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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is your basis for morality? Part III

With thanks to scohen, we embark on another segment. His response to my second post are in italics and I respond back in normal print.

Given: All morality comes from God.
Given: God wrote the bible.
Given: The institution of slavery is immoral.

Yikes! We may have hit our first fallacy. Let's look at point one. All morality comes from God, followed by point two, that God wrote the Bible. So God determines what is moral or immoral. Where does scohen get that third statement? Is it from the Bible? Or has morality been snatched away from God as soon as it is ascribed to Him?

By what standard do you declare that slavery is immoral?

Follows: The bible would contain an unambiguous message detailing the immorality of the institution of slavery.

Again, by whose judgment is that statement true? You can easily find 100 verses in the Bible that relate to or directly speak to slavery. Funny thing about that. The Bible is a book written to apply to mankind during the time of wooden spears all the way to the times of atomic weaponry and apply to every age in between. I have covered this before, but in fact most "slaves" were the equivalent of what we would now term "employees" among the Jews. Some were born into slavery or servanthood, some by being captured in war, some by going into debt, some by volunteering to join themselves to a household.

Did you know that in Old Testament times slaves could own slaves to themselves? Ziba (II Samuel 9:10) had fifteen sons and 20 slaves and was the master of a large plot of land under his master Saul. This land was given to him to oversee, so he was the equivalent of a farmer who leased land and gave part of the earnings to the landowner. Ziba would be a middle class wage earner in our society, maybe upper middle class.

In the Laws as given in Exodus and Deuteronomy, slaves were to enjoy the same ability to worship as the master and were to be allowed to rest on the Sabbath with the master and his family. The women were sometimes the concubines of masters, sometimes they became wives. Often their sons would inherit from the master and become masters themselves.

Also, if a slave has escaped from a master, the children of Israel were ordered not to return him. Apparently if things were so bad for a servant that he would flee then God wanted that person to have a chance to get away and stay away (Deuteronomy 23:15 & 16).

In the time of Christ and thereafter, slaves were to be seen as equals by their brothers and sisters in Christ, mentioned several places in I Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians.

In the days before modern society, time cards, ready-made currency and all sorts of other modern developments, slavery was similar to having a job. Masters were the employers. Slaves, more properly called bond servants really, were provided with food and clothing and housing in exchange for their work. They were often compensated with additional wages in addition to food, clothing and shelter. This was the normal situation in the time of Abraham and Moses and on up to a millenium after the time of Christ.

Throughout most of mankind's history, most people have worked most of their lives simply to provide for themselves food, clothing and shelter. Slavery or servanthood within God's culture provided those things for them and enabled both them and their masters to have an opportunity to be enriched by the pooling of their resources towards common goals within this system. It worked.

Since: The bible does not contain an unambiguous message on the immorality of slavery,

Wrong. The Bible is quite clear. Slavery was employment. The conversion of society from dominance of master/servant relationships to employer/employee relationships is recent on the scale of the history of mankind. All during this time as well there have always been the individual workers or entrepreneurs who were neither servants nor masters. We still have all of this, only in differing forms.

If Rome, or Babylon or Egypt mistreated their slaves, that was cruelty and sin on their part. But that is covered by other areas of the Bible. You see, in the days of master and servant both parties were still under the Law in terms of how they were to treat each other. Masters were not allowed to mistreat servants.

either:
a. The bible is not the work of god
b. God isn't the source of all morality.

Nope.
c. God is the source of all morality. It is up to you to acknowledge the Bible and know the history and culture of God's people through the ages if you are going to intelligently speak to the subject of slavery.

You know this is all a broken record. Worldview schmorldview. You don't even *know* what my worldview is (and why is it that only fundamentalists use that word?), so how can you state that my logic is bound by it?

