Archive for October, 2012

The Jesus’ Wife Fragment and The Trustworthiness of the Bible

by Eric Adams

The Jesus’ Wife Fragment

Tell me it ain’t so

It is amazing to see how quickly the secular media, and the Religious Left will jump on any story that questions the history of Christianity, or especially its’ truth claims, and more especially, the character and Gospel claims of Jesus Christ. One recent story that has garnered a lot of attention of late is the discovery of a fragment of papyrus that supposedly indicates that Jesus was married. It caused a kerfuffle in Sept., as is demonstrated by this NYT article from Sept. 21:

“…But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” she said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

…What convinced them it was probably genuine was the fading of the ink on the papyrus fibers, and traces of ink adhered to the bent fibers at the torn edges. The back side is so faint that only five words are visible, one only partly: “my moth[er],” “three,” “forth which.”

“It would be impossible to forge,” said Dr. Luijendijk, who contributed to Dr. King’s paper.

Dr. Bagnall reasoned that a forger would have had to be expert in Coptic grammar, handwriting and ideas. Most forgeries he has seen were nothing more than gibberish. And if it were a forgery intended to cause a sensation or make someone rich, why would it have lain in obscurity for so many years?

“It’s hard to construct a scenario that is at all plausible in which somebody fakes something like this. The world is not really crawling with crooked papyrologists,” Dr. Bagnall said.

…Much of the context, therefore, is missing. But Dr. King was struck by phrases in the fragment like “My mother gave to me life,” and “Mary is worthy of it,” which resemble snippets from the Gospels of Thomas and Mary. Experts believe those were written in the late second century and translated into Coptic. She surmises that this fragment is also copied from a second-century Greek text.

The meaning of the words, “my wife,” is beyond question, Dr. King said. “These words can mean nothing else.” The text beyond “my wife” is cut off.

via http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/us/historian-says-piece-of-papyrus-refers-to-jesus-wife.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Benedict Arnold

Take a gander at the claims made by the following Episcopal priest:

“But what this new discovery does do is to provide additional confirmation for a body of evidence already mounting from those other recently discovered early Christian sacred texts—specifically, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Gospel of Philip—that a group of very early Christians remember a version of their history quite different from what eventually became the officially sanctioned story. They remember that Jesus’s relationship with Mary was far more than just that of a teacher to a pious devotee or recovering prostitute. They remember that the relationship was spousal in nature, and that she was his designated lineage-bearer. This same message is conveyed, in much the same way in Thomas and in Mary, and Philip specifically refers to Mary Magdalene as Jesus’s koinonos, his “companion.”

It’s also right there hidden in plain sight in the four canonical gospels once you start looking more closely.

So this new fragment is not exactly building from scratch. It joins and further verifies a tradition whose authenticity has already been unquestionably established.

Sooner or later, the evidence trickling in from all quarters is going to be too overwhelming for all but the most obdurate traditionalists to ignore. I had already seen this coming when I wrote my “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene” in 2010. My real business in that book was not to argue the question of Mary Magdalene’s and Jesus’s relationship one way or another (I leave that to scholars such as King), but to help people try to get over the shock and sense of betrayal that this revelation so often leaves them with. Why has institutional Christianity become so invested in maintaining that Jesus has to be a celibate to be Jesus? That, it seems to me, is by far the more searching question.”

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/jesus-wife-papyrus-provides-confirmation-on-early-church-history/2012/09/21/c231711a-0434-11e2-8102-ebee9c66e190_blog.html

Life is like a piece of chocolate

This is what I call Da Vince Codaphilia. The Liberals of the Religious Left are ready at the drop of a hat to throw Jesus and the Orthodox understanding of Jesus under the bus…in fact, they’re quite prepared to simultaneously drive the bus, and bounce Christ and his church off the pavement with the force of a professional wrestler.

Fast-forward to Oct. 17, and voi la-

“A copied error from an online translation of the Gospel of Thomas may be the “smoking gun” that strongly suggests the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, a controversial papyrus fragment that supposedly refers to Jesus being married, is a forgery, scholars say.

If the text is fake, it would represent an extraordinary tale of how an amateur with no knowledge of a long-dead language could fool some of the world’s leading experts by using a readily available Internet tool — and how scholars countered by rallying online to swiftly investigate the case together.

…One of the most compelling arguments for the fragment being a forgery has emerged from Andrew Bernhard, an Oxford University graduate and author of the book “Other Early Christian Gospels” (T & T Clark, 2006). Hepublished an online paper last week pointing out a pattern of similarities between the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas — similarities that include grammatical errors and line breaks found only in the online word-by-word translation of the Gospel of Thomas.

“It’s remarkable that a forger could have forged something like this using a simple tool on the Internet,” Bernhard said. “It’s equally stunning how quickly scholars could respond and analyze the text.”

via http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/10/17/did-jesus-have-wife-scholar-calls-parchment-forgery/

Somebody get me a fact-checker, please

Believers, don’t lose your cool when claims of the demise of orthodox Christianity is prophesied from the pagans. We have nearly 2,000 years of textual, and historical evidence for the foundational teachings of Christianity. The early councils of the church, and the Creeds, reflect the accurate teachings of our faith. Trust them.

Here is a list,  from Devin Maddox, of responses Christians should have to Biblical claims in general:

“So how should Christians respond in light of conversations regarding new claims about Jesus life?

