Posted in Beliefs, Christian Living, Christian Perspective, Knowing God, Law, love, morality, Reason

A Dose of Humility is Needed

I find it a little perturbing when Christians attack God’s Law because they find it archaic, culturally bound, and overtly harsh. I’m always wondering to myself, “Is this accurate? Is this the sort of attitude that Christians ought to have towards what God has deigned sufficient and necessary for us to know how we ought to live?”

Let’s be honest, we don’t like being told what to do. I mean when we strip it down to the bear bottom the problem is not so much with what God has commanded to be done, but rather the idea that anyone would tell us how we ought to live. “Do we not have any say in this!?!” “Can we not decide for ourselves what is morally right and wrong?” “Are we not wise enough to choose correct path as we weigh the evidence before us in creation and in our own hearts!?!”

The answer is NO.

I remember when my kids were little (two of them are getting ready to graduate here in a couple of years) and the reaction that they would give when told “no.”

My youngest sister used to tease my parents dog (a Chihuahua) by telling it “no.” If the dog were close, she would point her finger at it and say “Minnie—that was her name—No…nooo….nooo.” The reaction of the little dog was comical, but you wanted to make sure that your finger wasn’t too close to its mouth or you’d get nipped. Minnie would turn her head ever so slightly and begin to snarl, eventually chewing you out with a shrill little bark.

This was similar, although not exactly the same, to one of my kids when they were told “no.” A temper tantrum would ensue. No I don’t know about how this was dealt with in your home, but judging from what I see sometimes at the supermarket not very many people today used the approach I did; punishment quickly came next. The age of the child determined the type of punishment they’d get.

When my oldest was about three years old he wanted to grab things on the coffee table that he didn’t need to touch. Some of you out there would probably just move it up to a higher area to avoid the problem altogether. If the items were dangerous to the child sure that makes sense, but there are some things that need to be left in our way in order for us to learn. We receive instruction and when we fail to abide the instruction we get disciplined.

So, when he wanted something on the table that he was not allowed to have I told him “No, you can’t have that. Leave it alone.” After a moment of consideration he went right back for what he was restricted from having. I’m sure his little mind thought, “If I see it, why can’t I grab it? I see you grab it, so why are you telling me no?” I warned him one more time, and the pause of consideration on his part was much shorter. As he reached his hand out to grab it—all the while looking right at me, to see what I’d do—I caught his hand and delivered a quick smack on it and told him firmly, “I said no.”

He looked up at me with his big blue-green eyes as they filled with tears, and then the flood gates opened up. He cried for a few moments, and then I brought him near explaining to him that it was wrong to do it, because I said so: “You’re not allowed to have it,” and then I hugged him and told him I loved him.

He didn’t know it at the time, but my heart was deeply moved by the scene. I hated that he cried as he looked at me heartbroken, but I also knew it was a necessary lesson. If more parents today took disciplining their kids seriously (notice I’m not saying abusing them), then many of the ridiculous attitudes we see on display at the grocery store or on the evening news would not be happening.

  • “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8.11).

The pain of that day taught my son to heed my word. He understood that when I said “no” that is what I meant. Temper tantrums were few and far between in our house. I’m not saying that they never happened, they did, but discipline helped curb the hearts and behavior of my kids. Even to this day my wife and I have had people come up to us in restaurants or in other places commenting on how well behaved our children are; polite and courteous.

Question, did I need to tell my child the reason behind my command? Did they have “a right” to know my rationale behind the law I had given?

The answer is NO.

Why then do we want God to give us justification for why He declares a certain behavior as off-limits? Why do we suppose to suggest that it is necessary for Him to tell me His reasoning why He says “NO?” Of course, this is not limited to the Law of God for we often want to question God for why He allowed this tragedy, or why He willed for this to happen when so many things from our vantage point seem horrible.

Listen to the answer we are given in Scripture:

  • “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?'” (Rom 9.20).
  • “Shall a fault finder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it…Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40.2, 7-8)
  • “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots!” (Isa 45.9)

It seems to me that we need to learn a little humility when we come before the Word of God. If He commands us in one way, do we dare go another? If He says this is the right course of action, do we dare say “tell me the reason!” Should we not rather say with the one we profess to be our Lord: “Not my will be done, but thine” (Luke 22.42); and “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14.31).

Is this not heavenly wisdom rather than earthly wisdom when we bow the knee before our God and King, acknowledging His divine right over us? It is. And then, is it not utter foolishness when we challenge His Word or course of action because we fail to understand it? It is.

Let us choose Godly wisdom and pray for humility, before we open our mouths uttering blasphemies in ignorance.

Posted in Christian Perspective, Logic, philosophy, Reason, Theology

Scarecrow Arguments and the Pursuit of Truth

Perhaps you have heard some variation of the following argumentive statements:

The Bible is not a science book. The Bible is not a history book. The Bible is not an ethics book. The Bible is not a marriage manual. The Bible is not a parental guide. The Bible is not this…or that…its just a spiritual book, a theological book, etc., etc.

Arguments like these are retorted quite commonly. As a minister, I have heard variations of the same from time to time. The statements in and of themselves are true in part. The problem I find, however, is that such statements are not given in a positive sense. The position normally belies a bias on the part of the individual who gives them. They are offered up in a manner to discredit the person(s) who hold a belief that is contrary to the one arguing against them. In effect, what is presented in such cases is a strawman argument.[1]

The belief in action goes something like this:

  • The Bible is not a science book; therefore, it lacks the authority to speak on scientific issues. The Bible may offer some insight on issues of a scientific nature, but the Bible should not be used to correct science because its not written for that purpose.
  • The Bible is not a history book; therefore, it lacks the authority to speak on specific historic issues. The Bible may offer some insight on issues of a historic nature, but the Bible should not be used to correct historic belief because it was not written for that purpose.
  • The Bible is not an ethics book; therefore, it lacks the authority to speak on specific ethical issues. The Bible may offer some insight on various ethical issues, but the Bible (in particular biblical law) should not be used to offer corrections in the field of ethics because it was not written for that purpose.
  • The Bible is not a marriage manual; therefore, it lacks the authority to speak on every issue that arises within the marriage covenant. The Bible may offer some insight on issues pertaining to marriage, but the Bible should not be the dependent source to address every problem that may arise in a marriage, because it was not written for that purpose.
  • The Bible is not a parental guide; therefore, it lacks the authority to speak on every issue that arises in the context of parenting. The Bible may offer some insight on issues pertaining to parental guidance, but the Bible should not be appealed to for every parenting issue, because it was not written for that purpose.
  • The Bible was primarily written as a spiritual guidebook, a book that speaks authoritatively on theological issues from a certain perspective—i.e. Christian; therefore, to use it beyond this scope it to use it in a manner that goes beyond its original intention.

