Posted in Christian Perspective

Proper Perspective for One’s Faith in Light of Truth: A Plethora of Scriptural Considerations to Challenge the Believer’s Heart and Response before the Lord

One who gives an answer before he hears, it is foolishness and shame to him…The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him” (Prov 18.13,17; NASB).
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me” (Psa 51.6).
For my mouth will proclaim truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips” (Prov 8.7).
“…Just as truth is in Jesus…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, ridding yourselves of falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are parts of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph 4.21, 24-26).

__________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION:

Where are we to project our responses to the situations that we face in this life? To whom do we bear the responsibility of our actions? Years ago, I remember a disagreement between professing Christians over David’s prayer in Psalm 51. It was the following line of the song that caused the disturbance:

Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when you speak and blameless when You judge” (Psa 51.4).

The rub, you see, was that some wanted to lay the stress of David’s sin in equal parts against Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba his wife whom David had an adulterous affair with, and against the Lord. But the emphasis in the text is that David’s sin was against God alone. It was God that was the offended party. And while, one might argue that David had also sinned (i.e., wronged) Uriah and Bathsheba in his sinful activities, the reality is that when we sin it is God alone who has been wronged in our pursuits.

The problem is in our approach to God, His Word, and the creation as a whole. Either our approach will be man-centered or God-centered. I think that this is the reason why we have such a difficult time determining the proper course of action in various scenarios. Not to mention we struggle with making the necessary category distinctions in order to properly weigh what our activities in this life should look like.

When David spoke in the way that he did in Psalm 51:4 he was right to do so. Sin properly defined is a violation of God’s Law-Word. It is a refusal to abide by the dictates of what God has determined to be good. This may be done purposefully or accidentally (i.e., in ignorance), but in either case we are still culpable before God. We are still presented to Him as guilty in His court. Now it is true that my sin may hurt others around me. Perhaps “may” is not the right word, how about “will,” for my sin will definitely hurt others around me. Our actions in this life have a rippling effect. Consequences come from the decisions that we make. And, in David’s case the lust of his heart, which at that moment in time was Bathsheba, rippled generations beyond that fateful day on the roof of his palace.

David, having been laid bear before the Lord through the word of His prophet Nathan recognized his plight. His eyes had been opened that which were formerly blinded by his sin. In response to this awakening he cried and confessed his sin before the Lord above. David knew that it was the Lord alone that he had personally violated with his sin. Though others were harmed by his behavior, it was the Lord God who bore the brunt of David’s sin. Being a God-centered man, having been enlightened by the Word of God, he recognized this and immediately confessed as soon as the sword of the Spirit had pierced his hardened heart.

God-centered versus Man-centered approach…

All of life is ethical, therefore, all of life is religious. Some might prefer the term “spiritual,” which is fine as long as we understand that to be truly spiritual means to be “Spirit led,” or “led by the Spirit.” In fact you cannot be truly God-centered without being guided by the Holy Spirit. If the spirit leading you is any other spirit than the third person of the Triune God, then your approach will most certainly be a Man-centered approach.

Of course this raises an important question: “What does it mean to be guided or led by the Holy Spirit?” In John’s gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that when He finally departs this earth to return to the Father, sharing in the glory that He had in the beginning (John 17.4), He will not leave them alone but will send to them the Spirit of truth (cf. John 14.7; 15.26; 16.13). And the Lord explains that it will be the role of the Holy Spirit to “…guide [them] into all truth; For He will not speak on his own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16.13). Later on, when the years of John’s apostleship are coming to an end, he reminds members of the body of Christ the following:

We are from God; the person who knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” (1John 4.6; NET).

A similar refrain is offered by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth:

Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1Cor 2.12-13).

In short, it is the God-centered man who has been enlightened by the Spirit of truth. Meaning that such an individual will not only have their thoughts imbued with Spiritual things, but Spiritual activity as the Holy Spirit brings about a reformation of the mind and will of the redeemed person (Rom 12.1-2; cf. Eph 4.17-24). Moreover, this is the reason why Christians are commanded by the Holy Spirit to

“…examine everything; hold[ing] firmly to that which is good, [in order to] abstain from every form of evil” (1Thess 5.21-22; brackets added for clarification).

The Perfect Image…

Why must we do that? Why are we commanded to examine everything? Why are we told to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God…?” (1John 4.1b). The short answer is because God’s people are called to imitate Christ (cf. 1Cor 11.1; 1Thess 1.6), who is the perfect image of God in human flesh (Heb 1.3; Col 1.15, 19). And, Christ tested all things. He never made a decision that He did not first weigh in His mind, “Does this honor God or man?” As His own testimony affirms,

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way” (John 5.19; emphasis added).