1.�Test everything, hold on to what is good -�While you might recognize falsehood immediately, be dilligent, reasoning through why that might be the case. Even if your initial impressions are confirmed, neglecting to “test all things and hold on to what is good”�fails to incoporate the wisdom of the New Testament.�(1 Thessalonians 5:21)�

2.�Expect false gospels�- Christians who read the New Testament should not be surprised to find false testimony concerning the gospel. The problem is as old as the church. (1 John 4:1)

3.�Have patience with skeptics�- Apart from the grace of God, we are all in the same boat. Treat those who lay captive to false gospels with an attitude of mission, not pugilism.

4.�Commit to Scripture�- Scripture validates itself. Those who view the Bible with any degree of seriousness, as most Christians do, must wrestle with the internal testimony the Bible provides about itself. Those who come out on the other side committed to the authority of Scripture will be well-equipped for times such as these. (2 Timothy 3:16)

5.�Study more church history�- Christians have nothing to fear while wading through the deep waters of church history. The truth of all matters concerning the canon are on our side, so dive in.

6.�View it as an opportunity for evangelism�- Any time the gospel is the topic of popular discussion, view it as an opportunity to share your faith. What better time is there to discuss matters of faith with a lost and dying world than when they are asking the questions?

7.�Pray�- The challenges situations like this one present are not merely intellectual. The spiritual dynamics of theological controversy are not subordinate in debate. Pray as often as you critique.”

via Did Jesus Have a Wife, and Can We Trust the Bible?.

I protest!

These are particularly good points to remember when someone tries to jar your faith in the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. Speak up, and defend your faith, brothers and sisters.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

At church last night, a question was asked about the moral implications of God’s ordering the destruction of the Canaanites by the Israelites in their entry into Canaan. This is a great question that probably most people have had at one time or the other. It would seem, on the face of things, that God was ordering genocide on an ethnic group, which is something appalling to most Americans. Our recent experience in Kosovo, and the Nazi Holocaust of WWII, strikes a moral cord in most of us. 

Here are the Biblical texts under scrutiny:

Deuteronomy 7:1-2

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

7 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

Deuteronomy 20:16-18

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God. (1.)

What are we to do with this dilemma?

William Lane Craig, a Christian Apologist and philosopher, was asked the same question. Here is how he responded: (2.)

“According to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), when God called forth his people out of slavery in Egypt and back to the land of their forefathers, he directed them to kill all the Canaanite clans who were living in the land (Deut. 7.1-2; 20.16-18).  The destruction was to be complete: every man, woman, and child was to be killed.  The book of Joshua tells the story of Israel’s carrying out God’s command in city after city throughout Canaan.

These stories offend our moral sensibilities.  Ironically, however, our moral sensibilities in the West have been largely, and for many people unconsciously, shaped by our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which has taught us the intrinsic value of human beings, the importance of dealing justly rather than capriciously, and the necessity of the punishment’s fitting the crime.  The Bible itself inculcates the values which these stories seem to violate.

Dr. Craig’s point here is that the very sense of disgust we feel about the killing of people, are the results of Christianity and the Bible on our collective subconsciousness here in the West. The very principles we use to judge these things comes from the values we learn from the Bible. Think about that for a moment.

The command to kill all the Canaanite people is jarring precisely because it seems so at odds with the portrait of Yahweh, Israel’s God, which is painted in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Contrary to the vituperative rhetoric of someone like Richard Dawkins, the God of the Hebrew Bible is a God of justice, long-suffering, and compassion.”

Here is the Dawkins quote Dr. Craig is referring to:  

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.(3)

God’s judgement is anything but capricious.  When the Lord announces His intention to judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, Abraham boldly asks,

“Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked!  Far be that from you!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18.25).

Like a Middle Eastern merchant haggling for a bargain, Abraham continually lowers his price, and each time God meets it without hesitation, assuring Abraham that if there are even ten righteous persons in the city, He will not destroy it for their sake.

So then what is Yahweh doing in commanding Israel’s armies to exterminate the Canaanite peoples?  It is precisely because we have come to expect Yahweh to act justly and with compassion that we find these stories so difficult to understand.  How can He command soldiers to slaughter children?…

“…I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements.  According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God.  Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself,  He has no moral duties to fulfill.  He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.  For example, I have no right to take an innocent life.  For me to do so would be murder.  But God has no such prohibition.  He can give and take life as He chooses.  We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.”  Human authorities  arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God.  God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second.  If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.

What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit.  How long they live and when they die is up to Him.

Here’s the Biblical reference:

Deuteronomy 32:39

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

39 “See now that I myself am He!
There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,
and no one can deliver out of my hand. (1)

“So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives.  The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them.  Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder?  No, it’s not.  Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder.  The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.”

They were doing what God told them to do.

“On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.

All right; but isn’t such a command contrary to God’s nature?  Well, let’s look at the case more closely.  It is perhaps significant that the story of Yahweh’s destruction of Sodom–along with his solemn assurances to Abraham that were there as many as ten righteous persons in Sodom, the city would not have been destroyed–forms part of the background to the conquest of Canaan and Yahweh’s command to destroy the cities there.  The implication is that the Canaanites are not righteous people but have come under God’s judgement.

In fact, prior to Israel’s bondage in Egypt, God tells Abraham,

“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. . . . And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites [one of the Canaanite clans] is not yet complete” (Gen. 15. 13, 16).

Think of it!  God stays His judgement of the Canaanite clans 400 years because their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability!  This is the long-suffering God we know in the Hebrew Scriptures.  He even allows his own chosen people to languish in slavery for four centuries before determining that the Canaanite peoples are ripe for judgement and calling His people forth from Egypt.

By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice.  The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18).  God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.”