Here’s the problem with such thinking. A consistent Christian does not argue in this fashion. Of course, the Bible is not a science textbook, or primarily an exhaustive book of history, or just an ethical guide, or a marriage manual, or a parental guidance text. However, the Bible has preeminence over all these subjects and many more. That is to say that Bible speaks authoritatively on all of these subjects, including topics not discussed in this post, because the Bible alone offers a foundational lens to view these things properly.

Why? Because “as human beings [we] are so susceptible to self-deception and autosuggestion, we need the safety of a third point of reference. Our feelings [and thoughts] need to be tested by an objective norm…that objective norm must be the Bible.”[2] Why should our thoughts be tested?[3] This goes back to loving the Lord God with all of our minds. Why are we to do this? Because, how we use our minds is ethical; right or wrong.

Nothing but the Truth Please…

A common anthem raised within Christian circles is “all truth is God’s truth” implying or declaring “regardless of the source!” Of course, “all truth is God’s truth” no sane individual will deny this claim. However, this begs the question of how one arrives at the truth. Who determines truth? Is truth merely up for grabs, or is “truth” only found when the subject in question is properly perceived from God’s perspective? If all truth is God’s truth, then all “truth” must be found in agreement with God’s revealed truth. Why? Because an objective standard is necessary in order to measure the truthfulness of the subject or claim in question.

Some may wonder why Martin Luther referred to reason as “the devil’s whore.” Evidently, this comment is attributed to a statement he made during a sermon in Wittenberg. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to that particular resource of Luther’s (my limited budget prohibits this), but I have read enough of what Luther has said in other places to have a solid basis to offer my own observations regarding it.

For example, Luther stated that “…unbelief is not one of the grosser affections, but is that chief affection seated and ruling on the throne of the will and reason, just the same as its contrary, faith.”[4] In another place he preached with a ring of sarcasm, “Here again comes forth reason, our reverend mistress, seeming to be marvellously [sic] wise; but who indeed is unwise and blind, gainsaying her God, and reproving him of lying; being furnished with her follies and feeble armour [sic], to wit, the light of nature, free will, the strength of nature, also with the books of the heathen and the doctrines of men.”[5]

Luther did not despise reason any more than he despised faith or philosophical arguments, for he applied all of these in his own life and writings (albeit at some times better than others from a personal standpoint). What he despised, rightly so I might add, was reason, discussions of faith or philosophical argumentation that was separated from the mind of God. While some might be appalled and argue strenuously against such a position, Luther was in good company. He did no less than the apostles, or the prophets, or the Lord who called and sent them all out into the world.

Elements of Truth and the Philosophy that Guides Them

In particular, we might find it advantageous to turn briefly to the apostle Paul’s dealing with this very issue; found in the letter to the Colossians. The Christians in Colossae were facing some turbulent times. Leaders had crept in with teachings that seemed very godly, but had the same element of demonic error that Paul later warned Timothy to be wary of.[6]

The two primary errors facing these Christians in Colossae was ascetism and mysticism:

  • Ascetism teaches that by abstaining from certain elements of worldly living (i.e. eating and drinking certain foods) attributes to the spiritual welfare of the individual(s) in question. This form of legalism is comparable to modern teetotalers who preach abstinence from alcohol or tobacco, etc.; as if adopting such a mindset makes one more spiritual (either before God or man).[7]
  • Mysticism on the other hand flirted with pseudo-knowledge (a pre-gnostic heresy) that was secretly given to some of the so-called more spiritual among them. This knowledge included various visions (false) from god, leading to the worship of angelic beings. Things strongly denounced in Holy Writ (cf. Exod 20.3; Deut 6.13-14; Matt 4.10; Rev 19.10).

Paul’s response was that Christians should not listen to things that pervert the truth, but rather be firmly established in Jesus Christ (Col 2.7), walking with him (Col 2.6) who is “the head of all rule and authority” (Col 2.10) for in Him rest “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2.3). Christians are to be wary of those who seek to take “you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world…” (Col 2.8). For “if with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to [them]…” (Col 2.20).[8]

Now it is absolutely true that Paul wrote to Colossae for a specific purpose. He was battling false forms of spiritual worship that had invaded the Christian community, but there is an application that may be drawn from this for today. Paul cautioned against philosophy (love of wisdom/knowledge) and reason that is rooted in something other than Jesus Christ, in whom all these things are held (cf. Heb 1.3; Prov 1.7; 9.10; 2.6). He presents a similar argument to the Corinthians and the Ephesians when he states rather emphatically:

  • “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2Cor 10.4-5; italics added).
  • “…no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…Now I say this and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart…But that is not the way you learned Christ!” (Eph 4.14-15, 17-18, 20; italics added).

Similarly, the Lord condemned those who considered themselves the wise of their age, who in their wisdom supplanted God’s Word with their own traditions—i.e. the elemental spirits of the world (cf. Mark 7.6-13).[9]

Closing Remarks…

Whatever conclusions we draw about reality. Whatever thoughts or doctrines we uphold. Whatever beliefs we may have about life. Whether they be scientific questions, or marital questions, or questions about parenting, or questions about logic or reason or philosophy or ethics…regardless of what the subject might be about. The way we view them or the conclusions we draw need to be seriously weighed with the Word of God.

I grow tired of the scarecrows that are raised up by professing believers who want to be the final arbitrators of truth. God determines truth, we do not. He defines truth, we do not. Our thinking, our speaking and our doing ought to derive from humble submission to Christ Jesus and His authoritative Word. That is the only true way we are going to truly know anything.

ENDNOTES:


[1] Norman Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990), 100, 101. They write, “Some figure that the best way to win an argument is to cheat. So they design their reasoning in such a way that they can’t lose. Just like a card player who stacks the deck…Straw man. Another way to stack the deck against the opposition is to draw a false picture of the opposing argument…The name of the fallacy comes from the idea that if you set up a straw man, he is easier to knock down than a real man.”

[2] Richard S. Taylor, Biblical Authority and Christian Faith (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1980), 51.

[3] This is not a concept that merely Christians adhere to (although, I would argue that it is a Christian standard used by others), for all people subject the position of another over an against some other source. That is to say, everybody tests the nature of the claim being presented. If you were to ask a college student today if socialism is a better option than capitalism, the answer would reflect the teaching/instruction that the student has received. If they have went to one of the Ivy League schools or an institution out in California, then socialism is going to be seen as not only a viable option for government, but preferable to other forms of governance. Stephen Crowder has demonstrated this for his viewers on a number of issues in his YouTube series “Change My Mind.” The point being, we test the thoughts of others comparable to the source on which (we) they are dependent. What we consider authoritative.

[4] Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, Reprint (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2012), 228, Adobe Digital Editions. Italics added.

[5] Martin Luther, “Galatians 6:1-7” in A Selection Sermons of the Most Celebrated Sermons of Martin Luther, loc 433-435, Kindle Edition. Italics added.

[6] “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…” (1Tim 4.1). What were these demonic teachings that Timothy would have to deal with in his ministry? Those “…who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1Tim 4.3). The very things that Paul is having to deal with in Colossae and to some extent in Corinth (e.g. 1Cor 9.1-5).

[7] It should be noted that I am not condemning Christians who for reasons of conscience chose to avoid such things. This is acceptable and right in the sight of God. God has given all things as a gift for His people, to be used reasonably and in moderation, being blessed by prayer. However, to do something in doubt without faith and go against one’s conscience is folly and rightly labeled sin. The position that I hold, which I believe is consistent with biblical faith, is that what God has not labeled sinful is to be enjoyed in moderation; for, who am I as a creature to judge another’s servant. In other words, there is only ONE law-giver and that is the Triune God of Scripture…Him, I shall obey, for that is pleasing in His sight.

[8] John Calvin, The Complete Biblical Commentary Collection of John Calvin, (Kindle Locations 488481-488483). Kindle Edition. He writes, “Let us, however, bear in mind, that under the term philosophy Paul has merely condemned   all spurious doctrines which come forth from man’s head, whatever   appearance of reason they may have.”

[9] Here the religious leaders in Israel had erected their own belief system of what was right and good and true (the practice of Corban) in place of what God had said was the right attitude and practice; namely, honoring your father and mother. In case the reader assumes that this only applies to religious practices (the spiritual realm) and has no meaningful application to what some might deem non-spiritual issues, might I encourage you to mull over the meaning of this statement: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor 10.31; cf. Deut 14.26). All of life is meant to glorify God, even acts so mundane as “eating and drinking.” My point being is that there is no aspect of living that is not ethical (right or wrong) and therefore spiritual. God made us as His image bearers, so whatever we do is a spiritual act. To attempt to dichotomize life into the subjects of spiritual and not is a foolhardy errand. So, whatever, we do or think or say, needs to be weighed by God’s authoritative Word.

Posted in Christian Witness, Depravity, Reason, Theology, Worldview Analysis

What Do Idols Represent? Fallen Images

When Israel was delivered from the hands of the Egyptians, not long after Pharaoh and his mighty army were buried by the waters of the Red Sea. They met at the foot of the mountain to swear fealty to the Lord of Hosts; to worship the God of all the earth. However, within a very short period of time they forgot about God, about Moses and demanded that an idol be fashioned for them. For what purpose? To what end? They wanted a representation of the gods that had delivered them. One the golden calf that they could see, the other the invisible Lord they could not see (Exod 32.4). To these gods they gave offerings and sacrifices and had a feast in their name. They ate, they drank and practiced in devilry (Exod 32.5-6).

What you are witnessing as you read this section of Scripture is an act of syncretism, a combining or joining of two beliefs systems in equal status. The problem is when such worship is offered, even if the name of the Lord is mentioned, it is an act of false worship. In truth, such practices have nothing to do with worshiping the God of heaven and earth. Instead, they have everything to do with worshiping the idols of the heart.

The Israelites were not alone, for the Bible says people in general participate in this practice.

  • “For although [human beings] knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Rom 1.21-25).

In short, idol worship is common practice for sinners. Rather than give praise, honor, and glory where they are due, sinners in their zeal, offer these things to lesser beings.

Why?

Well, the answer is simple enough but few want to accept it. When Adam sinned in the garden he did no less than the Israelites recently freed from Egypt, for he too sought to give praise, honor and glory to a lesser being—himself. In fact, I would argue that what our forefather did was much worse (cf. Rom 5.14). His sin was what introduced sin into earthly[1] creation.

  • “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5.12; cf. Gen 3.17-19, 22-24; Rom 8.19-22)

On that day Adam experienced death. The promise given to him by his Creator proved true (cf. Gen 2.17). This confuses many people today. We read the word “death” and we assume cessation from life; entrance to the grave. As I have taught previously the Bible does not define death that way. Death in Scripture means “separation.”[2] And on that day in the garden both Adam and his wife Eve experienced true death.

They were immediately separated from God in their hearts. This is demonstrated by their attempt at covering their nakedness (Gen 3.7); which, is an illustrative way of showing their attempt to cover (atone for) their sin (shame).  And, they hid from the Lord when He made His presence known in the garden (Gen 3.8-10).[3] The final illustration of this death is found in being driven from the garden of the Lord; being denied access to the Tree of Life (again separation, not cessation). The only hope of life now would be at the mercy of their Creator.

The death of Adam was the antecedent to the rest of humanity, as his offspring we all experience this death (the consequent). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6.23). As sinners we are separated from our Creator, from life, from righteousness and holiness and goodness. Ultimately, we are separated from properly imaging God in this world.

I pointed out a couple posts back that our responsibility is to love God with our minds. This is true because God is meant to be sovereign over our minds (our reason[ing]). What exactly did sin effect in the Fall (Gen 3)? If we could put a percentage on sin’s effects on the human nature, the human mind, then what should our numbers be? 50%? 75%? 100%?

