10 April 2009

28 January 2009

A Quote from Charles Spurgeon Regarding John Gill


"My eminent predecessor, Dr. [John] Gill, was told, by a certain member of his congregation who ought to have known better, that if he published his book, The Cause of God and Truth, he would lose some of his best friends, and that his income would fall off. The doctor said, 'I can afford to be poor, but I cannot afford to injure my conscience;' and he has left his mantle as well as his chair in our vestry."

--

[C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography , 2 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973) 2:477]

20 January 2009

Against Dispensationalism

http://www.againstdispensationalism.com/95theses.shtml

--

(from the link . . .)

What follows should not be interpreted to mean that NiceneCouncil.com nor the historic Bible believing church would place every dispensationalist outside of the Christian faith. We acknowledge that most are dedicated to the foundational orthodox doctrines of Christianity. Unlike the sixteenth century dispute over the doctrine of justification, this is an in-house discussion, a debate among evangelical Christians. We recognize and treasure all born again believers who operate within a dispensational framework as brothers and sisters in Christ.

However, we must remember that Paul loved his fellow apostle Peter and esteemed him the senior and more honored of the two of them. Nevertheless, when it came to a point of theology that had profound implications for the purity and health of the Church, Paul was constrained by his love for Christ and the Truth publicly to withstand Peter to his face. (Galatians 2:11)

Therefore, because we believe that dispensationalism has at least crippled the Church in her duty of proclaiming the gospel and discipling the nations, and out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed in a series of videos written and produced by NiceneCouncil.com under the title The Late Great Planet Church. And as iron sharpens iron we request that every Christian, congregation, and denomination discuss and debate these issues. By the grace of our great Sovereign let us engage in this debate with an open mind and an open Bible. Like the Bereans nearly two thousand years ago, let us “search the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things are so.”

14 January 2009

Christian Water Baptism in the New Testament

In the New Testament (NT), there are 71 references to various forms of the word "baptize" (i.e., baptism, baptized, baptismal, etc.). Of those 71 references, only 19 passages refer to Christian water baptism. I distinguish Christian water baptism (or, believer's baptism) from other NT usages of baptism because there are different types of baptisms mentioned in the NT . . . the baptism of John . . . baptism of trial . . . baptism of the Holy Spirit, etc.

Out of the 19 passages that deal with believer's baptism, 11 are simply indicative references to people being baptized; that is, there is no theological significance attached to those 11 indicative verses, as they only tell us that a baptism has, is, or will be taking place.

So, here we are. Out of the the 19 passages in the NT that are relevant to believer's baptism, we are left with only 8 verses from which we can deduce any theological/doctrinal significance.

--

to be continued . . .

13 January 2009

Uncle Jesse Duplantis vs. Your Intellect, Parts 1 and 2

If you can stomach three and a half minutes of being intellectually assaulted via exegetical gymnatics, take the time to watch the following clip, where health/wealth/prosperity preacher Jesse Duplantis denies that the Tower of Babel was ever built.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_uKZhtntkk&feature=related

Or how about his claim that you choose when you live and you choose when you die (since life and death are in the power of your tongue and not God's)?? This one's only 45 seconds long, for the weak of stomach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgrScaBSOHg

Now, as my Dad says, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that something's wrong there . . . something's bad wrong. What's sad is that hosts of professing believers follow hard after such false teachers. What's worse is to hear those misguided folks defend such a heretic. Sad, sad, sad!

How long shall we put up with this dangerous rubbish? How long, Church?? We have lost our minds when we cannot call a spade a spade. Are we too ignorant, lacking good discernment? Are we cowards who know better, but who are content to keep our mouths shut so as not to offend. We can do much better than this! It’s simply another example of Uncle Jesse hurdling sound exegesis and good reason to hold to his presuppositions (i.e., the health, wealth, and prosperity false gospel).

09 January 2009

On the Synthetic Health, Wealth, & Prosperity Gospel . . .

"The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts." (1 Samuel 2:7)

--

Ideas have consequences! Put another way, how you think is inextricably woven together with how you act. We are experiencing this in Technicolor during the subprime mortgage meltdown. Prosperity preachers have turned tens of thousands of devotees into willing dupes for predatory lenders by convincing them that the Bible promised them homes they didn’t work for full of good things they didn’t buy.


Faith mega-star Rod Parsley is a prime offender. With reckless abandon he exhorts followers to experience abundance and luxury as a means of producing its reality:

"Some of you better get ready to drive around in neighborhoods where you never thought you’d be able to afford to live. Some of you better go down to that Lexus and Mercedes dealership and just sit down in one of those things with that leather all over it."

If asked to give a reason for the hope of the luxury that lies within them, Parsley simply instructs followers to respond, "Well, I’m just feeling out what my Father is going to give me . . . I heard a word from the man of God, and when I obeyed that word, it unleashed that anointing into my life, and I’m on my way to houses I didn’t build, full of good things I didn’t have to buy."

