In the ongoing debate between atheism and Christianity the moral argument is a persuasive defense of the Christian position. Transcendental morality outstrips any moral standard located in the created universe. The transcendental argument for God (TAG) is thus an excellent argument in the defense of Christianity because the answers to metaphysics, morality and epistemology are all located outside the created universe — in God.
Yet Christians are not united on what their moral standard might be. While they recognize its origin, it is the details of that standard that remain elusive for many. There is a very simple reason for this: Christians cannot agree on how the Bible should be interpreted. So all kinds of views are presented along with their proof texts. But it is worth remembering that a text out of context is a pretext.
In this essay, I’ll explore one presentation of Biblical morality and how it fails the test of consistency — consistency to the whole counsel of God. Instead, what it does is create contradictions by suggesting some verses of the Bible supersede or replace what other verses teach. In other words, there is a failure to use the laws of logic, especially the law of non-contradiction, as the rules of engagement.
The laws of logic are the rules that allow meaningful presentations of ideas. But it is surprising how much biblical interpretation breaks the rules of logic by offering one verse at the expense of another. In effect, the interpretive ideas make the Bible contradict itself. And so this kind of contradiction is a healthy indicator that the idea presented perhaps is not what the Bible actually teaches.
The attempt to limit government that almost succeeded
King John was in turmoil. England was under interdict from the Pope, and he himself had been excommunicated. There were threats to the realm from home and abroad. The new century was not particularly working out for him. By 1213, however, he had been absolved from excommunication, the clergy reinstated to their churches. But now a group of barons was breathing down his neck. They demanded his affirmation that he would continue “to maintain the ancient laws of the realm.” His track record on that score was not encouraging.
It is every Englishman’s heritage that Magna Carta established the rights and freedoms of Englishmen. But Magna Carta became the document that kings would use to destroy its very principles. Three months after the signing of the Great Charter civil war was still evident, over the principles in the Charter. In other words, the Magna Carta was never really implemented in its original form.
The years prior to 1215 were of great disturbance in England. The disturbance was over the extent of the power of the king. And there were nobles to the north of London who favored no increase in the monarch’s powers. Naturally, the king disagreed with this, and was willing to use whatever force was necessary to have his way. The issue was money—taxation.
The barons, however, were united in their views and willingness to do whatever was necessary to limit the king’s powers. They saw any increase as a denial of their freedom.
To understand this background, step back to Alfred the Great and his willingness to apply Old Testament legal requirements as the laws of England. Among these were a strong sense of property ownership, found in Exodus chapters 21-23.
In 1855, George Sweet highlighted the forthcoming changes to contract law. The changes that were introduced became known as limited liability law. The impact on the nature of contract and on business in general is hard to underestimate. Sweet, a barrister at law, explored the legal issues around the question of determining who is the debtor in business transactions. Here’s a summary of some of Sweet’s key arguments in his presentation against limited liability.
It comes as no surprise that Sweet would link the question of debts (i.e. losses) to the question of profits. Profit and loss have a direct correlation to one another, according to Sweet. “A trader with limited or no liability is, like a corporation, an anomaly incapable of existence under any system of laws which does not make express provision for it.” In other words, limited liability does not exist unless special provision is made for it. Who, then, is responsible for debts? Liability for debts is the express privilege of those who plan to collect the profits. “A little consideration will allow us to see, that the notion of sharing in the profits of a trade, with exemption from the duty of paying for the trade debts, could not possibly be recognized in the growth of the unwritten, judicial or common law of a state; and, therefore, that no system of law needs to contain, or can logically contain, any prohibition of such trading.” For Sweet it is a matter of law and of logic that liability can be stepped around by those who plan to collect the profits. It can’t be done, he says. It is an “anomaly” to suggest there is a business person or corporation that has limited or no liability.
Atheists are Good Without God!
An Atheist announced on an internet discussion board, “Atheists are good without God!” It was not the first time I had heard it. Over the past twelve years, on the many atheist forums I had visited, the atheists and even some professing “Christians” had made this claim. To support their assertion, they posted a few “studies” that showed how atheist ethics (devised from their own empty non-belief system) were superior. Atheists had lesser numbers in prison, they claimed, a lower divorce rate, less crime in secular countries, and better raised children because they taught their children (the atheist ethics of) tolerance (which excluded Christians), anti-racism and the “Golden Rule” or empathy. Empathy, they avowed, was the best guide for morality. Empathy, in fact, would create the Utopia the world has, since the Garden of Eden, yearned after for so long. This godless form of morality was purportedly superior to all notions of cold and rigid religious dogma and objectivity.
Upon first consideration, exchanging cold, hard, objective morality for that of warm, gentle, compassionate empathy is appealing. But is it correct? In this blog I will show my readers how in truth it is a recipe for failure and the reasons why.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines empathy as: 1. The imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it. 2 The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.
When Magna Carta laid down that no new taxes could be levied ‘without common consent of the realm’ it helped set the foundation for the current democratic system that allows 50% +1 of the voters to impose their view on the remaining 50% -1 of the people.
The modern nation-state and its method of financing, taxation, is built on a lie, that the ‘moral’ majority somehow gives legitimacy to the taxing legislation. When the monarchs established a Parliament, it was to do no more than provide a buffer between the king and the citizens to ‘protect’ his taxing power and to eventually ‘legitimize’ what he took. He took it with the consent of the parliamentarians, who of course, were supposed to represent, initially property owners, but it was eventually expanded to ‘we the people’ — everyone. When things got tough in 1688, the roles were switched. Now the monarch (or in the USA, the President) “legitimizes” the acts of Parliament or Congress by adding his (or her in the case of the British monarch) imprimatur to the legislation.
But . . .
‘Good luck’ advice to all Australians on the event of a mass shooting.
I could hardly believe my eyes as they fell onto the newspaper today. It’s quite a few years since the Australian Federal Government asked Australians to surrender their guns in a buy back scheme that supposedly eliminated thousands of firearms.
Mind you, you can still buy firearms under tighter registration requirements, so the buy-back plan was more a scheme to get guns registered than it was to eliminate them.
But now, in a new report, developed by the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee, Australians are being warned that even though ownership rules are tighter, “active shooter mass casuality attacks in Australia remain a real and persistent threat to the community.”
[A message delivered at Christian Reformed Church, Charlotte, MI. Romans 7:1 – 8:8. Text used is the Complete Jewish Bible, Trans. David H. Stern, available here.]
Read Part 1 of this series on Paul and Law from the book of Romans, The Foundation of Western Culture
We left our last time with the book of Romans at St. Paul’s statement in chapter 3:31, “Does it follow that we abolish Torah by this trusting? Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah.”
In this letter to the Christians at Rome there were a lot of Jewish believers in the Messiah. Jewish believers in YHVH had also accepted Yeshua (Joshua) – in our anglicized Greek, Jesus – as the Savior of the world.
But . . . there was a lot of confusion. It was confusion over their belief system as they understood it as over against the right understanding of what their Scriptures taught. And you see time and time again, that the New Testament never changes or alters the Old Testament, but it certainly corrects misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Scriptures.
[A message delivered at Christian Reformed Church, Charlotte, MI. Romans 3:1-31. Text used is the Complete Jewish Bible, Trans. David H. Stern, available here.]
One of the very great problems in Christianity today is abstractionism. This is the concept that things or ideas are not related. You can take one thing “out of” an accumulation of things, and have some idea of what it might be.
Consider this illustration. You might take the battery out of a watch. Now, without any reference to the watch itself, you have to understand and explain what this thing is you have in your hand.
Quite impossible, you might say. And you are right.
In the case of the watch battery, abstractionism is bad enough, but if you take this idea to the Scriptures and attempt to “abstract” words from their context, you no longer have exegesis but random guesswork.
Who is the wise man?
As a young boy in a small Baptist church in rural Australia, I was taught to sing:
The wise man built his house upon the rock,
The wise man built his house upon the rock,
The wise man built his house upon the rock,
And the rains came tumbling down.
“Luther himself began with victory and ended in defeat, a self-tortured, guilt-ridden, and bloated man. He who had been the hope of the Christian poor had been denounced by them as Herr Luder, Mr. Liar, decoy, law scoundrel, or carrion. Luther could rightfully plead that his was not a theology of social revolution, but he had raised false hopes among the peasants. ‘Sola Sciptura’ was his standard: the word of God alone. This to the people meant not only justification by faith but also the sovereign law of God. To that law they appealed, and Luther denounced God’s law in favor of statist law. . . .
“Calvin also made possible the revival of natural law by his loose views of the law of God. The Puritans for a time saved Calvinism from itself by their emphasis on Biblical law, only to succumb themselves to the intellectual climate of neoplatonism and also the lure of the natural law. The Reformation as a whole moved form victory to defeat, from relevance to irrelevance, from a challenge to the world to a surrender to the world or a meaningless withdrawal from it. Rome, Geneva, Wittenberg, and Canterbury retreated also into an ineffectual pietism. They were all now of the world but not in the world.”
- R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 1, p. 659.↵back