March 2013


Dan Wallace reports on the release of a new New Testament.  A band off 19 liberal Christian and Jewish scholars got together for a “council” and decided to add 13 new books (two are prayers, and one is a song) to the New Testament.

Given some of those on this council (Karen King, John Dominic Crossan), it’s no surprise that they are Gnostic in character.  Both the “council” and the new testament they produced is a farce.

John Wesley is rolling over in his grave right about now.

Rob Bell endorses same-sex marriage. Why not, after all, given his universalism?

As for Hillary, this announcement is about as surprising as microwave popcorn.

The trend of Christian groups and political leaders supporting same-sex marriage will continue to grow.

balance_beamGiven the cultural shift toward gay-affirmation, the church must respond in two equally important ways.  On the one hand, we must take a firm stance on the moral issue, faithfully communicating the Biblical teaching that homosex is immoral because it is an aberration of God’s intention for human sexuality.  On the other hand, we must also communicate our love for all people, including those who experience same-sex attraction.  We must be willing to minister to them, embrace them, and help them on the path toward healing.

Unfortunately, people tend to only travel one road or the other.  Those who argue passionately for the Biblical position often fail to exercise love and compassion to those struggling with same-sex attraction or who are involved in a gay lifestyle.  On the other end of the spectrum are those who have a lot of compassion for people who experience same-sex attraction, and come to believe that loving them requires an affirmation of their sexual orientation or an approval of their behavior.  We must avoid these extremes.  It is possible and necessary to both affirm the immorality of homosex while extending compassion, love, and help to those who experience same-sex attraction.

Bill ClintonBill Clinton has written an op-ed in The Washington Post throwing his support behind the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act — a bill he signed into law 17 years ago. His timing is clearly political, given the fact that the Supreme Court will hear arguments for overturning DOMA on March 27. While the justices should not be influenced by his opinions, his actions carry symbolic weight that the Supreme Court justices cannot help but to notice. After all, if the very President who signed the bill into law no longer supports it, that speaks volumes.

I find it interesting that he justifies his signing of the law in 1996 on the grounds that “it was a very different time” then, but also claims that the law is “incompatible with our Constitution.”  Has the Constitution changed?  No.  So how could a law be constitutional 17 years ago but unconstitutional today?  It’s because Clinton subscribes to the “living document” view of the Constitution in which the meaning of the Constitution changes with the culture, though the words remain the same.  I think this philosophy of Constitutional interpretation is flawed.  The Constitution means what its drafters intended it to mean, and what its signers and ratifiers understood it to mean.  The meaning of a document does not change over time.  If the Constitution can mean whatever we want it to mean, and if the Constitution can be interpreted in light of cultural changes, then the Constitution cannot protect any of us because it doesn’t mean anything in particular.  It is just silly putty in the hands of the judiciary.

Omnipresence toiletOmnipresence is one of God’s attributes.  As I argued in an article at The Institute for Biblical Studies, however, this property is not essential to God’s nature and should not be understood in spatial terms.  God is not a spatial being, and thus He does not exist anywhere, similar to the way in which we should not understand God’s eternal existence to mean He existed before creation.  “Before” is a temporal concept, and since time began with creation it is meaningless to speak of anything before creation.  Instead, we should speak of God’s existence without creation.

Similarly, as a non-spatial being God cannot exist in any spatial location.  To think of God’s omnipresence in terms of occupying points in space is a category error, similar to saying the number seven tastes delicious.  To say God is omnipresent refers to God’s cognizance of and causal activity at all points in the spatial dimension.

Right and WrongIf moral realism (the notion that moral values exist independently of human minds) is false, then there is no reason to talk of “morality” as if it were something distinct from personal preference.  Given moral relativism, moral beliefs are just personal/social preferences.  What we call “morality” is nothing more than a set of personal preferences regarding certain dispositions and behaviors, or a set of normative social preferences – both of which are subjective in nature and can change over time.  Saying “vanilla ice-cream is better than chocolate ice-cream” and saying “telling the truth is better than lying” are the exact same kind of claims: personal, subjective preference.  No oughts are involved.  They are just autobiographic or (to possibly coin a new term) sociobiographic statements.  They describe rather than prescribe.

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Be A FollowerWe often think of faith as something that we have to work up in ourselves before God will give us what we want.  We tell God what we want, and then make every effort to believe that we will receive it.  If we were able to work up enough faith, then God will give us what we asked of Him.  This notion of faith is utterly foreign to Scripture.  The essence of faith is trust, and trust – by its very nature – is always in a following relationship, not a leading relationship.  To have faith in God means that we relate to Him in a leader-follower relationship, and we occupy the role of follower.  As a follower, we trust Him to lead us appropriately.  We do not set the agenda; He does.

This does not mean we cannot ask God to grant us certain requests.  By all means we should ask Him to do things for us.  But faith does not demand that God do what we want.  Faith makes the request, and then trusts in God’s wisdom to either give us what we have asked for or not.  Faith says, “I want X, but be it according to your will.”

I’m sure most of you have had the experience of following another car on a road trip.  Back in the days before cell phones, if the person in the following position wanted to make a stop, they had to signal their intentions to the person in the leading position, and the leader had to consent to the stop.  If the leader was unaware of your intentions, or if he was not agreeable to the stop, but you stopped anyway, you would be left behind.  In a similar fashion, we can signal to God in prayer of our desire to make a certain stop, but acting in faith means that if He keeps on going then we keep following Him to wherever He is going.  It is not acting in faith to make the stop we want, and then wait for God to follow us there.  At best this is presumptuous, and at worst it is disobedience.  Faith trusts and faith follows; it does not lead.

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