Together with a host of prosperity preachers ranging from Paula White to T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer such prosperity preachers have created a crisis in Christianity and the culture that I could scarcely have imagined two decades ago. –Hank Hanegraaff

--

After reading this, I was reminded of the following word - a biblical admonition/rebuke - from Pastor John Piper (take a look):

28 April 2008

A Small Note on Belief/Faith

In a recent conversation with Dr. John Robbins, he provided me with the following information regarding the nature of belief/faith:

"There is only one Greek word in the NT for belief: pistis.

It would have been far less confusing if the English translators had used only belief, not faith, in translating the Greek. If the translators had used one word, not two, to translate one Greek word, it probably would have been less confusing. The translators should not have used 'faith,' with its Latin, not Greek, roots.

Trust or confidence (which has 'fide' right there in the middle) are best understood as synonyms for belief. They are not parts or components as many say, equalling 1/3 of faith. If I trust a person, I believe what he says; if I believe him, I trust him.

All examples of belief in the Bible are examples of understanding and assent."

--


Recommended:

1. What Is Saving Faith? (Gordon H. Clark)

2. http://godshammer.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/demonic-theology/

Belief/Faith, pt. 1 of 2

I believe that understanding + assent (both intellectual processes) = faith/belief. It's that simple, in my opinion.

If I ask you whether or not you believe the following proposition - 2+2=4 - and you said yes, what are you telling me? You are telling me that 1) you understand what I mean by that statement - you understand numbers, basic addition, basic mathematical equations, etc.; & 2) you agree that the proposition in question is true - you assent to it. When these two things are present, it can be rightly said that belief/faith is present there. You can't believe what you do not understand, and even though you may understand something (say, Communism), it still cannot be said that you believe it if assent is not present.

As for saving faith in particular, which I believe is in view, this would have to do with believing certain "salvation-type" propositions . . . believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, etc.

This is no easy believism, for faith/belief is a gift from God to be dispensed in His timing to those who He has been pleased to elect unto salvation. Stated another way, assent is a gift from God, and the only reason as to why some believe is because God actively causes them to do so. Many miss that faith is actually of God, but take a close look:


Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own
doing; it is the gift of God
, Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may
boast. Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.

An additional point . . . if you believe that 2+2=4, then you won't write down 5 when balancing your checkbook. The point? What you believe necessarily translates into your actions. Somewhat analogous to that - saving faith results in a changed walk/life (see James 2:14-26). If someone claims to believe 'X', yet his lifestyle pattern is consistently contrary to that, then it is likely that they do not believe what they think they believe. Self-deception is strong and commonplace. So, you can believe that you believe something but your actions reveal that you probably don't!?!?

Jam 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not
have works? Can that faith save him?

Now, outward actions that conform to Biblical precepts - in themselves - are not a sure sign of saving faith (they could arise from impure motivations), but true saving faith necessarily results in true outward transformation.

Belief/Faith, pt. 2 of 2

From Vincent Cheung's Systematic Theology, p. 193-194:

However, there are conclusive reasons to reject this distinction between assent and trust, and instead to affirm that faith consists only of knowledge and assent.

First, the Bible does not exclusively use the "believe in" type of language when referring to faith. For example, Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). The verse demands that one who comes to God must give assent to two propositions. He must believe that (1) "God exists," and that (2) "God rewards those who earnestly seek him." The writer says that such faith can "please God," and that "the ancients were commended for" having it (v. 2).

Second, the New Testament indicates that to believe in Christ means to believe that certain propositions are true:







For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died
for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised
on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and
then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)


Third, we may demonstrate by an analysis of language that to believe in (or "trust") a person is simply shorthand for believing that (or "assent") certain propositions about him are true.

For example, there are two ways to understand the question, "Do you believe in the devil?" The question may either be asking whether one believes that the devil exists, or whether he believes that the devil is worthy of worship. That is, the question implies one of the two propositions, and asks the hearer to affirm or deny it. A Christian would affirm the first and deny the second. However, unless the context of the conversation establishes the meaning of the question, or unless the hearer makes an assumption as to the meaning of the question if the context does not provide it, it is impossible to tell which of the two propositions the hearer is being asked to affirm or deny.

If D = "the devil," e = "exists," and w = "worthy of worship," then "I believe in D" may mean either "I believe that De" or "I believe that Dw." Either way, "I believe in D" must represent either of the two "believe that" statements, and thus it is nothing more than a shorthand for one of them.

Likewise, "I believe in God" is a meaningless statement unless it is reducible to one or more "believe that" propositions. In the context of Hebrews 11:6, if G = "God," e = "exists," and r = "rewarder," then "I believe in G" appears to have three possible meanings:




1. "I believe that Ge"

2. "I believe that Gr"

3. "I believe that Ge + Gr"


Hebrews 11:6 calls for a faith that affirms (3), without which one cannot please God; it is a "believe that" kind of faith. Also, note that to believe in X may imply a "believe that" faith in more than one proposition. In Hebrews 11:6, to have faith means to believe that Ge + Gr.

