Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview

Ethics

green smiling snakeSome people say snakes don’t talk.  But they follow the advice of a snake they say cannot speak.

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.

snake_01“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.
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Statistics are a highly logical and precise way of stating half-truths inaccurately.
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The place of mathematics and statistics in modern society is very much the result of a philosophy that identifies the mind of man as the arbiter of what is true. The sciences are, apparently, our only true guide to life. This results in a biased dependence upon mathematics in particular since it has a veneer of scientific accuracy. Science has become the tool for man to remake the world according to his own plans. And beware those who dare disagree with the scientists! It is this assumption of modern science, and its statistical manifestation in the field of economics, that needs to be challenged.

Earlier this century two schools of economic thought appeared which have relied on mathematics to substantiate their basic ideas. Neither of them were distinctively Christian in origin, yet both have been defended in the name of Christianity in later years. One school had its origin in a British engineer, Major C.H. Douglas, and is popularly known as Social Credit. The other received its basic popularity from John Maynard Keynes, a person just as famous, maybe even more famous, for his perverted lifestyle than for his economic theories. Both schools of thought have relied on one particular premise from which they built their respective ideas. Both Major Douglas and Keynes believed that the economic problem was not enough money. However, they disagree in the manner in which this basic premise is worked out and integrated into the respective theories, especially the solutions offered as a remedy to the perceived problem. They argue their views strongly, suggesting there is statistical evidence that “proves” their theory.

Neither Keynes nor Douglas, however, originated the underlying philosophy of their views. That privilege remains with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon whose dictum — property is theft — was to rattle the cage of every nation around the world. It also forms the basis for the anti-capitalist mentality of our age. But the statement “Property is theft” provided the backdrop for Proudhon and his disciples, Keynes and Douglas, to state their case. Statistics of any kind really do not tell us anything about property rights.

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The Greek word telos can mean end, purpose, or goal. The teleological argument for God is the argument for design and purpose in the universe.

The word telos appears in Rom. 10:4 as “Christ is the end of the law” in many translations. This is often interpreted as Christ brought an end to the (OT) Law, and NT believers are freed from that law structure.

But if Rom. 10:4 rather refers to the fact that “Christ is the purpose, or goal of the law” then now instead of bringing the law to an end, it reinforces the abiding validity of OT law. Rather than bringing the law to an end, Paul instead explains the purpose or goal of law, which is to be found in Christ. He is the telos of the law.

Trying to get your theology from an English translation alone can be misleading.

“As the power of the magistrate is not an absolute power which he is at liberty to employ as he chooses, so neither is the right of the elector an absolute right which he is at liberty to exercise as he chooses. Both the one and the other are placed under the limiting control of the Divine Law; and it is only when they are used according to this law that they are used aright.” – William Symington

I was unpacking books to put on the shelf and selecting occasional titles for a browse. Among them, Messiah the Prince by William Symington, a 19thC publication. I have #327 of the Numbered Collectors Edition that was published in 1990 by Still Waters Revival Books, Edmonton, Canada.

Now I read that book 25 years ago and forget many of the details. And that was a major mistake on my part. For in browsing, I was reminded just how relevant Symington’s study was to contemporary events.

Rowan County (KY) clerk, Kim Davis, raised the level of the discussion on biblical morality by refusing to provide a ‘marriage’ certificate to same-sex couples. The public arguments for and against her actions are widely published. She should quit her job, and not mix religion with politics. She does not have the authority to do what she is doing, so it is claimed, as Kim Davis kept saying her ‘religious convictions’ prevented her from issuing those certificates.
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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.

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18208547 Thai popular soupThai Food Tom Yum Goong

What can be eaten today in terms of ‘legitimate’ food? All food-types? Snakes, lizards, pig, rabbit, camel, emu, kangaroo, shell-fish? Are all these permitted foods according to the Bible? It is well known that in the Old Testament there are laws that prohibited some food-types in the diet of the Israelites. The BIG question is whether or not those OT prohibitions are still valid today. In this essay, I am going to look at Mark chapter 7 to see what it reveals concerning permitted or forbidden food.

The question of food and what is or is not permitted in Scripture has a long and arduous history. It’s been debated for centuries, and will probably continue so long after this article has disappeared from existence. But . . . do the parenthetical words in Mark 7:19 “And thus he declared all foods clean” really dismiss the Old Testament dietary obligations concerning what food may or may not be eaten?

Involved in the discussion of Mark 7, therefore, must be the contextual argument. Is this portion of Mark’s Gospel trying to dispel the Torah food laws and replace them with an open book? Is this what Mark 7 is about?

