Defending Calvinism: A Response to William Birch

William Birch, in his article, In Calvinism, God is the Problem of Evil, writes, “They made kings, but not through me; they set up princes, but without my knowledge [יָדַע, acknowledgment, i.e., blessing, approval, consent: they acted apart from God’s will].” How could such people, within John Piper’s theologically Calvinistic system, accomplish crowning kings and establishing for themselves princes without God’s alleged sovereign control? I thought God was deterministically sovereign. Piper continues: “God is sovereign over the nations and over all their rulers and all the satanic power behind them. They do not move without his permission, and they do not move outside his sovereign plan.”

Birch avidly describes any Calvanistic view of God as being morally bankrupt when it comes to reconciling the problem of evil. He alludes to what he believes are two illogical premises inherent in Calvinism’s view of God and His attributes.

First, because I know most will not read this article in full, I want to address the issue of the problem of evil. Perhaps the most popular dilemma unbelievers have presented against Christianity, can essentially be summed up as follows:

1. GOD IS COMPLETELY GOOD.
2. GOD IS COMPLETELY POWERFUL.

These two premises do not in themselves create any contradiction. The problem arises only when we add the premise:

3. EVIL EXISTS (HAPPENS).

So, it must be noted that it is absolutely necessary that anyone (unbeliever/arminian) who wants to present this problem of evil against Christianity/Calvinism, must without simultaneously destroying the preconditions for intelligibility, prove evil exists. Thus, the question must be asked, “Who is evil actually a problem for?”

Unbelievers (which are not my primary focus) fail to prove that evil exists due to not having a transcendent, objective standard of morality to determine good vs. evil. Dr. Greg Bahnsen writes:

“Perhaps the unbeliever takes “good” to be whatever evokes public approval. However, on that basis the statement “The vast majority of the community heartily approved of and willingly joined in the evil deed” could never make sense. The fact that a large number of people of feel a certain way does not (or should not rationally) convince anybody that this feeling (about the goodness or evil of something) is correct. Ethics does not reduce to statistics, after all. Ordinarily, people think of the goodness of something as evoking their approval — rather than their approval constituting its goodness! Even unbelievers talk and act as though there are personal traits, actions or things which possess the property of goodness (or evil) irrespective of the attitudes or beliefs or feelings people have about those traits, actions or things….The unbeliever might turn, then, to an instrumental or consequential understanding of what constitutes objective goodness (or evil). For instance, an action or trait is good if it tends to achieve a certain end, like the greatest happiness of the greatest number. The irrelevance of such a notion for making ethical determinations is that one would need to be able to rate and compare happiness, as well as to be able to calculate all of the consequences of any given action or trait. This is simply impossible for finite minds (even with the help of computers). But more devastating is the observation that good may be taken to be whatever promotes general happiness only if it is antecedently the case that generalized happiness is itself “good.” Any theory of ethics which focuses on the goodness of achieving a certain end (or consequence) will make sense only if it can establish that the chosen end (or consequence) is a good one to pursue and promote.”

For the Arminian, in hopes to relinquish God from being the author of evil, he has created a godling. A godling isn’t omnipotent or omnibenevolent. How can the Arminian account for uniformity in nature, scientific evidence/research, laws of physics, existence of miracles, etc., if God isn’t in complete sovereign control of the universe and all its creatures? Why is it that everytime we squeeze a tube of toothpaste, the paste actually emerges from the tube? If we do not have a sovereign God controlling the affairs of this world, we would be left with the atheist’s random, chaotic, pure chance view of the universe; which leaves us with no logical reason for expecting toothpaste to emerge from the tube. If the Arminian were consistent with his implicit pure chance presuppositions, he wouldn’t have any logical basis for expecting paste to emerge from the tube without hesitation as he does.

If God is not sovereign over nature, what reason can the Arminian give for expecting nature’s laws to remain in a consistent manner, to the extent that human experience isn’t chaotic and random? Not only does the Christian need a transcendent, immutable, omnibenevolent standard of morality, but the Christian also needs a sovereign God who isn’t in an ongoing power struggle with the laws of nature (as if those laws were in operation apart from God’s sovereign control).

So, the Arminian cannot present this problem of evil arguement against Calvinism, due to not being able to account for an omnipotent God. Likewise, the unbeliever shows that the problem of evil is ironically a problem for his own worldview due to not being able to account for evil without presupposing the Christians presupposition of a transcendental God who contains an immutable standard of morality within Himself.

Again, Dr. Greg Bahnsen observes, “The problem which men have with God when they come face to face with evil in the world is not a logical or philosophical one, but more a psychological one. We can find it emotionally very hard to have faith in God and trust His goodness and power when we are not given the reason why bad things happen to us and others. We instinctively think to ourselves, “why did such a terrible thing occur?” Unbelievers internally cry out for an answer to such a question also. But God does not always (indeed, rarely) provide an explanation to human beings for the evil which they experience or observe. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). We might not be able to understand God’s wise and mysterious ways, even if He told us (cf. Isaiah 55:9). Nevertheless, the fact remains that He has not told us why misery and suffering and injustice are part of His plan for history and for our individual lives.”

The Arminian displays a lack of faith in God by refusing to accept that God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists in the world. Birch goes on to say, “Piper continues: ‘God is sovereign over the nations and over all their rulers and all the satanic power behind them. They do not move without his permission, and they do not move outside his sovereign plan.’ (emphases added) Whether one considers the heinous reigns of Nero, Domitian, the cruelties of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, or the regimes of Stalin, Hitler, and currently ISIS, the horrors of war and the problem of evil are, according to Calvinists and their Calvinist theology, the direct cause of the decree and plan and will of God. This is the only consistent view for the Calvinist. Ultimately, whether a Calvinist is a hard or soft determinist, God has decreed, from eternity past, whatsoever comes to pass in our history; all was His idea.'”

Birch, in a rather conspicuous and fallacious way, has severely down graded the Calvinstic explanation of God’s sovereign decree. God has an element to His will which has been called by theologians as His “permissive will.” God does possess a “causal will,” whereby He directly causes events to take place, as opposed to indirectly permitting events to take place. Essentially, God permits evil to exist in the world for a morally sufficient reason.

Consider the story of Abraham when God ordered him to sacrifice his only son. Think of Job when he lost everything which gave his life happiness and pleasure. In each case God had a perfectly good reason for the human misery involved. It was a mark or achievement of faith for them not to waver in their conviction of God’s goodness, despite not being able to see or understand why He was doing to them what He did. Indeed, even in the case of the greatest crime in all of history — the crucifixion of the Lord of glory — the Christian professes that God’s goodness was not inconsistent with what the hands of lawless men performed. Was the killing of Christ evil? Surely. Did God have a morally sufficient reason for it? Just as surely. With Abraham we declare, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). And this goodness of God is beyond challenge: “Let God be true, though all men are liars” (Romans 3:4).

Birch, gives his explanation of the Arminian solution to the problem of evil, “God sovereign? Of course God is sovereign. What we learn from Scripture, however, is that the sovereignty of God is not tantamount to determinism. God is most sovereign over our free will thoughts, desires, and actions, as His exhaustive foreknowledge of all events, coupled with His exhaustive and meticulous plan for all the ages and everyone existing in those ages, supports both His sovereignty and our free will….(my emphasis, everything Birch has said thus far isn’t in opposition to Calvinism, but he hasn’t fairly presented Calvinism to say the least, my emphasis) Though we cannot choose contrary to what God foreknows we will freely choose, our decisions are ours, and not those that God has decreed for us to choose, as Scripture reveals in countless places, and as is denied by Calvinists.”

A sinner chooses what he wants. A sinner has free will according to Calvinism. However, a sinner is totally depraved and unable to choose to believe the gospel and repent of his sins. That decision, according to Calvinism, requires a supernatural act of God, whereby He changes the sinners heart and grants him the ability to choose between faithful obedience or disobedience to God. Prior to God regenerating an unbeliever, he is not going to choose God on his own accord. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10-11). We all act according to our inward desires unbeliever and believer alike. However, for our desires to change from evil to good, God must supernaturally intercede on an unbeliever’s behalf. “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Romans 9:14‭-‬16

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”Ephesians 2:1‭-‬6

Prior to regeneration, the Bible says we are dead in our sins. What can a dead man do? Exactly. The Bible also uses the analogy of being a new creation after regeneration. How many of us decided to create ourselves into existence? Jesus told Nicodemus that a man cannot inherit eternal life unless he be born again. How many of us decided to be born into this world? These are analogies, I realize this, but why do you think ths Bible uses analogies that are consistent with the Calvinstic view of regeneration? Prudent silence.

Birch, like the unbeliever, continues to perpetuate the sin which brought evil into this world initially. Birch refuses to accept that the secret things belong to God, and demands that God must be logically explained first by submitting to his own finite intellectual authority and moral evaluation. In conclusion, Bahnsen describes how Birch is categorically no different than an unbeliever in ascribing the Calvinstic view of God as being morally irreconcilable:

“The problem of evil comes down to the question of whether a person should have faith in God and His word or rather place faith in his own human thinking and values. It finally becomes a question of ultimate authority within a person’s life. And in that sense, the way in which unbelievers struggle with the problem of evil is but a continuing testimony to the way in which evil entered human history in the first place. The Bible indicates that sin and all of its accompanying miseries entered this world through the first transgression of Adam and Eve. And the question with which Adam and Eve were confronted way back then was precisely the question which unbelievers face today: should we have faith in God’s word simply on His say-so, or should we evaluate God and His word on the basis of our own ultimate intellectual and moral authority?”

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 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 9:19‭-‬24

The Open Book Test of Practicing Christianity On Facebook

I was recently asked, “Why do you leave your Facebook profile page open to the public where anyone can see all your activity?” My answer: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

I’ll be blunt, I want anyone and everyone to see all of my activity on Facebook. Please pay attention to this statement: I would never be so confident in my holiness to feel that way about my lifestyle outside of social media. However, when I think about the unlimited amount of people I can potentially influence and persuade toward believing the gospel of the Kingdom, I can’t imagine why I would want to limit that range of influence in any way whatsoever. This should lead you to ask yourself as a Christian, why do I have a Facebook page? If we are to eat food and drink beverages to the glory of God, doesn’t this presuppose that our primary motive in having a Facebook profile should be to glorify God?

Now before anyone assumes that I am saying that you’re not being obedient to God if you do not leave your Facebook profile open for anyone to view, I am not suggesting that. It’s in bold and already copied, and ready to be pasted. So save us all some time and realize that isn’t what I am saying. I understand there are some good reasons for not having a public profile (safety comes to mind as one just off the top of my head).

What I am saying is, if you are a Christian, presenting yourself to the public on Facebook should be one of the easiest tests of your obedience to God that you will experience in your lifetime. It is an open book test. Think about it, prior to posting, commenting, clicking the like button, etc., everyone has relatively an unlimited amount of time, multiple choices, endless supply of information via the web and technology, and a version of the “phone a friend” available to them. Considering this, representing Christ in every area of social media without failing, should not be as hard as people make it out to be. If one of your motives in keeping parts of your profile private, is so certain individuals (pastors, parents, spouses, employers) cannot see the things you say and do, perhaps you should take advantage of the fact your participating in an open book test and choose righteousness over lawlessness more frequently.