Therefore, we may conclude that "I believe in X" is simply shorthand for "I believe that X1 + X2 + X3…Xn." This means that to believe or have faith in something or someone is to believe or have faith that one or more propositions about that something or someone are true. To have faith in God and in Christ is precisely to believe something about them – to have a "believe that" faith. To say that faith is belief or trust in a person instead of assent to propositions and that faith must go beyond the intellectual may sound more pious or intimate to some people, but this kind of faith is a meaningless concept. A faith that does not "believe that" certain propositions are true does not believe anything at all; the content of this so-called faith is undefined.

13 June 2007

The Nicene Creed


Also known as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, this authoritative statement of the orthodox faith was the consensus of the Christian councils in Nicea (A.D. 325) and Constantinople (A.D. 381). The wording and concepts in the Nicene Creed come entirely from the New Testament, and it is the most widely accepted and used brief statement of the Christian Faith.


--


"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.


We believe in one holy catholic[1] and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism[2] for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."


--
1. In the Creed, the word ‘catholic’ has its dictionary definition of ‘universal'; as such, it is not to be taken as a reference to Roman Catholicism.
2. ‘For’ has the meaning ‘because of’ as in ‘she cried for joy.’ Thus, the Creed does NOT teach baptismal regeneration, nor does the Bible.

12 April 2007

Unconditional Love? [authored by Danel Copeland]





-Part 1-



Friends,

I’d like to share a little email exchange I had with someone none of you know. She has a mailing list that sends out health tips. She sent me a short email about “unconditional love” and the following messages were exchanged. Tomorrow, I’ll share with you my final response. Take a few moments to consider how you might respond.

--




Original Email from “Sally”

What is unconditional love?

Unconditional love is accepting someone as he or she is, without judgment. And it doesn't just "happen". It is a mountain we must climb, constantly fighting our compassion fatigue, restricting our desire to give up, drawing on inner-strengths we knew nothing of, and looking to the peak even when we've been knocked down to our hands and knees. This is unconditional love.

Who needs your unconditional love today? Find a way to put your judgments aside. Love people for who they are.

--


Daniel’s Response

Why should we?

--

Response from “Sally”

We should because God commands us to love!

--

Daniel’s Response

Where does God command us to love in the way you have defined? That is, where has God commanded that we “accept someone as he is with out judgment”??

Thank you for your response.

--

Response from “Sally”

Let’s see… judge not lest ye be judged… love your neighbor as yourself (not only if they are perfect)…. Agape love is God’s love for us which is unconditional… He loves us even when we aren’t behaving the way He wants us to. It’s His kindness that leads to repentance. Loving a person without judging them doesn’t mean you condone whatever they do that you disagree with, etc. But I believe it’s Christ’s love through us that will lead them to repentance. I heard once that judging someone deems them unworthy of God’s amazing grace.


___________________________________________________________________


-Part 2-




Friends,


Below is my response to “Sally”. I hope you can sense my sincerity of love in it. It’s important that we stick to the Biblical definition of love in this age in which the memory of it has faded to a dim flicker, even in the churches. God bless.


--


There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end of it is the ways of death. - Proverbs 14:12




--


Daniel’s Response


Your notions seem to be na├»ve, without really dealing with all the Biblical data. You’re original email (which went out to a lot of people, I assume) defined “Unconditional Love” as “accepting someone as he or she is, without judgment”. The Bible doesn’t give this definition of love. In fact, we have to respect every part of Scripture, and put it all together to define what love is.


Consider this statement by Jesus . . .


"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." -Matthew 18:15-17


Jesus tells us there is a point to stop associating with a person who will not repent. Does this fall under your definition of “accepting” or is Jesus teaching us to not be loving here? Additionally, Paul tells us . . .


"But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?" -1 Corinthians 5:11-12


Does “not even to eat with such a one” fall under your definition of “accepting”? Paul tells us here to judge those in the church, but your definition of love says we are not to judge. How do you reconcile these teachings with the ones you loosely quoted? Are we to love our neighbor? Of course, but what does this love look like? That is the question. We should be careful to not use just any definition that might look good on a Hallmark card. Sometimes, Biblical love is tough. Sometimes Biblical love calls us to tell someone they are wrong. We judge their actions as wrong, and we warn them. Sometimes Biblical love calls us to totally reject someone, being unwilling to even eat with them. Is the love conditional? No, but the acceptance is. Our love is constant, and the object of that love is God, himself. This is the first commandment, and the second flows from it. Out of our love and respect of God, we obey His commands in how we treat other people. We pray for them when they persecute us. We bless them when they curse us. We do good to those that hate us. Why? Because our God, whom we love, told us to.


--


As to the “judge not” passage you mentioned, Matthew Henry says some helpful things here . . .


We must not judge our brother, that is, we must not speak evil of him, so it is explained in Jam 4:11. We must not despise him, nor set him at nought, Rom 14:10. We must not judge rashly, nor pass such a judgment upon our brother as has no ground, but is only the product of our own jealousy and ill nature. We must not make the worst of people, nor infer such invidious things from their words and actions as they will not bear. We must not judge uncharitably, unmercifully, nor with a spirit of revenge, and a desire to do mischief. We must not judge of a man's state by a single act, nor of what he is in himself by what he is to us, because in our own cause we are apt to be partial.


