Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview

“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.

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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.”[1]

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.”[2]

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?

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Footnotes    (↵back returns to text)
  1. Jacques Ellul, Prayer and Modern Man (New York: The Seabury Press, 1973), p. 76.↵back
  2. Ibid., p. 77.↵back

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.

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If the [economic] problem is the shortage of money, why not allow private counterfeiting? Is it a form of theft? Then so is official counterfeiting. Will private counterfeiting debase the value of the currency and investments presently held by the public? Then so will official counterfeiting. Will private counterfeiting destroy the people’s faith in the existing currency unit? Then so will official counterfeiting. Will private counterfeiters lack the self-restraint needed to steal from the public slowly, and to debase the people’s holdings of money-denominated assets? Then we are arguing about time, not principle.

In short, if it is wrong and self-defeating for private counterfeiters, it is equally wrong and self-defeating for official counterfeiters. Yet the official counterfeiting still goes on. It is called progressive monetary policy.[1]

Footnotes    (↵back returns to text)
  1. From Ian Hodge, Baptized Inflation: A Critique of ‘Christian’ Keynesianism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1986), p. 137.↵back

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.

“So don’t let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh [new moon] or Shabbat [sabbath].” —Col. 2:16

Along with the passage in Acts 10, this section of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is the other alleged “proof” that the Old Testament ceremonial or dietary laws are no longer a moral requirement for those who follow the Messiah.

But also along with the Acts 10 passage, interpreters tend to read their predetermined view into this portion of Scripture. In this instance, the predetermined view says Paul declared the dietary and ceremonial laws were merely a matter of individual choice. You may, or may not, choose to keep them. No one is to be your judge in these matters.

In order to understand this issue, it helps to ask this question: Who is Paul defending in this passage? Is he defending the Torah-keeping Christians from accusations by non Torah-keepers? Or is he defending the non Torah-keepers from the accusations of the Torah-keeping crowd? And what criteria would Paul use in order to figure out which group he should be defending?

By what principle of interpretation, then, can it be said that St. Paul disagrees with what God has previously stated quite clearly.

Here’s the issue: until you figure out your interpretive guideline for the New Testament, all you do is the make the New Testament subject to what Van Til has called “the growing ethical consciousness of man.” When you read the Old Testament, the Torah’s permanence is made known. Read passages such as Deuteronomy 29 (see v. 29) and Psalm 119 if you’re unsure. When you come to the New Testament, the opening Gospel makes no attempt to change this view of the Torah. Read Matt. 5:17ff if you’re not convinced.

But, it is alleged, it is the Apostle Paul (and the writer to Hebrews if it wasn’t St. Paul) who has told us that we are no longer obligated to keep certain aspects of the law—the Torah. We now have freedom of choice. God has untied us from at least some parts of his Torah, and New Testament Christians are no longer bound to the dietary laws, new moons and sabbaths, for example.

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2169809 tops of naked fall trees

Sometimes things are just sitting there staring you in the face. And yet you miss them. Here’s an example. And it’s a problem I created for myself.

I was raised on a KJV version of the Bible. In the 1950s there were not many other options, unlike today. Each verse begins on a new line. Easy to read each verse, and find a single verse to use as a proof-text. But … this is where the problem begins, if you are not careful. You don’t see the ‘bigger picture’ of the context itself.

I have written elsewhere (Col. 2:16: Who Was Paul Defending?) on Colossians chapter 2. In that article, I addressed the question, who was Paul defending. That helps to understand what Paul is saying.

But in reading Col. chapter 2 in the ESV version where the text is in paragraph blocks, all of a sudden Paul’s argument became clear — crystal clear. Consider this:
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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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Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106)

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.

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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.