Archive for the ‘ Exegesis ’ Category

God and Desire

It was a bit of an eyebrow raiser – mostly due to the nonchalance of the entire affair – (albeit unsurprising, given prior statements he has made) to read Piper simply handing over 1 Tim. 2:4 to Arminianism. What’s also quite interesting is that the handoff is done with practically no exegetical attention paid to the surrounding verses, or seemingly, even an attempt to interact with the historic Reformed commentators on the subject.

Put two texts together, and see what you see.

“God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (eis epignōsin alētheias)” (1 Timothy 2:4).

“God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (eis epignōsin alētheias)” (2 Timothy 2:25).

Now, do you see any treatment of the surrounding verses in the following discussion? I don’t. Essentially, it’s conceding the Arminian conception of the first verse – and there is no reason whatsoever to do so.

Here’s what I see:

1. Though God desires all people to be saved, he “may perhaps grant repentance.” Which I think means that God’s desire for all to be saved does not lead him to save all. God has desires that do not reach the level of volition. They are restrained by other considerations — like his wisdom, which guides him to display his glory in the fullest way. He has his reasons for why he “may perhaps grant repentance” to some sinners, and not to others.

First, what is meant by “all”? He doesn’t address the subject. In “The Potter’s Freedom”, there is an extensive treatment of this section of Scripture. Who do I want to bring to your consideration on this verse, however? Why, John Gill, of course! His commentary is amazingly thorough. I’ll post the rest of Piper’s comments, and then follow with Gill.

2. The “knowledge of the truth” is a gift of God. God “grants [i.e., gives] repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” Without the gift of repentance, we would not know the truth. This is evidently what 1 Timothy 2:4 means also: We must be “saved and [in that way] come to a knowledge of the truth.” Saved from our blindness to the truth.

3. Therefore the truth Paul has in mind is not truth that the natural man can see. But the natural man can see a lot of truth. Tens of thousands of truths are open to the natural mind. What truth can the natural man not see? The natural man cannot see the glory of Christ in the gospel. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

4. This is why God must “grant” what it takes to see the truth of the gospel. We are blind to it. And Satan keeps us that way. Until God “grants” repentance (metanoia) — the change of mind that can see and receive the truth of the gospel.

5. Therefore, our prayers for the unbelievers we love, and our evangelism, should be driven by this one and only hope for their salvation: “God may perhaps grant them repentance.” Since he alone has the power to overcome spiritual deadness and Satanic blindness, we lay hold in prayer and witness on the truth: “God may grant repentance.” That is our only hope.

So let us follow Paul: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1). And: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Now, although this looks, superficially, to be a complete answer – it isn’t. It’s a superficial answer. I appreciate the comments in the following points – 2-5 – but his comments on the first point are quite simply lacking, in a variety of respects. Compare Gill, starting at verse 1:

1 Timothy 2:1:

I exhort therefore, that first of all

The two principal parts of public worship, being the ministry of the word and prayer; and the apostle having insisted on the former, in the preceding chapter, in which he orders Timothy to charge some that they teach no other doctrine than that of the Gospel, gives an account of his own ministry, and call to it, and of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to his trust, and stirs up Timothy to the faithful and diligent discharge of his work and office; now proceeds to the latter, to prayer, and exhorts unto it; either Timothy in particular, for so read the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, “I exhort thee”, or “desire thee”; or else the church in general; unless it should rather be thought to be a charge to Timothy to exhort, and so Beza’s Claromontane copy reads, “exhort thou therefore”: but it is commonly considered as an exhortation of the apostle’s, which he was very urgent in: it was what lay much upon his mind, and he was greatly desirous that it should be attended unto; for so the words may be read, “I exhort first of all”, or before all things; of all things he had to say, this was the chief, or it was what he would have principally and chiefly done by others: for this does not so much regard the order of time, that prayer should be made early in the morning, in the first place, before anything else is done, and particularly before preaching, which seems to have been the custom of the primitive saints, ( Acts 4:31 ) but the pre-eminence and superior excellency of it; though the words may be rendered, “I exhort, that first, the supplications of all be made”: and so may regard public prayer, the prayer of the whole church, in distinction from private prayer, or the prayer of a single person; which is expressed by different words,

supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks:

the first of these, “supplications”, signifies such petitions for things that are wanted by men, either by themselves or others; and that either for their bodies or souls, as food and raiment for the one, and discoveries of pardoning love, supplies of grace, spiritual peace, comfort for the other: and the second word, “prayers”, signifies good wishes and desires, directed and expressed to God for things that are in themselves to be wished for, and desired of God, either for ourselves or others: and the next word, “intercessions”, intends either complaints exhibited in prayer against others that have done injuries; or prayers put up for others, either for the averting of evil from them, or for the bestowing some good thing on them: and the last word, “thanksgivings”, with which requests should always be made known to God, designs that branch of prayer in which thanks are given to God for mercies received, whether temporal or spiritual: and these are to

be made for all men;

not only for all the saints, for all the churches of Christ, and, ministers of the Gospel; nor only for near relations and friends, according to the flesh; but for all the inhabitants of the country and city in which men dwell, the peace and prosperity of which are to be prayed for; yea, for enemies, and such as reproach, persecute, and despitefully use the saints, even for all sorts of men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, high and low, bond and free, good men and bad men: for it cannot be understood of every individual that has been, is, or shall be in the world; millions of men are dead and gone, for whom prayer is not to be made; many in hell, to whom it would be of no service; and many in heaven, who stand in no need of it; nor is prayer to be made for such who have sinned the sin unto death, ( 1 John 5:16 ) besides, giving of thanks, as well as prayers, are to be made for all men; but certainly the meaning is not, that thanks should be given for wicked men, for persecutors, and particularly for a persecuting Nero, or for heretics, and false teachers, such as Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom the apostle had delivered to Satan. But the words must be understood of men of all sorts, of every rank and quality, as the following verse shows.