I want everyone who knows me personally, whether it be family, co-workers, friends, etc., to realize that I realize I am just a sinner saved by grace. I do things everyday that is contradictory to the things I post on Facebook. I am aware that my Facebook page presents to the public a lot cleaner version of Tanner than Tanner in reality is. I’m being completely honest when I say that really does bother me. I do things everyday that I really do not want to do, but my selfish desires have victory over my selfless desires. However, I will not let my own failures outside of social media paralyze my efforts at sharing God’s wisdom, in hopes that anyone/someone may be regenerated and sanctified through viewing the gospel message all over my Facebook page.

We as Christians have in Facebook opportunities that men and women in earlier history spent their entire lives seeking to possess and utilize for the furthing of the Kingdom. To whom much is given, much is required. We as Christians need to seriously consider how obedient we have been regarding this open book test God has given us for the proclamation of the gospel.

Remove your lamp from underneath the basket, place it upon the hill of the city of God, and let the light shine.

Understanding Revelation Presupposes Understanding Genesis

“The Great Commission is necessary because man, in his rebellion against God, has forgotten Who it was Who gave him his assignment. He has forgotten to Whom he is historically and eternally responsible.” Dr. Gary North

Most Christians do not realize the sheer necessity of the Great Commission. Unfortunately, the Great Commission is viewed by the majority as an unforeseen addition to God’s redemptive plan for the ages. The “Greatness” of the commission has been replaced with a truncated suggestion rather than a comprehensive commandment, having the King of kings and Lord of lords backing it with all power in heaven and earth. The Great Commission has been implicitly or explicitly severed from the covenant God established with man in the creation narrative of Genesis.

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:28-31 ESV

The Great Commission became historically necessary because man became historically depraved. “The fact is, God’s two assignments are linked together by their status as covenants. God issued the dominion covenant first because man had not yet rebelled. He issued the Great Commission because He had established the judicial foundation for a New Covenant, a universal covenant that binds men of all races and backgrounds together under God.” Dr. Gary North

When one realizes the holistic nature of the biblical covenant, the connection between the Cultural/Dominion/Creation Mandate and the Great Commission will inevitably eradicate the notion that the Great Commission only pertains to personal salvation and sanctification (pessimistic pietism). Dr. Kenneth Gentry, in his book, The Greatness of the Great Commission, states, “Interestingly, early fallen man was driven to cultural exploits well beyond the expectations of humanistic anthropologist and sociologist. We see the effect and significance of the Creation Mandate very early in history in the culture-building exploits of Adam’s offspring. In the Bible, man is seen acting as a dominical creature, subduing the earth and developing culture, even despite the entry of sin. Man quickly developed various aspects of socially responsible culture: raising livestock, creating music, crafting tools from metal, and so forth (Gen. 4:20-22). In that man is a social creature (Gen 2:8), his culture building includes the realm of political government as well; this is evident in God’s ordaining of governmental authority (Rom. 13:1-2). Upon his very creation, not only was man commanded to develop all of God’s creation, but he actually began to do so. Culture is not an accidental aside to the historical order. Neither should it be to the Christian enterprise.”

How does all this relate to properly understanding the prophecies in Revelation? God’s plan for history since the establishment of the biblical covenant hasn’t changed. In opposition to the dispensational assumption that God had plan A and a plan B for redeeming fallen man and the world, His word tells us, “I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.” Psalm 89:34 ESV

After the fall of the first Adam, God announced how He was going to make the transition from wrath unto grace in history, and establishing the perpetuity of that transition for eternity. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 ESV

This is known as the protoevanglium or the first promise of the gospel. The coming Redeemer (the woman’s seed) would crush Satan (the seed of the serpent) by ensuring man’s redemption. David Chilton, in his commentary on Revelation, Days of Vengeance, says, “Obviously, this is not simply “history written in advance.” It is a symbolic statement, very much of a piece with the evocative, poetic language used throughout the Bible, and especially in Revelation. In fact, St. John plainly tells us in his opening sentence that the Revelation is written in signs, in symbols. He did not intend it to be read like a newspaper or a stock market analysis. He expected his audience to respond to his prophecy in terms of the Bible’s own system of symbolism.”

Pay close attention please, if Christians are unfamiliar with the entire counsel of God, from beginning to end, the symbolic language of Revelation will be seen as a secret code that is nearly impossible to solve. Chilton adds, “Here, too, it is important to stress that these are not code-names. Biblical symbolism doesn’t work that way. Instead, Biblical symbolism sets things in relationship to each other; it builds associations in our minds, and asks us to see objects from this perspective.”

Lets see how the evocative/symbolic language used in Revelation clearly alludes to the Great Commission (and consequently the Dominion Mandate). There are just a few examples I’ll provide that demonstrate this corollary. One needs to go no further than the first chapter of Revelation to see this obvious corollary. If Christians begin to see the connection of the biblical covenant in Genesis to the symbolic literature within Revelation, such apocalyptic end-time scenarios (nuclear warfare, a specific modern day antichrist, unparalleled persecution of the church, a rebuilt temple on some mountain in Israel, etc) commonly spoken of today will become conspicuously erroneous.

“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”Revelation 1:4-7 ESV

First, take notice of John’s use of the word Throne, in speaking of Christ. Chilton observes, “This is, in fact, a marked emphasis in the Book of Revelation: The word Throne occurs here forty-six times (the New Testament book that comes closest to matching that number is the Gospel of Matthew, where it is used only five times). The Revelation is a book, above all, about rule: it reveals Jesus Christ as the Lord of history, restoring His people to dominion through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

As was previously mentioned, in the beginning man was created by God, in His image, as a hierarchical representative of Him on earth. He was to exercise dominion and subdue the earth, bringing every area of life into subjection to God’s law. However, as in Adam all died and consequently were cursed, so in Christ all are made alive, and the progressive removal of the curse upon man and nature are the result. Only because Christ after being resurrected, arose, ascended unto the Ancient of days and took his seat on the throne, can the Great Commission be implemented with the optimistic expectation of worldwide victory. Prior to the giving of the Great Commission, Christ states that ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH HAD BEEN GIVEN UNTO HIM. Christ is currently on His throne in heaven, ruling and reigning, placing all enemies under His feet. Notice the similarities in 1 Corinthians 15 and the protoevangelium mentioned earlier in Genesis 3:15.

“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.” 1 Corinthians 15:22-27 ESV

It was in Genesis that God said that Satan would bruise the heel of Christ, but the victory over death via resurrection of Christ, would crush Satan’s head. If Christ wasn’t resurrected, we Christians are most pitied, and hold to a vain faith. However, Satan, like all enemies of God eventually in history, has been defeated and subjected to Christ’s footstool. O’ death where is thy sting, right?

Back to Revelation, St. John goes on to say Christ is the firstborn of the dead. Chilton states, “By His
resurrection from the dead, He has attained supremacy, having “first place in everything” (Col. 1:18). As Peter said on the Day of Pentecost: “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:32-36). God fulfilled the promise He had made long before: “I will make Him My Firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27).

In reference to the phrase in Revelation, the ruler of the kings of the earth, Chilton goes on to say, “Christ’s priority and sovereignty are above all. He is not “only” the Savior, waiting for a future cataclysmic event before He can become King; He is the universal King now, in this age – sitting at His Father’s right hand while all His enemies are being put under His feet. This process of taking dominion over all the earth in terms of His rightful title is going on at this moment, and has been ever since He rose from the dead. As Firstborn (and only-begotten!), Christ possesses the crown rights of all creation: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me,” He claimed (Matt. 28:18).”

Due to the fact that Christ is the King of kings, the gospel message of Christ cannot be rendered unapplicable to governments, and sociopolitical affairs. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed… Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:1-2, 8-12 ESV

St. John, in verse 7, addresses the main theme in the entire book of Revelation. Contrary to popular evangelical belief, the Revelation’s primary focus is not the Second Coming of Christ, but rather, His coming in judgement upon first century Jerusalem.

Perhaps one of the most widely known and respected theologians in modern church history, C.S. Lewis, describes the irreconcilable dilemma that a futuristic interpretation of the “Last Days” regarding New Testament prophecy poses for Christians against modern criticism:

“Say what you like, the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things are done.’ And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.”

Indeed, if the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) and the book of Revelation are yet to be fulfilled historically, with exception to the 2nd advent of Christ, we as Christians have much to be embarrassed about. If this was true, it would be more than an embarrassment for Christianity; it calls into question the very character of our Lord and Savior.

Again, if one allows scripture to interpret scripture, takes into account the symbols used in the entire Bible, the phrase in verse 7 of Revelation chapter 1,coming on the clouds, is really hard to misunderstand. The symbolism of the Glory-Cloud of God, often times had reference to judgment in the Old Testament.

“Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.” Psalm 18:7-12 ESV

Notice that when Jesus comes on the clouds, as recorded in Revelation 1:7, it says immediately after His coming on the clouds that those who pierced Him would witness this actual event. Could it be that Jesus meant exactly what He said in Matthew 24 concerning the “Last Days” and the Great Tribulation, specifically that the generation to whom He spoke wouldn’t pass away until those events took place? That being the case, would actually include those alive who contributed to His crucifixion.

Gary DeMar, in his book Last Days Madness, notes several references in the Old Testament to the symbolic cloud language Jesus used in Matthew 24:30:

The cloud language is similar to the previous verses and their description of the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars. What is the association of clouds with God? First, God showed Himself by the physical presence of clouds, although no one ever saw Him (Ex. 13:21; 14:24; 19:9; 20:21; 24:15; 33:9; 1 Kings 8:12). Second, God’s abode is described as a canopy of clouds (Ps. 97:2). Third, God’s mode of transportation is figuratively described as a cloud chariot (104:3). Fourth, when God speaks, “He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth” (Jer. 10:13; 51:16). Fifth, the “day of the LORD…. will be a day of clouds” (Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 2:2). Sixth, God’s judgement of the wicked is described as the upheaval of the created order: “In whirlwind and storm in His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet” (Nahum 1:3).

I got an email from an individual after posting another article, Newsflash Church: We’re Not Living in the Last Days, basically saying he could not believe that I could honestly believe that the events described in Acts 2 literally took place already in the 1st century. This would prove, as I had the intention of doing, that the Last Days ended in the 1st century with the fading away of the Old Covenant order (temple, sacrificial system, dietary provisions, etc).

The thing that individual fails to realize, is I don’t believe without qualification that all the events spoken of as being fulfilled by Peter were literal in the actual manifestation of them. This is how people so often make prophecy more difficult than it really is. Some events that occured in that passage literally happened, and some events happened in a symbolic or figurative sense. The symbols represented literal occurrences that Peter undeniably said were a historical fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.

I hope this helps those reading begin connecting all the dots of prophecy throughout Scripture. In conclusion, consider one more time how the symbolic references in Acts 2 (the Last Days) parallel those used by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 24 (the Great Tribulation).

“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke(my emphasis, this is cloud language people); the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood (emphasis mine, examine Jesus words concerning these events), before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Acts 2:14-21 ESV

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Pluralism and Defenseless Christianity

It must be said from the start that there are varying definitions of pluralism; some of which would not fall under the censure of this post. However, the most influential and prevailing definition of the pluralism is as follows:

The position that maintains the state should honor and equally protect the substantial philosophical differences between all religious perspectives or ‘faith communities’ by refraining from basing state actions or legislation upon any single one of them instead of the plurality of them.1

Given this definition of pluralism, the law of God revealed within the Old and New Testaments is precluded from any judicial/civil authority whatsoever. The state cannot in any way be guided by the explicit commands of divine revelation. Not only is such a philosophy unbiblical, but neither is it logically possible; which will be demonstrated shortly. Unfortunately, the majority of Christians in this country are indoctrinated and brainwashed with pluralism without any biblical justification. This nation was a nation founded upon judeo-Christian principles in direct opposition to those of pluralism. Contrary to popular belief, much has been taken for granted when it comes to the exegetical justification and philosophical rationale underlying the pluralistic doctrines. The validity of pluralism is so taken for granted that when one attempts to offer much needed criticism of these doctrines, certain responses are inevitable: “You’re prejudicial, you can’t take Christianity for granted! You must employ standards that are common to all men, not standards generated out of your Christian convictions.” Before the logical and theological inconsistencies of pluralism are set forth, we must begin with the fundamental assumption that knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord if we are to prove anything (Prov. 1:7).

