For those who have no voice, those who have been declared nonessential by those who are supposed to be representing ALL of us, not this segment versus that. Thank you Pastor Jeff Durbin for a challenging reminder of who we are called to love and how.
What It’s Supposed to Be
Any time I hear the phrase “scientific consensus” I get a bit wary. Science is supposed to be based on a study of the evidence. An argument for the correct interpretation of the facts. Science is meant to be practiced objectively. Science ought to be performed in such a way to test all things and adhering to only that which is good—i.e., the truth vs. error (cf. 1Thess 5.21).
The Human Element…
Here’s the problem though, the scientific method (which is operational science at its finest) is used by imperfect beings. A point acknowledged by Del Ratzsch highlighted in his book Science and Its Limits:
“…philosophers of science have begun to pay more attention to the human side of science, to see it as in some ways essential to science. The fact that science is done by subjective humans is no longer seen as the regrettable factor it was once taken to be. Science is increasingly taken to be an undeniably human pursuit.”
Moreover, science tends to have a sociocultural flavor as a result. In this case then, science tends to be driven by “…various social preconceptions, philosophical outlooks and agendas in its very bones. Indeed, these would be its bones.”
Interestingly enough, the majority of people never consider that “science” is practiced by “scientists” and those “experts” like the rest of humanity have a personal outlook on the world in which they live. That is to say, they like all people have minds that are operated under the governance of a worldview. They view the world, reality as a whole, from the bottom of their own philosophical foundations. What is often referred to in science as a paradigm.
Also called a Paradigm…
What’s a paradigm? If you were to look in a dictionary, you’d find the following definition, “An example that serves as a pattern or a model.” Scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn produced a work in 1962 entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this work, Kuhn identified the use of paradigms in scientific inquiry and how those patterns or models helped shape scientific outcome. Ratzsch points out that this was perhaps Kuhn’s most important conceptual observation about science:
“A paradigm is, roughly, a standard of scientific achievement in terms of which scientific work is conducted and evaluated.”
This standard then serves, to explain how varying postulates (presuppositions or assumed truths) about reality fit in with the world in which we live. In short, the paradigm is what guides understanding and interpretation of so-called “facts and evidences” in the world in which we live.
The Evidence that is…
What happens when facts or evidence (i.e., data) seems to run counter to previously held norms found within the current sociocultural paradigm of scientific inquiry? What is done with these anomalies that go against current expectations? Again, Ratzsch insight is helpful,
“Sometimes they [Scientists] do not even seem to notice the anomaly, and sometimes they do, they simply ignore it. Usually, however, there is some attempt to show the apparent anomaly is not really an anomaly after all, that someone simply made a mistake…Sometimes such attempts are successful. But sometimes they are not, and the anomaly apparently stands as a fact contrary to the paradigm. What do scientists do then? Sometimes nothing. Despite it being contrary to the paradigm, scientist simply view it as being an unimportant violation of the paradigm.”
Now, its possible that you may be wondering why scientists would ignore new data, new evidence, new facts if in the pursuit of science, they are really seeking to see the truth of reality in an effort to avoid error. You might find it strange to think that someone would ignore what is in front of their eyes, why they would doggedly hold to preconceived notions if those notions of reality were in some way wrong? This is due to the subjective nature of humanity.
Scientist, whether they dress like you or me, or whether they wear a fancy white lab coat, are just as biased as the next fellow. They are just as committed to their worldviews as you and I are. And so, when they look at the world, they see it as they see it primarily because of preconceived ideas. The paradigm that they’ve adopted controls the narrative. They assume that their
“…particular paradigm embodie[s] the correct approach to nature and [are] not…particularly concerned with either verifying its correctness ( it [is] already taken as being correct) or with trying to falsify it (if it is correct trying to show it [is] incorrect seems pointless).”
So, why all the technical verbiage? “What are you trying to do man…make me fall asleep?” No, that’s not my intention. I want to make you aware of something that far too many people are not. “Well, what is it?” I’m glad you asked.
In Light of COVID-19…
From the outset of the argument for the reactionary behavior we have seen from politicians, medical experts, scientists, and the media has supposedly been based on the science. The data they argued supported a severe lockdown and the restriction of the American citizenry. This was not only done here in the USA, but also in other parts of the world. Due to fear of the unknown, based off of projections from available (though insufficient) data being plugged into certain models, the strain on the health care system, the lack of necessary equipment and testing, and the rapid spread of an assumed deadly virus, we were told that the best thing we could do was “Stay-At-Home” in order to “Flatten-the-Curve.”