Pelagius who argued with Augustine believed it was zero. Most evangelicals won’t go that far. Neither will Rome. Yet, few today desire to say 100%, but on what grounds?

What’s the Bible say? I know that is not the standard many wish to appeal to. Not many want to be dependent on that source entirely. It leaves little wiggle room. And, we love room to wiggle!

We’re Dead…

Regardless of our preferences we are left with the following statement of truth. Before we were made alive in Christ Jesus we were all dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2.1, 5). Even we who are truly born again must admit that we “once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph 2.2-3). Even though we were originally made upright that is not our default position (Eccl 7.20, 29). For the only offspring that we can produce now is something unclean and hell bent (Job 15.14; Psa 58.3).

READER: “Wait a minute, Kris…you said in your last post that you were going to talk about Psalm 115. What does any of this have to do with that Psalm?”

ANSWER: Everything.

Psalm 115 is a song of comparison.

The focus of Psalm 115 is the Lord above (as depicted in verse 1, but we’ll get to that a little later). The writer offers the rhetorical question of the nations, “Where is their God?” (Psa 115.2). For those unfamiliar with the history of the period, gods and goddesses ruled over the nations in their own localities. More often than not the gods of the pagans were not limited to a monotheistic model, preferring a polytheistic pantheon of gods/goddesses instead. Each nation attributed victories in battle, blessings of the field and womb, wisdom and knowledge, and many other desirable venues to the particular deities of their choosing. I say “of their choosing” because these people groups would fashion a god or goddess after the likeness of their own imaginations, going to great lengths to cover all their bases (see Acts 17.23).

Israel was different. Israel’s God was not like the rest of the nations, for making an image of any kind was forbidden. Theologically, this makes perfect sense, since God created mankind to be His image bearers in creation, and Israel was set-apart by God to be a light to the nations (cf. Exod 19.5-6; Deut 4.5-8; Isa 49.3-6).[4] Of whom, Jesus the Christ is said to be the perfect representation of the invisible God (Heb 1.3; Col 1.15), the light of the world (John 8.12), the true Adam (1Cor 15.45) and image bearer. What Christ is, man ought to be.

Because Israel was different, the nations mocked. They made light of the God of Israel. But, the psalmist answers their question with the following retort:

  • “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psa 115.3).

In other words, our God is not like your little gods or goddesses. He does not merely rule over the skies, or the battlefield, or this city or that state. His domain is not limited to the land of this nation or that nation. He doesn’t concern Himself about this group of people over here, or that flock of animals over there. No…He rules it all. He sits above the circle of the earth far beyond the sight of mere creatures. He is king over all that is in the heavens and that which dwells on the earth.

  • “[Your] idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they make no sound in their throat” (Psa 115.4-7).

In other words, you claim that your gods are gods, that they are mighty in power and deed. You cower before them, and offer them sacrifices and prayer. You have festivals in their honor and dedicate your children to them. You pretend that they are alive, that they are living, but they are dead! They are unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling, unable to smell or speak or move. You claim that your gods are gods, all the while mocking our own, but you worship dead things. Things created by your own hands. Things created in your own minds.

What are idols? They are reflections of the minds of man. What are idols? They are image bearers of fallen man. What are idols? They are representations of their creator.

  • “Like them are their makers, every one who is trusting in them” (Psa 115.8; YLT).[5]

Like the one who created them, these idols are dead things. Scripture uses various expressions to state that people are spiritually dead. They are said to have ears and not hear (i.e. deaf), eyes and not see (i.e. blind)[6]; they are said to have legs, but are incapable of walking (i.e. lame)[7]; they are said to have hands, but are incapable of feeling (i.e. leprous)[8]; freedom appears to guide their lives, but it does not (i.e. slaves)[9]; wisdom appears to guide their minds, but it does not (i.e. fools)[10]; knowledge is what they profess to have, but they do not (i.e. pseudo-knowledge).[11]

What’s my point?

The biblical testimony of the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)[12] continually mocks and ridicules the idols of human beings. He chides foolish people who believe (trust) in them. What we need to understand is that these idols are accurate representations of their creators. Not physical representations, but mental representations of the imaginations of fallen image bearers.

We will worship anything other than the Lord God. We will go to great lengths to fashion a god of our choosing, to bow down to. It doesn’t matter if the object is made of wood, precious metal or stone (cf. Isa 44.8-20). We may even take a portion of the truth revealed in the Bible, profess faith in God or in Jesus as incarnate deity, acknowledge the divine person-hood of the Holy Spirit, but then turn around and form and fashion Him into an idol of our own choosing (comp Matt. 7.21-23).

In short, fools beget fools. Idols are birthed from the hearts of dead men, and as God points out repeatedly those idols are an accurate representation of a non-living being. “The question of man’s depravity considers not the extent of his guilty before God, but the extent of his corruption in sin.”[13] So radically corrupted is the human mind, due to its dependency (i.e. bondage) to sin, that though the truth of God may be clearly perceived internally (cf. Rom 2.14-16) and externally (cf. Rom 1.18-20), man prefers to offer allegiance to anything other than the Lord—i.e. idols fashioned in the crucible of fallen minds.

What Troubles Me…

Is that in our rebellion we deny the very fact that the Bible so clearly reveals, human reason is broken, left as a tattered remnant of what it once was. The battle for man’s ability to reason correctly was lost in the garden, and unless some other victor comes marching on the field to bind that corruption that has dominated our hearts we are powerless to ever come to the knowledge of the truth (cf. Luke 11.21-22; Eph 2.4-6).

Unfortunately, I have now stepped into turbulent waters. There is no greater affront to our fallen minds, than to attack the sacred golden calf of human reason. And yet, should we not—we who profess that we know God (Rom 10.9-11; John 20.28)—declare with the psalmist:

  • “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and our faithfulness![14] …You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! …The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!” (Psa 115.1, 11a, 16-18).

How much glory, how much praise, how much fear and trust do we show in the Lord, when we present the truth of God to fallen mankind in a manner that makes the man the judge (reasoner) over and above the Creator? We present light to men whose eyes have been gouged out, ears that have been blown, expecting them to see and hear without the Lord first giving them eyes to see and ears to hear…what folly is this?[15]

Should we not rather, as we carefully/prayerfully consider our fallen brethren’s plight, present to them the truth as definable within a biblical framework trusting that the Lord is mightier than their fallenness. Should we not refuse to present evidences or facts at the feet of fallen image bearers allowing them to sit in a seat of judgment as if they were a god; rather, confronting them with evidence of their willful suppression of the truth. God is judge, not mankind. God sits on the throne not mankind. The evidence and facts of the Christian faith present the rightful condemnation of all (cf. Rom 3.19); they are only delightful truths to members of the faith, not the other way around.[16] Should we not let this weight burden their hearts, providing the Lord the opportunity to grant repentance?

As Christians we have no right, whatsoever, to pander to the pride of unbelievers. We are not to be peddlers of the Word of God (cf. 2Cor 2.17), but are commanded to present the truth. In this only Christ Jesus will reserve the right to boast, for the salvation of fallen image bearers is the work of God…not man (cf. 1Cor. 1.28-31; Php 3.3). We are ring bearers, nothing more.[17]

ENDNOTES:


[1] The chief of sinners was already in the garden before the man and woman fell—Satan; the devil; that vile serpent of old (Rev 12.9). The focus of the biblical account is earthly in that it is given on man’s behalf; from our vantage point. Even though, it is completely accurate to refer to the Word of God as God-breathed (theopneustos); an accurate retelling from God’s vantage point—to/for man.

[2] The reader needs to understand that “death” in Scripture does not mean cessation—i.e. ceasing to exist. Death in the Bible conveys the idea of separation. Therefore, death is described in the Bible in at least three different ways: 1) separation from our Creator (cf. Gen 3.8); 2) separation from being a slave to sin (cf. Rom 6.4); 3) separation from the body, what we describe as physical death (cf. Eccl 12.7).

[3] This hiding from the sound of the Lord was an act of rebellion. Adam admits that fear drove him to this course of action. No doubt, fear of His holy Creator and of the complete death that rightfully awaited him did make the man seek some refuge where God might not find him. However, the Lord made the man accountable for his actions. Even though he desired to be away from God as far as possible, the Lord made him answer for his offense.

[4] All other false religious belief systems attempt to mimic this truth, but in a watered down, distorted version.

[5] The ESV like some other translations present this verse in the following pattern: “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” The order is logically inconsistent, for an image bearer represents the image for which it was created, not the other way around. The fact that people desire to make idols based upon their own imaginative minds shows that the idols accurately represents its maker—a dead thing.

[6] Cf. Deut 29.4; Matt 15.14; Rom 11.8-11; 2Cor 4.4; 1John 2.11; comp Isa 42.16

[7] Cf. Lev 21.18; Prov 26.7; contrasted with Isa 35.5-6; Matt 15.30.

[8] Cf. Lev 13.2-3, 44-46; Num 12.10-12; 2Sam 3.29; contrasted with 2King 5.1-17; Luke 4.27; Matt 8.2-3.

Many misunderstand the significance of these blemishes (including all that I have included before, above) found in the human body as a picture of sin. These individuals were cut-off from the congregation in Israel and access to the sanctuary of God via the priests. The only person who could remove this malady from them is the Lord God. His healing made them clean and grafted them into the fellowship of the covenant community. The purpose of Jesus’ healing in the N. T. is a highlighting of this fact. He brought healing in his wings. He alone could heal the nations (people). Jesus alone as the High Priest could declare what was clean versus unclean. Thus, the underlying foundation of the signs which he performed contrary to many “word of faith” preachers or liberal theologians today.

[9] Cf. Job 14.4; John 8.34; Tit 3.3; 2Chron 6.36

[10] Cf. Psa 14.1-3; Eccl 9.3; 1Cor 1.20.

[11] Cf. Deut 32.29; Prov 1.22, 29; 1Tim 6.20.

[12] Stress needs be laid on the doctrine of the Trinity—the One God revealed in three coeternal/coexistent persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not three gods, but One Being; for the Father is not the Son nor the Spirit, neither is the Son the Father or the Spirit, nor can we say that the Spirit is the Father or the Son. They are distinct in functionality, but united in purpose and essence. In terms of salvific history, the Father sends the Son and gives to the Son the elect; the Son gives His life in honor to the Father for the life of the people given to Him; the Spirit is sent out from the Father and the Son in order to represent the Son in exaltation to those given by the Father and received by the Son, preserving and perfecting the elect for the final day of presentation. Therefore, God alone deserves the glory, honor and praise.

[13] Richard D. Phillips, What’s so Great about the Doctrines of Grace? (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2008), 24, Adobe Digital Editions.

[14] Contrary to fallen image bearer’s own attestation: “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” Or as this verse is rendered in the KJV: “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Prov 20.6).

[15] “Speculation which is independent of God’s word cannot lead a rebellious sinner to a proper knowledge of God. For the believer, the Christ of Scripture is the basis of human knowledge; He is the necessary starting pint for knowledge, or else man’s intellectual efforts will lead to utter skepticism.” Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, ed. Joel McDurmon (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press & Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, [2008], 2011), 29. Adobe Digital Editions.

[16] “Facts and logic are meaningful and useful to man within the context of Christ’s word.” Ibid, 29. Italics added.

[17] In case this last analogical reference is misunderstood, allow me to explain. The ring bearer presents the ring of union to the bride and groom. The two rings represent one life. The gospel is the ring that we bring forth to fallen man, but only the husband may put the ring on the one he has taken to be his bride. This act is an act of devotional love bestowed on the woman. The man is the first to act because he has preeminence, the woman follows suit because without the husband movement towards her (i.e. his putting his love on her), she would not be able to respond. Unfortunately, the beauty of this act is lost somewhat in our generation because of the feminist theology that pervades human thought (both inside and outside the church).

Posted in Christian Witness, Communication, Reason, Salvation, Theology, Worldview Analysis

Refraction: Unintended Results Acquired and Passed On

Take a straight pencil and dip it into a glass of water. What do you see? The pencil appears bent. This is called refraction. When light waves travel through air and water the speed is altered and a distorted image ensues. An educated person understands that the pencil is not truly bent, but only appears to be so. A young child on the other hand will try and convince you (if asked) that the pencil really does bend when it goes into the water.

