Book Plunge: Armageddon Part 5

Why is the book of Revelation so violent? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re continuing our look at Ehrman’s latest book talking about the violence in the book. At the start, he does say a statement about the Old Testament that is worth repeating.

Many Christians admit they are just not that interested in the Old Testament because its teachings have been surpassed and even superseded by the coming of Jesus and because, well, they find it boring. I wonder what its author would say about that.

There is a lot of truth here. We need to remember the Old Testament is just as much Scripture as is the new. It was the Scripture of the original church and it’s still our Scripture today.

But to the Old Testament we go to talk about the violence. if you expect interaction with people like Flannagan and Copan, you will be disappointed. Walton is not mentioned either. If you want to see Ehrman interact with the other side, it’s not here.

Ehrman paints the picture as if the Israelites were going to these cities and they were just peacefully living out their lives and the Israelites show up and say “God wills it!” and destroy everyone involved. He uses the example of Jericho, which is fitting since this is the most graphic, but it is also not representative. It needs to be established what Jericho was.

For one thing, it could not be that big since Israel could walk around it seven times in one day. Most of these cities were not cities but forts. These would be where the military would be and not the places of women and children. Also, from Rahab, we see that the people knew what had happened and this wasn’t exactly a sneak attack. They encamped outside the city for a week. Anyone could leave if they wanted.

He also brings up the account of the Moabites and the Midianites. In this, the Moabite women come and seduce Israel into sexual immorality. Moses responds by having the leaders of the people killed. Ehrman depicts this as human sacrifice, but this is not what it is. Even if it is done to stop the wrath of God, it is done out of justice in that the people who did the wrongs are put to death for what they did in accordance with the Law.

We are told 24,000 Israelites die and just those who did the wrong but the innocent. The problem is the text doesn’t say that. It just says 24,000 died. It doesn’t say who they were. Even if they did not participate, this is a collectivist society and each person was responsible not just for himself, but for his neighbor as well. The sin of one could be seen as the sin of all.

Ehrman also speaks with horror about the way that Phineas put a spear through Zimri and Kosbi. What is left out is that this is after judgment had started and the people were weeping. This wasn’t done in private, but was done publicly as the man brought her with him publicly and the text is unclear at least in English, but it looks like they went into the Tent of Meeting, which is a holy place. This is an act of open defiance. Phineas is praised for killing both of them with one thrust of a spear while they were having sex. Violent? Yes, but sin is violent and destructive.

Ehrman is one who complains about evil, but when God does something about evil, he complains about that as well.

Of course, this gets to Numbers 31. I have already written about that here and here.

He also talks about the wrath of God in Hosea and how infants will be dashed to pieces and pregnant women ripped open. Why is God doing this?

Answer: He isn’t. God has laid out the stipulations of the covenant with His people. If they do not obey His covenant, He removes His protection. What happens then? Their enemies have their way and this is what their enemies do. Is God supposed to overrule them somehow so they can do everything else but that? Should the children be made invincible and the pregnant women’s stomachs be indestructible? Ehrman doesn’t answer such questions. Outrage is enough.

Ehrman tells us that when people read the Bible, they tend to see what they want to see. This is true, but it includes Ehrman as well. He wants to depict God as violent. Easy to do. Just cherry pick some passages and ignore everything to the contrary. It would be just as easy to do the opposite.

He says this is true of laypeople, but it is also true of Christians scholars who see nothing wrong with God destroying people forever in a lake of fire.

Well, it’s Ehrman’s responsibility to show this. Outrage is not enough. Now I don’t think the lake of fire is literal, but is it wrong for God to judge and take life? Why? On what basis? What is the moral code that God is obligated to follow? I can also assure Ehrman Christian scholars have wrestled with these issues. Unfortunately, we can’t say if Ehrman is aware of these claims since he never cites them. Has he considered Jerry Walls’s dissertation on Hell, for instance?

God is above our understanding of ethics and right and wrong. Whatever he does is right by definition. It would certainly not be right for my next-door neighbor to inject scorpion venom into someone’s veins and allow them to suffer in anguish for five months, refusing to put them out of their misery when they begged to die. And no one could justify a tyrant who chose to torture his people and then throw them into a vat of burning sulfur. But God is not my next-door neighbor or an earthly tyrant, and so he cannot be judged by human standards. If God does such things in the book of Revelation, who are we, mere mortals, to object? We simply cannot judge the Almighty.

But this is an important distinction. We are moral agents put in a universe where we have rules of right and wrong to follow. God is not. There are things God can do that I cannot do. God owes no one life and has all right to take it if He wants to. I do not.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that Ehrman regularly says we shouldn’t read Revelation in a literalistic fashion, but when he wants to depict God as violent, that’s exactly what He does.

It is somewhat ironic that so many readers of Revelation think, as I did, that the God portrayed there is above all human sense of right and wrong. Most of these same readers also believe that our own sense of right and wrong has been given to us by God. This , as you probably know, is a commonly invoked “proof” that God exists. According to this argument, if there were no superior moral being who created us, we could not explain why we have such an innate knowledge of what is good and bad behavior. Our morality, it is argued, must be rooted in the character of God, given to us as creatures made in his image, whether we choose to follow our God-given sense of morality or not.

It is worth pointing out that first off, Ehrman speaks of this as a “proof” of God, but He never shows where it is wrong. He never shows where our ideas of good and evil come from. I also want to say that is not the way I make the argument. I do not say a superior moral being made us. I said a superior good being made us. God is good, but He is not moral. Morality is doing what you ought to do, but God has no ought. God just does what is good. If something is moral, it is good, but just because something is good, that does not mean you have an obligation to do it. It might be good to sell all you have and give it all to the poor (Or it might be foolish), but that doesn’t mean you are morally obligated to do it. It might be good to leave a generous tip that is double what the waitress served you, but you are not morally obligated to do it. It might be good to pay the widow’s electric bill, but you are not morally obligated to.

But if our own sense of right and wrong reveals the character of God, what if God’s moral code requires him to torture and destroy those he disapproves of, those who refuse to become his slaves? (“Torture” is not too strong a word here: Remember those locusts.) 7 If God is like that, and we are told to be “godly” people — told to imitate God in our lives — then surely it follows that we should imitate him in how we treat others. If God hates those who refuse to be his slaves and hurts and then destroys them, shouldn’t we do so as well? Are we to act “godly” or not? And what does it mean to be Christlike if Christ’s wrath leads to the destruction of nearly the entire human race? Are we really to be “imitators of Christ”? Should we, too, force our enemies to suffer excruciating pain and death?

It’s amazing how wrong someone can be in an argument. For one thing, God does not have a moral code. Ehrman will never define what is meant by good and evil. Good then simply becomes that which Ehrman likes and evil, that which Ehrman doesn’t like.

However, I also want to know what is the context in which we are told to be godly and Christlike. I can be told to be godly, but surely I am not supposed to be able to create a universe. I can be told to be Christlike, but that doesn’t mean that I can claim divine prerogatives for myself. I can say I have a mentor I want to be like, but I would not be justified in sleeping with his wife and raising his children.

He also says Jesus is seeking vengeance on those who had nothing to do with his death, but this is embracing the futurist paradigm that Ehrman said is NOT the way to read Revelation. In my Preterist understanding, this took place as judgment on the Roman Empire and especially Jerusalem in 70 AD, which were involved in the death of Jesus and had not repented. Of course, Ehrman has no inkling shown that he is aware of such a view.

In the end, I find this still confusing. Ehrman condemns a futuristic reading of the text and treating it literalistically, but when he wants to condemn the text, that is exactly what he goes to. Ehrman still gives us the sound of one hand clapping. He presents a strong case, but rather a largely emotional one, but shows no indication he has interacted with the best of his critics.

We will continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing No Harm

Is doing no harm a sufficient moral principle? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Often today, we don’t hear about if an action is good or evil. We hear about if it is harmful or not. Now, causing harm is one aspect to consider in morality, but it is not the only. When it comes to the idea of redefining marriage, part of the question asked is “Well who is it hurting?”

For one thing, changing the meaning of marriage for anyone changes it for everyone. Everyone’s marriage is shifted to not a union designed to bring about children for the prolonging of civilization, but rather to a sort of union from two people who are committed to one another. By this standard, we could say that two roommates could be married or a brother and sister who choose to live together are married or a son who brings his mother who is a new widow into his home are married.

However, while those are important situations to bring up, why not go back and question this principle about not harming anyone. Consider the scenario of a peeping Tom for example. he has found a peephole outside of a showering area where he can stand and watch naked women shower. He is never caught and the women never have any idea they are being watched? Are any of them being harmed? If not, then can we say this is wrong?

Consider also a dentist who has a private practice. To keep costs down, he doesn’t even have a secretary. He works alone and makes all his appointments. From time to time, beautiful women come in and he has to put them under for surgical operations. What they don’t know is that sometimes when they are unconscious, he undresses them and fondles them. The women never get pregnant and so never find out about what he’s done. Has he done any harm?