(Ver. 2)

For kings, and for all that are in authority

For supreme governors, as the emperor of Rome, and kings of particular nations; and for all sub-governors, or inferior magistrates, as procurators or governors of provinces, and proconsuls, and the like; all that were in high places, and acted under the authority of those that were supreme; these are particularly mentioned, the then governors, whether supreme or subordinate, who were avowed enemies, and violent persecutors of the saints; and it might be a scruple with some of them, whether they should pray for them, and therefore the apostle enjoins it; and this in opposition to the notions and practices of the Jews, who used to curse the Heathens, and pray for none but for themselves, and those of their own nation:

that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty;

which does not merely design the end of civil government by kings and magistrates, which is to preserve the peace and quiet of the commonwealth; to protect the persons and properties of men, that they may possess their own undisturbed; and to secure to them their civil and religious rights and liberties, that they may have the free use and exercise of religion, signified by “all godliness”; and to encourage morality and virtue, expressed by “honesty”; and so is an argument for prayer, taken from the advantage of civil government: nor does this clause only point out the duty of saints to live peaceably under the government they are, and not disturb it; to mind only their religious exercises among themselves, and behave honestly and morally among men, as they generally speaking are, the quiet in the land; but also expresses the thing to be prayed for; and the sense is, that since the hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord, and he can turn them as he pleases, prayer should be made to him for them, that he would either convert them, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth, they now persecuted; or at least so dispose their hearts and minds, that they might stop the persecution, and so saints might live peaceably under them, enjoy their religious liberty, and be encouraged in their moral conversation. The Arabic version renders it, “that they may be preserved”: that is, kings, and all in authority. It is a saying of R. Hananiah, or Ananias, the sagan of the priests[1],

“pray for the peace or safety of the kingdom (one of their commentators on it adds[2], even of the nations of the world, which is remarkable, and agrees with the exhortation of the apostle); for if there was no fear of that, men would devour one another alive.”

(Ver. 3)

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.

Not only to live peaceably and quietly under the government men are, since that is the ordination of God, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, which his grace teaches; but to pray for all sorts of men, and for those who are set in the highest place of government, even though enemies and persecutors: this is good in itself, and in the sight of an omniscient God, who sees not as man seeth; and it is acceptable unto him through Jesus Christ, by whom every sacrifice of prayer or praise is so; for by God our Saviour is meant God the Father, who is the Saviour of all men, in a way of providence, and the Saviour of all the elect in a way of special grace;

(Ver. 4)

Who will have all men to be saved,…

The salvation which God wills that all men should enjoy, is not a mere possibility of salvation, or a mere putting them into a salvable state; or an offer of salvation to them; or a proposal of sufficient means of it to all in his word; but a real, certain, and actual salvation, which he has determined they shall have; and is sure from his own appointment, from the provision of Christ as a Saviour for them, from the covenant of grace, in which everything is secured necessary for it, and from the mission of Christ to effect it, and from its being effected by him: wherefore the will of God, that all men should be saved, is not a conditional will, or what depends on the will of man, or on anything to be performed by him, for then none might be saved; and if any should, it would be of him that willeth, contrary to the express words of Scripture; but it is an absolute and unconditional will respecting their salvation, and which infallibly secures it: nor is it such a will as is distinguishable into antecedent and consequent; with the former of which it is said, God wills the salvation of all men, as they are his creatures, and the work of his hands; and with the latter he wills, or not wills it, according to their future conduct and behaviour; but the will of God concerning man’s salvation is entirely one, invariable, unalterable, and unchangeable: nor is it merely his will of approbation or complacency, which expresses only what would be grateful and well pleasing, should it be, and which is not always fulfilled; but it is his ordaining, purposing, and determining will, which is never resisted, so as to be frustrated, but is always accomplished: the will of God, the sovereign and unfrustrable will of God, has the governing sway and influence in the salvation of men; it rises from it, and is according to it; and all who are saved God wills they should be saved; nor are any saved, but whom he wills they should be saved: hence by all men, whom God would have saved, cannot be meant every individual of mankind, since it is not his will that all men, in this large sense, should be saved, unless there are two contrary wills in God; for there are some who were before ordained by him unto condemnation, and are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and it is his will concerning some, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned; nor is it fact that all are saved, as they would be, if it was his will they should; for who hath resisted his will? but there is a world of ungodly men that will be condemned, and who will go into everlasting punishment: rather therefore all sorts of men, agreeably to the use of the phrase in 1Ti 2:1 are here intended, kings and peasants, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, young and old, greater and lesser sinners; and therefore all are to be prayed for, even all sorts of men, because God will have all men, or all sorts of men, saved; and particularly the Gentiles may be designed, who are sometimes called the world, the whole world, and every creature; whom God would have saved, as well as the Jews, and therefore Heathens, and Heathen magistrates, were to be prayed for as well as Jewish ones. Moreover, the same persons God would have saved, he would have also

come to the knowledge of the truth:

of Christ, who is the truth, and to faith in him, and of all the truth of the Gospel, as it is in Jesus; not merely to a notional knowledge of it, which persons may arrive unto, and not be saved, but a spiritual and experimental knowledge of it; and all that are saved are brought to such a knowledge, which is owing to the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, who hides the knowledge of Gospel truths from the wise and prudent, and reveals them to babes: whence it appears, that it is not his will with respect to every individual of mankind; that they should thus come to the knowledge of the truth; for was it his will they should, he would, no doubt, give to every man the means of it, which he has not, nor does he; he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, and overlooked their times of ignorance, and sent no message nor messenger to inform them of his will; he gave his word to Jacob, and his statutes unto Israel only; and the Gospel is now sent into one part of the world, and not another; and where it does come, it is hid to the most; many are given up to strong delusions to believe a lie, and few are savingly and experimentally acquainted with the truths of the Gospel; though all that are saved are brought to the knowledge of such truths as are necessary to salvation; for they are chosen to it through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.

