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Friday, August 21, 2015

I Read; You Say

It doesn't seem that difficult, but apparently it is. It is a constant that I will read something in Scripture and subscribe to it (because it's in God's Word) and people will tell me, "Nope! Not true!" Okay, I know, skeptics are skeptical. That's what they do. But I'm talking about self-described Christians. I'm talking about people who assure me, "I love God's Word" and other reassuring things. So I read X and they say Y and I can't figure out where the disconnect is.

I'm not talking about the obscure or the difficult. I mean, sure, even though 100% of Scripture on the topic of homosexual behavior rates it as sin and not one verse of Scripture can be found to support such behavior and the Bible absolutely and invariably speaks of marriage as between a man and a woman, I suppose that's all just "my opinion". I'm not talking about the implicit or hard to understand. We might differ on the "pearl of great price" parable or who the "sons of God" were in Gen 6. I'm talking about the explicit, the clear, the plain.

I read (God talking to Himself) "The intent of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen 8:21) and conclude "The intent of Man's heart is evil from his youth." And I read further, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me" (Psa 51:5) and end up with "We are brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin." Oh, but is that true? Well, I read on and see, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth" (Psa 58:3) and, for reasons beyond comprehension, arrive at the idea that the wicked go astray from birth. "Oh, no!" I get in response. Why? "Well, anyone can see that babies are innocent, that people are not conceived in sin, that no one goes astray from birth. That all takes time! All you have to do is look!" So, I've got Scripture in this hand and their perceptions of their experiences in the other and I have to decide which is true. Doesn't seem that hard to me, but it is for them. Clearly David in Psalms and God in Genesis were wrong or didn't say this stuff or, at least, were not clear enough. And I'm scratching my head wondering, "In what way do you love God's Word?"

I read (Jesus talking), "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt 20:28) and they tell me, "You know, Jesus never said anything about payment for sin or anything like it." "Now, wait," I say, "Wasn't it Jesus who said, 'This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins'?" (Matt 26:28) "Oh, no, there's nothing in there about blood sacrifices for sin. Nothing at all." "But didn't Paul say, 'The righteousness of God has been manifested ... through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe ... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith ... so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus'?" (Rom 3:21-26) "Nope! Nothing in there at all about blood for salvation or God's justice or redemption or any such thing." Are we reading the same Bible? Or do we mean something different when we say, "I love God's Word"?

It's not like I'm taking a position outside of the norm. Christians have always believed in Original Sin, that all have sinned (Rom 3:23), that sin deserves death (Rom 6:23), that Christ paid for our sin (Heb 9:12), a ransom was paid (Matt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6) by our Redeemer (Gal 3:13; 1 Peter 1:18) in His blood (1 Peter 1:19). But people may not like that. They may think it sounds unfair, unreal, even crazy. Fine. I'm not making it up, pulling it out of thin air, or hanging onto some bizarre, outlandish notion. It's in the text and it is historical Christianity. I read it; you say something different. Your argument is not with me. Your question is "How can you believe such stuff?" My question, to anyone who claims to love God and His Word, is "How can you not?" Rest assured. "I love God" coupled with "His Word doesn't mean what it says" don't go together. And division is not when the Bible clearly says "X" and I agree with "X". It is when someone else says it does not.


Anonymous said...

6 Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. 7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.
( how should we respond to this?)

Marshall Art said...

Indeed. And while it is incessantly demanded of us to explain, "On what basis...?" do we believe that what the words say actually mean what we cannot otherwise conclude, we are curiously denied a basis upon which to believe anything else. It is only that the meaning we clearly see cannot be so for no other reason that they do not want it to be so. And in attempting to cite Scripture to defend their alternative desire, they do far less than they demand of us to rationalize that alternative.

Stan said...

Oh, you're allowed a basis, Marshall Art. "Because I said so." Oh, it will likely be "Don't your own eyes tell you something else?" or the like. That is, "We don't care what the Bible says is true; we will evaluate the Bible by our preconceptions because we know those are true. And on that basis, you ought to agree as well."

Josh said...

To be clear, as I think at least part of this post is directed at me. I agree with you that all were born into sin and a ransom was paid to redeem us. I just think the ransom was paid to free us from the principalities, powers, and satan. It was not to free us from God obligation to justice, but to the one with the power of death, who it satan. Think about Jesus ministry. It is about bringing the Kingdom of God that will overcome satan. He continually demonstrates his redemptive power over these principalities and powers by driving out demons, healing the sick, and addressing the corrupt powers of his day, namely the Pharisees. His whole ministry demonstrates this, and then you contend he switches gears and all of a sudden His death was to satiate his wrathful Father. No, his death was to redeem us from the fallen state our sin had put us in. He was redeeming us from the power of death.