And by and large people accepted the testimony of those supposed to be in the know. We were led to believe that this pursuit was merely scientific and nothing else. However, if those things are true, then you would think that more data that we could gain regarding the spread and morbidity of this novel corona virus, the better.
Incoming Data by way of Antibody Testing
Recently, various studies have been done attempting to find out who in our population has already been infected with the virus but recovered. Antibody testing is the best way to determine the total number of cases by taking samples of the given population. If the number of infected is significantly higher than the death toll, specifically per capita numbers, then the virus is more contagious than we thought, but far less deadly.
Should Result in…
This would tell us a couple of things necessary to getting back our lives. First, there ought to be less fear of overrunning our health care system (which hasn’t occurred). Second, the fear of not having a vaccine for another 18 months or so should be far less daunting (we still have vaccines for virus’ that kill tens of thousands every year). Third, keeping us at home is no longer necessary since there is no way to keep up with the easily spread, but less dangerous, virus (the norm of quarantining anyway is keeping the sick separated from the healthy).
You would think that would be good news for the population at large. You would think that scientists and other “experts” would want that information. You would think that the media would be excited by this and tell the good news from every mountain top. But alas, this is not what we see being done. Rather than share new data being gathered about corona virus antibodies existent in a larger portion of certain populations than originally thought, there is an effort to suppress, belittle and mock such information.
The Going on in Santa Clara County…
One study conducted by Stanford University’s medical/research staff “reveals between 48,000 and 81,000 people in Santa Clara County alone may have already been infected by corona virus by early April—that’s 50-85 times more than the number of official cases at that date.” The weekend after this reporting was done a social media kickback on Twitter ensued. Krieger writes, “Critics claim the study’s methodology is dangerously flawed and question the political motives of the Stanford-led team.”
Another study was done in Los Angeles, CA by the University of Southern California. Their initial antibody testing revealed similar results to the one performed by Stanford. Though somewhat lower in terms of total apparent infections being unreported, their high threshold of estimated infections extrapolated from the data “…is 55 times more people than have been confirmed via testing.” However, the author warns that though this reveals a discrepancy in the total number of confirmed cases and appears to indicate a lower morbidity rate “…this new info just means that COVID-19 is much more effective at moving through a population without raising early warning signs than we previously understood.”
Observations Worth Noting
So, what does all this mean? Or at the very least what does all this imply? One of the things that I think is absolutely necessary for us to take note of is the manner in which any new data is taken by those who adhere to the current sociocultural paradigm regarding this new strain of corona virus.
The Everchanging Non-Changing Narrative…
The narrative from the beginning has been very dire. Although sufficient data was lacking, models were presented with hypothetical worst-case scenarios. The projected numbers for the U.S. alone based off of the models was that nearly 2.2 million Americans would lose their lives. Those projections have been somewhat dampened to around 60 thousand deaths around the peak, which was supposed to be Easter weekend. That number wasn’t reached and so now we are talking about a potential second wave this fall that will meet those numbers.
On one hand the narrative has changed in that the “goal-posts” are constantly being moved in order to justify current actions and new proposals for a “new normal.” On the other hand, the narrative hasn’t changed. The virus that was guessed to be more deadly than the seasonal flu is still being propagated as such even when the models are shown to be inaccurate and the experts wrong.
Now we have new data coming in from places like Stanford and the University of Southern California that are showing that the current infection rates were/are apparently way off. It seems as if this novel virus is much more contagious than originally thought, but far less deadly. As more data comes in, I’d imagine that we shall see this virus is probably on par with the seasonal flu, even without a vaccine. (Remember, we have a vaccine for the seasonal flu but deaths are on average still in the tens of thousands every year in the U.S. alone).
Kuhn was right…
However, the kickback against the new data affirms what Thomas Kuhn observed as a philosopher of science. Scientific data is governed by the paradigm (the accepted narrative) held by the “scientific community.” When data is presented that offers problems with the current paradigm that data will either be ignored (this is being done right now), or it will be attacked as a mistake or found at fault due to human error (this too is being done right now), or it will be grafted in and the paradigm will have to evolve to include this new data. This will result in a paradigm shift. Which means that the scientists and medical experts along with the greedy politicians will have to admit that they were wrong, that the virus while new was not as threatening as supposed.