Here’s another reference:

Ezekiel 18:4

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. (1)

“But why take the lives of innocent children?  The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly  related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part.  In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods” (Deut 7.3-4).  This command is part and parcel of the whole fabric of complex Jewish ritual law distinguishing clean and unclean practices.  To the contemporary Western mind many of the regulations in Old Testament law seem absolutely bizarre and pointless:  not to mix linen with wool, not to use the same vessels for meat and for milk products, etc.  The overriding thrust of these regulations is to prohibit various kinds of mixing.  Clear lines of distinction are being drawn: this and not that.  These serve as daily, tangible reminders that Israel is a special people set apart for God Himself.

…By setting such strong, harsh dichotomies God taught Israel that any assimilation to pagan idolatry is intolerable.  It was His way of preserving Israel’s spiritual health and posterity.  God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel.  The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.  We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites?  Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement.  Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.  So who is wronged?  Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children?  The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

But then, again, we’re thinking of this from a Christianized, Western standpoint.  For people in the ancient world, life was already brutal.  Violence and war were a fact of life for people living in the ancient Near East.  Evidence of this fact is that the people who told these stories apparently thought nothing of what the Israeli soldiers were commanded to do (especially if these are founding legends of the nation).  No one was wringing his hands over the soldiers’ having to kill the Canaanites; those who did so were national heroes.

Moreover, my point above returns.  Nothing could so illustrate to the Israelis the seriousness of their calling as a people set apart for God alone.  Yahweh is not to be trifled with.  He means business, and if Israel apostasizes the same could happen to her. As C. S. Lewis puts it, “Aslan is not a tame lion.” 

via http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites

Another good discussion of this same ethical issue is covered by the Stand To Reason blog:

Is God a Moral Monster?

This new book by Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God, is a response to the critic’s challenges.  This is a common charge made by the “new atheists.”  Many Christians from a liberal theological perspective would tend to agree. And I suspect many evangelical Christians harbor concerns along the same lines that they never express.

Greg has said, “If you ask the hard question, you need to be willing to listen to the hard answer.”  This challenge to God’s moral character is an important one.  After all, His perfect moral character is in part what demands our worship and honor.  He is the ground for all morality.  These are key factors in the Christian worldview, so if God is a moral monster, there is serious reason to doubt Christianity is true.  It’s a hard question, and it deserves a hard answer.  But hard answers are rarely brief ones, and therein lies the obligation of the critic who poses the question:  to listen and carefully consider the answer given.

Paul Copan’s book gives a thorough answer to the general and many specific claims in this indictment of God’s character. He’s a jealous megalomaniac, child abuse and bullying misogyny, petty, condoning slavery, and massacre and ethnic cleansing.  One answer is to abandon the divine origin of the Old Testament, relegate it to mere human authorship that only reflects the cultural values of the ancient Israelites and ascribes these to their god.  That’s the easy answer.  Copan gives us the hard answer taking seriously the text’s claim for its divine origins as a self-revelation of the one, true God.

…For instance, was wiping out the Canaanites indiscriminate massacre of an entire society?  It’s certainly a harsh punishment that could appear to be unjust – until you consider the details of Canaanite society at the time.  Incest and human sacrifice were common religious practices.  It was a horribly violent culture.  The Old Testament tells us that God used the Israelites to carry out His judgment and punishment that seem more just when you factor in the Canaanite’s actions.  This was a horribly corrupt culture.

It wasn’t just xenophobic, because the very same Old Testament text tells us of God punishing Israel when they turned against Him.  Critics characterize this as petty jealousy on God’s part.  But if He is the true sovereign, as the Old Testament claims, and He made a conditional covenant (contract) with Israel (Mosaic Covenant), God’s reaction seems to be more reasonable when the conditions of the contract are broken.  Even in our own experience, we know there is appropriate and inappropriate jealousy.  A spouse has a right to be jealous if their partner shows attention to another that should be reserved for their loved one.  God has a unique claim on us as His creatures.  His jealousy is an appropriate response.

Copan also explains enlightening details about the Mosaic Covenant that illustrate God’s moral character.  It’s a legal document for the nation Israel. Other nations had their own.  The Mosaic Covenant reflects the historical character of these kinds of documents, but it also demonstrates tremendous improvement. Capitol punishment for some of the crimes in the Mosaic Law seem horribly harsh – until we realize that these were maximum sentences that could not be exceeded, not the actual punishments that were to be carried out.  The Mosaic Law limits how severely criminals could be punished, it doesn’t require these punishments.  It is also the only code of its time that applied equally to all citizens, not privileging a certain class with extra protections.  These are just a couple of examples of these important factors Copan brings out.”

via http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2011/02/is-god-a-moral-monster.html

The book by Copan is a hard read, but worth the effort. Check it out.

Finally, let’s look at one more article:

“…After crossing the Jordan River, we learn in the book of Joshua that the Israelites “utterly destroyed all that was in the city [of Jericho], both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword…. [T]hey burned the city and all that was in it with fire” (Joshua 6:21,24). They also “utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai” (Joshua 8:26), killing 12,000 men and women and hanging their king (8:25,29). In Makkedah and Libnah, the Israelites “let none remain” (Joshua 10:28,30). They struck Lachish “and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword” (10:32). The Israelites then conquered Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, Debir, and Hazor (10:33-39; 11:1-1). “So all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took and struck with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded” (Joshua 11:12).

…God had the Israelites kill countless thousands, perhaps millions, of people throughout the land of Canaan. It was genocide in the sense that it was a plannedsystematic, limitedextermination of a number of nation states from a relatively small area in the Middle East (cf. “Genocide,” 2000; cf. also “Genocide,” 2012). But, it was not a war against a particular race (from the Greek genos) or ethnic group. Nor were the Israelites commanded to pursue and kill the Canaanite nations if they fled from Israel’s Promised Land. The Israelites were to drive out and dispossess the nations of their land (killing all who resisted the dispossession), but they were not instructed to annihilate a particular race or ethnic group from the face of the Earth.

