Errors In Anti-Trinitarian Thought: Unipersonalism

One of the doctrines I love talking about is the Trinity. Get me going on that one and stay out of the way. When we had Mormons visiting us a few months ago, we came once to the discussion of the Trinity and helping these Mormons understand the Christian view of it. It was the time I came alive and the Mormon I was dialoguing with was excited. I’m not sure if it was because he was getting it, which he said he was, or if it was because my excitement was contagious.

Thus, I’d like to talk about some errors people make in approaching the doctrine of the Trinity. These are ones that usually when I sit down and discuss the doctrine with someone who disagrees, I can easily expect one of them will show up and the one I discuss tonight is the one that has never failed to come up.

I’d like to show the usual kind of way this shows up and really, it disappoints me when Christians get stumped by such a question. It also angers me when people who are actually thinking they’re refuting the Trinity put this forward as if it was a serious argument. They will ask, “If Jesus is God, who was he praying to?”

Such is the error of unipersonalism.

Unipersonalism is the assumption modalists and arians alike make when they come to the text and they assume that God must be one person. Now let me be clear I am not wanting to beg the question in favor of Trinitarianism. For the sake of argument, it could be that God is one person. My contention is that we can’t go to the text and assume that immediately. If he is one person, we’ll find that in the Scripture. If he is not though, then we will have to ditch our preconceived notion of God and accept that maybe the Trinitarian is right in his claim.

What is going on in the above question of “If Jesus is God, who is he praying to?” is this assumption. It follows this way:

Jesus is praying to God.

God is one person.

Jesus is not that one person.

Therefore, Jesus can’t be God.

If the second sentence is true, then yes, it would follow that two persons cannot be God if only one is God. However, that is what is being assumed and it is not being backed. If the case is that there can be at least two persons, although Trinitarianism of course says there are three, that fully possess the nature of God, then there is no problem this verse poses for Trinitarianism. 

If there is a problem in the Trinitarian defense, the problem is that the Trinitarian often does not know the doctrine of the Trinity. That is something that will take more training and really, we Christians should be studying this doctrine a lot more. This is a doctrine that separates us from every other faith in the world and is one of the strongest reasons I find in believing the Christian claim.

When you are in a debate next time with someone, watch and see if they are coming out assuming that God is one person. If they are, ask them upon what basis they are making that claim. As time goes on, we will look at other arguments that can be brought forward by other anti-Trinitarians. Many will be rooted in this assumption.

Thoughts On The After-Death: A Terrible Choice

Dwight L. Moody once said that if you ever speak about Hell, you’d better have tears in your eyes. Hell is one of those realities that we Christians should not like to think about and if you do, shame on you. It should sadden you greatly that some people have died without God and some will die without God and some people you see every day could die without God.

I had some thoughts on the topic of Hell while watching Smallville recently. (I wonder how many people are thinking where the connection is at this point.) In Season 7, Episode 12, Fracture, Lex has gone to find Clark’s cousin with amnesia. No one knows where he was, but he did get shot there and sent back to Metropolis. The only way to get the information is to have Clark go through an experimental procedure where his brain waves are linked to Lex’s. In other words, he goes inside of Lex’s mind.

While he is there, he encounters Lex’s evil side, that longs to kill him and looks just like the Lex he meets every day. He also meets Lex’s good side, a small kid named Alexander who is constantly hunted down by “Lex” in an attempt to kill his good side that makes him weak.

Towards the end of Clark’s time in Lex’s mind, Lex captures Alexander and takes him away to kill him and while Clark needs to get out, he goes to save Alexander. As this is going on, in the real world, the real Lex has suddenly flatlined as a result of the procedure and Chloe must use her healing powers to save Lex from death or Clark will die also.

As she heals him, Clark has entered a room in “Lex’s” memory that looks like the foyer of Luthor mansion where Alexander is about to be killed. Suddenly, as Chloe begins to use her power, a bright light enters that room and Clark is able to stop Lex and free Alexander. I find this something fascinating.

It’s almost as if the show is saying that if Lex’s good side had died, Lex would die.

That’s, in some ways, what Hell is. Hell is where you have as little as you as possible. As your goodness dies off, you get closer and closer to Hell. Now I don’t think your goodness dies entirely for you still are and you have goodness in being, but you have the bare minimum of such goodness.

I’ll also say I don’t believe in the fiery furnace of Hell. I take that as a metaphor due to Hell being a place of darkness. The point I see is that Hell is a place of judgment and it is the worst place that you can ever think about being. 

If anyone thinks I doubt this, I shall share a story. A few years ago someone IMed me on PALtalk and told me that Saddam’s sons had been found and killed and were saying “Isn’t this great?!” Now, when people who do evil are stopped, I am pleased for that, but I also had a piece of sadness. I realized then that those two had just entered Hell forever, and there would be no escape. 

Think about that some.

Yes. I think it’s just. Yes. I think it’s the best option available. Yes. I do defend the doctrine of Hell.