If you’re a Christian or even most any other kind of theist, you could say this man has damaged his standing before God in each case and so he has done harm at least to himself. He has lowered himself from being what a human being ought to be to being something less. If you are a secularist though, you do not have this option.

Not only that, but we know that there are times that causing harm is the good thing to do. I have a friend who just had a quadruple bypass operation. Right now, he is still in a lot of pain. I have told him some about my having scoliosis surgery and how I too was in a lot of pain and understood what that was like. In both cases, our doctors harmed us and left us with tremendous pain. The thing is, we knew this would happen and we went through it willingly and even paid our doctors for it. Why? Because we were not being harmed to be harmed. We were being given some degree of harm in order to get a greater good.

Another example is telling a loved one a hard truth. Sometimes, this is very harmful to the person for the immediate and short-term, but it is good in the long run. Again, consequences are not all that is to be considered, but they are a part of this. Consequences alone are insufficient. We need to look at the action, who is doing it, and why they are doing it.

No one being harmed by itself is insufficient. By this standard, the Peeping Tom and the dentist are both okay. By a Christian standard, they are in the wrong because they are lowering themselves as human beings and actually in the long run making themselves more likely to be the people who will take further steps to do actual visible harm to others.

Our moral thinking needs to go deeper than just utilitarianism. We need to look at who we are and why we do what we do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Back To Virtue

What do I think of Peter Kreeft’s book published by Ignatius Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We often talk about people being good today. We have debates about morality and the nature of it. Something we don’t often talk about is virtue. The word seems dated most often. My main introduction to the word virtue was back when I played Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. It’s an oddity in that the goal of that game in addition to being an RPG with fighting monsters, was to gain virtue. Sure. You could trick that blind shopkeeper and pay less for what you needed and get it, but you would lose virtue. Sure. You could run from that enemy you could defeat, but you would lose virtue. Show enough virtue and you can go to a shrine and get recognition for it to complete the game.

Maybe that’s why I saw it there. We think of virtue perhaps as a medieval concept. Our notion of character is that so much of morality that we need to abandon is restraining. How can you have any fun?

So ditch that Christian morality on sexuality and have at it! As long as you both consent, what’s the harm? Don’t worry about pride. Think highly of yourself. Know that you’re the best. Greed is good! About the only exception to this would be envy, because envy is the one deadly sin that has no pleasure to it.

Kreeft thinks we need some of this system back. If we do not have virtue, then our civilization will die. As a big fan of Lewis, Kreeft uses Lewis’s account of ships on the water. Ships on the water need to know three things, how to stay afloat, how to avoid hitting other ships, and why you are there in the first place. Our culture often works on the first two, but we don’t pay attention to the third.

Our approach is utilitarian. If it feels good, do it. Does it bring us what we call happiness? Then do it. Too often, we see what we call morality as a bad thing to an extent. Why do we use terms like goody two-shoes? A fuddy-duddy is someone who is spoiling our fun.

Kreeft tells us that the virtues are actually more enjoyable. The way of righteousness might cause us to abandon some short-term pleasures, but in the end, we will have more true joy than anyone else. Perhaps part of the problem in our culture is that we don’t know what happiness or joy are.

Kreeft takes us to the Sermon on the Mount for this and gives it as a real sermon that Christians today are to really follow. He also sees the beatitudes as being in contrast to the seven deadly sins. He walks us through each sin and then explains the counterpart to it in the beatitudes.

What he says, I leave to you, but Kreeft is always a stimulating writer. He speaks on an everyday level and at the same time, if you have heard him speak, it’s hard to read the book without hearing his tone and voice with it. While Kreeft is a Catholic, I have found his writings quite enjoyable as a Protestant and in some ways, he seems more Protestant than a lot of Protestants I know.

Kreeft in the end lays down what is at stake. We either go back to virtue or our civilization perishes. We cannot turn back the nuclear clock. Nuclear weapons are here to stay. We can do something about the people who have access to them.

Christ called us to be a virtuous people. It’s not an option for us. I recommend getting this book to learn more about how to do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Can God Be A Moral Monster

Is it possible for God to be morally wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

He told me that it the flood was wrong. I wanted to know why. The reply was that it brought about a lot of agony. I’m sure it did, but on what grounds does that mean it was wrong? There are plenty of events that bring about agony. Sometimes, it’s needed. I had a lot of agony after my back surgery. Still glad I went through it.

One of the big problems with this kind of objection is that it carries in it a built-in idea about God that many Christians hold to as well. The book Is God A Moral Monster? is a great book and I’m not saying Copan holds the view I am critiquing, but it could be asked if the claim is even possible. Can God be a moral monster?