Still, many find God’s commands to conquer and destroy the Canaanite nation states problematic. How could a loving God instruct one group of people to kill and conquer another group? America’s most well-known critic of Christianity in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Thomas Paine (one of only a handful of America’s Founding Fathers who did not claim to be a Christian), called the God of the Old Testament “the Mars of the Jews, the fighting God of Israel,” Who was “boisterous, contemptible, and vulgar” (Paine, 1807).

Punishing Evildoers is Not Unloving

…Similar to how merciful parents, principals, policemen, and judges can justly administer punishment to rule-breakers and evildoers, so too can the all-knowing, all-loving Creator of the Universe. Loving parents and principals have administered corporal punishment appropriately to children for years (cf. Proverbs 13:24). Merciful policemen, who are constantly saving he lives of the innocent, have the authority (both from God and the government—Romans 13:1-4) to kill a wicked person who is murdering others. Just judges have the authority to sentence a depraved child rapist to death. Loving-kindness and corporal or capital punishment are not antithetical. Prior to conquering Canaan, God commanded the Israelites, saying,

You shall not hate your brother in your heart…. You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…. And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself (Leviticus 19:17-18,33-34; cf. Romans 13:9).

The faithful Jew was expected, as are Christians, to “not resist an evil person” (Matthew 5:39) but rather “go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41) and “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39). “Love,” after all, “is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10; cf. Matthew 22:36-40). Interestingly, however, the Israelite was commanded to punish (even kill) lawbreakers. Just five chapters after commanding the individual Israelite to “not take vengeance,” but “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), God twice said that murderers would receive the death penalty (Leviticus 24:21,17).

…The Canaanite nations were punished because of their extreme wickedness. God did not cast out the Canaanites for being a particular race or ethnic group. God did not send the Israelites into the land of Canaan to destroy a number of righteous nations. On the contrary, the Canaanite nations were horribly depraved. They practiced “abominable customs” (Leviticus 18:30) and did “detestable things” (Deuteronomy 18:9, NASB). They practiced idolatry, witchcraft, soothsaying, and sorcery. They attempted to cast spells upon people and call up the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).

Their “cultic practice was barbarous and thoroughly licentious” (Unger, 1954, p. 175). Their “deities…had no moral character whatever,” which “must have brought out the worst traits in their devotees and entailed many of the most demoralizing practices of the time,” including sensuous nudity, orgiastic nature-worship, snake worship, and even child sacrifice (Unger, p. 175; cf. Albright, 1940, p. 214). As Moses wrote, the inhabitants of Canaan would “burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:30). The Canaanite nations were anything but “innocent.” In truth, “[t]hese Canaanite cults were utterly immoral, decadent, and corrupt, dangerously contaminating and thoroughly justifying the divine command to destroy their devotees” (Unger, 1988). They were so nefarious that God said they defiled the land and the land could stomach them no longer—“the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25).

The Longsuffering of God

Unlike the foolish, impulsive, quick-tempered reactions of many men (Proverbs 14:29), the Lord is “slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8). He is “longsuffering…, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Immediately following a reminder to the Christians in Rome that the Old Testament was “written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope,” the apostle Paul referred to God as “the God of patience” (Romans 15:4-5). Throughout the Old Testament, the Bible writers portrayed God as longsuffering.

Though in Noah’s day, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” and “ever intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), “the Divine longsuffering waited” (1 Peter 3:20). (It seems as though God delayed flooding Earth for 120 years as His Spirit’s message of righteousness was preached to a wicked world—Genesis 6:3; 2 Peter 2:5.) In the days of Abraham, God ultimately decided to spare the iniquitous city of Sodom, not if 50 righteous people were found living therein, but only 10 righteous individuals. (4)

via http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1630&utm_source=buffer&buffer_share=88168

This was a long post, I know, but the implications here are important. We must vigorously explain and defend the Just, long-suffering, and Righteous nature of God.

To recap, let’s remember a few points:

  1. The very question of the treatment of the Canaanites is the result of the ethics of a Judeo-Christian heritage.
  2. God doesn’t issue moral commands to Himself, but to us. Sometimes what He commands would be immoral if we did it on our own, without His command. The Israelites were doing what they were told.
  3. God is long-suffering, and didn’t judge the Canaanites arbitrarily.
  4. The Canaanites had earned the judgment of God, just as all of us have.
  5. Yahweh was establishing a covenant community smack in the middle of a degenerate culture. Clear lines of separation had to be established. That’s why He gave the moral, ceremonial, and civil commands that He did. The promised Messiah Jesus depended on a chosen people following a holy God.
  6. “Aslan is not a tame lion.”
  7. A “good” God punishes sin.
  8. What are the implications when we say someone is “playing God” when they kill someone?

We need to admit to ourselves, and to others, that these are hard questions, and we need to be prepared to give the hard answers. Wrestling with the ethics of the Old Testament, and the nature of God, is an effort worth the blood, sweat, and tears. Be ready to give an answer.

1.  “Bible Gateway.” Bible Gateway. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <http://www.biblegateway.com

2.  Craig, Wliliiam L. “Slaughter of the Canaanites.” ReasonableFaith.org. Reasonable Faith, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites&gt;.

