Daily Archives: April 24, 2010

Do Christians Read the Bible Anymore?

When I see this:

Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes. Calamities are the result of people’s deeds. We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers. (source)

And this:

Television and radio evangelist Pastor John Hagee believes the recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland stems from Britain breaking God’s covenant.

The day after Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority said the Western Wall in Jerusalem could not be used in Israeli tourism ads in Britain because it is considered occupied territory, Hagee said, the volcano erupted, shutting down Britain’s economy in one day.

“That’s coincidence, like the flood was a coincidence. That’s coincidence, like the Red Sea was coincidence. That’s coincidence, like the earthquake and the Resurrection was coincidence,” Hagee told about 3,200 people at Lancaster County Convention Center on Thursday night as part of John Hagee Ministries’ Rally and Prophecy Seminar. (source)

I really wonder about the intelligence and the sanity of the preachers ordained by God to minister to his people. I’ve answered this point before, but only in general terms. Since these two are speaking specifically about disasters, I thought I’d take a look at the words of Jesus regarding a disaster in his day, the fall of the Tower of Siloam.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Lk 13:1-5)

It is often the temptation of us ordinary mortals to try to attribute some sort of meaning to the meaningless. But it isn’t always the case, bibically or otherwise, that a disaster leading to death or destruction of a country’s economy is the result of sin. Look at Job; he was righteous in God’s eyes, yet God allowed tragedy after tragedy to befall the poor guy.

Jesus, who would have been in a position to know why God allowed that tower to collapse and kill those 18 people, didn’t ruminate on the sin of those people. Instead, he called his hearers to repentance, asking them if they thought that they were somehow better than those who were caught in the disaster.

Of course they aren’t. No one is better than anyone else; we all are sinners (Rom 3:23).

Instead of being arrogant and acting as if he knows better than Jesus why a particular disaster befell the U.K., perhaps Hagee should follow in Jesus’ footsteps more closely. Use this event to highlight God’s impartiality: “Do you suppose that those caught in the volcanic eruption were worse sinners than you? Repent, or you too will perish.”

More Spam Folder Comedy

My spam folder has become an endless source of amusement.

This essay on the Jesus Tomb Documentary (from March 2007) generated the following comment:

Check this Out!

2 days ago I received a message from 972-284-0600 / 9722840600 and was convinced the the person calling was a scammer.

I decided to complain to the the number and went nuts.

Anyway, I feel like such a fool Gulf Coast Western -an oil corporation- was calling me back to approve my job application – apparently I got the job!

I think I’m soooo fired!!!!???

Question. What does that have to do with anything I wrote in the essay?


Steve Hays (I’ve disagreed with him in the past) of Triablogue has posted twice about this comment from Ben of Arminian Perspectives:

Wrong. J.C. has never said that God is dependent on our choices. What he has said is that God’s knowledge of our choices is dependent on those choices. How could it be otherwise? If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not. So God’s knowledge of us is dependent on their being an “us” to know something about.

Fascinating. And dead wrong.

The key here is the sentence “If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not.” As a Reformed thinker, I don’t agree with Molinism, but there is something to Molinism’s levels of knowledge that is important here.

The first level of knowledge is God’s natural knowledge. This includes all that ever could be created, without restrictions. Without this knowledge, God would simply not be God.

The second level of knowledge is middle knowledge, that which God knows will come to pass given the right circumstances. This represents how humans will exercise their free will, but middle knowledge is not dependent on God’s action or inaction. It grows out of the act of creation itself.

The third level of knowledge is God’s free knowledge, which is God’s ability to intimately know every aspect of the world that he created. And I should mention at this point that this description of Molinism is extremely simplified; and likely inaccurate on at least a few points.

Note that us Reformed philosophers grant God both natural and free knowledge, while denying that middle knowledge is even necessary to explain divine sovereignty versus man’s free will.

God’s divine foreknowledge, even in a system like Molinism that is needlessly complicated, doesn’t depend on human movements subsequent to the act of creation. God knows what is possible before a single act of creation is undertaken (natural knowledge), and he knows what will follow from any act of creation (free knowledge) given the circumstances that a creature finds him or herself in (middle knowledge).

No one denies this–not the Molinist, not the Calvinist, not the Arminian. Except for Ben. So maybe this wasn’t facetious after all?