In this day and time we are commonly challenged to be “open-minded,” “neutral,” “tolerant,” “variable,” “diverse,” and “doubtful,” when it comes to our Christian commitment. Consider these statements from the Enlightenment’s forefathers who influence so much of Western thought today:

Will H. Seward (1801-1872) – The circumstances of the world are so variable, that an irrevocable purpose or opinion is almost synonymous with a foolish one. (Due to the world’s variableness…is that opinion itself irrevocable?)

David Hume (1711-1776) – Nothing can be more unphilosophical than to be positive or dogmatic on any subject. (Could Hume be dogmatic about that particular assertion? Or would that be considered unphilosophical?)

Alan Bloom (1930-1992) – The most important function of the university in an age of reason is to protect reason from itself, by being the model of truly openness.2

It is rather conspicuous how philosophies such as Bloom’s have been taught from secular universities and public school systems for quite sometime. One must ask the question, are such pluralistic assertions genuinely neutral? Are these assertions really open to honoring and equally protecting all religious differentiation? Give these circumstances some thought…who decides what curriculum will be followed in the public school system? Well, the state does, of course. Is that state, while making such assertions, not at the same time teaching a Darwinian worldview which precludes Christianity from the outset? In the college or university, the professor chooses which material will be read, which questions will be discussed, and what evidence is considered conducive to the classroom. One must ask the question, are Christian virtues and doctrines in such material , discussions, and evidence? Most often times they are not. This is subliminal secularization. However, under the pluralistic premise such Christian virtues and doctrines should and would be included in the curriculum. The media constantly encourages religious toleration and freedom of speech. However, have we ever stopped to ask whether the Christian perspective on life is given open-minded consideration? The call to tolerant pluralism precludes Christianity from the outset along with many other religious affiliations. The philosophical impossibility of pluralism is evident in the fact that it precludes those philosophies that are intolerant of homosexual conduct, feminism, abortion, etc. Now then, are we really being consistent with our initial pluralistic premise? What about a public school or universities censorship claims? Libraries claim to neglect bias and embrace neutrality when it comes to building its collection of books. Well…will every book in the world be included in the library’s collection? If not, what principles will be used in deciding which books will come and which ones will go? This is another false illusion. Neutrality and its maturity into pluralism in civil affairs is a fairy tale. As Cornelius Van Til once said, “To be without bias is to have only a particular kind of bias.”

Now lets examine the integrity of pluralism in the civil realm. Remember pluralism maintains that the state must “honor and equally protect the substantial philosophical differences between all religious perspectives or faith communities…” The lack of logical cogency inherent in such a claim ought to be blatantly apparent. If one religious philosophy requires the death penalty for murder, while another religious philosophy forbids the death penalty for murder, “honoring and equally protecting” is inconceivable. One much choose which standard will apply. Whether the state chooses to execute the murderer or to not execute the murderer, it fails in its obligation to honor all religious sects without partiality. Neither Christians nor anyone else can logically or ethically be a consistent pluralist.3 The state must and will choose which judicial principles it will enforce. The inevitable question remains, will it be the subjective, arbitrary will of man, or the objective revealed will of God? Surely, in this instance if the wrath of God is not avenged rather than the wrath of men, we indeed have a sword being wielded in vain (Rom. 13:4). How about another example, should Satanists be allowed to perform the ritual ordinance of child sacrifice? Most people’s reaction to such a claim is one of ridiculous absurdity. The pluralist will most likely maintain such a case is counter-intuitive. Perhaps the circumstance is too hypothetical or impractical for the pluralist. I would beg to differ, but for arguments sake we’ll assume another circumstance. Lets assume that the religion is feminism and the act is abortion in the name of planned parenthood. See, we civilized Americans see nothing wrong these days with sacrificing a fetus in the name of planned parenthood. From my Christian perspective there is no difference; oh, I forgot such perspectives are not granted in a supposedly (pluralistic) free society. Progressive continuity is inevitable. Nevertheless, safe-guarded religious pluralism is a plague.

Perhaps a consistent pluralist will more thoroughly specify his position by asserting, “One may not use his own religious liberty so as to infringe upon or impede the practice of anyone else’s religious liberty.” Well…this just begs another question: what about protecting those faiths whose convictions are to infringe upon or impede other religious liberties? Is killing infidels who refuse to convert to Allah morally unacceptable? A consistent pluralist is a rare find.

The “freedom of religion” rhetoric is tossed around in our day without any accountability whatsoever. The truth of the matter is we all believe there are certain thoughts, words, and deeds that are unacceptable. We all will draw the line somewhere. All I am suggesting is that we allow the law of God draw the lines rather than the sinful speculations of men. Without the law of God guiding and instructing our civil magistrates there is no logical barrier between democracy and tyranny. The pluralistic assumptions of modern man cannot found in the Scriptures. In fact, quite the opposite will be found. It is in Christ and Christ alone where the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are deposited (Col. 2:3). It is Christ Himself who commanded men to love him will all their mind; consequently leaving no room for neutrality. To be adequately prepared at all times to give an account for the hope that lies within us, we must first “sanctify (set apart) Christ as Lord in our hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). The foolishly neutral who do not listen and act upon the words of Christ will be like those who build house’s foundations upon sand (Matt. 7:24, 26). To destroy lofty opinions such as pluralism we must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). It was the Lord Himself who said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). Those who are not solely devoted to Christ are against Christ (Matt. 12:30). We must begin to reject the assertions of pluralist and embrace the clear commands of Scripture.

What has been the effect of pluralism dominating secular as well as evangelical thought? Defenseless Christianity. The result of such pluralistic thought is a conglomeration of faulty natural law and perverted church and state distinctions. This type of thinking has been labeled the “Two-kingdom Theology.” It’s basic tenets are as follows:

(1) Every Christian in this life is a citizen of two distinct kingdoms, the Church and the State (aka “the common kingdom”).

(2) The two kingdoms are under two separate systems of law. The church is under the special revelation given in the Bible, and its main goal is personal salvation. The state is under the natural law, revealed to all men; its concern is government, not salvation, and therefore the Bible cannot be its sole source of authority and legitimacy.

(3) Since the church derives its authority only from the Bible, and the state doesn’t, the church should never trample on the authority of the common kingdom institutions.4

Tenet number 3 parallels what the secular propaganda preaches in our day behind the transparent curtain of pluralism. This two-kingdom theology along with the indoctrination of pluralism has rendered modern evangelicals impotent and defenseless. According to this line of thought, Christians have no objective standard to challenge the state with. If the state declares that same sex marriage is not infringing upon anyone’s religious freedom and is legalized the church must not trample upon the state’s authority. The church without qualification must submit to the powers that be. Proponents of the two-kingdom theology will find themselves undermining the seriousness of sin in order to maintain the philosophy. Due to the fact these Christians have no objective standard with which they can appeal to, they coin such phrases such as “homosexuality is more than a choice.” Can this particular theological school of thought find any backing from Scripture? Hardly. Contrary to the command of the psalmists for the kings and rulers of the earth to kiss the Son and serve Him with fear, the two-kingdom theology advocates retreat to impossible pluralism (Psalm 2:10-12). Unlike the self-imposed silence of the two-kingdom theology proponents, the psalmist will not be put to shame before kings, but rather speak of God’s law before them (Psalm 119:48). The sad fact is that no secular civil magistrate recognizes such a distinction in kingdoms and laws. The state throughout history has always been reluctant to govern within the confines of the common kingdom. When the power religion of the statistic seeks to extend it’s jurisdiction over the other kingdom, the two-kingdom theology will be trampled. Due to pluralistic two-kingdom proponents, modern Christianity has surrendered the fields of history, civil government, economic policy, ethics, etc. to the agenda of fallen men. Without an objective standard with which recourse can be made, pluralists cowardly retreat into subjective pietism. The sensitivity to sins which are regarded by the state as acceptable is undermined. The jurisdiction of the state will become ever-widening due to the church’s rejection of the law of God. Again, without the law of God instructing and guiding magistrates there is no logical barrier between democracy and tyranny. What happened to Christianity that sought to disciple nations? Where is the Christianity that functioned as salt, building societies and cultures? Contrary to modern evangelical thought, we do have a King who has been given all authority under heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). We do have a King who is currently ruling and reigning placing all enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). We do have a King who has inherited the rights of the firstborn of all creation, and as such has been given pre-imminence in all things (Col. 1:15-18). Indeed, it is this King who is the head of all rule and authority (Col. 2:10). Pluralistic two-kingdom proponents declare with the Jews of the 1st Century, “We have no king but Caesar.” However, the apostles challenged the decrees of Caesar on the authority of the King of kings (Acts 17:7). With all certainty, when the state steps outside of the confines of biblical law and undermines its pluralistic theses, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). It is time we return to that Puritan philosophy of applying the whole counsel of God to all areas of life. We must reject the status quo and what seems to us as congenial to our traditionalism and humanistic tendencies. The chains of slavery with which the sacred/secular dichotomy has upon us must be abolished.

It was indeed the law of God that made this nation great. The use of God’s law by the civil magistrate is graphically portrayed in a painting by Paul Robert, which is in the old Supreme Court Building, Lausanne, Switzerland; it is titled Justice Instructing the Judges and portrays Justice as pointing her sword to a book upon which are the words “The law of God.”5 Such thinking prevailed during the reformation. Where did the principles sola scriptura and tota scriptura go? Did not Paul not teach that to be adequately equipped for every good work we must accept all Scripture as breathed out by God? Certainly, this must include the law of God found within the Old Testament. The civil magistrates are no longer acting as ministers of God, avenging the wrath of God, but rather are without a doubt wielding the sword in vain (Rom. 13:4). The civil magistrate is no longer a terror to the evil, but to the good.

R. J. Rushdoony said, “It must be recognized that in any culture the source of law is the god of that society.” Who is our God? I beseech you brothers and sisters, always be ready to give an account for the hope that is within you by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed in the nation whose God is the LORD”

1 Greg L. Bahnsen, No Other Standard (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), 191.2
2 Gary Demar, Pushing the Antithesis (Powder Springs, Georgia: American Vision, 2007), 7.
3 Greg L. Bahnsen, No Other Standard (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), 192.
4 Bojidar Marinov The Two-Kingdoms Theology Goes Expert (http://americanvision.org/4780/the-two-kingdoms-of-the-ungodly-power-and-of-the-cowardly-retreat/.
5 Francis A. Schaeffer, Escape from Reason (Chicago: Intervarsity Press, 1968), 80-81.