3.  Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print. pg. 51

4.  “Apologetics Press.” Apologetics Press. Apologetics Press, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&gt;.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

Have you ever tried having a conversation with a deeply committed liberal? Does it feel like you’re having a conversation with a religious zealot? Well, Dr. Albert Mohler gives us some insight on exactly why it feels that way. Secularism, it seems, is a religion, complete with scriptures, dogmas, priests, a list of sins,  and a sacerdotal elite. These people won’t even consider an opposing viewpoint. If they profess to be Christians, they will just throw their Christian “faith” into an upper storage compartment, and affirm they personally believe in core Christian doctrines, but that those beliefs are private, and personal. The VP debate proves that liberals can compartmentalize their Christian faith from their Secularist faith:

“Well, maybe the title should be one Catholic guy talks about these issues while the other Catholic guy interrupts, mumbles, mugs for the camera, and manages to worry anyone who recalls that he’s one heartbeat away from the Presidency.  That’s hard to fit into a headline, though, so we’ll just have to make do.  Paul Ryan and Joe Biden got this question from Martha Raddatz on faith and abortion almost at the end of the debate, as she noted that this was the first time two Catholics have squared off in these forums.  Ryan gives a personal defense of his opposition to abortion and ties it explicitly to his faith, while Biden, er … compartmentalizes:

Sorry, but speaking as a Catholic, Biden’s answer was nonsense, as was his attempt to interrupt Ryan with some scolding on “social justice.”  That’s not to say that Catholics have no objections to Ryan on that score — they certainly do, although Ryan’s bishop defended at least Ryan’s intent and spirit on his budget proposals.  But the entire Catholic mission of social justice rests on the sacredness of individual human life, beginning at conception — as Biden himself acknowledges in this debate.

The point of social justice is to recognize the sanctity of each human life and act to protect it, be that through shelter, healing, food, and a number of other ways.  However, the most defenseless of all human life is that of the unborn. Furthermore, while one can argue to what extent government should be involved in charitable efforts, the basic function of government is to protect the lives of its people.  Social justice cannot begin without protecting unborn human life (and it can’t end there, either).  That, as Catholics know, is one of the major aspects of the “seamless garment” of Catholic social teaching.

It’s nonsense to say as a government official that you believe that human life starts at conception but that you can’t act to protect it.   Certainly many people believe that human life does not start at conception, but that’s less science- and reason-based than the Catholic doctrine that opposes it. At least, though, that belief doesn’t have that inherent contradiction that Biden expressed last night.

via http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/12/video-two-catholic-guys-talk-about-abortion-faith-and-religious-liberty/

It was Francis Schaeffer who reminded us of this Existential compartmentalization, and the liberal’s Kierkegaardian “leap of faith. Greg Koukl capture this best:

This is a textbook case of what the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer called an upper story leap. What he described in his book Escape From Reason –which is a short book and is worthy of being read if you want to understand why people think the way this rabbi thinks–is that in the realm of facts and history and science–in other words, all that is measurable–we come up with a conclusion that man is meaningless. Life is meaningless. We are caught in a cause and effect naturalistic system. We are part of the machine. That’s the fact of the matter. That’s what science tells us. Because that is hard to handle, we make what Kierkegaard called a leap of faith and we leap into the upper story of faith and significance. So we make a theological statement of faith that we are valuable and we are worthwhile. Here’s what’s important. The statement about value that we are assuming based on belief in the Bible has nothing to do with reality. That’s why modern religious thinkers who think this way are schizophrenic. They can’t defend their faith in the real world because the point is there is no defense in the real world. The real world speaks against value in human beings so we must take a leap of faith.

via http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5667

Dr. Mohler quotes Howard P. Kainz, professor emeritus of philosophy at Marquette University, frequently in the following segment:

“Kainz offers a crucial insight here. He suggests that one of the most important factors in the nation’s cultural divide is that persons on both sides are deeply committed to their own creeds and worldviews — even if on one side those creeds are secular. 

(Secularist liberals have a creed.)

“This explains why talking about abortion or same-sex ‘marriage,’ for example, with certain liberals is usually futile. It is like trying to persuade a committed Muslim to accept Christ. Because his religion forbids it, he can only do so by converting from Islam to Christianity; he cannot accept Christ as long as he remains firmly committed to Islam. So it is with firmly committed liberals: Their ‘religion’ forbids any concessions to the ‘conservative’ agenda, and as long as they remain committed to their secular ideology, it is futile to hope for such concessions from them.

(Or as the Ferengi Grand Magus Zek complains on Star Trek Deep Space Nine: “it’s like arguing with a Klingon… Yes, I am a trekkie)

Kainz’s argument bears similarities not only to Machen’s observations about the theological scene, but also to Thomas Sowell’s understanding of the larger culture. As Sowell argued in A Conflict of Visions, the basic ideological divide of our times is between those who hold a “constrained vision” over those who hold an “unconstrained vision.” Both worldviews are, in the actual operations of life, reduced to certain “gut feelings” that operate much like religious convictions.

(It boils down to presuppositions)

Kainz concedes that some will resist his designation of secularism as a religion. “Religion in the most common and usual sense connotes dedication to a supreme being or beings,” he acknowledges. Nevertheless, “especially in the last few centuries, ‘religion’ has taken on the additional connotations of dedication to abstract principles or ideals rather than a personal being,” he insists. Kainz dates the rise of this secular religion to the French Enlightenment and its idolatrous worship of reason.

(This “reason” is completely materialistic, and can never move beyond the confines of the physical universe. There is no Special Revelation, and no way to logically move from physics into metaphysics.)