Now I have given considerable thought to this truth for quite a while. Jesus did nothing outside the purview of God’s will. Just as He told the serpent that, “man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4.4), so too did He live. Furthermore, this is the requirement that He lays at the feet of all those who desire to follow Him, to be His disciples:

If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8.31-32).

For it is the true disciple of Christ that is sanctified by the Word of Truth (John 17.17). But how are we to know what is true if we do not take the time to carefully examine all things in light of God’s Law-Word? How can we say whether or not we have sinned (either in ignorance or purposefully) if we have not taken the time to weigh all things in accordance with God’s objective standard of truth (cf. John 8.46; 2Cor 5.21)?

Unjust Weights and Measures…

There is a passage repeated in the Old Testament that bears repeating. I believe that it provides a necessary justification for what Paul later calls on Christians to do in Thessalonica, as he is prompted by the Holy Spirit. What I am referring to is the various passages on unjust weights and measures:

  • You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measure of weight, or volume. You shall have accurate balances, accurate weights, an accurate ephah, and an accurate hin; I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt. So you shall keep all My statutes and all My ordinances, and do them; I am the Lord” (Lev 19.33-37).
  • You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a correct and honest weight; you shall have a correct and honest measure, so that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deut 25.13-16).
  • A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight” (Prov 11.1).
  • A just balance and scales belong to the Lord; all the weights of the bag are His concern” (Prov 16.11).
  • Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the Lord…differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false scale is not good” (Prov 20.10, 23).
  • For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matt 7.2).

As with many truths in Scripture there are often layers to them. Or to use my favorite illustration of the diamond with its many cuts, the truth will reflect the light a little differently depending upon the manner in which we look at it. One truth; many points of contact, or application.

The same may be said of these passages regarding unjust weights and measures. The concern is about truth versus falsehood. In the law court this would be seen in relation to issues of justice or injustice. God abhors favoritism. He hates using opposing standards of measurement when weighing right or wrong; meaning He hates arbitrariness or inconsistency. We are told to examine all things, and when we identify that which is good we are to cling to it. Being people of the Lord of Truth, guided by the Spirit of truth, we are to be reformed in our minds by the Law-Word of the God of Truth.

People of the Book, People of the Truth…

All aspects of this life are ethical, religious, and are therefore spiritual. God’s people are to be defined by one standard alone. This is why historically, Christians have been known as people of the book. In Ephesians 4, after Paul explains what the sinners thoughts are guided by, he asserts that Christians are to driven by another standard:

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, ridding yourselves of falsehood, speak each one of you with his neighbor, because we are parts of one another” (Eph 4.20-25; emphasis added).

How can a person weigh in the balance anything if they refuse to see the issue in its entirety? If you only see one side of the scale, and allow the other side to be hidden, will you have truly examined it in light of God’s Word? If you use God’s Word as the standard for this area of your life to make a judgment call, but then refuse to do the same in another area of your life have you not proved yourself guilty before the Lord? What right does the creature possess to use one standard here, but another standard there when weighing the issues of life? Who is truly “centered” in that choice of action, God or man?

Do you not know that God’s people are called to be bulwarks for the truth? Unmovable towers that do not bend or buckle, regardless of the pressure applied to them? Christ says that He is King, and Scripture testifies that He is King of kings and Lord of lords—He is above all—and, at the same time He says that His people are for the truth. How then can His people abide by a lie? How can they willingly live in it without being tormented day and night? Do you not see that to allow the lie to stand without your opposition to it, you are making yourself an enemy of Christ? That in that instance you are not being faithful to Him, but are sinning against Him?

David lived for nearly a year blinded by the lies of his own heart. How long are we going to live with the lie that is being perpetrated daily through our politicians and media? How long will we allow false weights and measures—arbitrariness and inconsistencies—to rule the day? Who are we to be responding to first and foremost in these things that we currently face? Is it not God alone who is to be our top priority? If we love Him above all, will we not in turn honor Him above all? Will this not also put us at odds with the current cultural winds that are blowing? Yes, but isn’t that the point?

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts” (Prov 17.3).