The Worst Days of the Last Days Are Behind Us

After posting a previous article on the common erroneous presuppositions that Christians hold to regarding the “Last Days” spoken of in the Bible, I think some of the negative feedback I received needs some attention. It is true that when the Bible speaks of the last days, it generally refers to the time in between the ministry of Christ on earth and the end of history (aka the church age). However, there are times when scripture refers to the “latter days/last days/end of the age,” that presuppose other inherent meanings. The problem with the majority of the negative feedback I received from some individuals is the presupposition that the overall defining characteristic of the last days (specifically the church age) is that of social decay, cultural decline, persecution of Christians, and an increasingly impotent gospel. This erroneous presupposition is a result of not properly distinguishing between the different eras of time that are implied when the scriptures speak of the last days.

First, many of the events that the majority of Christians assume are characteristic of the last days have already been historically fulfilled and recorded in the Bible. The Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24 is where the majority of confusion exist for Christians. Before taking a look at the historical events spoken of by Jesus in this chapter, what needs to be realized is that they were given an undeniable time parameter, which excludes the application of them to modern day events.

“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place ( let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:1-35 ESV

The key to properly understanding this prophetic passage is in verse 35, when Jesus says that the generation to whom He was speaking to would not pass away until those events took place. Of course, there are those who do not interpret the phrase “this generation” to refer to the people to whom Jesus was speaking to. These are also the people who assume that during history the church will not have any positive impact on society, any success at fulfilling the Great Commission, and will ultimately be the losers in history, while Satan and his followers will have an uncontested victory prior to Christ’s return.

Kenneth Gentry, in his book He Shall Have Dominion, states”The proper view is that “this generation” means the contemporary hearers of Christ, the very Jews of that era who rejected Him. This view is defensible from a number of angles. First, although the Greek genea (“generation”) is commonly used in Matthew, it is only employed of a contemporary generation of people. Matthew 1:14 illustrates the temporal generation view: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.,,14 Here one generation follows upon another. A generation comes; then it goes. That generation went. Second, in the five other instances in Matthew where the word genea is coupled with the near demonstrative to read “this generation,” it clearly refers to the generation then living (Matt. 11:16; 12:41,42,45; and 23:36). In Scripture, the idea of a “generation” of people involves roughly twenty-five to forty years (Num. 32:13; Psa. 95:10). Third, the phrase “this generation” appears in the very context intimately related to and leading into Matthew 24 (cf. 23:36-38 with 24:1-2). In Matthew 23:36, “this generation” unquestionably speaks of Jesus’ contemporaries. See also: Matt. 11:16; 12:39-45; 16:4; 17:17; and 23:36 (pgs. 342, 343).”

Not taking into account other passages stating the fulfillment of these events, it is hermeneutically indefensible to extend these events into the future awaiting their historical fulfillment. Also, what will add clarity to this chapter is focusing on the context, primarily, what the disciples asked of Jesus regarding His intial statement beginning the chapter.

“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1-2 ESV

What prompted Jesus to prophesy of these events that characterize the past Great Tribulation, was the question from the disciples of ‘when will the temple in Jerusalem be destroyed?’ The false Christs, famines, wars, earthquakes, etc, would all take place preceding the destruction of the temple in the 1st century. For Christians to read the newspaper everyday searching for the fulfillment of these events, is a hermeneutical blunder resulting in a pessimistic view of the church age. Jay Rogers, in his article, The Mount Olivet Discourse and Vaticinium Ex Eventu, quotes “If we assume that Jesus made this prophecy in the spring of 30 AD, then the destruction of the Temple in 70 fits the prophecy. If we take a generation to mean its usual biblical sense of 40 years, then this is remarkable. It indicates a supernatural revelation concerning a future event.”

Perhaps, many individuals would like to see a scriptural explanation of some of the events spoken of by Jesus in this passage. That isn’t my primary goal in posting this. What amazes me is people’s unwarranted and unproven assumptions that force them to conclude that since the establishment of the church in the 1st century, the church hasn’t made progress toward advancing the kingdom of God and subduing the earth in accordance to God’s law-word.

Consider this analogy given by Jay Rogers in his article, Three Questions on the Postmillennial Viewpoint, ” “The total growth of Christianity (25,210,195) adds the equivalent of more than the population of Australia (21,555,500) or the state of Texas (23,904,380) of new Christians to Christianity every year…. What would you say about a business corporation that began with $120 dollars (the number of disciples in the upper room in Acts 2:15-26) and then ten days later, it turned a profit of $3000 and the profit continued to grow each day for several years? 2000 years later, this business corporation had grown to encompass over one-third of the world’s wealth. Certainly, the man who started that business would be heralded as a great genius, if not worshiped as God.”

It’s true what they say, “People see what they wanna see.” If you presuppose that the church will be defeated historically by the onslaught of Satan and his followers, you will subconsciously look for any evidence of that fact in your everyday life.

When Christians become aware and convinced that the Great Commission is possible, and occurring before our very eyes, the world will not know what hit it. The progress that the church has experienced so far in history will grow exponentially, resulting in the earth being filled with the knowledge of the Lord.

Newsflash Church: We Are Not Living In The Last Days

When modern Christians observe the state of affairs the world is currently in today it is common practice for them to utter the cliche “this is evidence of the fact we’re living in the last days.” Words cannot describe how frustrating this is to see take place as often as it does. Part of me honestly feels sorry for the Christians who initially react to social decline, social injustice, political corruption, economic decay/collapse, rampant sin, etc., with surrendering the future to Satan and his troops. It is as if the thought of cultural victory through the proclamation of the gospel and obedience to God’s law-word have never even been considered as a plausible outcome in history. What saddens me most stems from the realization that most often times laymen Christians upon hearing of this optimistic alternative, do not abandon discernment and reject this idea of cultural optimism. Rather, what unfortunately occurs is pastors/elders who are responsible for nourishing and feeding the flock with biblical hope, have force-fed their sheep with pessimistic defeatism. Victory in history isn’t even a viable option in the mind of the majority of Christians. The predominant presupposition is everyone knows in the ‘last days’ prior to Jesus returning things must get progressively worse culturally according to the Bible.

Before I receive any private messages from Premillennial and Amillennial adherents, understand that I do not believe in a future utopian millennia where there will not be any sin present on earth prior to the 2nd advent of Christ and the consummation of all things (or 3rd/4th advent depending one’s erroneous eschatology). I realize that in any age prior to the second return of Christ there will be sin and sinners doing what they are only capable of doing. However, what all adherents of any eschatological school of thought need to be clear about is the indisputable fact that the ‘last days’ spoken of in the Bible have already been fullfilled historically according to the scriptures own testimony. The only school of interpretation that I know of that would be epistemologically stubborn enough to disagree with this is dispensational premillennialism. For those who hold to that hermeneutic… God help you.

It is time we begin to encourage the church with the fact that the days of vengeance which characterized the harshest tribulation the church would undergo began in the 1st century, not when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. This truth isn’t arbitrarily preconceived by a postmillennial commitment by myself, but rather prophesied of and fulfilled according to the men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit in writing the scriptures.

First, the Old Testament prophesied of the last days in the book of Joel:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.  “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Joel 2:28-32.

As I said earlier, we have no need to question whether this event prophesied of by the prophet Joel has been fulfilled historically, for the day of Pentecost provides the proof (this passage is directly quoted by the apostle Peter).

“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Acts 2:14-21

How is it that men (and women unfortunately) who grace the pulpits every sabbath have been so ignorant in regard to a teaching in scripture that is so conspicuous. There is no room for argumentation when an apostle under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit without qualification states that the last days began in the 1st century. This biblical fact should not be up for debate among any serious Bible expositor, just dispensationalist who are a dying breed in modern evangelicalism. The mere existence of theoretical ‘progressive dispensationalists,’ who cannot categorically agree or articulate what actually constitutes being a progressive dispensationalist is evidence of this dying hybrid.

Another text that is often referred to by Christians in relation to the events of our day is 2 Timothy 3. The intentionally emphasized verses are as follows:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

In Dr. Joel McDurmon’s article, Do You Polish Brass On Sinking Ship he exposes the erroneous imposition of pessimism upon this passage:

The premils reason from this passage thusly: How closely this describes our own times! And since it says this will come about “in the last days,” well then, we must be living in the last days.Our “sinking Titanic” proponent, Ms. Markell herself, uses this very argument against those Christians who would dare try to impact society: “There is no Biblical support for this belief, for the Bible teaches just the opposite. In the end of days, bad things will wax worse and worse.…”Unfortunately, these reasoners do not make much of the rest of the very passage from which they quote:

“Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men (2 Tim 3:8–9).”Notice, that despite how bad some people get “in the last days,” they nevertheless do not prosper. “They will not get very far.” Just as Pharaoh’s magicians opposed Moses, so these types of men oppose Christ. And, just as Pharaoh’s magicians were defeated by Moses, so these bad men will be overcome by Christ, and this will happen in a way that is plain to all.

Now that we can clearly see that the last days began in the first century with the coming of the incarnated Messiah Jesus Christ, what is important for modern day Christians to realize is that God has also prophesied what course history will take linearly thereafter. Refer back to Joel 2:

Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people. The Lord answered and said to his people, “Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations. “I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his vanguard into the eastern sea, and his rear guard into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things. “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield. “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. Joel 2:18-27

The church should not fear the unforeseen future, for the Holy Spirit has been given, Christ has risen from the grave, and is sitting at the right hand of the Father, ruling and reigning until He places all enemies under His feet. Why is it that men who opposed the truth in the first century (and is the case for all men who oppose God’s church in history) did not get very far? Because we serve a risen Lord who after ascending unto the Ancient of days has been given an everlasting dominion, the nations of the earth are the Lord’s inheritance. We Christians have no scriptural justification to expect the cultural defeat by the gates of hell. For the church will in time, prevail against the onslaught of Satan and his troops (Matt. 16:18).

Recently I have been asked by genuinely concerned Christians what we can do to reverse the direction that our culture is headed. As always, to sufficiently answer that question more time and space is needed. However, we must start here. We must stop forsaking our God given cultural mandate to exercise dominion and subdue the earth in accordance with the law of God. Dominion does not need to be taken back from Satan and his followers, Christ has already secured this victory at Calvary. The church only needs recognize this fact, and begin to exercise the dominion that we have inherited as the bride of Christ. Adam’s fall will not have a greater negative effect in history than Christ’s resurrection will have positively in history. It is time, and never a more appropriate time in the history of the United States, for Christians to forsake their pessimistic eschatological presuppositions, and embrace the biblical hope of cultural victory.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in THESE LAST DAYS he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Hebrews 1:1-4

“The heavens are the Lord ’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” Psalm 115:16

To whom much is given, much is required.

Dr. Ben Carson Adopting the Fallacious Theocracy Argument

“Anybody, of any religious faith, if they embrace American Values, and place the Constitution at the top level, above their religious belief, I have no problem with.” This was Dr. Carson’s answer given in response to a question regarding his rejection of having a leader/president of the United States who believed that we should “establish a theocracy.” He says, “If the question was asked, ‘Do you believe in supporting a Christian, who believes in establishing a theocracy?’ I would have said no.” This response given by Dr. Carson puts on display two very common fallacies and misunderstandings of the term ‘theocracy.’ It has been the popular recourse of those who reject theonomic ethics to pull the ‘theocracy card’ in hopes to immediately prove the falsity of its teachings. “The sociopolitical laws of America should not be founded upon the principles taught within the Old Testament (specifically those laws given to the nation of Israel), because God established a unique covenant relationship with Israel that no other nation of the day, nor nation of modern day has with God.” First, this argument committs the fallacy of arguing against a straw man. Anyone familiar with the teachings of theonomic ethics realizes that it’s adherents do not ignore the fact that Israel was historically unique in various ways from other nations. Dr. Greg Bahnsen, in No Other Standard , observes:

From a logical standpoint, the error most readily committed by critics who appeal to Israel’s theocratic uniqueness is that they demonstrate no ethical relevance between (or necessary connection between) the unique features of Israel and the moral validity
of the law. Plenty of things were unique about Israel, but Scripture does not teach that God predicated the justice or obligation of His commandments upon those features. Yes, Israel alone
received the “ceremonial law” for her salvation. However, this redemptive blessing was not the reason (or only reason) that rape called for the death penalty and theft called for restitution in
Israel. Likewise, Israel was given special instructions for holy war against the Canaanites. But there is not one text of Scripture which suggests that the penal sanctions of the Mosaic law were merely an extension of such holy war provisions (pg. 115).

Indeed, Israel was unique. It must be understood, that if one using the term theocracy, is referring to those cultic, geopolitical, adminstrative aspects that were unique to Old Testament Israel, then in that sense we are not under such a ‘theocracy’ today. This has never been denied by any leading proponent of theonomic ethics. However, when the serious student of the Bible examines scripture, what is found wanting is any evidence that Israel’s unique status as typifying the kingdom of God under the New Covenant, in no way invalidated the requirement of corporate obedience to God’s moral/judicial law for surrounding nations. Again, observe Dr. Bahnsen’s statements:

God made a unique covenant with Israel, ruled uniquely in Israel, made Israel a holy nation, and specially revealed Himself to it-all very true. But God’s laws (made clear in written form for a redeemed people) were not revealed only to Israel. They were continually made known through general revelation (Rom. 1:18-32; 2:14-15), and God held the pagan nations accountable to obey them (Lev. 18:24-27; Gen. 19). Through Israel these laws were to be made known to the other nations (Ps. 119:46) as a model for justice and righteousness everywhere (Deut. 4:6-8). So, these commandments can be considered “apart” from the covenant people (pg. 114.)

Many people who use this term ‘theocracy’ have varying definitions of what they actually mean when they employ the term. However, the statement behind the term is that there was something unique about Israel’s status as a nation that invalidates the application of the Old Testament moral laws to any other nation, irrespective in time to the existence of these nations. What is always unproven by these critics is what ethical connection existed between Israel’s’ theocratic ‘uniqueness,’ and the moral law that God gave to them (decalogue, and case law) that somehow invalidates the applicability of those laws today. What often these arguments against theonomic ethics amount to is nothing more than hasty generalizations. Two nations may have a few things in common and they may have a few things that are not common between them, as is the case with Old Testament Israel and all other nations. However, simply due to the fact that Israel is unique in relation to God in certain ways, does not imply that all other nations are completely different than Israel. All nations, just as Old Testament Israel, are confronted with the same issues of social justice. All nations, must choose which standard will be chosen to define right from wrong, and what penal sanctions will be enforced against what is deemed wrong. Again, what the would be critic of Theonomy would need to demonstrate is how Israel’s features that were common to Israel alone somehow abrogate the applicability of the moral laws given to them for all other nations. This has not been done, and cannot be done. The testimony of the scriptures is overwhelmingly in support of Theonomy.

What is most disturbing about Dr. Carson’s statements is his misappropriation of religious beliefs. He says he would support anyone regardless of their religious affiliation as long as they “embrace American Values, and place the constitution at the top level, above their religious beliefs.” What I want to show, is that Dr. Carson is perverting the original intent of the Constitution. The Constitution was not written with the intent to place it above the Holy Scriptures in supremacy and authority. The Constitution was drafted for precisely the exact opposite reason. The following quotations will demonstrate this fact. What was the intent of the founding fathers in fleeing England, establishing the colonies, and eventually drafting the Constitution of the United States? Consider these quotes from our founding fathers. Keep in mind, you will never hear these quotations mentioned in secular pop-culture, government run public schools, mainstream media, etc. The historical revisionist have done a great job at silencing the voice of America’s Christian heritage.

The Mayflower Compact, from William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith, and the honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together in a civil politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof do enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the reign of our sovereign lord king James of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth and of Scotland, the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini, 1620.

The Constitution recognizes the Christian sabbath. Article 1,section 7,says, “If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.” “In adopting this provision,” John Adams says, “it was clearly presumed by the people that the president of the United States in public business on Sunday…. The obligation on the President to respect the observance of Sunday is greatly superior to any which could have been created by a constitutional enactment.”

From George Washington’s “Inaugural Speech to Both Houses of Congress,” April 30, 1789:

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Bring Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes….No people can be bound yo acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and, in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government, the tranquil deliberation and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage….

From the “First Charter of Virginia”:

We, greatly commending and graciously accepting of their desires for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian religion to such people, as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams wrote: “The general Principles, on which the [founding] Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young gentlemen could Unite…. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity….”

For Dr. Carson to elevate ‘American values’ and the Constitution to a position of supremacy above the Bible, not only contradicts the original intent of the document, but also perpetuates the tyrannical political philosophy that the founding fathers fled from in England.

“To understand the American Christian Constitution form of government, it is necessary to consider its two spheres– the spirit and the letter– the internal and the external. Both spheres must be active in order that the Constitution function to preserve the basic republican spirit of individual liberty. That is, we still go through most of the legal processes of the structure of the Constitution in enacting legislation, and in the executive and judicial branches. But the spirit which was intended and understood by our founding fathers is missing– the Faith of our Fathers–and as our nation has fallen away from its foundations–the essence of that faith–the Constitution has become a hollow seal (Slater, Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, 240).”

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Moral Bestiality Part 2

Don Stenberg: Not the beastiality straw man again. smh. In the New Covenant Jesus explains that any sexual relationship other than a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman is contrary to God’s design and law – Matthew 19. Since beastiality is clearly contrary to this standard, “dispensationalists” who believe that the New Covenant Law has replaced the Mosaic can indeed affirm that beastiality is still sin. Old Covenant Theonomists really need to give this spurious argument a rest.

Straw Man Missing…Wait Straw Man Found 

I am failing to see where or how the straw man fallacy has been employed. If you read my article, I state clearly, “Dispensationalists begin with the assumption that the case or judicial laws of the Old Testament are no longer valid under the New Covenant unless they are restated, re-instituted, or re-implemented in the New Testament.” A common definition of the straw man fallacy is as follows: A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent. How is presuming discontinuity rather than continuity as dispensationalism clearly teaches a misrepresentation of that particular hermeneutic? “Therefore, there is an emphasis on a gradually developed unity as seen in the entirety of Scripture. Biblical covenants are intricately tied to the dispensations. When these Biblical covenants are compared and contrasted, the result is a historical ordering of different dispensations. Also with regard to the different Biblical covenant promises, dispensationalism emphasizes to whom these promises were written, the original recipients. This has led to certain fundamental dispensational beliefs, such as a distinction between Israel and the Church.” You even later admit you hold to this hermeneutic. Don Stenberg, “Some Christians take the position that if a Law of Moses is not repealed in the New Covenant Scriptures (the “New Testament”), then all people, Jew and Gentile, are bound to obey that. Other Christians (including myself) think that although there is wisdom in all the laws, that Christian Gentiles (and possibly even Christian Jews) are only required to obey laws of the Pentateuch if they are specifically reiterated in the New Covenant Scriptures.

For what reason do you presuppose discontinuity rather than continuity? Scripture must interpret scripture. If we agree that God is the Law-giver, He, and only He can abrogate laws. Therefore, the proper approach to the Old and New Covenants is to allow the New Testament to guide us as to which laws are still applicable today. “So, the problem with the dispensational assumption is that is assumes discontinuity rather than continuity. The correct and biblical assumption regarding the interpretation of the Old Testament moral law is that it continues to be binding unless further revelation teaches otherwise. Therefore, one presumes or presupposes that the case laws (given our illustration) continue to be valid unless Jesus, or the apostles themselves teach us otherwise. What is my justification for the presupposition of continuity over discontinuity? Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus plainly said that He came not to abrogate the law but to fulfill it. Then with a double negative within this passage He states that not an iota or dot will pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away. Of course a different interpretation of this passage is held by the dispensationalist; the illustration of bestiality will be sufficient evidence for proof of errors inherent within that interpretation.” For those who haven’t read Jesus’ statements, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish…(with a DOUBLE NEGATIVE Christ assures us that His coming has not changed God’s Law).” Not even the minutest part of the law will lose its validity until the end of the world. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” This as I will show later on is consistent with Scripture in it’s totality. Ps. 119:160, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

Wait, I found the straw man.

Don Stenberg: One of the favorite arguments for the first view is that bestiality is condemned specifically in Leviticus 18, but not explicitly in the New Testament, and yet all Christians agree that it’s sinful. So doesn’t that prove that Leviticus 18 is still binding on all people? And my counter argument was that Jesus reaffirmed that marriage should only be one man and one woman for life in Matthew 19 where he quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 – thereby declaring any other sexual relationship to be inconsistent with God’s design/plan/law, even under the New Covenant.

The argument you mention here Don, is not at all what I present. See, this is a straw man argument, not what you accused me of. First, I plainly stated in my article that not all Christians agree that bestiality is wrong. “So what is the common answer one will receive to the question of bestiality being wrong today? “Well everyone knows such an act is wrong!” Really? Maybe within the Protestant community such intuitions are commonly held.” I actually respond to such a response as begging the question, it cannot prove anything. Common held beliefs are not absolutely agreed upon across the board. They are merely common, but not without exception. I am not attempting to prove that because All Christians believe bestiality is wrong; therefore it must be valid. The strawest of straw men Don. What I am saying is that, due to dispensationalism presupposing the case laws as invalid under the New Covenant, dispensationalism cannot biblically offer any scriptural justification for it’s validity without assuming the antithetical approach, theonomy; thus begging the question simultaneously. For arguments sake, assuming Matthew 19 does explicitly condemn bestiality, what would the penal sanction be for this crime? Or will you arbitrarily dismiss that and assume upon yourself the right that only God as the Law-giver has Himself? All you are left with is autonomy, sinful speculation, and mythical natural law that cannot be defended scripturally.

Don Stenberg: The Law of Moses was added until Christ came – Galatians 3:24-25 “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,” 

I address this verse later, but if we know Christ perfectly obeyed the law, and we are commanded to be imitators of Christ, how can we imitate Christ without simultaneously obeying the law of God? You equate the tutor or guardian in Galatians 3 to the entire mosaic law, not only ceremonial but moral and judicial law as well fallaciously. All of life is ethical, and if we intend to morally imitate Christ it would be impossible to not obey the moral laws of the mosaic legislation. For God’s nature doesn’t change. James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Don Stenberg: Furthermore, Christ Himself makes a distinction between the Law of Moses and His law from the beginning: Matthew 19:8 ““Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.”