Looking back over the last century, Kainz argues that Marxism and ideological Liberalism have functioned as religious systems for millions of individuals. Looking specifically at Marxism, Kainz argues that the Marxist religion had dogmas, canonical scriptures, priests, theologians, ritualistic observances, parochial congregations, heresies, hagiography, and even an eschatology. Marxism’s dogmas were its core teachings, including economic determinism and the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Its canonical scriptures included the writings of Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse Tung. Its priests were those guardians of Marxist purity who functioned as the ideological theorists of the movement. Its ritualistic observances included actions ranging from workers’ strikes to mass rallies. The eschatology of Marxism was to be realized in the appearance of “Communist man” and the new age of Marxist utopia.

Similarly, Kainz argues that modern secular liberalism includes its own dogmas. Among these are the beliefs “that mankind must overcome religious superstition by means of reason; that empirical science can and will eventually answer all the questions about the world and human values that were formerly referred to traditional religion or theology; and that the human race, by constantly invalidating and disregarding hampering traditions, can and will achieve perfectibility.”

(It’s the Utopian dream of optimistic human progress, devoid of any understanding of man’s sin, rebellion, and need of an Intermediary between God and man.)

Kainz also argues that contemporary liberalism has borrowed selectively from the New Testament, turning Jesus’ admonition to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s,” as a foundation for “absolute secularism,” enshrined in the language of a wall separating church and state. Thus, “religion [is] reduced to something purely private.”

(This is why groups like the Freedom From Religion are using the billy club of “separation of church and state” to marginalize and Christian expression in this nation. Even the POTUS changed “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship”. It’s a subtle attempt to grant religious expression only in our houses of worship. Otherwise, keep your non-secular ideas to yourself.)

Secular liberalism also identifies certain sins such as “homophobia” and sexism. As Kainz sees it, the secular scriptures fall into two broad categories: “Darwinist and scientistic writings championing materialist and naturalistic explanations for everything, including morals; and feminist writings exposing the ‘evil’ of patriarchy and tracing male exploitation of females throughout history up to the present.”

(What are the new “Commandments” of Liberalism (whether Modern, or Postmodern)? How about evolution, same-sex marriage, secular feminism, environmentalism, the “green” movement, Moral Relativism, etc.)

The priests and priestesses of secular liberalism constitute its “sacerdotal elite” and tend to be intellectuals who can present liberal values in the public square. Congregations where secular liberals gather include organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the National Organization of Women, and similar bodies. These groups “help supply a sense of affiliation and commonality for the religiously liberal.”

(The use of para-religious liberal groups to further their agenda.)

The rites and rituals of secular liberalism include “gay pride” parades and pro-abortion rallies. Interestingly, the eschatology of this movement is, Kainz argues, the distillation of pragmatism. “In the estimation of the religiously liberal,” Kainz asserts, “all lifestyles and all moralities can approximate this goal, as long as the proscribed illiberal ’sins’ are avoided.”

(Their eschatology is pragmatism: the “ends justifies the means”, and “whatever works”. Their prophet is Saul Alinsky.)

Kainz readily admits that not all liberals are committed to this religious vision of liberalism. As he sees it, “There are many people working for social justice, human rights, international solidarity, and other causes commonly regarded as liberal without a deep ideological commitment.” His point is that conservatives may find common cause and common ground with these non-religiously committed liberals.

(We can and should find common ground with moderate liberals. After all, we share a social concern with them. We, too, as Christians, care about the poor, and we are called to steward this world responsibly. there are many social and political issues we can work cooperatively with liberals to accomplish. It’s practically impossible to work with religious secular liberals on any thing.)

“For many ‘moderate’ liberals, liberalism is a political perspective, not a core ideology,” he observes. “In the culture war it is important for Christians to distinguish between the religiously committed liberal and the moderate liberal. For one thing, Christians should not be surprised when they find no common ground with the former. They may form occasional, even if temporary, alliances with the latter.”

Kainz’s article “Liberalism as Religion: The Culture War Is Between Religious Believer on Both Sides,” appears in the May 2006 edition of Touchstone magazine. His analysis is genuinely helpful in understanding the clash of positions, policies, convictions, and visions that mark our contemporary scene.

Though Kainz does not develop this point, all persons are, in their own way, deeply committed to their own worldview. There is no intellectual possibility of absolute value neutrality — not among human beings, anyway.

The conception of our current cultural conflict as a struggle between two rival religions is instructive and humbling. At the political level, this assessment should serve as a warning that our current ideological divides are not likely to disappear anytime soon. At the far deeper level of theological analysis, this argument serves to remind Christians that evangelism remains central to our mission and purpose. Those who aim at the merely political are missing the forest for the trees, and confusing the temporal for the eternal.

Two rival religions? Machen was right then, and he is right now. The real struggle is between Christianity and Post-Christianity.”

via AlbertMohler.com – Two Rival Religions? Christianity and Post-Christianity.

The only way to effectively change a culture is to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. Share your faith with whoever will listen, and yes, that means even those aggravating secular-religious liberals that drive you nuts. Love them in Jesus’ Name.

simul iustus et peccator,
Eric Adams

We all have issues when it comes to personal Bible study. sometimes we’re rushed , and we hurry too much. Sometimes we are too tired, and doze off instead of studying. Sometimes we just don’t want to study. Sometimes , we are too distracted to get anything out of it. Sometimes, we just haven’t honed the necessary skills to do it properly. I’ve been guilty of most of the following at sometime in my life. It takes diligence, and good hermeneutical skills to mine the depths of God’s Word. Let’s double-down, and keep a watch out for bad Bible study habits like these listed by C. Michael Patton:

1. Lucky lotto: (eyes closed) – “Umm . . . I will read this verse”

Often times you may be tempted to simply ask God a question, open up the Bible, fix your eyes on the first verse you see, and think that this is what God said. There is the old story of the depressed man who did this. He opened up his Bible to Matthew 27:5, “He went out and hanged himself.” A bit confused, the man did it again. This time his eyes fell on John 13:27, “What you do, do quickly.” Now, that was not lucky at all.