God is turning up the heat in our culture, not just as a judgment against sinners, but as a manner of testing (and proving) the hearts of His people. If Christ were hated, so too will you also be. But know this,

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1.2-4).
Posted in Worldview Analysis

10 Reasons why being Short, Black, Female, Pretty, and Athletic are Examples of ‘Privilege’ – The American Vision

Liberals have developed dozens of terms to position their ideological brand and subvert their ideological enemies. Here are more than 20 of them:
Tolerance, choice, safe space, micro-aggression, gender fluidity, gender reassignment, multiculturalism, diversity, fairness, inclusion, empowerment, global cooling, global warming, climate change, climate change deniers, hate speech, dreamers, paying your fair share, wealth redistribution, progressive, homophobia, Islamophobia, world community, wetlands (swamps).
One of the more recent ones is “white privilege.
— Read on americanvision.org/posts/10-reasons-why-being-short-black-female-pretty-and-athletic-are-examples-of-privilege/

Absolutely loved this! Deals with a serious matter that has been rammed down the American populace’s throat in a satirical way. Enjoy.

Posted in Pro-Life

All Lives not Some not Most but ALL: promoting New Saint Andrews

wordpress.com/read/feeds/15207328/posts/2790042312

Even if you have no desire to attend New Saint Andrews College their marketing video offers some keen insight on the hypocritical debacle of BLM. All life, All Black, Brown, White, Yellow, Red and any other shade you want to slap on the human race MATTERS. From the womb to the grave life is precious but not all people think so. We need to do a better job of identifying who the HATERS truly are. Perhaps, if college is in your near future New Saint Andrews will be the solution your looking for. If college is not in your future, but you want to watch a slam of a marketing ploy that hits WOKEY McWoke in his teeth…click on the link above.

Happy 4th!!🇱🇷

Posted in Worldview Analysis

Why Ignore the Data: An Analysis of Scientific Consensus in Relation to Current Pandemic

What It’s Supposed to Be

Any time I hear the phrase “scientific consensus” I get a bit wary. Science is supposed to be based on a study of the evidence. An argument for the correct interpretation of the facts. Science is meant to be practiced objectively. Science ought to be performed in such a way to test all things and adhering to only that which is good—i.e., the truth vs. error (cf. 1Thess 5.21).

The Human Element…

Here’s the problem though, the scientific method (which is operational science at its finest) is used by imperfect beings. A point acknowledged by Del Ratzsch highlighted in his book Science and Its Limits:

“…philosophers of science have begun to pay more attention to the human side of science, to see it as in some ways essential to science. The fact that science is done by subjective humans is no longer seen as the regrettable factor it was once taken to be. Science is increasingly taken to be an undeniably human pursuit.”[1]

Moreover, science tends to have a sociocultural flavor as a result. In this case then, science tends to be driven by “…various social preconceptions, philosophical outlooks and agendas in its very bones. Indeed, these would be its bones.”[2]

Worldview Awareness…

Interestingly enough, the majority of people never consider that “science” is practiced by “scientists” and those “experts” like the rest of humanity have a personal outlook on the world in which they live. That is to say, they like all people have minds that are operated under the governance of a worldview. They view the world, reality as a whole, from the bottom of their own philosophical foundations. What is often referred to in science as a paradigm.

Also called a Paradigm…

What’s a paradigm? If you were to look in a dictionary, you’d find the following definition, “An example that serves as a pattern or a model.”[3] Scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn produced a work in 1962 entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this work, Kuhn identified the use of paradigms in scientific inquiry and how those patterns or models helped shape scientific outcome. Ratzsch points out that this was perhaps Kuhn’s most important conceptual observation about science:

“A paradigm is, roughly, a standard of scientific achievement in terms of which scientific work is conducted and evaluated.”[4]

This standard then serves, to explain how varying postulates (presuppositions or assumed truths) about reality fit in with the world in which we live. In short, the paradigm is what guides understanding and interpretation of so-called “facts and evidences” in the world in which we live.

The Evidence that is…

What happens when facts or evidence (i.e., data) seems to run counter to previously held norms found within the current sociocultural paradigm of scientific inquiry? What is done with these anomalies that go against current expectations? Again, Ratzsch insight is helpful,

“Sometimes they [Scientists] do not even seem to notice the anomaly, and sometimes they do, they simply ignore it. Usually, however, there is some attempt to show the apparent anomaly is not really an anomaly after all, that someone simply made a mistake…Sometimes such attempts are successful. But sometimes they are not, and the anomaly apparently stands as a fact contrary to the paradigm. What do scientists do then? Sometimes nothing. Despite it being contrary to the paradigm, scientist simply view it as being an unimportant violation of the paradigm.”[5]

Now, its possible that you may be wondering why scientists would ignore new data, new evidence, new facts if in the pursuit of science, they are really seeking to see the truth of reality in an effort to avoid error. You might find it strange to think that someone would ignore what is in front of their eyes, why they would doggedly hold to preconceived notions if those notions of reality were in some way wrong? This is due to the subjective nature of humanity.

Pesky Presuppositions…

Scientist, whether they dress like you or me, or whether they wear a fancy white lab coat, are just as biased as the next fellow. They are just as committed to their worldviews as you and I are. And so, when they look at the world, they see it as they see it primarily because of preconceived ideas. The paradigm that they’ve adopted controls the narrative. They assume that their

“…particular paradigm embodie[s] the correct approach to nature and  [are] not…particularly concerned with either verifying its correctness ( it [is] already taken as being correct) or with trying to falsify it (if it is correct trying to show it [is] incorrect seems pointless).”[6]

So, why all the technical verbiage? “What are you trying to do man…make me fall asleep?” No, that’s not my intention. I want to make you aware of something that far too many people are not. “Well, what is it?” I’m glad you asked.

In Light of COVID-19…

From the outset of the argument for the reactionary behavior we have seen from politicians, medical experts, scientists, and the media has supposedly been based on the science. The data they argued supported a severe lockdown and the restriction of the American citizenry. This was not only done here in the USA, but also in other parts of the world. Due to fear of the unknown, based off of projections from available (though insufficient) data being plugged into certain models, the strain on the health care system, the lack of necessary equipment and testing, and the rapid spread of an assumed deadly virus, we were told that the best thing we could do was “Stay-At-Home” in order to “Flatten-the-Curve.”

And by and large people accepted the testimony of those supposed to be in the know. We were led to believe that this pursuit was merely scientific and nothing else. However, if those things are true, then you would think that more data that we could gain regarding the spread and morbidity of this novel corona virus, the better.

Incoming Data by way of Antibody Testing

Recently, various studies have been done attempting to find out who in our population has already been infected with the virus but recovered. Antibody testing is the best way to determine the total number of cases by taking samples of the given population.[7] If the number of infected is significantly higher than the death toll, specifically per capita numbers, then the virus is more contagious than we thought, but far less deadly.

Should Result in…

This would tell us a couple of things necessary to getting back our lives. First, there ought to be less fear of overrunning our health care system (which hasn’t occurred). Second, the fear of not having a vaccine for another 18 months or so should be far less daunting (we still have vaccines for virus’ that kill tens of thousands every year). Third, keeping us at home is no longer necessary since there is no way to keep up with the easily spread, but less dangerous, virus (the norm of quarantining anyway is keeping the sick separated from the healthy).

Good News…

You would think that would be good news for the population at large. You would think that scientists and other “experts” would want that information. You would think that the media would be excited by this and tell the good news from every mountain top. But alas, this is not what we see being done. Rather than share new data being gathered about corona virus antibodies existent in a larger portion of certain populations than originally thought, there is an effort to suppress, belittle and mock such information.

The Going on in Santa Clara County…

One study conducted by Stanford University’s medical/research staff “reveals between 48,000 and 81,000 people in Santa Clara County alone may have already been infected by corona virus by early April—that’s 50-85 times more than the number of official cases at that date.”[8] The weekend after this reporting was done a social media kickback on Twitter ensued. Krieger writes, “Critics claim the study’s methodology is dangerously flawed and question the political motives of the Stanford-led team.”[9]

Another study was done in Los Angeles, CA by the University of Southern California. Their initial antibody testing revealed similar results to the one performed by Stanford. Though somewhat lower in terms of total apparent infections being unreported, their high threshold of estimated infections extrapolated from the data “…is 55 times more people than have been confirmed via testing.”[10] However, the author warns that though this reveals a discrepancy in the total number of confirmed cases and appears to indicate a lower morbidity rate “…this new info just means that COVID-19 is much more effective at moving through a population without raising early warning signs than we previously understood.”[11]

Observations Worth Noting

So, what does all this mean? Or at the very least what does all this imply? One of the things that I think is absolutely necessary for us to take note of is the manner in which any new data is taken by those who adhere to the current sociocultural paradigm regarding this new strain of corona virus.