So, the very law that was written down by God’s own finger is distinct in moral nature from the law of Christ? This presupposes a ethical tension within the trinity that is incompatible with scripture. The phrase, “it wasn’t that way from the beginning” refers to prior to the fall of Adam. God hates divorce, but after the fall he allowed it under certain circumstances (desertion or fornication). There is no ethical distinction between the law of Christ and the law God; indeed, they are immutable. Malachi 3:6, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Let’s Keep Begging

Referencing Matthew 19 does not get you off the hook Don; actually, it once again proves what I already proved in my original post. You quote, “In the New Covenant Jesus explains that any sexual relationship other than a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman is contrary to God’s design and law.” Actually, Jesus doesn’t explain that much. Which, under a reformed covenantal presupposition, this wouldn’t be an issue; due to the fact that bestiality does not have to be restated, re-instituted, or re-implemented. However, according to your dispensational presuppositions you would need (as dispensationalism claims to adhere to adamantly) a literal, explicit reference to that act. This explicit statement is no where in Matthew 19. You are assuming to be true what you must exegetically show this particular text to prove. “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Dr. Greg Bahnsen, in his article, Theses on Divorce and Spousal Abuse, observes on this passage: Jesus was also speaking categorically in the sense that His principle was meant to be applied universally – to all men. He stated that “everyone” (pas, Matt. 5:32) or “whoever” (hos an, Matt. 19:9) divorces apart from the ground of fornication was doing wrong – whether believer or unbeliever, Jew or Gentile. Note that Christ’s teaching was based upon factors which apply to all men in general: (1) the creation ordinance, and (2) the condition of man’s sinful heart. God does not have a double standard for marriage: the only proper ground upon which a believer or unbeliever may divorce his/her spouse is “fornication.” 

Consider this thought that I originally posted, “What may one do who continues with his initial answer that everyone knows bestiality is wrong? Lets just assume he tries to resort to the many New Testament prohibitions against “sexual immorality.” Well, how does one know that the New Testament prohibitions against “sexual immorality” include prohibitions against bestiality? Bestiality is never specifically prohibited right? Bestiality never comes within the scope of New Testament teaching. So how would one know that any prohibition against sexual immorality in the New Testament refers specifically to bestiality? That is to read into the text what one intends to prove from the text. Indeed, one is still begging the question.” According to your dispensational presupposition you would need an explicit (not implicit as in Matt. 19) reference to bestiality such as Lev. 18:23, “Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.” I agree, that Jesus defined what proper marriage consist of in Matt. 19; however, that is not an internal contradiction with my covenantal presuppositions. For even though bestiality isn’t explicitly mentioned by Jesus as a violation of marriage, there is not any New Testament scripture that teaches bestiality is no longer a perversion; therefore it remains valid. Any answer you give me in refutation will do have to make some appeal to either general revelation or the 7th commandment. In either case, you will not be proving a dispensational hermeneutic, but a theonomic hermeneutic. My original post is as follows:

“…simply referring to general revelation (not natural law) and is proving the Theonomic thesis. The only text that deals with bestiality in the New Testament (indirectly) is Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…” The statement that everyone just knows that bestiality is wrong can only be true if the case laws of the Old Testament are presupposed as valid. Paul plainly teaches that the Gentiles without the law have the law written upon their hearts. That law bears witness to the truth, which essentially leaves them without excuse. Appealing to general revelation inevitably proves the theonomic premise with regards to the case laws.

Tantamount to Romans 2 is Romans 1 where Paul does not limit this general revelation to the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) but includes acts of homosexuality; which can only be found within the case laws.

So, as a last resort one may conclude that though bestiality is not explicitly or specifically mentioned in the New Testament, it is incorporated in the meaning of the seventh commandment; which once again proves the theonomic conclusions which he is attempting to disprove. The judicial or case laws are but an exegesis (explanation) of the Decalogue. The commandment prohibiting adultery does include bestiality, simply because God defined exactly what adultery (or sexual immorality) consisted of in the Old Testament case laws. Therefore, to make this claim one must sub-consciously or consciously presuppose the validity of the case laws.”

Supposed Contradictory Text to Theonomy

Don Stenberg: The Mosaic Covenant as a system has been replaced with the New Covenant as a system – with new (though overlapping) laws (Hebrews 7:11-12; Gal. 3:19, 3:24-25, 5:18; 1 Cor. 9:20-21; Heb. 8:13; Rom 10:4; Gal 6:2; Rom 7:1-7; 2 Cor 3:2-11; John 15:10; Matthew 18:18; John 16:13)

Hebrews 7:11-12, “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.”

This passage speaks nothing of replacing or changing the Mosaic law (specifically moral or judicial law). It is speaking of the requirement for the priesthood. No longer would the priesthood be after the Levitical order, but after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus, as the great high priest would come not from the family line of Levi, but rather as Melchizedek did. The law this text speaks of is the change that took place to the ceremonial law that foreshadowed the coming of the great high priest.

1 Corinthians 9:20-21, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.”

Paul here is speaking of the separating cultural practices and conditions that existed among the Jews and the Gentiles. Specifically, Paul is here referring to the ceremonial law as well. Paul would adhere to the ritual ordinances of the law among Jews to reach them; however, among Gentiles Paul exercised his freedom in the law of Christ. If you interpret this text as pertaining to moral matters, essentially Paul would be saying I was moral among this group, but immoral around that group.

Galatians 3:19-25, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

Taking into account the historical context of Galatians, Paul was dealing with harsh Judaizers who were insisting that for one to be truly justified they must also adhere to the ceremonial law. The tutor that Paul speaks of as leading us to Christ cannot be relating to the moral law. The commandment reveals knowledge of sin, but cannot save any human. However, the ceremonial laws typified and foreshadowed the atoning work of Christ that must be accepted by faith in order to be justified. Now, that Christ has come we no longer need this tutor.

Romans 7:1-7, “Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

One must die to the law as a means of works righteousness and confess their incompetency to fulfill all its requirements in perfection as a means of justification. It is only through the perfect law-obedience by Christ applied to us judicially by God that justifies. However, this in no way contradicts God’s law as the only means of holy sanctification. Paul later states, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good (v. 12). If the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, we must assume for us to bear fruit for God we must obey His law. In fact, in the next chapter Paul plainly states that the Holy Spirit helps us fulfill the law. Romans 8:3-4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Hebrews 8:13, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” What was vanishing away exactly, ceremonial laws that foreshadowed Christ atoning work or the immutable nature of God found within the moral law? Hebrews 10:11-16,”And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.” In, By This Standard, Dr. Greg Bahnsen observes, “All of God’s covenants are unified. They make the same moral demands and focus upon the same promises. However, the promises call for historical fulfillment – the change from anticipation to realization – in a way which the demands do not; there is a difference in perspective between Old and New Covenants regarding the promises of God, while the moral standards of both are absolute and unchanging. Thus the Old Covenant administration (sacrifices, covenant signs, temple) can be set aside for the New Covenant realities, even though the Old Covenant moral law remains fundamentally the same.” Hebrews 10:16 is a quotation of Jeremiah 31:35, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 

Don Stenberg: So there’s an intramural debate among Christians regarding how we Christian Gentiles are to relate to the law of Moses, when we believe (as Christians) that we are living under the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-35 (and Jer. 32:40, 33:20-21; Ezekiel 36:25-27, 37:26; Isaiah 49:8, 54:10, 55:3; and hinted at first in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 30:6… etc.). 

In Jeremiah 31:35, God said he would put My LAW within them. The law that is written upon our hearts in the New Covenant is not “distinct” from the law of Christ as you assume. The only revealed law that God could have been referring to was His law. I eluded to this in my original post as well. “The only text that deals with bestiality in the New Testament (indirectly) is Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…” If we back up to chapter one in Romans we see that even gentiles from the creation of the world clearly perceived God’s divine attributes (eternal, immutable law rooted in His nature) and this revelation was not restricted to the ten commandments! Romans 1:26-27, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” 

2 Corinthians 2-11, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our[a] hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.”

Understanding what the law can and cannot do this text becomes seen as not opposed to any theonomic premise. The letter will prove to be a letter of death to any man who attempts to use it as a means to salvation. However, what is being brought to an end is the tutor or guardian of the ceremonial law that brought about Christ’s atoning work and the giving of the Holy Spirit. As I have stated already, the Holy Spirit is what allows this ministry of righteousness to far surpass that of the Old Covenant. Romans 8:3-8, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh,could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Notice the contrast, the mind that is set on the Spirit is enabled to obey the righteous requirement of the law, which is life and peace! Indeed, God’s commandments are not burdensome to those who believe.

Unwarranted and Unscriptural Progressive Revelation

Don Stenberg:”You should know that the book of Job is considered the oldest book in the Bible, long before Moses was born, so what was required of Moses and those following, was not required of Job. Progressive revelation. And you should know that we are to read the Bible as one continuous revelation.”
I do know this and affirm it.
But you said “GOD’S laws are forever! His laws then are His laws now. And they are always to be obeyed.”
So I was showing you that you must affirm that God has used His prerogative to add laws in the past, and He still retains the prerogative to add or remove or change laws, particularly as new covenants are made. So your previous words are inconsistent with what you just said.

Ps. 119:160, “The sum of your word is truth,
    and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Is. 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them,because God has shown it to them. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:18-20). God’s law has always existed. It is His NATURE! This verse even proves the validity of the case laws, for it derived from a case law (Lev. 18:22).

New Testament Endorsement of God’s Law 

Romans 7:12, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”

Why should churches pay their pastors according to Paul in 1 Cor. 9:9? Deuteronomy 25:4, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Again, why would Paul use this as a base for his argument if he didn’t presume its validity?

Matthew 5:44, “ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Notice what Jesus uses to correct the unlawful interpretation the Pharisees had of God’s Law. Exodus 23:4-5, ““If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. Yup, you got it Don. Jesus presupposed the validity of the case laws or His refutation would have been futile. 

Covenantal Continuity

Ps. 89:34, “I will not violate my covenant
    or alter the word that went forth from my lips.”

Ps. 111:7-8, “The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
    to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.”

Ephesians 2:12, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ,alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Multiple covenants all having their fulfillment in Christ. 

Galatians 3:21, “ Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

Isaiah 51:4-8, “

“Give attention to me, my people,
    and give ear to me, my nation;
for a law[a] will go out from me,
    and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.
My righteousness draws near,
    my salvation has gone out,
    and my arms will judge the peoples;
the coastlands hope for me,
    and for my arm they wait.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
    and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
    the earth will wear out like a garment,
    and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;[b]
but my salvation will be forever,
    and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”

“Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
    the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
    nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
    and the worm will eat them like wool;
but my righteousness will be forever,
    and my salvation to all generations.”

Is Bestiality Moral for Christians?

In this modern age, under the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ, is it morally wrong for a believer in Jesus Christ to commit sexual acts with an animal? Is it wrong for any person regardless of their religious affiliation to commit acts of bestiality? This is not a common question that enters the minds of Christians. So why this question? Simply because one cannot find any reference or teaching within the New Testament regarding bestiality whatsoever. Depending upon one’s method in interpreting continuities and discontinuities between covenants (keeping the Dispensational approach in mind) in redemptive history this question can either be resolved quite easily or can be a thorn in the flesh. The statement behind the question is that if one does not presuppose the validity of the Old Testament case laws, one cannot prove that bestiality (along with many other particular sins) are wrong under the New Covenant. What I aim to prove in this post is that, Dispensationalism by not advocating the perpetual sanction of the case laws in the Old Testament they cannot logically prove with biblical support, that the act in itself is wrong yesterday, today, or for eternity. In presupposing the abrogation of the case laws, one will not be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16); which will become apparent later on with this particular case of bestiality. Secondly, if one does not presuppose the validity of the case laws, one is left with no biblical theory of civil government or socio-political morality.