I don't know precisely what your worldview is, I am only extrapolating it from what you say. Everyone has a set of preconditions from which they make judgments about what goes on around them. My given set includes the idea that God is and that God made everything and that God is the giver of morality. I can at least say that your worldview tends to exclude God and you place your own moral code above God's as the example above illustrates. If you cannot even see that you have a point of view with preconceived notions, then you certainly have a blind spot. Surely you concede that you have a point of view from which you begin, assumptions you start with, as you consider life's problems and opportunities?


How can logic be bound by anything? It's *logic*.


Your logic above was bound by an assumption that your moral standards are greater than God's. You state that God is the giver of morality and then don't look to Him for the answer on slavery but rather illogically take that place away from Him and take it upon yourself. Logic bound ceases to be logic, but the phrase illustrates the problem. If you truly accepted givens 1 and 2, you would have then accessed the Bible to determine the truth of given number 3.

Is my math bound by my worldview as well? If I was a YEC, would that integral make sense? The fact remains that your reply has twisted Kant's universality into "if it feels good, do it" which is exactly the *opposite* of what Kant was saying.

There is a big difference between "if it feels good, do it" and "if you believe it is the best and right thing, do it." Kant, however, appeals to the individual to decide what that good is, no matter how many resources he brings to bear on the issue, rather than appealing to the morality given by God.

In fact, "if it feels good, do it" seems to be a strawman that you're fighting against, not Kant.

No, but you are fighting a strawman in saying that I take that position and then you will tear that strawman down. Here it comes...

Kant's philosophy makes for some extremely non-expedient decisions, but you wouldn't know that because you didn't bother to do any research.Look, if you want to actually learn about the other side, search for "all morality comes from god" and read some of the results. Read about Kant and then demonstrate a flaw with his system while at the same time showing that you understand it. That's debate.

Okay, I did. It appears to me that so far you have lost the debate.

Let me take this a step further. Whereas I have read Kant in school and am familiar with his philosophy, you are obviously not so familiar with the Bible and the culture of God's people throughout the centuries. But I am not castigating you for it, simply sharing information. Slavery as practiced by God's people was similar to what "having a job" is now. But cultures surrounding God's people tended to have a different form of slavery in which people were mistreated. God even had rules for treatment of animals. One of my favorites is this verse:

Deuteronomy 25:4 - "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."

Paul mentions this and how that idea was inherent in the Law in treatment of servants and also paid laborers in I Corinthians 9:7-10

"Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest."

I Timothy 5:18 also says: For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

I go on...Other cultures had a different idea of what slavery or servanthood was. Africans sold Africans to Europeans to be used as animals and treated as such, or worse. Again, history tells us that slaves were sold around the world but, here in the New World, they were often beaten and raped and killed and treated as less than animals. Many plantation owners valued their cattle and certainly their horses more than their slaves.

It was Christians who saw how wrong this was. God, who had given his people codes of conduct in the Bible, was speaking through them, for the abolitionist movement began in the church and was peopled largely by churchgoers. It didn't matter that some slave owners treated slaves as paid workers, and sometimes even as family. The majority of slaves were treated poorly and God worked through His people to bring about an end to the practice. The modern version of slavery was wrong because it violated God's principles concerning how mankind should treat mankind. I remind you of that passage I quoted previously from Luke 10:27 - “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

An "unambiguous message" concerning "slavery" is not possible for a moral code meant to apply to 1000 BC and 2000 AD. But a thorough knowledge of the Bible allows you to know precisely whether a form of slavery or servanthood is moral or immoral depending on what time in history it is, what form it takes, and how those involved in the system behave towards others.

This is just tedium and us doing your work for you (which seems to be a trend).

No, I was waiting for the point of view to be expressed so that I could expose it.

Oh, and if a state executes an innocent man, that's *murder*.

Really? Chapter and verse, please. Remember that God gives morality and the standard for morality is found in the Bible? If the state convicts a man of murder by mistake, that is an accidental death and that actually is covered in the Bible.

You can't have the death penalty without actual murder occurring on occasion.

