Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Innocent Blood

A popular assertion that has been raised multiple times in the dialogues from some of my posts is the claim that "The Bible forbids the shedding of innocent blood." It is complete, clear, overt, undeniable. I think that most any Christian who would read that claim would likely simply nod his/her head and agree. The subsequent claim, then, is that "There must be 'innocent blood' for this command to be valid." And that was what brought me up short. You see, if there is genuine innocence, then we have some very hard conclusions to deal with. First, of course, we'd need to deny the historically orthodox view of Original Sin. Okay, fine. If we must, we must. But, second, we'd have to admit that Paul was wrong when he said, "There is none righteous" because, well, there is. So either he was in error or he didn't actually mean what he said. Then there's the whole issue of abortion. Frankly, I'd have to back off my opposition to abortion. I mean, if 2 million babies a year are being sent straight to heaven, it's frankly the biggest gain for Christ of all time. If some 40 million children were saved since 1973 without having to evangelize them, how could that be a bad thing? I mean, I doubt you'll find such large numbers among the living in the last 36 years turning to Christ.

So I decided to see what my Bible says. Are there actually commands forbidding the shedding of innocent blood? Or are we, once again, taking other people's word for it? As it turns out, there are.

The phrase "innocent blood" is first seen in Deut 19. The command is pretty straightforward: "So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance" (Deut 19:10). Well, folks, there you have it, plain and simple. The Bible forbids the shedding of innocent blood. Toss out Reformed Theology, rethink Paul's nonsense in Rom 3, and let's leave those poor abortionists alone, okay?

Now wait a minute. Before we start anything radical, there is a standard rule of thumb that you need to follow. It is so standard and so important that it can often be found repeated: "Context, context, context." What is the context of this command? Is it clear and out of the blue like "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination" (and therefore simply meant in a straightforward, face-value way) or is there context that explains what it means?

As it turns out, there is very clear context. The topic at hand (starting in verse 1) is the establishment of what was called "the cities of refuge". God commanded Israel that when they took over Canaan they were to "set aside three cities for yourself in the midst of your land" (Deut 19:2). The purpose of these three special places was this: "So that any manslayer may flee there" (Deut 19:3). A manslayer? Yes, someone who "kills his friend unintentionally, not hating him previously" (Deut 19:4). Someone, then, guilty of manslaughter, not murder. What was the problem? "Otherwise the avenger of blood might pursue the manslayer in the heat of his anger, and overtake him, because the way is long, and take his life, though he was not deserving of death" (Deut 19:6). "Innocent blood", then, has very clear context. It is someone "not deserving of death".

Notice that this phrase, "innocent blood", does not convey that the person was sinless. It doesn't suggest in the least that this person had never sinned or that he was not currently guilty of sin. And we all know that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23), so in God's terms there was actually no one who was of "innocent blood" since all are "deserving of death". This, then, was a law given to humans to prevent humans from putting to death people whom humans had no right to put to death. They may have violated God's law (Cosmic Treason) and deserved God's righteous judgment, but that wasn't an option given to Man. Humans were only given the option to enforce the penalties that God allowed for the crimes that God allowed, and if someone had not committed the crime for which they were being sentenced to death, they were classified as "innocent blood".

The theme goes throughout the Old Testament. In 1 Sam 19:5, Jonathan argues with his father, Saul, against killing David who had done nothing to Saul -- "innocent blood". David, then, was innocent of the accusations of treason against Saul ... not wholly "innocent blood". A common use of the phrase "innocent blood" was when people sacrificed their children to Molech. It wasn't a statement that these children (of whatever age) were guiltless. It was a statement that they were "not deserving of death" at the hands of those who killed them. In Deut 21 (and others) "innocent blood" references anyone who is murdered ... "not deserving of death".

There is a theme here. It is absolutely true that God forbids the shedding of innocent blood. No doubt. But "innocent blood" in this context (in every context I could find) was not a reference to sinlessness, but a reference to people who were killed by willful human beings and didn't deserve to be killed by willful human beings. It was a differentiator from people who were killed by human beings because they deserved to be killed (as in the case of God's commands regarding the death penalty in certain cases). Of those, God repeatedly says, "Their bloodguiltiness is upon them." Then guilt or innocence of blood simply referenced the right of humans ordained by God to execute someone. If they were guilty of a God-given violation, they were "bloodguilty". If they were not (even though they were all guilty of sin), they were "innocent blood".

Context, context, context. We often hear things that we take completely out of context and leave it lie. You know, things like "Judge not" because we've been told it so long that we just don't look anymore. The Bible is not to be read out of context. The Bible, if it is the Word of God, is to be read in the context of the entire Bible. If "innocent blood" means what the context appears to say it means, then we don't have a contradiction of Scripture (absolving God from error), of historical orthodoxy (absolving the Church from error), or the ramifications that would follow. Something to think about.

79 comments:

DagoodS said...

As punishment, your God killed a baby for a crime it did not commit. 2 Sam. 12:14 If it is acceptable, even morally sanctioned, to administer capital punishment for one person’s crime (David) upon another who did not commit the crime (David’s baby), then we have no concept of what “innocent” or “guilt” even means in such a society.

Your God would be using a justice system unlike anything we understand.

We might as well say, “To God, ‘bananas’ are ‘apples;’ and ‘apples’ are ‘Buicks.’”

Stan said...

Man, I hope God gives me an apple ...

You are, of course, free to look at it that way.

I did point out that "innocent blood" was a reference to human beings and who they were commanded to kill, not God ... because (according to orthodoxy) "there is none righteous, no, not one."

In other words, He may be using a justice system you don't understand, but makes perfect sense to me. So ... feel free to chalk that up to "crazy" and rest easy that you're right again. ;)

(The ";)" is intended to be a wink, an indication of some sort of humorous exchange between friends.)

Steve Martin said...

I thought that as well (there is no one righteous, no not one).

There is none good but God. There is no truly innocent blood other than the blood of Christ (the spotless Lamb).

Stan said...

Steve, again ... amen.

starflyer said...

Oh, this is going to be fun to watch! I liked Stan's comment:

"I mean, if 2 million babies a year are being sent straight to heaven, it's frankly the biggest gain for Christ of all time. If some 40 million children were saved since 1973 without having to evangelize them, how could that be a bad thing?"

Thanks for lobbing one up, Stan. It'll be interesting to see how some of your readers try to explain that "they aren't children until they are born", to justify their positions on abortion. Now...if only I had some popcorn...

DagoodS said...

Good, Stan. If your God’s justice system makes “perfect sense” to you; perhaps you can explain it to skeptics.

Making sure we are on common ground. “Just” is a word we use to define an action in accordance with some law. We compare an action with the law; if the action conforms to the law, it is “just.” If it does not, the law will impose a penalty—the imposition of penalty is “just.”

For a stupid example, if the law says a person cannot drive faster than 25 mph on Brown street between First and Second street, or else you will receive a speeding ticket—a person who drives 25 mph or less is in conformance with the law. Their actions are “just.” If they drive over 25 mph, then they are no longer in conformance with the law, and the police officer would be “just” to administer a ticket.

Obviously this is intended to be a simple analogy—the law can be modified creating exceptions allowing faster speeds in certain instances such as police, ambulance, fire, etc.

To use your blog entry’s terminology—“innocent” would be a person who has not violated the law (i.e. not driven faster than 25 mph on Brown Street between First and Second Street). Again, so we are clear, we are NOT talking about whether we like the law itself. We are NOT discussing the viability, or effectiveness of the law. We are NOT discussing whether the speed limit should be 25 mph; we are only discussing what the speed limit actually is, as compared to the law in place.

Now, since this God’s Justice System makes “perfect sense” to you—let’s see how his actions are just in the instance of David’s baby. 2 Samuel explicitly lays out the actions of God here—David and Bathsheba commit a crime punishable by death (adultery) [Curiously the killing of Uriah was actually ordered by God previously, so that was not punishable by death as commonly thought]

God says, as punishment, he will send an adversary to rape David’s other wives. (vs. 11-12). David says, “I have sinned” and God (through Nathan) says He will absolve David of the crime. God pardons David. (vs. 13) However, because David caused the enemies of God to blaspheme, God orders as punishment the child will die. (vs. 14) God doesn’t kill the baby right away, but takes 7 days to do it. (vs. 18)

DagoodS said...

There is a LOT to unpack, regarding justice in this short story; I will try to keep it concise.

O.K.—we have God’s actions. Now all we need is the law, the “God Justice System” to compare it to, to determine whether God’s actions are “just.” Whether God killed an innocent.

And that is what I am asking of you. Since this makes perfect sense to you—can you explain what the law is that God was following in this instance? What the law states regarding the actions of God and what God was required/not required to do in this situation?

1. What sins can God pardon? What sins can God not? David and Bathsheba committed a crime that God had previously ordered death. (Lev. 20:10) God pardoned David. What does this Law of Your God say regarding God’s requirements of pardoning what sins?

2. What law was God following to allow David’s wives to be raped by an adversary as punishment? What persons can be raped as punishment for other people’s crimes? Can your God order the rape of any woman as punishment for any persons’ crime?

3. What law was God following to kill David’s baby for David’s crime of causing the enemies to blaspheme God? Why wasn’t THAT sin pardoned? Is that a pardonable sin? Does this law allow your God to kill other people’s babies for punishment of other people’s crimes? In what situations?

4. How long must God take to kill a baby? Can God do it instantly? Must it take at least a week? Can it take a year? Can it take as long or short as God wants?

See, the simple answer is, Stan, you don’t have a clue what law (if any) your God was following. None. None you can verify; certainly none you can explain. All you can say is that you think there must be some law God was following allowing Him to do/not do certain things.

But you don’t know. And if there is no law harnessing your God—there is no “justice.” No justice; no justice system. Your God can do what it wants, when it wants and how it wants.

Which means talking about “innocent” or “innocent blood” becomes a meaningless concept under this God’s system. Because today your God could say, “I am determining those who drive red cars are ‘innocent’” and tomorrow your God could say, “Now those who golf once a week are ‘innocent’” and the next day, “No one is ‘innocent’” and the following day, “Everybody is ‘innocent.’’

And you have no means to verify whether your God could or could not do these things.

If you can’t determine what law (if any) your God was following in these messy few verses, to talk about the entire concept of what is “innocent” or not is silly. Oh, I am sure some of the ra-ra crowd will stand up and agree, “You’re right—nobody is innocent” but any person with an ounce of critical thinking who delves into what words such as “innocent” or “just” mean will see that without any way to know what the law is your God must follow, this is mere wasted breath.

Stan said...

I'm not sure of the point of this exercise ... and I'm quite sure of the outcome ... but I'll see if I can shed some light on this.

DagoodS: "'innocent' would be a person who has not violated the law."

No, that's not accurate. According to my blog entry's terminology, "innocent" refers to those who were not guilty of violating a specific set of capital laws given by God that men were to enforce by use of the death penalty. I specifically said, "In God's terms there was actually no one who was of 'innocent blood' since all are 'deserving of death'."

I do wish to point out a slight error in your representation of the events:

DagoodS: "God says, as punishment, he will send an adversary to rape David’s other wives."

What it actually says is "I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion", which suggests nothing at all about rape. The event did occur when Absalom (the "prettiest man in the kingdom") took David's concubines (2 Sam 16), but you assume "rape" where none is indicated or required.

DagoodS: "God orders as punishment the child will die."

You have made here the prior assumption that children are innocent (the same assumption the post addresses in the first place) and, therefore, if the child dies it is only because of David's sin. The idea that is being forwarded here by many (not you, being the skeptic) is that there are three categories of people. First, there is Christ, the only sinless one. Second, there are sinful humans ... the bulk of humanity. But there is a third category. This category includes children and, often, others of limited capacity. This group is also "sinless" because they haven't yet committed a sin and are, therefore, at least temporarily perfect. Since I understand the Bible to support no such third group, I don't have that issue at hand. Those who make this third category do and, I guess, so do you, but not me.

DagoodS: "Can you explain what the law is that God was following in this instance?"

The law is "You are to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." No human meets that law.

However, since you are quite sure that I don't have a clue what I'm talking about, why are you pursuing this? Is it fair to approach this with questions as if you have any genuine questions since you're positive there are no answers? Since you seem to be absolutely sure that God is subject to laws without having any way of explaining the source of such laws that would subject the Sovereign of the Universe, I don't see the argument.

Now, I should be clear here. You defined "justice" as "in accordance with some law". I define "justice" (ultimately) as "whatever God says is right". Your accusation there is correct. "Your God can do what it wants, when it wants and how it wants." Your conclusion assumes, however, that God has no nature, is arbitrary, random, without His own "good", not subject to Himself.

Still, I don't understand your argument in the final analysis. You have concluded that no such being exists. You have concluded that there is no meaning to the term "innocent blood". You have concluded that we can't really know anything about this being you believe doesn't exist (although we would argue that He has informed us about Himself). Your prior conclusion before you started with "If your God’s justice system makes 'perfect sense' to you; perhaps you can explain it to skeptics" was "It cannot be done. No matter what he says, he's wrong, confused, lying, not entirely sane" (or whatever else you wish to throw in there). If the a priori assumption is "He's wrong and there is no answer to these questions", it is disengenuous to ask them. Simply start with "You don't know anything and you can't explain this stuff and you're wrong" and be done with it. That would be the honest approach.

Oh, and see? I was right when I said, "I'm quite sure of the outcome."

Dan Trabue said...

Stan, I think that even though DaGoods and myself are coming from two different directions, we appear to have some of the same questions and reasoning. That is, we think that it is reasonable for you to make your case if you wish to present a case.

If you merely post these for the benefit of having those who agree with you to agree with you, well, I suppose that's your call. I just don't see much point in doing so.

You say...

This group is also "sinless" because they haven't yet committed a sin and are, therefore, at least temporarily perfect.

When you criticize this position, do you realize that for most English speakers (I suppose) that to suggest that a group who hasn't committed sin is NOT sinless seems contradictory and irrational?

A person who has not committed sin IS sinless, by definition. Without sin = Sinless.

So, you seem to be claiming that the Bible teaches something that is clearly contrary to basic logic and linguistic concepts. When you do so, do you understand that many of us won't think it unreasonable to ask you what you can possibly mean?

Is it the case that the person who has done no stealing nonetheless a thief? Does the person who is homeless nonetheless have a home?

Words mean things and when you use standard words in non-standard ways, you can expect confusion of your position will follow.

So, given the way you respond to DaGoods and me, is it the case that you are not really wishing to discuss your opinions with those who may disagree or not understand? If so, it might help to say that up front, so we won't waste anyone's time.

Sherry said...

Where in The Bible does it say that babies and children who die go to Heaven? Isn't that an assumption people the world over make, because certainly nobody wants to believe otherwise?

DagoodS said...

Ahh…”victimization” as an art form. Poor Stan, complaining the skeptics think he is delusional, confused and insane. Seriously, get off the martyr soap box and start defending what you write. If you think it is true, bring some support, some argument. Whining about what you think others think about you as justification for what you believe is Palinesque.

I write for one reason—so that you (or a lurker) may actually sit back and hesitate. Actually think about what you are saying and why it is not persuasive. Actually start to think about what others not in agreement with you may be thinking. Actually start to empathize with their position. I do not expect you to agree, nor even fully understand it. At best I hope for a hesitation; a second thought.

When I said you use the term “innocent” as a person who has not violated the law, I meant it in a general sense. Yes, human-to-human you were discussing violating a specific law (capital offenses.) But you go on and say, “In God’s terms there was no one who was of ‘innocent blood.’” The term “innocent” you utilize there still means a person who has not violated a law. It happens to be a different law you are talking about--God’s Law. What you define as “being perfect.” Both situations use the term “innocent.” Both mean “a person who has not violated the law.” Within human interaction the law we are talking about is capital offenses, within God’s system, the law we are talking about is “being perfect.”

Again, we are not talking about whether we like the law, or whether we think the law is fair, or whether we want to repeal the law. All we are talking about is what the law is.

The only law you indicated in God’s system was “be perfect as the Father in heaven is Perfect.” I should note the complete lack of verification here. We have no way of determining whether this is the law. If God is a liar, he could say this is the law, and be lying. It isn’t. If God must tell the truth, he could say the same thing, and this IS the law. You both presume God is not a liar, AND rely upon what other humans tell you God’s law is. Very weak foundations, indeed!

But for a moment, let’s play along. Let’s assume this is the law (again, whether I like it or not is a question for another time.) As you point out—no human will ever qualify. God may as well say, “The law is: you must be a God. Whoops, don’t qualify.” Or “The law is: you must be me. Whoops—out of luck, ‘cause you are not me.” God could say, “The law is you must have the ability to go invisible while reciting pi to the millionth place.” Are you starting to see the lack of verification? Are you seeing how “be perfect” is as arbitrary a law as “be me”?

So this is our law—and therefore there are no innocents in God’s eyes. Can God then do anything he wants to humans? Can he kill them? Can he rape them? Can he gouge out their eyes with a dull nail?

DagoodS said...

I find it amusing you shy away from God ordering, as punishment, the rape of David’s wives. (I know you want to sugar coat it.) Do you understand the culture this was written in? God says he will take the wives from David, give them to an adversary, and the adversary will have sex with them. If it was voluntary God wouldn’t have to take them from David! God wouldn’t have to “give them” to an adversary! They would go willingly without God’s involvement.

Besides, under your God’s justice system, God can KILL us! When he wants, how he wants, where he wants. But you balk at a little rape? Why? What law is it that says God can kill, but not rape?

Stan: You have made here the prior assumption that children are innocent (the same assumption the post addresses in the first place) and, therefore, if the child dies it is only because of David's sin. (emphasis in original)
.
Nope. Sorry for any confusion (and this makes the rest of your paragraph irrelevant to what I am saying.) Again, again and again, I am not questioning the fairness of the law—I am trying to figure out what the law IS. Hey, if you are saying children aren’t innocent—if that is the law—fine by me. All I am doing is looking for a way to verify this law. And see how far you would go with it.

I am not the one saying the reason the child would die is because God is punishing a crime David committed—2 Samuel 12:14 says that. Read the verse: “Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.” (RSV) Can you find a single translation that does NOT say “Because of this deed…the child…shall die”?

Honestly, Stan, it DOES become difficult to take you seriously if you claim your Bible doesn’t say what your Bible says. There is nothing there saying God was killing that baby for something else. If you want to read it in—then you can read anything, anything in the Bible. Anywhere.

The verse is clear as a bell; “Because you did this deed, the child shall die.”

DagoodS said...

I am glad you freely admit you believe God can do what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. Remember our last discussion where you said you didn’t think God would order you to commit genocide because he doesn’t do that anymore? Seems like he can after all…

I am puzzled, then, why you would shy away from the word “arbitrary.” You say he is bound by his nature—so are arbitrary people. One of their natural characteristics happens to be “arbitrariness”!! You say he is bound by his nature—this is a tautology. We are all bound by our nature. A serial rapist is bound by his nature. An OCD is bound by her nature. This gains no new information.

We are all subject to ourselves. Why do these words have meaning, Stan? Why are these any more than Sunday School puffery? You said God’s justice system makes perfect sense to you—is it that hard to explain without begging the question?

It is the reason I asked that list of questions. I don’t want Sunday School answers. I want to see you dig deeper. You claimed this justice system made perfect sense to you—explain it! If it is NOT arbitrary—answer the specific questions! Tell us when God can rape someone and when God cannot. Tell us when God can kill someone and when God cannot. Tell us when God can punish a child for his father’s crime. Tell us what sins God can pardon; what sins God cannot.

If you can’t answer these simple questions, your claim, “It is not arbitrary” is completely unconvincing. You don’t know.

Is this the best you can do? Convince the already convinced?

Lose the martyr/victim complex. Defend what you claim.

Dan Trabue said...

Sherry asked...

Where in The Bible does it say that babies and children who die go to Heaven? Isn't that an assumption people the world over make, because certainly nobody wants to believe otherwise?

1. We make the assumption that God is a just and loving God (the Bible confirms this). Do you disagree? I assume not.

2. We make the assumption that God would not punish innocent people for the sins of others (the Bible confirms this). Do you disagree? I assume not.

3. We make the assumption that God would not punish innocent people for no reason. Do you disagree?

4. We make the assumption that children have committed no crime, no sin and are, therefore, guiltless. That is, they have committed no actions for which they are held guilty. HERE is perhaps where we disagree. Do you think newborns are guilty of something? That they have committed an offense for which they must be punished?

5. IF you think children are guilty of something, then you should be able to tell us what in the world a newborn with no reasoning capabilities can possibly be guilty of.

6. I don't believe you can offer up any ideas on this point. Correct me if I'm mistaken.

7. Rather, it seems that some (you and Stan?) believe that newborns are guilty of something NOT because you can observe logically and objectively some behavior to point to in order to support your point, but because a line in the Bible says, "All have sinned," and you will presume the need to take that line literally enough to the point that you include newborns in with that "all," REGARDLESS of what you can or can't support in the real world.

I don't need the Bible to tell me that newborns are innocent, guiltless or any crime or misdeed, because simple observation and logic can easily confirm that for me and repudiate the suggestion that they ARE guilty of something. I think lines are in the Bible where that can be inferred, but regardless, our own human reason makes it self-evident.

The problem that some of us have is the unreasoned heeding of a literal line from the Bible contrary to evidence in the real world. Especially when we ALL have lines in the Bible that we don't take literally.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "A person who has not committed sin IS sinless, by definition. Without sin = Sinless."

Yes, I suppose so ... to those who aren't really paying attention. The Bible defines sin as not "transgressions" -- some act that you perform -- but as "without the law", as in not heeding the Law. In the Bible there are "sins" -- the things you do (or don't do) that transgress the law -- and "sin" -- "without the law". One is an act ("sins") and the other is a condition.

But, since you do believe in three categories, I don't know why you would have a problem with me saying it.

DagoodS: "Poor Stan, complaining the skeptics think he is delusional, confused and insane."

Yeah ... I guess I can see where you'd get that impression. Of course, your accusation here caught me completely off guard because I wasn't thinking "poor me". You see, in my mind you are delusional. I would assume that in your mind I am. So? My suggestion wasn't that you think better of me but that you simply be genuine rather than trying to appear like you have genuine questions. I'm asking you to be honest. Nothing more. I don't particularly care what you think of me. I certainly don't think you have any moral obligation to think well of me.

DagoodS: "Actually think about what you are saying and why it is not persuasive."

The assumption is that I haven't thought about it. Fine. Your call. Not persuasive? Well, obviously ... but that was never my intention. My intention is to state why I believe what I believe. Just as you don't hope to persuade me to be an atheist, I'm not expecting to persuade either you or Dan.

DagoodS: "Are you starting to see the lack of verification? Are you seeing how 'be perfect' is as arbitrary a law as 'be me'?"

Wait, wait ... back up a minute ... are you saying you can't go invisible while reciting pi to the millionth place??? Loser. (Humor. I am quite sure that humor is the first thing to be lost in any of these discussions. I haven't lost mine.)

What do you accept as "verifiable law"? In the Christian mind, "be perfect" isn't arbitrary. The notion goes like this: "You were made in My image; now accurately reflect that image."

The question about "Can God do anything He wants to humans?", by the way, is misleading because it suggests there is no limitation on what He wants. His desires are in line with His character. We are told that He doesn't author sin, so we believe He doesn't author sin. Some of us actually believe He uses sin for His purposes, but doesn't author it. But, hey, that's something different, isn't it?

DagoodS: "I know you want to sugar coat it."

Shy away from it? No, I am objecting to the claim because there is no evidence to support it. Rape is not claimed in the text. Only you claim it. God is certainly not shy when it comes to claiming His own causation of disaster. He was the one who told Habakkuk that He was sending the Chaldeans to punish Israel. And aren't I the one who is arguing that God is just if He kills sinners ... even very young ones? Sugar coat? No. Just suggesting you've overstepped the text.

DagoodS: "I am not the one saying the reason the child would die is because God is punishing a crime David committed."

Nor did I deny it. What I said was it wasn't "only because of David's sin" (emphasis in the original). And the Bible does give other reasons for death: "The wages of sin is death." You're disagreeing simply because that text isn't adjacent to the story?

DagoodS: "why you would shy away from the word 'arbitrary.'"

Arbitrary suggests "caprice", "whim", "not governed by any fixed rules", "random", and even "decidedly illogical", and conveys the idea of abuse of power. Does that help you understand why I disagree with "arbitrary"?

Stan said...

Sherry: "Where in The Bible does it say that babies and children who die go to Heaven?"

Dan Trabue: "I don't need the Bible to tell me that newborns are innocent ..."

Sherry, in other words, it doesn't say that in the Bible, and if you expect the Bible to be taken as the sole source of faith and practice, you are guilty of ... what were Dan's words? ... "unreasoned heeding of a literal line from the Bible contrary to evidence in the real world." Careful Christians (like Dan, not you or I) take their source of faith and practice from the real world ... and the Bible.

In other words, Sherry, you and I see the Bible in a "slightly" different light than Dan does.

DagoodS said...

Stan, I understand why you don’t like the word “arbitrary”—what I have yet to see is an argument for why this “God’s Law” of yours isn’t arbitrary. “Not liking the term” is not enough--show us why what you are claiming is NOT arbitrary!

It is the reason I asked specific questions. To see if you can demonstrate the non-arbitrariness of your claim. If you can answer the questions, if you can show us where to look, then we can see the orderliness, the lack of randomness in your claims. If you can’t, then you may be stuck with a term you don’t like. Accurate; but unliked. Arbitrary.

Sure you are told God doesn’t author sin—you just can’t explain where sin comes from, then. You pick and choose what you want to believe as to what you are told about your God and then you complain about being arbitrary? Curious…

So I will ask the questions again. Perhaps the light will come on for a lurker, “Gee, for a system Stan claims makes ‘perfect sense’—he isn’t answering questions about fairly large topics!”

When can God order the killing of humans?
When can God order the raping of humans?
Can God punish one person for the crimes of another (even if that is only one of the reasons)?
What sins can God pardon? What sins can he not?

Good to know you think I am delusional. If you can’t answer even the questions of a delusional person--you with the system that makes “perfect sense”—I would fear to see how you fair with a rational person!

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

The Bible defines sin as not "transgressions" -- some act that you perform -- but as "without the law", as in not heeding the Law. In the Bible there are "sins" -- the things you do (or don't do) that transgress the law -- and "sin" -- "without the law". One is an act ("sins") and the other is a condition.

You're saying "sin" is a condition? I'm unfamiliar with anywhere in the dictionary or the Bible where it says that. The Bible does suggest that we have a sinful nature, but we are not punished for having a sinful nature, only for specific actions, at least that's how I understand what the Bible says and what logic says.

How about "Guilt"? What is it that a baby is guilty of?

Is not the gist of the Bible that we are punished for specific actions? We're not punished for the actions of others and we're not punished merely because of our nature (that would be like punishing the heterosexual because he had a natural attraction to females, even though he hadn't acted upon it, it WAS his nature to long for female company... but we're not punished for our nature, only when we take negative harmful actions from our baser nature.)

Stan said...

If you could, DagoodS, please outline for me however briefly you can what you would qualify as "not arbitrary". It seems as if you're saying, "Unless God conforms to a law higher than Himself, He is arbitrary" which, by default, rules out the existence of God without allowing for discussion. So I need to know what you consider "not arbitrary" because I'm not getting what you mean.

Sherry said...

Dan Trabue, I have an appointment I must leave for in a couple minutes but want to quickly say that I fully believe babies and children DO end up in Heaven. I certainly anticipate seeing a once-very-active, stillborn baby girl I had years ago, someday in Heaven. Why on earth or Heaven would she NOT be there!?! It's just that I don't really see that oh-so-common belief in the scriptures, except that I DO see that our God is a God of love and of justice! And those things I DO believe. Therefore, those beliefs "trump" what I think may be a lack of explicitly-stated scriptures in regard to who goes to Heaven without "following the rules" to a T.

I trust that we serve a god who ultimately has our best interests at heart. And, in regard to death, we nearly always tend to think of dying as a bad thing, when being spared an earthly life might be a wonderful thing, the best thing!

I just don't like that we must assume such a (nice and kind-hearted) thing that is as big as someone's eternal destiny, when it seems there are so many scriptures that lead people to believe you MUST "accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior" (a man-made phrase), "believe", or be "saved" or "born again" before you can enter the kingdom of God.

Obviously a baby can't do that. And children up to certain ages (often called "the age of accountability", which is a number chosen by men, not God) can't fully comprehend the making of such a decision. Fortunately, our God is a God of justice and mercy. This isn't much of an explanation but it's all I have time for at the moment.

I only brought it up because of Stan mentioning the 2 million babies a year being "sent straight to heaven" and that he doubts you'd "find such large numbers among the living in the last 26 (correctly ~ 36) years turning to Christ". When do babies "turn to Christ"? When they meet Him? Guess so.

I often find myself, these days, wishing our Bible (which I've occasionally heard referred to as "the great human instruction manual") had more instructions on various things; that's all. I wish it were easier to understand, (which might eliminate this blog and all others like it) WITHOUT man-written concordances, Greek and Hebrew lexicons, countless "Christian" man-written "how to" books, seminars, etc., and contained a bit less info on things like what priests' garments looked like and dimensions of temples. I wish instead that it contained more detailed practical advice on how to deal with the many various things with which we must cope down here on Planet Earth.

I don't like making assumptions or guessing. There are no chapters on topics God well knew we would be facing in our year 2009. Stand back, because lightning could strike me. I just get irritated sometimes that certain things are not addressed in scripture. It seems this too often leaves us poor humans to have to speculate and guess and assume. I'm just complaining because I want things to be more simple and easy.

For years I loved II Cor. 11:3 in the King James translation that spoke of "the simplicity of Christ", until I looked it up in some OTHER book and saw that it didn't really mean what I thought it meant. I don't see this religion as being very simple to comprehend. It takes work and many hours of study. It's like school, and I sometimes want the summer off or want to be graduated, have my diploma, and move on, with full comprehension of what course I just chose to follow and committed to learning for years.

A lazy whiner am I? Yeh, maybe! I'd just like to be able to turn to something in The Bible if someone comes to me for advice on what to do if her husband is beating her and show her IN SCRIPTURE what it says she should do, instead of having to say something "lame" like, "Well, I think....". Who cares what I think? We want to know what God wants us to do. It's not in there.

How's that for cramming a lot into only a couple minutes? Now I must hope lightning doesn't strike out of today's clear, blue, Oregon sky as I rush off to my appointment.

Sherry said...

And by the way, that "age of accountability" some churches have established is arbitrary. It's just another of man's ways of trying to figure things out on his own and do the best he can, apart from clear instruction in the word of God. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "You're saying 'sin' is a condition? I'm unfamiliar with anywhere in the dictionary or the Bible where it says that."

Well, then, that would explain why you don't understand what I'm talking about, wouldn't it?

"Sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4).

"Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23).

"Sin" is a state of rebellion against God. "Sins" are the things we do to carry out that rebellion.

As an aside, isn't it interesting that "imputed sin" is such an anathema to so many when the only means of salvation we have is imputed righteousness? It's okay, I guess, for God to impute righteousness we don't deserve, but it's not okay for Him to impute sin we do deserve.

starflyer said...

Dan T. said: "How about 'Guilt'? What is it that a baby is guilty of?"

Dan, for my sake, and maybe of other "lurkers" as I guess we are called, can you please briefly answer a question? Are you against abortion or for a woman's right to choose?

I thought that maybe today's conversations would answer that question for me, but it went a different direction (the whole "God better justify and/or explain His laws/actions to me or He doesn't exist conversation - not your dialogue with Stan...).

Anyway, thanks...that'd help me out to hear your stance on that issue.

Stan said...

FYI, Sherry, those who have offered a biblical reason to believe that babies who die end up in heaven include David's statement about his son.

David wept and fasted and prayed until the baby died. Once he died, David quit weeping. The servants were confused. David said (among other things, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Sam 12:23), suggesting a certainty that the child was in heaven where David would go later.

Dan Trabue said...

I was asked...

Are you against abortion or for a woman's right to choose?


If Stan does not mind my answering, I would be glad to say that I am against abortion and for a woman's/family's right to choose their medical treatment.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

"Sin" is a state of rebellion against God. "Sins" are the things we do to carry out that rebellion.

Again, I don't know of anything in the Bible or dictionary that says it is a "state of" rebellion, just rebellion. Sin, like love, is something you do.

Your passages you offered seem to me to be talking about actions.

Romans 14 is talking about the actions of eating or not eating certain foods...

But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Sin is lawlessness is referring to action - taking lawless actions. Seems to me.

Of what is a baby guilty, Stan?

Stan said...

Dan ... amazingly similar to DagoodS, here's what you offer me. "What you suggest as true is not true. Now ... tell me how you can be right."

Since you reject that there is a sin condition, what can I say? "The baby is guilty of the condition known as sin." "Yeah," you'd return, "but we've already determined that, once again, you don't know what you're talking about and I don't accept the existence of that condition. So ... what is a baby guilty of?" It's like "What color are my eyes? You are not allowed to answer 'blue'." And, since my eyes are blue, you simply have no answer.

When I read "everything that is not of faith is sin", I do not read "of course, by 'everything' I only mean eating or drinking because, hey, that is everything there is, right?" And while you are free to read lawlessness as an activity, I can only seem to see it as a condition. We might, for instance, describe the Old West as "lawless". That doesn't mean that everyone was always doing bad things. It means that there was no law present to respond if they did. A condition, not an event. But, hey, that's just me, right?

starflyer said...

Dan T. asked: Of what is a baby guilty, Stan?

In light of what you said just a moment ago that you are "against abortion but for a family's right to choose their medical treatment", don't you ever ask yourself "what did those innocent babies do to deserve to be aborted?" A woman's right to choose her treatment??

Other than "the woman's life is in danger", when is choosing to abort a life just a "medical treatment"?

Anyway, no need to answer...I think you already did when you came back with "I'm glad to say..."

I just find it funny that you keep coming back to Stan with the question "what are babies guilty of". Or is the correct word "ironic"?

Dan Trabue said...

"Sin" is not an answer to the question Stan, that is why I would ask it again. What CAN a baby be guilty of?

Are you suggesting (and I'm asking because I want to know, not for any other reason other than I just don't know your position and I'm trying to clarify...) that babies are "guilty" of being human? And because all humans are flawed/sinners/imperfect, the baby is guilty of being an imperfect human even though they have committed no wrong acts yet?

I don't know your position and I ask to discover it.

DagoodS said...

Stan: Dan ... amazingly similar to DagoodS, here's what you offer me. "What you suggest as true is not true. Now ... tell me how you can be right."

Golly Gosh and Gee Whiz, how terrible your life must be. To actually have people who…gasp!...disagree with you and then…oh I can hardly say the words...ask you to support your position…terrible! Tragedy!

I am rushing to put your name in for “Martyr of the Year Award.”

Stan: It's like "What color are my eyes? You are not allowed to answer 'blue'." And, since my eyes are blue, you simply have no answer.

Err..no. More like:

Stan: My eyes are blue.
DagoodS: It seems to me your eyes are brown. Can you explain why you think your eyes are blue?
Stan: Stop picking on me! You think I am delusional! Not fair; not fair! Wa wa wa wa…

The sad part is, you start to get interesting and then you turn on the whiny, victimization martyr and I feel like I am talking to a petulant child. I much prefer when you defend your position without the complaints.

And on that note…

DagoodS said...

You ask a good question, as to how I am defining arbitrary. We need to at least understand what definition the other is working with to understand each other. Let me explain the problem through four (4) scenarios regarding the simple example of the speed limit on Brown Street:

Scenario One: We do what we would do now. We can look up the law, review the signage, interview local residents and peruse the court files of tickets administered on Brown Street. We have numerous , independent means of verification, all confirming the speed limit is 25 mph. This is the least arbitrary of all, as we have so many different ways to determine the same conclusion.

Scenario Two: Let’s say the Speed limit is whatever speed I travel on Brown Street that day. It could be 25 one day or 32 the next. OR it could be 22 every day. The thing is, you have no means of determining my speed. You cannot observe it. You cannot record it. You have no means to verify it. In this scenario, you simply cannot know whether the speed limit is arbitrary. It may be; it may not. A complete unknown, and to argue whether it is or not is a waste of words.

Scenario Three: The same as scenario two—the speed limit is whatever speed I travel on Brown Street that day. Only now you have four people who tell you they can observe my speed, and what it is. The problem being, all four disagree with each other. Again, this does not mean I am arbitrary—I may travel the exact same speed every day. Or I could be completely arbitrary. At least hear we have a (slightly) better means of verification—our four witnesses.

Realistically, you are stuck with deciding which witness to believe. Perhaps you have other situations where one witness has proven more reliable than the other. Or one witness has proven so unreliable in the past on other situations you could verify, that you wouldn’t believe them no matter what the speed is.

Scenario Four: The same as Scenario three, only even the reliable witnesses indicate on one day I travel 13 miles per hour, and on another I travel 19. Again, it is still possible I am not being arbitrary—perhaps there is a certain system I am following, only we are unable to determine that system.

DagoodS said...

This last scenario is what you are faced with. You cannot observe God; you only get your information through witnesses that are human. Some humans claim some laws for God; other humans claim others. You have picked the Christian witness over the Muslim witness, for example. (And this may be because you find the Muslim witness less credible in other areas.) You have picked the Evangelical Christian witness over the liberal Christian witness.

Yet even with the Evangelical Witness, we have varying speeds. We have various situations with your God that leave us scratching our head as to what “system” it would be following. One day shrimp is O.K. to eat; the next it is bad. Wait a few hundred years and it becomes O.K. again. Unless it would offend someone, then it is bad. Polygamy is fine; wait, not it isn’t. Slavery is fine. Wearing gold is fine; now it isn’t, now it is. Genocide is fine; then it isn’t.

Killing, rape, lying…all sometimes moral, sometimes not. Sometimes pardoned; sometimes not. To an outside observer, it appears ungoverned by fixed rules. Random. Arbitrary.

How do we verify your God is not guided by caprice? By whim? Where can I look to see what rule of law your God is following? If you say he is following his nature, this is unhelpful, because his nature could be capricious and whimsical!

I define arbitrary as ungoverned by fixed rules. If you say your God IS governed by fixed rules—where can we find these rules? Where can we find the rule as to when it is acceptable to punish a man by raping his wives? Where is the rule limiting (or not) as to how long a baby must be dying when punished for a crime someone else did? Where can we find the rule as to what and when God can pardon certain sins?

Where can we find the rule that God cannot declare someone as innocent if he wanted?

Stan said...

Get over yourself, DagoodS. I have maintained a friendly conversation. I still have my sense of humor. Yours apparently is in short supply. When I said Dan was similar to your approach, I was simply alluding to his own comment: "I think that even though DaGoods and myself are coming from two different directions, we appear to have some of the same questions and reasoning." Martyr complex my eye.

And apparently you took that "delusional" comment personally. I thought it was a given. I believe in a Supreme Being with whom I can have a relationship, communicate, know things, etc. You believe no such being exists. You have to believe I'm delusional -- you know, "flying spaghetti monster" and all that -- and I can't figure out how a rational individual can believe what you believe. Fortunately, I get the be the martyr. You're on your own.

Since no such being exists, telling you that the rules are fixed and fixed within His nature is a meaningless statement to you. It's just as meaningless to you as me telling Dan that babies are guilty of being in sin when "in sin" doesn't mean anything to Dan. Is there actually an answer you're thinking would be satisfactory?

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

It's just as meaningless to you as me telling Dan that babies are guilty of being in sin when "in sin" doesn't mean anything to Dan. Is there actually an answer you're thinking would be satisfactory?

So, it is your position that babies are "guilty" of being "in sin" and therefore, God "condemns" them (except that God probably shows them grace without having to ask Jesus to be their Lord and savior), is that right?

Then what do you mean by being "in sin"? That they have a sinful nature and that God condemns them for having a sinful nature?

For my part, an answer that makes some sense within your own parameters is what I'm looking for. At this point, I don't see how your argument is internally consistent with your own reasoning, let alone mine.

I don't see what the problem is in trying to explain your position. But once again, if you don't want to or if you prefer not having to explain your positions to others, you could always just say that and I reckon most people would be okay with that. If you were to say, "these are my positions and I don't really want to discuss them if you don't understand them or agree with them," or words to that effect, I reckon most folk would just pass on by.

But right now, you say, "If you're interested in a friendly discussion of issues, I'm willing to have one, even if we disagree." and so I was taking you at your word.

Stan said...

Dan,

I will explain this once more carefully so that you will see it. I've explained it before and I've seen it explained on your own blog, and you didn't get it then, but I'm willing to try once more.

In the context of my own beliefs, "Sin" (capital "s" for the sake of differentiation) is a condition of rebellion against God. It is not a "human condition" in that it does not define "human". (Jesus, after all, was human, but was not born a sinner.) It is the product of our father, Adam. The result of that condition of rebellion, of lawlessness, is "sins" (lower case "s"), those things we do to carry out our rebellion. (Think of it like this. A person in rebellion against a government does a lot of things -- some against that government and some not -- but they are always "in rebellion".) Since in Adam all die, all humans are born in rebellion (spiritually dead). God, then, would be just in regarding them as ... rebels. He may choose to show mercy, but it is not unjust to regard a rebel as a rebel even if that rebel has not yet carried out an act of rebellion.

No, no, I'm not expecting that will satisfy. I'm not hoping to convince. I'm simply explaining how I see it. (I'm also explaining the traditional view known as "Original Sin".)

But, Dan, if you will, go back to the original post that spawned this lengthy exchange and tell me what you see. Is it rational? Is there something wrong with my exegesis? Did I misstep? Is there something faulty in my explanation of "innocent blood" in the biblical context? You've been discussing with me the comments, not the content. Did you find something wrong with the content?

starflyer said...

Okay, you guys use way too many words for every discussion. I have a question for Dan T.

If you don't think humans are born with a Sin nature, and that only when they sin is punishment justified...what causes EVERY human being that ever lived (except Jesus) to eventually sin?

Could it be their Sin nature? Okay...next subject.

Stan said...

DagoodS, I didn't post your complaints because I clearly require a friendly conversation and you apparently have no intention of that. (You just won't let up on the "martyr complex" thing, will you?) I will, however, try to answer your valid questions.

DagoodS:
"When can God order the killing of humans?
When can God order the raping of humans?
"

I will give my best explanation, but you must understand that it comes from my own conclusion that there is a God, and that that God is the God of the Bible. (It would seem obvious that starting from "There is no God", it would be impossible to answer, "So ... when can this fictional being order the killing of humans?") (That simply struck me as humorously obvious. Don't take it some other way.)

First, then, assuming there is a God and that God is the Creator, the Sovereign of the Universe, it would seem patently obvious to me that His relation to His creation would not be the same as the relation of His creation to itself. The parents in a home can do things the kids can't. The owner of a lawnmower can do things to his lawnmower that the neighbors can't do to his lawnmower. That sort of thing. I take that as a given. That means that, while the principles of morality and law remain the same, the fact that God is a higher order of being means that they will play out different for Him than for us. Take, for instance, the concept of "selfishness", of "self-centeredness". In humans it's ugly and most of us find it ... somewhat immoral. Why? Well, because we are not the center of the universe. It's wrong in the simplest sense of the word -- it's false. God, on the other hand, would be defined as the center of the universe. For Him not to be self-centered would be equally wrong (as in "false"). Just an example.

So, can God order the killing of humans? If God is indeed the Creator and Sovereign, then He has the right to lay down laws, rules to live by, and His creation is mandated to follow them. Failure to follow those rules isn't like a speeding violation. It is Cosmic Treason. The just penalty for treason is death. God, then, would be perfectly just in terminating the life of a human who commits treason against His government. And just like we do in our court systems, the judge orders the guy with the switch or the needle to carry out the sentence, so in these cases, God can order the killing of humans who are guilty of treason. (Nothing in any of these seems out of the ordinary to me. Maybe it does to you. I can't really tell.)

When can God order the raping of humans? Well, I'll step lightly here because I'm not omniscient, but I don't ever see Him doing that. I see Him allowing all sorts of things to accomplish what He intends, but I don't see anywhere that He orders it. Example: In Habakkuk, the prophet complains to God that He's not acting quickly enough judging the people for their sins. God tells Habakkuk (in essence) "Don't worry; I'm sending the Chaldeans to punish My people." Habakkuk is horrified. "The Chaldeans??!! They're pagans!" And God says, "Well, when they're done with their rampage, I'll punish them for their sin." In other words, God didn't order the Chaldeans to attack His people. He knew they would be doing it, and He allowed it. In the end, they paid for their evil choice. Or, perhaps a better example, would be Joseph and his brothers. His brothers sold him into slavery. In the end, Joseph assured them of both truths: "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." God didn't order his brothers to sell him into slavery, but He allowed it to accomplish His purposes. Of course, you're quite sure that God ordered rape although I haven't seen it, so that's a different problem -- a difference in understanding.

Stan said...

DagoodS:
"Can God punish one person for the crimes of another (even if that is only one of the reasons)?
What sins can God pardon? What sins can he not?
"

Can God punish one person for the crimes of another? If the one person deserves punishment, I don't see why not. If Person A deserves the death penalty, but is on hold for its completion and Person B commits a crime, why would it be evil or unjust to carry out the given sentence on Person A as part of the punishment for Person B?

What sins can God pardon? Since we believe that God must be just, it would follow that God can only pardon sins that are paid for. Sins not paid for cannot be pardoned. (That's why the Bible calls God "just and the justifier". When His Son paid for sin, it allowed God the option to pardon sin. Without that payment, He didn't, due to His own just nature, have that option.) (The Bible also lists an "unpardonable sin", but I don't think that's your question, is it?) Now, in human terms, let's say you walk into an ice cream store and order an ice cream. A kid walks in and asks for an ice cream. He has no money. If you offer to pay for it on his behalf, the store owner is obligated to take your money. Rewind the account. The kid walks in and while the store owner is getting your ice cream, the kid steals some ice cream. He's caught, and you offer to pay for the ice cream. Is the store owner now obligated to take your payment on the kid's behalf? Not at all. A crime has been committed. In the same sense, God has the option of pardoning sin, but not the obligation.

Oddly enough, to me this all seems ... rational. It all seems even within the realm of normal human logic and law. Yet it seems so foreign to others. I don't really understand that.

Dan Trabue said...

Star asked...

If you don't think humans are born with a Sin nature, and that only when they sin is punishment justified...what causes EVERY human being that ever lived (except Jesus) to eventually sin?

Perhaps you misunderstand my position. I DO think humans are born with what you call a Sin nature. A tendency to sin. We are not perfect and will not leave sinless lives.

Having said that, having a sinful nature and actually sinning are two different things. I don't think the Bible says we are punished/judged based on our nature, but on our actions. So, if an infant has inherited the human condition and WILL sin one day if that infant survives, but on day two of his life, that baby has NOT sinned. That baby has not - CAN NOT - commit a wrong action. That baby has no capacity for reasoning right and wrong and as a result CAN'T sin until that capacity has developed. As a result, that baby, at age Two Days is not guilty of anything. I don't believe the Bible teaches or that logic dictates that people are held accountable for their nature, just when they act out in a negative, harmful, "sinful" way.

Do you disagree? Do you think babies are held as guilty by God? If so, what do you think they are guilty of? Having a "sin nature"?

Stan said...

Dan, Dan, Dan ...

I don't believe they are guilty of having a "sin nature". Why would you choose to ignore what I wrote and then think that someone else (starflyer) would think the same thing? I explained they are guilty of rebellion. Disagreeing is fine, but ignoring makes no sense. Like I said long ago, this is standard fare, even if you're not familiar with it. It's no surprise to me that starflyer (or many, many more) would see it as reasonable that they would be guilty of rebellion without meaning "that inclination to sin" that you mean. Be reasonable.

Dan Trabue said...

I apologize, I did not intend to ignore you, Stan. I was just addressing Star's comment.

So you believe infants "rebel" or that they are in "rebellion against God," is that it?

Do you understand that for many people (most, would be my guess), that the notion of an infant being able to rebel against anything is simply not possible.

What is it that you believe an infant is rebelling against, Stan? HOW are they rebelling against God? You think they wake up on that second day and start screaming for food and, as they are doing that, they are thinking, "Today, I'm going to rebel against God. I think God wants me to be quiet but I'm WON'T be quiet, I shall rebel!"

I ask these questions because your position does not sound rational or possible in the real world and I'm striving to understand if I am correct in understanding your position. I'm sorry if I'm a slow learner, I am only striving to correctly understand your position.

Stan said...

I think that you're a relatively intelligent person, so I can't figure out what the problem is here. It seems as if you cannot get past the idea of "rebellion" versus "rebelling" (or "sin" versus "sins").

Let me try it again, a little slower. (Humor ... that's humor.) O'Malley is a member of the IRA. (I know ... out of date, but you remember them, right?) He is dedicated to overthrowing the British government in Ireland. Now, O'Malley has a job at a store and has a wife and kids and likes to play golf on weekends. I'm telling you that O'Malley is in rebellion and you're asking me, "How is he rebelling???" Without ever having lifted a hand to a British agent, O'Malley is in rebellion because he is part of the IRA. He will, at some point, perform acts of rebellion, but he is already in rebellion. One is an event ("acts of rebellion") and the other is a condition ("in rebellion").

The Bible says, "In Adam all died." That means that all sons of Adam are dead from birth, spiritually speaking. They come into the world in rebellion. (I know ... you don't believe that ... but I can't imagine what I'm saying that isn't clear.) God describes humans as "inclined only to evil from infancy". David says, "They go astray from birth, speaking lies." It is a condition (sinner) that produces a necessary result (sin).

In your mind you require active sinning, intentional rebellion. I'm talking about spiritually dead that is, by nature, opposed to God. It doesn't start out as active or intentional. It only becomes that way.

And you still won't tell me where my mistake was in the exegesis of "innocent blood". You will debate Original Sin until the end, I suppose.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

I'm telling you that O'Malley is in rebellion and you're asking me, "How is he rebelling???"

Well, I'm just striving to understand the best I can, brother. It sounds like, then, that you're saying that the infant is condemned because it is a human and all humans are in rebellion against God. It doesn't matter that the baby has not done any act against God or sinned or has no guilt for anything OTHER THAN being a human. For that, they are guilty and for that, they are held accountable (although, I believe you think God's grace cuts them some slack and doesn't actually hold them accountable).

Is that it?

I'll comment on "innocent blood" next...

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "the infant is condemned because it is a human"

You are defining human this way. I am not. "Sin nature" is not part of the definition of "human".

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, let me try again...

You are suggesting then, the baby is condemned because it has a "sin nature," even though it has committed no sin? Before the babe has had a chance to make a decision for itself, it is condemned and guilty, that is your position?

But God does NOT condemn the baby but extends grace even though the babe has never repented of its "sin nature," is that your position?

Then it is your position that there are two ways to be saved, to ask God for forgiveness and commit your life to Jesus and God, in God's grace, will forgive OR to be a babe and be granted forgiveness without having asked?

Stan said...

There is only one way to be saved, and that is by grace.

Stan said...

(Remember, I don't subscribe to the "Free Will of Man" theory as the final determination of things.)

Dan Trabue said...

So, being saved by grace is, in your mind, regardless of whether a person wants to be saved or not? I'm pretty sure I've read you saying that this is NOT what you think, but I'm just confirming.

But returning to the other question, you are suggesting then, the baby is condemned because it has a "sin nature," even though it has committed no sin? Before the babe has had a chance to make a decision for itself, it is condemned and guilty, that is your position?

But God does NOT condemn the baby but extends grace even though the babe has never repented of its "sin nature," is that your position?

Stan said...

Coming from such radically different understandings of Scripture and theology, I can't imagine how we are going to bridge this gap. You would argue, for instance, that people come to Christ because they want to. I would argue that dead people (Eph 2:1) never want to, that those naturally hostile to God (Rom 8:5-8) would find it unthinkable, that Natural Man would find it impossible (1 Cor 2:14). Unless God does something prior to their choosing Him, it isn't going to happen at all.

But, look, since I won't ever get an answer to my question, I think this will be the last one I answer here. I believe that, due to Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, God has the option of forgiving whatever sin He chooses. All sin that is forgiven would be forgiven through Christ (meaning that Christ is the only way). The normal process of salvation is what we all think of ... the call, receive Christ, all that. I don't think, however, that God, being God, is limited to that. As such, I believe He has the right and capacity to forgive children who die in the womb (and so on). So I believe that God may extend grace to children whom would otherwise be condemned. There is an unpardonable sin. They haven't committed it. It's in God's hands.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

Coming from such radically different understandings of Scripture and theology, I can't imagine how we are going to bridge this gap.

Everytime you say something like this, I just scratch my head. If you think you and I are coming from radically different places - we who are both Christians, saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus in whose steps we follow - if you can't bridge this gap with me, how do you expect to reach out to atheists? To Muslims? To people who truly have radical different starting places?

Brother Man, we are a blip apart on most issues, it seems to me. I suggest it would help to bridge the gap if you answered questions when I ask them. When I say, "So, you believe....?" if you just said, "Yes, Dan, that's it," or "No, Dan, that's not it..." we would be that much closer to bridging this tiny gap.

As to answering your question, I assume you are talking about the "shedding innocent blood" question. As I have said, I am working on that. That is probably a bigger question and I was dealing with these (what I perceive to be) relatively easy questions first, as they kept coming up and I have kept striving to understand your position.

Give me a chance, please. It's only been one day.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

You would argue, for instance, that people come to Christ because they want to. I would argue that dead people (Eph 2:1) never want to, that those naturally hostile to God (Rom 8:5-8) would find it unthinkable, that Natural Man would find it impossible (1 Cor 2:14). Unless God does something prior to their choosing Him, it isn't going to happen at all.

Actually, you are mistaken on what I would argue. I would argue that God is willing that none would perish and so God is calling all of us. Which is not counter to what you're saying. Perhaps the "natural man" would find it impossible without God doing something prior, but God IS doing something prior. God is calling us to the Kingdom! Good news, that.

I'm glad to correct that misunderstanding, I shall once again try to get back to your question for me...

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "I suggest it would help to bridge the gap if you answered questions when I ask them."

When no one else feels any obligation to do so, why should I? I'm simply accustomed to asking questions and getting no answers.

Dan, we are not "a blip apart on most issues", starting with "in the grand scheme of things, Man's Free Will is the ultimate determination of what occurs. God has made salvation available, but is unable/unwilling to transgress Man's Free Will. If Man accepts God's offer of salvation, God will do what He can to help Man be saved, but Man can, at any time, change His mind and reject that salvation. God has no options at this point. Man is the ultimate determination."

That's a simple matter of "how do we get saved?" You say, "We choose." I can't even begin there. You're happy with "God IS doing something prior. God is calling us to the Kingdom!" and all I can see is a voice crying out in a cemetery, "Come on, y'all! Join me!" Not very effective.

And, Dan, seriously, you think "No, Dan, that's not it" is going to help? Just about everything you've attributed to me is "No, Dan, that's not what I think." Are you any closer to getting it? Half of what I've written (it feels like) over the past month has been intended to explain to you what I believe. Are you getting there? Doesn't seem like it.

Dan Trabue said...

Well then, why wouldn't we keep trying? And why wouldn't you begin with a simple, "No, Dan, that's not what I believe"? That seems an excellent starting point. Then I can acknowledge ("oh, my bad, let me try again...") and, on the other hand, when I point out that you've mistaken my point, YOU could acknowledge it ("Oh, Dan, my bad, let me try again...").

I don't know, isn't that how communication works? And I have to wonder again, if you and I are actually having THAT much trouble, how do you hope to communicate to others who aren't even Christian? Who don't come from a similar background as you, as I do?

Perhaps we ought to work on it together precisely because we have difficulties?

Along those lines (and as always, ignore if you wish) my position is we are saved by God's grace, that we are saved because God WANTS us to be saved and God calls us offering us this gift of grace if we repent of our sins and accept the gift of God's grace. I think that's fairly orthodox in Christianity.

What do you believe? Something wildly different than that??

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

When no one else feels any obligation to do so, why should I? I'm simply accustomed to asking questions and getting no answers.

That is interesting because I feel the same way. Other than getting around to the innocent blood thing, what have I failed to answer? I can point to several questions in this post alone that I have asked that have not been answered.

For instance, I believe I have asked this question twice now...

You are suggesting then, the baby is condemned because it has a "sin nature," even though it has committed no sin? Before the babe has had a chance to make a decision for itself, it is condemned and guilty, that is your position?

With no answer. There are others if you'd like me to point them out.

Feel free to point out any questions of your that I have not answered and I will strive to do so.

Stan said...

Man, look at that ... 54 comments thus far and not one single one on the actual content of the post.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

Before we start anything radical, there is a standard rule of thumb that you need to follow. It is so standard and so important that it can often be found repeated: "Context, context, context." What is the context of this command?

Absolutely true. We must always consider the context. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Stan said...

Notice that this phrase, "innocent blood", does not convey that the person was sinless.

You are correct. I think perhaps you have heard me say that these texts suggest that everyone involved was sinless, but that is not what I believe. Clearly the adults involved in these situations were not sinless. Indeed, there is generally some "sin" that is being condemned in these contexts.

Having said that, what do the texts say?

They are often made in passing in reference to an evil king or people...

Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD's command, in order to remove them from God's presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive. ~2 Kings 24

And

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan
~Psalm 106

For instance.

And the innocent blood that you speak of IS correctly understood to mean killing folk in an unjust manner, as you suggest. They had no right to shed innocent blood. Even though in at least some of the cases the "innocent blood" shed was of people who were less than perfect, sinning human beings.

So I don't disagree with your conclusion. I just also don't think that your conclusion is the WHOLE story. In the case of the sacrificing children, for instance, there is no indication that we are talking about children old enough to be guilty of anything. In that case, it may well mean (sounds like to me) that we're talking about children young enough to have not even been able to commit a sin. TRULY innocent people. "Innocent" meaning, not guilty of anything.

So, looking at the prevalence of the use of the term "innocent blood," and its various contexts, it clearly COULD be talking about (IS talking about) adults who were sinners in some cases, who nonetheless were unjustly killed. Innocent of any thing over which the offender had the right to kill them. But, in at least some cases, we are talking about children whom there is no evidence were guilty of anything.

Do you have any evidence of guilt in these children? There is nothing mentioned in the text.

Seems to me that this is a both/and situation. Sometimes the command against killing innocents was not talking about adults who never sinned, but just that they were innocent of anything deserving of death at the hands of other humans. In other situations, it is talking about children who - lacking any evidence that they were guilty of ANYthing - were most likely wholly innocent of everything except for being human.

Seems to me.

Now, I know you have a different take on "innocent children" than I do so on that point, we will likely continue to disagree. So be it.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan said...

That's a simple matter of "how do we get saved?" You say, "We choose." I can't even begin there. You're happy with "God IS doing something prior. God is calling us to the Kingdom!" and all I can see is a voice crying out in a cemetery, "Come on, y'all! Join me!" Not very effective.

Seriously, how DO you think we are saved? As noted, I believe we are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus. God offers it and we can accept it or not.

Do you believe something other than that? Once again, I'm not clear on our position. I apologize for my lack of understanding.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Do you believe something other than that?"

I believe that human beings are born spiritually dead. I believe they are inclined only to evil from infancy. I believe that they are hostile to God and incapable of understanding the things of God. A clear offer of grace is insufficient to these human beings. They need to be alive, need to have a new inclination, need to have a way out of hostility, need to have the ability to understand the things of God. That requires something more than an offer or calling from God, more than a "wooing" of the Holy Spirit. (No, not your word, but the concept I've heard so often.)

Therefore, prior to any possibility of positive response, human beings require a direct act of God -- "Lazarus, come forth!" They need to be regenerated, made spiritually alive. In this new condition, they have new inclinations, a mind no longer set on the flesh, the capacity to understand the things of God. They are gifted with faith which they then exercise.

(See? Seemed like a simple, straightforward question, but the answer is much longer than you would have expected. And ... I would expect much more dialog/disagreement on it.)

Dan Trabue said...

So (and again, I apologize for not understanding, but this is not Christianity as I have been taught it, and I'm just not sure what you mean and so I ask...)... you think that God "regenerates" people, making them "spiritually alive," whether they wish to be regenerated or made spiritually alive? I'm not sure what that means or looks like.

So, we've got Dan and he's 18 and not a Christian. You think God just suddenly BOOM! makes Dan "regenerated," and THEN Dan realizes he's a sinner and needs God's grace and asks for it and THEN Dan is saved?

Do you think God regenerates everyone or some people God does not? Do you think once someone is "regenerated," they are then saved, without asking for forgiveness or asking for salvation or is this regeneration just the first step and then it is up to the person to ask for forgiveness and make Jesus Lord of their lives?

Is this Orthodox Christianity? Eastern Orthodox Christianity? Which faith tradition believes this, as I am generally unfamiliar with what you appear to be saying?

And, just to be clear, when I ask "which faith tradition believes this" it is not meant to imply that I think you're lying. I am just not familiar with it and I'd be glad to look up someone else expounding upon it to get a better handle on it.

In Baptist circles (and traditional evangelical circles with which I'm familiar), regeneration is another way of referring to being Born Again, which is what happens after God has offered grace and we have repented and accepted grace.

Stan said...

First, "regeneration" is the same thing as "born again". I'm aware that in your Baptist circles that follows faith, but in Reformed circles it precedes faith because without it faith can't happen. By the way, by "precedes", the idea is "logically". No one thinks, "Well, there is regeneration and then, some time later, there's faith." The events would be nearly simultaneous in time.

The paragraph about Dan would be (essentially) an accurate representation of what I said. (I don't recall any sound effects.)

No, God doesn't regenerate everyone. (There are those referred to as "the elect", "the chosen", etc.) (I think I answered the rest of the questions in that paragraph with my first paragraph.)

This is not anything exotic. It is classic Reformed faith. It is, in fact, the original Baptist faith (see London Baptist Confession). Lots of sources on this. You can try John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon ... and on and on. You can try the Reformed Reference Material link on my blog page (They have hot topics like "Free Will", "Doctrines of Grace", and "Regeneration"). Lots of sources.

(Like I said, asking for a source isn't an accusation. Demanding it after the answer is given becomes one. You didn't in this case.)

Dan Trabue said...

Just to be sure, THIS Reformed church? The Reformed Church in America?

http://www.rca.org/

And, for what it's worth, the "original Baptists" had their start with the anabaptists in the 1500s whom I don't believe tended to believe in Election. Although I could be wrong (ALWAYS a possibility...).

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the info.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "The Reformed Church of America?"

The RCA has its roots in Reformed theology as evidenced by "the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort". They have drifted some from their roots, but not as bad as the PC(USA) (which touts similar confessions but ignores them completely). The PCA -- Presbyterian Church of America -- and others are Reformed.

Dan Trabue: "The 'original Baptists' had their start with the anabaptists."

Guess it depends on who you ask and which Baptist you're talking about. Best information I've found says the Mennonites came from the Anabaptists, but the Baptists came from England.

von said...

63 comments and not one by me? Stan, Stan, why didn't you tell me you were having such fun?

von said...

Ok, so I haven't read all 63 comments. But this caught my attention:
Everytime you say something like this, I just scratch my head. If you think you and I are coming from radically different places - we who are both Christians, saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus in whose steps we follow - if you can't bridge this gap with me, how do you expect to reach out to atheists? To Muslims? To people who truly have radical different starting places?


Unless you are God, you cannot know Stans heart. Unless he is God, he cannot know yours.

Why then the assumption that both are Christians? Do you operate like the gallop poll, calling people what they call themselves?

I have see no evidence that you, Dan, are a Christian. You deny the foundation of the work of Jesus Christ, the authority which He Himself followed. Why should Stan (or I) treat you as a Christian.

You place your own reason as your ultimate authority. Stan places Gods Word. If that is not a 'radically different starting' place for doing theology, I don't know what is. You do your theology on a ground of foolishness and sand. Stan builds His on the Rock of Gods Word.

Sounds radically different to me. I think I have more in common with a Muslim than I do with you... the Muslim might at least believe in something outside of his own reason.

Sherry said...

Geez. It's all so stinking complex!
I guess it gives lots of people something interesting to do, to spend countless hours studying out all these things, and it's enjoyable to them, which is great for them but I get weary of denominational differences and all the division and pride they cause in the church, the worldwide body of Christ.
Satan must absolutely LOVE all the things that keep us from being a strong, unified force against him and his minions of demons. (Of course not all who call themselves Christians probably believe THEY really exist either, so.... shall we dance? I mean ARGUE? Then we can separate ourselves into the demon believers and the non-demon believers. And then everyone can smugly be convinced that they are correct and we will all live happily ever after in our small groups of like-minded people.)
We are weakened by all this divisive "stuff" and don't even feel like our brothers would have our back if we needed them because they may call themselves Christians just as we call ourselves Christians but they can seem to some to be more like the adversary than ON THE SAME SIDE fighting for the same things with THE SAME FATHER.
The older I get, the less a lot of things that can be extremely "big, hairy issues" to a lot of people are mattering to me. I want to see things much, much more simply.
I would like things to be as simple as either you HAVE the light of God or you DON'T have the light. Your light may be very, very weak and hardly visible but you ARE lit, or you may be shining brightly. You are either living in darkness or you are not!
Or you ARE either born again, adopted, and have taken on a new nature and a new family name (such as Joe Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ) or you are NOT! I anticipate that it may come down to that. Sheep ~ baaaaaaaaah! Or goats ~ maaaaaaaah! Name your team! And remember, if you don't choose God's team, by default, you are automatically on the other team.
In the meantime, I seem to nearly always have a meal to plan, shop for, prepare, then clean up after, or something to vacuum, launder, fold, drive to, attend, prune, mow, or cut, or find a place for. This is a very, VERY condensed version of what keeps me busy in order to maintain some kind of order in my home and life.
Are we all really EXPECTED read dozens and dozens of books other than The Bible in order to well understand each others' stances and all that is in it? If so, what exactly ARE these excellent books? Does every church library contain them and prescribe them as additional required reading? No, of course not. Better yet, is there some weekend seminar I can attend that will fill in all my blanks in an entirely satisfactory manner? I don't seem to have time to squeeze much else into my schedule most of the time. In fact I've set aside tasks that need to be done in order to post today's comments. I guess I just do not use my time at all wisely and should be studying MUCH harder in order to show myself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed of my ignorance. To be honest (which may destroy my credibility, if I ever even had any), I have never even HEARD of some of these church counsels and things of which you speak, let alone deeply analyzed and compared them.

The Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort!?! I've been in many churches and never once have I heard ANYONE talking about Dort. (Trust me, this is a name I WOULD remember! DORT! Snort, snort.)

Sherry said...

After all these years of being a Christian, I still would not like to have to try to explain some things to someone who is very antagonistic toward this faith or to someone who hasn't heard of the blood involved in it in the past. Blood seemed to be a big part of a lot of peoples' lives in the past however. Still is really! If we could actually SEE a heap of just 1 (out of 36!) year's worth of bloody, aborted babies' bodies and perfectly formed little body parts, we'd all be appalled at our present day barbarism! Oh so progressive and civilized are we now!!! We've come a long way, Baby!

Years ago I was a stay-at-home mom and found out a Christian family was moving into a rental house across the street. I was excited to hear we would have some fellow believers here in this neighborhood in which we were in the minority and living in the midst of several very unhappy, dysfunctional individuals and families. Well... I considered these new neighbors to be our brother and sister in the Lord... you know, like allies and part of the same family! But they, however, upon finding out what church we attend, looked at us skeptically, out of the corner of their eyes, as though WE were "one of them" and NOT one of them being a fellow TRUE Christian. They worshipped on a different day of the week than we did. (OooOOooe!)

That did it for them. Hence, we were not up to par in their eyes and apparently needed to be straightened out, no longer deceived, and living in the sin of not observing the sabbath. Also, we eat meat. So much for Christian fellowship with them!

Time passed; another family of another Christian faith (very conservative) moved in and the women and girls in it would see heathen me dressed in pants and even (gasp!) somewhat-above-the-knee shorts working in my yard. At least I had long hair (like all 5 of them did) while feeling what seemed like condemnation for dressing like a man or a floozy who claimed to be a Christian.

I found myself trying to convince these neighbors that we DID indeed believe in the same God, that He had radically changed our lives for the better, and that we were believers in and followers of the truth ~ Jesus being the way, "the truth", and the life and all. Sheesh.

I wonder, HOW MUCH, really, is God concerned about all these many, many issues in which we become so entangled? It's a mess, and a mess that must be of pure delight to who should be our common adversary, the devil! What's that famous quote by someone famous who famously stated, "We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us"?

(Gotta go make a very late dinner for hungry kids. No time to look it up. I wonder how some find so much time to post on this blog.)

Stan said...

Sherry, Just to be clear, Dan asked me what I believed and I told him. He asked me for sources and I gave them. I don't think either of us has actually argued on this topic. This topic (Reformed theology) has been a fairly straightforward, friendly conversation. "I believe this. How do you differ?" "I believe this." "Oh? Where do you get that?" "Here." "Thanks." As much as the conversations have seemed ... edgy at times, that part was pretty calm. (Oh, and by the way, I came across the Confessions and Dort long after I came to the conclusions I came to from Scripture. Just sayin'.)

Sherry said...

Okay. Thank you, Stan. I didn't mean to imply that you and Dan were arguing about that particular thing.

Today, I am regretting a bit of what I wrote yesterday. I am reminding myself that, of course, I should always think more before I speak.

It seems I am always in a hurry to comment or respond, then to get off the family computer so that someone else can have it. We actually have lines that form here sometimes. :o) But obviously I need not respond or comment at all.

Have a good day!

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, what Stan said. I agree with much of what you said Sherry.

And although I have said I was leaving, Von left a point addressed to me so if you don't mind, I will address it. Von said...

Why then the assumption that both are Christians? Do you operate like the gallop poll, calling people what they call themselves?

Why? Because Stan has said he is a Christian. Because Stan believes in the traditional essential elements of Christianity and names Jesus as his Lord. What reason would I have for doubting Stan?

Von then said...

I have see no evidence that you, Dan, are a Christian. You deny the foundation of the work of Jesus Christ, the authority which He Himself followed. Why should Stan (or I) treat you as a Christian.

"Evidence" that I'm a Christian?

Well how about the fruit of the Spirit - have you seen me lacking in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, etc? It's possible, of course, I am a flawed human being. After all, I have often not seen much love or grace shown by you, Von (for one thing, suggesting I'm not a Christian. Who are you to make such a call? You don't know me except for a few words you have seen written). But despite your arrogance, your twisting of my words ("You place your own reason as your ultimate authority") and lack of grace, I don't doubt you are a Christian, I don't know you well enough to make that call. You're just a flawed Christian, welcome to the club. (I AM making an assumption with you, Von, since I'm not sure that I have ever seen that you affirm basic essential Christian doctrine).

How about the fact that I have been saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus the son of God who came and lived a perfect life showing us how to live that we may follow in his steps, who was then killed and raised again and ascended into heaven? The traditional orthodox Christian teaching of what being saved means?

How about the love with which I have attempted to show each of you all? The Bible tells us that we will know they're Christians by their love for one another, this I believe I have shown at least as well as the others here, yes?

How about the way I attempt to do unto and with the "least of these," as Jesus taught us? To live a life of simplicity and mercy, flawed though I am at it.

In short, you can know I am a Christian because I believe the essentials of Christian doctrine and because I have been saved by God's grace. You can doubt it all you want, but neither your arrogance, or your ignorance, or your presumption can separate me from the love of God.

What possible reason would you have for suggesting I am NOT a Christian? Because I don't believe the same as you do in a few areas? Von, I got news for you, you ain't god. People CAN disagree with Von and still be saved.

von said...

Why then the assumption that both are Christians? Do you operate like the gallop poll, calling people what they call themselves?

Why? Because Stan has said he is a Christian. Because Stan believes in the traditional essential elements of Christianity and names Jesus as his Lord. What reason would I have for doubting Stan?


So, in other words, you do operate like the gallop poll. Someone says they are a Christian, and you accept that.

Notice that you left out the key part of my question:

Unless you are God, you cannot know Stans heart. Unless he is God, he cannot know yours.

You cannot know Stans heart, and he cannot know yours. Therefore you have no way to 'know' that Stan is a Christian. Yet you act, in your posts, as if you did have that knowledge. This is a faulty premise.

I may believe that Stan is a Christian. In charity I would treat him that way, based on his profession.

But I cannot make a logical point that begins 'since Stan is a Christian...' since I do NOT know his heart. Only God knows Stans heart.

von said...

Von, I got news for you, you ain't god.

Which was, if I recall correctly, exactly my point.

I am not God, therefore I cannot know you are a Christian. You seem to believe that since I am not God, and cannot KNOW that you are NOT a Christian, I must know that you are one. Odd reasoning.

Dan Trabue said...

Read your own words, Von. You said...

I have see no evidence that you, Dan, are a Christian. You deny the foundation of the work of Jesus Christ, the authority which He Himself followed.

I answered with evidence. Do I treat people's declaration of Christianity like a poll? Read my answer: I listen to what they say, "I'm a Christian" AND I listen to see what they say ABOUT THAT "...because I am saved by God's grace... etc"

What hoops would you have me jump through to "provide evidence" that my words have not made clear? I believe in the Christian essentials and yet you claim to see no evidence. I believe I have shown the love of the community of God here about as well as anyone else, but you say you see no evidence. I believe I have demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit at least as well as you have and yet you see no evidence.

What evidence are you looking for?

I have very little patience for guys like you who go around proclaiming "I see no evidence..." based upon your ignorance of someone else.

I request that you answer the question: What evidence are you looking for?

You also state...

Therefore you have no way to 'know' that Stan is a Christian. Yet you act, in your posts, as if you did have that knowledge. This is a faulty premise.

Yes, I tend to take people at their word. No, there is no fool-proof way to know that someone is a Christian, although the Bible is bold enough to tell us, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." So perhaps, according to the Bible, we can?

Where is the love Von? Are you attempting to demonstrate that you are NOT a Christian by your lack of love and grace?

von said...

I have see no evidence that you, Dan, are a Christian. You deny the foundation of the work of Jesus Christ, the authority which He Himself followed.

I answered with evidence.


None of the 'evidence' that you posted had anything to do with the issue I raised.

One cannot deny the foundation of love and call oneself loving. Nor can one claim to be righteous and deny the foundation of righteousness. Jesus Himself, in His words and His actions, treated Scripture as the inerrant, perfect, authoritative Word of God. You deny this. Thus you deny the foundation of Christs ministry.

This is what I meant, and I mean, by 'no evidence'.

Therefore you have no way to 'know' that Stan is a Christian. Yet you act, in your posts, as if you did have that knowledge. This is a faulty premise.

Yes, I tend to take people at their word.


As an act of charity in discussion that is a good plan; except where Scripture denies their word.

However as part of a logical premise (which is the context of the discussion) it is faulty. Which is what I said.

Where is the love Von? Are you attempting to demonstrate that you are NOT a Christian by your lack of love and grace?

It is not 'love' to rejoice in wrong (see I Cor 13) or to rejoice (or tolerate) error or false doctrine. Scripture makes this clear. The loving thing to do to someone preaching false doctrine is to rebuke them, and, if they fail to repent, to treat them as an unbeliever.

That is what I would expect someone to do for me, that is what I will do for them.

von said...

I request that you answer the question: What evidence are you looking for?

I am looking for evidence that you treat the Scriptures as inerrant, inspired, infallible, sufficient, clear, etc.

That you are willing to say, 'where Scripture and my reason disagree, I know that Scripture is right, and I am wrong."

That is the foundational attitude and belief of a Christian.

Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Dan Trabue said...

So you are looking for "evidence" that the Bible does not ask us to provide. You are looking for evidence that God does not demand.

I am a Christian. The evidence is in my life and in the love of the Body. Your extra hoops are extrabiblical and unorthodox. I have no need to jump through your hoops, sir.

May God grant you more grace than you are willing to grant others, brother.

Peace.

von said...

You are looking for evidence that God does not demand.


God, as we have already discussed, knows the heart. He does not need 'evidence'. It is us poor humans that need evidence.

May God grant you more grace than you are willing to grant others, brother.


If any of us are saved at all it is because of Gods grace, and no work of our own. Indeed no grace of mine can have any effect on your, Stans, or my salvation.

However when, as a part of a logical syllogism, you make the claim that 'Since both Stan and I are Christians...' it is evidence, not grace, that is required.

A 'Christian' is someone who is 'like Christ'. Christ treated Gods Word in a certain way. Anyone who is not treating Gods Word in that way is not, on that accord, 'like Christ'.

Dan Trabue said...

it is evidence, not grace, that is required.

The evidence is there. I believe in the essential Christian doctrine. I have demonstrated love for my brothers and sisters. Even the ones who have been irrational jerks.

To say there is no evidence would be a false witness (as in "Thou shalt not bear...") because, as demonstrated, the evidence is there.

You're not looking for rational evidence. You're looking for me to say that I agree with you or that I will jump through your hoops (not requirements of God, but requirements of Von).

You ain't god and you're wrong to play the part.

von said...

You're not looking for rational evidence.

I am not *looking* for anything. This particular subthread began when you stated:

Everytime you say something like this, I just scratch my head. If you think you and I are coming from radically different places - we who are both Christians, saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus in whose steps we follow - if you can't bridge this gap with me, how do you expect to reach out to atheists? To Muslims? To people who truly have radical different starting places?


I responded:

Unless you are God, you cannot know Stans heart. Unless he is God, he cannot know yours.

Why then the assumption that both are Christians? Do you operate like the gallop poll, calling people what they call themselves?


In other words, we can none of us know that those to whom we are talking are Christians... particuarly on the internet where we cannot see each other lives.

Thus, to deal with the original issue, I would say that Stan (even if he is not a Christian) is starting from a Christian starting point. Where as you (even if you are a Christian) are starting from a non-Christian starting point.

Stan begins, as did Christ, with what 'is written'. You do not (as you proved so repeatedly earlier... even asking (with incredulity) whether Stan believed in such outrageous things as the killing of children, or, well I forget the rest of the list.

But whereas Christ used to words 'It is Written' to make an appeal to the inerrant Word of God (even proving doctrines based on the differences between a singular or a plural) whereas you make appeals to Aesops Fables.