The Bible says "Love your Enemy, and do good to those that persecute you." You have expressed in earlier posts that you don't think this exempts Christians from self defense, or even supporting a government that exercises war, or even participating in these wars as members of the military.

The Bible says X- Love your enemies and do good to those that persecute you.

You say- It can't possibly mean in terms of self defense, military service, and this can't possibly negate violence of any kind.

The Bible and more specifically Jesus and Paul in the new testament clearly teach non-violence. You say you love the Bible, so why do you do theologically dodge this teaching of the Bible?

Stan said...

Not so much at you, Josh. Lots of other people.

The early "Ransom Theory" folks debated about to whom the ransom was paid. Some said God. Others said Satan. The problem, if it was Satan, is that the one two whom it was paid won. That seems problematic. On the other hand, the Bible seems to say ("seems", in the sense of "all over the place and extensively") that God is in control, so paying Satan a ransom is pointless.

You understand "Love your enemies and do good to those that persecute you" as "X", as the only thing. You believe, then, that there is no justification for defending yourself or your family from an attacker. That's fine. That's noble. That's good. It does not account for Jesus's instructions to His disciples to carry a sword. If the only biblical, Christian position is absolute non-violence, why would He tell them to arm themselves?

In other words, it's not a theological dodge. It's letting Scripture interpret Scripture. On the other hand, a theological position that a ransom was paid to Satan isn't found anywhere in the Bible. Still, you hold it firmly.

David said...

Ransom paid to Satan?! That is appalling. Why would he (or sin or death) even be capable of demanding a ransom from God? That puts Satan on equal footing with God if he has the authority to demand something from God that He doesn't really want to give. And since we see in Job that Satan still must obey God and has limits put on him by God, how can he have authority over God. Paying the ransom to ANYONE but to God means that something out there has more or equal authority than Him. Saying that anyone but God is demanding the ransom is a sad attempt to alleviate God of His justice. Since we (believers) are a gift from God to the Son and He had to pay anyone else for that means that someone else has something that God does not, and God doesn't exist because nobody can have something that He doesn't because for Him to then obtain it would mean He was added to and changed.

Josh said...

I just thought it was at me, because I wanted to feel special :)

I would define ransom here as the price of release. In this way Jesus pays the price of release, but doesn't literally pay satan. He pays to redeem us to the status we had before the fall. The price of release, was overcoming the power of death with self-sacrificial death on the cross followed by the resurrection. Sin obviously had a great cost, but that wasn't too much for the love of God to overcome and pay through His Son.

"Why would he tell them to arm themselves?" Wouldn't it be great if the Bible told us why he told them to arm themselves...oh yeah! It does. "And he was numbered with the transgressors". They carried swords so Jesus could fulfill a prophesy, and be numbered with the "transgressors/ sword bearing people (my translation). Also, the second Peter uses the sword, in arguably the most justified moment of a threat to their Lord, Jesus rebukes Peter. He also goes on the teach that those that live by the sword, die by the sword.

You are not letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Be honest. You are taking the unclear statement about buying swords to interpret the insanely clear teaching about loving your enemy. There is not one clear new testament exception to loving your enemies.

As a side note, there is not one verse that says that Jesus died as a ransom paid to God.

Stan said...

Wait, wait ... you're saying that "bearing a sword" is ... a transgression (read "sin") and Jesus told them to carry them so He would be a sinner???

And I am being honest. I'm trying to put two things together clearly taught in Scripture. You know, rather than deleting or ignoring one I don't like.

But you be honest. Are you actually of the view that it is a sin to defend your life or the lives of your family? If someone came into your home threatening you and the people you love and you had the capability of preventing it, perhaps by killing the intruder, you would consider that a sin? (I've spoken to people in the past who claimed exactly that ... and admitted they would surely do it anyway. Is that your position, too? "Yes, it's a sin, and yes, I'll surely sin.")

Stan said...

I do have a question, Josh. You quote Jesus's "Love your enemy" and seem to hold that this means "Don't do anything that might hurt him." Why? As a silly example, I took my kids in for inoculations when they were young. Shots hurt. I knew it. I asked the doctor to do it. Does that mean I didn't love them? Or did I inoculate them against diseases because I did love them? In the same vein, does "love your enemy" require "let them do whatever they want and, oh, be sure to help them because it also says to 'do good to them'"?

(By the way, in case you missed it, I think it's another difference in definitions. I don't think you and I define "love" the same way.)

David said...

He is still paying a price to someone that has something God doesn't have. Whoever is the recipient of that payment/ransom/price has a certain amount of power over God.

Josh said...

He told them to bring swords, so that they would appear like an ordinary band of zealots. Those trying to usurp authority, obviously a "sin" in the eyes of the Jewish authorities. This is why Jesus was arrested and, that is what is meant by transgressors. Also, Jesus tells them that two swords are enough. If he really wanted them to defend themselves, you would think they should all have them.