I disagree. But it is possible that someone may have willfully lied or twisted the system to cause the system to execute an innocent man. God laid out a series of possibilities and punishments to go with those possibilities. He allowed for accidental death, careless death, conspiracy to commit murder, felonious murder and manslaughter in the Law. Exodus, Deuteronomy and Numbers all have long passages devoted to these things, as the judicial system of the children of Israel was a part of their compact with God. It is God's Law that is the basis for our judicial system now.

Look at the innocence project, these people --many on death row, were completely, 100% innocent of the crimes of which they had been convicted. If they had been put to death, how could anyone that claims any morality not see that as murder by the state (accidental or not). Where's that in the bible again?

That is why I am against the death penalty in all but the most grievous and obvious of cases. The possibility of putting an innocent to death needs to be avoided. Does it surprise you that I say that? Well, it is true that God states in the Law that a murderer should be put to death. But in context this was among a people who were one in culture and generally in agreement with the Law. Conviction demanded two or more witnesses asserting that a murder took place and no reliable dissenting witnesses, otherwise the death penalty would not be exacted.

Some Christians oppose the death penalty entirely. We don't all march in lockstep in every way. God gives us the Bible to understand His will and we do our best to live by it, if we are indeed Christians.

16 comments:

scohen said...

...all that yammering and not a single unambiguous repudiation of slavery from the bible? It's like I actually *read* the thing once or twice.

I don't think it's controversial to say that civilized people consider slavery in any form immoral. Regardless of how they're treated, it's repugnant to own another human. Yet according to the bible, god doesn't agree.

Thanks for conceding my point.

radar said...

...and thank you for conceding mine. You place your judgment above God and the Bible. It is your right. God created men with a free will and it is their choice whether to follow him or repudiate him. It is a great and powerful gift with all possible consequences based upon how it is used.

You actually read the Bible cover-to-cover once or twice?

Some people consider "that yammering" to be a subject called "history."

Taxandrian said...

You place your judgment above God and the Bible. It is your right. God created men with a free will and it is their choice whether to follow him or repudiate him.

That's a weird statement you make there, Radar. Are you now criticizing Scohen for condemning slavery while God and the Bible don't?
I guess you'll criticize me too then, since I condemn child murder, while God and the Bible clearly have no problem with it, like I have shown in my last reply.

So what about it, Radar? Are you willing to apply your 'god-given morality' to God himself, too? Do you place YOUR judgment considering child murder above God and the Bible, or maybe not?

Curious for your answer...

Anonymous said...

It is God's Law that is the basis for our judicial system now.

I would love to read a full post about this Radar.

lava

scohen said...

"You actually read the Bible cover-to-cover once or twice?"

Yes, of course. I've read the old testament several times (maybe three, once in hebrew) and the new testament once. I will also state that I've read 1984 four times. I tried reading the Koran, but man that was a tough slog since there's almost no coherent story there. It's been a while since I picked up a bible, the last time was in college, which was almost a decade ago. Jeez, I'm getting old.

I'm no expert --I can't recite chapter and verse-- but I do know that there is no repudiation of slavery in there, so my question wasn't exactly fair.

It might surprise you to know that I'm a big fan of the sermon on the mount and the beatitudes, but revelations is almost impossible to get through.

If condemning slavery puts my judgment above god's, then I'm willing to live with that. I'm confident that slavery is immoral in any incarnation, and I'd hope that most people would agree. Also, it's not just *my* judgment that's in question here, it's our entire society's.

This whole discussion brings to mind something my Rabbi told me a long time ago.
The main difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Christianity teaches you to treat people with love, while Judaism teaches you to treat them with Justice. You might have a slave, treat him well and love him, but you're not treating him justly. In order to do that, you must let him go.
I might not like someone, but I'm supposed to treat them justly, something I cannot do if I own them.

loboinok said...

I'm no expert --I can't recite chapter and verse-- but I do know that there is no repudiation of slavery in there,...

Exodus 21:16 (New American Standard Bible)

16"He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.

Deuteronomy 24:7 (New American Standard Bible)

7"If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.

Deuteronomy 23:15-16 (New American Standard Bible)

15"You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.

16"He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

scohen said...

