LDS Temples — The Requirements for Salvation in Mormonism

There aren’t to many things that will get me fired up very quickly. Typically, when functioning in an apologetic roll, I am pretty calm, cool and collected. I try to be logical in my thought processes and cogent in my speech.

That said, I want to bring to you something that makes me lose my cool, something that even as I am writing this I can feel myself begin to become angry and saddened at the same time. I am going to address a small portion  of Thomas S. Monson’s presentation at general conference from earlier this month, specifically portions of his discussion on the temple.

In an attempt to make sure that we are all on the same page in terms of LDS Doctrine, I am posting one of my preferred chart versions of the Law of Eternal Progression. (This one comes from Utah Lighthouse Ministry, which is run now by Sandra Tanner)

According to LDS theology, one must do certain things in order to receive exaltation (the highest level of heaven and Godhood). From the LDS manual Gospel Principals one must do the following:

1.        We must be baptized.

2.        We must receive the laying on of hands to be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

3.        Brethren must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and magnify their callings in the priesthood.

4.        We must receive the temple endowment.

5.       We must be married for eternity, either in this life or in the next.

With this background, lets pick up on President Monson’s talk. This is what he says:

If you have not yet been to the temple or if you have been but currently do not qualify for a recommend, there is no more important goal for you to work toward than being worthy to go to the temple. Your sacrifice may be bringing your life into compliance with what is required to receive a recommend, perhaps by forsaking long-held habits which disqualify you. It may be having the faith and the discipline to pay your tithing. Whatever it is, qualify to enter the temple of God. Secure a temple recommend and regard it as a precious possession, for such it is.  Until you have entered the house of the Lord and have received all the blessings which await you there, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer. The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God. (emphasis added)

Let me tell you what gets me fired up about this statement by the current Prophet, Seer and Revelator is telling us that in order for you to avoid damnation (not obtaining the fullness of celestial exaltation) you had better work to get into the temple. By the way, part of that is giving the church 10% of your income, and until you do that you haven’t gotten everything that the church has to offer to you. They are fleecing the 14 million people who call themselves Mormon. This man is telling us that if you want to get back to God you had better give us your money so that you can get everything we can give you.

Where in the New Testament do we see this? Why is Salvation now connected to me giving the church money? Why did Paul say “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift… Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion… (2 Corinthians 9:5,7 ESV)?” Isn’t 10% of your income as requirement to get into the temple compulsion? I’ll let you be the Judge, but for me, the issue of being forced to give money to the church in exchange for salvation is something that tells me that the LDS church is not just heretical, but is cultic.

 

  1. 1.We must be baptized.
  2. 2.We must receive the laying on of hands to be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  3. 3.Brethren must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and magnify their callings in the priesthood.
  4. 4.We must receive the temple endowment.
  5. 5.We must be married for eternity, either in this life or in the next.

The Bogey Man Called “Euthyphro’s Dilemma”

God is Triune, He is Not a Monad

An old, hackneyed, and rather obnoxious philosophical problem facing “theism” in general is Euthyphro’s Dilemma. This philosophical dilemma derives its name from a Platonic dialogue which bears the same name as its title. Socrates, in Plato’s dialogue, asks Euthyphro: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” Within the context of theism in general, the question takes the following form: “Is what is commanded by God morally good because it is essentially morally good? Or is it morally good because God has commanded it?” The question, then, is asking about the nature of the moral demands placed upon mankind by a nameless generic Deity.

And that is where the problem lies: There is no generic conception of God, strictly speaking. Rather, there are different religions in the world, some of which claim to worship the God of the Bible (but may or may not in fact do so) and some of which are Unitarian in their monotheistic beliefs,[1] and others of which are very straightforward about their polytheism or pagan conceptions of who God or the gods is/are. An argument that does not define its terms is flawed from the outset, since it may or may not be dealing with its supposed subject at all. Such is the case with Euthyphro’s “dilemma,” which, when applied in the context of Christian theology completely falls apart, finding nothing against which to argue. It is, in other words, completely inapplicable to the Christian understanding of God as a necessarily Triune Being – One in Essence and Three in Subsistence – since the “dilemma” presupposes Unitarian monotheism and not Trinitarian monotheism.