For example, Dispensationalists begin with the assumption that the case or judicial laws of the Old Testament are no longer valid under the New Covenant unless they are restated, reinstituted, or reimplemented in the New Testament. The reasons for this arbitrary assumption are rather broad in number. So, for whatever reason one begins with the assumption that Old Testament case laws (specifically those of moral nature, not ceremonial that foreshadowed the atoning work of Christ) are no longer binding upon believers under the New Covenant unless they are restated, will inevitably lead to an inadequate equipping of ethical stipulations. When one begins with this type of philosophy it leaves them with no biblical theory of civil government or social theory. There are theories, but in essence they are no different and no more profitable to society than the autonomous ideologies that covenant-breakers have fabricated throughout history. These theories usually appeal to some theory of natural law, which contradicts natural revelation as taught by Paul in the epistle to the Romans. Natural law presupposes that the universal principles of good and evil are inherent in nature itself, and most fallaciously that man upon his own reasoning can access these principles without recourse to God. Those of the evidential school of apologetics use this misinterpretation of scripture to establish neutral-common ground with unbelievers. However, upon reading Romans chapter one we do not find Paul teaching that good and evil can be deduced by man without God; in fact, it is the exact opposite that Paul teaches. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:18-20). It is God who has written His law on man’s heart, and it is man who in unrighteousness suppresses this truth in attempt to determine by himself good from evil. The same act of intellectual autonomy that Adam and Eve committed in the garden has continued throughout history. Paul says God’s “divine nature (aka His law), has been clearly perceived in nature and in the self-consciousness of all men. This is how Paul can conclude without apology, that all men are without excuse. What inevitably happens when believers or non-believers assume intellectual autonomy and natural law as truly authoritative has also been addressed in the same chapter by the apostle Paul. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Romans 1:21-23).” Satan has been using the same ploy since the beginning. Accept the theory of natural law, and man will be like God, knowing good from evil. This is nothing short of intellectual idolatry.

So, the problem with the dispensational assumption is that is assumes discontinuity rather than continuity. The correct and biblical assumption regarding the interpretation of the Old Testament moral law is that it continues to be binding unless further revelation teaches otherwise. Therefore, one presumes or presupposes that the case laws (given our illustration) continue to be valid unless Jesus, or the apostles themselves teach us otherwise. What is my justification for the presupposition of continuity over discontinuity? Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus plainly said that He came not to abrogate the law but to fulfill it. Then with a double negative within this passage He states that not an iota or dot will pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away. Of course a different interpretation of this passage is held by the dispensationalist; the illustration of bestiality will be sufficient evidence for proof of errors inherent within that interpretation.

So what is the common answer one will receive to the question of bestiality being wrong today? “Well everyone knows such an act is wrong!” Really? Maybe within the Protestant community such intuitions are commonly held. Obviously, from the current events outside of the Christian community, acts of sexual preference are not so black and white. If Christians wish to prove that pedophilia, bestiality, and homosexuality are wrong to non-believers what standard will they use? Homosexuality should be the easiest sin to prove wrong biblically whether one uses Old or New Testament passages (yet somehow it is still under the hermeneutical microscope in some “Christian” circles). Anyone who has an elementary education in epistemology or logic knows one has just begged the question. Didn’t everyone also know this was a sin in the Old Testament? If so, why was it formally prohibited in the Old Testament but not in the New Testament? Were their people who violated this formal prohibition in the Old Testament?

Now I will argue as do so many of Theonomy’s critics do: if everyone knows that bestiality is wrong today as well as everyone in the Old Testament knew it was wrong, what happens to the Mosaic legislation only applying to geographical Israel? If one replies that they didn’t know that bestiality was wrong in the Old Testament what hope is there for dispensationalist today who seek to construct a biblical theory of civil government amidst ignorant degenerate people? Lastly, if it was wrong outside of geographical Israel, what was the just punishment for bestiality? I believe one will be hard-pressed to offer a reasonable punishment apart from the sinful speculation of men.

What may one do who continues with his initial answer that everyone knows bestiality is wrong? Lets just assume he tries to resort to the many New Testament prohibitions against “sexual immorality.” Well, how does one know that the New Testament prohibitions against “sexual immorality” include prohibitions against bestiality? Bestiality is never specifically prohibited right? Bestiality never comes within the scope of New Testament teaching. So how would one know that any prohibition against sexual immorality in the New Testament refers specifically to bestiality? That is to read into the text what one intends to prove from the text. Indeed, one is still begging the question.

Perhaps one would now answer that a study on the Greek word for sexual immorality “porneia” would lead to the conclusion that the New Testament prohibits bestiality. However, where in the New Testament does the word “porneia” apply to bestiality? Doesn’t the context define which specific actions are immoral?

Maybe this person would answer “porneia” is a word that refers to all sexual acts of perversion. Well, what is perversion? Does perversion according to the New Testament include bestiality?

The Greek word porneia like our English word sexual immorality is defined not only by its context but ultimately by God. Who gets to decide what is immoral and what isnt? Well any Bible believing Christian will grant that God is the Lawgiver….so what has God said in regards to bestiality in the New Testament? Prudent silence….

Now, lets reflect back upon one’s initial statement, “Well everyone knows that acts such as bestiality are immoral,” he is simply referring to general revelation (not natural law) and is proving the Theonomic thesis. The only text that deals with bestiality in the New Testament (indirectly) is Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…” The statement that everyone just knows that bestiality is wrong can only be true if the case laws of the Old Testament are presupposed as valid. Paul plainly teaches that the Gentiles without the law have the law written upon their hearts. That law bears witness to the truth, which essentially leaves them without excuse. Appealing to general revelation inevitably proves the theonomic premise with regards to the case laws.

Tantamount to Romans 2 is Romans 1 where Paul does not limit this general revelation to the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) but includes acts of homosexuality; which can only be found within the case laws.

So, as a last resort one may conclude that though bestiality is not explicitly or specifically mentioned in the New Testament, it is incorporated in the meaning of the seventh commandment; which once again proves the theonomic conclusions which he is attempting to disprove. The judicial or case laws are but an exegesis (explanation) of the Decalogue. The commandment prohibiting adultery does include bestiality, simply because God defined exactly what adultery (or sexual immorality) consisted of in the Old Testament case laws. Therefore, to make this claim one must sub-consciously or consciously presuppose the validity of the case laws.

So, we must conclude, therefore, that the case, or judicial, laws of the Old Testament are perpetually binding upon all men in all places to be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). Those who attempt to construct a dichotomy between law and gospel are robbing themselves of a genuine biblical ethic. God’s law is the church’s tool of dominion. It contains the ethical stipulations of God’s covenant that will either bring about blessing or cursing upon earth. History is not random. History can be understood through the obedience of men to God’s covenant and the ethical sanctions it commands. If America continues to neglect God’s law as the standard of morality that all of life must be based upon, it will come under judgement. It does not take a prophet to deduce this cause-effect relationship. God has plainly revealed this in His Word.

Deuteronomy 28

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you andovertake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lordwill command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. 10 And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall beafraid of you. 11 And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, 14 and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Curses for Disobedience

15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21 The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought[a] and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.27 The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, 29 and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways.[b] And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you. 30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat any of it. Your donkey shall be seized before your face, but shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, but there shall be no one to help you. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless. 33 A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 34 so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see. 35 The Lord will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.

36 “The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. 37 And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you away. 38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off.41 You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42 The cricket[c] shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground.43 The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. 46 They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. 47 Because you did not serve theLord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nationwhose language you do not understand, 50 a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young. 51 It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.

52 “They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given you.53 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54 The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces,[d] and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55 so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns.56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces,[e] to her son and to her daughter, 57 her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.

58 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59 then theLord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 60 And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you.61 Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the Lord will bring upon you, until you are destroyed. 62 Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God. 63 And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

64 “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the Lord will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see. 68 And the Lord will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.”

Did Jesus Exist or Is It All Myth: A response to Catherine Giordano

Catherine Giordano, in her essay, Did Jesus Exist or Is It All Myth, prior to offering the skeptical findings of “Bible” scholars states: “Full disclosure: I am not a Biblical scholar. However, I have done some reading on what biblical scholars are saying. It is a very complex field of study, but I will try to report on the main reasons for skepticism about the existence of Jesus. The arguments and evidence could fill books-and they do-but I will just hit the highlights. I refer you to the books for the details. We cannot use the Bible as an historical reference since the Bible is what is being examined. Additionally, the Bible shows itself to be an unreliable document because it reports myth as truth, and even when dealing with known facts of history, geography, and science it gets some of those facts wrong.”

Her post on the Facebook page Apologists vs. Atheist has already received several criticisms from Christians and athiest as well. Therefore, addressing every argument she proposed isn’t really necessary. Most arguments she proposed have already been addressed in an Evidentialist manner.

She readily admits that there are differences among biblical scholars, “Many biblical scholars question whether or not a historical Jesus ever existed. Other biblical scholars are convinced that there was an actual Jesus although he was fully human and did not perform miracles. And, of course, most Christians believe that the entire Jesus story as told in the Bible is completely true.” Before reading my response, her post can be found at the following http://catherinegiodano.hubpages.com/hub/Did-Jesus-Exist-or-Is-it-All-Myth

First, it must be understood that facts, evidence, history, and science are all a matter of secondary importance. Catherine has made it clear before offering any of her historical research, that she has presuppositions that are antithetical to Christian theism. For me to reason with Catherine relating to the existence of Jesus, without first asking what pre-conditions must exist to give historical facts meaning and intelligibility would be futile. Also, to proceed in that fashion would presuppose that Catherine, and myself, have the same method of reasoning; which is impossible due to our presuppositions. I do not agree with the assumption that autonomous reasoning and biblical reasoning are the same in methodology. Unbelievers since the creation of the world have suppressed the clear knowledge of God made known to them through natural revelation (not natural law). As a consequence of this suppressed truth their minds have been darkened, their wisdom rendered foolish, and intellectual endeavours resulting in futility (Rom. 1:18-23). “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot (Rom. 8:7).” Any effort at aquiring knowledge according to the Bible must first begin with a submission of every area life, including intellectual activities to the Lordship of Christ. “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2-3).” “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 1:20).” In conclusion, to begin a survey of the historical evidence of Jesus without establishing which worldview can make sense of facts and evidence, would be to assume the myth of neutrality that Catherine insists must be presupposed by not allowing the Bible to be examined.

Catherine claims that the Bible shows itself to be unreliable because it reports myth as truth. Ironically, it is Catherine’s belief in the “myth” of neutrality that is unreliable, not the infallibility of the Bible. As Dr. Cornelius Van Til said, “To be without bias is to have only a particular kind of bias.” When dealing with ultimate authorities or final reference points in epistemology, reasoning circularly is not fallacious; but rather, consistent.  If two philosphers were to debate the validity of the laws of logic, would they not have to employ the laws of logic? For arguments sake, imagine if I was to reverse this “myth of neutrality” upon Catherine.  For example, assume the issue before us was proving that man is self-sufficient in his reasoning, the final reference point or ultimate authority by which all facts must be filtered through. However, for Cartherine to prove this premise, she must begin with the presupposition that man is not self-sufficient in his reasoning, and must interpret all facts from an antithetical point of view, specifically Christian theism. The antithesis being that an accurate interpretation of facts relies upon an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and sovereign God that has created and established those facts in a orderly system. Facts under this presupposition are not isolated particulars without any, causal relation. Brute facts cannot exist when an eternal God has created and pre-interpreted those facts. Catherine must relinquish her autonomous reasoning to interpret any fact aright, and rely upon the interpretation already given to them. She must think God’s thoughts after Him analogically. Granting that this scenario did, in fact, prove that finite Catherine must be the ultimate authority rather than the infinte God of the Bible, that conclusion would be inconsistent with her initial presuppositions. Hence, one’s logical conclusion must be consistent with his/her presuppositions, and method of reasoning. For me to reason neutrally would inevitability result in a metaphysical/epistemological contradiction within my own worldview. If I am to love Christ with all my mind, this includes reasoning with unbelievers. Whether I eat or drink, I am commanded to do so to the glory of God; this covers every area of life.  