The Everchanging Non-Changing Narrative…

The narrative from the beginning has been very dire. Although sufficient data was lacking, models were presented with hypothetical worst-case scenarios. The projected numbers for the U.S. alone based off of the models was that nearly 2.2 million Americans would lose their lives. Those projections have been somewhat dampened to around 60 thousand deaths around the peak, which was supposed to be Easter weekend. That number wasn’t reached and so now we are talking about a potential second wave this fall that will meet those numbers.

On one hand the narrative has changed in that the “goal-posts” are constantly being moved in order to justify current actions and new proposals for a “new normal.” On the other hand, the narrative hasn’t changed. The virus that was guessed to be more deadly than the seasonal flu is still being propagated as such even when the models are shown to be inaccurate and the experts wrong.

Now we have new data coming in from places like Stanford and the University of Southern California that are showing that the current infection rates were/are apparently way off. It seems as if this novel virus is much more contagious than originally thought, but far less deadly. As more data comes in, I’d imagine that we shall see this virus is probably on par with the seasonal flu, even without a vaccine. (Remember, we have a vaccine for the seasonal flu but deaths are on average still in the tens of thousands every year in the U.S. alone).

Kuhn was right…

However, the kickback against the new data affirms what Thomas Kuhn observed as a philosopher of science. Scientific data is governed by the paradigm (the accepted narrative) held by the “scientific community.” When data is presented that offers problems with the current paradigm that data will either be ignored (this is being done right now), or it will be attacked as a mistake or found at fault due to human error (this too is being done right now), or it will be grafted in and the paradigm will have to evolve to include this new data. This will result in a paradigm shift. Which means that the scientists and medical experts along with the greedy politicians will have to admit that they were wrong, that the virus while new was not as threatening as supposed.

A Generation or So…

How long do you think that will take? Normal people in day-to-day life don’t like to admit that they were/are wrong. So, do you really expect those “experts” who have deemed themselves as “essential” will admit that they might have been wrong about anything? Millions of lives have been devastated from following their lead. To admit they are wrong would be to admit that they are responsible. It’ll take a few generations, after those people have long passed before we see that day coming. But you…yes YOU…need to be aware of these things and start governing your life accordingly.

I’ll leave you with a meme that I find most enjoyable.  Have a great weekend!

IMG_0456


ENDNOTES:

[1] Del Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective, 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 62.

[2] Ibid., 53. Italics in original.

[3] American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition (New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2007), 612, s.v. “paradigm.”

[4] Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits, 41.

[5] Ibid., 43. Italics in original.

[6] Ibid., 42. Italics in original. Brackets added for clarity of thought.

[7] “Antibody, or serological, tests are designed to identify people who may have overcome covid-19, including those who had no symptoms, and developed an immune response…Some officials tout the blood tests as a way to reopen the economy by identifying individuals who have developed immunity and can safely return to work.” Laurie McGinley, “Dozens of coronavirus antibody tests on the market were never vetted by the FDA, leading to accuracy concerns,” The Washington Post, April 19, 2020, https://www.boston.com/news/health/2020/04/19/dozens-of-coronavirus-antibody-tests-on-the-market-were-never-vetted-by-the-fda-leading-to-accuracy-concerns.

[8] Lisa M. Krieger, “Coronavirus: Santa County has had 50 to 85 times more cases than we knew about, Stanford estimates,” Bay Area News Group, last modified April 20, 2020, The Mercury News, https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/04/17/coronavirus-2-5-to-4-2-of-santa-clara-county-residents-infected-stanford-estimates/.

[9] Lisa M. Krieger, “Feud over Stanford coronavirus study: ‘The authors owe us all an apology,’” The Orange County Register, last modified April 21, 2020, https://www.ocregister.com/2020/04/20/feud-over-stanford-coronavirus-study-the-authors-owe-us-all-an-apology/.

[10] Darrell Etherington, “LA COVID-19 antibody study adds further support for a higher-than-suspected infection rate,” TechCrunch, April 20, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/l-covid-19-antibody-study-205912221.html.

[11] Ibid.

Posted in Eternal Punishment

Eternal Punishment, Disproportionate? A Brief Analysis

There are some scary, disturbing things in the Holy Bible. One in particular is the doctrine (teaching) of hell. Some (not all) because they find it so psychologically disturbing have set about to eliminate or at least soften the biblical language. Others, as I have learned in recent days, believe that there are exegetical (well at the very least philosophical) grounds on believing that hell-fire is not eternal in the sense of lasting ongoing punishment. A better way to understand this doctrine it is argued is by seeing that the punishment is eternal in the sense that it comes from God—kind of like an everlasting memorial—but not an undying (non-ceasing) reality where the wrath of God is forever endured.