That the “dilemma” presupposes Unitarian monotheism is evident from the horns of the dilemma itself which state that either (a.)morally good actions are only arbitrarily good because God has commanded them, or (b.)God Himself is subject to a moral law that exists outside of Him and, therefore, commands those things which are essentially good apart from His commanding them. Implicit to these two options is the conception of a God who is a single monad who must either (a.)only have relation to a law that looms over Him and dictates His every move, or (b.)only have relation to a law that He arbitrarily imposes upon humans. In other words, Euthyphro’s Dilemma is assuming that because morality is by definition relational, God is either related to the law as an inferior subject (who is, really, no different from mankind) or related to men as an arbitrary lawgiver. If God only has relation to that which is outside of Himself, then He is essentially alone, a Unitary singlet or monad.[2]

Euthyphro’s Dilemma is, therefore, a false dilemma, since it completely fails to take into consideration the fact that Christianity teaches that God is not a monad; He is a Trinity of Persons. As Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the One God of the Bible is not subject to Euthyphro’s dilemma, for within the One Essence of God the Three Persons of the Trinity relate to One Another necessarily and, hence, create the very basis of morality, their interrelations serving as the basis for all subsequent creature-Creator and creature-creature relations. The Three Persons of the Godhead relate to One Another eternally. This eliminates Euthyphro’s dilemma, as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit relate to One Another freely, not out of compulsion by an external Law they serve under, nor out of subservience to the arbitrary demands of One or Another, but out of perfect, infinite, and equal love for One Another. Euthyphro’s dilemma also does not take into consideration that (a.)God is love and that (b.)the essence of the Law is love. It is because God is essentially love and that He is Triune, that His commands are a reflection of His very character. God, therefore, does not command and forbid arbitrarily, nor does He command and forbid on the basis of a law to which He is externally related. Therefore, Euthyphro’s Dilemma falls apart.

All divinely given Law is, according to Scripture, embodied in love for God and one’s neighbor.[3] And within the Godhead itself we see this Law exemplified eternally. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and these Two love the Spirit, who loves them equally. Each Person of the Godhead is both God and Neighbor. As these interrelations are Divine, however, they differ from the manner in which mankind is to love God and neighbor. God cannot go against His very own nature which is embodied in the moral law, and which He has written upon the hearts of all bearers of His image; therefore, there is absolutely no possibility of God (a.)commanding what is essentially good apart from Him (i.e. in relation to Him as a superior code of conduct) or (b.)that God is commanding something arbitrarily. God is good; therefore, there is no higher Good under the authority of which He stands. God perfectly loves Himself; therefore, He has made man in His own image to reflect this love for God and neighbor; therefore, no command given by Him is ever given arbitrarily.

The Bigger Problem Facing Euthyphro’s Dilemma

The failures of Euthyphro’s Dilemma to in any way create a real problem for Christianity, seeing as it argues against a monadic deity who has only two possible relations in (a.)his inferior relation of subjection to a law higher than himself or (b.)his superior relation to men as their arbitrary law-giver, is compounded by the fact that dilemma rests upon the presupposition that God’s commands are wholly external to the nature of man, i.e. the dilemma assumes the moral autonomy of man by assuming that God’s commands to be imposed from without, failing to recognize that the Law, according to God’s Truth, is written upon the hearts of all men.[4] Therefore, God’s commands are, again, never arbitrary. Rather, man as the bearer of the image of God already has knowledge of what is good, just, and holy; God’s commands are not deviations from this – for God cannot deny Himself – and are, in a sense, implicit to the Law that is written upon the hearts of all men.

To be a bit more to the point about things: Euthyprho’s Dilemma assumes that God imposes Laws upon morally neutral beings that do not bear His image. So again, the “dilemma” is not one that applies in any way to the Christian faith. Christianity asserts that God is love, eternally related to Himself in the three Persons who constitute the One True God (Father and Son and Holy Spirit), and that He has made man in His image – i.e. as a being who is to exist in relationship with others like himself, loving them as he loves himself, which is an analogy of the perfect love among the three Persons of the Godhead who love both God and Neighbor (i.e. the Father loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son loves the Spirit and the Father, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son) essentially and eternally.

To conclude, then, there is no dilemma for the Christian faith contained in Euthyphro’s Dilemma. The gods of other Unitarian monotheistic faiths may have a real problem facing him, but the Triune God of Scripture is untouched by the arrogantly ignorant shouts of the atheist who thinks that he has an objection to the Christian faith.