A Generation or So…
How long do you think that will take? Normal people in day-to-day life don’t like to admit that they were/are wrong. So, do you really expect those “experts” who have deemed themselves as “essential” will admit that they might have been wrong about anything? Millions of lives have been devastated from following their lead. To admit they are wrong would be to admit that they are responsible. It’ll take a few generations, after those people have long passed before we see that day coming. But you…yes YOU…need to be aware of these things and start governing your life accordingly.
I’ll leave you with a meme that I find most enjoyable. Have a great weekend!
 Del Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective, 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 62.
 Ibid., 53. Italics in original.
 American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition (New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2007), 612, s.v. “paradigm.”
 Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits, 41.
 Ibid., 43. Italics in original.
 Ibid., 42. Italics in original. Brackets added for clarity of thought.
 “Antibody, or serological, tests are designed to identify people who may have overcome covid-19, including those who had no symptoms, and developed an immune response…Some officials tout the blood tests as a way to reopen the economy by identifying individuals who have developed immunity and can safely return to work.” Laurie McGinley, “Dozens of coronavirus antibody tests on the market were never vetted by the FDA, leading to accuracy concerns,” The Washington Post, April 19, 2020, https://www.boston.com/news/health/2020/04/19/dozens-of-coronavirus-antibody-tests-on-the-market-were-never-vetted-by-the-fda-leading-to-accuracy-concerns.
 Lisa M. Krieger, “Coronavirus: Santa County has had 50 to 85 times more cases than we knew about, Stanford estimates,” Bay Area News Group, last modified April 20, 2020, The Mercury News, https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/04/17/coronavirus-2-5-to-4-2-of-santa-clara-county-residents-infected-stanford-estimates/.
 Lisa M. Krieger, “Feud over Stanford coronavirus study: ‘The authors owe us all an apology,’” The Orange County Register, last modified April 21, 2020, https://www.ocregister.com/2020/04/20/feud-over-stanford-coronavirus-study-the-authors-owe-us-all-an-apology/.
 Darrell Etherington, “LA COVID-19 antibody study adds further support for a higher-than-suspected infection rate,” TechCrunch, April 20, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/l-covid-19-antibody-study-205912221.html.
A Little Reflection…
How’s it going? Are you using your time wisely? Are you getting some work done around the house that has needed some attention for a while? Are you catching up on some reading that you have been putting off because you just didn’t have time before the universal lockdown occurred? Or, are you like many others just vegging on entertainment?
Perhaps you are seriously concerned about the state of your world. Perhaps you are vainly attempting to drive back the panic. You need to work, but you’ve been deemed non-essential. You have to work being some of the fortunate few that have been crowned essential, but fear of a viral plague has you nervously going about your day. Maybe you are hating the president right now. Maybe you think that he didn’t act quickly enough. Maybe you’ve swallowed the little blue pill and are lapping up every “truth” being poured into your eyes and ears regarding COVID-19.
Or, maybe you’re like me. You understood that the civil governments role is to protect their citizens from evil, from harm. You realize that there are those who have training and education that you don’t and so you value their opinions, suggestions, and expertise. At the same time, though, you are well aware of a fact that many find a bit ridiculous today—people are liars. There are evil, wicked men and women in this world that intend you harm. Sometimes that harm is in the form of a semi-automatic weapon. Sometimes that harm is in the form of domineering control. Sometimes that harm is found in the “educational materials” you’ve been given.
What Should be Obvious to All…
I was reading a biographical book about Winston Churchill the other day, and while I didn’t particularly enjoy the authors spin on some peripheral issues, there was something that he highlighted that is of utmost importance in our day. “What was it?” you ask. That Mr. Churchill was unique in his day for he recognized that people are not inherently good, but evil.
Good old Winston was raising his voice and pointing his finger to Britain and the rest of the world that there was a wolf afoot ready to tear the flock of foolishly unaware sheep apart. Mr. Churchill said “There’s a problem in Germany…a big one…and his name is, Adolf Hitler.” If you want to understand people like Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot or Castro or any other despot individual, government, or movement that seeks to enslave people to their thinking and way of life, all you have to do is realize that they are selfishly driven.
We are selfish. Sometimes that selfishness is nothing more than ignoring our kids, spouse or friends. Sometimes that selfishness is nothing more than hoarding our favorite snack. But the fact remains, human beings are selfish, and that selfishness ought to raise our awareness to the fact that we are at base evil.
Now some may disagree. Some may say that this is true for the evil people that I mentioned above (perhaps you have in mind others that I did not), but not for everybody. Some may even challenge me on this point and say “What evidence do you have to support your accusation? People are basically good. Movies teach us this, higher education elites teach us this, literature supports this truth; it is false to say that people are inherently evil.”
I know, I know…many will join your side in this. A great consensus of human voices will triumphantly sing the chorus of the wonder of man, the general goodness of human beings. But you are nonetheless wrong. Any who support you are also standing on shifting sand.
A Little Evidence…
“What evidence do I have?” you ask. Where should I start? Do I dare say, look at your children? I dare.
Kids are notoriously selfish. And since they have parents that refuse to discipline them by a standard higher than themselves, their behavior is constantly put on display. Temper tantrums. Telling their parents, they don’t love them or like them anymore because they tell them “NO” to some treat or toy. Refusing to do school work. Having their faces stuck in their electronic devices. Lying, cheating, stealing, hating…are these not behaviors we see in children.
When does this start? Only when they grow older? Do we not see it when they are infants? We do.
I realize that a baby must cry in order to communicate. Often, they do this to express a need (diaper change, feeling ill, hungry, wanting attention), but there are other times that this is done because they are not getting their way. They refuse to eat or be fed. They kick their head back and thrust out their feet when they are being placed in a car seat. They scream when they are denied some item that has drawn them in.
A Little Biblical Backing…
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Prov 22.15).
“…for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen 8.21).
“The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies” (Psa 58.3).
Why use babes and little children to point out that people are inherently evil? You mean besides the fact that the Bible teaches us this truth? Why do it? Because babes and little children grow up into adults and these adults are those that rise to power in a variety of fields.
Scripture also compares little children to arrows. It is said blessed is the man (father and mother) whose quiver is full of them. These children are to be shot out by their parents to inflict damage against their enemies. You often hear the phrase that children are our future. This is correct. But what sort of future do we suppose we inherit when our children have not been raised properly? What sort of future leaders will these children be when unloving parents refuse to discipline them in areas of right or wrong? Who will be their enemies? Who will it be that they will be shot against? (see Psa 127).
When God describes a wicked generation, here is how He identifies them:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put to darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!” (Isa 5.20-23).
This is the result of the parental generation that has refused to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Prov 22.6).
A Little Rant…
I watch the political debacle that surrounds the current pandemic and I am sickened. I hear politicians like Governor Cuomo (NY) saying that we shouldn’t make this COVID-19 crisis political. Laughable really, when it has been political from the start. You say, “No its not, it’s been about the science!”
Really, then why are we quarantining the healthy? Why are we prohibiting people from providing for their families? Why are we saying that marijuana sales must be allowed, but purchasing lawn fertilizer is not? Why are we saying that politicians and other essentials may gather taking proper precautions, but that church gatherings are too dangerous even when they follow the same “guidelines.” Why is important data being dismissed? Why are social media elites determining what is good information, but censoring what they deem mis-information? Why, is the reason for the “Stay-At-Home” orders now being dismissed, when sufficient evidence is out there showing that our health care system is not overrun?
A Little Dose of Reality…
Anything that affects public life that has a bearing on society as a whole is by its very nature political. If it has a bearing on the policy of human living, it is political. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. For what do we find when we go back and do a little digging? We find the media lying talking out both sides of their mouths. We find the politicians lying talking out both sides of their mouth. We find the medical experts lying talking out both sides of their mouths.
A Little Probing…
How many times does a model have to fail before we throw it away? How many times does an expert have to be wrong before we stop listening to them? How long will you stand for one class of people (the elites) determining the quality of life–essential versus non? By what standard are they appealing to?
 I can think of one clear example where all parents know this to be true and seek to correct it; especially, if the child in question has siblings or playmates. We teach them to share. Sharing does not come naturally, being selfish does. We may not like call it selfishness, but it is a clear example of this behavior being expressed. Selfishness is not reserved for toys or food either, but applies to all areas of life.
 All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).
A couple of weeks ago I began discussing the varying ways in which the Bible goes about defining death. This particular study was brought about by some interaction that I shared with a fellow blogger over the teaching about Conditionalism/Annihilationism. Unfamiliar with that topic to some extent I began doing some digging. I ordered various books from our public library (I have a limited budget for book purchases and this is a nice way of circumventing unnecessary spending).
I also used my privileges as an enrolled student awaiting this spring’s graduation to download various scholarly works on the subject. Some of the books that I’d ordered from the library have been read and I’ve began taking notes. Unfortunately, events beyond my control stifled my studying habits a bit. Other priorities have overtaken my normal reading and writing, but this week has provided me a bit of a reprieve.
The other articles related to this are HERE, and HERE. In them I take some time revealing my thoughts so far on the issue of death as described in the Bible. This post will address the third point on my outline under the heading, Death: Result (wages) of Sin. If you have not read my thoughts on biblical death, and you have not clicked on the links above, then the outline is provided under the Appendix heading below. Scroll down and check it out.
The Set Up…
The late Edward Fudge, a proponent of the Conditionalist/Annihilationist position seems to look at death in Scripture in only one sense—the cessation of life; non-existence. Fudge finds support for his views in the divine punishments delved out in the Old Testament. He sees God’s retributive action against groups (the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah) for violating God’s law as descriptive to what happens to all in eternity. He is convinced that
“As we become familiar with these Old Testament symbols of judgment, we will be better able to understand the meaning of the same language in New Testament texts. And we will escape the easy temptation to explain biblical expressions in ways that have no basis in Scripture. More important, we can avoid interpreting biblical images in ways that contradict their ordinary usages throughout the Bible.”
One of the things that I noticed as I was reading through his thoughts on biblical death is that he makes a huge category error in linking temporal divine judgments in the OT, with eternal divine judgment in the NT. The one speaks of God’s wrath in a finite sense, the other in an infinite sense. At best what these passages show us, and I believe that this is the intended purpose of the Holy Spirit and the authors under His stead, is that God takes very seriously His Law-Word. To violate it on one point is worthy of death, for in so doing you are guilty of breaking it all (James 2.10).
The Final Type of Death Pertaining to Adam’s Sin (NT)
Why is Hell spoken about by Jesus more than any other? In the past I have mentioned that God’s speaks progressively in the Bible. Which means that God’s revelation has a beginning and an end. In the beginning we learn a little about God, a little about man, a little about the creation as a whole. However, as we progress through history God teaches us a little more. He fills in details where necessary and leaves others blank on purpose. But the one thing that He does do is hash out the details regarding several important things. How does He do this? Through Jesus Christ (cf. Heb 1.1-3). The final unveiling of the Lord Jesus is found in the book of Revelation (cf. 1:11-20; 22.6-21).
Fudge acknowledges that what Jesus says is of paramount importance. He writes,
“If we accept Jesus’ authority, we must believe that Hell is real and that it will be the ultimate fate of the lost. Indeed, Jesus tells us more about the final end of sinners than any other speaker in the New Testament. But is it possible that we have read into Jesus’ word meanings that we merely assumed to be correct about the nature of that fate?”
On the first part of Fudge’s comments we find agreement. Hell is real. It is not just a verdict—the fate of the lost—but a place of unrest. Jesus being incarnate deity has absolute authority as He is before all things, rules over all things, made all things, and upholds all things (Col 1.16-17). Therefore, as Paul rightly tells the Colossians, Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1.15). In other words, Jesus has absolute authority over all things.
This was demonstrated through His teaching (Matt 7.29). This was demonstrated through His actions (Luke 4.36). He even had authority over mankind’s sinful state of being:
“Man, your sins are forgiven you.’ And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the man who was paralyzed—‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home’” (Luke 5.20-24).
This authority he also delegated to His apostles and His disciples (Luke 10.19; Matt 28.18-20), who bore His name to all nations, in whose documents we now possess in the New Testament writings.
Since Jesus is over all things what did He have to say regarding death? Simply put to remain in our sins is a guarantee to die in them:
- “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8.24).
Descriptions of this Death…
Jesus offers His hearers a variety of ways that this death shall be known. He calls this death “outer darkness” (Matt 8.12; 22.13; 25.30), an image repeated by His apostles (2Pet 2.4, 17; Jude 13). He referred to death as a “fiery furnace” (Matt 13.42, 50), “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9.43-49), which is later identified as the “lake of fire” (Rev 19.20; 20.10, 14-15; 21.8). An abode of torment and suffering where “weeping and gnashing teeth” are common expressions used by the Lord to describe this fate (Matt 8.12; 13.42, 50; 22.13; 24.51; 25.30; Luke 13.28). That the idea being conveyed in the New Testament is conscious suffering seems unavoidable when “weeping and gnashing teeth” is preceded by “In that place there will be…” which speaks of a continued state of being, not a temporary situation.
What these Images are Meant to Convey…
Wooden literalism is when you take a word, a concept, a theme, or a symbol used in Scripture and try to build a chair out of it. Some take the words of Scripture and turn them on their head interpreting and applying them in ways that go well beyond what the biblical author intended. We see this during Jesus’ preaching/teaching ministry. He says “you have heard it said, but I say…” as a way of offering a corrective. He uses this to correct the people’s viewpoint on how they are to treat enemies, how they are to respond to slander, when divorce is allowed, what constitutes murder or adultery, etc. (see Matt 5.21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43).
People struggle with David’s words in this imprecatory Psalm:
- “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them as my enemies” (Psa 139.21-22).
They wonder how this bodes with the “All-consuming Loving God” of the NT? Another speaks of dashing the infants of rebels against the rock (Psa 137.9; see Isa 13.6; Hos 10.14; 13.6). How does this comport with Jesus of Nazareth? He who said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5.44; HCSB).
Understanding the imagery (i.e., the language) enables you to see that hating one’s enemy in sight of God, in the sense of seeking righteous judgment against those who do evil and do not repent, is a good thing. At the same time, it is a good thing for the children of God to act in a manner that reflects love towards even those who vilify, persecute and seek to take our lives. Loving our neighbor means treating them with respect and kindness in terms of God’s Law-Word (not stealing, not coveting, not murdering, etc.), but this does not mean we are required to sit around a camp fire singing songs and holding hands.
To Reject God your Maker, to treat His Law-Word lightly earns you the eternal condemnation you will receive. Refusing to acknowledge God in this life, refusing to confess Christ as Lord, such individuals are handed “over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom 1.28b-32; NASB; italics mine).
The Final Judgment…
What sort of death are they worthy of? Jesus gives us an answer before His crucifixion, the content of which we can compare after His re-glorification (cf. John 17.5; Rev 21.5-8; compare with Rev 4-5; 22.12-13). To His hearers Jesus explains the following:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. ‘Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… ‘Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels [cf. Rev. 20.11-15]…These [the goats] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous [the sheep] into eternal life’” (Matt 25.31-34, 41, 46).
There are other passages we could turn to, but I think Jesus’ words here suffice.
In the NT Jesus describes the final fate of the sinner who dies in their sin. Unlike the divine judgments in the OT which were temporal, the death the Lord defines is eternal. This raises in my mind some very interesting questions regarding the Conditionalist/Annihilationist position, but I’ll address them at some other point in the future. For now, what we ought to see is that the Bible defines death in a variety of ways, the assumption that “death” is only a one size fits all is a false one. What Jesus and other NT writers describe as the final fate of the reprobate is meant to trouble the mind. These frightful images serve as a warning and a witness. We don’t take His meaning with a wooden literalism, but neither do we slight the warning by minimizing the effect that He (God in the Flesh) intends to portray.
There is one more point on the outline that I would like to discuss in the days ahead. Until then, I bid you adieu….
I. Death: Result (wages) of Sin
- In Adam we all die. As his offspring we all inherit death as a consequent sentence of his disobedience in the garden. In Adam we become sinners, and as a result we die physically due to our separation from God. We are born unclean, unholy, unrighteous enemies of God; children of wrath.
- We are all sinners, but that does not mean all our sins are crimes. Some sins are criminal in nature and result in the swift judgment of God in terms of a death sentence. I have identified three subsets under this category in studying the Old Testament (Tanakh; hereafter OT).
i. Major—Group Death Sentence.
ii. Minor—Individual law-breaking death sentence
iii. Cut-off—A death sentence in a metaphoric sense.
3. We are all sinners and this, if not repented of, results in everlasting condemnation. This is found in the New Testament (hereafter; NT) more than any other part of the Bible.
**Summation of the parts: All of us die physically as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Some of us may die in this life, having our lives cut short, if our sins are worthy of a punishment of death by violating God’s law. Some of us may experience death figuratively speaking, in the sense of being cut-off, but this is not necessarily a permanent state. Some of us will experience eternal punishment for rebelling against our Maker, having died in our sins. For such, there is no repentance of sins possible.
II. Death: Results (wages) of Christ’s Righteousness
- In Christ we all die . However, what we die to is different than the death we were born into. We are born “dead in trespasses and sins,” but when we die in Christ, we are reborn “dead to trespasses and sins.” In Christ, we die so that righteousness may abound. In this way, He makes all things new, and we are new in that we are creations in/through Him. For these the power of death has been broken, and it is robbed from the victory that the evil one desired.
 Edward William Fudge and Robert A. Peterson, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 29.
 Later on, I found out that my own observations were similar to those of Robert A. Peterson. He writes,
“It is crucial to the debate to consider what aspect of God’s punishment is in view. The great majority of the Old Testament passages that Fudge cites in support of Conditionalism do not speak of the final fate of the wicked at all. Instead, they speak of God visiting the wicked with premature death. At first glance Fudge’s list of ‘destruction’ passages from the Old Testament seems impressive. On closer inspection, however, few of the passages he cites are relevant to the debate.” Ibid., 91.
 Ibid., 37.
 Protokos (Firstborn) is in interesting term. It can either refer to the order of being (Ishmael was the firstborn son of Abraham) or it can refer to preeminence (Isaac was the firstborn son of Abraham, the son of promise, as was Jacob over Esau). Used in a similar fashion in the Old Testament to identify David as supreme over all other earthly kings (cf. Psa 89.19-29). The context of Colossians 1:15-18 demands that preeminence—i.e., supreme authority—is the correct definition of the term.
All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).
 For the interested reader this delegated authority was a reinstatement of the Dominion mandate originally given to Adam and Eve in the beginning, but perverted by sin. Christ led people, Holy Spirit filled people, are now equipped to live faithful lives under God to glorify Him having put to death sin. This will be discussed in a future post.
Since the inception of the current pandemic (COVID-19) I have attempted to keep a level head. For the past couple of months, I have tried to be a voice of reason to friends, family, church members, and I suppose in some respects to those who are my readers. It has become popular for many of the major social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to blacklist, vilify and ban any dissenting voices. A debate over the interpretation of data, an analysis of the effectiveness of the so-called treatments/preventative measures, or a questioning over the seemingly long reach of Big Brother is unwanted.
If you have been paying attention to the unveiling of events as they have progressed, and if you have attempted to objectively look at both sides of the issue, then you will have noticed some discrepancies on all fronts. I am not insinuating that you are capable of approaching the issue from a position of neutrality. Neutral is not a gear that the human mind is capable of working under. We are hardwired to lean heavily upon our presuppositions, biases, traditions, and assumptions. Being self-aware regarding those varying lenses of interpretive thought will enable you to sift through the muck and mire.
For example, I have an underlying supposition regarding the state of reality. God created it. God is in control over it (i.e., Sovereign King). God is purposeful in governing every aspect of creation. Meaning that life is precious because life is from God my Maker, and therefore I live and die under His watch. This does not mean I’m powerless to make decisions or that my decisions don’t have value. But it does mean that I cannot—it is beyond human ability—to add a minute, hour, day, month or year to my life. I practice good hygiene. I attempt to care for the life I’ve been given in the way I eat, drink, sleep, etc. But I am free from being controlled by irrational fear or panic. So, not to poke fun at anyone, I didn’t run to the market and buy out all of the toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Nor do I get upset because someone sneezes around me or coughs near me. Not every sniffle is a life-threatening disease and to be as straightforward as possible, I’m not convinced that this virus is as serious as others have propagandized.
The threat is as real as all threats are…
Some will take what I’ve said thus far as a bit radical. They may insinuate like a New York Times article that Christians like me are the reason for the spread of COVID-19. I’m not that popular of a guy and so I am relatively safe, I suppose, from the algorithms designed to keep dissenting voices quiet. There are bigger fish to fry if you catch my meaning, but the way things are moving culturally/societally, if they are not stopped, even the little fish may make a tasty meal for the totalitarians.
COVID-19 is a real virus. And as virus’ go it is a real threat. We are, in the grand scheme of things, very frail creatures. We easily forget this fact because we tend to be so self-absorbed. But we are all one breath, one heartbeat, one electrical signal in our nervous system from death. In the near future something will kill every one of us. May not happen until we reach “x” number of years, but the day will come knocking sooner than we think. This is the source of the panic we are witnessing.
We are conditioned to not look at life as short, or death as a near thing. And so, when we are now being conditioned to see rising case/death tolls on all the major news outlets, the nervous jitters ensue. As threats go COVID-19 is as real as all threats are. This virus is deadly as all virus’—given the right conditions—are deadly. But just because I think that it is irrational to freak out in light of this novel virus does not mean that I am a science denier.
What I do deny…
What I am denying is that the civil government has all the answers. What I am denying is that these models which originally promoted a 2.2 million death toll in the United States, (but has now dropped down to around 60 thousand if we take an average of the high and low outcomes, and before years end will probably be even less than this if we can get people to stop fudging the numbers) are accurate, let alone should be used to dictate our way of life. What I am also denying is that the so-called experts, whether they are from the CDC or the WHO or even President Trumps star doctor advisors (Dr. Fauci or Birx), are right in touting their mitigation techniques.
An Example from my home state…
At the beginning of this crisis in my home state (Ohio) governor elect Mike DeWine and head of the health department Dr. Amy Acton were quick in moving towards a state of emergency. They both appeared on Fox News’ the Tucker Carlson show and where asked why they were moving so quickly in the direction they were headed to “mitigate” the spread of this virus. DeWine pointed to Dr. Acton’s expertise in response to this question. Dr. Acton said her advise and concerns was based off the model that was governing everyone’s thoughts at that time, and speaking with her colleagues in Washington D.C. and other places feared that the total case load was probably 1% of Ohio’s population of 11 million people. That means 100,000 people were assumed to be infected with the virus. Here is a clip where DeWine is interviewed in FOX NEWS substantiating many of things I’ve noted above: Mike DeWine Fox News Alert
Current available data (as of April 19, 2020) shows that only 11,292 cases have been reported in the state with 453 recorded deaths. Now our hearts ought to go out to those families that have been affected in this way. Death is serious and the loss of a loved one hurts. But the fact of the matter is that the number shown in no way reflects the initial concerns, nor does it offer justification for giving “stay-at-home” orders to the general population of the state.
Just by way of comparison this is over 7 times lower than 2018 recorded opioid deaths that were prescribed by physicians (numbering 3,237). Death that could have been limited if we just mitigated the prescribing of such drugs to people to zero. Obviously, there is a risk vs. result taken into consideration, with the result of prescribing those drugs being of a higher value than not prescribing them to patients.
What I am arguing here is that we all use a cost vs. effect analysis in every area of life. Every day we take our lives and the lives of others into our own hands. We make a variety of decisions that have a rippling effect that could result in the harm or death of another person. But this does not keep us from living our lives. This does not make us lock ourselves up in our homes.
In the beginning of this pandemic we were told that masks wouldn’t help normal citizens. Those that really needed them because they were in direct contact with infected (possibly infected) individuals was the health care workers. But now there is a move afoot to make all citizens wear masks to go in public. Just this morning I saw an article from NBC in Zanesville, OH (whiznews) teaching people how to make their own cloth face masks: Sewing Masks a Mission. I imagine this is in light of the fact that we are supposed to slowly start opening our state starting May 1st. I have friends that work in various “essential” industries that are being told it will be mandatory for them to wear masks in order to work. If they don’t, they will be sent home.
Now if you are an employer you have the right to set the standard of your employment environment. In the past, this right has been fought on a variety of fronts in the name of discrimination. However, discrimination laws are now being voided—unless you are a Christian organization like Answers in Genesis—under the guise of public safety.
My question and pushback—yes, I am pushing back against this—is why are we being told contradictory messages? Actually, we’ve been getting contradictory messages the last couple of months by federal, state and local officials. If masks didn’t really work a few weeks back, then why are they “working” now? Either the mask is effective and if it is then we should have been doing this in the beginning. Or the mask is not effective, therefore, it should be a personal discretion issue.
If it is mandated by fiat by the Ohio health department and backed by the governor elect Mike DeWine to wear a mask in social settings, I will refrain from doing so. Some may find this childish, offensive, or possibly endangering the lives of others. I see it, among other things that I plan on talking about in the days ahead, as a constitutional issue. My rights and freedoms do not come from civil government, regardless of the level in question (federal, state or local), but from Almighty God. When the civil government fails to recognize those rights/privileges they are the ones guilty of breaking the law. Our constitution both at the state and federal level restricts the government from abusing my life, not the other way around.
The True Crisis that Needs UnMasking…
The true crisis that we are facing that is masked from many in the public sector is totalitarian control. Mini-god-lings at various levels of civil government seeking to dictate every area of life. Mini-god-lings in the social media sphere that are seeking to monitor, control, and rat on their own users (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Mini-god-lings in the tech sphere such as google, apple and others working hard to control the narrative. More needs to be protested at this time and in greater numbers than just the streets of Michigan’s capital.