What you have to understand is that, while inspired, the Bible is not a magic book. God does not speak through it out of context. There is a message that needs to be understood, a context to every passage. Be careful not to practice “lucky lotto” Bible studies.

2. Brussels Sprout: “Do I have to?”

Many people hate to study the Bible like they hate to eat their vegetables. You must find a way to cultivate a love for sitting at the feet of God through Bible study. I know just as well as anyone that Bible study can be long and laborious, especially when you are in certain books that don’t seem to produce much fruit from their labor. But always remember that you have the opportunity to hear from the God of all eternity. Bible study is a privilege. When it becomes a burden, think through your life and commitment to God. I know that it is usually a burden to me on days that I am not quite so sold out to him. But when my life is on track, Bible study is often the best part of my day.

3. Channel Changer: “Let’s read something else”

It is easy to jump from place to place every time you study your Bible. But try to be disciplined to stick to one book at a time. Think about it in relation to the movies. We don’t watch little bits and pieces of dozens of different movies. We start a movie at the beginning and we don’t stop until it is over. This is the way I want you to approach the Bible. Work your way through entire books, becoming completely immersed in what they have to teach, then move on to the next. It is okay to be reading many books at a time, but make sure that you are not always jumping all around, never getting the whole story.

4. Concord: “Watch how fast I can finish”

When I was a kid, I used to feel so guilty about not reading the Bible. My mother taught me about the importance of Bible study and I kept a Bible beside my bed wherever I went. But it was very hard for me to actually read my Bible. I don’t know why. However, when I did guilt myself into reading it, I would always pick the shortest chapter I could find (it usually was found in the Psalms) and blow through it at lightning speed. I wonder what God thought of that. “Okay God, I am ready to listen. Just talk as fast as you can and let’s get this over with.” I seriously doubt he honored me with much insight. The point is to put on the brakes. Read your Bible slowly. Read your Bible carefully. Pray before, during, and after you are done. Just talk to God while you are reading. Talk out loud if you have to. This will make you much more engaged and will produce much more fruit in you study.

5. Baseball card: “I’m very picky”

Some people like certain part of the Bible more than others. If you were to look at my Bible the pages of the “Upper Room Discourse” in John 14-17 will be more worn than any other section. This is because it is so comforting! I love Jesus’ “Do not let your hearts be troubled . . .” stuff. I also don’t like other books too much. For example, the Law can be archaic and boring. The prophets are hard to understand. However, I must discipline myself to be intimately acquainted with the entire Bible. Yes, some things will seem more relevant than others, but God wants us to know the whole story, not just the parts we like. I encourage you to try to go through the entire Bible every year. There are some great Bible reading plans that you can easily access. You can continue to read those passages you love over and over. But make sure you are getting the whole picture.

6. Clint Eastwood: “I don’t need anyone’s help”

We all need help. Bible study is wonderful, but it is tough. Make sure that you lean on many of the great people today and throughout church history to aid you in your studies. Yes, you do have the Holy Spirit in you and you can understand much. But the Holy Spirit works primarily through the community called “the Body of Christ.” This is true in Bible study as well. There are many Bible study aids out there, but the best works you can have are called “commentaries.” These are books from people who have spent their whole life studying the Bible. There are so many good commentaries out there. Once you determine to read a book, find a good commentary to help you through the difficulties that are sure to arise.

7. Magical: “Abracadabra . . . It applies to my life”

Some people call the Bible “God’s Love Letter to You,” but we have to be careful with this. The Bible was not really written to you. The Bible was written to people who lived thousands of years ago, were in a completely different culture, and had very specific needs and problems. Rightly understood, the Bible will often have principles that apply to your life, but these principles must be gleaned by interpreting the Bible through the lens of time. This is why it is so important to understand the context of each and every passage and story. Sometimes it will have direct application to your life, but sometimes it is just God telling you about what happened with no encouragement to follow the examples.

8. Indiana Jones: “Let’s find the hidden meaning”

This is a very dangerous approach. But the Indiana Jones approach to Bible study assumes that there is some hidden meaning that you are trying to mine out. This assumes that we have some sort of secret decoder ring to find layers of truth hidden by God but discernible only to the Christian. We need to be very careful here. While the Bible was written by God, it was not done so with the intent to have secret truth shown only to a select few. It was written to reveal truth to all who will listen! There are no hidden messages in the Bible. Applying the proper study methods will guard you against this often divisive and very subjective approach.

via Eight Ways to Go Wrong in Bible Study | Parchment and Pen.

The good news is this: even if you have been guilty of some, or even most of the above, at least you are attempting what has become a lost art. Love His Word. Fear His Word. Read His Word. Pray His Word. Learn how to properly study His Word.

simul iustus et peccator,
Eric Adams

It’s easy to assume that just because the Old Testament doesn’t precisely condemn a practice, we can presume the practice is normative doctrine. Bill Pratt gives us some pointers on how to deal with OT texts.