Catherine commits the logical fallacy of building a straw man out of Jesus by misrepresenting His divine attributes. Dr. Joel Mcdurmon in his book, Biblical Logic, gives this description of the Straw Man fallacy:

Straw man does not describe a unique classification of fallacy, but rather a fallacious practice of creating, in any way, a false caricature of another position. Thus, the Straw Man arguement generally iccurs in response to an already existing claim or position, although it can simply misrepresent an already existing fact. It is the fallacy of representation par excellence. It thrives by presenting an opponent’s position as something resembling it, yet distorted, extreme, exaggerated, absurd, emaciated, and with its strongest aspects removed or rendered offensive in some way. The resulting claim, as presented, is thus very easy to counter and defeat. It is like setting up a straw man and knocking him down instead of taking on a real fighter. Thus the name, Straw Man.

Quoting Catherine, “If we wish to know Jesus, the man, we must begin with the assumption that Jesus is not divine, nor the Son of God, and had no supernatural powers whatsoever.” To remove the supernatural attributes of Jesus prior to investigating the evidence of His existence is investigating a rather conspicuous straw man. Regardless of the conclusion, the historical facts surveyed concerning this straw man wouldn’t have any negative or positive effect upon the teachings of Christianity, due to the fact it is a misrepresentation of what Christianity actually teaches concerning the deity of Christ. John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” The Bible teaches that God and His revelation are self-verifying and self-attesting. God needs no qualifications. If autonomous reasoning could prove the existence of God; then God ceases to be God, and man assumes the role by default.

Secondly, the assumption that Caroline insists must be assumed to really know whether Jesus existed committs another fallacy simultaneously. This fallacy is a fallacy of “hidden presumptions,” as Dr. Mcdurmon refers to it. The following observation by Dr. Mcdurmon summarizes how Catherine has ultimately begged the question:

“… the naturalist essentially creates his own intellectual limitations and then arbitrarily (on his own autonomous authority) defines all of reality as falling within those limitations. This behavior is akin to a fish in his bowl pontificating about the non-existence of everything outside. This is “peek-a-boo” philosophy– “I don’t see it, so it isn’t there.”

To know, is to speak of epistemology. To exist, is to speak of metaphysics. However, to assume that a man who performs signs and wonders cannot actually exist, begs the question that is actually at hand.The real question is, how did Caroline determine that this limitation of metaphysics must be presupposed to arrive at a true knowledge of Jesus’ existence? This is an unwarranted and unproved assumption that is nothing more than prejudicial conjecture. The Bible does not teach that God must be proved by historical research, empirical science, or the laws of logic; but, rather God proves history, science, and the laws of logic. Without the God of the Bible being true, no such fields of study would have meaning or intelligibility. Even more, such fields wouldn’t be possible

Catherine goes on to say, “Some scholars say Yeshua ben Joseph existed, but the stories about him are mythological history.” I appreciate the fact that Catherine has admitted that she is not a Bible scholar; neither am I. She has also stated she is just trying “to hit the highlights,” for the skepticism regarding the existence of Jesus. However, even in doing so, logical fallacies cannot be used for the sake of highlights. If the books she mentions contain nothing more than the arbitrary summarizations she presents, reading them in full would be a waste of time. On the contrary, if the scholars do offer more than the hear-say that Catherine mentions, she is belittling their research and arguementation by reducing their academic works to illogical absurdities.

Quoting Catherine, “Another hypothesis is that there were many Jewish preachers travelling about Bethlehem at that time, and their lives were made into a composite that was called Jesus… I have even heard the theory that the story of Jesus arose from a play given by a travelling theatre troupe. It’s an interesting theory because it would have been a way to spread an anti-Roman message under the guise of harmless entertainment.” Again, hear-say, and prejudicial conjecture do not formulate cogent inductive arguements. All you have presented are theories, hypothesis, and supposed probabilities that essentially prove nothing. I could be just as arbitrary by asserting “I heard a theory that theories do not exist; therefore there is a possibility they do not.” What has happened? Nothing. Besides, any message (whether it be for entertainment sake or what have you) that did not pay homage to Ceasar as King, would have been sufficient grounds for punishment in the first century Roman Empire.

Caroline says, “The story of Jesus closely corresponds to the ‘mythic hero type’ found in the myths of all cultures. The birth of a divine hero is supernaturally predicted, and he is conceived in a supernatural way. As an infant, he escapes attempts to kill him.  As a child,  he shows precious wisdom.  As a young man, he is given a mission.  He defeats monsters, and/or demons and is hailed as a king.  His success is short lived-he is betrayed, falls out of favor, and is executed, often on a hilltop. Finally, he is vindicated after his death and taken up to heaven. Countless myths tell this story with slight variations.” So,  simply due to close resemblances in the Bible’s teachings on Jesus, and other culture’s mythological teachings, the existence of Jesus must therefore be concluded as false? This is yet another illogical conclusion. Just because the biblical accounts of Jesus resemble “Mythic Hero Archetype” myths does not logically lead us to the conclusion that Jesus did not exist. Again Catherine fabricates an illogical conclusion, “The Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, made many prophecies about the Messiah to come. Did Jesus fufill those prophecies? Of course he did. It is only natural that the people who told the story of Jesus would make the story conform to the prophecies.” In other words, it is undeniable that the prophecies of the Bible were indeed fulfilled by Jesus. So, we have only two explanations before us (1) Jesus is exactly who the Bible says He is,  and did in fact exist. However,  this is the UNNATURAL OPTION! (2) The NATURAL conclusion is that the Bible was forged so it would conform to the prophecies. Consider how accurate Dr. Mcdurmon’s analysis of how naturalistic presuppositions affect one’s ability to think critically apply to Catherine in this particular situation:

This shows that even the naturalist’s own criteria of judgement– that is, natural “evidence”–could never change his fundamental committments even when it contradicts them. Indeed, since he has already predetermined in his own mind that nothingexists except uniform nature, he will reinterpret any contradictory evidence as somehow not contradictory. This means that “nature” and “evidence” truly do notform the basis of the naturalist’s worldview (despite how much he boast of this fact); rather, his unproven assumption form the unchallengeable basis of his worldview.

Catherine has desperately begged the question. Why would it be unnatural for the prophecies to have been fullfilled other than your preconceived subjectivive bias toward the infallibility of the scriptures? Where is the conclusive evidence that the Bible is, in fact, a forged collection of historical writings?

Catherine states, “All the things we think we know about the life of Jesus don’t begin to be written down until about 100 years after the presumed date of Jesus’ death. The details appear in the four gospels,  Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John, but they were not written by them. The writers are apostles (messengers)  and not disciples. The Gospels show evidence of being revised throughout the next centuries and into the Middle Ages. None of the original documents survive. We have only copies of copies,  and the copies often differ from each other.” The majority of this statememt has already been refuted on the Facebook page and isn’t worthy of criticism in my opinion. This argument really shows one’s lack of familiarity on the subject. However, lets apply this logic to the writings we have of the philosopher, Plato. It is believed he lived around 350 B. C. The earliest manuscript discovered of his was around 900 A. D. by E. B. Clarke. According to your line of argumentation, I think it is safe to say Plato didn’t exist either. Presuppositions go a long way; farther than we won’t them to sometimes.

What must be understood is that facts are not self-evident truths needing no qualifications. Facts require interpretation. Catherine’s final reference point in determining the truth of any fact is her autonomous reasoning. However, I believe that for facts to be made meaningful, the God of the Bible must be presupposed as the creator and sustainer of those facts. I am God’s creature. God being the creator gives intelligibility and. meaning to all facts. Without presupposing God as the creator of facts, facts stand alone in impersonal contingency. However, facts in the Christian worldview are correlative parts that form a coherent system. Catherine says that the Bible gets facts wrong when dealing with known facts; such as history, science, and geography. I would argue that according to Catherine’s worldview any given fact could not be truly known or accounted for. For science, history, or geography to have intelligible meaning, one must presuppose the God of Christian theism.

Catherine mentioned the Bible as contradicting known facts and has attempted an a posteriori use of historical research to prove this. However,  much of the supposed known facts are nothing more than assumptions and hypothesis. Deducing hypothesis and assumptions is equivalent to an a priori knowledge, consequently, displaying her metaphysical and epistemological tensions inherent in her worldview. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that goes beyond the physical. It deals with abstract principles, reality, existence, etc. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with one’s theory of knowledge. Catherine presupposes that historical observation and science prove that Jesus didn’t exist. To limit true knowledge to the phenomenal, by necessity asserts what cannot be known of the metaphysical. This presupposition predicates what cannot, and therefore, must be true of metaphysics. It is never a question of metaphysic or no metaphysic, but which metaphysic will one choose.

Myths that contain supernatural events, signs, wonders, etc are precluded from the outset as unknownable on the grounds of a non-observable, non-sensible, and naturalistic presuppositions. Note, presuppositions by their inherent abstract nature, are neither observable, sensible, or material. These presuppositions are unwarranted, unproven, and arbitrary.

Without interpreting facts under the roof of Christian theism there is only contingent factuality left to historians and scientist of any religion. Any assertion of factuality is a metaphysical assertion by nature. In other words, the actuality of factuality is to assert the existence of facts. This is irreconcilable concept in an empirical, naturalistic, or strictly phenomenal worldview. Without presupposing God as the creator and providential sustainer of facts, history would be impersonal, random, and lacking observable cause/effect relationships conducive to historical reasearch and social theory. Ironically, the historian would have no rationale for denying a cyclical view of history taught by the ancient Greeks that Catherine is so critical of for their mythology.

Consider Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen’s remarks in his article Revelation, Speculation, and Science: “The pitting of science against revelation is certainly odd. For, a certain state of affairs is needed for the scientific endeavor to be meaningful or fruitful. The scientist must believe that the state of affairs is conducive to science, or he would not venture into the scientific enterprise. He must believe that there is a world of things and processes that can be known, and that he himself sustains a relationship to this world that allows him to know these objects and events. But then, what reason can the scientist give for his belief that the state of affairs is actually conducive to science? Why is the world such as it is and not otherwise? ”

If the naturalistic scientist follows his presuppositions to their logical end, he would be left with no other answer than pure chance. Chance is unforseen, random, chaotic, and most importantly irrational. For a scientist to make any assertion of factuality or reality, he cannot give any rational reason as to why this fact is intelligible. Essentially, the scientist is borrowing presuppositions from the Christian’s worldview (uniformity in nature which the scientific method hinges upon) to practice his science; then in foolishness within his heart says there is no God. For any atheist to assert rationality to the irrational universe he lives in is to attempt to rationalize the irrational. If the naturalistic scientist were to be consistent with his presuppositions and give an honest profession it would be similar to what the skeptic philospher David Hume stated: “But our belief in that causal relation is based on past observations, and our confidence that it will continue tomorrow cannot be justified by the past. So we have no rationale basis for believing that the sun will rise tomorrow. Yet we do believe it! ”

For further reading directly associated with this topic, consider reading Dr. Joel McDurmon’s book, Manifested in the flesh. http://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/manifested-in-the-flesh-how-the-original-jesus-refutes-modern-mystics-and-atheists