Posted in politics

A Voter’s Conscience: Support for Donald Trump

I will be voting for Donald Trump this coming November for President of the United States, and I’m not the least bit ashamed of doing so. My support does not mean that I agree with everything he does or says. Nor does it imply that I approve of his previous life choices. But it does mean that I believe he is the most fit person for the position this election cycle.

Recently Tim Keller posited the argument in the Twitter-sphere that a Christian cannot tell a fellow believer who they should vote for (Biden or Trump). He has taken the position that to do so would be an attempt to bind the conscience of another; evidently, a severe “no-no” in Christian etiquette. To be honest, I find that a bit strange.

As a pastor, is it not the job of leading the flock of God by helping shape and mold their conscience in order to curb their behavior to pursue righteousness (i.e., right versus wrong living)? Keller goes on to argue that the Bible teaches many things, principles even that we may infer from, but it does not give us direct answers on some of today’s political issues. “Therefore,” says Keller, “we cannot insist that all Christians, as a matter of conscience, follow one or the other.”

The famed Protestant Reformer once argued on similar grounds.1 He stated when challenged to disavow some of his teachings, and in so doing condemn much of his writing, that unless they be

“…proved to be wrong by the testimony of Scripture…it is impossible for me to recant. [For] my conscience is bound to the Word of God. It is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. Here I stand. God help me. I cannot do otherwise.”2

Martin Luther, Diet of Worms, 1521 A.D.

However, there is a vast difference between what Luther defended as a matter of conscience and what Tim Keller is proposing.

Choking Spasms

Politics is an area deemed off limits for many in terms of religious convictions. To say that social policy (practice of politics) ought to be regulated in terms of religious beliefs causes a choking spasm for those who cherish the false dogma called neutrality. For those unfamiliar with my terminology its called being “bipartisan” in our day. To be partisan (i.e., following a particular party line and thereby denying the aforementioned cherished dogma) is extremely vilified by a great number of people. Sadly, it is not just those outside the Church of Jesus Christ who are so affected but those inside as well. What Keller seemingly wants is for us to be bipartisan in our approach to this election year, and he is not alone. The call for unity is being propagated on all fronts.3

You see, Trump plays by the beat of his own drum. He does what he believes is right, often times to the chagrin of others. He doesn’t play bipartisan politics, for his positions and the policies that he desires to enact are very partisan. This is one of the many reasons why Trump is so hated. He says what he thinks (sometimes not a good thing), and he doesn’t appear to give two thoughts to what others might say regarding it. Which is just another way of saying that he doesn’t succumb (in most cases) to peer pressure.

An Illustrative Ad…

One such example was sent to a few nights ago by a friend through a Facebook link that had the current president speaking about how he was for protecting the rights of the newly born. Why would he find a need to address that topic? Because there are leaders within this nation that are for infanticide. Governor elect Ralph Northam of Virginia is one such individual in favor of terminating the life of the newly born, as an extension of current abortion practices in this country. He once stated on a radio program that he’d have no problem after a baby is born having the mother and her doctor(s) discuss whether or not that child should live or be terminated.4

Such savagery is supported by many within the party of the Donkey.5 The termination of a mother’s offspring in the womb is one of the chief selling points (platform is the more formal term) for this party. Trump’s ad was no doubt a promise to his supporters (and some who are not) that he will not give even the slightest nod to such practices.

Weighing the Issues…

In light of such things, who should I support in the upcoming election? Should I follow Keller’s haphazard claim that it is wrong to attempt to bind the conscience of another?6 Bear in mind I am not talking about my personal standards (that would be self-righteousness), but God’s objective standard of truth. His ethical claim on what is right, holy and good.

“Oh, but you’re just being a one-issue guy. There are so many other issues that must also be taken into account. According to the Bible, we as Christians are to care for the poor. What’s Trump ever done for the poor!” comes the critic’s response.

I’m sure you’ve heard this argument. I’ve heard quite a few times from those that bear the name of Christ. The claim that we need to have a more holistic approach to political involvement rather than just focusing on one issue out of many. What of racism? What of employment? What of the sojourner? What about education? What about healthcare? Etc.

Ethical Considerations in light of Current Ethical Matters

Okay, what about those things? There is more than one way to approach such concerns. First, are all ethical matters weighed the same? According to our Lord they are not (e.g., John 19.11)

Ethics refers to right and wrong practices based off of some upheld (preferably objective) standard. So, are all issues of right and wrong measured the same? For example, it is it ethically wrong according to Scripture (which is to say, according to God) to murder another human being? Yes ,of course it is. Is it wrong to steal from another human being? Yes, of course it is. Is it wrong to lie about another human being? Yes, of course it is.

All of these things are ethically wrong, but are they all weighed the same? What is the penalty according to God’s holy law when someone takes the life of another unlawfully? What of theft? What of lying? Depends on the context of the sin committed.

If the murder was accidental then the penalty is less than if it was premeditated, but a premeditated taking of another’s life requires the death penalty (Numb 35.16-34). Whereas stealing normally results in paying back what was stolen by a factor of 2 or 4. But if the theft results in the enslavement of another’s life, then the death penalty is the result (Exod 21.16). The same could be said of lying. Lying about yourself or your neighbor is ethically wrong, but it is not a crime. Unless, of course, your lying is in a court of law in order to pervert justice. In that type of circumstance the liar (perjurer) will be held accountable by the court by the very punishment they sought to inflict on their neighbor through their lying (Deut 19.18-19).

A little kickback…

So, when someone says “yes, killing a baby in the womb or on the table after birth is wrong, but so is not caring for the poor!” my response is that they are not equitable in terms of injustice. Christians are commanded to love their neighbor (Lev 19.18), which means we are to be concerned for the poor, but God places more value on the life of another being wrongly taken (Prov 24.11). To kill is worse than to neglect the impoverished. One is a crime punishable by death (life for life, blood for blood), but the other is a wrong that the Lord above shall tally on His Day.

Identifying Differing Spheres of Governance…

Secondly, I would add that many of those other matters mentioned are not governmental responsibilities. Whose job is it to care for the poor? Is it the responsibility of the Church or the Civil Government? Does not the Lord lay that burden at the feet of His own in order to test their hearts (cf. Deut 15.7-11)? Isn’t it the responsibility of the individual as well to work so that they might eat (2Thess 3.10)? Not all of us will amass the same amount of wealth in this life (cf. Deut 8.18), but we are all required to be content with what we have been given (Phil 4.11-13). This is true in terms not only of talent and gifts and abilities, but in terms of accepting our station in life and not being envious of others around us (1Pet 2.1).

Education, healthcare, poverty, racism (i.e., tribal bigotry) are all biblical issues, but they are biblical issues concerned about self-governing individuals within the family and ecclesiastical governments. These are not issues that a free societies’ civil government are supposed to be dictating, monitoring, delegating. Though I am somewhat inclined to agree with those of Keller’s mindset in that the Bible gives many guiding principles in how one handles each area, and direct “This is how it must be done” commandments are naturally (and purposefully) limited by the Lord, there is a caveat that needs to be added.

God’s Law-Word does lay out what is holy, righteous and good (see Psa 119). The ethical norms prescribed in the Bible are more than principles from where one might draw from at leisure, but they are objectively prescribed measures by which all men, women and children are required to live by.

Closing Remarks…

To say that you are a Christian and that you can support the redefining of marriage, allow government sanctioned child abuse (called gender reassignment), stand by approvingly for theft from one group (“the haves”) in order to redistribute their property to another group (“the have-nots”), all the while having a seared conscience toward the millions of defenseless ones whose lives are snuffed out on a daily basis is asinine to the highest degree! To vote for a party that promotes the systemic abuses of power based on ethnicity is nothing more than calling evil good. And let us not forget that the freedom to speak against tyranny, against the abuse of power, and to proclaim the gospel message of Christ is being squelched by the party of Biden/Harris.

So as I said in the opening I will vote for the reelection of Donald Trump for President of the United States of America, and I hope others are wise enough to do the same.

ENDNOTES:

1When I say similar I do not mean that the intention of both men (Keller and Luther) is the same. Both use a similar form of the argument (speaking about not going against a bound conscience), but I tend to believe that Luther had a better idea of political climate in the 1500’s in his day than Keller does in our own. Not to mention the fact that Luther’s intention was to bind the conscience of fellow believer’s to trust in the justifying work of Christ on the cross over and above indulgences and any other service that the Pope or another leader might insist would help such individuals “work out their salvation.”

2Ray Comfort, Luther Gold: Pure. Refined, Mary Ruth Murray, ed. (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2009), 22. This was Luther’s testimony at the Diet of Worms before King Charles V of Spain in 1521.

3Should we seek unity for unity sake, or should we seek unity in light of the truth? Which do you suppose is the better path to live by?

4Andrew Kugle, “Northam on Abortion Bill: Infant Could be Delievered and Then ‘Physcians and the Mother Could Decide if it Lives,’” The Washington Free Beacon, January 30, 2019, https://freebeacon.com/issues/northman-on-40-week-abortion-bill-infant-would-be-delivered-and-then-a-discussion-would-ensue-between-the-physcians-and-the-mother/.

5In stating this fact, I am not denying that many within the elephant party are also guilty of such reasoning. The only difference, as of right now, between these two political parties is the rate (speed) in which they continue their descent into the abyss. Though the donkey’s are leading the race, the elephants are not too far behind!

6By the way, Keller’s tweets work in the opposite direction. If it is wrong to bind the conscience of another believer, then why is Keller attempting to bind the conscience of his readers that it is wrong to “bind the conscience” in political matters? In other words, his standard cuts both ways and is therefore not a consistent model to follow.

Posted in Musings

The Year 2020: “gods” Among Us

“The authority of any system of thought is the god of that system. If a national government establishes the will of the people, an elected elite, a law court, or an individual as the ultimate authority, that is the nations god… Too often…people decide who they want to be their authority rather than acknowledge the absolute authority of God. But in rejecting the one authority, they accept another authority. Either God is the ultimate authority or man is”

(Gary DeMar, God and Government, 63).

Some may wonder why we are where we are at socially, politically, culturally? The year 2020 A.D. has been very interesting. It has shed a lot of light on an underlying issue which has permeated nearly every facet of our American way of life. Years ago I noticed the path we were taking. I’m not alone. There have been others who have likewise noticed this down hill trend towards a totalitarian, communist styled state. Individuals who have experienced the blessings of our Lord and Savior to a larger extent than I have saw the proverbial writing on the wall. Now that things have transpired to the depth that they have down the rabbit hole, some of those closest to me have admitted that they were genuinely surprised I was spot on with many of the things I’d been warning about.

The civil government has in many sectors grown intolerant to the Christian faith and message. They have within their cross-hairs the biblical worldview. But who elects our governmental officials? Who chooses (from a humanly standpoint) our leaders? Who do those leaders ultimately reflect? The answer to such questions is not difficult. WE DO!

Culture is a religious driven expression of thought. The food, the entertainment, the art, the language, the mores, even the ethical standards adhered to are reflective of the guiding light behind cultural expression. It is the religion of the people that determines the cultural reality that confronts us. “Who is God?” is not an abstract question mulled over by various philosophers smoking pipes, cigars, and drinking scotch. It is THE question asked and answered by ALL.

Two Viewpoints…

God, from the Christian viewpoint is the supreme Being over and above all things. He is the absolute authority that gives to all other lesser authorities the right to rule in their various spheres of influence. This authority is not only given but is vicariously put on display for all of creation in the Holy Trinity. God is the quintessential Being.1

God, from the non-Christian worldview (there are many) is that authority in which the man, woman or child in question feels comfortable bowing down to. Whatever is viewed from the human point of view as authoritative that is what will be appealed to in an ultimate sense. In short, something will be god for all people, but that god will not be revealed until the authority submitted to in faith has been identified.

The late R. J. Rushdoony explains it this way,

“No man can escape the problem of authority. Every man will consciously or unconsciously appeal to some authority as basic and ultimate to life. Most authorities are revered by men today are human authorities: the individual, the people, the elite thinkers and planners, science, reason, or the State, these are all humanistic authorities.”

(Law and Liberty, 40).

Those authorities appealed to are the god(s) of the person in question.

Reflections…

I have often reflected upon what we read in the historical books in the Bible. Specifically, the accounts of the judges and the years of Israel’s kingly regime. During these periods of history you are given the above cited examples in revelatory Scripture. In nations like Egypt, Babylon, Persia and Rome (not to mention the much smaller city-state styled kingdoms) you have kings who are viewed as god-men; god’s in human flesh. What the king decided was in a sense divine fiat.

Remember that either God is viewed as the supreme authority or man is. We read in Deuteronomy what God required of the king who would rule under Him over His people:

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel” (Deut 17.18-20; italics added ).

Lessons from Israel…

When we look at the history of Israel what we find is that they struggled along this very line. Long before 1Samuel 8 (vv. 5-9;, 18-20) the people wanted a king over them that looked like the rest of the people (i.e., the nations) surrounding them. For when they lived their lives they often lived as if their was no king over them (cf. Judg 21.25). Their king2 was their appetites.

The contrast in Scripture is identified as those who served the Lord and those that served the Baals. The Baals—various representations of false gods/goddesses—amounted to the worship of any created thing besides God (cf. Rom 1.18-23). Mixed worship (syncretism) was another way the people expressed false worship. Rather than swear allegiance to the One God of Creation, many preferred adding other idols to the religious mix (e.g., 1Kgs 18.21).

The point being, the people bowed down to one of either two realities: the gods of their own hearts (appetites, desires, etc.) or the God of Scripture. It was to the authority of others that they showed reverence and ultimately appealed to or it was the Lord of Life, the Creator of all things. This reality was present in the idols they surrounded themselves with. To be as clear as possible, the gods/goddesses of the people—that to which they offered their lives to, appealed to, reasoned from—were seen in the visible expressions of their perspective culture.

Back to Present Times…

The cultural war in our midst is the result of two very different standards. There are essentially two yardsticks at work; two ethical norms being appealed to. This leads to disagreements. It also is the source of much of the fighting we see in our present day. As Greg L. Bahnsen observed:

“Often we disagree with the actions of the state. All of life is ethical, but making ethical decisions can be confusing and difficult. Everyone of us needs a moral compass to guide us through the maze of moral issues and disagreements that confront us every moment of our lives.

To put it another way, making moral judgments requires a standard of ethics. Have you ever tried to draw a straight line without the aid of a standard to follow, such as a ruler? …Or have you ever tried to determine an exact measurement of something by simple eyeball inspection? As close as you may come by guessing [using either method], the only way to be sure and accurate was to use a proper standard of measurement, such as a yardstick.” .

(By This Standard, 14)

Who determines right and wrong? Who decides what is acceptable or not? The way one answers these questions will reveal the yardstick that they appeal to.

Our current dilemma politically—which speaks of the social issues of our day—is directly tied to the yardstick being appealed to. We have raised a few generations of young people now who have been taught that might makes right, that each individual is responsible for their own truth, that reality is best determined by emotions and personal intuitions, rather than logic and reason.

The resultant outcome is now before our eyes in the year 2020. My grandpa used to complain to me that politics is crooked business. “It doesn’t matter which side you are talking about they are all corrupt…they are all about the money.” There is some truth to this statement. But, it does not automatically mean that all politicians are guilty of this at the same level or in the same way, as some grand broad brush stroke might imply.

Closing Remarks…

In this short article I have avoided specific policies or issues present in our day. I’m sure that you are aware of some of them. You can probably even name a few. This does not mean that we will share the same convictions/conclusions regarding them, but you know that they are there. Lord willing, it is my intention to address some of those specifics in the weeks ahead.3

Until then I will give you a little food for thought and wrap up my musings. There is a popular video game entitled, Gods Among Us. It is a DC universe game that earned enough street cred among the kids that they came out with a sequel. I’d imagine that some find the title catchy (you may not and that’s okay), but I find it revelatory. There are “gods” among us, and they have been put on visible display, and their tenets are being screamed by the masses. Politicians greedy for power are appealing to them in an effort to silence the voice of those who dare declare: There is but One God in Heaven who rules the heavens and the earth and His Name is… I AM (Exodus 3.14). We are a culture at war, whose side will you be found fighting for? To which God among us will you appeal to, obey and lean on? The “gods” among us, or the God who is over all?

ENDNOTES:

1 He is love. He is Holy. He is Good. The Father gives the Son, the Son lays down His life for those given to Him by the Father, and the Holy Spirit moves the called to embrace the Son and in so doing embrace the Father. All three persons do this in the One God of Creation. In so doing they exercise their love for One another and for those called by their Name. In this is the perfect display of holiness where sin is judged and yet righteous obedience is upheld. In this we find mercy (goodness offered to those freely who are not good) where the undeserving are granted pardon as if they deserved it.

2 Now David is set up as an example of one who desired to fulfill all the law of the Lord. He was a type or foreshadowing of the true Christ (the anti-type). It was the Lord’s authority that he desired inwardly to obey (cf. Psa 40.8); although, his own history tells the tale of a man that failed at this duty at many steps during his life. But this does not erase the fact that God viewed David as a man after His own heart. One that wanted to live righteously before a holy God, but due to human limitations failed as he walked along the way. (From his example and many others we ought to say, “Praise God for not basing our salvation on our weak efforts, but by His mighty hand.)

3 On a side note: My summer has been very busy. I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like reading and writing or even posting things on my site. This is not a complaint on my part. I consider it a blessing, for when others have been deemed non-essential the Lord has given me much work. As of right now my family is well taken care of. I am thankful for this, but I have not been hiding in a hole.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Underlying Source of Our Confusion

According to Scripture, man was created in the image of God, good, and with an originally righteous moral consciousness. This original perfection of man was not metaphysical but ethical, not infinite but finite…Because man has rebelled against God, he has blinded his intellect and his will by sin. Having established his own will as determinative of right and wrong as a consequence of succumbing to the temptation to be God, man can no longer do God’s will. Instead, he seeks to establish his own will and his own concept of good in terms of his own will and autonomous consciousness, his claim to be God” (R. J. Rushdoony, By What Standard, 84)

Posted in Biblical Questions

Thoughts on Biblical Death: Part 2

OUTLINE

I. Death: Result (wages) of Sin

1. 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.

2. 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).

      • Major—Group Death Sentence.
      • Minor—Individual law-breaking death sentence
      • 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

1. 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.

The Types of Death We Witness after the Fall (OT)

As was noted in the outline provided above (Part 1, point 2) there are three subsets of physical death that are directly/indirectly a result of Adam’s rebellion as seen in the OT. The first two we shall look at are sentences of death carried out by the Lord God and his representatives (civil magistrates). These result as a violation of His holy law. I have classified them as major and minor cases. These sections nor the footnoted texts in support of them are not meant to be exhaustive. They are given, however, to encourage the reader to knock some dust off their Bible’s if they’ve laid around for far too long. Or, if that’s not the case, maybe you need to get past some of your pet verses that you’ve spent the majority of your time stroking.

Death as Judgment… (Major Cases)

Many of the deaths that we witness in the OT are related specifically to judgments delved out by the Lord. The catastrophic Flood of Noah’s day is one example.[1] Another is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.[2] We have the plagues poured out on Egypt culminating in the death of the firstborn who failed to heed the Lord’s destruction.[3] When that wasn’t enough God destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.[4] The rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram is one example of many where God judges a multitude for their sin.[5] The Israeli vs. Canaanite conquests where Moses and Joshua led many battle campaigns against the foes of the Lord.[6] The destruction of the Northern Kingdom Israel by the Assyrians,[7] the devastation wrought against Jerusalem and Southern Kingdom of Judah by Babylon[8] give ample proof of God’s retributive action.

Time and time again we witness war being waged by the Lord against sinful men. The reason they died is because they had broken God’s law and it was a just punishment for their sin.[9] Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. The law is a nonnegotiable standard.  Law breakers are still guilty if they violate the law without detailed knowledge.[10] Each of these types of death were exercises of penal punishment—i.e., the death penalty being enacted.

Death as Judgment… (Minor Cases)

In this short space, I’ve spoken primarily about the major penal executions carried out in the OT, but there are more deaths that fall under this category. God established as the 6th commandment “Thou shall not kill [murder]…” (Exod 20.13), some mistakenly apply this to all manners of killing. However, there are some sins that are worthy of death (1John 5.16-17). Take for example the death of Lot’s wife.[11]

These would fall under the criminal statutes laid out in the case laws of the OT. Here are a few criminal offenses that receive the highest form of punishment, the death penalty: Adultery[12], Man-stealing (i.e., forced slavery/chattel slavery)[13], rape[14], attacking one’s parents (not little children but adults)[15], blasphemy[16] (includes lying under oath against one’s neighbor,[17] if the perjury would have granted the accused a death sentence), various manners of sexual exploits (incest[18], bestiality[19], sodomy[20] (which would cover the entirety of the LGBTQ? today), sacrificing of children[21] (i.e., abortion, infanticide, or child sacrifice), false worship (like Aaron’s sons),[22] and false teaching.[23]

Though the penalty for such sins—sins of a criminal nature and not merely private—was death, this does not mean that lesser punishments could not be delved out by the elders at the gate.[24] Moreover, it was not a simple matter to enact this strictest form of punishment. In order to get the death penalty, the civil system had to prove their case on the testimony of two-to-three (solid) witness.[25] They did not merely take the word of such individuals, but were required before God to inspect the crime fully. The accused were assumed innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around (or why else look for perjuring witnesses?).

Death Metaphorically Speaking…(Cut-off)

Death is spoken of, or referred to, in a number of circumstances in the OT that do not pertain to physical death. For example, you have the concept of being “cut-off” from the assembly of Israel due to uncleanliness. This can be seen in a variety of instances. We will briefly look at three.

Leprosy is spoken of in Leviticus 13-14. Those found with that contagion are cut-off from the congregation of Israel, unless or until a priest declares them clean (i.e., having been cured of the disease). This served as a living example of sin. Not that the leper necessarily committed a sin to contract the illness, but just as sin kept one from the sacraments and worship (i.e., access to God) so too does sin break the bond of fellowship with one’s creator. Though living, the leper was in a sense as good as dead. They were cut-off from their friends, their family, their jobs, and various rituals of worship given to God’s elected people.

I would recommend that the reader become familiar with the purpose behind circumcision[26] (the cutting off of that flesh demonstrated a transition from life and death, unclean to clean, apart from God to be a part with God). I would also point to what divorce actually entails in both OT and in the NT. To be divorced is a death of the relationship.[27] The innocent part therein was allowed by the Lord to remarry, but the guilty party was restricted (though many still did it). To break the bonds of the marriage covenant (i.e., adultery) earned the guilty with two or more witnesses a death sentence.

Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with the OT and the relationship of God’s law with His people (as further defined in the case laws) do more harm than good when they attempt to teach on these matters (cf. 1Tim 1.6-8).[28]

Forthcoming…

Next, we will look at the final type of death taught as a consequence of Adam’s sin as cited in the NT. In that post we shall look at the final state of those who die in their sin. 


ENDNOTES:

[1] Read Gen 6-9.

[2] Read Gen 18-19

[3] Read Exod 1-13

[4] Read Exod 14-15

[5] Read Numb 16

[6] Exod-Numb, Joshua-Judges-1Sam. These books provide the information you are looking for.

[7] E.g., Isa 10; Hosea 5-10

[8] See Jer 20.4; 29.21; 39.6-7; Ezek 12.13-16; Dan 1-4. Again, none of these references are meant to be exhaustive. They are merely pointers to get you started in your study. When reading prophetic books, pay attention to the timing of the prophecy given. This is usually in the opening sentences of the book in question. This provides historical context. Next look at the books of Kings and Chronicles for the kings of the period mentioned. In the prophetic books the name Israel sometimes refers to the whole nation as if it were united since their calling out of Egypt as sons/daughters of Jacob, but at other times this refers primarily to the Northern Kingdom (also called Ephraim) that split after the kingship of Solomon.

Check your assumptions at the door. Be aware of your traditions that might lead you falsely. Sometimes it is argued that these prophetic utterances only speak of the end of all things, but be aware that the vast majority of those prophecies were given as an indictment (a legal case) against the people, kings and prophets/priests of that day not our day or some future date. Also note that symbolic language has a literal meaning, but only when the symbol is correctly understood from what has been spoken of prior. Which means you cannot read your understanding of symbols today—in our generation—back into the period of the prophets. This is a bad hermeneutic (way of drawing a meaning from the exegeted text) to practice on any part of Scripture, let alone biblical prophecy.

[9] See Lev 18.24-25; Lev 20.22-23; Deut 12.32; 18.12. What these passages prove is that God judges a nation for breaking His holy law regardless of the knowledge they have. It is true that there are variances in “eternal condemnation” for violators of God’s edicts, but the physical penalty is death. And this was carried out on all nations at different times. Cherry picking texts or glazing over them due to traditional blinders is not an excuse for not knowing these things if you are a teacher of the Word of God. Understanding them in light of today’s context requires wisdom, but we must not do as some have done in ethical matters and dismiss God’s holy law as no longer applicable.

[10] The late Greg L. Bahnsen explains as much in his ethical work “By This Standard.” On this particular subject he writes, “Only Israel was given a written revelation of these laws, to be sure. All will grant that. But that fact alone does not imply that only Israel was bound to obey the moral standards expressed in such written revelation. After all,” Bahnsen continues, “though Paul, God wrote to the Ephesian and Colossian churches that children should obey their parents (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20), and nobody seriously takes that fact to imply that only children of Christian parents are under moral obligation to obey their parents. Therefore, the fact that only Israel was given a special revelation of certain political laws would not imply that only Israel was bound to keep such laws” (see also Rom 1.30-32; 2.12-15). Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, [1985], 1998), 234, PDF e-book.

For the reader that may still have difficulty with this idea of being held accountable where a law might not be known, I would merely refer them to our current traffic law system. To speed is a violation regardless of whether or not the driver is aware of the speed limit placed on a particular area (say a suburb). Though leniency might be shown, the guilty will still be held accountable by the law. The Judge reserves the right to make determinations that he finds equitable given the nature of the case (cf. Gen 18.25).

[11] See Gen 19:17, 26; Luke 17:32; compare with Acts 5:3-5, 8-10.

[12] Lev 20:10.

[13] Exod 21:16.

[14] Deut 22:25-26.

[15] Exod 21:15, 17.

[16] Lev 24:16.

[17] Deut 19.18-20.

[18] Lev 18:6,

[19] Lev 18.7-19, 20:11-12, 17-21.

[20] Lev 20:13.

[21] Lev 20:1-5; Exod 21:22-25.

[22] Lev 10:1-3. Some may wonder why some of these “sins” were labeled criminal offenses worthy of death. No doubt people today have a negative reaction toward such realities. But these crimes were seen as an attack on God first and foremost, and then also the spheres of governance that He had established. The most important of which was the family unit, a close second was society as a whole, and the final consideration was civil authorities. God gave His reasoning for enacting such penalties when necessary, “To purge evil from your midst” (Deut 13.5; 17.7, 12; 21.21; 22.22, 24; 24.7).

Bahnsen writes, “Not only are such penal sanctions necessary in society, they must also be equitable. The measure of punishment according to the just Judge of all the ear is to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life—no less, but no more (for example, Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21). The punishment must be commensurate with the crime, for it is to express retribution against the offender.” Idem., 273.

[23] Deut 13:1-5.

[24] Here James B. Jordan offers some helpful insight into the matter of the maximum penalty of the law. Speaking specifically on the subject of adultery, Jordan points to Mary and Joseph in the gospels. In “…a case of adultery…both would be put to death, unless it were a case of rape [ref. to Deut 22.25-27]. There seems to be some latitude here, however, since we read in Matt 1:19 that ‘Joseph, being a just man…was minded to put her [Mary] away privately.’ Here again we see a circumstantial application of the unchanging law of God; Joseph apparently regarded Mary as basically a good woman, who must have fallen into sin on one occasion, and os he determined that death was too severe a punishment for her. That this was perfectly just, the text itself tells us. This proves, by the way, that the death penalty is not mandatory in all cases where it is prescribed by law. It is the maximum penalty.” James b. Jordan, The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23 (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 148-149, PDF e-book.

It should be noted that while I agree with Jordan’s conclusion that the maximum penalty of the law—death—was in fact the maximum penalty, but was not necessary to be enforced in every case, but should be judicially decided on a case-by-case basis. I think that Joseph’s reaction to Mary’s pregnancy should also be viewed in light of missing evidence. The death penalty needed two-to-three witness in order to establish it (Deut 17.6). Whether or not Mary being pregnant and Joseph claiming that he was not the man was sufficient to seek her death (if that had been what he desired) I do not know. Surely, in this Joseph was driven by love to be merciful to the woman he was about to take as a wife and in this case, he reflects one “slow to anger” a communicable attribute of God.

[25] This does not limit this to “person-to-person” interaction. It had to be specific lines of evidence that served as a witness to verify that the crime had actually been committed. Circumstantial evidence in those cases were not sufficient lines of evidence to carry out a death sentence. This would interject reasonable doubt, which would nullify the grounds for executing the alleged criminal. “What if the person was guilty, though?” one might inquire. The biblical notion of justice is seen as finally resting in God’s hands. If the alleged perpetrator is in fact guilty, but the court system is unable to prove it, then that individual has the fearful reality of facing his/her Maker on judgment day.

[26] Gen 17:10-14; Deut 10:16; 30:6; compare with Col 2:11.

[27] “…if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him…But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved” (1Cor 7.12-13, 15; ESV, italics mine).  Here Paul is saying that the innocent party (the one not wanting a divorce) is not enslaved (bound) to remain married to the unbelieving person who has abandoned them. Bound by what? Enslaved under what? To what binds the two covenantal members of marriage? In what way are they being torn asunder? The answer lies in understanding what is previously known about marriage. I will be brief though since this is a footnote and not an article in and of itself. In Romans 7:1-3 Paul uses marriage as an analogy of how our union with Christ frees us from our former slavery to sin. The spouse is free from the bonds of marriage when the other spouse dies. The law no longer binds them. In the same way, the innocent party in a divorce is freed from being bound to the law of God since their spouse is considered dead (metaphorically), which is how Paul could tell the Corinthians that they need not worry if they desired to remain married but their spouse did not. In such an instance, that sort of covenantal violation freed the innocent party from guilt; though their spouse was counted as dead (again, metaphorically speaking).

[28] I am by no means claiming “teaching par excellence” in this, for I readily admit that I am still a student on such matters. But having studied them for some time I am confident in what I have thus far explained. I would recommend to the reader the two works cited in this post perhaps as introductory works in this particular field of inquiry.

“By This Standard” this work pertains to the ethical validity of the OT Law-Word of God in all areas of life. The argument presented by Bahnsen states that every jot and tittle of God’s Law is upheld by His Sovereign authority, and its status remains unless some prohibition has been provided regarding a specific statute announced by the Lord. God has the authority to change or eliminate His said law, we do not (e.g., Gen 1.29; Mark 7.19; Acts 10.15).

“The Law of the Covenant” by Jordan is exactly what it says it is, an exposition of the case laws provided in Exodus 21-23. These case laws expound and explain the fuller application of the Ten Commandments in daily life. Jordan’s treatment of these matters makes accessible what many modern Christians have a hard time understanding. His offered application to everyday life drawn from God’s holy law gives greater clarity to Paul’s words of teaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20.27) so that every man is fully equipped for a righteous life. (2Tim 3.17).

Posted in Worldview Analysis

Pro-What?

What does Pro-Life mean? For some, Pro-Life means opposition to “choice.” This is how the media presents it. This is how feminists present it. Emotionally charged arguments are often successful not because they are rational, or have the best evidence, but because they aim at people’s feelings.

Currently, there is not a better time in our history than now to present such an argument. Children have been raised in a school system, and they have had various media/social media outlets pump their minds, with the idea that “feelings are what determine truth.” How a person feels has been the justification used by many to justify the redefining of marriage, of biological sexes, intersectionality, and recently the attempted impeachment of the currently sitting President.

A Prevailing Attitude

Sadly, this attitude has infiltrated the Evangelical Church. Often displayed in the common refrain: “This is what this passage means to me,” or “I feel like the text is saying this or that.”

Once I read a lady commenting on Jesus clearing out the temple with a whip of cords, overturning money tables and cracking animals and sharply rebuking people in anger. She said, “That just seems so out of character for Jesus.” More than likely it wasn’t the meek and mild and ever so polite Jesus that so many in the Church sing love ballads about that turned her off. Emotionally that type of Jesus just didn’t sit well with her.

She’s not alone. There are others that hate the idea that you should fear God. “Oh you must mean reverence and humility, not actual fear. We shouldn’t fear God, He’s too loving.” But that so far afield from Jesus who taught the exact opposite: “So have no fear of them [mankind], for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell[-fire]” (Matt 10.26a, 28; emphasis mine).[1]

So, Jesus says to fear God rather than your peers (fellow human beings). The argument against this will say “yeah, but Jesus doesn’t really mean you need to fear God. He just means have greater reverence for God than men.” Actually, the context is in the sense of being afraid. Better to be afraid of God and the consequences of displeasing Him, than being afraid of any man, woman or child you come into contact with because God has the final say and will judge the motives of your heart (cf. Jer 17.10).

Variances in how such things are understood comes down to the use of language. Jesus being angry seems out of character for Jesus being love. Jesus telling us to fear God seems inconsistent with the knowledge of a loving God. In these cases, “anger,” “love,” and “fear” are emotionally charged words.

As it is with…

The same may be said when the debate regarding abortion arises. The debate is framed with emotionally charged language: Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. But if we take care in defining our terms, while stepping back and looking at the situation as a whole we will find that both sides are actually pro-choice. The question is what are the two polarized positions pro-choice about?

“The semantic abuse in the abortion debate is even more clear. Abortionists do not call themselves “pro-death.” Rather, they choose words· that bridge religious and political lines of thought. Most Americans believe that they ought to have the right to make their own choices without interference from government. The pro-abortionists chose “pro-choice” to put the best face on their bloody business.”[2]

To be Pro-Life means that you “choose life over and above death.” Pro-Life in this sense is “pro-choice,” but opponents in the debate want to form the argument in such a way as to demonstrate that Pro-Lifer’s are against something. If you can convince the populace of a negative in your opponent’s position then they are less likely to embrace it. Which is precisely the reason why Pro-Choice advocates don’t want you showing pics of little babies hacked to bits as they are torn from the security of their mother’s wombs. Better to keep that stuff quiet. Such “disturbing” imagery will present a negative view against abortion and the Pro-Choice movement.

What the Argument amounts to

If we are upfront with one another, then we ought to be able to admit that the argument is not a choice about science, or education, or philosophy, but one regarding ethical matters. In saying that I am not denying that science, education or philosophy having anything to add. They do. But by not focusing on it as an ethical issue—which is encased in a semantic minefield—we miss the point of the argument as a whole.

Ethics for Life…

The Pro-Life stance—those opposed to infant murder in the womb—say that it is wrong to kill one’s offspring. They also argue that it is wrong to profit off of such an industry. While opposing the choice of death via murder, they support the choice of life; even if that life must be given up for adoption, or living with various disabilities throughout the course of their life. The Pro-Life movement doesn’t hate women, but loves and cherishes them, including those who have yet to open their eyes and lungs to the world outside of the womb. Pro-Life exalts mothers as well. Pro-Life is about the choice of the sanctity of life, seeing it as precious. They do deny the choice of abortion, that is true, but on ethical grounds. “Thou shall not kill.”

Ethics for Self…

On the other hand, the Pro-Choice stance—those opposed to regulations on when pregnant women can abort their offspring—say that it is wrong for others to tell them what is right or wrong. While opposing, in most cases, death of those already born, they have no problem killing that which is alive and well until the point of violent removal. They say that it is wrong for another to tell another woman what to do with her body. They say it is wrong to remove the autonomous standard of self-governance without liability. This would include not only the termination of a pregnancy, but also restrictions placed on their libido.

Moral Legislation…

The issue is that both sides of the argument see their position and the positions of those opposing them as right and wrong (respectively). Which makes the issue ethical, not anything else! Sometimes you will get an objection from well-meaning people that say that you cannot legislate morality, or that it is wrong for one group’s morality to be imposed on another. However, if we are honest and forthright, we ought to be able to recognize the folly of such a position. Someone’s morality is always being pushed on another.

If you have laws against stealing, then you are enforcing your morality against those who want to make a living through theft. The same might be said on a variety of laws and bylaws of a civil governing body or an institution or corporation. Some companies expect their employees to dress in a certain manner, and those that violate those bylaws are punished for failing to adhere to the moral standards instituted by them. Of course, you will always have those that want to cry out against such laws/bylaws, because they hate the idea that another has authority over them. Disobedient children who do not get their way in a store will throw fits, yell at their parents and fling themselves on the floor or hit anything that they think they can get away with (i.e., another sibling perhaps). Why? Because they have little desire to be governed by the ethical norms of their parents. Children want to legislate their own moral standard, but the loving parent forbids this and enforces those moral requirements necessary to raise a mature adult.

Wrapping Up…

The question that needs to be asked is “Pro-What?” What are the “Pro’s” really for and what are they really against? We could sugar coat the issue. We could put some nice Invisalign forms on it and make it appear nicer than what it really ought to be. But the blunt answer. The answer that parties on both sides of the issue cringe over, because they would rather play nice that save that which is perishing. Better to keep face with our peers than risk offending someone. Better to make nice than to this vile practice what it is, and what those who support it are really for—“Pro-Death!”

Both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice advocates are fighting over choice. It is the difference in the choice that we ought to be concerned about. And if we really love those unborn that are being slaughtered under the guise of choice, under the protective blanket of supposed medical care, then we need to shine a spotlight on the fact that babies are being murdered. And the bright light needs to highlight not just the doctors or the politicians or wild-eyed liberals that are praising this sacrifice to Molech, but the mothers who mercilessly drag their children to the altar of death. What is abortion really about? Pro-Death.

I could offer some qualifications for those I just made uncomfortable, but I won’t. No qualifications are needed or warranted, but repentance is. And for those that fail to speak the truth (out of love), the blood of millions will be on whose hands, do you suppose? I think the answer is rather self-evident.


ENDNOTES:

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

[2] Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press & American Vision Press, 1988), 128.