  1. An OT narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.
  2. An OT narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught propositionally elsewhere.
  3. OT narratives record what happened – not necessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time.  Therefore, not every narrative has an individual identifiable moral application.
  4. What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us.  Frequently, it is just the opposite.
  5. Most of the characters in OT narratives are far from perfect – as are their actions as well.
  6. We are not always told at the end of an OT narrative whether what happened was good or bad.  We are expected to be able to judge this on the basis of what God has taught us directly and categorically elsewhere in Scripture.
  7. All OT narratives are selective and incomplete.  Not all the relevant details are always given (cf. John 21:25).  What does appear in the narrative is everything that the inspired author thought important for us to know.
  8. OT narratives are not written to answer all of our theological questions.  They have particular, specific, limited purposes and deal with certain issues, leaving others to be dealt with elsewhere in other ways.
  9. OT narratives may teach either explicitly (by clearly stating something) or implicitly (by clearly implying something without actually stating it).
  10. In the final analysis, God is the hero of all biblical narratives.

via How Do We Interpret the Old Testament Narratives? | Tough Questions Answered.

Great advice. I need to go back over these principles, and so do you.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

The Crux of History

Posted: October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Original

Human history swings on the hinge of a Palestinian Jew. They can call it “Common Era” if they wish, but every event known to man is recorded as occurring (approximately) before or after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

And no single event in recorded history is more influential than his execution. Because of Jesus’s death nearly 2,000 years ago, over 2 billion people now call themselves Christians. Most statisticians agree that over 100,000 are killed every year because they take that name.

Why? Why is Jesus’s death so influential? And why are a million people killed in a decade because Jesus was killed?

Why is precisely the right question to ask. Everything hangs on why Jesus died.

The world thinks he died because he threatened the political establishment. But that is not what Jesus believed. When Pilate flexed his governing muscles, Jesus was unimpressed, saying, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Here’s what Jesus believed:

I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17–18)

But why did he believe he had to lay his life down? His answer: “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). What does that mean? That’s the most important question to ask about the most influential event in human history.

And the most clear, concise, concentrated Biblical answers to that question (that I’m aware of ) are collected in John Piper’s 122 page book, Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die. This is one of those rare books that can be read as a devotional by Christians of all maturity levels, and given to non-Christians as a clear explanation of the gospel. Each chapter is only two pages long, but meditation on each could go on for days. The book could be a small group study for a year, or a lunch hour office study for a month. Numerous churches give it to visitors on Sunday mornings and many folks have given them as gifts to family and friends at Christmas.

Because the content of this book is so important, we want to help you read it and give it away. You can purchase it or read it free here, or if you want to give a bunch away, go here to purchase cases (48 copies) inexpensively ($1.65 per copy).

Humans are reconciled to God by Jesus’s death (Romans 5:10) or not at all. That’s why his death is so influential and why it is so violently opposed.

The cross is the crux of history because it’s the crux of the gospel.

via Desiring God Blog http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-crux-of-history?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DGBlog+%28Desiring+God+Blog%29

Over at the Gospel Coalition Blog, Joe Carter has an interesting post-

Majority of Pastors Disapprove of Making Political Endorsements From Pulpit

“The Story: According to a recent survey by LifeWay Research, nearly 90 percent of pastors believe they should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit. The survey also found that 44 percent of pastors personally endorsed candidates, but did so outside of their church role.

The Background: The survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors found that only 10 percent believe pastors should endorse candidates from the pulpit. Eighty-seven percent believe (71 percent strongly and 16 percent somewhat) pastors should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit. Three percent of pastors are not sure.

As Lifeway notes, an amendment to the IRS tax code in 1954 prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from endorsing political candidates for public office. According to the IRS, “violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom believes the law violates the First Amendment and has encouraged pastors to talk about candidates and make specific recommendations on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” (October 7). The sermons are to be recorded and sent to the IRS in order to challenge the law in court

Why It Matters: Daniel Darling, a Chicago-area pastor and author, wrote a blog post listing “3 Reasons Your Pastor Probably Doesn’t Preach Politics.” The most powerful, and succinct reason is that the Word of God must be the text for pastors:

This sounds like a cliché, but it bears saying: faithful Bible preachers use the text of the Word of God as their source of preaching. Anything less is simply a speech, which may be inspirational, moral, or even Christian-themed. But if our basis is not the text, we’re not preaching.”

via Majority of Pastors Disapprove of Making Political Endorsements From Pulpit – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

In a related story-

“More than 1,000 pastors are planning to challenge the IRS next month by deliberately preaching politics ahead of the presidential election despite a federal ban on endorsements from the pulpit.

The defiant move, they hope, will prompt the IRS to enforce a 1954 tax code amendment that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from making political endorsements. Alliance Defending Freedom, which is holding the October summit, said it wants the IRS to press the matter so it can be decided in court. The group believes the law violates the First Amendment by “muzzling” preachers.

“The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit.”

– Erik Stanley, Alliance Defending Freedom

“The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the group, told FoxNews.com. “It is a head-on constitutional challenge.”

Stanley said pastors attending the Oct. 7 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” will “preach sermons that will talk about the candidates running for office” and then “make a specific recommendation.” The sermons will be recorded and sent to the IRS.  

“We’re hoping the IRS will respond by doing what they have threatened,” he said. “We have to wait for it to be applied to a particular church or pastor so that we can challenge it in court. We don’t think it’s going to take long for a judge to strike this down as unconstitutional.”

via Pastors pledge to defy IRS, preach politics from pulpit ahead of election | Fox News.

It’s true that Pastors need to preach from the text of the Bible. However, it is also true that a Christian Worldview encompasses the political world. In the context of preaching the Bible, areas that politics contacts the Christian’s life should be covered Biblically.

What do you think? Should Pastors bring politics into the pulpit? Is it right for the State to dictate what can and cannot be spoken in the church?

Much is at stake in this debate.  We need to think seriously about the issues, and the consequences of our actions.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams