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.

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. 


For my birthday a couple of months ago nearly, my roommate got me “The Complete Works of Flannery O’Connor.” He told me he really liked her material and thought I would to. Now there have been some stories I’ve got lost on and I have no idea what really happened, but there are others I’m finding later on that I’m being completely drawn into. There’s something I do notice about her work though.

Her stories don’t really seem to conclude. You get to the end and you realize something has happened, but you don’t know where the characters are going to go from there. In some earlier stories, some characters move on to another story. Maybe that happens in some later stories. I haven’t read all of them yet.

As I read that, I realize that that’s the way our stories are. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this, but being in this mindset of reading stories now, I can picture myself in a story and wonder what it would be like for someone else to describe my story from their perspective. What would they say if they could see how my mind was interpreting things? Sometimes I hear the words in my own mind as I describe what I am seeing and thinking and my reaction to it.

I have a friend on here who would be surprised that I’m thinking of him in this as I know he wrestles with a lot of questions. I hope he can identify himself from that. I saw him put some pictures of himself up on Facebook and they were the first ones I’d seen and when I saw them I thought “This is someone going out and living his own adventures.”

Isn’t that what we’re all doing though? We’re all involved in an adventure. I was recently out with my roommate and a mutual friend of ours and we were talking about apologetics and what it’s like being an apologist. Our friend spoke of it in a way I’ve seen it. I go about my job now and my knowledge is not something that’s visible, but I just realize that at any moment, I might have to deal with some objection and then enter into a sort of “battle mode” and debunk an argument.

That doesn’t mean that you see the opponent and think “Must destroy.” No. It can be done subtly and for me, I prefer to debate that way. It’s more of a Socratic technique. I like asking questions so that my opponent can realize what they are doing. Now sometimes, that’s not the best format. When we had the Mormons up here though, it was the one we used. When dealing with matters of fact though, I still had to give straight answers and did so for questions like “Why do you think the text of the Bible is reliable?”

Each day I wake up in apologetics, I see it as that adventure. (Or rather, I try to.) I think that there is something new I can learn today. I can dive deeper into my faith today. My adventure is going on. There are arguments to answer and Christians who are doubting to rescue and adversaries to be dealth with. Friends might come needing support and I best be able to help them out.

I also know that God is in charge of my story. In fact, he’s in charge of yours, and I find it amazing that so many stories are coming together in such a beautiful way and will do so. I think of my roommate and how across space and time, our paths converged and our stories came together and while we’re each playing out our own story, in some ways, we are playing out a dual story now where our accounts come together.

Are there some minor stories concluded as it were? Yes. However, before me is the grand sheet of what the master author is writing and like any good author, I trust he is going to work out all things for the heroes in his story for good.

I look forward to the next entry of my story.

Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees?

By now, I suppose that we’ve all heard this one if we’ve been on the internet in apologetics discussions for any length of time. I was quite stunned though to hear a well-known skeptic in the public arena use it Saturday night. This argument has been going around and when a non-Christian speaks, he references this as if it is a good argument?


Now let’s suppose I granted the main assumption. Let’s suppose that no amputees have been healed. I say this because I don’t know about all miracle cases past and present. Could it have happened somewhere? Maybe. I’m certainly open to the possibility and if one is there, then it would seem the atheists will need a new track. (Which will be just as bad.) Let’s suppose though that they’re right and no amputees have been healed.

First off, the skeptic who presented this presented it as if this was something obvious unlike cancer which would have just gone into remission. We all know there are cases out there that doctors describe as just miraculous. Maybe I should believe them? Because X is not healed, then that means Y was not healed? It does not follow. If cancer is removed in a way described as miraculous, it does no good to say “That couldn’t have been God because an amputee wasn’t healed.”

Let’s also keep in mind that we all know what it’s like to pray for someone to be healed and it doesn’t happen. I’ve been through enough sicknesses and hospital visits to know about that. It doesn’t always happen and frankly, it won’t. Eventually, everyone is going to enter into this little condition that we like to call death.

However, this brings us to another point and this is again assuming the stance that no amputees are healed. One can ask “Why should God do so?” The answer I received was that it would be something more obvious. One wonders then if God should heal an amputee just so the atheist will say that he has something obvious to look at. Will that lead someone to immediately falling down and embracing Christ as Lord? Could not one then simply form a God of one’s own choosing?

Now could there be some that would convert? Possibly. Yet as I ponder that, I think that God must have a reason. Could it be such a person would be a flaky Christian who would fall away? Could it be that God knows that person will come to Christ in another way that will lead him to lead a richer life? We don’t know and frankly, I tend to not like to speak about such things when I have no business as I’m in a position of ignorance. When people would ask me if Hurricane Katrina was the judgment of God, I would say “It’s not my call.” Then it’d be a quick turn to Luke 13 with the message of “Repent anyway.”

Notice this though. Let’s suppose I was straight-forward when asked this question and just said “I don’t know.” What has been proven by the non-Christian? It’s been proven that I am not omniscient. Well geez. If that was your goal at the start of the debate, all you had to do was ask. I’d have been glad to tell you that I was not omniscient. 

The skeptic though is the one making an assertion in saying that he knows there is no good reason for God to not do this. Oh really? How would you go about demonstrating such? It would be something impossible to do. I’m fine to just say “I really don’t know” and go about my day. Some may think that’s kind of shallow, but other factors must be kept in mind.

For instance, this question is not asked in a vacuum. If all we had was this, I could understand skepticism. However, I live in a world that I believe is designed, that I believe contains absolute moral commands that I ought to follow, where there exists a Bible that I believe to be an accurate account of historical events including miraculous ones, where I believe that a man named Jesus who claimed to be the incarnate Son of God lived among us, died, and rose agian. I live in a world where I can philosophically reflect on many arguments such as the infinite regress and believe a God exists, or see the argument from beauty and believe God exists, or see the philosophical backing of such Christian documents as the Trinity.

I’d consider it foolish to abandon all of that just because I don’t understand how God works in one area, like I was ever supposed to….

Yet I consider it just as foolish though for one to abandon all other areas in the interest of one. This argument will not stand on its own. I’ve got all the other arguments and I’m happy to live with another unknown variable. One wonders if the skeptic wishes to use this as a main argument if he is not just putting forth an emotional doubt masking itself as intellectual.

Virgin Birth: The Expression “Jesus Christ”

Friends. This will be a short one for tonight’s entry at doesn’t have much. I am giving the link again so anyone can be sure of the argument I am dealing with:

The claim is that the NT has fostered the idea that Jesus Christ is the name of the central figure in the NT and the name is exclusive to him.

If you mean name as in a birth name, no. A birth certificate of Jesus would not say “Jesus Christ.” Jesus is the given name. Christ is a name describing his position. 

Our writer is correct that Jesus is the variant of Joshua and would be read as Yeshua. It was a common name even in the time of Christ. There are even some reports that Barabbas, whom Pilate released instead of Jesus, was named Jesus and Barabbas was a surname. If that is the case, it would have meant his name was “Jesus, son of the father” in opposition to Jesus, Son of the Father.

Our writer is also correct that there are four other people in the Bible named Jesus. Again, this goes along with it being a common name. 

Our writer is also correct about Christ meaning “Anointed one”, which could have a limited perspective as it did for Cyrus, but the Jews were also waiting a specific anointed one, a greater one that we would call “The Messiah” today and Jesus was certainly claiming Messianic status for himself and there can be no doubt that’s what the Christians at least meant to attribute to him by calling him Jesus Christ.

Our writer wishes to say that since this information was so lost and distorted beyond recognition, then this can explain how the same could happen with a fact like the birth of Christ.

No. Instead, it shows that the church today is ignorant. A friend of mine tonight was talking about Zeitgeist and I said that while it is quite false, most Christians couldn’t answer it. This friend asked me if I really believe most of the church is that uninformed. I sadly had to say yes. I really wish I was wrong. I do. I don’t think I am though.

I don’t think Walls of Jericho gives good arguments against the virgin birth. However, it does tell me that our churches need to be better informed for in our state, we will even succoumb to bad arguments for a false position. Keep this in mind fellow apologists. Just because you see an argument as pathetic, it doesn’t mean the person sitting in the pew next to you does.

Virgin Birth: Isaiah’s Prophecy

Tonight, we continue our look at the doctrine of the Virgin Birth in reply to For those wanting another installment last night, I apologize, but I had a busy evening and I had to get up early today and as I heard someone say in quoting that great philosopher of the last generation, Red Skelton, “Late to bed, early to rise, makes me a lot sleepier than other guys.”

For those interested, I will be dealing with the argument here:

We are first told that the foundation of the virgin birth is Isaiah’s prophecy cited in Matthew. Matthew spells it out more explicitly, I’ll grant, but I think the case could easily be drawn out of Luke as well. The difference is that Matthew does cite the OT and whether that citation is valid or not is certainly an important question. To use a reference I’ve referred to before, I suggest the reader try to get a copy of “Jesus: Divine Messiah” by Robert Reymond. Reymond spends nearly 20 pages on this one prophecy and he devotes more time to others afterwards.

Walls of Jericho states that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled within his lifetime. There is no problem with this. I have no doubt that Isaiah was speaking of a young woman in the court and saying “That woman will be with child!” That the child will be able to survive would be a sign that God had delivered his people from the threat that was coming.

The point is also made on how Matthew is going with a dual fulfillment of prophecy in that one fulfillment is greater than the other. For those who believe in the virgin birth, while Isaiah did speak of a young woman who would have a child, which would be a more natural sign, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment in a greater way in that he would be conceived of a virgin. This will be looked at more later. For now, let us look at the word used in Isaiah that is translated as virgin by some translations.

I will agree that Almah does not mean virgin. However, it does refer to a young woman and it does not refer to a married woman. It can mean a virgin though. That is all that matters at this point. While there are various references given, none of them really address the argument. I could agree with much of what is said and not have a problem.

Also, was the young woman already pregnant? I don’t know if she was or not. My thinking is that she wasn’t, but that is left for the Hebrew scholars. I would simply ask “Does it make a difference?” For the prophecy of Isaiah, not really. When it comes to Matthew, he would apply it properly for his own time and again, I don’t see much difference. If the virgin is with a child while a virgin, it still counts. If the virgin will miraculously conceive without sacrificing her virginity, it still counts.

It’s also noted that Matthew did not mention Isaiah’s sign. Why should he though? This is the style of format called pesher where there didn’t have to be a literal one-to-one correspondence on everything but that rather there was a type of sorts being shown which is a rather “This for that” method of interpreting a passage in the OT.

There is not much need to speak on the name Immanuel and how it was used. Our writer says that none of the other names refer to someone being God when used of them. I think the ones that he has such as Elijah meaning “God Himself” could better be read “The Lord is God,” and Elihu could best be read as “He is my God.” Immanuel though while a name for the child in the sense that God is with his people, was fulfilled in a greater sense in Christ with God literally being with his people. This gets into a Trinitarian attack and while I would be glad to focus in on that, that is for another blog entry. This isn’t about the Trinity but the virgin birth.

A point is also made about other Greek translations that don’t translate as Matthew does the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. However, all of these were second century and Aquila, for instance, was done in response to the Christians and trying to get a translation to avoid the Christian ideas that were coming from the OT.

Now we get back to our earlier point about Matthew showing Jesus re-living the history of Israel. Our author is right on that but doesn’t grasp the full connotation. Let’s consider.

The child goes to Egypt like Israel.

The child leaves Egypt like Israel.

The child is baptized as Israel was vis a vis 1 Cor. 10.

The fulfillment of Israel in Matthew 4.

Then we get to Matthew 5 and Jesus goes up and gives the law from the mountain. This is why it says “out of his mouth” even. That would seem obvious that that was where his words came from, but Matthew is making a great statement. Jesus is the lawgiver par excellence that exceeds Moses. Moses received the Law. Jesus GAVE the Law. This is a strong argument for who Jesus is.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are also referenced and it is said that they say nothing about a virgin birth. I read this and I’m thinking “You were expecting them to?” I really don’t see the difficulty with this. If this is a miraculous fulfillment to come in the future, why would the Jews have been expected to know about that entirely? (I do understand that there are some findings that call the claim that the DSS don’t see the prophecy that way into question.)

Overall, I really think the article in this case is sound and fury with no substance.

A Theology Of Sex

I’ve had a busy night and I have to get up early tomorrow morning. Tonight’s blog is going to be an article I wrote a long time ago called “A Theology of Sex.” It can be found on TheologyWeb also. Enjoy.

Perhaps one of the great developments of modern theology, and a witness to our age, which needs it so desperately, will be a glorious new theology of sex. (Kreeft TGWLY 153)


            I was rather pleased when I read that sentence in Kreeft’s book. Kreeft has been a philosopher that has put the finishing touches on something I had pondered for so long. As a Christian, I do not believe God created characteristics of this world on accident, and that includes sexuality. Being a young man thinking about sex, I kept pondering why God did things the way he did and if he’s revealing something of his nature, especially since Scripture is replete of terminology of a marriage relationship such as the bride of Christ and Hosea and Ezekiel 16 and the entire Song of Solomon.

            Thus, I am here to present a theology of sex. I will be looking at what I see in the Scriptures and in general revelation. If God is revealing himself in both places, it behooves us to understand what message he is given us. In modern American culture, one would have to be blind to deny that sex is the national obsession. Perchance a good theology of sex will help us realize the beauty that God intended sex to be and the shameful way the world treats it.

            Already, some who know me may be raising an objection. “You’re a virgin! What can you tell us about sex?!” At first, this seems to have weight, except that I also parallel sex with Heaven, something else I have not experienced, but I believe through Scriptural revelation and through the desires placed in our heart, such as C.S. Lewis has done in such works as “Surprised By Joy,” we can get clues as to the nature of Heaven. By looking at desire and what little I do know, I could give an alternative view that more parallels mystery and wonder.

            To begin with, I would like to suggest that we start talking about what sex is. We often look at it is as something that you do, when in reality, it is something that you are. If you will consider a nun or a monk, both of them are sexual creatures. The nun does all that she does as a woman and the monk does all that he does as a man. That neither of them function in a sexual way does not deprive from either of them being fully male or fully female. We cannot say that the lover on his honeymoon acts and then he becomes a sexual being. He acts, because he is already a sexual being. Thus, I will be referring in the future to the act itself as intercourse and the status of the person as sex.

            Now that the terms are defined, it is time to look at where this wonder came from. Christians will agree that sex was first the idea of God. However, could it be that sexuality comes closer to the heart of God than we realize? Could it be that what we consider sexuality is actually an aspect of the nature of God?

            Let me be clear to the first argument I anticipate. John 4:24 says that God is Spirit. Are you describing God in physical terms? The problem with such an argument is that it views sex as purely physical. I am not in anyway describing the Trinity as having male or female genitalia. While intercourse is a physical act no doubt, I believe it’s an act of the soul as well. I believe that while there are male and female characteristics of our bodies, we also have souls that are male and female. Based on the doctrine of traducianism, I would say that our bodies are often matched to correspond to our souls.

            Is there any biblical evidence for saying that sexuality belongs at the heart of God? There is. In Genesis 1:26-27, we are told that God created man and woman in his image. Christians do not believe that the image is something physical. While there may be differing interpretations, I see the image of God as humanity bearing many attributes of God though in a far lesser sense. We are rational, have a spiritual sense, possess morality, have an implicit understanding of logic, etc. Along these lines, I will include sexuality.

            This shouldn’t be a shock. We know that masculinity and femininity is more than how the body is built. One can be a heavyweight bodybuilder and still not be a man at heart. A female could be a supermodel dazzling every male onlooker with her beauty, and still not be a woman at heart. Instead, we see certain traits that embody each gender. For instance, the masculine gender is a warrior gender that longs to be the breadwinner for the woman, to conquer the world for her, to defeat the enemy, and to protect her from all evil. The feminine gender we tend to picture as the caring and sensitive one, the nurturer for the wounded child, the heart for those who are downcast, and the sustainer of life.

            All of these characteristics come from God and God put the male and female together with each embodying some of the characteristics that he possesses in unique strength. When we look at God though, we have to realize that while he possess attributes that we would consider masculine and feminine, he also transcends them. I believe that God identifies himself in male roles simply because leadership was to be the responsibility of the man. Having the first person of the Trinity describe himself as Father and the second reveal himself as Son shows us the value that masculinity plays, while not downgrading the role of the feminine.

            What do I mean by this? Now is the time to start explaining with romance. The idea of dating is a new phenomenon. However, I do believe that our desires still indicate much of the truth of what God intended. Of course, I can only speak entirely from a guy’s perspective, but this is probably for the best since it will parallel how God pursues his bride in Scripture.

            The romance starts with seeing the beauty. Something about her stands out and before too long, one is thinking of Song of Songs 4:7. “You are altogether beautiful my darling, and there is no blemish in you.” The sight of the beauty leads to the desire. Before too long, the beauty is all that can be thought about and every moment of the day is spent wondering what can be done to win over the heart of the beauty. Dante will not allow anyone to tell him that Beatrice is just a peasant girl and neither will the man longing for the desire of his eyes.

            For the true man who is seeking to win her heart, while he is no doubt thinking about intercourse, he wants more than that. He can’t describe it. He wants her. He cannot separate her beauty from her or her sexuality from her. It is built into her just as her DNA is. If he just wanted her body, we could present him with a corpse. He wants more. He wants body and soul.

            Let us suppose this man is blessed and wins the beauty. What a night this must be! The beauty reveals herself little by little inviting the man to go to places he’s never been before and experience wonders he’s never experienced before. She is ready to trust him and she must be. She has to expose herself fully and make herself vulnerable for the act to be true. Nudity is not essential, but it would lessen the mood as it would make one think that something was being held back. No. Nothing must be held back at this moment.

            So, the woman invites the man to come into her. He is invited to release his strength and his life into her and the woman receives with expectation. He gives her all that he has and she willingly receives. The woman does not have to give anything back as simply her trust and love of him is enough. All he asks at that moment is for her.

            Such a beautiful scene this is and how it rages up desire within the soul, especially for those of us who still wait for this. We are truly getting a portion of eternity within this moment. Intercourse is a picture of the most powerful commitment on Earth and is a reflection of the love of God. How much we must respect this sacred and holy gift!

            Too many today though are not respecting this gift though. Instead, intercourse is seen as merely a tool for pleasure. Indeed, many a man in our society says he is looking for a woman, but that is the last thing he wants to find. He is looking for pleasure and he just wants a female body to be the tool to bring about that pleasure.

            I recently thought about this more as I have a situation where I think a friend of mine might be living with his girlfriend. Picture if this is true the pressure each is put under. The woman realizes that she is being tested for marriage so she must perform sexually to please. There is no freedom to be who she is. She has to perform or she doesn’t get the commitment. The man also is lowering himself. Does he just believe that he’s not sure if he can please the woman? Is he not testing himself as well?

            Intercourse must take place in the proper order. Trust must be given before there is fellowship. How romantic is it to be giving all of yourself to someone of the opposite sex realizing that they just aren’t willing to commit to you? We cannot reduce sexuality to a mere function. It is the nature of our souls and we only lower ourselves in the process.

            Furthermore, consider the spiritual implications. When we split apart the atom, we end up with Hiroshima and Nagasaki ruins. If we cause that much damage in the physical realm for treating physical bonds lightly, will we not suffer for treating spiritual bonds lightly in the spiritual realm? When we come to see sex as sacred though, we will honor it more and hopefully, enjoy it more.

            This is truly something beautiful on Earth, but what if we took it further. Consider that in Genesis 2:24, the man and woman are described as echad. In the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, the same word is used to describe God as one. This refers to a one that is a unity. Unity in diversity in fact, is a strong philosophical argument for belief in the Trinity.

            What if this love is a picture of the relationship within the Trinity? We have to remember that we cannot label the persons of the Godhead as purely male or female. Instead, they transcend both. This is where the Filoque clause comes into such importance. The Son we say in Trinitarian theology is eternally begotten. There has always been love going on then between the Father and the Son and from the love of the Father and Son proceeds the Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder that when we have the love of man and woman on Earth, that out of that love proceeds new life?

            Thus, the most intimate of relationships on Earth is a picture of the intimate love that goes on in the Trinity. The physical act has a spiritual counterpart. This doesn’t downplay the physical. The physical is good. God created it after all and God has blessed the marriage union within the context of marriages. It should not come as a surprise since it’s picture of the love that we are invited to partake of.

            Could this be what our great desire of? Could this be what the human heart entirely is longing for? We are looking for the awesome love of God and too often, are trying to find it in casual intercourse. Even marriage will not totally satisfy this desire, but it will get us closer. Also, if we consider this pleasure as a picture of Heaven while being the experiencing and two persons coming together in union, then we could say that this is a correspondence to Heaven. In the latter case, we desire to be with God and be in him and he in us.

            Could it also be that God is showing us some of this in miracles? God is releasing his love into the world and new life comes in as a result. Miracles are indeed heaven sent as God sends his love down to us each time, with the greatest of all taking place in the resurrection, where God showed us exactly how much he loves us and desires to be with us, the strongest of romantic gestures.

            We should also learn from this that sex is to be relational. God is relational at his very heart and we should be relational as well. Christianity has no place for someone to be a lone wolf. This would lead to us being confessing Trinitarians and practicing Arians. We are to be relation in our existence as the Trinity is relational.

            This also tells us then how to love others which effects how we love sexually. We are to love each other for who they are not for what they do. The Father loves the Son simply because he’s the Son. So, we should love our fellow man simply because they bear the image of God. Today, we often love people based on what they do, a contradiction to what we see in the Trinity.

            In conclusion, I would like to suggest that we take sexuality more seriously. We cannot shame this as a disgusting part of the creation. On the other hand, we cannot fully indulge in it carelessly as a small part of our being merely for pleasure. Sex too is a revelation of God and we should thank him for it and enjoy it.


Virgin Birth: Luke

We’re looking at now and going over their critique of the Virgin Birth doctrine and tonight, covering the book of Luke.

The first point to address is that of the address to Zacharias vs. that of Mary. Why is it that no one thinks of a virgin birth in the case of John the Baptist? There is a simple reason for this though. This was Elizabeth we were talking about and considering that they were married, it’s quite likely that Elizabeth wasn’t a virgin and so there wouldn’t be a virgin birth. Zacharias would have ruled that out immediately. He is doubting God’s power then to do what he says based on Elizabeth being old. (You gotta wonder if this guy was sleeping in priest school when Abraham was talked about.)

Mary’s question is not an objection but pointing to a mystery. A virgin birth had never been done before so when this virgin hears that she’s going to have a son, she wants to know how this can be. This is not the same as saying “God cannot do this.” This was more along the lines of saying “How can God do this?” In response to what she said though, WallsofJericho makes this interesting observation:

Mary’s question directly addresses this conundrum, and nothing more. This becomes clear when we consult the Greek, in which Luke’s gospel was composed, to see what is meant here by the word know.

Young’s Concordance shows the Greek word used in Mary’s question is ginosko – to know.  Luke uses it on 22 other occasions, for example in Zacharias’ question:

18  And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man,

     and my wife is well advanced in years.”

On these 22 occasions, ginosko (to know)  never refers to sexual intercourse. Each time it is used in the sense of “learning” or “knowing” about something.



This sounds convincing at first until one considers an obvious problem. They weren’t frequently talking in the gospels about two specific people having sexual intercourse. For instance, our website makes no mistake in saying that when Matthew uses the term of Joseph knew her not until they were married, that it would refer to sexual intercourse. That’s the only time Matthew uses it that way though! Does it mean it’s wrong? No. It was an idiom Jews would recognize. There just wasn’t a reason to use it.

The idea is that Mary was wondering how this would be since she knew not a man with the credentials needed. I’m left wondering “What? Is Mary going to be raped on the way to visit her cousin or what?” The idea is something that is thrown in ad hoc. There is no reason to read it any other way than referring to sexual intercourse.

We’re also told about how when the Holy Spirit came on others, we’re not told of a virgin birth? Why in this case?

Could the context be a clue?

Let’s look at the ones given also.

  • Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; And I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  (Jeremiah 1:4-5) 

  • So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.  (Ruth 4:13)
  • And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. (1Samuel 2:21)
  • And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.  (Genesis 21:1-2)
  • Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have gotten a man from the LORD.”  (Genesis 4:1)
  • And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.  (Judges 13:3)

The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.  (Job 33:4)



These all involved people that were married. Presumably, Jeremiah’s parents were married and had sexual intercourse. Adam and Eve would also be married by God and have sexual intercourse. What Elihu’s statement has to do with this is a good question. Maybe we should ask if Elihu has the Spirit of God, why isn’t he pregnant? That just gets us into absurdities though.

We are also told the term holy one refers to being the firstborn. Why think such though? When a Jew thought of the holy one, they would not think of a firstborn son. If one wants to say “That’s what David said though. His son would be firstborn!” That just makes the case. This is a unique son unlike any other. This is the unique Son of David.

For Son of God, WallsofJericho says that this doesn’t refer to a biological son. We agree. No one is talking about the biology of God. This Son of God bypassed the normal means. It is granted Son of God does have multiple meanings within Scripture and again, context determines usage. Son of God along with Holy One and the rest of the book points to Jesus’s divine identity as the eternally begotten of the Father and the Messiah of Israel.

Tomorrow, we shall look at Isaiah’s prophecy.

Virgin Birth: Genealogies

We covered the genealogy of Matthew Monday night, so tonight, we look at the genealogy in Luke. Our author at states that the church has known that Davidic descent must come through somehow. If not Joseph, it has to be Mary. I saw no reason on Monday to discard the idea of Joseph’s lineage if we take Matthew’s genealogy to be telling us about Joseph. What about Luke?

Much is made of Luke 3:23 to indicate that Jesus is the son of Heli. Greek scholar A.T. Robertson though points out that the passage is said in light of the earlier passage in Luke 1 indicating a virgin birth and the reader at this time is to understand that that reference should be kept in mind here. Our writer deals with the Luke Account in the next installment of the event and so will we. (One wonders though why that wasn’t dealt with first.)

Thus, Mary would be the child of Heli and this fits since there is a tradition of Mary being the son of Joachim which would be a variation of that name. It is a puzzle also for a person wanting to make a serious case why he cites the Kingdom Interlinear Translation. For those who don’t know, this is the translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our writer certainly isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness though as the Witnesses do affirm the Trinity. 

The question is also raised of how Mary could be of Judah and Elizabeth of Levi and they be cousins. It’s not much of a difficulty at all. They are relatives and there is nothing that precludes someone from the tribe of Levi having a relative from the tribe of Judah. If our writer wishes to push more, it is up to him to make the case. Thus, I see no reason to think that they have made their case that Mary is of the tribe of Levi.

I really wish there was more, but there isn’t. Near the end, the writer does go into the idea that so many doctrines were inherited from the pagan world and includes the Trinity in there. That is not the focus, although I certainly would welcome a good discussion on the Trinity. We shall look at the next section tomorrow.

%d bloggers like this: