Category Archives: Scripture Saturday
No lesson this week, just a long reading:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration whenQuirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, has a curious genealogical quirk.
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Mt 1:16)
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli. (Lk 3:32)
Unassailable contradiction? Nope:
So far, I’ve been on time with Contradiction Tuesday, but late with Scripture Saturday. Every single time.
This new job has really cut into my blogging time!
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. After all, I need the money. And, for the first time since I can remember, I actually like my job.
Now on to Scripture Saturday.
Many atheists argue that God is a moral monster. They say that he has appalling standards compared to us humans.
Have you ever wondered why this is so? Why do atheists think God is evil for punishing sinful people (like the Canaanites)? Or why do they think he is a bumbling moron for allowing the Fall or creating Satan?
Simple. Atheism isn’t just a rejection of the concept of a deity. It is a decision with a serious moral dimension, and terrible consequences for the atheist — and I’m not referring to hell. I’m referring only to earthly consequences, especially in the way one thinks as an atheist. Let’s look at the Scriptures:
Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. (Prv 28:5)
Are atheists evil? Maybe some are. Most aren’t by human standards. But by divine standards, they are as messed up as the rest of us (Rom 3:23). The bigger picture is the second clause — people who seek the Lord understand justice.
Without seeking God first, perfect and flawless justice will mean nothing.
The atheist can hem and haw all he wants about how he sought God and there was no God to be found. Balderdash. He fails to understand true justice because he is not seeking God.
Therefore, God’s actions against people like the Canaanites seem to the atheist inexplicable and mysterious; evil or disgusting. The atheist isn’t seeking God when examining the Bible, he’s really just window shopping “the god of some other religion” and comparing its actions with what he already believes morality to look like. He finds this god as coming up short, and therefore Christianity is yet another religion that fails to meet his criteria.
No wonder he doesn’t believe in God.
Instead, reverse all that. Let God set the bar, since God is (after all) God. Then measure yourself by his standard.
What’s happening, according to Scripture, is that since the atheist is not seeking God, he cannot understand justice.
God is often cited as the God of peace, for example:
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Rom 15:33)
However, the Bible also describes God in terms related to battle:
The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. (Ex 15:3)
So, “Which is it?” asks Jim Merrit.
Why not both?
Humans are made in the image of God. Humans are dynamic. Humans don’t act the same way in every circumstance. We adapt. So why can’t the One in whose image we are made not adopt a different approach based on the circumstances?
It’s ludicrous to reduce God to a one-dimensional construct who can’t act on a case-by-case basis. Christians do this with God’s love, assuming God loves everyone the same and in equal measure — and that leads to the absurd notion that God couldn’t get mad at someone or that he won’t judge people and that everyone will end up in heaven by his side.
The truth is that God is more complex than we are in his behavior and his character. God loves us all, but in different ways. For example, you don’t love everyone in your own life in equal measure. Many people might let you down or disappoint you, and that changes the way that you feel about them.
And so it is with God.
When the circumstances call for God to be a God of peace, he is. When circumstances call for God to be a man of war, he is. Same God, but acting differently in different circumstances.
Recently a commenter going by Patrick asked me, regarding this article, if it mattered whether God created calamity or evil. He wondered if that was just semantics.
Well, no, it isn’t just semantics. Evil here means “moral evil.” If God created moral evil, then he cannot be good by any definition of the term. A perfectly good God could not look back on his creation and say it was “good” if he had created moral evil.
On the other hand, “calamity” is neither this nor that. It’s a force of nature, neutral. In the hands of a righteous God, argues Clay Jones, calamity is a powerful call to repentance.
So for this Scripture
Saturday Sunday (better late than never, right?), I wanted to take a peek at Psalm 7 to determine just who creates “moral evil.” The answer is in verse 14:
Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.
This verse describes a potentiality — the potential to sin. It all begins with the will to evil; a desire to commit mischief and that gives birth to lies. James, the brother of our Lord, explains it this way:
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (Jms 1:15)
So the desire is our own, not the fault of God. The desire, having taken root, produces the sin. Sin, fully realized, is death. That’s why God takes all of this so seriously — and why we should, too! But, alas, Francis Schaeffer was right to observe “. . . that none of us in our generation feels as guilty about sin as we should or as our forefathers did.”
I’ve heard that some folks benefit from a regimented blogging schedule, so I thought I’d give it a shot to see if it helps me. And that means I will now introduce two new features. If I blog nothing else in the course of a week, I will blog the two features.
The first is Contradiction Tuesday, where I will detail a perceived contradiction in the Bible. I’ll take requests for this series from skeptics and believers alike — e-mail me. It will begin next Tuesday; I didn’t have time to do one this week.
On a side note, I’m thinking of adding Anti-Testimony Wednesday sometime in the future. I would critique the latest “Why I’m not a Christian” bit from ex-Christian.net, with a private offer to the poster to defend him or herself here. Since they don’t like their unbelief challenged on the site, this would be playing by their rules. After all, the anti-testimony is posted publicly so it’s unrealistic to think that someone won’t pick it up and challenge it somewhere.
The series beginning today is Scripture Saturday. What better way to kick off Scripture Saturday than with a verse on the importance of studying Scripture?
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (Prv 28:9)
Strongly worded. If a person stops studying God’s Law, then that person’s prayer is an abomination. An abomination! That’s the strongest way God can revile something. And here, God is saying that he will revile a person’s prayers if that person refuses to hear God! Read the rest of this entry