Those who read the Bible regularly soon come across this verse: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18, KJV). But as is often the case, people read the text and think no more about it. But there can hardly be a more important verse in Scripture. And as is also often the case, they read the first half of the verse and ignore the remainder.
Management guru Peter Drucker picks up the theme of vision in his book, Managing the Non-Profit Organization. In a section entitled “Planning For Performance” Drucker observes, “unless you integrate the vision of all constituencies into the long-range goal, you will soon lose support, lose credibility, and lose respect.” When this happens, the doors will close real fast, because people will abandon the organization. “No reason to be here,” they’ll say. I saw this in action just recently when a congregation had difficulty accepting a proposed budget. Some wanted money for a sound system; another wanted an upgraded car park so people didn’t have to park in mud when it rained. What was missing? The purpose of the budget had not been established throughout the organization.
Thus the passage in the Bible referring to Scripture is a very practical issue. But in a local organization, it needs to be remembered that where there is no united or shared vision, the organization will stumble, and stumble badly. It may limp along for quite a while, but it will die an agonizing death eventually. People will be burned, their hopes and aspirations for the organization will not be achieved, and they’ll leave disgruntled, unhappy and unfulfilled.
Atheists in a crowd heckling the Street-Preacher will eventually pull an argument out of their basket of comments that goes something like this.
“You believe in talking snakes. There is no evidence that snakes can talk. Your religion is ridiculous.”
Now the Street-Preacher has a simple response.
“It is true that the Bible refers to a talking snake, the ‘whisperer’. In its context, it refers to the serpent’s temptation to Eve that she could ‘be like God’ determining for herself what is good and evil.
“Now an atheist who has rejected God’s definition of good and evil has simply followed the snake’s advice and decided to ‘be like God’ making up his own rules of good and evil.
“So there are those who say snakes can talk and who refuse to follow the suggestions of a snake to ‘be like God’ and make up their own morality.
“And then there are others who don’t believe in talking snakes, but adamantly follow the advice of a talking snake they say doesn’t exist.
“The Bible indicates that those who think they can determine for themselves what is right or wrong are the ‘fools’ who follow the talking snake. It makes more sense to follow God than a talking snake. But some choose to do it — follow the snake, that is.
“Everyone’s a believer in something. Some believe it is smart to follow the ideas of a talking snake. Some don’t.
“The followers of the ideas of the talking snake appear to be the genuine believers in the talking snake. Why follow the snake’s advice otherwise?
“The Bible also speaks of a talking ass who heard the word of the Lord and acted accordingly. The world needs more people who will heed the words of a talking ass, and fewer people who prefer to follow the advice of a talking snake — even though they say they don’t believe that snakes can talk.”
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.
I call this the “Eucharist Challenge” because, as a Protestant raised Baptist, eventually turning Presbyterian, I never did get to hear of the meaning of the Eucharist from other perspectives.
But as I’ve been improving my knowledge of philosophy, especially Greek philosophy, Aristotle eventually comes into view. And there is no denying that Aristotle is an important figure in the development of Christian theology. It is often stated how Aquinas attempted to combine Aristotle and Christ into a single theology, a combination that results in failure.
But, the Roman Catholic Church continues to rely on Aristotle’s metaphysics and ontology as the basis for its view of the Eucharist. In this view, the bread and the wine ‘become’ the blood and body of Jesus Christ.
For many Protestants such as myself, this view is illogical, to say the least. Attend a Mass and you do not see any visible change in the elements of the Eucharist. And the reason we do not ‘see’ the change is because we do not understand Aristotle.
When a Dad Worries His Son, The Father Better Have Some Good Answers
I have four sons and a daughter, the firstborn being Matthew. He’s a thinker. And he’s trying to give his father a hard time over some of my comments. Matt’s worried that I’m putting the Torah as a higher authority than the Person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospels. Here’s his question:
“What role does the person of Jesus Christ play in all of this?”
Now Matthew is concerned that his father might be going off in a wrong direction, so he’s checking up on his old man to make sure. He comments further,
” Shouldn’t it be Jesus Christ that we look to as the central revolving point of the Scriptures rather than the Torah?”
Good questions. Here’s my reply:
What is the relationship between man and the ‘helper’ God gave him?
I did not have to be married for very long to realize that married life was going to present its challenges. I had a wife who was not only a source of comfort and encouragement, but one who often opposed some of my most cherished ideas. Such activity did not sit well with my idea of good wifely behavior. Whatever happened to submission?
Submission, as it is generally understood, means a person hands over his/her will to the will of another. He/She is to align his/her will with the will of another in perfect union. Thus, in the illustration of St. Paul, there is mutual submission of husbands and wives. But as he explains this in detail he describes the husband’s submission as love for his wife as Christ loves his church. A wife, on the other hand, is to submit to her husband in the same way the church is to submit to Christ. (Eph. 5:21ff)
However, it is possible to read too much into these texts if they are abstracted from everything else Scripture teaches you about man-woman relationships. And the Bible starts in Genesis 2:18 with a recognition that although God created everything ‘good’, it was not good for man to be alone. So God made him a helper. The word in the older English translations is helpmeet. But neither ‘helper’ nor ‘helpmeet’ capture the not-so-subtle connotation of the Hebrew, `ezer kenegdo (עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ). This literally means ‘help against’, or ‘the help that opposes’, and has also been translated ‘the helpmate opposite him’. Or, in many translations, it appears as ‘helper suitable’ for him.
You can immediately see why ‘helpmeet’ and ‘helper’ are really inadequate translations, neither of which capture the “opposition” contained in the word kenegdo which means against, or opposite. It is suggested by some scholars that the ‘opposition’ can be likened to left hand be opposite to right hand. This connotes some kind of complementary relationship, but I don’t think ‘kenegdo’ in the sense of ‘opposition’ denies the complementary relationship. It seems to be tring to sharpen the meaning of the relationship.
And if the answer is negative, then men have substituted repression for love.
But you can also see why so many husbands get opposition from their wives. They were designed by God to oppose him. But their opposition is to be when he strays from the Word of God and begins to falter in carrying out the God-mandated activities in his life. “Have dominion”, said God. And here’s your helper to oppose you every time you steer away from this.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16)
“But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” (Ex. 1:18-19).
As the Street-Preacher presented his message about the Name that is above every name, the name at which everyone will eventually bow the knee in subjection, the name, Yeshua HaMaschiach — an atheist interrupted.
“Does God condemn lying”?
“Yes,” replied the preacher. “You shall not bear false witness.”
Ah, the atheist thinks to himself. I have this preacher trapped. And very quickly he refers the preacher to the instance of the Hebrew midwives who told a clear “lie” to Pharoah.
How do you ensure your prayer is acceptable to God?
In his book on prayer, Jacques Ellul makes the point that many people don’t pray because they don’t have their prayers answered. Or at least, not answered very often. In other words, if there are no results, then why do it? This infers many people take a pragmatic approach to prayer; God is the cosmic genie who will grant the petitioner’s wishes merely because it has been requested. Rub here to get immediate results.
The problem, according to Ellul, is that “we no longer seek through prayer a conformity of our will with God’s will, which makes our speech true, hence efficacious. We seek, rather, to achieve direct results, without bothering about the truth or the special will of God, or with our own obedience.”
In order that the prayer shall be acceptable, the person praying must in every case intelligently and diligently use the means provided by God himself in the great framework of second causes and natural laws for the attainment of the end desired.
Our results-oriented climate leads many pray-ers to expect immediate answers to prayer, even though it is often taught God answers prayer in his own good time. This may be so, but Ellul suggests that prayer has been diverted. Now, prayer is “taken seriously only in terms of the results which it promised to bring about.”
In other words, when there are no results people stop praying. But this only leads to the question: What, then, is prayer that will will get results? What is prayer that is acceptable to God?
Perhaps our prayers remain unanswered because they are unacceptable to God. Then the question: What are the true conditions of acceptable prayer?
If you want to know what’s wrong in the world today, it’s tempting to answer that with a single issue. In reality, there are many things that contribute to the state of the present world.
Not least of these, however, is critical thinking or, rather, the lack of it.
There are some who will make all kinds of excuses why logical thinking should be abandoned or denied. Some do it on the basis that this is “Greek” thinking and we should be “Hebrew” in our thinking, the implication being that “Hebrew” thinking somehow does not demand the same kind of logic. This view of Greek and Hebrew, however, has the wrong point in mind, for this is not the real distinction between Greek and Hebrew thought. It is the outcome of our logical thinking that illustrates our presuppositions, and these are either biblical or they are not.
by R.J. Rushdoony
In Jude 24, we are told that our Lord “is able to keep you from falling.” The word “falling” can be better translated as “stumbling.” In other words, our Lord is able to keep us from being stumblebums!
Between forty and forty-five years ago, I knew an ex-boxer who was physically a healthy-looking man. A gracious and kindly man, he had been in a few too many fights, and, as a result, he at times was mentally or physically tangled. The unkind term “stumblebum” was applied by some to him.
Well, there are spiritual stumblebums in the church, and they cannot blame too many fights for their problem! They stumble morally and religiously because they refuse to submit to the discipline of God’s Word and His Spirit.
A pastor I know has a chronic problem with a man well into his forties who gets into temptation faster than a jackrabbit can race across the road. He is a spiritual stumblebum who would trip over a grain of sand. He regularly confesses to his pastor, bewailing his sins, and as regularly is in trouble again. He uses his pastor as a crutch, and he is “too busy” to submit to the disciplines of the Word and the Spirit. He is a stumblebum who has no desire to grow strong.
But our Lord is able to keep us from stumbling and falling. Do we want to walk in strength? Or do we prefer to be stumblebums in the church?
Rushdoony, R. J. (2015-07-15). A Word in Season (Vol. 6) (A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life) (Kindle Locations 784-798). Chalcedon/Ross House Books. Kindle Edition.