Category Archives: Christianity

To Be a Christian: Opening Statement

***In the interest of improving our rhetorical skills, I have agreed to debate Trevor Blake on the topic of “To Be a Christian”. Trevor has posted the terms of the debate at his site. He has also posted his opening statement. The following is my opening statement. For those of you who follow the debate, we encourage a donation to Samaritan’s Purse.***

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What does it mean to be a Christian?

There are over two billion people, coming from all races and nationalities, who call themselves Christian. These two billion have subdivided into countless denominations, organizations, and sects each having their own interpretation of what being a Christian means. In some cases, these sects even deny that other sects are deserving of the title. In an oddity of this modern age, some Christians dislike calling themselves such, preferring such terms as ‘Christ-followers’.

Despite the vast array of interpretations of Christianity, the heart of being a Christian is very simple: Christ. It is found in the word itself, Christian is literally translated as ‘belonging to or following Christ.’ To be a Christian is to belong, in heart, mind, and soul, to Christ.

For a brief period of human history, God took on the flesh of His own creation and sacrificed Himself on a cross so that man may not perish but live forever with God. To be a Christian is to accept Christ’s gift of sacrifice and to be reconciled to God.

What does it mean to be reconciled?

We must start at the beginning. Man was created in the image of God, he was imbued with a soul, to live with God in paradise, but man rebelled. He chose pride, to be wise in His own eyes, to sin. God is a God of justice; He can not abide sin, so man was cast from paradise, from God’s presence, and cursed to work the ground. Man was cut off from God.

But God had a plan for redemption. Two thousand years ago, He sent Himself, His son, Jesus Christ to earth. Christ was born of a woman and lived life as a man but did not sin. As an adult, he was innocent, yet was unjustly executed. He became a sacrifice; His blood became the payment* for man’s sins, so that man’s sins may be forgiven.

Christ died, but He did not stay dead. Three days later, He arose from the dead, conquering death itself. By Christ’s death and resurrection, man’s sins had been paid for and he was no longer a subject to death, eternal life could be had again.

By repenting of His sin, man could, by Christ’s sacrifice, once again be right with God. This is reconciliation, to be made right with God. A Christian is simply one who has been reconciled to God through Christ.

That is the basic Christian message: Christ.

To be a Christian is to put your hope in Christ’s resurrection.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:12-28 ESV)

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What is required to be a Christian?

Belief in Christ and the repentance of sins. Baptism is the outer sign of this belief and repentance.**

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What do Christians believe?

Christian beliefs are divergent on many issues, hence why there are so many differing sects and denominations, but all Christians of all denominations hold to the Nicene Creed. Any who opposes this creed would not be accepted as a Christian by most Christians.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son];*** who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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What are the commands for the Christian?

There are two primary commands for a Christian: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Love for God is shown by obedience to God:

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

This is almost circular: We love God by obeying Him and we obey him by loving Him. How we show our obedience to and love for God is by loving our neighbours.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is the command for the Christian. All other commands are but aspects of this one central command.

Love is also the primary fruit of the Christian life.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends… So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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What is the result of not being a Christian?

Eternal death. The non-Christian chooses against God, against Christ and His gift of eternal life. He chooses sin. God will honor his choice and remove Himself from his life.

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Notes:

* I know what exactly happened on the cross and the theology of atonement and justification is complex and disputed. I shall not be entering into that here.
** I also realize the theology concerning baptism’s role in salvation is complex and disputed. Once again, I’ll not be entering into that here.
*** [and the Son] is a disputed theological point. Most Western Christians include ‘and the son’, while Eastern Orthodoc Christians do not.

Dear Dianna Anderson

You recently responded to some criticism we here in the Christian manosphere have pointed your way. There are a few points I would like to make.

First, the most important point:

In their eyes, I was a “slut,” a “whore,” and a “temple prostitute,” as well as a “liar,” and a “deceived, wicked jezebel,” all for having the gall to fool around with someone on a loveseat before I was married to them.

You are not a wicked Jezebel or a false teacher for having pre-marital sex. We all commit sins, which is why Christ died in the first place. Forgiveness can be had by all through repentance.

This leads to the actual reason you are a wicked Jezebel and a false teacher: you do not repent your sins. In fact you do not even state that you probably should repent but are struggling, instead you proudly proclaim no repentance for sin is necessary for you have not sinned, calling your sins holy. Not content even with this, you even go farther by declaring your sins a form of sacrament.