—–

The difference is stunning. The “quick” answer – the “put two verses together and see what you get” approach – just doesn’t work. It’s not sound, and it gets you into trouble – even if you’re John Piper. If you want to get the real answer, you have to really dig into theology proper – dig deeply into systematic and biblical theology. Otherwise, the “combination” you try to make just isn’t going to be sound. I’d also recommend to you Gill’s comments on 2 Tim. 2:25, as well. In the end, the whole difference between these two solutions is exegetical. Piper doesn’t give an exegesis of the text – Gill does. Dr. White gives an exegesis in his book, too – and comes out with the same conclusion as Gill. This should be instructive to us.

One further point to make. Job 23:13 says this: “But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does.” God, of course, is the referent of this verse. vs. 3-12 in this same chapter all refer to God Himself. What does it say? God accomplishes all that He desires. The Hebrew word for “does” is עָשָׂה – the primary semantic domain of the term is “to do, fashion, accomplish, make” – and this is not the only place where this is said, of course. Isa 46:10 says ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’ The word for “good pleasure” is חֵפֶץ – delight, pleasure, with the further connotation of “desire”. Thus, it can be established that that which God desires, is that which is accomplished. It is no solution to assert that there is a “desire” which does not rise to the level of “volition” – as God is eternal, and thence is to be seen as eternally frustrated in His desire. This is no fitting view of God. While I appreciate the work that John Piper has done for the kingdom, and his faithfulness as a shepherd – he is simply wrong on this issue of God and desire.

  1. [1] Pirke Abot, c. 3. sect. 2.
  2. [2] Bartenora in Pirke Abot, c. 3. sect. 2.

For days, the blogs and facebook statuses have been replete with pro and anti Prop 26 messages. What I haven’t seen from the anti side, however, is much of anything that isn’t a Slippery Slope fallacy.

The common refrain is that this proposition will *likely* lead to the banning of abortion, IVF treatments, stem cell research, and human cloning. It will keep women from receiving chemo while pregnant, deny them treatment in case of ectopic pregancies or other life-threatening pregnancy problems, “most” birth control options will be removed, that if a woman’s miscarriage is “suspicious” they will be subject to investigation,in vitro fertilization will almost certainly be regulated and priced out of existence, the State should force a pregnant woman to carry a dying fetus until it miscarries naturally, victims of rape (including the mentally disabled and girls as young as 8 ) should be forced by the State to carry and give birth to their rapists’ babies, that there will be additional thousands of babies brought to term and in foster care. That’s a selection.

The problem with all this being; it’s a fallacious argument. Namely, the Slippery slope fallacy. This fallacy is presented in this form:
Event X has occurred (or will or might occur).
Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.

Unfortunately, there is no argument typically given for *why* this will inevitably happen. More often, the wilder the claim concerning what will occur, the better. For instance, I read on a forum that this means “reproductive rights are being stripped away right before my very eyes.” Followed shortly after by another saying that the passage of this bill will make us “a country that reduces women to incubators.” Such rhetorical silliness is truly amazing, but it gets better. A woman wonders what the “future would hold in a country where abortions & birth control are illegal, and a woman is a second-class citizen compared to the fetus she carries.” One opines that women will be “required to go through inquests when they have miscarriages to determine if they were somehow at fault for “murdering” their fetus.” This is the kicker: “Do you not realize this is the first step to taking away freedom? What’s next? Your freedom to religion? Speech? To vaccinate your kids or not? Its a slippery slope.” That’s a fallacy, folks. There’s no argument for why this is the case. It’s just stating that it is the case. X, therefore y – no intervening premise.

Is there a good reason not to vote for Prop 26? Yes, actually. Because it’s considered by some to be unconstitutional. Does that mean it isn’t right? No. That’s the best argument I have seen on the matter, bar none. However, there are arguments on the other side, as well. It is not a *direct* ballot initiative – it requires legislature review. It was presented to the MS legislature early this year. Hence, the counter-argument goes, the constitution is speaking of direct initiatives. As this was reviewed by the state legislature, it does not fall under that purview. Clear as mud? Good! That will likely be the “best bet” of the folks arguing against this, if it gets adopted – but we’ll see how far they get. That, however, is just my opinion on the matter. I’m also not sure they have any federal appeal in this instance, as it’s an article of a *state* constitution.

Here’s the argument: The State Constitution says that “(5) The initiative process shall not be used: (a) For the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this Constitution”
This initiative specifically states that it is amending Article III (the Bill of Rights, in the MS Constitution).
Therefore, the initiative is unconstitutional.

However, there are a couple ways to go, here. The first is that this isn’t a modification, addition, or repeal – but a clarification. The second is that since it was an indirect initiative, and under the supervision of the state legislature, that it doesn’t qualify under that heading. I don’t know how far that one goes, but that’s one response I’ve seen. I’m sure there are others, but there are two quick outlines.

I have yet to see an objection, save the objection of it’s illegality, that is not a slippery slope fallacy. Saying what you *think* will happen in the future is something else altogether than making a logical argument. It’s simply stating your opinion on the matter of it’s eventual result. On the contrary, I can pretty clearly tell you what it does prohibit. 1) Abortion 2) The intentional destruction of any fertilized embryo 3) Human clones being considered “non-persons” in such an eventuality 4) Killing unborn children with the “morning after” pill. This is in terms of how it defines a person; the language used, not my feelings concerning it. This is always a tough thing to do – look at an issue from the standpoint of it’s logical implications, not it’s emotional ones. Logically, murder is of a person. If a person is a fertilized embryo, then destruction of a fertilized embryo is, therefore, murder. Abortion, obviously, is murder – as is the use of the “morning after” pill. These are all issues that have surrounded the pro-life movement for the last couple decades. There should be no surprise from anyone to see the oft-discussed logical implications in other areas besides abortion.

Does this mean we will be faced with some tough choices? Sure, it does. Does it also mean that we’ll have to be ethical in terms of unborn children in a similar fashion to the way that we have to be in the case of adult or infant persons in the case of triage situations? Yes. Is there established law in these cases? Yes, there is. Saying that there isn’t is simply just untrue. Putting an unborn child on a “level playing field” with a child a matter of months older is nothing more than being consistent. What is at issue is establishing, legally, what a person is. Using rhetorical tricks such as were outlined above is, simply, beneath us. Thinking logically about these sorts of issues is what we should be doing, not making emotionally laden accusations without anything more than speculation to go on. It is not “mean”, or “condescending” to point out that an argument is fallacious. In fact, we should welcome such criticism, if it helps us think more clearly about the issue.

Since I am a Christian, let me clearly state my position. I believe that life begins at conception. This is not a slogan, but a Biblically exegeted position, culled and exposited from Scripture. This means that we are making a point of *principle*, and applying those principles to the world around us, as we all do with our principles. In the case of this position, it is exposited from the story of Samson, in Judges 13. His mother was promised a son, after having been barren for many years. She was told that this child would be dedicated to God – a vow called the “Nazarite” vow, discussed previously on this blog. She is told 1) That she *will* conceive. 2) She is told to be careful not to eat anything unclean, or to drink any wine (things forbidden by the vow) – starting now (vs 7). 3) The child is dedicated from when? From the womb. With conception explicitly mentioned, and all things related to this vow were to be put in effect, as of now, in order to ensure there was no violation. If the point at which we are concerned is not conception, then what shall we say it is? There is also the witness of John’s recognition of Christ “from the womb”, and being filled with the Holy Spirit “from the womb.” There is David’s testimony that God knit him together in his mother’s womb(Psa 139), and God’s concern for him there. There is the recognition of a spiritual state, even while in the womb, in Psalm 51. I also note Stott’s words on Psalm 139; “The psalmist surveys his life in four stages: Past, present, future, and before birth, and in all four refers to himself as ‘I.’ He who is writing as a full-grown man has the same personal identity as the fetus in his mother’s womb.”

Not only that, but human life is just as valuable in the womb, as it is outside of it. Shedding of innocent blood is often remarked on, in Scripture. This, incidentally, does not mean “innocent” as in “sinless”, but “innocent” as in “unworthy of being slain.” In Gen 9, we are told that whoever sheds the blood of man, by man will his blood be shed; but this is because man is created in the image of God. The doctrine of the imago dei is far-reaching, and central to why we take the position we do. We know when life is considered to start; and we believe that the image of God is intrinsic to the life of His human creatures. As such, they are the imago dei from the very beginning. In Exodus 21, we are told that even causing a woman to give birth prematurely (even though there is no lasting harm) is worthy of the husband choosing what to fine the guilty party. Directly after, we are told that any harm is to be met with life for life, etc. This is very plain. The unborn child is considered to be human life on equal footing with the adult. Just the potential of harm, in carelessness, is worthy of punishment, because they endangered a child. Proverbs 24:11-12 commands us to deliver the innocents from slaughter. (This verse is often cited in relation to the Holocaust, as well.) Deu 27:25 states that the one who accepts money to kill the innocent is cursed. In Amos 1:13, killing unborn children is cited as a sin. In 2 Sam 4:11, David tells men who killed Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, in his bed, that that deed was worthy of them being blotted from the earth. How much more, if children in the womb are being killed in the only bed they know?

In the case of rape; are children to be held accountable for the sins of their fathers, contra Deut 24:16? Do they deserve death? In the case of “freedom”, are we allowed to use that a covering for sin, contra 1Pe 2:16? Are we to kill the disabled, rather than care for them, contra Lev 19:14? Third, a woman’s body “belongs” to her no more than a man’s does. We belong to God. Instead of using speculative excuses for why it might not be most convenient for us were we to adopt an equitable law, it would behoove us to submit our convenience to the principles laid out in Scripture. Equity is found in just laws, not in the speculative enumeration of possible abuses or inconveniences we might face as a result. Scripture tells us that conception is when God considers life to begin. We are being given problems, but no solutions for those problems in reply. A fallacy is not excused by convenience. Immorality is likewise not excused by convenience. Even if IVF is made more expensive as they retool their procedures, for example – what is that to you, if it preserves life, and restrains evil? What else is it the government’s principal job to do? Instead of offering your personal nightmare scenarios, offer me an alternative. Further, tell me why the amendment *itself* is wrong – not why the potential consequences are wrong. There is a whole network of fallacies involved in that sort of argumentation. Speculative consequences are not a conclusion for an argument, if you don’t connect premise a to conclusion c. You can’t skip b, and call it a valid argument.

To wrap this up; if you want to offer an argument, offer us a premise b. Offer us a premise b, further, which the conclusion can be shown to follow from. Saying that y will occur if x occurs, without any reason given to think that y will occur is just simply illogical. Also, note that we are talking about something 1) Unprecedented and 2) That hasn’t yet occurred. Saying that we are speaking of “facts” in a case such as this is absurd. There are no facts to be had about the consequences of a future event. You might make an inductive case, but you have to make the case! So, please work on those arguments, boys and girls.

Immorality and Brute Facts

My last post examined the bare assertions made by our erstwhile evolving atheist, Jason Burgoyne. In this post, we will examine the comment that he feels sufficiently answers the issues I raised with his eisegetical treatment of 2 Samuel 12, and his previous (now-removed, with the excuse that he failed to “check his source” sufficiently) post wherein he posts a fabricated substitution for a verse in the book of Numbers, as Staks Rosch suggests in this blog.

Unfortunately, the comment amounts to a rambling, emotive, and invective laden screed, devoid of logical argumentation of any sort whatsoever. A friend of mine calls this approach “the three As – asserting assertions assertively.”

He was offered an internal critique of his own position. Instead of answering the critique, he simply repeats the same naked assertions so often leveled by unbelievers. The lack of introspection evidenced in his response, and the amount of personal investment shown is also a clear sign of emotive, irrational argumentation – so-called.