I don’t get any joy out of it though and I wonder about Christians who would practically love to hold marshmallows over the fires of Hell.

I also then wish I took it more seriously because I know people who are going there.

I speculate as to what people go through there that it could be some theologians are right in saying that Hell and Heaven could be the same place in a sense. However, what people experience as the love of God in Heaven, that is experienced as wrath by those in Hell. They have spent all their lives avoiding God and not bowing a knee to him and for all eternity, they are surrounded by his presence then. That would be Hell. 

Now I also believe that people have a body in Hell, but it is not a glorious one. They could be, in essence, living death. Again, that is speculation and I can’t say for certain what all it would involve. The Bible doesn’t say anything really about that for unbelievers because I don’t see the Bible as trying to address secondary matters we speculate on. It doesn’t give us information for the sake of curiosity but information for the sake of our salvation. 

I suppose as I wrap this up I’ll just give an evangelical call. Dear friends. People are going to Hell every day. Let’s go out there and make a difference to stop that.

Thoughts on the After-Death for Believers

Having taken some look as to the idea of the after-death last night, I’d like to look into the nature of the body of the believer. My stance is that our bodies will be, in many ways, the same, although I can anticipate some functions changing in some ways. When we see Christ in the Scriptures, we see him raised in a body that is now glorified, but we are not given the extent of this glorification. 

I do think it could be likely though that Christ’s body is even more glorified in Heaven where the glory of God is round about and that is shown even more through the glory of Christ. I do not believe what I have just written is honestly adequate to convey the thought. A writer normally would not critique his own work, but it’s my hope that the reader realizes the idea of what I said and that I just think it could not be adequately expressed were I to have thousands of pages to write and all the time in the world.

Paul writes in1 Cor. 15 that we do not know what kind of body we will rise up in. I do not think the contention is that we will rise like some creature in fantasy literature or something of that sort. I think it’s that we don’t understand all the ins and the outs of the new body. We do not understand how glorious it would be. Here, we are beset with sicknesses and we have to eliminate waste from our bodies on a regular basis and we are certain such will not exist in the after-death. We just don’t see how that will happen. What of eating? Eating seems to naturally lead to waste. Will we have a glorious metabolism? We really don’t know. 

It is my belief though that we will be what we were meant to be entirely. I happen to have a steel rod on my spine now. It could be that I might somehow have it in Heaven. I do not know for sure. If I do, it won’t be anything that holds me back and if there is any scar that I bear, it will be one of glory. There will be nothing that is ugly about me in Heaven. 

Heaven is the place where we will fully be ourselves and to me, this is one of the great joys. I will be there and realize that, “Yes. This is who I was meant to be all alone.” Many of us today can wonder around in existential quandaries at times pondering if we are doing what we should be doing and who we really are. Why do we do the things that we do? Why do we like the things that we do?

In Heaven, we will know as we are known. I will be able to understand myself and understand God as I ought. In Heaven, everything “fits.” There is nothing out of place. There is perfect love and communion with myself, with my neighbor, and with God.

In fact, if you want to see true human beings, Heaven is the place to see them. Heaven will get rid of all in us that is not human and make it truly human. Heaven will remove all impurities from our souls and we will live as we ought.

The nature of that? We don’t know entirely, but we can be sure it will be done. We are to be conformed to the image of the Son. That doesn’t mean we become deity, but we reflect the character of the Son. The Son is a true human being as well as being deity. So we shall be true human beings.

But what of unbelievers?

That is for tomorrow…..

Some Thoughts On The After-Death

A friend of mine was talking to me last night and asking me for my thoughts on the nature of the After-Death. (Note that I’m sure he said After-life, but I prefer to call it the After-Death. There is a continuing process with my life in between my being here now and my being in a state of separation of soul and body to finally the unification of the two barring Christ does not come back prior to my death.

What a fascinating question! The question specifically was on Hell and I thought about that and thought “It would not be proper to do Hell without doing basic ground work.” My first goal then is to give some precursory thoughts I have on thinking about the afterlife and ruminating over what I know from Scripture.

One idea I had immediately was thinking of how many times when Heaven is described, we have the word “like” showing up. One word translated as like is Homoios. It shows up from time to time in books leading up to Revelation. The number of times it shows up in Revelation is not huge, but it is definitely greater.

It seems as if when John is describing his revelation, he cannot think of the words to say. No picture seems adequate. All he can say is “Well, it was like this.” He can’t fully give a description and I figure it is because our language is just inadequate to express it. The greatness of the ideas cannot fit themselves into the words that we use.

This certainly isn’t different from what we see in Paul. In 2 Cor. 12, he describes his own experience where he was taken to Heaven temporarily and saw things that cannot be expressed. In a way, this bolsters my belief in Scripture.

Why is that? In other beliefs, you do find ideas being told of what it is like, such as 72 virgins being there. If the Christians were making this up, you think they’d give some concrete realities and tie that to the Earthly experience. The Muslim Paradise is simply taking what is seen as a great good here and extrapolating it to great prpoportions into the after-death.

Not so with Scripture. Scripture leaves the wonder of what is there and indicates that it is too awesome to be conveyed. The writers could have easily given a description were they making it up. I believe though that they saw something and that something was something they knew they couldn’t really convey.

This is the same kind of thing that happens with some Near-Death experiences, and there is some conjecture that Paul’s event could have been a near-death experience that he had after being stoned at Lystra. (I think we can all safely agree that if you weren’t dead after such an event, you would certainly be near dead.)

It’s my understanding that when people who have had these experiences are interviewed, they often will tell that the language they use just doesn’t describe it. If they say anything, we’ll start comparing it to something Earthly and that just won’t get the idea. Now I do believe there is some connection as we are told of a New Heavens and a New Earth so there is some Earth there, but I think the emphasis would definitely be on the “New” aspect of it.

My contention is based on Romans 8 and it is that God is going to redeem creation, but it is not going to be beyond the creation from the beginning. I believe God created this world knowing it would be the battleground between good and evil. It was not made to be eternal as it is. Like the kids in Narnia, it won’t be that the next world will remind us of some of the things in this world, but rather when we get there, we will realize we loved some of the things in the world as it is now, because they pointed us to that world.

If you are looking for the furniture of Heaven, as it were, I do not believe I can give it, nor can I give such for Hell. We are given ideas about these, but not descriptions, for I believe the real ideas of these places is not focused on physical realities, but on relational realities.

We shall continue looking at that tomorrow.

The Real Battle

Last night, I blogged on how I was fighting Yiazmat, the boss in Final Fantasy XII with 50,000,000 hit points. I could have beat him last night, but I had some friends who I normally go bowling with on Sunday nights, so I paused with maybe around 1.5 mllion hit points left on him and went bowling. My thinking is that I can resume a game any time. My time with my friends is different.

So I go and before too long, one of them is telling me about how a former co-worker of mine and a current one of hers was giving her a two-hour lecture on God and Jesus. Note that this was being said knowing that I am a Seminary student and that I definitely have some strong beliefs on the topic.

What resulted? Instead of a two-hour lecture, in between our bowls, an hour and a half-discussion with two of my other friends listening in and saying things every now and then and ending with my friend saying “I want to know why you believe what you believe.” Why’d I have to go? Well, I have a job that requires me to get up early, so home I went. 

But I thought about that as I left the bowling alley. Now I did meet my goal today of vanquishing Yiazmat, but I also thought “Heaven won’t care if I defeated Yiazmat ultimately.” What will matter the most though will be that I was a witness for the Christ in the time that I had here. That is the real battle of good and evil.

Now as I say that, some of you might be thinking “Then why waste your time on things that don’t matter?” Because I think those things that we sometimes think don’t matter are secondary so that we can do the primary things. A man needs to take time for pleasure in his life that is non-religious in its nature for God gave us many good things to enjoy and those secondary things enable us to enjoy the good things and do the primary things better. If I did not take time to unwind in the evening, I wonder if I could truly do the apologetics that I do during the day.

Consider marriage as an example. There are a number of guys, and I think I’m one of them (In fact, I’m quite certain that I am) that come alive with the love of a good woman in the romantic sense. A woman can definitely help empower a man to do things that he would not normally be able to do.

That is really non-religious in its nature as marriage is something you can do regardless of religion. However, a good marriage can enable some men and women to be better at practicing their religion. In the same way, I believe our hobbies and interests when given the proper time enable us to be the best at what is primary. Note this. The secondary must always serve the primary.

However, this is where the real battle is fought. I enjoy fantasy battles of course, I’m a huge gamer. This is the most important battle of all. Peter Kreeft has said Christian apologetics is the closest you get to saving the world. I think he’s absolutely right. We’re each doing our part in the ministry. Some of us are empowerers. We enable others to go out and fight. Some of us are fighting in the frontlines. 

We’re all needed. There are many battles out there to win and one way to lose is that the soldiers don’t do their jobs. Get out there and be the best at doing what you do. Someday, that will be a battle that Heaven will talk about.

Big Ugly

I spend my Sunday afternoons away from debate in relaxation. If someone contacts me on those days, it’d better be important. I often listen to MP3s and get in some gaming at the same time and today, I started a long goal of mine and began fighting Yiazmat in Final Fantasy XII.

Yes. I said began.

Why do I say began? Because this is the ultimate bonus boss in the game that has 50,000,000 hit points. (Yes. I counted the number of zeros. It is 50 million hit points.) This is not a boss that usually falls in one setting and I put the game on pause to go get some ice cream as usual on Sunday. I might not finish it tonight and might finish it tomorrow night. Now someone can walk away and save and his hit points will remain the same, but I’ve heard he does some healing stuff and I don’t want to risk it.

And some of you are thinking, “Geez. You’ve told us a lot about your gaming experience. Is this a change of the nature of the blog from being about theology and apologetics to being about your adventures in video games?”

If you think that, shame on you.

My roommate is also a Final Fantasy buff and I’ve told him the law that I have noticed for most games which includes Final Fantasy. The deadliness of a boss monster is in direct proportion to the bigness of that monster and the ugliness of that monster. If you come across a creature in a game that is big and ugly, brace yourself. You’re in for a tough battle.

Yiazmat is not the biggest and toughest boss to ever appear in a Final Fantasy game though. The biggest one of all was in Final Fantasy X. (At the time of this blog, this is true as far as I know.) In that case, the party even has to go inside this creature and defeat it from within and there is a whole labyrinth and a practical city inside of this monster.

Interestingly, I didn’t have a Playstation 2 when this game came out and it was one of the reasons I got it. I still read gaming magazines and had to stop when I saw a story about Final Fantasy X so I could see what it would be about.

I had to read what I read twice to make sure I read it right.

The game involves a character named Tidus who is a champion of a sport called Blitzball in his town. However, his town is demolished when a mindless and destroying force bent on destruction comes through leaving everything in ruins. This force is called Sin.

Yes. I’m not kidding. It’s Sin.

Now if anyone wants to see how big and ugly this thing is, either go to YouTube or go to Google Images and type in something like Final Fantasy X Sin. Throughout the game, various bosses are fought that are seen as SinSpawn. These are little pieces of Sin, which still dwarf the main characters. All of them are, of course, ugly.

It makes me wonder.

When we consider Christ, Christ is goodness incarnate and he is a beautiful figure. I’m not saying that Christ was a Fabio walking around Judea, but he is seen to us today as a figure of beauty simply because of his character and many of us today would see him as a beautiful figure.

What would sin look like if it took form?

Characters who see Sin in Final Fantasy X are ready to take up arms and destroy it. The whole game is about the attempt to get rid of Sin, which when it happens from time to time, leaves a period that is known as the Calm, but Sin always returns. Now I disagree with how Sin is dealt with in the game, but it’s interesting how many times the word “atonement” shows up and how there are helpers in the game and each is called a “fayth.” (For you spelling nazis, that’s how it’s spelled in the game.)

We sometimes see sin in our lives as cute and innocent. Have you ever wondered what would happen if it was personified? Do you think it would be something cute? Would it not be hideous and evil? Would it not meet the criteria of a Final Fantasy boss in being big and ugly, which means it does some serious damage?

What would you do if you could see your Sin?

Would you take up a sword and fight?

Or would you instead shake hands and treat it like an old friend.

I leave that question to you and I think you know the implications to be drawn depending on how you answer.

Do We Want Holiness?

Aristotle stated that what men seek for its own sake is happiness. Now in talking about happiness, Aristotle did not mean a good feeling. He meant living in conformity to reality. For us, we equate happiness with a feeling and having a good time.

But we can all agree he’s right. We really don’t want to be miserable. Now I think some of us think we deserve to be miserable, but we also celebrate those times of joy. However, it could be that we’ve chased after the feeling of happiness instead of true happiness in regards to holiness.

Do we want to have that feeling of happiness as we call it? Yes we do. Yet, we reject holiness. Why? Because deep down, we really don’t think it’ll make us happy. We reject holiness as that which gets in the way of happiness, which shows how far we’ve fallen from the ancient worldview. If you were an ancient, virtue was something commendable. Virtue was seen as a key to living the good life. For us, morality seems to get in the way of living a good life.

We want to say that’s only for the non-Christian, but if we were honest with ourselves, we’d find that we are the same way. We don’t want to be holy like that either. We are very quick to excuse our own little pet sins because they will make us happy and if we gave them up, then we wouldn’t be happy.

We are creatures that don’t like change also. Holiness requires it though. It requires that we repent of our sinful ways and go and live a proper way. Throughout the book of Leviticus, we hear God telling the people “Be holy, because I am holy.” We might think that has changed in the NT, but it hasn’t. Hebrews 12 says God disciplines us to make us holy and that without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

I thought about this also with a friend asking me last night about the afterlife for unbelievers and how I said that the wrath of God could be actually love to the unbelievers but they experience it as wrath. He told me that unbelievers are separated from God right now and we don’t think we’re experiencing wrath. What’s different there?

I think about that and think the problem could be we are so fallen we don’t even realize we are fallen. We actually think our state is normal and we’ve fooled ourselves in that regards simply because we do not have a picture of holiness around us. Yet when holiness enters, things change. How many jokes have been made about the family turning off the TV set and hiding some of the movies they have before the preacher comes over to visit?

Also, part of our understanding of morality is because the world has been Christianized. I was talking to a friend of mine today and telling her that the idea of seeing a girl as simply an object in a marriage seems so bizarre to me. The truth is though, this is the way it would have been often in ancient times. When Paul wrote Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, he wrote something earth-shattering. We have grown up with the gospel so long that we’ve been familiarized with us and its shocking aspects no longer shock us.

In the ancient society, a female child could willingly be left for dead and the greatest philosophers even approved of this. Christianity changed all of that. One reason the Christian population grew so fast is because of their treatment of women. They opposed the above practice and opposed abortion as well meaning they had more women. More women meant more reproduction.

Thus, even if one isn’t a Christian, one can often live in a world where the Christian ethic is the norm of society and internalize that anyway apart from the metaphysical foundation that it has. The truth is though that that ethic is something that radically changed the world when it was unleashed.

Maybe if we really grasped that holiness, we would see how far we have fallen. In fact, for the people that are normally seen as saints, they would be the first ones to tell you of how aware they were of their own sinfulness. The closer they got to God in our eyes, the more they realized how far away they were. 

Holiness though, if Christianity is true, is essential to our happiness and we need to be in a position where we want it. Wanting it though will mean abandoning sin in our lives and admitting our own past sins. It’s not a price we want to pay, but do we really want to be happy? If God is the source of all joy, we will not find happiness on our terms. It will only be on his.

Do We Want God Like That?

I  was in a dialogue with an atheist recently about a passage in the Psalms he didn’t like and he was saying “Your God is good isn’t he?” Well, yes. He is. However, I had to add that he is also a just God and he is a God who punishes sins.

But as I thought about it that night, I realized that that was the question I was asked. “Is he good?” Isn’t it interesting that that seems to be one of the main questions asked. The others would be “How can a God of love allow this to happen?”

It seems we focus then on the attributes that we like. We focus on the goodness of God because we want God to be good partially. Of course, we believe he is anyway in classical theology, but goodness is one that appeals to us more on how God relates to us.

We want God to be loving because we like the fact that God loves us. Now I don’t believe he is loving but that he is love and his being loving is a result of that. Again, I am not against saying that God is love and believing that he loves us. 

We even want a God of justice at times because there are a lot of evil people in the world and we want to see them get what we deserve. Interesting aspect of that is that when it comes to punish sin, we always seem to want God to punish everyone else’s sins and never our own.

What about holiness?

I think this could be one reason we don’t emphasize holiness. We don’t see the relevance to our lives which is a great shame. However, it could be the opposite. It could be that we do see the relevance and we don’t want that relevance.

We can look at the other attributes and focus on how God is going to be towards us. When we think about his goodness, it means that he will be good to us. When we think about his loving, it means he will love us. When we think about his being just, it means he will punish those who abuse us.

When we think about him being holy, it means we must change the way we are to him.

It means we can’t approach God in a buddy-buddy way that is too often now. God is treated even less than the person that you’d treat on the street hopefully. A man talks to God while he’s shaving. One has to wonder if he’d do that if he was speaking before his boss sometime. Would you take your razor to your boss’s office when you have to meet him and shave while you talk to him?

What about changing your life? Most of us would not like the world to know some of the sins we remember doing. I know I wouldn’t. We have to realize God does know them and we have to own up to them. Holiness forces us, if we acknowledge it, to admit that we were wrong.

Are you willing to give up some things? Are you willing to start practicing some things? It might mean you have to ditch that internet pornography you’ve been dealing in. It might mean you have to part with some of your money in order to support the cause of Christ. Are you willing?

We don’t like change. Really. Most of us would like things to stay the same.

Holiness says you either become like Christ or you don’t see him at all.

And oh, we all say we want that, and in some level, most of us do, but we don’t want it in that way. We want to be like Christ in the way that we think he is and not the way that he really is. Surely this is a little sin! Surely God won’t make a big deal about that!

Now I think there are degrees of sin, but let’s remember that all sin is sin and it just takes one.

Holiness. It’s a doctrine that we might not emphasize because we don’t like what it requires. It requires nothing of God, as if any other doctrine did, but it requires everything of us. Do we really care about holiness today?

Does Goodness Exist?

I’d really like you to ponder this question. I asked a similar question to a friend of mine yesterday in relation to beauty. I know we all come with our biases at times to this topic, but I’d really like you to really think about this before you argue it.

The simple question. Is anything good?

You see, I believe moral relativism is one of the most dangerous doctrines that is facing us and I believe it is also the natural result of an atheistic worldview. If there is no God, then there is ultimately no basis for morality. Now we can say that some things are good or evil, but we are not saying that about the things themselves. We are simply throwing our opinion onto them. 

This was asked to my friend yesterday in response to beauty. When I meet relativists, they seem to tell me usually that when we say something is beautiful, we mean that it is beautiful to us. Well, of course if we say it’s beautiful, it is beautiful to us, but it seems the people that I talk to don’t mean that. They always mean that it is beautiful in itself.

Conversely, if we say life is good, do we mean it’s good to us or good in itself?

You see, if we are going to choose to do any action, we must choose to do so for a reason. I choose to go to bed at an earlier time tonight than normally because I think it is good to be awake when I go to work in the morning and I have to get up early. Granted, that is not moral goodness, but it is also a goodness that cannot be measured in any physical way.

We must then ask, why do we value what we value? Why do I value going to work awake? Because I value having a paycheck. Why? Because I value surviving. Why? Because I want to grow and learn all I can. Why? Because I believe knowledge is important. Why? Because knowledge gets me to the mind of God. Why is that good? Because that brings happiness.

Why do I not go on? Because for most ethical systems, happiness has been seen as something good in itself. Happiness is not a feeling either, though it can produce feelings, but it is being in conformity and well-being with the world around you. Now I showed one path I can take. You might take a different one. 

But what if there is nothing that is truly good? Happiness is not good. God is not good. Life is not good. Etc. If this is the case, we’ll also say there is nothing truly evil, for what is evil but simply the absence of that which is good?

If this is the case, there’s no difference morally between saving the drowing child and pushing him under all the way. The results are different, but we cannot even say any result is better or worse than another. We cannot say moral relativism is better or worse than moral absolutism. They just are.

Now I find this completely nonsensical really. The way for moral relativism to be true would be to completely jettison the words “good” and “evil” from our mindset since they do not say anything about reality at all. We might even ask what we mean by good and evil and why we should think anything is even subjectively good or evil to us.

Friends. I don’t know what you see as good, but I’d really like you to think about it for awhile. Ask yourself about it. “Do I live in a world where good is a reality or not?”

Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Ploy

Newsweek has recently done an article called “Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy.” While many errors have already been addressed surely, let us look at the author’s own method of argumentation and see where she went wrong. She is identified as Lisa Miller. For those who want to make sure the article is being addressed fairly, a link to it is found here:


She starts off by saying that she will define marriage as the Bible does. The first question then is does the Bible define marriage or does it describe marriage? The latter is opted for as the Bible is written within a specific social context where the concept of marriage was known. The Bible no more defines marriage than it defines the moral law. What is meant is that we don’t believe murder is wrong simply because the Bible says it. We believe the Bible says it because murder is wrong. It’s part of the moral law that we all know and the Bible agrees with it.


Let’s look at their illustrations. Notice that she gives illustrations. She does  not give teachings. It’s as if she said “Want to know what a Buddhist believes? Let’s look at the life of this Buddhist.” If you want to know what the Buddhist teaching on a subject is, the best place to go to would be a writing a Buddhist would consider authoritative. While you could learn some things perchance, you would never know for sure how authoritative they are.


First off, Abraham who slept with his concubine is mentioned. It doesn’t seem to bother her that this is a concubine or that Abraham had one wife and he only re-married after that wife died. (But if Abraham had looked upon polygamy with approval, wouldn’t he have married the second one at any time?) Note also this act was not approved by God but seen as a distrust of God.


What about Jacob? Lisa doesn’t mention that Jacob was tricked into marrying the wife he did not want to marry and was given Leah instead of Rachel. She seems to think though that because the Bible records an event, it means tacit approval of that event. She might as well think that because Jacob tricked his brother and got the blessing from Isaac instead, that would mean that the Bible approves that as well.


As for David, the great sin of David is seen to be sexual sin, notably with Bathsheba. Again, the polygamous marriages of David are never approved. It is a wonder that Solomon is cited as one who fell away because of his marriages, a direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:17. It seems she wants us to ignore the context of the passages and is counting on her readers being unfamiliar with the text.


Their next argument is to mention all the kings of Judah and Israel. All of them? For many of the kings of Judah, we don’t know how many wives they had. It could be argued that the ones who were faithful to God were mainly monogamous though as Joash is specifically mentioned as having two wives as if this was unusual, most likely because the line of Judah from David had been severely damaged by Athaliah.


Why not mention the kings of Israel? Because there is not one listed king of Israel whom God looked on with approval in the text. Does Lisa mention this? No. Let it be hoped that the reason is that she isunfamiliar with the text, in which case she should not be writing an article on what the text says anyway.


What of the New Testament? Well, Jesus wasn’t married. Okay. This proves Jesus wasn’t married and nothing more. There is nothing in Jesus’s message that condemns marriage and when we come to such in the article, it will be dealt with. As for Paul, let us consider what can be said about the situation in Corinth. Did she check any commentaries that would have told her about events such as a famine at the time and about possible persecution starting as well? She will not find the support she desires in this passage and seems to ignore other passages like 1 Tim. 4:3 where Paul condemns those who condemn marriage.


She asks if any newly married couple who woke up on their wedding day with newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love would  turn to the Bible as a “how-to” script? For “how-to” what, she doesn’t say. She has  said nothing in the article thus far of how a husband is to be towards his wife or how a wife is to be towards her husband and we can be sure that for the joy of the marriage bed, the Bible need not go into specifics on that. As for gender equality, one would think a night in the wedding bed would convince someone that there are differences between the genders, though both are equally human. My personal contention is that it would be best to speak of the sexes as sex is a term that applies to people and gender relates to objects. What we call gender now would have in the past been called sex. Romantic love, as it is seen also, is historically not the reason for marriage but more a result of marriage. In many societies to this day, marriages are still arranged.


She then goes on to speak of how this institution has been brought into the religious domain and how this hasn’t happened since slavery. Let it be noted that she poisons the well by saying that the traditionalists had their Thornwell and the advocates for change had Harriet Beecher Stowe. Obviously, any traditionalists today then in regards to marriage would have sided with Thornwell and any one who wants change would side with Stowe.


But what does she know about the history of slavery? Is she aware that Christianity has often been a force that helped to end it as happened with Bathilda, the wife of Clovis II? Is she aware that when the Bible speaks about slavery, it speaks about something quite different than what happened in America? In Scripture, slavery was already present and it was done as a way to help the poor instead of for the rich to get free help. This isn’t an article though about slavery as practiced in the Ancient Near East, but it would help the authors to familiarize themselves with that. Also, is she familiar with the great Greek philosophers like Aristotle and their opinion of slavery or of influential Christians in ending the slave trade like John Newton and William Wilberforce?


She is also comparing apples and oranges. Race is something inherent in a person that does not change, but the issue of sex attraction is not like that. There has yet to be conclusive evidence of a supposed gene causing homosexuality. The findings of Dean Hamer have been called into question. A good reference to this with multiple links can be found here:


Of course, we could simply ask how Lisa  got to the ideas of traditionalist and advocate for change. Is she automatically saying that all change is good? Would she be in favor of change supported by eugenics? Is she saying that if any change comes along, then that change must be good? If she got her way and homosexual marriage is approved of, would she support advocates 100 years later, if our country lasted that long, who wanted to change that?


She quotes a minister saying that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman. I disagree. Marriage is not defined but described. Marriage is an aspect of the natural law that we all know in that one does not need the biblical text to know marriage is between one man and one woman. However, her later question asks if any sensible modern person would want to have their marriage the way the Bible describes it. (Could be we do. Some of us might like that passage in Proverbs 5 about ever delighting in the wife of your youth and notice it refers to the wife, not the wives.)


It is interesting that she speaks of biblical literalists as well. Does she define this term? No. So what does she mean? I don’t know anyone who always takes the Bible literally, for instance, when Jesus says he is the door, we do not think he is made of wood, or when the Bible says “God is a rock,” we do not think that means that God is mineral. One should take a passage according to its genre.


Her stance is that the Bible is a living document. She speaks of it as something that is powerful in that it speaks to us as we change through history. However, if the meaning of the Bible were to be open to the interpretation of any time period without regard for the time period it was written in, then would Lisa like her writings to be treated the same way in the future? Would she like someone to read the meaning they want into her articles instead of the meaning she intended? Shealso makes this assertion, but give no reason for believing it. It is simply an assertion.


She then decides that they will show how the Bible actually gives excellent reasons for homosexual marriage. Her reference is Alan Segal, but she gives no reference behind this and would seem to ignore any on the other side who would disagree with Segal, as there are several.


She then tells of adoption and reproductive technology and sterile heterosexual couples. It would seem though that children born from adoption, which was around in the time of the Bible as well, came through the same process of the sperm meeting the ovum. This is also what is done in labs through technology. While the method of bringing them together might be different with technology, it’s still sperm and ovum required. Fortunately, God has given a better way of bringing them together that has stood the test of time and met the resounding approval of many heterosexual couples. As for sterility, this is quite an odd case to use. The reason sterile couples don’t have children is because of a mistake in the system. For older couples, it is because the system has lost its capability for bringing about children over time. In homosexual couples though, the problem is not a flaw within the system but the system itself. Someone might as well complain that their coffee maker cannot be used as a telephone.


As for the New Testament, it is acknowledged that Jesus was never married, as if this is to make a point somehow. Did Jesus speak of a bond between brothers and sisters in Christ? Yes. However, he never condemned marriage and if the account of James and John wanting the seats of honor in the kingdom should tell us anything, it’s that family contact still mattered. Note that many of his followers took their wives with them on their journeys. (1 Cor. 9:5) Jesus also did not say there would be no marriage in Heaven. He said there would be no giving of marriage in Heaven. If you do not get married on Earth, you will not get married in Heaven. There is no reason though to think that Heaven destroys the bond between husband and wife. If anything, it would improve it. To say Jesus never mentioned homosexuality is simply an argument from silence. Homosexuality was not an issue in Israel. The Law was quite clear. It was in pagan areas Paul was evangelizing in. We might as well say Jesus never mentioned child pornography so he obviously would have no problem with it. Did Jesus condemn divorce? Yes. Why? That was a problem in Israel, which Christ said Moses allowed due to the hardness of hearts, although Malachi addressed it. (Malachi 2:13-16)