One argument that I have heard voiced, but I must highlight is not used by all of those in the conditionalist (a.k.a. annihilationism) camp, is what I have labeled as the “disproportionate argument.” By the way I’m not claiming exclusivity here on this label. The probability that it has already been designated as such is, I would imagine, rather high.

Eternal suffering in hell is considered a disproportionate penalty for sin, when compared with Christ’s suffering on the cross. That is to say, “If hell-fire is to be placed upon the sinner in an eternal state (i.e., and infinite amount of time), then how is Christ’s suffering and death—which seems rather finite is relationship to the punishment that sinners will supposedly receive—equitable?” Our lives and the sin we amass, at least the sin we are aware of saying nothing of the sin we are not, seems to be less of a weight of responsibility than an eternal punishment which is heavier on the supposed end of justice.[1]

This Philosophical Argument Cuts Both Ways

You see, Jesus only lived about 33 years on earth. We know from Scripture (testimony of His apostles, and the Holy Spirit) that He did not sin. Being a good tree, He only produced good fruit (Matt 7.17-18). And yet, we learn from the prophet Isaiah that

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53.4-6).[2]

Something the apostle Paul builds upon in a couple of his letters in the New Testament:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom 5.6-11).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come…” How so? “For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor 5.17, 21).

Think about this with me and see if you are able to see how the argument of “disproportionateness” cuts both ways. Eternal hell-fire where weeping and gnashing of teeth is called the norm. A destination where it is written that the smoke of their torment rises forever. Is said to be, what? Too much! How can a finite death which Jesus died on the cross warrant a life of eternal suffering? How is it possible for a loving God to continue to punish a sinner for an unending amount of time?

Seeing the Alternative…

The reverse of it is this. How can a finite life of 33 years, and less than one day of suffering—even suffering a death on a cross—account for the giving of eternal life? Not just for one person, but a great many people. A multitude from every tribe and nation that is too numerous to count. How is that a proportionate application of one righteous life to the many? Particularly, when you realize that Jesus atoning death is said to have given forgiveness and eternal life with God to men like Jeffery Dahmer the cannibalistic serial killer?

If you don’t like what you call “disproportionate punishment,” then if you are going to be logically consistent you ought to have the same disdain for a “disproportionate blessing/reward/inheritance/life.”  If its not fair for a person to pay an unending debt under the wrath of God in hell-fire, then it’s not fair for a person to receive an unending pardon under grace in heaven.

As I noted earlier not every conditionalist (a.k.a. annihilationism) uses this particular argument. For good reason, it doesn’t hold water. The argument is a leaky bucket.

What the argument amounts to…

The issue, as it normally does, comes down to semantics.  Which means what exactly? It comes down to language. Specifically, it deals with the way certain words are used in Scripture. The argument is over the semantic range of “punishment,” “eternal fire,” and “death” to name a few. In other words, what do those words mean, what can they mean, and what should they mean in the contexts that they are found in? (e.g. Isa 66.24; Matt 25.41, 26; Mark 9.45-48; Rev 20.10, 11-15; 21.8; 22.15).

The topic of hell and hell-fire in the sense of eternal punishment and/or torment is not what most Christians want to have a causal chat about over lunch. The teaching raises questions and concerns, and as a result has a tendency of making us extremely uncomfortable. I do think it is a subject that needs to be discussed at greater length, and so I thank a couple fellow bloggers for raising my interest into the subject. As a pastor I realize that this doctrine, like so many of the teachings in Scripture, has a direct bearing on our understanding of God, the gospel of Christ, and the faith-system that we hold dear as a whole.

I’m not sure if I’ll write more on this subject in the near future or not. As for now I’m just trying to read and listen to both sides of this “conversation.” From what I can tell those that hold the opposing view are not slouches by any stretch of the imagination. I do not claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m certainly not the dullest either. Just in case you’re wondering I do not pretend to be neutral on this issue. I’m committed to what I believe the Scriptures plainly teach, but I’m willing to listen to the other side. Although to use the phraseology of popular YouTuber Stephen Crowder they’ll have to present an argument cogent enough from the biblical text to “Change my Mind.”


ENDNOTES:

[1] If, perhaps, you feel that I have missed something in this argument or am misrepresenting those that hold to it, please feel free to comment your concerns below.

[2] All Scripture of the English Standard Version (ESV) throughout.