-h. 


[1] E.g. Judaism and Islam

[2] I’m using the language of Presbyterian theologian William G.T. Shedd whose Dogmatic Theology (Volume I) tackles the logical and theological contradictions problems of Unitarian monotheism and pantheism.

Wrath Wins: Using Emergent Hermeneutic Principles

The Emergent hermeneutic is to read everything in scripture through the lens of only one of God’s attributes and that attribute is His love.  Great attribute, and I love the reality of God’s love.  However if you are unbalanced in your approach to scripture, you end up unbalanced in doctrine and you end up thinking eventually everybody is going to heaven because of how you interpret God (My conclusion here is based Rob Bell’s book).  What if we chose another attribute of God and used it the same way the Emergent/Emergent Village folks do with God’s love.  Below are a couple links you should go read first and then come back; it helps put what I have said into some kind of context.  Remember this is satirical for the purpose of making the point.

Okay you need to go here and read this: http://apprising.org/2011/02/28/transcript-of-love-wins-video-of-rob-bell/ and go here an read this: http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/the-runaways-and-their-loving-mom

 

{I am now putting on my hip glasses, sweater, and skinny jeans.}

I was listening to a sermon the other day and the speaker quoted Spurgeon about something and then mentioned that Spurgeon was one of the people in heaven that they wanted to meet.  Spurgeon is in heaven? Really? And they knew this for sure and thought that everyone needed to know?   What about hell? He did smoke cigars. Will everyone else go there while a select few miss it?  What does one have to do to go to hell?  Do they have to get on Youtube and blaspheme the Holy Spirit?  Do they have to vote Democrat?  Or do they just have to reject Christ as their Savior to go?  How does one end up with the multitude that will suffer for eternity?

And this only leads me to more questions, the real question: What is God really like?  Millions and Millions of sinners have been told that God has expressed his love for them through the sending of His Son, and they have been commanded to repent and trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins so they can go to heaven.  What is subtly being taught is that God is not willing that any should perish and that He is willing to save you from your sin if you will repent and trust in Him.  What kind of God is that; that He would forgive sinners based on the work Christ did on the cross?  How could that God ever be wrathful; how could that God ever be feared?  And how is that God holy?

That is why lots of people want to be Christians.  They see it as an easy fire escape and a way to enjoy heaven for eternity; and they say: “This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”  See, what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about Who God is and What God is like.  What you will discover in the Bible will cause you to react like a VanTillian apologist just slapped you in the face with presuppositionalism.  You will find out that reality is worse than that, it is far more worse than what you could have imagined.

While the Evangelicals and such are filling your head with stories of God propitiating for your sins and how forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ can be found, the Bible is telling us a more serious story.

You have heard some say God is love, but what kind of love?  I mean there are 3 or 4 different Greek words for love, and who knows what the writers actually mean when they use it.  From what I understand the Greek word agape that is usually translated love, actually has in it some of the Greek letters used to spell the word for wrath.  With that in mind, how could one go about and preach God’s love for sinners?  God’s wrath is made apparent to us in Genesis 6 when He destroys the earth with a flood.  God’s willingness to pour out His indignation on sinners is revealed when He rains fire down from heaven and destroys Sodom.  His wrath appears when He wipes out the first born in Egypt.  He sends serpents in to destroy the children of Israel, and time after time He punishes Israel with captivity and pestilence.  God takes the life of David’s baby for his sin with Bathsheba.  God had Agag hacked into pieces.  Herod was eaten with worms.  Yes, the God of the universe has it out for lawbreakers, and in His wrath He will not stop until He has destroyed them all in the Lake of Fire (Revelation).

But what about those that have repented and trusted in Christ?  Will they suffer the wrath of God too?  Will the fact that they have died in Christ mean that they will be resurrected unto life and they no longer will be subject to the penalty for sin?  Calvin thought it could be a different story when he wrote, “those of the elect……will……eventually……be taken and cast into the lake of fire…..and their heavenly home….will forever be…..lost…..”.

I will illustrate the absurd notion of eternal life in heaven with this story I just made up to fit my point of view.

There was a mother of four children that really, really loved her kids.  Her children however, hated her.  They despised everything about her and were unthankful for everything she did.  Day after day she supplied food for them, clothing, and tried to give them hugs.  They however, consistently pushed her away and called her names and at times acted like she wasn’t even there.  One day the four got together and finally had enough.  They took baseball bats and hammers and started to beat their mother.  They broke her arms, and her legs.  They bruised her face and cracker her ribs.  The whole time they laughed, yelled vulgarities and even spit on her.  Did she call the authorities and have them punished? No, she forgave them for what they did.  The next day, she still provided food, clothing and shelter, and continued to love them.

Do you see how silly this kind of woman would be?  So wouldn’t the real God be that silly, if He were to forgive sinners that have rebelled against Him.  No my friend, this God could not be, it flies in the face of what we know about God, He is wrathful toward those that break His law.

So what about those that have repented and trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins?  Don’t they deserve hell like everyone else?  What kind of God would let them get away with it?  You see, eventually, they will break God’s law.  Eventually God will have to punish them also, no matter how long it takes God will get them.  In the end, Wrath Wins.

{Getting back into my manly type clothes}

 

I hope you can see my point.  We don’t get to choose our favorite aspect and attribute of God and then define everything by it.  God is Holy, and because of His holiness He must and does punish sinners.  The good news is that God loved the world in this way, He sent His son to die, so that sinners that believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.  This IS GOOD NEWS!  This is a GOD OF LOVE.  This is a Wrathful God that poured out His wrath on Christ in our place (Isaiah 53).  Jesus propitiated our sin. Praise be to His name.

What I want you to walk away from this post with is this:

If you focus only on His Love, the cross will have no purpose.

If you focus on just His Wrath, the cross will have no power.

In either case you have blasphemed the name of God.

 

Who is Your Shepherd?

If you try to evangelize someone associated with the Watchtower Society (who call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses”), you may run into a problem.  Their Bible, the New World Translation, is not the same as your Bible.  Many passages may be the same, but in a number of places, the text has been changed.  Thus, the passages you might typically use to prove Jesus’ divinity to them may lead to a question of whose translation is right – which may be interesting, but misses the point.

In God’s providence, however, there are a number of places where a comparison between the Old Testament and New Testament reveals Jesus’ divinity in ways that the Watchtower Society did not remove.  This is one example.

Consider asking one of these “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (or two of them, if you meet them under the usual circumstance of them knocking on your door) the following question: “Who is your Shepherd?”

Perhaps they will respond with Psalm 23′s answer: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1, KJV)  Their version of this psalm reads “Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1, NWT)

Then, ask them to turn to Hebrews 13:20, which states: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,” (Hebrews 13:20, KJV) and similarly states in their version “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus,” (Hebrews 13:20, NWT).

Next, invite them to turn to John 10:11, which states: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, KJV) In their version, this will state: “I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.” (John 10:11, NWT)

And you may also suggest that they consider that there is only one shepherd: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16, KJV)  – in their version “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16, NWT)

You can then encourage them to consider the following: if Jesus is the Shepherd, and if Jehovah is the Shepherd, then it must follow that Jesus is Jehovah.

If you would like to explore the matter further, encourage them to consider Zechariah 13:7 and Matthew 26:31 in view of the above.

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. (Matthew 26:31, KJV)

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.  (Zechariah 13:7, KJV)

Then Jesus said to them: “All of YOU will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’ (Matthew 26:31, NWT)

“O sword, awake against my shepherd, even against the able-bodied man who is my associate,” is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. “Strike the shepherd, and let those of the flock be scattered; and I shall certainly turn my hand back upon those who are insignificant.” (Zechariah 13:7, NWT)

Notice as well that in this latter example, the humanity of Christ is also affirmed – as well as his association with God.  You might consider asking the so-called “Jehovah’s Witness” who could be an associate with God?  Who else even in their Scriptures are given this exalted title?  Yet clearly Jesus is both Man and the living and true Jehovah – two natures in one person.

May He be worshiped forever and ever!

-TurretinFan

Exegeting John 3 – Part 1

The first post I did, Exegeting Scripture without Learning Greek, covered an introductory look at exegesis of scripture without extensive knowledge of original biblical languages.  In this simple version of the Historical Grammatical method there are 5 questions that are asked.  I will list them here again:

  1. Who is speaking or writing?
  2. Who are they speaking or writing to?
  3. What is the subject that is being presented?
  4. At what time was it said or written?
  5. What is the occasion for the speaking or writing?

 

In this post we are going to start walking through John 3:1-21.  This is the record of the meeting between our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Pharisee Nicodemus.

I had mentioned that looking back a little in chapter 2 would help.  In fact, we will eventually go back to the beginning of the book to grab some other verses that help us understand chapter 3.

John 2:23-25 sets us up for the meeting with Nicodemus.  It tells us that many believed in his name when they saw the miracles, but He, that is Jesus, did not commit himself to any of them.  They believed because of the miracles, this is important to remember.  Jesus did not commit himself unto them because He knew all nmen, and didn’t need anyone to testify of men, because He knew what was in man.  You need to carry this thought in your mind as you read the rest of the Gospel of John, especially since this Gospel is going to show how Christ interacts with men from the beginning to end.

This brings us to John 3:1.

(1)  There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

First off we see that we have ‘a man’.  So right off the bat, we know that Jesus knows all about this guy before he gets to Jesus.

Next, he was a Pharisee.  Taking my own advice, let’s see what John Gill says about about this:

John 3:1  There was a man of the Pharisees,…. The Syriac version adds, “there”; that is, at Jerusalem; and who was among those that believed in the name of Christ, upon seeing the miracles he did at the feast of the passover, in that place. This man was not a common and ordinary man, but a man of note and eminence, of dignity and figure; and who was of the sect of the Pharisees, which was the strictest sect for religion and holiness, among the Jews; and which, as corrupt as it was, was also the soundest; as having not only a regard to a Messiah, and to all the writings of the Old Testament, but also believed the doctrines of angels and spirits, and the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees denied; but yet they were implacable enemies of Christ; and therefore it is the more to be wondered at, that such an one should come to him, and desire a conversation with him:

With that commentary note, we now have some background concerning what a Pharisee was, and a little more insight into this meeting.  I read more in Gill’s commentary and found that Nicodemus being a ‘ruler of the Jews’ indicated that he was a member of the Sanhedrin which consisted of doctors (wise men), priests, Levites and elders of the people.  So let’s put this information to use for us:

  1. Nicodemus is a Jew, that makes him a descendant of Abraham in the flesh.
  2. Nicodemus is a Pharisee, this makes him a strict religious man that believes in angels, spirits, and the resurrection.
  3. Nicodemus is a ‘ruler’, or  a member of the Sanhedrin, that makes him extremely knowledgeable of the Old Testament Scriptures and a big wig.

 

John 3:2
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

 

Let’s nail down our setting then, it is part of our 5 questions, and it helps us interpret what the scripture is teaching us:

  1. It is night, so it is really, really dark.  No street lights back in the day.  Is Nicodemus hiding his desire to talk to Jesus from his own people?  Some commentators seem to think so.
  2. The one coming to Jesus, has a deep and profound respect for Christ, so we can even see the sincerity Nicodemus’ inquiry.  Rabbi is a term of respect (cf Matt 23:8-10).  Something is going on with Nicodemus.  A man of his position giving such respect to a humble carpenter from Nazareth.

 

When we get into the exchange portion of the meeting in the next few verses, you will see Jesus appeal to Nicodemus’ status as a ruler in Israel.  So it is an important fact as we walk through John 3.

So now let’s split up what Nicodemus said to Christ and glean from it what he is saying to the Lord.

  1. We know – Notice the use of the plural pronoun.  What is being revealed here?  It seems that there is an acknowledgement among the Jewish leadership, those that Nicodemus talked with, of who Jesus was.
  2. Come from God – In this phrase we see the readiness, as Gill says, to hear what Jesus has to say.  To declare that Jesus was a teacher sent by God, says “I want to hear what you have to say because it has to be from God, the miracles that you have done prove to me(us) that you are a prophet of God.
  3. No man can do these miracles except God be with Him – This is the summary statement to Nicodemus’ apologetic for coming to Christ that night.

 

I know that I am going to sound repetitive.  I am willing to take that criticism.  I want to build my case like Columbo.  Line upon line, with all verses in the exchange dependent upon one another to make sense.  If my conclusion doesn’t make any sense with what has been established as fact, then I have either my facts incorrect or I have lost my bearing and have ended up in the wrong port.  So I want to constantly go back and reiterate what we know, and build upon what we already know to be true.  Be ready to ask yourself, “How did I get here?”.

So, Who is talking?  Nicodemus.  Who is he talking to?  Jesus.  What is the time, occasion and subject?  It is night and Nicodemus wants to hear from the One who has been sent by God.

In our next post, the “Who is talking” positions will switch places a couple times.  It is good to keep up with who is saying what.  Knowing who is speaking makes a difference, especially if you are studying the book of Job.

We will try to get through John 3:3-8 in part 2.  At this moment, I am convinced we won’t get through it all in one post, but we will see.

 

God bless.

 

 

 

Atheistic Arguments: Attacks on the Character of God (Pt.2)

[Continued from Part 1]

II. The Argument from Insufficient Evidence against the Existence of God

Another way in which I sought to deny the God of Scripture was by claiming that there simply wasn’t enough evidence to prove His existence. My argument ran something like this:

Major Premise: If an all good, all powerful, and all knowing God exists, then He will provide sufficient evidential grounds for placing one’s faith in Him.

Minor Premise: However, sufficient evidential grounds for belief in God do not exist.

Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.

This argument is a variation of the argument from evil against the existence of God, as it attempts to show that (a)if God is good then He will desire the salvation of all men, and if He desires their salvation and He is all good, then (b)He will provide sufficient evidential grounds for belief in His existence, and if He does (a) and (b) it is because He has (c) omniscient comprehension of what constitutes sufficient evidential grounds for belief in Him.

There are two big problems with this argument: (i.)Induction never leads to certainty; therefore, the accumulation of data regarding the existence of God can never establish with 100% certainty that God exists, let alone that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and/or set tomorrow evening;[1] and (ii.)Even if “sufficient evidence” could be appealed to as the basis for one’s belief in God, then the question that lingers is: Who decides what counts as evidence? Problem (i.) is one that I agreed with, even as an atheist, and which I used to justify my general skepticism, as well as my atheism. Claiming to be a skeptic is very helpful, as it leaves you with a veneer of nobility and provides an excuse for one’s immoral behavior (whether in the form of unbelief or complete hedonism), because if all one is doing is waiting for “sufficient evidence” to come in order to make a “rational decision” about whether or not God exists, then how can one be held morally accountable for not believing? After all, isn’t it God’s job to provide sufficient evidential grounds for belief in Him?

It is because induction never leads to certainty that one can always claim that sufficient evidence is lacking and feel completely justified in one’s unbelief. This was my justification for not believing and for feeling morally superior to those who tried to get me to believe in God. I considered myself more noble, more moral for not believing in God without “sufficient evidence” (which I never defined, by the way), and I considered my friends to be immoral for trying to get people to believe in God without having “sufficient evidence.” Thus, I was morally justified and morally superior for holding to skepticism and unbelief in God.

But, you see, the problem is: In order to be a skeptic, one has to be more certain of some things than one is of the matter of which one is skeptical. Otherwise, one wouldn’t even be able to raise the first question regarding the existence of God. Therefore, it was incumbent upon me to prove the certainty of those things which I was assuming were certain, and which were necessary to the formulation of any meaningful questions/doubts that I could have raised. So, for instance, I had to ask myself: Am I certain that my senses (i.)have the capacity to mediate facts about the external world to me, let alone (ii.)mediate that knowledge accurately?

Did I have sufficient evidence to support my belief in the mediatorial function of my senses? No. Did I have sufficient evidence to support my belief that my senses accurately mediated facts about the external world to me? No.  Then how could I honestly demand that “sufficient evidence” regarding the existence of God be given to me? I couldn’t, but I still demanded it. And that is where the moral accusation comes in: “If God is good,” I reasoned, “He would certainly provide me with what I consider to be ‘sufficient evidence.’ Therefore, God is not good.” Note that my denial of God’s existence really had no relation to whether or not He had provided me with sufficient evidence. I was, as all atheists who seek to deny God’s existence using an argument like this are, simply trying to indict God of immoral behavior.

Problem (ii.) is where things really get sticky. This is the problem of who determines what counts as “evidence” for the existence of God. What is to be counted as evidence? Says who? If there is no universal standard that determines what counts as “evidence,” then any standard set forth by the unbeliever will always be (a.)provisional and (b.)subject to change via an indeterminable number of subtle qualifications. Again, this sort of “argument” is very helpful if one wishes to completely duck out of an argument altogether while making it appear that one is still engaged in that argument. Here’s what I mean: If an atheist’s standard for evidence is always provisional (i.e. serving his own purposes) and always subject to change via innumerable qualifications, then the atheist can appear to be seriously seeking evidence for God’s existence, when in reality he’s just refusing to accept any evidence given to him.

While the claim of atheists like Bertrand Russell, who say that there simply isn’t enough evidence to believe in God, is absolutely bogus, even if it were true it would not be an argument against the existence of God. Rather, it would be an argument against the manner in which God has chosen to reveal Himself. In other words, yet again, the argument would be against the character of God and not His existence. I didn’t realize this until the Lord regenerated me and gave me eyes to see, ears to hear, and the mind of Christ to understand that my arguments against the existence of God were really nothing more than pitiful complaints against the Sovereign of the Universe who chose to do things in His own way and never chose to ask me for my permission. And this is what the atheist is doing when he argues that the existence of gratuitous evil is incompatible with belief in an omnibenevolent God, since God’s omnibenevolence in no way necessitates that He eliminate gratuitous evil at this moment, and to claim that one knows that the elimination of gratuitous evil at this moment would be a morally superior action for God to perform is to claim that one is omniscient – that is to say, it is an implicit criticism of God’s omniscience. Similarly, to argue that God “hasn’t provided enough evidence” for one to believe in Him is not to argue against His existence, it is to criticize Him for not doing things in a way that meets the atheist’s standards.

If there is an argument  against God’s existence, and not just the typical assaults on God’s character that atheists viciously sling around, I’ve yet to hear it.


[1] James N. Anderson, Assistant Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC), has a great article dealing with the problem of induction raised by philosophers like David Hume and Bertrand Russell and the (failed) attempts of secular philosophers to solve the problem. It can be found here.

Christians Don’t Exist??? A Commentary on George Elerick

Note: This article was Sent to George prior to it’s posting.

George Elerick is a Character. I enjoy his posts on Facebook because, half the time he makes my brain hurt from trying to figure out what in the world he is talking about, the other half of the time I have figured out what he is saying, and I am amazed that anyone could think in the way that he does. Although, I must say that once in a blue moon, George says something just close enough to historic orthodoxy I have to agree with it.

Today I would like you to consider this video from George.

Why Christians Don’t Exist – George Elerick

After watching that I am sure you are in one of the two boats that I listed above, for me it was the latter. That being the case I feel that this kind of reasoning needs to be examined.

Let me first the premise of Mr. Elerick.  He is quoting Gal. 3:28, a verse that is misused primarily to support women pastors/elders. George uses it in a new and unique way. He is saying that Paul is trying to destroy cultural distinctions with the goal of showing that “Christ is all and is in all. ” He farther says that the Apostle Paul is teaching that ” [. . . ] Actually Christ embodies everybody, Christ embodies the whole of humanity.”   The end of this new view on Paul is that he forwarding an idea that Paul is saying Christ isn’t outside of us, that he is rather inside of us and he quotes Christ in Luke 17:21 that the Kingdom of Christ is not outside but internal.

The Problem I have with George here is with his inability to actually use a meaningful hermeneutic. George like many in the emergent church seem to forward a reader response hermeneutic rather than a cultural, historical-grammatical hermeneutic.  If George would actually look at the context of Galatians, even just the verse before where he starts quoting this fallacious idea would evaporate. Lets start with the actual quotation:

Galatians 3:28 — There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Notice what George Said — Christ is all and in all… the text doesn’t say this. This is a pantheistic idea that is foreign to Paul and the Bible. The text says,”You are all one in Christ Jesus.” We have unity in Christ Jesus, and this is obtained by Putting on Christ as pictured by Baptism (Gal 3:27).  It is important to see that by adding a couple of words not in the text one can make a non-biblical quotation sound biblical.

If we follow the flow of Galatians, the concept that Paul is trying to get across is seen clearly. Lets read v. 28 within its context.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
(Galatians 3:23-29 ESV)

I offer to you in contrast to George’s understanding, I would like to offer up the comments from Matthew Henry, in his Concise Commentary.

Real Christians enjoy great privileges under the gospel; and are no longer accounted servants, but sons; not now kept at such a distance, and under such restraints as the Jews were. Having accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and relying on him alone for justification and salvation, they become the sons of God. But no outward forms or profession can secure these blessings; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. In baptism we put on Christ; therein we profess to be his disciples. Being baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death, that as he died and rose again, so we should die unto sin, and walk in newness and holiness of life. The putting on of Christ according to the gospel, consists not in outward imitation, but in a new birth, an entire change. He who makes believers to be heirs, will provide for them.

I believe that one of these two is faithful to the text. Let us use good discernment, and defend the faith once delivered to the saints.

The Two Party System, Paul is Jailed in Philippi

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Philippians 1. The application in this passage, particularly verses 20-24 is wide. Here is the story, Paul, a loyal servant of God, a messenger of the Gospel of Christ is in jail. Certainly not a good place to be. In verse 19, Paul knows he will be delivered.

But in verse 20 the message of the passage forms. Paul wants one thing, the exaltation of Christ. Paul is not waiting for the guard to fall asleep at his desk, and take the keys and run. His concern is being a testimony, honoring his Lord and Savior in the one place that could really use it, jail.

Consider this and politics. We primarily live in a system of two parties, the Republicans and Democrats. Yes, we have minor third parties, and no, they wont individually amount to much. The latter two parties have existed almost since we, as a nation were founded, in one form or another. No, they aren’t going anywhere either. So what approach should be taken? My suggestion is, determine if you are a big or small government person, from there, determine which of the two parties most meet your ideology. Be consistent with your faith. Never abandon what you believe in.

Once these aforementioned steps have been undertaken, now it is your job to glorify your Creator.

How? Get involved. When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. Here is the recipe to follow. Join your local political committee, and learn the rules. Align with the right people, while bringing in other believers. No politician of any value can be elected without the support of the party machine. Yes, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Michelle Bachmann need the parties. I know you’re thinking of a name right now, Christine O’Donnell. Good try, but she did not get elected, did she? Nor did she get the nomination without an organization who played by the party rules.

In most states your state and county political parties actually exist as a function of law. Your local town and villages committees exist at the pleasure of those county committees, so you have to play ball by those rules. If you are sick of so called conservative republicans who support abortion, or liberal democrats demanding charity, but with your money, then do something about it.

Yes, the party picks the candidate, if you do not like the candidate, then run someone against them. Though the legal function of political parties are to elect their own, policy is usually formulated there.

Remember the rest of Proverbs 29:2 “…when the wicked rule, the people mourn.” So you really want to go third party? No, George H.W. Bush was not the most conservative President, but thanks to third party candidates Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan, we got the immoral, national security destroying Presidency of Bill Clinton. In 1996, thanks to the third parties, we again got four more years. In the General Election of 2010, Republican candidates could have removed up to eight other Democratic members of Congress, but who prevented that? The third parties.

I know some reading this envision an ideal, informed electorate, who will vote for candidates based on their history, where you can trust their word, and not worry about party identification. Others envision an utopia scenario where enough people will get fed up and vote for the third party guy. Good luck and keep dreaming.

That said, seek to magnify Christ in your body. If you cannot find that voice endorsing Christian values, then you be that voice. Learn the rules and bylaws, build your base, and you can change your local, county, state, or national party, and push the election of God fearing individuals.

God Will Not Be Mocked

Atheists these days are more numerous and bold than in previous generations.  As public tolerance for atheism grows, they have become increasingly open in their hostility toward God.  The Internet – and the relative anonymity it provides – has only increased these displays of hostility and outright mockery.

This sort of thing does not please God.  Recall the judgment he brought against those who mocked a mere prophet of God, the prophet Elisha:

So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake. And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, “Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.” And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria. (2 Kings 2:22-25)

Moreover, today’s mockers were prophesied by the Apostle:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7)

The fire of judgment is coming to the mockers.  If God sends she bears against children who mock His prophet, how much more severe punishment will come upon those who mock the very Son of God?  If you are someone who mocks God, think again.  If you know those who do, and if you love them, find a way to warn them.

-TurretinFan

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