book discusses, I want to know about it.

I actually want to make an informed decision about evolution. I want to know what it actually teaches so that I can decide for myself if it is an accurate portrayal of origins.

Of course, the book takes numerous swipes at religion in the first chapter alone, which makes me wonder about the objectivity of the authors.

I’m going to try to remain as objective as I can. We’ll see what I learn, and hopefully some interesting debate will result on this site.

Daniel Florien and I Agree–Sort Of

Mark this day on your calender folks. It appears as though Daniel Florien (proprietor of Unreasonable Faith) and I agree on something.  Well, sort of. Our points of view are vastly different, but we both agree that what Leilani Neumann did was reprehensible. Her daughter, Madeline, was sick of a treatable form of diabetes. Ms. Neumann prayed instead of seeking medical attention.

I agree with the court’s conclusion that this is negligent homicide. Though he never says so directly, I think that Mr. Florien also agrees with the court’s conclusion. However, Florien’s point of view is that God is imaginary, or he has somehow failed to answer the prayer. Human intervention could have saved the girl, but divine intervention appears to have done nothing.

What Mr. Florien, as an atheist, of course assumes that divine intervention will do nothing, ever. He assuemes that because he believes taht God isn’t real. So how does someone like myself, who believes that God is very real, arrive at the same conclusion that Florien does?

Simple. I believe that God uses us lowly humans to enact his healing. God works his great plan through intermediaries. Sometimes, he does things himself, and that is where religious experiences come from. Things like burning bushes or bright lights that knock people to the ground on Damascus roads are of God to be sure. But, so is a doctor healing a patient. Again, God uses us humans to enact his healing and his will.

Prayer doesn’t work on its own. Ever. It requires medical intervention. Prayer is only a supplement to competent medical care.