Do we have a problem often with seeing how God works? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I play Question of the Day everyday on my Tap. Today, there was a question about Hippocrates. After the question, there’s a brief discussion giving the player more information about the question.
One thing said was that Hippocrates tried to look for natural causes of disease and natural treatments. Those were usually attributed to the divine and the work of the gods. Hippocrates was a dissenter in this and became the father of medicine.
Whether that is true or not, I cannot say, but it occurred to me that too often we have an idea on how God works and think that if God works, He must work in such and such a way. It is either God does a direct miracle or God has no involvement at all. Thus, if someone gets sick, if we find a “natural” explanation, then God wasn’t involved.
Dan Barker told a story of driving with someone once, I think a brother, who was trying to convince him of God’s existence and he pointed to the mountains and the wonder of the mountains and said, “Doesn’t that show you the wonder of God?” This is a very valid argument. I suspect many people are skeptical of atheistic theories because of the beauty and grandeur of the universe.
Barker goes on to talk some about plate tectonics and how that produces mountains. His brother just gives an angry response. The problem was that Barker still did not really refute his brother. His brother was thinking it had to be a pure fiat creation. Barker was saying “If I find a natural explanation, then that proves God isn’t needed.” Both are wrong.
To be sure, this doesn’t mean that God exists and it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t. It means this is a poor argument. If God is real, why does He have to work through a means of fiat creation? Could God not work through a natural process and use that to create mountains?
This happens often in debates about creation and evolution. Many Christians think if God created everything, He had to do it through a fiat process. Many atheists meanwhile think that if a naturalistic process can be found for bringing about living organisms, then God is out of a job. Both of them are doing God of the gaps thinking. It could be God exists and created fiat. It could be God does not exist and evolution brought living organisms about. It could be that God exists and created through evolution.
Another example is something like the parting of the Red Sea. Now some miracles are most certainly done fiat, but let’s consider this one in Exodus. For argument’s sake, we’ll take the event as historical. It could be that the parting of the seas is a natural event in that that happens when a really strong wind comes through. What would be the miracle here? It would be the miracle that it happened when it happened.
This can apply in other areas too. I remember when Michael Jackson died, there was a story going around about his ghost being at the Neverland Ranch based on a shadow seen moving across the wall. There was a news story done that showed a natural explanation for it and then said, “Therefore, we have shown there was no ghost.”
Do I think there was a ghost? No. Does that mean that the news story is right though? Not at all. It could be their explanation works and that the ghost of Michael Jackson is still at Neverland Ranch. It could even be their story is true and there is still such a ghost. Again, I remain highly skeptical, but showing one explanation does not prove another is automatically false.
So when it comes to medicine, God could use a sickness of some kind as a punishment. It could just be the way the universe works at times. We don’t know. Any sickness can be a good chance for self-exploration and seeing how we are living, but it doesn’t necessitate that we are being judged. I think it’s quite dangerous for Christians to speak for God when it comes to sickness and natural disasters as if they’re a prophet. We had one such prophet (And more than a prophet) in Luke 13 and I don’t think we’re going to top Him.
Theists and atheists too often are talking past each other because both have an idea that if God exists, He must work in such and such a way. Odds are God works in ways that we do not fathom. Limit how He works and both are prone to missing how He is working.
What do anthropomorphic animals on an island tell us about God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
A friend recently gave me a gift of $100 to the Nintendo Eshop and wanted me to choose what to get. My wife has been playing Animal Crossing and asked me to play with her. Now this isn’t my type of game I think, but I want to do more things with my wife. I get the game.
Allie has tried to get me into Harvest Moon and honestly, that one just didn’t click with me. I was thinking more of the same. I normally play RPG games or things of that sort. I grew up on Mario and Zelda and Metroid and later on, games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, which is now Dragon Quest.
So in the midst of our playing Pokemon together, Allie wants me to try Animal Crossing. Before too long though, I find myself being caught in this world. Last night I started really thinking about it. What is it that makes this world so special that Animal Crossing was a big sell, especially when so many of us were quarantined? Granted, it’s not for everyone….
Okay. So as the photo says, you start the game on this island and your goal is to build it up. Your first encounter is with a guy named Tom Crook…errr….Nook. He keeps charging you more and more for things he gives you which gives you a taste of progression. Once you pay off one debt, there’s another one and it’s bigger.
But at the same time, you’re expanding more and more. There is a museum on the island where you can bring in bugs, fish, and fossils. Later on, artwork becomes a part of it. There are planes whereby you can fly to other islands, which are either random ones made by the game or ones where other players, mainly friends, live.
Throughout, you gather resources. Some of these can be used to make tools like fishing rods and axes and nets and other things for collecting and practical use. Some of them are just things for beautification. Build some furniture and put it in your house.
So what are some things that I think make this so popular that even someone like me enjoys it?
Let’s start with a simple thing. Creativity. There is something nice about making something. Many a mother knows that getting a Mother’s Day card is nice on Mother’s Day, but getting one that is made instead of bought is even nicer even if the quality is less.
Now there are guys like me that can’t make a thing to save their lives, but there is something nice about gathering wood and iron and other things and using them all to make things. When we create, we are essentially doing the work of God. We are creating things after Him, the original creator.
Beauty is another one. Catching a fish and some butterflies reveals often times many beautiful creatures. Flowers are often planted on an island for no purpose other than beauty.
We live in a culture that often thinks beauty is relative. No Christian should ever think such a thing. None of us should say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the object itself.
When a player decorates their house just for aesthetic reasons or plants flowers just for such a reason, then they are showing that they believe in beauty. They anticipate that any player who comes to their island will think that it is beautiful as well. Let’s face it. We all like to look at beautiful things. Many times driving with Allie, I will look over at her and just think that I am amazed I have such a beautiful woman as my wife.
Lastly, there’s progression. We all like having goals that we can reach. In this case, it’s paying off debts and building a better environment for you and others to live in. Reaching a goal gives a sense of accomplishment.
Many of us know this in real life. We want to be praised when we do something well. We want to be celebrated when we hit plateaus. If you’re dieting and you lose a certain number of pounds, you want to celebrate. We celebrate graduating from high school and college. We celebrate birthdays.
The idea of progress really is a very Christian idea. Many worldviews in the ancient world were cyclical. History would repeat again and again. Judaism and later Christianity said that history started somewhere and it is going somewhere and there is no repeating of it. We take this for granted today, but it really was quite different for its time.
So those are some reasons why I have found myself enjoying this. If you play also, send me a message on Facebook with your code. Maybe we can visit each other virtually. Now if you’ll excuse me, my blog is done so I have some checking to do on my island.
What are we to make of the “Brights” today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There are some atheists that give Christianity a fair hearing and can give a take. Some of them can look and say “I can understand how from a rational perspective that you can see this as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus or the existence of God.” Some of them can admit arguments from the other side need to be wrestled with.
Unfortunately, from what I meet online, these are the exception.
I could sadly say the same for Christians reversed, but the problem is many atheists claim that by being atheists, they are champions of reason and evidence. For them, I often modify the saying of Jesus. These people honor reason with their lips, but their heads are far from it.
Saturday night I had posted in a debate group in a thread about someone saying something about how Jesus probably wasn’t white. I agree with this. Jesus looked like the average Jew of His day and was most likely more olive-skinned than anything else. Still, for humor, I always post this meme.
So an atheist messages me yesterday morning asking if I had abandoned my faith thinking I had because I had posted this. Like I said, these guys are not experts in reason and evidence. He invited me to check out his website. Now I’m not going to comment on posts about science as science because I know that is not my area. However, I did see a guest post worth mentioning. We’ll go through it piece by piece as a fine example of how NOT to do atheist apologetics. It’s by someone named Jim Dorans, although I wonder why anyone would want to put their name to this.
“Every single attempted logical argument for the existence of the Abrahamic God, without exception, fails on at least one count.”
Well this is first off a very bold claim. Every single one of them fails. Hopefully, we’ll see that evidence. Also, keep in mind arguments from philosophy are not for the Abrahamic God normally, but for a god who is consistent with the Abrahamic God. It could be that God exists and all the Abrahamic faiths are wrong.
“Saint Anselm of Canterbury made the logical error of assuming the need for a perfect being, and worked from that point on. By that reasoning, and working from an unproven assumption, it was very easy to “prove” the existence of God.”
What would be nice to see is some quote from Anselm showing this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. Heck, this guy doesn’t even state what Anselm’s argument is or what it is even called. I do not accept the argument, known as the ontological argument, but this is in no way a refutation of Anselm.
“However, that very same reasoning could be applied by an opponent to prove the existence of Zeus, so that’s another reason why it’s a very weak argument.”
And here we are wrong again. Zeus is a being in a polytheistic system. He is never described as a perfect being. If anything, Zeus is a really big human figure with some special powers. You could compare him to Superman. Zeus is a part of a system that needs to be explained. He is not like the god of the Abrahamic faiths.
“Thomas Aquinas too, committed a similar error by assuming the need for a necessary being, and so, based on that unproven assumption, still managed to make a good argument for the existence of God.
It was very much begging the question, and from that fallacious standpoint, he was able to effectively define God into existence.”
As a Thomist, I just find this laughingly hysterical. Again, there is no quote of Aquinas. There is not even a listing of his arguments. There is nothing to show that the author has even read Aquinas. Aquinas’s arguments are also deductive arguments where if one accepts the premises and can show no fault in the form, the conclusion follows.
Normally, if you are responding to an argument, you lay out what the argument is and then show how the proponent thinks the conclusion follows. You try to be as charitable as possible with it. Then you show why you think the proponent of the argument is wrong.
“Again, using the same flawed reasoning, an opponent could just as easily define Zeus into existence.”
“The well-worn cosmological argument fails too, but for different reasons. Hugely complex, monstrous, recycled arguments tell us the 9,742 ways that a naturalistic explanation is logically impossible, but those 9,742 ways are then “falsified” by inserting God, because God is exempt from, and unbounded by, the laws of logic.Usually, the main claim revolves around the Bereanistic “it is impossible to cross an infinity”, which is just another way of saying that it is impossible to get to the start of an infinity in the past.”
It depends on what kind of infinity is being crossed. Some Aquinas was open to. He said, for example, in q. 46. article 2 of the Prima Pars of the Summa that you cannot demonstrate by reason alone that the universe had a beginning. It must be believed on the basis of Scripture. Today, scientists can debate that one back and forth, but Aquinas is not making an argument like that.
Aquinas says an infinity is impossible though if there is dependence on the ongoing activity of what comes prior. Picture my illustration of an eternal statue standing eternally in front of an eternal mirror. How long has the mirror been reflecting the statue? Eternally. Is the image in the mirror still dependent? Yes.
Aquinas uses the example of a stick pushing a rock and a hand moving the stick. Remove the hand or the stick and the rock doesn’t move. That is the kind of infinity Aquinas says is impossible to have. You cannot have a chain of secondary causes without one primary cause.
Note also that Dorans doesn’t say why or why not this is the case. Is it possible to transcend an infinite? Is it possible for the universe to be infinitely old? He doesn’t tell us.
“The claim then implodes on itself by stating that there must have been a First Cause (which therefore must have crossed that infinity in the past).”
Brace yourself for the demonstration.
“This First Cause is claimed to be God, which of course contradicts the principle of cause and effect, by stating that God does not require a cause, because he is er…God. So, we have now invoked the fallacy of special pleading.”
And everyone who has read anything on the cosmological argument howls with laughter at this point. I can do no better than Ed Feser does. Let’s look at what he says about it here.
“1. The argument does NOT rest on the premise that “Everything has a cause.” Lots of people – probably most people who have an opinion on the matter – think that the cosmological argument goes like this: Everything has a cause; so the universe has a cause; so God exists. They then have no trouble at all poking holes in it. If everything has a cause, then what caused God? Why assume in the first place that everything has to have a cause? Why assume the cause is God? Etc.
Here’s the funny thing, though. People who attack this argument never tell you where they got it from. They never quote anyone defending it. There’s a reason for that. The reason is that none of the best-known proponents of the cosmological argument in the history of philosophy and theology ever gave this stupid argument. Not Plato, not Aristotle, not al-Ghazali, not Maimonides, not Aquinas, not Duns Scotus, not Leibniz, not Samuel Clarke, not Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, not Mortimer Adler, not William Lane Craig, not Richard Swinburne. And not anyone else either, as far as I know. (Your Pastor Bob doesn’t count. I mean no one among prominent philosophers.) And yet it is constantly presented, not only by popular writers but even by some professional philosophers, as if it were “the” “basic” version of the cosmological argument, and as if every other version were essentially just a variation on it.
Don’t take my word for it. The atheist Robin Le Poidevin, in his book Arguing for Atheism (which my critic Jason Rosenhouse thinks is pretty hot stuff) begins his critique of the cosmological argument by attacking a variation of the silly argument given above – though he admits that “no-one has defended a cosmological argument of precisely this form”! So what’s the point of attacking it? Why not start instead with what some prominent defender of the cosmological argument has actually said?”
Feser is stating what many of us already know. No one is using this argument that Dorans is dealing with. No one. Again, this is not saying anything about Pastor Bob using it. I am referring to anyone academically inclined. Feser goes on.
“And that, I submit, is the reason why the stupid “Everything has a cause” argument – a complete fabrication, an urban legend, something no philosopher has ever defended – perpetually haunts the debate over the cosmological argument. It gives atheists an easy target, and a way rhetorically to make even their most sophisticated opponents seem silly and not worth bothering with. It‘s a slimy debating trick, nothing more – a shameless exercise in what I have elsewhere called “meta-sophistry.” (I make no judgment about whether Le Poidevin’s or Dennett’s sleaziness was deliberate. But that they should know better is beyond question.)
What defenders of the cosmological argument do say is that what comes into existence has a cause, or that what is contingent has a cause. These claims are as different from “Everything has a cause” as “Whatever has color is extended” is different from “Everything is extended.” Defenders of the cosmological argument also provide arguments for these claims about causation. You may disagree with the claims – though if you think they are falsified by modern physics, you are sorely mistaken – but you cannot justly accuse the defender of the cosmological argument either of saying something manifestly silly or of contradicting himself when he goes on to say that God is uncaused.
This gives us what I regard as “the basic” test for determining whether an atheist is informed and intellectually honest. If he thinks that the cosmological argument rests on the claim that “everything has a cause,” then he is simply ignorant of the basic facts. If he persists in asserting that it rests on this claim after being informed otherwise, then he is intellectually dishonest. And if he is an academic philosopher like Le Poidevin or Dennett who is professionally obligated to know these things and to eschew cheap debating tricks, then… well, you do the math.”
And I fully agree with Feser again. Either Dorans is intellectually dishonest, which I do not want to say due to the principle of charity, or he is just ignorant of basic facts. Still not the height of charity, but ignorance is easier to take care of than outright dishonesty.
“What is even more amusing is that more special pleading is then used to justify the original special pleading, because God is, well, God …
But why God? Why not Zeus?”
And again, this is still not understood. God does not have a beginning and in Thomism at least, His very nature is to exist. He is what it means to be. You might as well ask “What caused existence to come into existence?” It is either something that already existed, which is a problem since its existence needs to be explained if existence had beginning, or it is something that didn’t exist, which means something can come from nothing, which is nonsense.
So here we have a claim that all the arguments fail and yet none of them are even spelled out at all, no writings are cited, and this is from only two philosophers. There are plenty of others. Some arguments I will think work. Some I will not, but the claim from Dorans is that they all fail and yet we haven’t seen them all put to use and what we have seen, it is the response that fails and fails miserably.
Again, if you want to be an atheist, be one. You can do that. However, please do not be one like Dorans and actually do your intellectual homework and read the other side and take them seriously. Christians need to do the same. Don’t present yourself as a champion of reason and evidence though when your very words will betray you.
How do we do good deeds? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
A month or so ago I remember making a post on Facebook about how I can see advertisements sometimes where companies talk about how they give to charity. It can also include incentives like “If you buy such and such from us, we will give XYZ to charity.” Generally, when I hear that kind of thing, it’s really a reason for me to not want to support. After all, you’re wanting to make a profit, which is fine, and your selling point is that you will give to charity? I should also buy your product or service because you are such a great company that gives to charity?
It reminds me of the verse I’m looking at today in Matthew 6.
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
A year or so ago it was a December and Allie was in a hospital and so it was just me. I went to the church I go to and everyone could tell I was bummed out in Sunday School. After the class, the pastor asked me to stay behind and he wanted to share something with me. He told me that a donation had been made to Allie and I for our usage. I thought that this was nice and wondered how much it could be. $50? $100?
To this day, we don’t know for sure who gave it. We have ideas, but whoever it is wanted it to be a secret donation. They didn’t give so we could go and praise them. They gave because they wanted to support us and that gift was extremely helpful to us.
This is not to say you can never let your generosity be known, but you have to ask why you are letting it be known. What is the end goal in all of it? Do you want people to know that you’re just so awesome? Perhaps you share who you are just because you want the other person to know and to know that they have a friend in you.
At the same time, Jesus doesn’t condemn doing good deeds because it will give you something good in the end as well. After all, He says do these things so you will be seen by your Father in Heaven. If you don’t do them that way, you will get no reward. This means that if you do do them the right way, you will get a reward.
It’s really interesting that Jesus still appeals to our self-interest. What He is wanting us to seek is the honor of God. There’s something someone once told me that has stuck with me. Jesus talks about going to a banquet and taking the lowest seat so you will be invited to a better one and says if you humble yourself you will be exalted and vice-versa. Notice this though. Everyone is humbled and everyone is exalted. We just choose what order they come in.
We are to do good deeds, of course, but if we really do them just so other people will think highly of us, that negates the reward we can get for them. The other person can still benefit, but it’s not the same. I encourage you that insofar as it’s possible, try to do your good deeds secretly so other people don’t know.
If you can’t avoid that, it’s understandable, but still, check your motives. Seek the purest of motives. If wrong motives are in you and you still know the right thing to do, do it anyway and ask God to purify your motives.
What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Superheroes are really popular in our culture. While Batman and Superman and others have been around for decades, they still have new fans coming up every single day. New movies featuring them are constantly coming out and television series have been produced regularly.
These aren’t the only ones certainly. There are many more heroes such as the Avengers and other members of the Justice League and then the Justice Society and plenty of heroes that stand alone in their own right. I grew up also watching Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and those series have stuck with me to this day.
We live in a culture that loves superheroes. We want someone to come in and right the wrongs and stop evil and for many of them, we also like the moral compass they live with. Batman has a rule of not killing and in the second season of Arrow, the Green Arrow also took on that rule. If anything disappointed me severely in Man of Steel, it was when Superman killed Zod. The Superman I always knew did not kill, at least directly.
Yes. Superheroes can do many things, but unfortunately, they are also fictional so they can only do so in a fictional universe, even if that universe is meant to be ours. However, with all the things that they can do, there is one thing they cannot do.
Superheroes can’t save you.
Many superheroes despite having qualities that are Christlike, cannot provide salvation. If we looked to superheroes like they were the Messiah, we would believe many false things. What if our idea of Jesus was like superheroes? What if we formed our Christology that way? This Saturday, my guest will be someone who has considered that and written a book on Christology using superheroes to illustrate his point. The book is Superheroes Can’t Save You and the author is Todd Miles.
So who is he?
According to his bio:
Todd Miles has been a follower of Jesus from a young age. A native of Oregon and resident of Portland, he is married to Camille. They have six children, Natalie, Ethan, Levi, Julius, Vicente, and Marcos. Todd is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary where he teaches Theology, Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology, Church History, and Apologetics. He currently serves as an Elder at Hinson Church. Prior to working at Western Seminary, he was employed as a research engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Todd is an alumnus of Oregon State University (BS and MS in Nuclear Engineering), Western Seminary (MDiv), and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (PhD in Systematic Theology). Todd enjoys “all-things athletic,” “all-things Oregon State,” and reading military history and biographies. Todd is the author of many published articles and books, including Superheroes Can’t Save You: Epic Examples of Historic Heresies and A God of Many Understandings?
We’re still working on getting caught up on shows. I plan to upload several of them soon. Thanks for your patience and I hope this episode will greatly help you.
How are we going to look at prayer? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
We’re moving on to chapter six of the Sermon on the Mount and we’re going to focus on prayer. I wanted to give a little preliminary on that one. The old saying is those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym.
I do not consider myself a great authority on prayer. I find it difficult and I wonder if this could be an Aspie thing and if anyone has done research on that, I would be greatly interested. For me, talking to ordinary people can be difficult enough. Talking to God is even more difficult.
Also, I think as a Christian, there is a lot of baggage that we have brought into the idea of prayer. Prayer is often presented to us as a dialogue when really, it is not presented that way in Scripture. Really also, if God starts speaking back to you, the best thing to do would be to shut up and listen.
I don’t care much for what he says, but I agree with John MacArthur on something. He spoke once about a guy who said that God spoke to him every morning while he was shaving and how he asked the guy, “Do you still keep shaving?” This is treating God as way too casual and flippant.
On the other hand, I am not one of those prayer warriors types who can easily spend an hour in prayer like that. My main focus is often an attitude of prayer and many times, minute prayers. These can even include prayers while I’m driving such as when I see a first responder vehicle go by with the siren running. I always say a prayer (Not closing my eyes of course) for those involved that all will work out to the glory of God.
So if I don’t know the most on it, why write on it? Because it’s part of the Sermon on the Mount and because we can learn together that way. Also, if you consider yourself not an expert on prayer, you have on reason to be intimidated by anything that I share.
So let’s go ahead on this conversation when we return to the Sermon. We will be studying prayer and how King Jesus wants it to be done. Hopefully, whether you’re a prayer warrior or not, you’ll walk away better at prayer.
What do I think of Hugh Houston’s book published by Jesus is Best? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
From the moment a guy hits puberty, one of the thoughts that goes through his head is the wonder about what certain women look like underneath all those clothes. A guy can see the girl and think that there’s only a thin barrier keeping him from viewing paradise and that barrier is clothing. A guy desires to see that beauty.
This is not an evil desire in itself. Women were made beautiful and God knew what He was doing. As a married man, I am always happy whenever my wife trusts me with all of her beauty. There is nothing like it in all this world.
Well, there could be something out of this world that’s even better, and that’s Jesus. Hugh Houston thinks so and does so as a man who wrestled with pornography usage for decades. He started as a young boy and it continued even into his marriage.
One of the hardest moments was having to tell his wife the truth. I am not going to begin to understand what this is like for a woman. It is a form of cheating and it leaves the person thinking “Am I not enough for you?”
Houston then describes his life of escaping from porn and the lies that pornography told him. He describes being in recovery groups and what men and women go through. He also says that porn cannot deliver on its promises and does so with Scripture, reason, and other Christian writers.
There is great advice here on overcoming addiction and it would help someone with any addiction, not just porn. Houston writes in a personal style practically begging the reader to not get involved in the addiction. He also has several helpful resources to help a person on the path to escaping addiction.
He also does stress the pain that it causes the other person if you are married. This is important since there are even some pastors who have told couples having sexual problems to try watching pornography together. It might work some in the short-term, but in the long-term, it will do more harm.
As I have said, when I drive around the Atlanta area here, I hear many ads for men struggling with ED. I am convinced one of the main reasons for this is porn. Men have been so aroused by fake women over and over that they find it hard to be aroused by a real one right in front of them.
The book is also a short read and it would be great for people struggling with porn, or who have spouses who struggle, to read together. Each chapter ends with questions at the end for discussion. If you are struggling with porn or know someone who is, this is a great place to go to.
How should you treat your enemies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Jesus has just told us to respond with kindness to those who insult us and try to hurt us, but now He ups the ante even further. Up until now, He has been telling us what the Law means, but the next saying He quotes is not from the Law. Let’s look at the passage in Matthew 5.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Nowhere does the Law command you to hate your enemy, but this was a common thought of the time. If you loved your neighbor, since an enemy wasn’t specified, surely you are to hate your enemy. Nope. You are to love them too. Actually, the Law itself upheld good treatment of the enemy, such as returning his stray animal to him.
This can be really hard at times for all of us. I don’t consider myself having many personal enemies, but if someone hurts Allie, they become my enemy. I was once at a Christian event and I looked up and suddenly from behind, the person in front of me looked like someone who had really hurt Allie in the past. I was filled with rage immediately. I could hardly concentrate on what the speaker was saying. I found out later it wasn’t him, but at the time, I sure was thinking about things I wanted to do.
My usual idea in this case is to do what I want and then ask for forgiveness later.
Just a couple of days ago we had someone knock on our door and with them was someone Allie had been hurt by. They wanted to take us downtown and offered to pay us. I only asked if it was okay with Allie.
It’s really amazing how we think. We look at what other people do so much which we cannot control, and we look at what we do so little which we can control. When I stand before God one day, He is not going to ask me about how other people treated me. He is going to ask me about how I treated other people.
God demonstrates this love. Everyone gets rain and everyone gets sunshine. Anyone can love someone who is good to them as well. Big whoop if you do that. It’s if you can love someone who is opposed to you. That’s a real accomplishment.
Something to note. This does not mean you necessarily put yourself in a compromising position. In a 12-step recovery, you are told to make amends to people you have hurt unless that would hurt you or them. If it is dangerous for you to be in front of a person who could be a threat to you even if you did hurt them, do not reach out to them. You can forgive someone for a wrong, but you don’t have to trust them again.
Those who want some examples of this kind of love are free to check my article on if your murderer will be in heaven, which is one of the most popular ones on this site. As someone said in the comments, right now, Stephen and Paul are together. Radical love is what is required to be a Christian.
Should we give all we have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I said I would handle verse 42 on its own. This is one commonly used to try to make Christians give away everything they have for free. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Let’s look at the verse.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
So I am walking down the street one day and you see me. You know this verse. You ask me to give you my wallet, the key to my car, the keys to my house, and all my clothes, and hey, if my wife is at home can you have her also? Now, if I am to be a good little Christian with this verse, I should do all of that and be going down the street naked and allowing you to rape my wife. Right?
This is the importance of context for this.
In Jesus’s day, the poor were often looked down upon. That would likely be the majority of people in the audience. The elites didn’t bother and figured the poor were that way because they were getting what they deserved. The idea of charity for the poor seeming to be a natural thing is an effect of Christian teaching.
So what do you do if someone comes up to you in 1st century Judea and demands something of you? Generally, you give it so you don’t escalate violence. It doesn’t mean that you give everything you have, but it means you don’t withhold and try to go the path of violence in this case.
Now today, that could be different. If you are capable of defending yourself, you can do so. If you’re a black belt in karate or have a concealed carry, that can change the game some. This is especially so if it comes to the defense of someone else.
It also means that even in a non-aggressive situation, you should not withhold if you have the means and lack a reason to give. If you have extra money and someone you know in need asks of you, you should give. Sometimes we can withhold something we can give just because we want to make the person suffer in revenge.
This is also the thing with pay it forward. I still remember a time checking out at Wal-Mart when my credit card wasn’t working for some reason and it was a small amount and the person behind me said, “Don’t worry. Add it to mine. I’ll cover it.”
I’ve also spoken about the time someone at my church heard how I wanted to give my wife a Nintendo Switch for Christmas and I couldn’t do it so I was going to save up Amazon credit for awhile. This person went out and bought the Switch for us and gave us some games for it too. We have another friend who regularly buys us games. Just a couple months ago, someone ordered the Final Fantasy VII Remake and due to the pandemic, decided to order it digitally and had the other copy sent to me instead.
Even if you don’t care for games and see such giving as silly to some extent, every time it happens to me, I get hope. I get hope because I know there are good people out there who love to provide out of their generosity. It’s really nice when someone just takes my wife and I out to dinner just because. I know if I ever come into money, I want to be able to do the same thing for others. There is a local pizzeria that knows my wife and I and knows our financial situation and sometimes just provides freely for us.
Generosity is a Christian virtue that we should be practicing. Avoiding revenge should also be one, as tempting as it is sometimes. Give freely when you can, but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.
What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Mormonism is a strange religious movement. While there are noted differences between it and Christianity, even those of us who know it is not Christian have some difficulties from it. Namely, there are many skeptics who like to point out supposed parallels between Christianity and Mormonism. Why is it you believe the former and not the latter? Isn’t that special pleading?
We wouldn’t want to be doing that would we? Paul claims to see Jesus appear on the Damascus Road. Joseph Smith claims to see the Father and the Son in a heavenly vision. 500 people are said to have seen the risen Jesus at one time. Several people also saw the golden plates of Joseph Smith didn’t they? Shouldn’t we be consistent? Shouldn’t we either accept both or reject both?
It’s really sad that this is a neglected area of apologetics. We have two accounts of claims of seeing something and both of them are foundational to the religion. No one has really done an in-depth look at both of these accounts as far as I know.
Thankfully, someone stepped up to the plate and wrote an excellent book on the topic. I’ll be discussing with him this Saturday about it. I sometimes think of him as one of the best apologists you’ve never heard of. Some of you have, of course, but to many people, he’s not as well-known which is a shame. I find all of his material to be excellent. His name is Rob Bowman and he’ll be joining me Saturday.
So who is he?
According to his bio:
Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the president of Faith Thinkers, a Christian apologetics ministry (www.FaithThinkers.org/). He holds MA and PhD degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary. Rob has taught undergraduate and graduate students at Biola University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Evangelical Seminary, and elsewhere. He is the author of some 60 periodical articles and the author or co-author of 15 books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (with J. Ed Komoszewski), Faith Thinkers: 30 Christian Apologists You Should Know, and Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism.
I hope you’ll be joining us this Saturday. We are again working on getting the shows done and uploaded. There has been a lot going on and I personally apologize for that.