Since we define love differently; By your definition can you kill someone, and at the same time be loving them? I have never said that violence is anything that might hurt them, so I will just ignore your comments along those lines.

I do believe that intentionally killing a person is sin. I like to think that put in a tough situation like you have expressed, I would defend my family, but not kill. I would talk, wrestle, subdue, negotiate, anything possible, but I would not return violence for violence in kind. I would not take an eye for an eye. The best way for me to explain this is if the attacker is someone I love dearly, like for instance my father. It may be easy for me to pull out a gun and smoke some stranger breaking into my house, but if it was my father I would do everything in my power not to kill or harm him. I think that is what it means to love your enemies.

David, show me the verse where it says that the ransom was paid to God. I am not sure if you realize, but there is an important event where some people exercise power over God. It just so happens that God chose to give them that power. It was the crucifixion. God can give his power away if he so chooses, it was demonstrated on the cross.

In my opinion the word ransom is used metaphorically to explain that Jesus paid the cost to redeem us from our sin. It wasn't a literal payment to a person/God/spiritual entity.

Stan said...

Jesus was arrested because they thought He was a zealot? Are you sure that's biblical? But it is neither here nor there. If all violence and all killing is sin and God commanded it (Old Testament) and Jesus will do it (Rev 19:11-15), then we have a problem, don't we? Why didn't John tell the soldiers to get out of the military (Luke 3:14)? It seems like we have a schizophrenic God here.

Could you enlighten me as to the metaphor of "ransom" (and "redeem") that does not involve any sort of payment and yet makes some metaphorical sense? "Ransomed" and "redeemed" in what sense without any transaction taking place? Or is that just your opinion?

Oh, and, as for your comment to David about how some people exercised power over God, here's what Scripture says about the crucifixion. "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur." (Acts 4:27-28)

David said...

Just as Stan pointed out, the authority over Jesus was given to others but that was only earthly authority. What in the text would lead you to believe the ransom is metaphorical?

How anyone can claim that Jesus taught absolute nonviolence is beyond me. If (and that's a hypothetical if) He did, He was claiming that God had it wrong that while time when He was telling people to kill others. But that's not the case because Jesus didn't contradict God and Jesus Himself committed violence on at least 2 occasions when He rampaged through the money changers. I know some argue that He didn't actually strike anybody, but nothing He did in that could be construed as nonviolent. That wasn't passive resistance or turning the other cheek. The only reason given for Him rebuking Peter for slicing the ear was because it was His time. He didn't say you should never use violence, only that it wasn't the correct action for the moment. Finally, "those that live by the sword, die by the sword" isn't a ruling on the use of violence. It is a statement, not a rebuke. Again, if nonviolence were the only way, God commanded hundreds of thousands of people to sin.

Stan said...

David, I believe the ransom is metaphorical. That's because "ransom" is a monetary payment, and this was no monetary payment. It's a payment in blood, a payment for sin, but not a monetary payment. But Josh appears to believe it is metaphorical in the sense that it has no connection to the metaphor. A metaphor requires that something be the same. Perhaps he defines "metaphorical" different than I do.

David said...

It is still an actual payment with an actual currency. The way he says it makes it sound like there was no price paid, it was only a symbol. Maybe I misunderstood.

Josh said...

1. How can you love an enemy and kill them?
2. What is the verse that says the ransom is paid to God?
3. What is the New Testament verse that explains a time when violence is called for?
4. The book of Revelation is entirely symbolic. The sword is coming out of Jesus mouth, because it is symbolic of his words.
5. Luke 3:14 KJV Do violence to no man... It must have been hard to be a soldier after that command.
6. There is no record of Jesus striking a person. Period.
7. Read these passages and you will see that non-violence is God's ideal, even in the OT. Is 2:4, Is 9:2-6, Micah 4:3-7, Zech. 9:9-10

Stan said...

Yes, David, that was how I understood him, too.

Stan said...

1. You tell me. God commanded "Love your neighbor" and "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man." (Gen 9:6) Was He schizophrenic or wrong, or perhaps it is possible to love and kill.

2. What is the verse that says it was paid to someone else? The verse(s) I know of say that a ransom was paid. You deny it.

3. Seriously?

4. Entirely symbolic. So by "killing" it means "no killing" and by "lake of fire" it means "no lake of fire" and there is nothing at all violent involved in all that violence? We do indeed have a different comprehension of terms ... like "metaphor" with no connection and "symbolism" that doesn't symbolize what it symbolizes.

5. I didn't know you were a KJV-only guy. Good to know. Also good to know that all modern translations are dead wrong.

6. Your call. That is, you presuppose it and then eliminate the possibility when He went into the Temple (twice) with a whip. Still, you haven't answered the question. God commanded violence. Jesus is explaining that He was wrong?

7. See, at this point we are much closer to agreement. God prefers non-violence. I can accept that. I can agree with that. You are excluding violence for any reason (which makes God a sinner); I am including non-violence as a preference.

Josh said...

As the passage in Zechariah states, Jesus has come to proclaim peace to the nations. A new way forward. God wasn't wrong in the OT, but His Kingdom drastically changes when Jesus is on the throne.

If God prefers it, shouldn't we?

Also, the Bible only records one account with Jesus and a whip. (Coincidentally,It is also the only account that includes the cattle)

Finally, I believe my point has been made. The Bible says things and we interpret them differently. You may say you use scripture to interpret scripture, but you are choosing which to give more emphasis too. You emphasize the buying of swords, I emphasize the loving your enemy. You emphasize that the ransom was paid to God appease God's justice, I emphasize the ransom was paid by God to redeem people to himself.

No one is ignoring th Bible, we just read it differently.

As always good talk. I do my best to be respectful, and I appreciate that you do the same. I am sure I will find some more words for us to define differently soon :)

David said...

I don't think either of those topics were what was in mind for the post. Those two both require most of Scripture to interpret which is why they have been debated for so long. Stan's post was about the explicit. God find homosexuality to be an abomination. Even non-Christians know that, and until recently nobody debated it because that is clearly what Scripture says. Or the way to heaven is narrow and only a few will find it. Quite clear in Scripture, but is now denied by people labeling themselves as Christian.

You are talking about implicit theology and the post was about explicit.

Stan said...

Josh, you seem like an intelligent fellow. You understand that "He will speak peace to the nations" doesn't require "He will remove violence." It simply requires that He will provide a way of peace between God and Man. (Note, for instance, that Jesus said, "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.' (Luke 12:51))

"If God prefers it, shouldn't we?"

I don't understand what you're asking. I think I said that the preference is non-violence. The difference between your view and mine is that you understand non-violence to be the only option, the absolute rule, the non-exception. "If violence, then sin." Correlating that to God's violence, God's ordering of violence, Jesus's violence in the Temple, and Jesus's future violence, it is the absolute nature of your position that I'm having difficulty with.

Oh, and for the record, John records Jesus going into the Temple with a "scourge of cords" at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-17) and Matthew records Him doing it again in the final week of His life (Matt 21:11-13).

Josh said...

I guess I can't leave it be. God's kingdom is a call to peace and also a call to total devotion. Devotion to God over even the closest family members and friends. Obviously there are those that won't agree with the lifestyle of Christians, and thus division in relationships will be caused. As I am sure you would agree, this division should not cause us to physically war against those that disagree but to lovingly live out our faith in obedience to Christ.

Oh, and for the record, I agree there are two accounts of the temple cleansing. My point was only one account includes a whip or a "scourge of cords", as you have said. Also, like I said, John's account (the one with the whip) is also the only one that mentions the cattle. It seems safe to assume that Jesus used the whip to drive the cattle out of the temple as was a customary way of accomplishing this task, and not to strike people in an act of violence.

Stan said...

" It seems safe to assume ..."

My point entirely. Assume. It requires a prior position. And I question the prior position. For instance, "Only one account includes a whip ... and cattle" assumes they weren't there, an argument from silence. What we do know is "Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons." (Matt 21:12) Whip or no, cattle or no, it was not a peaceful, non-violent, "come on, guys, let's break it up" moment.

My biggest difficulty, of course, is the fact that God has not been non-violent. If non-violence -- pacifism -- is the only right choice, we have a problem. A sin problem. A God with a sin problem.

You know, in thinking about it, though, I do wonder if the ultimate peace we can expect is based on the end of sin. If so, then peace (because sin is not present) is certainly preferred, but sin still needs to be addressed, sometimes not peaceably. Just a thought.

David said...

You seem to think we are suggesting that violence is the first and best option. We agree that nonviolence is preferable but not the end. Violence isn't the choice to settle differences. But violence does have its place because of sin.

Anonymous said...

violence, violence. we seem to be stuck on the word as though it was self explanatory
well it aint... violence is a relative term, we can do violence to justice, we can do violence to God's word, we can do violence to God's character. and killing a man that breaks into your house is not violence. it is justice. the violent part comes from the offender. and for anyone to make a case that we should avoid violence is being unrealistic. its one thing to agree that we should love our enemy's, its another for one to claim that he does. its one thing to say that God prefers that we do not murder, but does that mean that we should not kill? beware of the of the one that never experienced a real fight, or never been beaten, or had to fight to save their own lives or the lives of others. this because they are operating on theory and speculation. i want to love my enemy, but if he so much as lifts a finger toward that knife i will kill him. not very Christian am i????