Here is the justification offered for his superficial treatment, and question-begging. My comments will be interspersed throughout.

It was only meant to be a short look into the atrocities in the book that is meant to inform our morality (In the eyes of Christians).

What sense does “atrocity” make when you have no moral foundation save subjective, arbitrary fiat? What sense does it make for a naturalist, evolutionist, atheist to be speaking about subjects such as “morality”? Morality is an immaterial – has no evidence for it’s existence, per the mantra so often chanted by the materialist hordes.

To be speaking of “morality” is to be spouting gibberish, per their worldview. However, not only are we speaking of “morality”, but “atrocity”. What physical scale may we measure the morality of acts by? What empirical measure do we follow to arrive at the dividing line between “immoral” and “atrocious”?

Further, what ever gave you the idea that the Bible is meant merely to “inform” our morality?

It is pretty clear who the rapists would be (the neighbors who would lie with the wives in public)

You know, the neighbors. The word is רֵעַ – a close relative, a friend, someone intimate with you. In just a few chapters, Absalom, David’s son, fulfills this prophecy. If our friend here had done as I had suggested, he would know this. Further, he would know that the phrase “in broad daylight” (in the better translations) is, literally, in sight of the sun. Openly. The immediate context – ie: the very next verse – tells us how we are to understand this. David sinned secretly, but the usurper will sin *openly*. I always find is fascinating when unbelievers approach these issues as if we have no idea about them. This is probably one of the best-known scenes in all of Scripture. There are volumes upon volumes in print concerning just this one passage, and everything surrounding it. God is not saying “there will be a public orgy”. Such a thing makes absolutely no sense in the context of Israel. He’s saying that as he has taken another man’s wife from him, so another man will take his wives from him. Except, while David did so in secret – the other will do so openly.

and the immorality of striking down a CHILD with sickness is evident and needs no further examination.

Why? How does your worldview provide the preconditions for 1) any sort of conception of morality at all 2) a conception of morality which is non-subjective 3) a conception of morality which carries the “ought” along with it?

Second, by whose standard of “evidence”? I haven’t seen you give any evidence to *be* evident. You’ve merely proclaimed, by fiat, that such is the case. Why should anyone care that your opinion happens to be such?

Thirdly, who on earth ever told you facts were “brute” or “uninterpreted”? The central question in any debate is the meaning of the facts. You are simply assuming your own pet meaning for anything you encounter – but unlike me, you’re not laying your cards on the table. Simply calling names like “immoral” without justification for doing so is less that useless – it’s senseless.

The verse following clearly states that GOD strick him with illness and that he dies 7 days later YOu attempt to defend this immoral and terrible verse with a mocking look at how short it is, but no amount of explanation can undo the evil of killing a child who i innocent for the crime of another

Typing in all caps denotes yelling, thus giving the impression that you are being emotive in your assertions here – I decline to grace them with the term “arguments”. By your standard, every person who dies makes God a murderer. Such a standard is not only ludicrous, but egregiously arbitrary. Second, you use terms like “terrible” – on what grounds do you apply this to the actions of God? Third, you use “immoral”, yet again. You have yet to offer anything non-arbitrary as a supposed foundation for these seemingly odd assertions.

“Morality is a subjective conversation that best decides on how to enact the “My rights begin where yours end” tenet.” – From this post. Okay, so if morality is subjective – where do you get off telling anyone else what is and is not moral, please? Subjective morality is solely self-referential, by definition. Second, on what possible basis can this immaterial concept make any sense whatsoever in a naturalistic worldview? The very notion is absurd, when you are sufficiently self-reflective concerning the inconsistency between the various parts of your worldview.

Finally – I will note this only in passing – I sure hope our erstwhile atheist is against the murder of unborn children in the womb, for consistency’s sake in the immediate sense. Ultimately, however, he still has no reason to be.

Second, I have thanked you for pointing out my error in not checking my source for the original post, but you continue to delight in your childish victory after I apologized and posted a retraction.

Not in the slightest, and your insistence on seeing it as such begins to look like simple projection. Your “source” is entitled “create your own Bible verse”. I’m still finding it amazingly difficult to believe you could be that clueless. That boggles my imagination.

The point remained the same, and your defense of the actions that I referenced was weak and immoral.

The point remained the *same*? Gang rape as “penance” for sin? Penance is a Roman Catholic invention. There is no such thing in the Old Testament. The sacrifices atone for sins – a symbol pointing forward to the atonement of Christ to come, in which they have faith in as Old Testament believers. Further, repeated gang rape? Really? How is that even *remotely* similar to your second objection? In that case, it’s one man and a bunch of women. If you actually knew the context, that is.

Further, saying my “defense” was “weak and immoral” is completely unsubstantiated. You don’t even TRY to prove your assertions. You just, dare I say it, dogmatically spit your preconceptions back when challenged – instead of making any sort of rational case. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was indoctrination involved. You yourself say your morals are subjective. Yet *constantly* you assign your subjective “oughts” to the objects you are writing to. That is the opposite of subjective, Jason.

The fact that you choose to defend the murder of a child as “not heavily examined enough” is terrible and an insight into your own morality. The fact that you can hear, “a child was murdered” and you need to hear the whys and how comes before you can determine if it was a moral act is very telling of you.

So, because I don’t bow to King Jason’s subjective feeeeelings, I’m being a nasty ‘ol rotten scoundrel. Gee, thanks. Here I was thinking I’d get an actual argument, finally. Okay, no, not really. I’m still expecting naked assertions and emotive, unsubstantiated nonsense. That’s all I get, as we can see. Does Jason even attempt to make an argument, or does he, throughout this response, resort solely to autobiography? Given that he simply assumes “murder” – simply assumes “rape” – with neither being present in the text itself, I think it’s safe to say that we have mere rhetoric (and rather heavy-handed and wooden, I might add) being substituted for reasoned argumentation. Yes, Jason, it’s customary to consider things for greater than 1.4 seconds before reaching one’s conclusion on a matter. It’s actually customary to study what is being presented, instead of inserting one’s own preconceptions willy-nilly. Yes, it’s customary to consider that words actually mean something, instead of assigning whatever meanings we prefer them to have, regardless of the author’s intent, the context of the text, and the easily-found references made to the surrounding story, of which it is part. Yes, Jason, when reaching a conclusion foreign to practically every reader of this text in history, it would, actually, be beneficial to offer an actual argument to substantiated your novel claim; reaching, as you seem to have, a conclusion missed by millennia of Biblical scholars, in a very well-known text, which you have proceeded to butcher with the ham-fisted rapacity of a Vandal intent on Roman spoils.

Your interest is not accuracy sir, it is in trolling. I attempted MANY times to engage you in conversation on this, and you choose instead not to reference my questions on twitter but to attempt further attacks on me here.

Yes, sir, it is in accuracy. Twitter is not a medium suited to conversation requiring any sort of precision or care. Given your lack of either quality in your handling of the Biblical text, I can see why you prefer to discourse there on topics requiring disciplined study and effort to speak to cogently. Since you seem to lack even the bare minimum of ability to examine the text at a depth greater than an eighth of an inch, I’ve undertaken to show you where, precisely, your ignorance of the subject leads you. First, the ignorance necessary to mistake your first attempt for something in Numbers, let alone Numbers 35, let alone an accurate English translation, is our first clue. The second clue is the lack of familiarity with this text in general. This is the biggest, most public fall of a Biblical character in the text of Scripture. It is the Old Testament pinnacle of the expression of God’s mercy as well as His justice, being exercised in tandem, as they should. Your twin accusations are neither present in the text, nor are they remotely sensical. Your reading of this passage is absolute, and utter brainrot – and that’s putting it mildly. It has taken this much time, and this many words to address, because you have screwed up your attempt *by the numbers* – pun intended.

Infantile at best.

Given what you consider a good objection, I’ll take that as a compliment.

I see now that your goal was NOT to attempt to keep the posts accurate and to ensure that sources are cited, but to attack anyone with any ammunition that you can get because your faith was insulted.

Actually, it was just to respond to one of the worst sequences of Biblical “criticisms” I’ve ever encountered. I do dislike it when people ignorantly make claims they both cannot and will not back up, however – which has been precisely what you have done.

Sad and infantile.

For pity’s sake, at least be original with your ad hominem. Be creative – make me work for my expected insult. It’s not as if I don’t hear this half a dozen times a week from every sort of garden variety atheist “intellectual.” Seriously – if you’re going to take the line that we’re irrational, reasonless drones, at least bother to use something a tween couldn’t equal in the cafeteria.

I gave the bible fairness for 30 years, now I simply can’t excuse its evils any longer.

Well, it’s quite apparent you aren’t fair to it now. Are you sure you were back in the day? I don’t see why you couldn’t excuse any evil, though, really. You’re a subjectivist. Just change the standard when it’s convenient to do so.

I am sad that you can see morality in the death of a child and the rape of women, and see only immorality in the mistaken posting of an erroneous verse.

I’m still wondering why you’re asserting either is even found in this text. Or why you think we should care, being little Mr. Subjectivist. Is truth supposed to be objective now?

The fact that you find your offense in that, and not in the terrible acts depicted in the bible that I revealed, is telling of the indoctrination and dogmatic view that keeps you from the ability to think critically about such things.

I find the fact that your reading comprehension is so abysmal, and your studies so superficial, compelling reasons to reject any claims you have to offer, and find your ignorance of the Biblical text indicative of your dearth of experience with critical thinking. Further, your own stated worldview gives you no reason to even forward your objections in the first place. I find it telling that you can parrot all your little catchphrases about “immorality”, “indoctrination”, and “dogmatism” with a straight face. The sheer effrontery of such accusations in the face of your utter lack of epistemological, moral, and logical justification for any of your claims is staggering.

This is my last post with you, as you have revealed yourself to be too dogmatic to converse, and too proud of yourself to accept thanks when given.

Peace

I hate to burst your bubble, man, but a steady string of assertions, made with no attempt at support or argumentation, simply on personal authority, is definitional dogmatism – and exactly what you’ve presented here. Perhaps where you hang out, they call that “arguing your point” – but around people who actually do debates, that’s called a “logical fallacy”. ie: “Proof by assertion” – “Repeated assertion fallacy”, ad nauseum, Ipse-dixit, etc.

If you thought this post was about you – you’re only partly right. It’s partly about the lack of serious contemplation evidenced in your objections, and responses to challenges to them – but primarily, it’s an object lesson for anyone reading this. If you’re going to make a claim – please, please, please, have something – *anything* to substantiate it. Please give any sort of argument – whatsoever. Please bother to study what you’re objecting to. Please invest at least a modicum of effort into the due diligence required to offer an intelligible response. Thank you.

Atheist Hermeneutics

The first instance of atheist hermeneutics can be found to follow.

As anyone who has picked their Bible up recently can tell you, this doesn’t even resemble Numbers 35. In fact, Numbers 35 instantly recalls “cities of refuge” (Num 35:6) to the Biblically literate. Since this is a stock phrase to this day, it’s always stuck in my mind – as I’m sure it has in many of yours. Secondly – the “verse” quoted is so antithetical to Biblical doctrine, as taught elsewhere, that it is amazingly obvious that our forger has no sort of accurate conception of what is taught in the Old Testament. Since this is so, it would follow that they also have no accurate conception of what is taught in the new – as Christ, in His own words, came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matt 5:17) This has significance, also, in the trial of Christ, where it is mentioned that a man cannot be put to death without more than one witness. This also is found in Numbers 35 (vs 30). These are two common referents for this chapter.

I introduce it this way due to a common theme we often see in atheistic writing. “Reading the Bible cover to cover is the surest path to atheism” – or some derivative phraseology. In my experience, the “reading” done by atheists is most often cursory, acontextual, arbitrary, and guilty of more wooden literalism than any fundamentalist I could name. Further, these readings are guilty, in every case I have ever examined, of “eisegesis.” Eisegesis is the importation of your own views, ideas, or the like to the text, and reading in your *own* context, instead of the context the text presents to you. The correct way to consider the Scriptures is via “exegesis” – the “drawing out” of the meaning of the text – by use of the languages, context, background, references given in the text itself, or those made to it.

In the case shown above, there is no exegesis whatsoever – as there is no text to exegete. There is simply gross insertion, utterly foreign to the text itself. In fact, there is simply no other reference to this supposed text to be found, anywhere, save in the blog post, since deleted with a “noted and corrected, Thanks!” This is the worst conceivable form of eisegesis imaginable, due to the fact that it simply inserts their own text AND context, wholesale.

The successor to that (thankfully) abortive attempt to “educate” us on what the Bible “really” says is better only in that at least it attempts to deal with an actual text of Scripture. As we will note, it fares only marginally better as an attempt at exegesis. The (new, replaced) link is below.

Now, he insists (on twitter) he got it from some blogger, and just didn’t check his source. However, as you can do for yourself, do a search on the “verse” he provided – entire, by phrase, any way you like. I just wanted to see if he’d admit it… but here’s the source I found for what he posted, apart from the initial hit on his site.

Create-A-Verse

Okay – so… not only is this a source that *specifically says* it’s a “create your own” bible verse – but the post in which it is promoted seems to think that those “religious people” will fall for it. So, either we have something posted on facebook, found by someone purporting to tell us “what the Bible says,” and… the atheist “falls for it” – or we have an atheist trying to “pull a fast one,” trying to defend his poor attempt – or we have the originator of Alex’s verse. However… if you read Mr. Burgoyne’s tweets, he is trying to give the impression that he *thought* this was a real verse. From the *comments* of a post that says “Create your own Bible verse?” Without even reading the passage? Interesting view regarding accuracy.

The Bible REALLY says that – Part 1

Jason Burgoyne offers us the following passage (cited in the NAB – a Romanist translation, but linked to the TNIV, a liberal “Protestant” version)

Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you (David) out of your own house. I will take your wives while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.”

His attempt to object here is extremely short, but we’ll examine it nonetheless.

So the punishment for David killing a man and taking his wife? To have his innocent wives raped, and to kill his innocent child.

Notice – there is not even an attempt to deal with Psalm 51 and David’s confession and cry to the Lord. There is no attempt to substantiate the accusation of “rape” – no identification of who it was that was doing this “raping”, nor is there any attempt to go to where this is fulfilled. In the first case, David attests that it is against God, primarily, that he has sinned. Nathan tells David, in this same passage, why it is that David’s punishment is to be what it is. He has given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme. Note, also, that there is no attempt to deal with the hope David expresses later on in this chapter, concerning his son, nor is there any attempt to deal with Bathsheba’s next son – a boy named Solomon. The nature and character of God, as is sadly common with atheists, is not addressed at all, save in a highly cursory fashion. His foundation – the position from which these objections are made – is likewise not offered, or argued for. it is merely assumed.

How is this a moral story, and how is any book that contains it supposed to be informative of our (or our children’s) morality?

How is his objection moral? How is any objection, or any putative contrary position supposed to be informative of our, or our children’s morality? For instance – how does a purposeless, meaningless bag of protoplasm, supposedly evolved from “lower” (so-called) life, supposedly meaningful, in any non-arbitrary way, in the first place? On what grounds does he assume there is any semblance of universality of experience which concepts like “morality” can be considered intelligible? What, in his worldview, makes this “morality” he is appealing to in what appears to be a non-subjective fashion, even an intelligible concept in any sense whatsoever? The incredible nature of this lack of self-reflection evidenced by atheist objectors never ceases to amaze me. Not because I don’t expect it, but because it’s so heavily addressed by the pages of Scripture, and they so accurately depict it.

Unbelievers so often throw out words like “moral” or “morality” as if they were some sort of invariant universal. On what grounds do they do so? I offered to debate Mr. Burgoyne on the subject of morality previously, and have not received a reply as of yet. I’ve yet to see a coherent answer for why he seems to object on “moral” grounds, when it seems to me that his worldview offers no consistent basis for a non-arbitrary, non-subjective conception of “morality” in the first place.

It was clearly a book written by iron age sheep herders based on their own skewed “morality”.

Clearly, Mr. Burgoyne’s post was written by an individualistic North American whose “moral” opinions are skewed by temporal prejudice, a notion of class superiority, and ultimately based on his utterly subjective, completely arbitrary conception of his own notions as universally applicable.

Clearly.

Now, let’s be frank. Do the sort of assertions he has offered hold any sort of persuasive appeal, let alone stand up to any rigorous logical objection? Do they come from his own worldview? Are his objections even intelligible, given his atheism? I don’t see how they could be. As easily as they can be turned around on him, they can be dismissed.

He first offered a wholesale forgery, then followed that up with a four sentence “indictment”, borrowed whole cloth from a worldview which actually *possesses* an objective moral code – in order to *object* to that same moral code. I find such lackadaisical treatment of the subject to be par for the course, sadly. Here is what we want, my unbelieving friends. We would like an objection which even attempts to move beyond the superficial, shows even the slightest grasp of context, Biblical theology, or the text itself. We would LOVE for you to actually engage even the barest *fraction* of the mountains of literature surrounding each and every verse of Scripture, or show even the slightest interest in reading it as you’d like to be read yourself. In short, we would love to interact with an intelligent, knowledgeable objector. It is incredibly tiring to deal with the same tired, endlessly dealt-with objections that show not the slightest inkling of interest in fairness, and fairly reek of ignorance. Please, if all you care to do is congratulate yourself on your brilliance, while showing not the slightest knowledge of the field you are claiming knowledge in – do yourself a favor – at least do the cursory study in the field in which you are “educating” us in.

“Not to know the King James Bible is to be, in some small way, barbarian.” – Richard Dawkins

Muhammad in the Old Testament?

James White and Sam Shamoun on ABN, addressing whether Muhammad is mentioned in the OT, as Muslims tell us.

Of Exposition and Pastoral Ministry

Pastor Camp,
Well sir, I do appreciate you answering my questions, even though I don’t believe they fully answered the questions I brought up.

I would like to address a few things, if I may:

1) When you are making an objection, I would offer that the burden of proof lies on you to state your case, and then argue it. As it appears to me, you have stated a general principle, told us that certain men violated that principle, and then assumed it from that point forward. When asked concerning specifics, the response has been restatements of that principle. I understand that this is what you believe – but only in a very general way, and not with precision in your definition.

2) When you are responding, you seem to be reading past a good many things that give context to the statements I, at least, am making.

For instance: if what we’re getting from your position is what you’re really saying seems to taken as “this is what you said”. If you notice, I carefully worded it so as to give you a chance to explain where you are coming from. Most of my questions were designed in order to give you that opportunity. Instead, I am being informed of what the Word says re: preaching. I’m well aware of what it says. My questions had to do with what else a pastor does. You seem to be begging the question in this regard.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that I have some small familiarity with presuppositional apologetics. However, practicing apologetics, first, learning apologetics, second, teaching apologetics, third, cannot be done solely in an expositional manner. I am able to exposit passages to teach the general principles of the method – but teaching the method itself _cannot_ be expositional – neither can practicing it. I know for a fact that Bahnsen exposited Acts 17 to demonstrate this – but exposition of a specific text was not what he did to teach it.

Additionally, I find it rather strange that you would resort to comments like “nice try”. Sir, I quite understand that you are quite a bit older than I am. I would appreciate it if you would at least respect the fact that I cared enough to ask you these questions, however. Recall, sir, that we are to respond with gentleness and reverence. Humility as well as boldness. I haven’t said anything similar to you, and I’ve attempted to be irenic in my interaction.

I’ve asked some specific questions, with context provided for them just in case I was being unclear. The context I gave seems to have been passed over, in many respects. When I give specific situations that are the concern of myself and other brothers, only small excerpts are addressed, and the most general comments, rather than the most specific. What we’re asking for is specificity in your objection. I’m aware of what the general objection is. I would like to know what, precisely, you objected to, and from what standard you do so.

For instance – do you object to Dr. Duncan teaching the assembled pastors about the history of the church? That is not exposition, and seems to fall under your objection. What, precisely, do you object to? Whose talks do you object to? What about what they said is objectionable? Why is this objectionable? How do you get this objection from Scripture? As the objector, it would be eminently helpful to detail what you objected to – so as to know what we have to either answer, or agree with – as I’ve said previously. I understand the general gist of your objection – just not:
1) The extent to which you object (how far does the objection that exposition is required go? In every situation whatsoever?)
2) The object of your objection (Who, and what – and please be specific)
3) The grounds of your objection – specifically. We’re all aware of the Biblical injunction to preach the Word in and out of season, of course. However, on what Biblical warrant do you ground your objection that you provide the extent of, above? Please be specific.

I know that you’re making these comments on your own blog – I fully understand that. However, when you make a serious objection – calling what was done, sin – it would be eminently helpful to let us know *what* was sin. Which is why I’m now addressing this on mine. I gather that you don’t consider me to be lucid – I can accept that. I’m often not. However, I’m afraid that I would also consider your objections thus far to be lacking in clarity. I’m still wondering what, precisely, was considered sinful? Is a lecture sinful, if not expositional? Is teaching on historical subjects sinful, if not expositional? Is teaching on other, antithetical worldviews sinful, if not expositional – such as what Dr. White, or I do in our apologetics conferences or classes? How are you defining “expositional” in this context, if any of the above are rightly your assertions? I’m really, really not trying to be difficult. I’m not. I just really do not know what you are objecting to, and what, precisely, your objection is meant to consist of.

When I’ve asked you about these specific things, I haven’t received specific answers. While this can be frustrating, and it has been, I really want to know – because I think the answers will reveal what the presuppositions you are operating from are, and can thereby be addressed – perhaps I’ll even discover I shouldn’t have been disagreeing with you after all!

However, when what you are saying seems to be (and there are no few that have come to this conclusion thus far – perhaps we’re all poor readers) that whenever a pastor opens his mouth, under any circumstances, it must be expositional preaching, I’m left with a dilemma. Who in the history of the church has ever done this? Where in Scripture is this commanded? Please, disabuse me of this impression, because that is what I have gathered from your answers thus far – and why I am seeking to gain clarity that I may be lacking.

Before we answer your objections – or your questions – we need to know what ground you’re standing on to make those objections, or ask those questions. I’m sure you know that particular element of presuppositionalism, and I’m sure you see how that applies here. We need to know what *exactly* you’re objecting to, from what standard you are objecting from (how do you define the extent of the command to Timothy you brought up earlier, for example?), and the like.

Understand, however – I am asking these questions for the sake of clarity, and because I am concerned about the unintended consequences of what I believe your position to be from what you have said thus far – and whether it is based in Scripture or not. As with another recent discussion we had, my concern is also whether there is a lack of balance in your position – of adequately addressing the whole counsel of Scripture concerning this subject. Understand, I’m not attacking – I’m asking. I genuinely want to know, as I may not have read you correctly.

Grace and Peace,
~RK

John Owen: The Death of Death in the Death of ChristBook IV, Chap 3, scroll down to Section 3

Enjoy!

Have you ever read Romans 9? Pts 1-5

Thanks Lane!

Have you ever read Romans 9? Pt 3

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