The office of the judge is often to render a decision where there is not total clarity. We are to be careful not to do this with our neighbor . . . not to assume the worst of someone, and judge them to be guilty of things or motives we cannot be sure of. This is especially true when we are so unwilling to think the worst of ourselves, which makes us to be a hypocrite, which if you read the entire passage is the emphasis of Christ, for he says, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”


There are often times, however, when we are sure someone has done wrong and we do see clearly, and we are not to “accept” them in their wrong, but should rebuke them.


--


Concerning “agape”, the word does not necessarily mean “unconditional love”. If it did, the translators should have translated it that way, and if they had, then we would have verses that read like this . . .


“Do not unconditionally love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone unconditionally loves the world, the unconditional love of the Father is not in him” – 1 John 2:15 [ULV] – [Unconditional Love Version]

--



Your other comments depend heavily on what is even meant by “love” . . . for example, you say that God “loves us even when we aren’t behaving the way He wants us to”. If here we define “love” as “acts to do us good”, then I think the statement can only be meaningfully applied to God’s chosen people. [Romans 8:28]


However, even given that definition, what does this love sometimes look like? Was God loving Aaron when He burned his sons to death in Leviticus 10:2? I would say so, but the Hallmark company probably wouldn’t. God knew that the best good he could do for Aaron would be to protect His own Holiness…so that Aaron could see it and savor it forever.


--


So, let me sum up. Biblical love has several facets that must be understood. Sometimes this love requires us to “reject” people on the basis of their behavior. To do this, we need to be able to “judge them” in some sense. Our love is rooted in God. We love Him, and out of that love we obey His commands including those that inform us how to treat others. When we obey these commands, we are being loving, by definition.


Given all this, I hope you will reconsider how you define love, and how you encourage others to love. Also, I hope you will not be offended that I took the time to share with you these thoughts, as I believe I am doing the very thing you asked me to do . . . that is . . . I believe I am showing you love.


--


There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end of it is the ways of death. - Proverbs 14:12


____________________________________________________________________


Shortly after reading Unconditional Love, my wife decided to forward it on to some others on her e-mail contact list. On the same day, she received this response:


"Isn’t it interesting how a person can search the Bible and find verses to justify their actions and beliefs? Sally wants to love, so she finds the verses to justify love. Daniel wants to reject and judge, so he found the verses to justify those actions.

I’m in the same boat as Sally. Which boat are you in?"


--


This is unfortunate & sad for many reasons. Knowing that this came from a church-going person, I deemed it appropriate to respond. Here is how I responded:


Isn’t it interesting how a person can search the Bible and find verses to justify their actions and beliefs?

[It certainly is! It happens all day, everyday. Unfortunately, this is just as prevalent within the professing Church as it is without it. Our haste in lifting a line of Scripture here and there to "strengthen" or "build" a case for this belief or that action happens, most times, to our peril. Each single line of Scripture is encased in an immediate context, and that immediate context fits into an even more large body of 66 books.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 [ESV]

I have found that when one is unfamiliar with the larger context of Scripture (3/4 of those in our churches), and this one quotes a verse in order to make a point, the supposed point isn't usually made at all. What's worse, when one takes a verse out of context in order to make a case, being unfamiliar with other portions of Scripture, they run a great risk of misinterpreting Scripture in such a way that a perceived contradiction is raised within the Bible. What I mean by that is this - let's say that I have a certain view/conception of "love" and that I take that to the text and find a verse or two that contains that word. If I prematurely interpret said verse according to the preconception that I brought with me, then what happens further along down the road when I discover that my rendering of that verse runs directly contrary to something else that I find in Scripture? When it comes to this, is God's infallible revelation to be discarded due to the error found within (i.e., error meaning the supposed contradiction that has surfaced), or should I revisit my methodology of handling words, sentences, and paragraphs that were meant to be taken as a unified, cohesive whole? What say you?

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 [ESV]

Maybe the "contradiction" that has been raised in such an instance is not actually a contradiction after all, as careful study could prove. When one handles the Bible (again, meant to be taken as one unified, cohesive, flowing whole) so loosely & carelessly, the necessary implication is that that one doesn't have enough respect and reverence for God (seeing as how the Bible is His revelation . . . the portion of His mind that He has decided to reveal to us). How frightening is that? When folks unintentionally, yet out of carelessness and out of a failure to do the tough work of careful study, set up a perceived contradiction within the Bible, which does not contradict itself, the onlooking unbeliever is strengthened in his unbelief and the scoffing from the unbelieving scoffer will only continue (i.e., "I told you that the Bible contained error!!," etc.). Have we not any more respect for the Almighty than that? All of that said to say this - it is not only interesting how a person can search the Bible and find verses to justify their actions and beliefs, it is a self-centered, careless, dangerous, and sinful practice (i.e., sinful in that it constitutes "adding" to or subtracting" from the revelation that God has given us). If the Bible says that the barn is red, then the barn is red. If a person says that it is blue, or even pink, regardless of whether or not it will give warm fuzzies or sound neat on a hallmark card, then I must judge that as wrong. Context makes all the difference in the world.