When objections are raised about what God does, the claim often comes up that it is wrong for God to do X. Why? On what grounds? I am not going the presuppositionalist route here. This is not asking by what authority one can condemn God. It’s asking if questions of morality can even apply to God.

Consider how this works. If God is capable of being moral or immoral, then that means there is a moral law that is objective. Christians agree at this point, but does this mean that it applies to God? God is under the law and is to be held accountable to it? Who could hold God to account for it?

So if God takes a life, for example, on what grounds has He done something wrong? He is the Lord and source of all life. If He wants to take a life, He can. Is there anyone that He owes a life to? Is there anyone that God is in debt to?

Now one objection I can think of to this is that God has made promises. Doesn’t God keep His promises? Doesn’t He have an obligation to do that?

God does keep His promises, but it’s not because He’s moral, doing what He ought to do as there is no ought above Him. It is because He is good. All moral acts are good, but not all good acts are moral. Sometimes, we go above and beyond what we ought to do and that is a good act that is not required upon us.  I may have a moral requirement to help my neighbor in need. It’s going above and beyond if I can somehow pay all of his bills for a year.

If you ask me then if God is moral, I will say no. The question doesn’t apply. If you ask me if God is good, I will say absolutely. The question does apply. This is not because goodness is something outside of God He submits to. It is because goodness is His very nature. He is good because He cannot deny Himself or be untrue to Himself.

Thus, in a debate, I make it a point that my opponent has to demonstrate why God is supposedly in the wrong for anything. It’s not mine to assume God’s actions have to be defended. My opponent needs to show me why they need any defense at all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A House On Sand

How do we treat the teachings of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m almost done going through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew!

“Wait. Are you telling me you’re a Christian apologist who has never read that?”

I have read it, but never the way I have this time. This time, I went through reading one verse at a time, except for the Lord’s Prayer, where I read it even slower. When you read through it this way, you really get a lot out of it. I am doing more to encourage people to do slow Bible reading.

So when the sermon closes, Jesus gives a final statement about His words. He says that the one who hears them and does them is like someone who builds His house on a rock. No matter what happens, the house will stand. The one who doesn’t do what Jesus says is like one who builds His house on sand. When the trouble comes, that house topples over.

First off, let’s consider how seriously Jesus takes His own words here. Can you imagine any prophet of the Old Testament saying something like this? Jesus is really placing Himself on a high pedestal. What does this say about how Jesus sees His identity?

Second, what if we really took this last part seriously in connection with everything else that was said. If you obey what Jesus says, then you are building your house on a rock. If you don’t, then you are building on sand. What do we have to take seriously then?

The beatitudes at the start. We have to believe those people will be blessed. We have to believe we should be those people and live accordingly.

We must take Jesus’s words seriously on our righteousness being greater than the Pharisees and Sadducees.

We must not hate our brother in our heart and we must seek to make peace whenever possible.

We must avoid lust. This definitely includes guys that you cannot watch pornography. If you are doing that, then you are building your house on sand and you will not last.

We must honor our marriages for life. If you are not taking marriage seriously, you are not taking Jesus seriously. This is one reason I stayed in my marriage even when it was hard and yes, she initiated the divorce.

We must do as we say and let our words be true. If we say we will do something, we do it. We shouldn’t have to emphasize that we are speaking the truth. Our reputations should show we do.

We must end retaliation for the sake of retaliation. If someone gives you a personal insult privately, be the bigger man. Don’t escalate the cycle of revenge.

We must love our enemies. Anyone can love friends. Jesus tells us to go further.

We must not glorify our giving. Be humble in what we do. Give anyway.

We must pray humbly and trust God with the outcome. We must live out the Lord’s Prayer.

We must forgive those who wrong us.

We must focus on treasure in Heaven. There is no wrong in having things, but we cannot let them have us. Greed must always be avoided.

We cannot worry about anything. Tomorrow will have enough troubles. Do not worry about it today.

We must not pre-judge someone. Make sure our own house is in order.

We must believe in the goodness of God that He will bless us and if we ask for things that are truly good, that He wants to give.

We must make sure we are on the straight path and realize there are false teachers who want to take us away.

We must make sure we are being real and not just going through the motions.

Jesus doesn’t limit this. All of this is to be followed. All of it. It’s a serious call and I could have easily gone in-depth on any of these. Look through. Where are you struggling?

Keep in mind, any listener back then would have known it was fallacious to build a house on sand. What idiot would do that? If you don’t listen to what Jesus says and follow it, you are that idiot.

I encourage you to take this seriously even if you’re a non-Christian. Consider seriously the call for Jesus. Does He really have good wisdom here to follow?

For me, this has been humbling and I plan to go through the sermon in Luke the same way.

Maybe you should try this exercise of reading it slowly as well, but for now, see if you’re living wisely or foolishly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Book Plunge: Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible

What do I think of Joseph Keysor’s book published by Athanatos Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I know I haven’t done a book plunge in awhile. It’s not because I haven’t been reading. It’s because I was reading books on the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and I didn’t plan to review those but to save them for a future ebook. If I read books relevant to future debates I have planned or future ebooks, I will not review those, but i will try to review books that aren’t relevant to those.

This is one I decided to get after Hitler came up in a discussion on my Facebook page. I was reading David Robertson’s Magnificent Obsession where he just casually recommended this one and being a fan of his, I decided I would get it. I thought it sounded like it would be a quick read at first. Not complaining, but I was sure wrong about that.

Keysor has definitely taken an in-depth look at Hitler and asked about his influences. Some people like to say that Hitler was heavily influenced by Martin Luther, but Keysor notes many many other people at the time that were more influential to Hitler. Now there is a downside here in that when Keysor introduces people and places, he doesn’t always explain them. The reader who doesn’t know will be lost at these parts.

However, he does quote numerous authorities in the area of Hitler research. He doesn’t hide at all that he is a Christian and is striving to show how much Nazism was opposed to Christianity. At the same time, he freely, and I think correctly, argues that Hitler wasn’t an atheist. If anything, we could say his god was more like a will to power that was vaguely pantheistic I think. His god agreed with him on the need of a pure race and the greatness of the German nation.

Keysor largely starts his work looking at the history of anti-semitism. This includes looking at various passages in the New Testament that are claimed to be anti-semitic. From there, he goes through history, of course with an in-depth look at Martin Luther, and then up to modern times. As one sees later in the book, there are a surprising number of German thinkers who had anti-semitic tendencies, including Kant and Nietzsche.

He then looks at Christians in Nazi Germany. Not all that was called Christian was Christian. There was a movement called Positive Christianity that was built around the alleged greatness of the Aryan Race claiming that Jesus Himself was an Aryan who decided to fight against the Jews. He also looks at Christians who stood up to the Nazi regime and points out times where the Catholic Church did as well, even though they get a lot of scorn for how they handled Hitler, and answers questions like why the Church handled Hitler the way it did, even though Keysor is definitely not a Roman Catholic.

From there, he looks at those who were influences on Hitler, including Wagner, Chamberlain, Nietzsche, and Haeckel. Mentioned also throughout regularly will be Darwin. At times, I thought Keysor was way too hard on philosophy and seemed to get preachy. I also think he too often made a split between evolution and Christianity, as if you couldn’t believe in both.

I do think he rightly points out that Hitler was not an idiot. He read well and had many influences on his thought, though he didn’t name them since he was to be the self-made man. He was also a politician through and through. He knew that if he came out and made several public anti-Christian statements that he would not get the support he wanted, so he would make a promise to the churches, they would accept, and the next day he would break it.

Nazi Germany was also incredibly scientific. The problem was they had no moral basis to guide their science and the science was used for whatever was good for Nazi Germany and if that meant gassing Jews and others, well that was what would be done. After all, humanity had to eliminate the undesirables.

Is some evolutionary thinking involved here? It would be hard to deny otherwise. That doesn’t say anything about the truth or falsehood of evolutionary theory. It does show that we shouldn’t try, if we believe in it, to force the process alone ourselves.

If there is any near comparison today, it is, of course, abortion. The unborn are made to be less than human and thus able to be killed and then this is done for the good of the rest of us. For many of us, this shows how far we have lost our moral grounding.

So this is still a good book, aside from the caveats of sometimes getting too preachy, downing philosophy at times, and making evolution and Christianity an either/or. I also suspect the writer is more in the Calvinistic camp as I did see some presuppositionalist tendencies. However, there is still a lot here to ponder and one will get introduced to other works, some I plan to get to someday.

If you want to study Hitler then, this is a good place to start.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Lot’s Daughters

Why is this gross story in the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The story of Lot and his daughters is one of those stories that skeptics of Scripture look at and ask why it’s in there. Often, there’s this idea that because the Bible records something, it is endorsing it. Not at all. The Bible contains the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If anything, this text shows us how depraved Lot’s own daughters had grown to be living in Sodom. It is a further indictment on the people and it shows the consequences of Lot living where he had. Had Lot not ever ventured close to Sodom, what happened here and later in Israelite history would not have happened. Amazing how one man’s actions can have such long-term consequences. Isn’t it good that none of ours today will have such an effect?

Anyway, Lot is living in a cave alone as his wife is now gone and his daughters are there and they say that there are no men in the area. More than likely, they just don’t want to go out and get them. The two of them then decide that what they will do is to get Lot drunk and have him sleep with the older one first and then the younger. They seem to have no moral qualms about this whatsoever.

Hey. At least our society isn’t at that point where people can have romantic relationships with a parent. Right?

Sadly, we do have that. In this story, a woman reports that her husband is sleeping with her mother, and she’s fine with it. The respondent is practically celebrant over the whole matter. Fortunately, the same doesn’t happen in this case where a woman finds out her mother is pregnant. Who got her that way? The woman’s husband. The same happens with fathers and daughters. Many are the cases of child molestation. Fathers have often gone to their young daughters and molested them and threatened them if a word is said.

For the consensual cases, it’s known as genetic sexual attraction. It’s already here with us and more and more, people in society will accept it. At this point, they really have to. If it is admitted in any way that some sexual behaviors are forbidden, then that will mean that there is a right and a wrong way to view sex and to have it. Can’t have that.

My fear is that honestly, before too long, the molestation will become a no big deal thing. Some of you might be aghast at that thought, but keep in mind what we consider worth celebrating today was within the lifetimes of people alive today something shameful and not worth talking about. What is shown on TV today is what you had to go to a magazine rack discretely to see before. What is taboo keeps getting pushed further and further.

Lot’s daughters had already reached that point. Sleep with Dad? No big deal. It’s just sex. We’ll get our Dad drunk and wrong him. No matter. Right? We gotta have kids after all. Right?

That is exactly what they do. They had gotten out of Sodom, but Sodom hadn’t gotten out of them. The older one has a son that became the father of the Moabites and the younger had one that became the father of the Ammonites. A number of times, Israel had struggles with both of these nations.

All because Lot got too close to a bad situation.

Let’s not have any of us think we’re above that today. Readers of my blog know that I am single again and I’ve already decided when dating, assuming I am living at my own place, I don’t want to bring a girl back to my place while I’m alone here nor do I want to go over to hers when she’s alone. I know I am prone to temptation. Why risk it? It might never happen, but I don’t want to take the chance. Many times, we try to see how close we can get to temptation without falling into it. We should instead ask what we can bother to gain by getting close anyway.

Lot’s daughters is meant to show us the disastrous consequences of our bad choices. Israel would know if they listened to Genesis to not follow Lot’s example. It would be amazing how different their history could have been had they done that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why This Series Matters

Why are we studying marriage in the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was listening to a radio talk show yesterday with the host talking about what our enemies should do if they wanted to destroy America from within. I agreed with many of the statements that were made and think they are happening right now, but there was one glaring omission I was shocked didn’t make the list and that is what is happening right now. That omission is the destruction of the family unit.

Ultimately, the sexual revolution in this country was one of the worst things that ever happened. When the pill came, everything changed. No, this is not a blanket condemnation of contraception, but it is one of our lack of self-control. We actually believed in sex without consequences. The reason we did so was we had somehow already had a diminished view of sex and I do not know exactly where that began, but it started coming out a lot in the late 60’s.

It wasn’t a shock that the next step that came along was abortion. The most anti-feminine thing a woman can do is to have an abortion. It is an attack on the life of a human baby and it is an attack on her own body. Any woman who is truly a feminist should be 100% opposed to abortion other than saving the life of a mother in the case where the child will definitely die. Giving birth is one of the things that makes women completely unique, and that uniqueness is treated as a curse.

Around the time of Reagan, we had no-fault divorce come. This, unfortunately, made divorce even easier to come about and when people think marriage can be broken easily, they don’t treat it as seriously. Marriage was no longer seen as a permanent institution meant to be treated as till death do us part. There are too many divorces that don’t have biblical grounds. What happened to me is one such case.

Around this time also we had the GRID contagion spreading. You haven’t heard of that? Yes, you have. You know it as AIDS. It was originally called GRID, Gay-Related Immuno-Deficiency. The disease showed up primarily in homosexual men and in people using IV needles. Why change the name? Why, the original name would be offensive.

But this was the move being made. The book came out called After The Ball about how Americans will come to love and accept homosexuality in the 90’s. The playbook was followed perfectly. People didn’t even realize that their minds were being changed, but they were. Naturally, the media was the main methodology. I don’t just mean news stations. I mean TV shows, like Will And Grace.

In the past, if a movie had a “sex scene” it was a man and a woman going into a room and you’d hear a click as the door locked. You knew what was going on. Now, they have to show nearly everything. The internet has also increased the spread of pornography, one of the most dehumanizing things ever if not the most dehumanizing thing, even above slavery itself.

The homosexual movement keeps going and what do we have coming on then? We have to change what our idea of marriage is. Unfortunately, if you can change marriage to mean anything, then marriage essentially means nothing. People didn’t think enough about what made sex special and in turn, they didn’t think about what made marriage special. Marriage has become all about me and my happiness and not about the future of humanity and for Christians, the spread of the Kingdom.

As soon as that battle was won, the shift came immediately to transgenderism. After all, being a man and being a woman can’t mean anything either. If we say there is something objective about men and women that makes them different, well that hurts equality. We can’t have that. I get absolutely astounded today that I have to defend the fact that men and women are different.

Any time there’s a story about a boy causing trouble in a girls’ locker room, I am not surprised a bit. This is what happens. Unfortunately, you’re the bad guy if you point this out. Parents cheer when a boy is allowed to use the girls’ locker room, ignoring that the girls are absolutely terrified, and who can blame them?

I won’t deny there’s a personal element in this for me. Divorce hurts. It’s been the most hurtful thing I have ever been through and it causes me some pain every single day. Yes. I am recovering and yes, I have come a long way, but there is always healing to be done.

This is also to answer questions people have for me about remarriage. I plan on it. Is it biblical? I am convinced it is, but I am also pointing out my reasons for this. I also hope to stop more unbiblical divorces from taking place and to help those who have been unbiblically divorced, especially my fellow men who are often faced with pressure in a culture that says “Believe all women.” (Which is also very subjective depending on who the woman is.)

The family unit is a threat to anyone who wants to control society. It is a unit that is dependent on no one else save God alone. It is its own private little society. It doesn’t need the backing of the government to exist. It is separate from the state.

I want to see that unit protected and defended. I want to see it again embraced as a lifelong man-woman unit. I want to see the end of abortion and even the end of pornography. I want to see the honoring of marriage and unbiblical divorce condemned and those who are the victims being given comfort and grace. Too many men have told me that even years later, they are treated like they have committed an unpardonable sin.

The family is a unit created by God Himself and we should treat it that way. The family is meant to mirror the holy trinity. We mess with it only to our own peril.

That is why this matters.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth.)

Book Plunge: The God Virus Part 5

What about morality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This whole chapter is pretty much a train wreck. If we take this chapter seriously and believe it, we can dispense with everything else in the book. Seriously. Moral judgments without an objective transcendental standard are highly flawed and doomed to failure.

He says no virus could survive if it did not adjust to morality over time. So is morality changing? It would seem to be in Ray’s case. However, if morality is changing, then what are we really adjusting to? It’s like saying we are adjusting measurements to the speed of light, but the speed of light is always changing.

Suppose we look at the Southern Baptist Church which was founded in defense of slavery. Was the church wrong then? The question is nonsensical on this view. After all, if morality changes, maybe it was moral back then and the SBC was in the right then.

If morality changes, with what does it change? With what the people do? If so, then no people group is ever truly wrong. If the South had won the Civil War, then slavery would be okay today if it lasted. If Hitler had won World War II, we could all say Jews deserve to be put to death and that would be okay.

Naturally, we have the prison inmates claim brought up. That is better dealt with here. Ray also makes a claim that a religious person will say “religiosity equals morality.” It doesn’t! The pagans engaging in orgies in the Roman Empire and the Canaanites offering up their children as sacrifices were quite religious. Stalin and others murdering millions and dynamiting churches were quite irreligious.

Now does religion help with morality? Depends. I think Christianity certainly does because Jesus Christ has been the best motivator for good behavior. The way I treat people around me is often based on what I see in the life of Jesus. Certainly by no means perfect, but that is the basis for it.

What about caring for the sick? Again, Christians are often on the front lines here. When a disaster takes place somewhere, when you go there, you will often find Christians already there tending to the sick.

What about divorce? I do not know if Ray’s book was written before Shaunti Feldhahn’s book on divorce and marriage, but she did find that those who take their Christianity seriously, such as doing regular activities like attending church and Bible reading, are less likely to have a divorce.

Ray also lists a number of beliefs he learned from his church, which really explains a lot.

Women are to be honored and respected, but they are inferior to men.

Don’t trust someone educated unless they went to Bible College.

Ministers are human so follow their words and not their deeds.

God loves everyone but you don’t have to. You don’t have to welcome blacks into the church. Don’t marry someone from another religion. Gays are going to hell. (For the second one, I have already said that’s not because of lack of love but because of how one treats Jesus. Gays aren’t going to hell but those who have a life that regularly participates in immoral behavior and is defined by it are not going to inherit the Kingdom, including heterosexual sin.)

If you believe you go to Heaven and if you go to Hell you didn’t believe enough.

The Bible is the perfect word of God and any inconsistencies are because you don’t read it right. It doesn’t need interpreting and is to be read in black and white. (My own position is inerrancy, but the second part is complete bunk)

Sex is sinful except in marriage and even then it’s suspect.

Too much education is bad for your faith.

Don’t trust scientists unless they agree with the Bible.

I have not listed all of them, but these are enough and the rest are like that. If this is what Ray grew up with, I don’t blame him for abandoning it. Good for him. The problem is the threw out the baby with the bathwater and based on his bad fact-checking in the book, he hasn’t done much research since then.

Ray also says we would think “You should not kill” is clear, but what about the wars to claim the Promised Land? Those weren’t killing in the sense of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments does not condemn killing, but murder. Some killing is justified, such as self-defense.

One major flaw in this is that Ray gives no basis for morality. He doesn’t define the term. He doesn’t define goodness. He gives no basis for the existing of any of these. If all that exists is matter in motion, then what is goodness and morality? Are these real or just illusions? If unchanging morality is a myth, then morality changes, so who is to say that people in the past or even in another culture are wrong?

Ray does try to give sources to go to for wisdom on moral judgments, but if there is no objective morality, what wisdom is there? It’s like saying go to experts in math when rules of mathematics are constantly changing. If morality is changing, then we can dispense with everything said about sex in the previous chapter. There are no moral or immoral sexual practices. There are just ones society approves of and doesn’t and if society approves of pedophilia someday, that will be moral too. Right?

Ray will often point in the book to scientists. It would be good if he read some philosophers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Not Liking Scripture

Should you always enjoy Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes I meet people who tell me they just look forward to getting up and reading the Bible every day. They just find such great delight and get a new insight every time they read it. Personally, I don’t really believe such people. The more prone someone is to tell me how spiritual they are, the less I am likely to believe them. The more someone tells me what a struggle their Christian walk is, the more I believe them.

Last night, I talked to someone who told me they recently read the Bible for the first time and as a Christian, there was a lot of stuff they didn’t like. I think this is something very real. If anything, I admire it. I don’t think highly of people who read through the text and never have any questions about it or get troubled by it whatsoever.

This person was wondering why Abraham would decide to sleep with his concubine or why Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land. I really think these are good questions. I don’t want to go into them here, but I think they are good questions.

The point I wish to establish with this is someone who is wrestling with these questions is someone who is taking the text more seriously. Sadly, by those standards, some atheists online take the text more seriously than some Christians. The problem is most of those atheists never bother looking for answers to the questions. It just becomes, “I don’t like this, therefore the Bible is wrong and Christianity is false.”

When we read the Bible, we see the blemishes and faults of the characters. It’s not a pretty picture. David, the man after God’s own heart, is a murderer who can’t keep it in his pants. Moses is a murderer with a temper. Solomon, well, we all know how much he loved the ladies. In the New Testament, the apostles many times seem to be bumbling idiots that even Jesus Himself is exasperated with.

But there are also other parts of the Bible I don’t like. I don’t like being told I need to love my enemies. I’d like to do many things to my enemies, but love isn’t one of them. I don’t like being told I have to put others before myself. Personally, I’d love to be at the center of my own universe. I don’t like being told I have to forgive those who wrong me. I think it would often be more fun to sit back and plan a nasty revenge.

These are all things I am told to do though, and when I do them, I find I grow to be a better person regardless. Are they easy? Of course not. If they were, everyone would do them.

And honestly, I think this is the real problem many skeptics have with the Bible, especially in the area of sex. So many times when questions begin to arise, it can be because a member of the opposite sex is involved. If Christianity did not have high standards such as sex only within marriage and marriage is to be for life, then I think it would be more popular to people, but God’s ways are indeed not our ways.

As you read your Bible, realize it’s okay if it’s difficult or boring sometimes or you find things you don’t like. Still, I encourage you to keep wrestling with the text and asking the hard questions. They have been asked for years. However, it is foolish to ask a question and not seek an answer. That’s where too many atheists stop. Go find the answers. You might find that in the end, though you still don’t like everything in there, you respect the text a lot more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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