16"He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.


That's a clearly a prohibition against kidnapping. Notice the "or" in there. Slavery is really irrelevant. What the passage is saying is that it's kidnapping whether you sell the person into slavery or have them when you're caught.


7"If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.


Same as above, but it's specific to the "sons of Israel", which I take to mean Jews.


15"You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.

Radar mentioned this passage, and again, it's not a repudiation of slavery so much as an escape clause for slaves. Notice how this passage exists, yet in the next passage, it's perfectly find for *you* to have slaves. If the bible forbade slavery, the next passage wouldn't exist.

16"He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.


This really gets to my point, the Bible talks about how to charitably treat your slaves. Where it fails is teaching that slavery in and of itself is wrong and inhuman. By all means, look for a stark condemnation of slavery, it will be a fruitless but enlightening task.

loboinok said...

That's a clearly a prohibition against kidnapping. Notice the "or" in there. Slavery is really irrelevant.

"whether he sells him or he is found in his possession" is specifically referring to slavery. It is a prohibition, to men in general, of forced slavery.

The Deuteronomy verse has the same prohibition but is specific to Israel.

Radar mentioned this passage, and again, it's not a repudiation of slavery so much as an escape clause for slaves. Notice how this passage exists, yet in the next passage, it's perfectly find for *you* to have slaves. If the bible forbade slavery, the next passage wouldn't exist.

Radar also said: I have covered this before, but in fact most "slaves" were the equivalent of what we would now term "employees" among the Jews. Some were born into slavery or servanthood, some by being captured in war, some by going into debt, some by volunteering to join themselves to a household.

He is referring to indentured servants, voluntary permanent slaves, restitutional slaves and involuntary slaves. The later being what the above verses are talking about.

You seem to be grouping them together, ("Where it fails is teaching that slavery in and of itself is wrong and inhuman.")and consider them all to be equal to forced slavery.

Notice how this passage exists, yet in the next passage, it's perfectly find for *you* to have slaves. If the bible forbade slavery, the next passage wouldn't exist.


How are you reading that it's perfectly find for *you* to have slaves in verse 16?

"in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him"

It is clear that he is a free man.


Also, I have never read a verse dealing with forced slavery, implying that "it's perfectly fin[e] for *you* to have slaves."

radar said...

1) I wanted to identify for myself, my commenters and all who read this blog whether commenters and myself respect God's judgment above their own or their own judgment above that of God's. That should be clear.

2) "The main difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Christianity teaches you to treat people with love, while Judaism teaches you to treat them with Justice." That is one of those empty phrases that sounds great but, when you parse it, means nothing. Love (agapeo in the greek, as I am sure scohen knows) requires action, it is not a feeling although feelings can be associated with it. Treating someone with love necessarily also means treating them with justice.

The diffeerence here is, again, who is on the throne of your mind and heart, God or man.

3) I can and will do another post concerning the Biblical basis for US Law, specifically the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the determination to build a just and free nation. Just keep in mind that not only were all but perhaps two or three of the Founding Fathers churchgoers, 24 of them held Bible School/Seminary degrees! You are asking me to hit a ball set up on a tee.

Taxandrian said...

Radar, can I take the fact that you still haven't answered my questions as a concession that you don't have an answer, or find the question too difficult or uncomfortable?

radar said...

Tax, not difficult or uncomfortable. I love it when you guys claim I concede a point when you make some claim with which I disagree and I don't immediately come back with something. I suppose you do that because you don't have enough confidence to proclaim that your point has been made. It is wise that you did not make such a claim here.

A base code programmer will have problems explaining the intricacies of processor-level code-writing to a guy with his first laptop. But it is even harder to discuss code writing with a guy who just took his first C++ class and thinks he knows what is up. So-called Bible scholars who study the Bible without believing it is God's Word usually get it wrong. Then they spread their idiocies around and perfectly normal people hear and believe them. I will consider you to be one who has heard the nonsense rather than one who began it.

I will not address cannibalism with you until you tell me why you think God has taught that it should be done. You pulled that out of thin air. Your move, I answered your initial question on the subject.

Yes, God made provision for the killing of rebellious children. It is in the Law. If a young person consistently disobeyed and went astray, the parents had the option of using God's judicial system to have the child stoned. I will not put my judgment above God. However, I doubt that ordinance was used often. It was a great deterrent to rebellious children, no doubt.

However, you must understand that God presented the Law to people who had the right to accept or reject it.

1) Anyone who did not wish to be subject to the Law could leave the nation of Israel. So these people agreed with the Law, all of it and swore their allegiance to do their best to obey it.

2) Many of God's Laws were designed for health and genetic reasons. The dietary laws were very practical amongst a people who had no refrigeration and, at the time, were quite nomadic.

3) Preserving a people for Himself, God also put in place severe penalties for aberrant behavior so that homosexuality and incest and sociopathic behavior would not be passed down within the gene pool or sociologically accepted in any way. He intended for His people to have a sin-free culture and gene pool as much as would be possible.

4) Preserving a people for Himself allowed the scripture to be passed down through the ages by those same people, who revered the Law including those parts that do not meet with your approval.

5) Much of the Law was contingent upon the fact that man had no remedy for sin. Man was required to ceremonially and symbolically cleanse himself of sin through the mercy of God through acts of sacrifice of clean animals and grains, etc. These were symbolic of the actual and effectual sacrifice for sin, the Christ.

6) Jesus agreed with the Law, but He also applied it much as wise people within the people of God had always applied it, with mercy before judgment. Remember that he agreed the woman taken in sin should be stoned. He did not even question why the man was not also included. He simply demanded that the first stone-thrower be without sin himself. All who had come to stone the woman dropped their rocks and walked away. Jesus then could have stoned her, for He had the right, but rather told her to go forward and quit doing the sin.

7)You must remember that the Law was in place but Priests and Judges were also put in place to settle disputes and bring wisdom to bear. Go ahead and find the place in the Bible where parents and friends stoned a child to death before continuing on in this vein, please.

8) Jesus then was crucified and brought back to life as the first of all men who will live eternally with God. The Bible states that the "laws that were against us", in other words, the official ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, had been nailed to the cross along with Christ. Vast volumes have been written on this subject if you care to study it.
In short, Jesus led not just a sinless life, but a life led by God to always positively do right. He was then condemned unjustly to death. He then came back to life and, by doing so, gave the right to all men to inherit eternal life through the offered salvation of His once-for-all offering.

Now, concerning Ezekiel 9:5-7, you lifted a small part of a vision (Ezek 8:1-4 clearly states this is a vision, not a part of the Law or an actual happening) that God gave to Ezekiel so that Ezekiel might warn the children of Israel to change their ways.

Twice enemies of Israel tore down the Temple. Both times God allowed this only because the people strayed from following Him to follow sinful ways, like sacrificing babies on alters (like we do today, only we call it abortion instead of an offering to Molech, etc.). The final time was in AD 70 when Romans slaughtered every Jew they could find in Jerusalem, tore down the Temple and burned it. Those who knew God were warned by that rather difficult book, Revelation of John, to flee Jerusalem and so most Christians escaped that disaster. But it was the end of that portion of judgment often warned of by God and that includes Ezekiel. Did God kill people? No, he allowed the Romans to do it. But He knew they would do it if He did not stop them and He would not stop them if the people continued in constant sin.

This happened time and time again throughout Biblical history. Did God arbitrarily murder people in the Flood? No, as Creator He had the right to demand that His creation obey Him. All but a tiny handful of people had turned away from God and given in to the vilest of sinful behavior, spiting God and His initial requirements. Thus, Genesis 6:12 & 13 is God telling Noah of His judgment. Man had sinned, brought sin and death into the world, and was getting increasingly sinful and violent. God had the right to put an end to mankind. But He preserved the handful of people who continued to follow Him in faith within the Ark.

I hate to imagine anyone standing before the throne of God at the end of time and accusing Him of murder! I do have pity for all who rail against God now, for when the end comes they will be prostrate and frightened and full of sorrow and fear for they will certainly know their rightful judgment will be eternal death and hell.

I don't want any one of you guys to be in that position. Reconsider the incredible intricacies of life and the Universe and the small nagging place in your heart where God calls your name. Reconsider whether the Bible is true and Jesus Christ did come to save you and offer you eternal life with an amazing and awesome Creator God.

If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Savior and Lord and ask Him to forgive your sins and be your God then life will change for you in ways you cannot yet imagine. The greatest thing ever in my life was the day I acknowledged and met my God. He has faithfully loved and stayed by me through every second of my life from that time forward and carried me through some of the toughest times. I no longer know what it is like to be alone in the vast Universe seeking The Truth. I love seeking truth, but Truth I have found.

scohen said...

Lobo,
If that's how you want to read the phrase, that's fine, but the words you posted don't back you up. For you to be correct, slavery and kidnapping would need to be synonymous. Basically, if you believe what you say, the only reason to kidnap someone is to take them as a slave, which makes little sense.

At no time have I *ever* said I have expertise in the bible, just that a certain prohibition doesn't exist (and it doesn't).
What I'm getting at is not that the bible supports slavery, or ignores it entirely, (in fact, the bible has been used on both sides of the slavery debate) but that there is no single unambiguous statement that its adherents are banned from keeping slaves. Would an extra commandment have been difficult to add?

Do not kill. check.
Do not eat pork. check.
Do not keep slaves. ...err, not so much.

My claim is that today's society finds slavery 100% immoral and abhorrent, and this morality came not from the bible, but from thousands of years of experience and thought.

Radar:
Nice dodge with the love vs. justice dichotomy. It's an incredibly meaningful statement once you spend some time chewing on it. Of course *if* your definition of love precludes justice your response makes sense, but I ask you, is it reasonable to treat *everyone* with this type of love? Do you love your dog (I love my doggie)? Do you love your dog with justice (hardly, I'm incredibly unjust towards him)? By the same token, is it reasonable to treat everyone with justice? You don't need to answer that one, I just want you to understand the difference.

I did like your analogy with C++, but I think that it's fundamentally flawed (and C++ is an awful language). While I have yet to meet anyone that has taken a single class and thinks they're a master, the problem lies in the fact that you've highlighted an issue with syntax vs. style. You don't need to 'believe in' object oriented programming (C++'s style) to see how it works or to read the code. A C programmer (C and C++ share syntax) can look at C++ and with a little explanation see what it does --but what you're saying is that first must come faith and then comes understanding of the bible (effectively even though I understand the bible's syntax, I miss the *meaning*).

That's bunk.

I had a religious studies professor that had a deep and profound understanding of what Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism *meant* but I have no idea to which or any religion he adhered to. Similarly, a Jew or a Muslim might have a very different take on many of the rules you ignore, but does that mean you are correct and they are wrong? They have faith too, so who's faith is better? Is there a moment when new adherents to Christianity are magically blessed with additional understanding of the bible?

By the way, this is interesting but very much off topic.

radar said...

"what you're saying is that first must come faith and then comes understanding of the bible (effectively even though I understand the bible's syntax, I miss the *meaning*)."


Yes, scohen, I am saying that you need to be a believer to understand the Bible thoroughly. Not my call, but the Bible was written to believers from the beginning and God says that it is so.

2 Peter 1:19-21 (New King James Version)

"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

1 Corinthians 2:13-15 (New King James Version)

"These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one."

Christians depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit to help them understand the Bible beyond the initial reading. Not only are their references across the board scripture-to-scripture throughout the book, there are themes and symbols and types to know and understand. Yet all these things are not as important as the Spirit speaking within to the believer so that a passage has personal meanings and applications.

I didn't "get" the Bible when I read it before I became a believer. Once I did, the Bible suddenly was so full of life and revelation it just exploded within me as I read it.

I have often mentioned that I was a druggie and probably an alcoholic on the day I was saved. I spent my first days reading the Bible sitting on the couch with a beer and alternating between Kool Kings cigarettes and hand-rolled joints. But soon God changed me from the inside out and I laid aside the drugs, quit the cigarettes and the drinking (until I could do it moderately) and walked through life with a clear and sober mind. But it took God's presence within and His leading through the Bible to make such radical changes in me.

I began to be much kinder to others, to empathize with their losses and rejoice in their victories. I began giving my time to serve other people. Not because I was a better person, but because I was a changed person.

I wish I could simply apply logic to bring you to Christ, truly I do. But I know that only God can call you and only you can choose to hear Him. Even as you disagree with me I know that in some ways you are quite close to hearing that Voice. The very best I can do is to point the way.

I willingly argue Biblical matters with non-scholars because it may lead someone to take the possibility of a Creator God seriously. Me? I am a Bible student and have been since the day I became a Christian. Did I go to seminary? Yes. But reading and meditating on God's Word and depending on Him to give me the depth and richness of the substance thereof is what really works.

My life is proof that God lives. I know what I was and where I was heading before He woke me up. Intelligence without direction, pointless existence, this is the road to depression and madness. I quite clearly saw that a life without absolutes, with a random beginning and a meaningless end was meaningless throughout. Therefore I became a party animal and resolved to live life fast and hard and leave a handsome corpse behind.

Paul said quite truly that if Christ had not come then we might as well just "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." In other words, do it, do it, do it 'til your satisfied (whatever it is).

Fortunately for me there was still a part of me that was hungry for Truth and that was willing to believe if there was something to believe in...and God was patient enough to keep speaking to me in His still, small voice until the day that I heard.

Call me a fool, call me a fanatic, but one thing I know. I belong to the Creator God and I am willing to be a fool for His sake any day of the week. If you believe me to be foolish for twenty years and one day a tiny little thing I wrote helps you find God then every minute I ever spent on this blog will be made worth it. Just for you.

One last thing. When I worked in the Pentagon I learned to change lunch rooms around so I could hide from this Zoomie (Air Force personnel) who kept wanting to tell me about Jesus. I just wanted to eat lunch and get the day over with and smoke a joint on the drive back home. He persisted and he was always polite, never pushy, just whenever he found me he would come and mention some scripture to me and ask me if I had thought about that?

God bless that guy, because I never forgot his zeal. It meant so much to him, this Jesus business, that I often wondered why. I think that wondering helped prepare me for understanding and faith.

So I may be that annoying zoomie for you. Or maybe for someone else. It's enough!

Taxandrian said...

I love it when you guys claim I concede a point when you make some claim with which I disagree and I don't immediately come back with something.

Well, you indeed were quick enough to reply now. In other words: my post had the desired reaction.

I suppose you do that because you don't have enough confidence to proclaim that your point has been made.

Hey, I'm a polite guy. Always willing to give you an extra chance! :-P

So-called Bible scholars who study the Bible without believing it is God's Word usually get it wrong.

Well, what is 'wrong'? When 'wrong' means 'coming to conclusions I don't really like', well, yes, I think you are right about that.

I will consider you to be one who has heard the nonsense rather than one who began it.

I guess I can take that as a compliment, so...thanks!

I will not address cannibalism with you until you tell me why you think God has taught that it should be done.

Where exactly did I say I think God has taught such a thing? Let us see:

In my first reply to your first article on morality, I ask you:

2- You claim that you get your morality from the Bible. Using only the Bible, can you show us if cannibalism is right or wrong?

In your follow-up article you only answer this question by trying to link cannibalism to murder:

Cannibalism requires that someone be killed in order to eat them, which would be murder.

To which I reply:

Please explain how cannibalism necessitates murder. Also: please demonstrate what the Bible teaches about cannibalism which does not necessitate murder. Is it right or wrong?