"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." - Jude 1:3 [ESV]

"Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you." - 2 Timothy 1:13-14 [ESV]]


___________________________________________________________________


Sally wants to love, so she finds the verses to justify love.

[But Sally, sadly, never defined love from the Bible and never justified her belief from it in the least; she (if one would only carefully read her response) simply asserted an arbitrary definition of "unconditional love" . . .

Sally: "What is unconditional love? Unconditional love is accepting someone as he or she is, without judgment . . . This is unconditional love."

. . . only to string a few incomplete fragments of out-of-context Scripture together as her response, which was no response whatsoever. When pressed just a tiny bit, Sally could not answer . . .

Daniel: "Where does God command us to love in the way you have defined? That is, where has God commanded that we 'accept someone as he is with out judgment'??"

Sally: "Let’s see… judge not lest ye be judged… love your neighbor as yourself (not only if they are perfect)…. Agape love is God’s love for us which is unconditional… He loves us even when we aren’t behaving the way He wants us to. It’s His kindness that leads to repentance. Loving a person without judging them doesn’t mean you condone whatever they do that you disagree with, etc. But I believe it’s Christ’s love through us that will lead them to repentance. I heard once that judging someone deems them unworthy of God’s amazing grace."

Read carefully, for Sally never answered Daniel's simple request (a request certainly warranted due to the amount of folks that that this person is potentially leading astray), and by so doing, failed to provide ANY justification for her stance whatsoever. By the way, the last sentence is one of the most unbiblical things I have ever heard . . . none of us are unworthy of God's amazing grace (grace is by definition unmerited favor; we are not only unworthy of it, we are deserving of the opposite. What we are dealing with here is a person who has, over time, drifted from the harbor of Biblical truth, only to sail her boat directly into the harbor of political correctness, esp. relative to the world's view of judging another. Her views have more in common with man-centered popular culture than with anything Biblical.

To see what's wrong with the premise that it is wrong to judge, check out the following imaginary exchange:

Sally: "You shouldn't judge!"

Daniel: "Well, why not?"

Sally: "Why not . . . because judging is wrong."

Daniel: "If judging is wrong, then why have you just now 'judged' me as being wrong in my views on judging?"

--

See the intellectual suicide that just took place? Let me ask, would you say that what the terrorists did on 9/11 is wrong? If so, you just judged. In fact, and more relative to your response, your actual response shows how you have already judged the Daniel/Sally exchange! If Matthew 7:1 teaches what Sally says it teaches, then Sally should not deem what the terrorists did on 9/11 as wrong, lest she fail to meet her own self-imposed standard of unconditional love. She worked herself quickly into a knot.]

___________________________________________________________________


Daniel wants to reject and judge, so he found the verses to
justify those actions.

[Not at all. You accuse a person of eisegesis (reading something into the text that isn't there), when technically sound exegesis (working from Scripture to a position) has clearly occurred. If you believe that it has not, then the burden of proof now falls to your shoulders to provide the correct interpretation of the relevant passages covered in the exchange, which I hope you would be willing to take the time to do, considering the brevity with wich you treated a fine handling of Scripture. Take a week to respond, if need be! I truly mean that with all sincerity. When I read the above sentence of yours, I had to ask myself whether or not you actually even read the entire correspondence . . . it doesn't seem that way. If you did not, then I would encourage you to do so. Maybe you didn't read closely enough, in which case I would again recommend that you re-read the brief exchange. Did you take the time to consider the relevant texts, examining their respective contexts, or did you simply read and then side with Sally, who never gave a coherent Biblical argument? As a professing Believer, and as one that I would assume considers the Bible as her final and ultimate authority on matters of faith and practice, I would ask you to re-examine this correspondence in light of this. As Daniel so clearly pointed out . . .

Daniel: Are we to love our neighbor? Of course, but what does this love look like? That is the question. We should be careful to not use just any definition that might look good on a Hallmark card. Sometimes, Biblical love is tough. Sometimes Biblical love calls us to tell someone they are wrong. We judge their actions as wrong, and we warn them. Sometimes Biblical love calls us to totally reject someone, being unwilling to even eat with them. Is the love conditional? No, but the acceptance is.

Sometimes, if we are to take the Bible seriously, our loving of another might need to be expressed by rejecting that one in the hopes that they will repent, for it is the Bible (not hallmark) that defines love. I'd like to know your views on what the Bible says about church discipline, when you get a chance.]


____________________________________________________________________


I’m in the same boat as Sally. Which boat are you in?


[If I take Scripture seriously at all, I must make the judgment that Sally's boat is sinking, having no Biblical basis whatsoever. To jump ship to, or to remain in, Sally's boat would be tantamount to drowning due to intellectual suicide. If you are in the same boat as Sally, then I will ask you what Daniel first asked Sally . . . Where does God command us to love in the way you have defined? That is, where has God commanded that we “accept someone as he is with out judgment”? I look forward to your response. Again, please take a week or two if need be, as I realize the hectic schedules that we all keep don't always provide for this sort of thing (at least, not for an immediate, detailed, thoughtful response). I look forward to hearing from you soon.


"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." - Proverbs 18:2

--

I pray that you will understand that, according to Biblical standards, I have shown love to you by writing this to you. I pray that this will be very fruitful in the long run. May God be glorified in all of this.]