Not necessarily, and here’s why.
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Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. — Deuteronomy 4:2

shrimp mascot the right hand guides and the left hand is holdingThe Interpretative Imperative — the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself — so sayeth the Christian and Reformed man, yet so often this principle is neglected to make room for the wisdom of man.

The other day I came across this question: “How can the Scriptures be the ultimate standard of truth if their reception, in terms of Canonical authority, is based upon some other standard external to Scripture which is used to prove that Scripture is worthy of being in a Canon which gives us a ultimate standard?”

This question led to someone pointing out that the ‘selective criteria’ for the Newer Testament must be the Older Testament, particularly the ‘Torah,’ which in context referred to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). This then led to a discussion on ‘interpretative criteria’ of the Newer Testament.

After several comments and a Bible-verse punch-up, I observed that the very people advocating Scripture as the ultimate standard started to bring in extra-Biblical methods into their interpretative methods.
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Why Do So Many Christians Agree With the Devil?

There are many people who agree with the devil on a major issue. What might surprise you is the number of Christians who agree with the devil on what has to be one of the central tenets of what the Bible teaches. Even many Christian scholars and commentators gloss over this key issue. As a result, many believers are in disarray. For they may not know that what they promote as Christianity is instead the worst idea of Satan himself.

The wrong view is a single idea with huge ramifications. It is as a proclamation that it is not necessary to keep the Old Testament law. Various reasons are given for this: we’re under grace, not law; OT laws were given to Israel and intended for them only; the ‘new’ covenant replaces the old covenant; non-Israelite believers are not signatories to the Sinaitic Covenant. No matter what reason is given, it comes down to the notion that it is not necessary to keep the commandments given in the Torah, the books Exodus through Deuteronomy.

Now no one who promotes this idea is suggesting that murder, theft and adultery, for example, are no longer prohibitions on how people should live. They may be shaky on the idea of the Sabbath, yet strong on the idea that there should be no graven images of God. No one suggests that it is now OK to make your daughter a prostitute. But they hesitate when the gleaning laws are put in front of them as God’s method of helping the poor. There are others who believe stoning for blasphemy is no longer required under ‘Christianity’. Some people do not even accept that the laws of God are obligatory; they suggest the commandments of God are now downgraded to merely ‘good advice’ which we are free to choose or reject.

This idea is not new, but not as extreme as the second century heretic Marcion who claimed that the God of the Old Testament was a lesser and inferior God to the God of the New Testament. Thus, he rejected any notion that Old Testament law should be kept in the New Testament era. He went so far so say that he believed that the God of the Old Testament was an evil creator god that Jesus came to destroy

What concerns us, however, is how they arrive at the idea of which laws of the Old Testament still apply today. But before explaining this, let’s take a look at the central passage of Scripture concerning the origin and nature of man’s rebellion against God.

Genesis chapter three records the episode between Eve and the serpent, the ‘Whisperer.’ In that discussion, the devil proposes that death will not be the outcome of eating the forbidden fruit, but that instead Eve’s ‘eyes will be opened’ and she shall be ‘like God’. Eve, and with her Adam, were thus offered enlightenment or illumination to ‘know good and evil’.

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“If not another penny was borrowed starting now, and we started to pay back all that debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 100,000 years to pay it all off.” —Scott Craig Mooney

Debt and usury are tied together. This is the thesis of Scott Craig Mooney in his original book on the topic, Usury: Destroyer of Nations. Now he’s returned to the fray with a small—but powerful—reminder that we’re in economic trouble. The Fall of the House of Usury

Mr. Mooney is concerned that no one is talking about what is really wrong, and what is really wrong is usury. The reason for the lack of discussion on usury is simple: no one really believes it is a principle to be found in Scripture and practiced today. One of the reasons for this is the apparent “refutation” of usury by John Calvin.

Calvin effectively undercuts biblical law theory.

The contents of a letter by John Calvin to Oekolampadius provides us with insight into the great reformer’s view on the topic of usury. It also provides an opportunity to view any biblical arguments that might be found to support the pro-usury position.

Calvin’s position, however, appears somewhat ambiguous. For example, he argues on the one hand that “there is no scriptural passage that totally bans usury.” This is true, but the issue at stake today is not whether there is a general ban on usury, but whether there is any ban at all on the charging of usury. The Old Testament did not place a total ban on usury: it allowed usury to be charged to foreigners.[1]

While he is not prepared to argue against usury on biblical grounds, Calvin nevertheless attempts to put moderation on the charging of interest. He prefers that “usurers were chased from every country.” Hardly an endorsement for usury.

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Footnotes    (↵back returns to text)
  1. See Scott Mooney’s book, Usury, for an explanation of the meaning of ‘foreigner.’↵back