She tells of how the Bible nowhere condemns sex between women, obviously ignoring Romans 1:24-27. However, she refers to Leviticus as throwaway lines. Interesting that she wants to start at the beginning by taking those who believe the Bible at their word, but then says “But we’ll only believe certain parts of the Bible, like the kinds that can be used to argue our position.” Why should these passages in Leviticus be given authority though when Leviticus has several rules that we no longer follow today? Such an objection does not note the difference between civil law, ceremonial law, and moral law in Leviticus, but both passages that speak against aberrant sexual activity, including bestiality, end the same way. Leviticus 18:24-30 and 20:22-26 both say how the people who practiced these actions are being expelled from the land. Note they are not being expelled for failing to follow dietary laws. They are being expelled for failing to follow moral laws. In effect, God is saying that they know better. What is being condemned is what can be contained under the concept of “Natural Law” and does not rely on a biblical text. If Lisa considers homosexuality laws throwaway lines, would she consider bestiality and child sacrifices to Molech throwaway lines also?


In speaking of Romans,she cites one source from the progressive side, note that lovely poisoning of the well again, and ignores what anyone else says. Here’s why it doesn’t refer to Roman emperors though. Paul talks about those who “knew God.” He is referring to past peoples and showing the natural slide people make when they turn from God and turn to idol worship. Nero and Caligula could hardly be seen as those who knew God before. How can these actions show that Nero and Caligula were depraved, but when done by the common folk do not indicate depravity at all? Instead, Paul speaks of exchanging natural function and he means function by that.


She says that objections to homosexual marriage are not rooted in the Bible at all. This is hardly an issue though for while the Bible does condemn homosexuality, a Christian need not have the Bible to argue against homosexuality. This writer has made the argument against homosexuality without any Scriptural reference at all but simply by pointing to the natural law. She tells us the Bible affirms slavery, but it can be asked what she knows about slavery in ancient times and how it was belief in Scripture that actually ended slavery. She also speaks of how it condones the death penalty for adultery, not noting that this was to be done in Israel, where the people were to represent God by living pure lives as a community that mirrored him to a pagan world and how in 1 Cor. 5, when a man is caught in adultery with his step-mother, Paul says excommunication is the punishment seeing as he didn’t live in a theocracy. She also says it provides shelter for Anti-Semites, giving no argument behind it, which is quite odd since the huge majority of Scripture was written by Semites and Jesus himself was a Jew.


For her information on marriage changing throughout Christian history, she gives no citation, so we have no place to look, although we could point out that 1 Tim. 3:2 speaks of an overseer being the husband of one wife. More interesting is her usage of Jonathan and David, forgetting that such emotional responses between men were common in that day and age and did not indicate homosexual behavior at all. If anything, David’s problem was his heterosexual behavior.


Interestingly, she cites different examples of marriage such as Moses with a foreigner and Esther with a non-Jew. Notice though that each of these is a man with a woman. Whatever point she’s wishing to show has no bearing on the issue. To call Joseph and Mary’s marriage unorthodox leaves someone scratching their heads. Joseph was formally engaged already and the betrothal was legally binding in that time period. They went on and married when the news was found about the virgin birth. Unusual? Yes. Unorthodox? No.


Lisa points to how Jesus was inclusive. Yes. Jesus was inclusive of people, but he was not inclusive of sin. People are not their actions. Because I am a heterosexual, does that mean Jesus would approve of heterosexual sin? Not at all. Jesus also did not leave people as they were but encouraged them to change. He welcomed the prostitutes into the kingdom, but that does not mean he approved of prostitution and wanted them to stay prostitutes. (If she thinks this, what would be her response to Jesus welcoming the tax collectors?)


When speaking of the United Church of Christ, she again refers to them as a progressive group, a technique that has already been noted. Her reasons though for supporting such an idea have been found to be lacking and the veiled ad hominem to her opponents does not support her case.


It would be interesting to know what she is thinking when she says we want to love one another for our own good and not to be grandiose about it, but for the good of the world. So I am to get married and love a lady for my own good? One would think love was more other-centered in that the joy is not that she loves me, but that I love her. She cites a priest friend who says his favorite passage is Psalm 139 and how it speaks of the beauties and imperfections in us and says that Jesus would love the homosexuals and lesbians today as he would not want them to be sad and lonely.


I first want to ask what category the homosexual is put in? Is it the beauty or the imperfection? If simply beautiful, there are other passages that speak of the beauty and not of the imperfections. Why not go to those? The second thought is that yes, Jesus would reach out to homosexuals and lesbians. Let it be remembered though that he reached out to prostitutes and tax collectors as well. He did not leave the prostitutes to be prostitutes. He would love the homosexual and lesbian for the same reason, to lead them into the life God intended for them.


My conclusion is that Lisa needs to do her homework more. This is an argument designed to pull at one’s heartstrings, but it lacks substance. Thinking something to be good does not make it good and wanting something to be true does not make it true. Lisa has not told us why homosexual marriage would be good or true. 

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