Why the different conclusions?The “educated person” has had their reasoning aided by an external source; whereas, the child is attempting to determine the reality of the pencil on their own without having their reasoning aided. One is using the mental tool of reasoning dependently, the other is using the same faculties of the mind independently.[1]

The point should be obvious to all: reasoning alone does not lead to the correct interpretation of the facts/evidences. This was true before the Fall recorded in Genesis 3. So, why would we assume that this is different when we present to the gospel of the Christian worldview to a non-believer?

Arguments to the Contrary

Jesus very clearly taught that without a dependence on God-given revelation people would not believe even if someone were to come back to life (cf. Luke 16.30-31). The human mind as a result of the fall has been grossly distorted, now man’s point of view suffers refraction.We can thank our foreparents[2](Adam and Eve) for this gift. They took it upon themselves to reason (judge,discern, determine) without any aid or dependency upon God’s revelation(natural or special).[3]We have no right to complain, for given the same circumstances we too would have tread where they did. Thus, our foreparents (along with the rest of humanity residing in them) assumed authority over their own minds, positioning themselves as judge over and above God.

That is now the default position of all people. Yes, even professing believer’s struggle with this truth. As maybe seen in the warning given by the apostle Paul to his protégé Timothy. A text, which is often conveniently overlooked or ignored, and sometimes misapplied. 

  • “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2Tim 4.3-4).[4]

That the Holy Spirit thought it necessary to offer such a word of caution to a minister of the gospel, ought to give all Christians pause. Christians have not had their former nature so eradicated that they no longer struggle with the desire to be the final arbitrator of truth; even when it comes to the Word of God.[5]Like Eve, we all struggle or are troubled at times to reason in the same fashion she did. We take the propositional truth of God found in Scripture, and the world in which we live, and the testimony of others and set ourselves above these things as judge.

As Scripture says the human mind is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”(Jer 17.9). For every intention (imagination, plan) of human thought is wicked continually from childhood (Gen 6.5; 8.21; Psa 51.5). The human mind is, as a result of the fall, naturally hostile towards God’s instruction (Rom 8.7; Col1.21), and so darkened that it is incapable of discerning spiritual things (Eph4.18; 1Cor 2.14).[6] 

At this point in the discussion there is an argument raised by some in the Christian faith regarding evidence.I have heard it said, but didn’t Jesus give evidence and tell people to believe on the evidence that He is from God; the Son of God, the Savior of Men?

  • “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (John14.11).
  • “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.30-31).

Although, there are other similar texts, these should suffice to make the point I am driving at. To be sure, by themselves, these texts appear to show that belief is possible on evidence or facts alone. We may even appeal to the Psalmist who states, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psa19.1). And in another place, we are told, “For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” (Psa 92.4-5). However, these texts do not nullify what has come before. Nor do they disprove what has already been stated.

In John 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. After four days in that arid climate the body of Lazarus, sealed in the tomb, would have been a nasty sight to be sure. Not to mention the grotesque smell! And yet, as we know Jesus shouts in the midst of those gathered there “Lazarus, come out” (John 11.43), the dead man comes out alive.

This text was chosen for two reasons. One it looks back to what I have been saying in this post and in others with reference to Jesus comments in Luke 16:30-31 about people not believing even if the dead arises. For, not everyone believed in Jesus even when they saw the dead man walking. All Jesus did was give them another person to want to kill (cf. John 11.46, 53, 12.9-11). The evidence by itself was not enough to convince the person of the truth.

Two, Jesus guides the reasoning of the individuals who witnessed Lazarus having been raised. Rather than allowing them to interpret the event in light of their own worldview, using unaided reason, the Lord prepped their thinking. In other words, he gave them the necessary framework to properly interpret the evidence before them: “And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around that they may believe you sent me” (John 11.41b-42; emphasis added).

Without a dependency on God’s revelation, fallen people will never see the truth. In other words, it is impossible to come to a knowledge of the truth apart from God’s revelation. We were created to be dependent upon it, and after the Fall our disposition has switched to the default setting against it.

  • “The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this” (Psa 92.6).[7]
  • “Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10.25-27).

Notice the emphasis Jesus put on the proper interpretation of the evidence He has presented to the Jews. The works He does are done in His Father’s name and the bear witness to the truthfulness of who He is, but those who are not members of His flock fail to believe.

Inner Light is Necessary

Furthermore, before I finish this post there is another aspect of dependent thought that serves as a necessary prerequisite for comprehending the truth. We are told in Scripture that in the Lord “…is the fountain of life [and] in [His] light do we see light” (Psa 36.9). The inference being: There is a divine element to seeing, understanding and accepting the truth; which, apart from the Holy Spirit’s regenerative work in the hearts of fall people is impossible. In other words, we cannot see the light (life/truth) apart from God’s light (life/truth).

Until God puts a new heart within us we are left with a heart of stone that stubbornly suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. As Stephen said to the Sanhedrin in the 1st century,fallen man is continually stiff-necked towards God resisting the Holy Spirit(Acts 7.51). This is the reason Jesus was killed (from an earthly perspective) because“none of the rulers of this age understood…for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Cor 2.8). Without the Holy Spirit revealing to fallen people the truth of God (cf. 1Cor 2.10), they “[do] not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him…” (1Cor 2.14). This is what separates the Christian from the non-Christian. We have been given “…the mind of Christ” (1Cor 2.16).

In order to see things correctly and to reinterpret them after God’s own thoughts the unbeliever must have his/her mind renewed (cf. Rom 12.2; Eph 4.23). They must become a new creature(Rom 6.4; Eph 2.24). They must be fashioned after the image of Jesus Christ(Rom 13.4). This they cannot do, for it is a gift from God for we are His workmanship (cf. Eph 2.8-10).

Now, if we as Christians who have been given new life in Christ, have circumcised hearts made of flesh rather than stone (Col 2.11-12), and are being conformed into the image of God’s one and only Son (Rom 8.29) by the Spirit’s power still see things dimly (1Cor13.12), then why would we suppose that fallen mankind is capable of seeing the truth on their own? People who Scripture reveals are in bondage to sin, have darkened minds and hearts made of stone, and are mortal enemies towards their Creator’s will, law and word. Why would we assume that without the proper biblical framework and the Spirit’s acting upon the core of their very being would be able to come to the knowledge of the truth on their own?

Closing Remarks…

Independent rational thought is always irrational at base. This fallen world understands this, so why do we Christians have such a hard time putting two and two together? Obviously, in this post I’ve spent some time discussing the nature of human depravity or radical corruption. What I have been arguing is that apart from a dependence upon God’s revelation—His Word and His action in our lives—we never draw the right conclusion about the world in which we live. This is our Father’s world(as the old hymn goes) and therefore the only way to come to the right conclusion about any of it, is by reinterpreting after Him. Ultimately, this is what it means to be His image bearers. In my next post, I want to spend sometime speaking a little further on how the fall effected our image bearing status with a look at Psalm 115.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas…!

ENDNOTES:


[1] Perhaps a better way of expressing this is to admit that the child’s reasoning, like the educated adult, is likewise aided but in a very limited fashion. Primarily,the child’s reasoning—apart from parental instruction—is based upon sensory experience, and the presupposition guiding that child’s thought is that their past experience and the use of their senses is sufficient to determine the nature of reality. In essence, they assume they are able to properly interpret the evidence before them without any external guidance. Therefore, for the sake of the argument presented this should suffice to show how one’s reasoning leans heavily upon what one is dependent upon.

[2] The creation of this word was chosen over using “forefather” or “ancestor” or“progenitor” in that we are all descended from both Adam and Eve, our foreparents.

[3]Something interesting to note about the folly of both Adam and Eve in the encounter with the serpent in the garden is their two-fold error. First, Adam had been given special revelation as God spoke to him the prohibition of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2.16-17). Secondly,natural revelation demonstrated that human kind was above the animal kingdom.God had given both the man and woman dominion to rule over all lesser creatures. On both counts they willfully turned a blind eye to what God had revealed to them.

[4]Contextually, this recommendation of awareness by Paul to Timothy is something Timothy would face. He was the one charged to preach the Word at all times, convenient or not (cf. 2Tim 4.1-2). While the principle of this truth holds today, this was not a text given for some far-off eschatological end, but its proximity in the life and ministry of Paul’s disciple was the reason for the exhortation and encouragement.

[5] For an excellent resource on the indwelling nature of sin in the life of a believer, I would recommend the following work from antiquity: John Owen, The Remainder of Indwelling Sin in Believers. You can read it free here: https://archive.org/details/onnaturepowerde00owengoog. Or there are other places where you can find a free download for your e-reader at various other sites.

[6] “Spiritual things” is not a limitation between the natural and spiritual realms. All of reality is God’s reality; He created and superintends over it. Therefore, all of reality, if it is to be properly interpreted, needs to be looked at through a spiritual lens. Man is dichotomy; spirit and earthly.

[7] In case you missed this,allow me to point this out to the reader. This is the same Psalm that was quoted earlier, which is often used to justify the position that natural revelation is all that is necessary to convince someone of the truth. Normally by attaching these comments to Romans 1. However, the Psalmist is very clear,like the apostle Paul in Romans 1 if you read it contextually, that the fallen person—the fool, the one who denies God cf. Psa 14.1-3—CANNOT understand what they see in reality.

Posted in Christian Witness, Reason, Theology, Worldview Analysis

Preferring to Reason without the Aid of God Brought the Death of It

We are told to love God with all of our minds (cf. Matt 22.37). Why? That is a question you need to mull over for a bit. This is the summation of one of the most vital aspects of the Law of God; now, think about the implications. Why would the Lord emphasize our minds?

Here’s another question to consider: Do you, as a Christian, believe in the sovereignty of the Triune-Creator God? In other words, do you believe that God is sovereign (king)over His creation? That He rules and reigns as He sees fit? That God does not seek the counsel of anyone, but rather does as He pleases?[1]

What about limitations? Are there areas of God’s creation where He is not sovereign? Let’s look at this issue from a different angle.

If the Lord God is not sovereign in one sector of creation, then is it fair to suggest that He is not truly sovereign? We may say that He is sovereign over most, but not all. He’s a three-quarter sovereign. A part-time sovereign. A sovereign in name only, but insufficient in authority. You’ll be glad to know that the answer to those questions does not come from what we think, but from what God reveals.

  • “For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth” (Psa 47.2).[2]
  • “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psa103.19)[3]
  • “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east,the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isa 46.8-11; cf. Psa 135.6).
  • Therefore… “no wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord” (Prov 21.30).

If all of creation is God’s, and He is declared sovereign over it all, then what right do we have in supposing that our minds are somehow off limits? That He is not to be King of our thoughts? Though it be true that God gave great gifts to mankind when He created them, He made our minds to be dependent upon Him. To reject this truth,is to partake in the folly of Eve.

What happened in the garden?According to the apostle Paul, Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning “being led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to” the Lord (2Cor 11.3).[4] His concern for the Christians in Corinth led him to plead with them that they not commit the same error.

IN THE GARDEN…

God gave His instruction to Adam(the man) that every plant, every fruit was good for food, except the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2.16-17). This knowledge, Adam passed on to his wife Eve.[5] Therefore, Eve was given sufficient instruction to make the right decision. Her tool of reasoning was given aid, in order to use it properly. She knew the consequences of disobeying God’s Word. She was fully aware that she was to depend upon what the Lord had taught her husband—their Creator—but she chose to ignore what had been given to her.

The serpent (or rather the one behind the serpent) cunningly chose his victim and moved against Eve in order to cause her to doubt the trustworthiness of her Creator and His Word. There is a subtle and yet feigned sense of shock on the part of the serpent when he said to her, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’”(Gen 3.1). As if he were saying, “I can’t believe that God said this! Tell me,this isn’t so.”

Oftentimes I have noticed that people tend to focus on what Eve seems to add to the prohibition of God given to Adam (cf. Gen 2.16-17) in her reply to the serpent (Gen 3.2-3), but my concern is in the “reasonableness” of her statement. Either she is unaware of the challenge being presented against her Creator (unlikely), or she is willing to ignore it (likely). In any event, her response ought to warn the reader that her willingness to stand firmly upon the foundation which God has placed her is suspect.

In verses 4-5 the serpent denies what the woman has offered as a defense: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Two things need to be said about this. First, the serpent in defiance of his Creator has called God a liar, accusing the Lord of trickery. Second, if Eve would eat of the fruit, then (and only then) she would be like God.

The Serpent’s Goal

In short, the serpent was testing the image bearers resolve. Would they depend upon God as the only true source of truth (goodness, life, knowledge, wisdom, etc.)? Or, would they consider another way? Perhaps, God’s way was not the only way? Perhaps, God was holding something back from Eve and her husband?

Some point to the action of eating the fruit as the sin in the garden. Yet, before the action came, thought was present guiding the heart to move against the Lord. While, it may be impossible for us as human creatures to pinpoint the exact reference of our sin, the truth is sin starts in the heart:

  •  “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality,envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7.21-23;italics added).[6]

Now it is true, and must be stated very clearly, that before the fall the human heart did not battle with sin as we do (post-fall). The temptation by the serpent in the garden was external in nature. There was no internal war of the flesh against the holy nature by which our first parents were given. However, what Eve did was sinful in that she took the propositional truth offered to her by the Lord (through her husband) and placed it beside the proposition given by the serpent, and thought to herself “I will be judge. I will determine the truth. I need no one helping my understanding, for I can think through the truth of the matter on my own.”  This was not an act of loving the Lord God with her mind, but an act of defiance.

The moment that she placed the Word of God on the same plain as the word of the serpent, she elevated herself in the position of judge. Not to mention the irrational nature of her presupposition. She was going to use her senses to judge propositional truths as if she was separate from God’s created world, and yet who gave her those senses? She did not trust that God had spoken truthfully, as may be seen by her reaching for and eating of the fruit, all the while trusting the faculties that He had given her were trustworthy?

By eating of the fruit of this tree, Eve was declaring that she was able to discern “good and evil” and her lapdog husband followed suit. Why? Because, he thought God was a liar too and desired to supplant Him just like his wife. “By setting up his own mind as the standard of truth, man destroys the possibility of truth.”[7]

Dead to Reason…

I have heard many well-meaning Christians point to Isaiah 14:12-15 in reference to Satan. The reference is given to the king of Babylon, and a similar proclamation is given in Ezekiel to the king of Tyre[8],and while the power behind these sinful men are found in the gestation’s of the devil the fact remains that God is rebuking men. And Adam was the first.

  • “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (Isa 14.13-15; emphasis added).

On the day that Eve and her husband Adam ate of the forbidden fruit they “surely died” (Gen 2.17b), for their reasoning had been robbed and their life had been spent though grace[9]sustained them for a short time afterwards. “But,” you say, “Adam and many of his sons lived nine centuries, how can you say that God’s grace only sustained them for a short time?” Because, had Adam and Eve submitted to the Word of God;had they reasoned dependently on what God had revealed to them as truth, as life, as the only right way, they would not had been forbidden access to the fruit of the Tree of Life, destined to return to dust (cf. Gen 3.19, 22-24).

Adam and Eve both thought to ascend to heaven, to set their throne above the Lord who created them. They thought to make themselves like the Most High, but they were brought to the grave and the far reaches of the pit. The consequence is very plain, the choice to be independent of God, to act as judge, to use their minds in a way God never made it to be used resulted in the end of right reason. That is to say, the fallen person does not reason correctly because the default settings have been changed. While dependent upon God’s revelation the human mind was capable of reasoning correctly(“In His light we see light” Psa 36.9), that ability was lost in the Fall.

In my next post, I will attempt to deal with argument to the contrary…


ENDNOTES:

[1] “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psa 115.2-3; ESV). This contrast and comparison between the Lord God and the other false idols that men put their trust in this Psalm highlights the vast difference between God and His will and the false gods that men erect for themselves in an effort to push forward their own will.In essence, unbelievers are trusting in the doctrines men and their worldly philosophy, and not the wisdom and knowledge of God, seated in Christ (cf. Col2.3, 8; 2Cor 10.5). These things and what they stand for are in opposition to God, and yet the Psalmist states very clearly the Lord “does as He pleases” (compare Prov 20.24).

[2] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the ESV (English Standard Version).

[3] There are many such references to God as King over creation in general and His people in particular. See 1Sam 12.12; Numb 23.21; Judg 8.23; Psa 74.12; Isa 33.22. Not even Satan was permitted to act without being held accountable to God as seen in the first two chapters of Job. To be a “kingdom of priests” intimates that God is reigning as King over them (cf. Exod 19.6; 1Pet 2.9 compare with Col1.12-14).

[4]Contextually, Paul is warning the Corinthian believers to not be led astray by someone claiming another Christ or another gospel (cf. 2Cor 11.2-4). However,the application of this verse logically applies to the argument being laid out in this post. Eve’s deception was a switching of the guard to another, rather than maintaining faithfulness to her Creator—i.e. the Lord. She in a sense believed in another gospel, another Lord—i.e. herself.

[5] On these grounds Paul teaches that within the confines of ecclesiastical authority man is given supremacy in that was his created role. Eve had received instruction from her husband, but refused to abide by the voice of her husband who spoke on behalf of the Lord. Adam receives a harsher condemnation by God in Gen 3:9, 11, 17-19, because he neglected the role that God had earlier given him “to work and keep it” (cf. Gen2.15; italics added); which is a command to guard the treasures he had been entrusted.

[6] It is most interesting that this declaration by the Lord immediately follows his condemnation of the religious leadership for supplanting the Word of God with their own traditions, and in so doing leading others into sin (cf. Mark 7.6-13;Matt 15.1-9).

[7] R. J. Rushdoony, Van Til and the Limits of Reason (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross House Books, [1960], 2013), loc 448, Kindle Edition.

[8] Cf. Ezek 27.3; 28.1-10.

[9] God offered grace, undeserved favor (life) when He clothed their nakedness,something they were not able to do though they did attempt to with fig leaves(cf. Gen 3.21 compare with vv. 7-8).