So again: why are you trying to put words in my mouth I didn't say? And then you accuse me of pulling things out of thin air.
In short: nice move trying to shove it under the carpet, but I guess I'll have to insist:

Please show us whether cannibalism is right or wrong, using only the Bible.

Considering the rest of your reply here: you might not realise it, but actually you have completely proven my point: you are trying to excuse God for commanding his followers to kill children.
If any dictator would order his henchmen to kill children, for whatever reason, you would be outraged. However, when God does it, it's allowed, simply because He's God.
And that means that, contrary to your earlier statements, your morality is NOT based on absolutes: according to your morality 'killing children is wrong' is not an absolute; it depends on who you are.

Which in turn means that your moral values are not absolute, since you do not wish to apply them universally, i.e. to man and God.

I hate to imagine anyone standing before the throne of God at the end of time and accusing Him of murder! I do have pity for all who rail against God now, for when the end comes they will be prostrate and frightened and full of sorrow and fear for they will certainly know their rightful judgment will be eternal death and hell.

Wow! Do I smell an argumentum ad metum here?
Radar, by now you should know that referring to death, hell and god's judgement in a discussion with an atheist will only make you look insecure and without confidence in your own argument.

This paragraph only convinces me that indeed I am right: you know in your heart that God is wrong when commanding his followers to kill children, but you're afraid to condemn him for it because you're afraid of the consequences.

loboinok said...

For you to be correct, slavery and kidnapping would need to be synonymous. Basically, if you believe what you say, the only reason to kidnap someone is to take them as a slave, which makes little sense.

Can you provide evidence of other types of kidnappings that did not lead to forced slavery, sufficient enough to warrant a Divine prohibition?

Would an extra commandment have been difficult to add?

EIGHT: You shall not steal.

TEN: You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.

Matthew 22:36-40
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:36-40).

What more is needed?

...and this morality came not from the bible, but from thousands of years of experience and thought.

Radar has indicated that he will be addressing that in a future post. I imagine that in the course of that, a part of his post will reveal that the laws of this country was/are based on the Decalogue and the history of the original Colonies who so incorporated it, save one.

Given his lengthy and impressive response upthread...I look forward to it.

Incidentally, here is a 1642 Connecticut law addressing the Fifth Commandment to 'Honor your parents'.

If any child or children above sixteen years old, and of sufficient understanding shall curse or smite their normal father or mother, he or they shall be put to death; unless it can be sufficiently testified that the parents have been very unchristianly negligent in the education of such children, or so provoke them by extreme and cruel correction that they have been forced thereunto to preserve themselves from death [or] maiming. Ex. 21:17, Lev. 20, Ex. 20:15

It was the law of other states as well.

scohen said...

"Can you provide evidence of other types of kidnappings that did not lead to forced slavery, sufficient enough to warrant a Divine prohibition?"

Hmm... in the bible or in general? I would imagine kidnapping in order to extract ransom would be worthy of a prohibition (and a correct reading of the above passage indeed would consider this wrong). Also, wasn't there something in the bible about kidnapping women in order to marry them?

The rest of your point seems to be along the lines of Hillel, the torah can be summed up in "That which is hateful to you do not do to others. All the rest is commentary. Now go and learn."

Yet you must admit that there is no specific prohibition on slavery. In fact, if there was one --or one could be extrapolated from the teachings, why would there be rules on how to treat slaves that you, a believer, own?

The answer, of course is that you and I must read "Love your neighbor" differently than people through the ages read it. It obviously didn't apply to slaves.

Radar,
I need further clarification: Would a Jew ever 'believe' in the bible enough to be able to be enlightened such as yourself? How about catholics or other denominations?
If not, why do jews bother to read the bible at all? If so, why am I not enlightened? Also, if the morality of which you speak is invisible to everyone but believers, why make your original claim?

Say at one point in their life, someone believes in the bible and then later stops their belief. Is their understanding revoked, or were they never 'truly' believe?

Do you see the strangeness of a book that only makes itself clear to believers? It's like a seatbelt that only saves you after the airbags have already saved you, and will not work if the airbags fail to deploy.