This is what makes you a false teacher. You lead the flock or rather, given that you have been writing these pieces for secular audiences, non-Christians into damnation. Not content to repent, or at least keep your sins private, you publicly flaunt them to draw others away from Christ and his message of salvation.

For the sake of your own soul, please repent your sins and declaim them as sins as publicly as you have previously lauded them.

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With the most important matter out of the way, I’ll note a few other concerns.

Your article is little more than ‘those evil, white, sexist, cishets!’ I must admit I’m kinda disappointed you missed racist, homophobic, transphobic, and classist from the litany of crimethink we have committed. That being said, something more substantial, using reason and the Bible would have been preferable.

Second, we are (mostly) not MRA’s and, in fact, we mostly reject the MRA label. Although we do share some MRA concerns and goals, particularly in the area of family law, a degenerate pro-male liberal modernity is no more desirable than a degenerate pro-female liberal modernity.

Third:

If you are assigned female at birth, you must live with this burden of motherhood and servanthood.

All Christian are called to “the burden” of servanthood. The difference is only in whom they most immediately serve on this earth. As well, not all woman are assigned the burden of motherhood, some, those called to singleness, may be workers for the Lord in other ways, just as some men are not called to fatherhood.

Fourth:

One would think that such a view of women would be checked simply by the idea that identifying as Christian means that we are part of a Body, with one God. Moreover, the Bible explicitly calls Christian brothers to respect their sisters. That seems to be hugely overruled, however, by masculinists’ so-called distress that sisters aren’t doing the same for their brothers.

Christians are to respect their brothers and sisters, yes, but respect requires correcting people on their sin. Calling out sinning Christians on their sin is the respectful and loving thing to do, and sometimes harsh words are encessary to do so, especially in an age where less harsh words have been deprived of their meaning and/or emotional impact.

Fifth:

Conservative Christians need to confront the extremes to which their movement has been taken and the things that are being said in the name of their God. Conservative Christianity and the Christian manosphere have different intentions—supporters of the former ostensibly just want to put the world back on track, while those of the latter are using their theology to fuel explicit hate for women.

Our goal is to put the world back on track as well, we have just realized that the mealy-mouthed liberalism-of-30-years-ago we now call “conservatism” is the wrong way to go about doing so.

Also, it is not about hate. Women have been hurt just as much as men by feminism and progressivism and we wish for them to have godly, happy, healthy lives rather than the unsatisfying lives of loneliness, bitterness, and pill-popping unhappiness they have now.

You yourself missed out on a loving marriage to a man you cared about while following what feminism indoctrinated into you, causing you to feel “totally abandoned and misled by this God”. We would like other young women to not have to go through that as well.

Dianna Anderson: A Wolf in the Pen

This is the way of an adulteress:
she eats and wipes her mouth
and says, “I have done no wrong.”
(Proverbs 30:20 ESV)

Dalrock pointed out this piece by “Christian” Dianna Anderson where she called her fornication “a different kind of sacrament.” She then rages against the purity culture. Now, I’m no fan of the purity culture, having called it a sickness, among other epithets, but the proper reaction against the purity culture is not to embrace sinful hedonism, it is to embrace God-ordained marriage.

Looking over her Twitter and blog, she’s obviously your average young progressive with the typical progressive beliefs about social issues glossed over with a smear of vague “Christianity” over it. As with most progressive “Christians”, she loves the world and has simply smeared a Christian sheen over the doctrines of the world. Now to any orthodox Christian Dianna’s obviously a false teacher, and 2 Peter 2 says all that’s necessary about false teachers:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

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There’s nothing all that special about her beliefs and her article is chalk full of such obvious rationalizations for sin that commenting on all of them would be a waste of time but I think there’s a few things here worth pointing out.

I’d met him at a local book club, and we hit it off almost instantly. Our first date started at eight p.m. and ended shortly after one a.m. Though we’d planned a second official date for the following Tuesday, we ended up hanging out every evening for the next few days. I was smitten, he was smitten, and it wasn’t long before we were A Thing.

Two months later, I moved to Chicago and we broke up. But before all that happened, before this relationship went down in the flaming ball of pain that plagues so many long distance relationships, we had several wonderful evenings together.

I obviously can’t say for sure why she moved to Chicago but moving at age 25, moves are almost always either the pursuit of a job or the pursuit of a relationship, and given that she worked “as a radio producer in Chicago” it can reasonably be assumed obvious she left for the job.

The problem here is not the purity culture, the problem here is that she had what likely would have become a marriage, then dumped it so she could pursue other priorities in her life. While pursuing other priorities is fine, she can not then turn around and blame purity culture for her own choices. So, all her feeling “totally abandoned and misled by this God” was not God depriving her or the purity culture damaging her, but her depriving herself of marriage to a guy she cared about so she could pursue a career. Her entire “ministry” is little more than her rationalizing her mistake and blaming the natural consequences of her own decisions on others. “I have done no wrong” indeed.

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She outlines six warnings of purity culture (which she obviously thinks are wrong):

Having sex outside of marriage will take away pleasure from sex within marriage.

Absolutely true. Most women’s best sex was with someone other than their husband and most women would rather do almost anything else before sex. Anecdotes of alpha widows are legion.

Having sex outside of marriage with make connection with your future spouse harder.

Absolutely, it does. Pre-marital sex is one of the strongest indicators of future divorce.

Having sex outside of marriage means disappointing God, disappointing family, and causing unnecessary pain and heartache for yourself.

Absolutely. Regret over sexual encounters is common among women. Deuteronomy 22 alone is enough to show exactly how much fornication disappoints God. As for family, that would depend on your family.

Having sex outside of marriage will essentially destroy you, ruining your witness, your faith, your relationships.

Given that the woman writing this is currently advocating sin as a form of sacrament, it would be hard to argue this is not true in many cases.

Having sex outside of marriage is the slippery slope to hedonistic atheism.

Not always atheism, sometimes its a slippery slope to a false, damnable “Christianity”.

Her ‘problems’ with purity all fall on the side of purity culture being right.

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My doubt had taken a toll on me; I didn’t know how to process this new perspective of God that I was developing. I was beginning to see the cracks in the armor of the evangelical church, especially as my views on politics became more progressive and I began to be more concerned about loving LGBT people than condemning them to hell.

And yet, she insists on condemning them to hell. Why do progressive “Christians” not realize that by tolerating sin they are the ones condemning people to hell?

Also, take notice of the order of events. She did not have a theological revelation that turned her to progressive politics. She became progressive then decided to fit the superficialities of her old faith to fit her new religion.

She had a choice between the world and Jesus, she chose the world.

This also isn’t a conversion story of how losing my virginity made me realize how far away I’d fallen and now I’m chastened, back on the straight-and-narrow and celibate. I’m not celibate and I’m dating around. And I’m a Christian whose faith, at this point, is probably stronger than at any point in my younger years. And I know that this faith, this commitment, wouldn’t have been possible had I not actively made the decision to give up on purity.

I believe her here, her faith is probably stronger than it’s ever been, but the mistake she makes is that her faith is not Christianity, it is progressivism.

Rather than preying on the flock and destroying whatever remnants of morality still exist in the church, she should be honest with herself and God and either repent or go apostate.

For me, making the decision to have sex without shame, to own that part of myself and to make those decisions, has only improved my faith and my understanding of God’s love. Sex liberated me from my puritanical judgment and strict ideas about what’s right and wrong.

Peter was so very right, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”

It taught me to meet people where they are – just as Jesus did – and in that way, it became a different kind of sacrament.

Just like Jesus did to the adulteress, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Dianna is missing the ‘sin no more’ part. Also, I’m not sure she even understands what a sacrament is.

I judge people less now. I don’t wrap my faith up in whether or not I’m performing the rules in the right way. And I understand God’s love for God’s people on a deeper, more personal level than ever before… Sex, in this way, can be a sacrament, a movement toward understanding God, a form of holiness experienced in a deep, mystical way. Sex can be holy, whether or not you have a ring on your finger.

Peter once again speaks, “For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.”

I’m almost surprised just how well she lines up with Peter’s words on false teachers.

In conclusion, Dianna Anderson has chosen the side of darkness and her own words pronounce her own judgment on herself. I hope she can see the errors of her ways and repents or at least stop trying to drag others to hell with her.

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My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

(Proverbs 5:1-6 ESV)

A Quick Response

Continuing our genocide conversation, Malcolm points to a women who divorced her husband after ‘signs from the Lord’. My (hopefully final) response is short and twofold:

a) Is she a prophet through whom divine revelation flows?

b) Where in that mess of self-justification does God directly and undeniably command her to divorce?

All I read looking through the link is someone selfishly deciding to do something, then looking for every possible excuse to not feel guilty.

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Maybe I have not been communicating as effectively as possible. While a specific divine command may override more general commands for the specified action/time/event, this is not some lightly taken thing.

In the Bible these overriding commands occurred when God spoke directly to and through His prophets while shaping the God-chosen nation the of Israel. Anybody receiving and transmitting a divine command from the Lord is a prophet and being a prophet is not something taken lightly. It is a major, nation-shaping event and any proclaimed prophet has tests to pass for which the penalty for failure is death (and likely damnation).

Breaking God’s law under God’s command is not something done lightly. There is no, ‘I was praying and saw a whisp of smoke, then my preacher spoke on something vaguely related’ to it. It is ‘God spoke directly to me clearly and unmistakeably and called me to Himself through miracles, angels, and visions.’

In the Bible, the prophets were clearly and unmistakeably called by God. They were generally hesitant to obey God and had fairly miserable lives. Those they prophesied to/for/against generally did not like what they had to say (hence, Saul disobeying Samuel) and usually responded grudgingly, at best. So, when I write of following a revealed divine command, it is no small thing I speak of. It is a divine revelation of Biblical proportions that you will likely detest and will shatter your life and the lives of those around you.

A prophecy isn’t needed to call people to do what they want or would have done anyway. Anybody using a divine command to justify something they wanted to do already is engaging in delusional self-justification and anybody desiring divine revelation for themselves strikes me as foolish.

When I talk of a divine command it is something on a fundamentally different order than the everyday Christian interactions with God such as praying over which job to take, learning something revealing from a sermon, the small coincidences of life chalked up to God’s grace, ‘small morsels from God’, or feeling God uplifted you through worship.

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Finally, on the topic of divorce and divine command, we can look to Ezra.

While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.

Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.

(Ezra 10:1-17 ESV)

Responses to Genocidal Mercy

I wrote on the Israelite genocides a couple posts ago and am going to respond to a few of the response here.

First, Zippy responded, to others and possibly me, in two posts, here and here.

When the Bible tells us that Samuel said “Thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts”, it is entirely possible that it is giving a literal account of words actually spoken by the actual prophet Samuel. I rather expect that it is; although that is not the only possible interpretation, and inerrancy only really guarantees that true and accurate interpretations exist, it doesn’t guarantee that I have it right.

But Samuel saying those words as a formal preliminary to issuing commands doesn’t necessarily imply what folks think it implies. We know that, as Popes do now, prophets had authority from God. But the fact that Papal authority comes from God doesn’t imply that every word and deed of every Pope is tantamount to a literal act of God. In reality Papal infallibility is something very rarely invoked, and the use of a formal introduction for the words of a Prophet doesn’t convert those words into a set of axiomatic syllogisms from which a positivist theory of everything can be constructed. Samuel’s formalism could conceivably mean that God actually spoke those words from a burning bush; but in the full context of the OT that seems less than likely. At best we can say that we don’t really know whether the formalism “thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts” is a formality – like the wearing of a crown – when the prophet gives orders.

This is intellectually untenable.

To argue that a prophet of the Lord when saying he is proclaiming the will of the Lord is not proclaiming the will of the Lord, ruins any ability to take anything from the Bible. If we can not trust a God-anointed prophet of the Lord to be proclaiming the will of the Lord while saying he is proclaiming the will of the Lord, how can we trust the words of any of the other prophets or teachers? Why would we give heed to Isaiah? Why would the words of John the Baptist be trustworthy? Why would we trust the revelations of John? For that matter, why would we trust the words of Jesus? (Not to mention, for the Catholics, why would we trust Peter or those who claim to be the successors of Peter?)

It is also not just Samuel’s introduction, but Samuel’s pronouncement of judgment on Saul where he also directly claims to speak for the Lord. Saul accepts Samuel’s judgment as being from the Lord, and, as far as I know, no one in the Bible argues that this judgment was ever outside the Lord’s will. Given that Samuel’s appointing of David as king, and, ultimately, the birth of Christ through the lineage of David hinge on this event, it is hard to argue God wasn’t behind this.

And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. (1 Samuel 15:17-20 ESV)

To add to this, without accepting Samuel’s words, we have no reason for why God rejected Saul. David’s crowning and 1&2 Samuel lose their meaning and coherency if this event does not take place as written.

What is being pitted against each other is some folks’ personal interpretations of the OT against the intrinsic immorality of murder.

What is being pitted against each other is Zippy’s personal interpretation of natural law against the direct words of the God-ordained prophet of the Lord on a mission from the Lord directly commanding the people of the Lord as the voice of the Lord to destroy the Amalekites. Then the prophet of the Lord stripping Saul of His kingship over the people of the Lord in the Lord’s name for disobeying the Lord’s commandments.

There are 5 ways this event could be interpreted: God commanded the destruction of the Amalekites, God lied to Samuel, Samuel lied to Israel, some other spiritual force deceived an anointed prophet of the Lord and the writer of a book of the Bible in such a way that influenced that entirety of the Christian story and the prophet was never corrected, or the Bible is lying to us (or being metaphorical, which in the case of a book purporting to be history recounting a historical event would be functionally equivalent to a lie).

The second is blasphemy, the third renders the words of the Biblical prophets meaningless, the fourth renders God ineffectual, and the fifth essentially makes the Bible impossible to decipher. Any but the first would make any attempts at understanding Christian natural law impossible.

If you read the Bible and come to the conclusion that a bedrock Christian doctrine such as the absolute prohibition of murder under the natural law is wrong, this doesn’t demonstrate a problem with bedrock Christian doctrine.

The claim is not that murder is okay. The claim is (or in fairness, if this was a criticism of someone else, my claim is) and was specifically ‘Murder is unlawful killing and God’s law is the highest law. If God orders a killing, it is by definition lawful, and is therefore, by definition, not murder.’

God ordered the genocide of the Amalekites, therefore it was not murder. It  has not demonstrated that this was murder; the argument ‘murder is wrong’ misses the point entirely.

In the comments Zippy states the following:

I am equally intolerant of an approach that is unwilling to start with what we actually know – e.g. that slaughtering infants is intrinsically immoral, always wrong, and therefore not something God would ever command – and work the problem from there.

Zippy should prove, not assert, not simply repeat ‘natural law’, but show logically and scripturally that 1) God would never command the slaughtering of infants (despite His prophets specifically commanding the slaughter of infants in His name) and 2) the slaughter of infants is wrong even if God does command it.

The only way to know apodictically that God is ordering it is if you are God. Otherwise it is always possible that you are deceived: that you are wrong. So we can’t escape from comparing how likely it is that we are deceived that murder is always wrong versus how likely it is that it is actually God telling us to do it.

We might not be able to know for certain and no matter what we think we might, but we can and shold reason out the most likely answer. If we follow through on Zippy’s argument how can we know God orders anything? We aren’t God. We can’t know anything of His will apodictically. In that case and what Zippy’s position implies in the context of this debate why even bother trying to ascertain God’s will on any issue? We’ll never know apodictically and it will always be possible we’re deceived.

We can’t escape from comparing how likely is is that Samuel as recorded in the word of the Lord, speaking as a prophet of the Lord in the name of the Lord to the Lord’s people who accepted his words as being from the Lord was deceived or deceiving versus how likely it is that Zippy’s interpretation of the natural law is wrong?

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malcolmthecynic asked:

Something claiming to be the voice of God commands you to kill children.
Do you obey, or are you convinced this was the voice of Satan, and refuse?

I would test the spirits:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 ESV)

If after a period of prayer, fasting, consultation with trusted Christian leaders, and testing the spirits I understood the spirits were those of the Lord I would obey. Depending on the ‘level of wrongness’ (for lack of a better term springing to mind), this period would be longer and more intense. I might also try to bargain with God as per Abraham.

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Anonymous Coward stated:

This is the same argument that the Muslims make: we cannot put man’s law above God’s law, and man has no right to judge God. Anything Mohammed did is good by definition.

So clearly your argument is wrong, because it defends and promotes the great evil of Islam.

The Muslims are wrong in that their god is not God and Muhammed is not God’s prophet.

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Aeroguy stated:

I’m not sure you guys really appreciate the full implications of Euthyphro’s dilemma. Defining god as good either denies god agency, the ability to choose, or it makes good relative, not absolute. I didn’t take you for a moral relativist. God could have never sent the angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and it would have been equally good as sending the angel. If right and wrong are absolute and not apart from god then he has no will of his own. The temptations of Jesus would be meaningless since he never had the capacity to sin in the first place.

Bottom line, you can’t use god to justify something. Either justice stands on its own or is rendered meaningless.

You seem to mistakenly think you can separate justice and God. God is just. He is the yardstick by which justice is measured; morality is relative to God. I am unsure how would that render justice meaningless.

Genocidal Mercy

Cane noticed some writing on the Israelite genocides in the Old Testament and gave a solid response (read it). I’m going to write on the topic as well. This post will also tie in with my earlier post, The Holocaust: God Loves the Jews.

First, we must remember that God is good and God is good. Good is defined in relation to God, He is the absolute measure of good apart from which good becomes meaningless, so whatever God does or orders is good.

To try and judge God or His works is arrogance, nothing more. To try to hold judgment over His commands is error. To try to explain away, minimize, or apologize for His works and His orders is to attack God’s righteousness. To think that God’s commands present a problem is not a problem of God, but rather a deficiency in your own understanding and own morality.

How dare Christians take their modern liberal morality and try to impute it on God, then wonder why God falls short in their judgment. This is moral pride, nothing more. Christians who do need to read more Job:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7 ESV)

The question is not ‘why did God command this evil?’ That question assumes that man has the right to judge God’s work as evil. The right question is ‘what can we learn about God’s goodness from this command?’

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Second, to think the genocide at the behest of God is murder is a grave misunderstanding of the law. Murder is unlawful killing and God’s law is the highest law. If God orders a killing, it is by definition lawful, and is therefore, by definition, not murder.

To even think it theoretically possible that God can order murder is to put human law above God’s law and to assume that humans have the right to judge God. That is sinful pride.

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?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:20-24 ESV)

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Finally, the good of the genocide of the Canaanites is easy to see if one looks to the eternal rather than the temporal.

The iniquity of the Canaanites had come to completion, they had given themselves fully to Moloch, the dark god of the Ammonites. As a race the Canaanites had damned themselves through their offerings of their children to the fire. The sons of the Canaanites, at least those who were not themselves sacrificed, would follow in the sins of their fathers and damn themselves. To kill them in the name of Yahweh, before they could reach the age of reason and damn themselves, saved them from both the fires of Moloch and the fires of hell.

Death was the greatest mercy those children could receive for it would keep them from eternal damnation.

On top, of this, leaving the Canaanites and Ammonites alive would have led to their bringing the rebellious Israelites into the worship of Moloch, damning the Israelites alongside them. Even as it was the Israelites occasionally fell to Moloch. How much worse would it have been had the Lord not ordered their destruction.

They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35 ESV)

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To conclude, to ask the question concerning the slaughter of the Canaanites in the manner the question is usually asked is both sinful pride and too focused on the temporal. It is putting one’s own morality, one’s own understanding, and one’s own law above God, His understanding, His morality, and His law. Instead of judging God by their limited, temporal standards, Christians should focus on learning of the eternal good from God and His commands.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
(Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)

More on Courtship

A lot of people commented on my courtship experience. I can’t respond to everything, but here’s some things I’d like to point out.

First, I hold to the courtship model and believe it is the correct path. It is morally right and proper for civilization, and, if done properly, should be good for marriages. Chad wrote well on it in the comments:

Courtship is a tool from Christendom in which the families were involved so that emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, commitment, and logical “do these two people work together” proceeded along side each other in practical steps towards marriage and creation of a family. It openly acknowledged that emotional intimacy leads to physical intimacy, and that physical intimacy going too quickly can lead to a lack of commitment on either party’s part as well as delude those sexually lusting after each other that they’d work well when they become one flesh.

Even in it’s hayday, courtship was something that was a…. tenuous thing, at times. For humans have always been lustful, prideful, and rebellious; and unmarried youth are more so than any other. Hence where courtship was ignored, shotgun weddings were enforced.

That, also, is not to say that the system was abused by poor intentions of parents getting greedy or losing sight of the overall good of their child by focusing too much on any individual trait (beauty, lust, status, wealth, etc) rather than overall health of the child and, in particular, whether the person they were joining flesh with would help them achieve salvation and sainthood.

These days, courtship works where people acknowledge what it is – a system in place in which emotional intimacy and physical intimacy do not outpace commitment and logic. It does not, and SHOULD NOT, have the same form as old school courtship as our current societal failings have led to different expressions of individual failings. It should acknowledge that courtship is not engagement, nor is getting to know someone a little before asking to court them a bad thing. Most traditional families want to know the individuals before courtship is pursued, and when that is not possible, or they’re not as traditional, a few ‘casual dates’ for coffee or to a public activity is usually accepted. Meeting the father a first time is not unheard of, but I haven’t encountered a grilling such as FN as of yet.

The whole system is supposed to take two fallen human beings and place them together in a way to support each other through love; not topple into a fallen state of sin, nor make princesses/saints out of fallen women, nor kick a Brother in Christ out to the curb with nothing but his coat and tattered remains of dignity and respect.

Any courtship that doesn’t align with reality is not courtship, but a twisted perversion of delusional ‘love’ which is lacking in all that makes love beautiful.

As did Cail:

The main difference between courtship and dating is that when you ask to court a girl, you’re declaring up front that if things go well, you’ll be proposing in the near future, and if things get to a point where one of you decides marriage isn’t in the cards, you break it off. It’s dating for the stated purpose of discerning marriage. All this other stuff about questionnaires and hyper-chastity is just extra weirdness that people are trying to call courtship because it makes it sound traditional and churchy.

I wholeheartedly support the involvement of family in the creation and development of relationships and marriages and the right of parents to veto a daughter’s relationship choices. The lack of family involvement in marriage leads to the screwed up sexual and

That modern ills and individual flaws are a part of modern courtship does not invalidate the model. No system is perfect.

My story is not a criticism of courtship as a system, it is a criticism of the incorrect application of the system.

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Second, I submitted to the father because he had the right to my submission in regards to courting his daughter. A father has the right, the duty, to screen his daughter’s suitors. He also has the right to put whatever conditions he deems necessary on his daughter’s suitor and end the relationship if he desires. I believe in this case the father went about that screening in an incorrect way, but even if he was wrong it was fully within his rights to make the wrong decision.

If you do not accept a father’s right to do this, you are not a friend of patriarchy, you are the ally of the modern sexual marketplace and an enemy of civilization.

On the other hand, I know I should have been more forceful in my interactions with the parents. I was caught off guard: this was not a social situation for which I was prepared or had developed a system. I think prariepolyguy had the right idea:

Your goal with that kind of thing is to establish peerage, that’s why I say answer questions and pose counter-questions. He can’t simply banish you for being disrespectful because you aren’t being, but you don’t just sit and submit to his whim like a pussy and don’t lose face with the girl…

I also would have asked for it to be private, between me and the father. As Barnabas said:

It strikes me that the problem isn’t so much the grilling, its that the daughter is present. This should be a conversation between men with daughter and mom not present. Best approach if faced with such a situation would be to demand a private discussion.

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Third, as her husband I would have taken over the leadership role from her father, but that transfer of leadership does not occur until the wedding, or at the very least the engagement. It is simply wrong to think that I have any headship over a woman to whom I am not married.

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Fourth, for those of you saying I should have not have submitted to the father, but instead taken the girl against the father’s wishes, you are wrong. If she was the kind of girl who would disobey her father and abandon her family for a man she had known for only a month, she is not the kind of girl I would want to marry. The woman who will rebel against and abandon her father under the influence of passion is the same woman who will rebel against and leave her husband under the influence of passion. Once the father had denied the relationship, the only way we could have had a relationship is if she was the type of girl I would not want to have a relationship with.

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Fifth, I’ve had more reasonable experiences with asking the father’s permission for courtship. The other couple times I’ve done it the families were warm and inviting, we got to know each other casually over dinner, and they extended permission without much hassle. My courtship experiences as far as families go have generally positive experiences; this time was the exception.

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Sixth, I know I should stop it with the porn. Every now and again I try. When I do, I may abstain for anywhere from a week or two to three or four months, but I always come back to it. It is my besetting sin.