--


For further reading, please see:


http://www.vincentcheung.com/2006/12/27/speaking-the-truth-in-love/

08 April 2007

Santa Claus Revisited


I will be the first to admit that I love (and watch . . . most every year) the old claymation/animation works such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc.

[Oh yes, and before I forget . . . "You'll shoot your eye out, kid" (I think that either TNT or TBS runs a 24-hr. marathon of that one on Christmas Eve or so)! ]


At the same time, I do not teach Santa Claus as fact to my impressionable child; that is, I do not teach that there truly exists this jolly, white-bearded, magical, chubby, red/white-clad, black-booted man who makes his residence at the North Pole, employs short, pointy-eared elven-helpers, is married to Mrs. Claus, loves milk and cookies, visits the homes of well-behaved children (I think most Americans dropped this requirement long ago) after they fall fast asleep on Christmas Eve, travels in a sleigh driven by a host of reindeer led by none other than Rudolph, etc., etc., etc.


I do not teach my child this way as a Bible-believer, nor do I think that you should either, and here is why:


#1 - Teaching Santa as fact involves outright dishonesty on the parts of parents toward their children. If you know, full-well, that you are telling a non-truth to another party with the intentions of them truly believing what you are saying, you have a lie on your hands and nothing less. When you add to this the moldable and impressionable nature of trusting, concrete-thinking children, who take you at your word, you have a recipe for potential problems. Seeing parents, even within the Church, seeking to justify this dishonesty can be interesting and even entertaining. Can this sort of dishonesty be validated, and if so, how so?



#2 - Teaching Santa Claus as fact unintentionally positions St. Nick to be the focus of Christmas, as opposed to the incarnation of Jesus Christ to fulfill the will of God the Father. Throwing around a few of these - "Don't forget that Jesus is the reason for the season!" - doesn't make Jesus the reason for the saeson in reality, and neither does reading the story of the nativity prior to opening gifts (though I believe this to be a good idea, in and of itself). This scenario can be likened unto the young man who always writes to his sweetheart long love-letters, only to end those letters with - "Remember to keep God first!" God gets the P.S., and we need to avoid this sort of thinking. Our God is jealous for our attention, focus, gaze, and worship, and shares the stage with no one, for who is like the Most High? There are no other gods. For those who would consciously seek to strike a balance between Santa and Christ (a rarity, really), do you folks not see that you are presenting Santa and Christ as just as real and believable . . . fiction & non-fiction?? Dangerous stuff! This leads to my next point . . .



#3 - I do not present a fictitious character as fact, for when you have presented both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ as co-realities for many years of your child's formative experience, and since your children will soon realize that one of them (Santa) is fictional, the kid who actually thinks things through (and they do exist!) may begin to question the veracity and truthfulness of other things that you have taught as fact. It can introduce a skepticism into the parent-child relationship which can work against you as a parent . . . their trust of you could be at stake. It is difficult to respect and submit to one whom you are skeptical and unsure of. Now, while this was not the case with me, I actually know a person who struggled with God's existence as a young man due, in part, to this very thing.



#4 - Finally, I do not teach Santa as factual because my using of Santa Claus and his bringing of toys to good boys and girls as a motivator for year-'round good behavior motivates the child's behavior towards the wrong objective, one that is certainly not Biblical and God-centered. As a Christian parent, for what reason should your children behave? Should they do so simply to avoid chastisement (spanking)? Should they do so in order to get something? Both of these are self-focused motivations (the former having to do with self-preservation).

--

As a subpoint to #4 above, we would also do well to revisit the fine distinction between a bribe (not to be used in the parenting process) and a reward (which certainly has its place) - while the former has to do with using a desirable thing to motivate and bring about a certain behavior, the latter has to do with a positive consequence/reward born out of a situation where one meets preexisting expectations (i.e., obedience to parents, submission to parental authority, etc.). To avoid a reward subtly morphing into an unintentional bribe, be careful how much you talk about the reward beforehand, and let the reward be something that doesn't happen everyday (at least, the type of reward that would be especially BIG in the eyes of your child - you wouldn't want to do that all of the time; you couldn't afford it either). Every expected instance of obedience shouldn't be followed by a trip to the mall for the latest craze. Whatever happened to "That's a boy," "Good job sweetie," "I'm very proud of you, honey," or simple pats on the back that say a lot? These are very rewarding options to consider and implement more actively in the parenting process. Trips to the mall are nice, too; just be careful not to over-do it to such an extent that you unintentionally create a self-focused child with a nasty sense of entitlement. Regardless, however, Santa shouldn't be used either way (bribe or reward) due to the dishonesty involved.

--

Other things to consider:

* Well intentions are simply that - well intentions. We could say the same for doing fun things that bring about a state or disposition of happiness in the one doing those fun things. However, is it possible that that one could mean well but not do well; that is to say, that you could unknowingly transgress or fall short of a Biblical command/precept while meaning well all the while, ultimately bringing about a harm that was unforeseen in the beginning?



** Is it also possible that one could engage in certain things that, while being fun and bringing about happiness, are illegitimate and sinful (i.e., getting plastered, engaging in premarital sexual relations, etc.)? In other words, there are things that we shouldn't engage in that might be considered a lot of fun. Although I've given the answer in so many words, I'd like you to think on this one as well.



*** I will allow my children to "pretend" relative to Santa Claus if they'd like or sit in the lap of the one dressed as him at the malls in December, etc. There is no inconsistency here, as I would have already communicated the truth of the issue to them and discerned whether or not they could distinguish that which is real from something that is imaginary. If, however, you ask my child what Santa brought to him for Christmas, do not be shocked when he looks at you with a puzzled stare; he already knows that Daddy & Mommy are the gift bearers. The same could be said about questions related to the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.


**** As to the "magical wonderment factor" that many would claim I am removing from my child's early childhood years, to that I say nonsense. First of all, our current protocol for that time of year is uniquely wonderful and filled with lots of fun in his eyes. From his perspective, he's never been taught the typical Santa tradition, and for all he knows, he's not missing anything at all. Second, I would say that the Incarnation (God the Son stepping out of the halls of Heaven and taking on human flesh in order to save all sorts of people for Himself unto the glory of God) is much more miraculous than a fat man squeezing himself down chimneys. Third, even if the wonderment/wow factor was to a lesser degree in the eyes of a child (and it shouldn't be), this doesn't justify breaking Biblical precepts in order to remedy that in your mind. Be careful of the pragmatic mindset that would tell you that the end justifies the means; while this type of thinking about things (i.e., ethics, morals, etc.) is prominent in American thinking, it can get you in a LOT of trouble. If you have to transgress, or fall short of, Biblical commands/precepts in order to achieve a certain goal (i.e., possibly more fun for your child, among others things) then you have sinned . . . period. You are not loving your child when you do this, as much as your intuition and feelings say otherwise.


***** For more information on the historical Saint Nicholas, see the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_nicholas. You might want to teach your children about the historical St. Nicholas at some point. If so, the link provided should point you in the right direction.


--



With these things said, I would like to ask you some questions in closing:



(1) Since when did good intentions become the standard by which we act and make our decisions? While we certainly don't want to act out of bad intentions, is there more to the decision-making process (or, rather, should there be more) than merely meaning well?



(2) If an action is to be considered morally and ethically right based on whether fun is had in the process, what sorts of things could be considered fair game (could you name anything that the Scriptures deem as sinful and off-limits?)?


(3) Is obedience to God's commands/precepts (w/ are found in the Bible) and the very soul of your child more important to you than your reputation and likeability/coolness in their eyes?

01 March 2007

Two Translation Methods & the KJV


In recent weeks, my wife brought to my attention an issue that was raised by an acquaintance of hers*, one that has to do with the King James Version of the Bible, and one that deserves addressing. After a subsequent discussion with my wife (and having previously read a grossly misguided article in our local digest, one that likely deserved a rebuttal), I decided it fruitful to e-mail her acquaintance with what I have posted below. I pray that you find this helpful and enlightening. With that said, I will jump to the chase, providing some notes on the 2 methodologies that are used when translating Scripture.

* [the acquaintance is not of the KJV-only mindset, but is having to deal with it by way of other connections]


-//-


I. Formal Equivalence (literal or word-for-word)-

A. This philosophy of translating is basically a literal word-for-word translation (that is the primary objective); the translating committee starts with the original Hebrew, Aramaic (not to be confused w/ Arabic), & Greek (parent languages) and then proceeds to relay what they find there into the receptor language (English, in our case), using our vocabulary and way of speaking.

B. Due to the word-for-word faithfulness and accuracy, translations falling under this umbrella would serve us best as we seek to do in-depth study (say, for a sermon, lesson, or simply for personal enrichment).

C. The KJV, NKJV, NASB (New American Standard Bible), RSV (Revised Standard Version), NRSV, etc., would be examples (though there are more). My personal favorite would be the NASB (1995 updated edition), as it is probably the most scholarly word-for-word translation on the market today (often deemed the “official” or preferred translation on many Bible College & Seminary campuses).

D. If I could cite a minor drawback here, I would have to say that the reading can be a bit more choppy due to the emphasis on word-for-word accuracy; but then again, if I were reading through the Bible in a year or reading for a daily devotion, I might use something under the “dynamic equivalence” umbrella, to be covered below.


-//-



II. Dynamic Equivalence (thought-for-thought)

A. This philosophy of translating is basically a thought-for-thought translation (that being the primary focus); the translating committee starts with the original Biblical languages and then proceeds to transmit the main thought(s) of what they find there into the receptor language. In so doing, they must initially deal with the literal wording of the original languages, carefully noting the context, after which they seek to communicate the thought to us in our language.

B. These sorts of translations would likely serve you best in the area of general reading and daily devotions.

C. The NIV, CEV (Contemporary English Version), NLT (New Living Translation), etc., would be examples (though there are more). I like the NIV here. In fact, some would even say that the NIV is a good mix between the two types of translating methods! If you picture a ruler lying horizontally in your mind, with the left end representing formal equivalence and the right end representing dynamic equivalence, none of these (I speak of translations under both umbrellas here) lie directly on top of one another; rather, they fall at different points (the KJV might be on a 11th grade reading level while the NASB might fall at the 12th grade level, with the NIV at 7th grade or something comparable).

D. If I could cite a minor drawback, it would almost be the reverse of the drawback referenced above . . . while the reading would be fluid and smooth, you could potentially miss out on an important detail here and there.

-//-

As for paraphrases such as the Living Bible (LB) or Message (MSG), they use an existing translation as the starting point rather than the original languages, after which they seek to make things even more readable. In a sense, no hardcore translating is taking place. Though these are not to be discarded merely because they are paraphrases and not translations (they can be quite helpful at times), I would not give them quite the same credit as the actual translations.

-//-

It must be remembered that the above summary is meant to explain the two primary methods of translating. It’s not so much that one is good and one is bad so much as both are useful for different pursuits. If I were pressed to tell which I would carry with me to a deserted island (if I could bring only one; I would hate that!!), I would probably choose the NASB . . . or the ESV . . . or the NIV??!!?? [most likely the NASB, 1995 edition].

-//-

This discussion relates to the whole KJV-only argument when those types of folks (as well-intentioned as they may think themselves to be) start discussing the absence of certain words, etc., in non-KJV translations, prematurely concluding that this automatically implies some sort of satanic perversion conspiracy of sorts. They might not know (or, worse, might know that the layperson doesn’t know) these translation dynamics. I would caution that before you bite on this line (". . . 'hell' is missing there - the devil's in the house . . ."), you will want to check out those other translations on those points . . . I have found that on many occasions, they must have forgotten to check out those other translations as their arguments are simply not true; that is, I find “hell” and “blood” in many translations other than the King James Version. In very limited instances, let’s say that the literal word is missing. Is the concept present? Is there a corresponding letter or number in the text that refers you to a marginal note offering further explanation? My point is that in most cases, the word is actually there when you check the context (I did this on “hell” just a minute ago with some software that I have), but even if it is not, that in and of itself might not be problematic as there are other things to consider.

Not only does this type of thing discredit them within the Christian community, it also carries the added potential of bringing reproach on the Body of Christ in the eyes of scoffers and unbelievers who are waiting for a chance to misrepresent all Believers because of the ignorance of a few. It is hard to blame them.

Consider a very relevant passage of Scripture:

Mark 7:1-9 (English Standard Version – word-for-word):

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!


-//-

Mark 7:1-9 (The Message):

The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren't being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees--Jews in general, in fact--would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they'd give jugs and pots and pans). The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, "Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?" Jesus answered, "Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull's-eye in fact: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn't in it. They act like they are worshiping me, but they don't mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy, ditching God's command and taking up the latest fads." He went on, "Well, good for you. You get rid of God's command so you won't be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions!”

I give this one in light of the what sin is, that being any lack of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God (or, what God has commanded/what He expects from us). Beyond the precepts of God’s word, I begin questioning one who would make a matter of sin something that is foreign to God’s Word.



With that said, not all translations are necessarily equal in value; however, the message should remain the same in a copy of Scripture you purchase at your local Christian bookstore. Interestingly enough, The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) have come out with the NWT (New World Translation), claiming that this represents the best in translation scholarship and . . . rubbish! If you were to turn to John 1:1 and following in that “version,” you’d find something like this: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was a god.” In the versions you find at LifeWay, it would read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” You can see how the very deity of Christ is at stake . . . a legit problem!

25 February 2007

The Sufficiency of Scripture & Child Discipline III




From last time . . .


The next response I received from Peace2You follows (you’ll notice that he addresses some items published in Part 1/S.T.S. 2.5 of this series).






I'm familiar with all the scriptures on the rod. Sorry if I interpret scripture a bit less literally than you and don't take an actual rod to be necessary. In at least two of those passages, I think this is entirely justified. "Rod of discipline" and "rod of correction" seem to invite metaphorical interpretation like "breastplate of righteousness" does. I think discipline and correction will save your child's life. But I don't think it is necessary that the rod be a part of that. As I said, I don't look down on anyone who does think that way, though. It is entirely justified by scripture. I just don't think it is required. Proving this is quite easy. All we need do is observe that many people raise their children with strong discipline but without corporal punishment, and if their children turn out to be God-following, God-fearing adults, then the method succeeded. I know several such people. Their children are not foolish or dead, and they
never felt prompting from the Spirit that they were not following God's ways by not spanking their children, though they honestly sought God's wisdom on the matter. –Peace2You
-//-

Now we will pick up where we left off last time . . .


I'm familiar with all the scriptures on the rod. Sorry if I
interpret scripture a bit less literally than you and don't take an actual rod to be necessary. –Peace2You


Some scriptures are to be interpreted less literally than others - no doubt about that at all Peace. A good hermeneutic readily recognizes the possibility of the use of language in a figurative or non-literal sense (i.e., similes, metaphors, etc.) to teach a literal truth. The question remains, however, as to whether one is hermeneutically justified in viewing the rod passages of Proverbs in the manner that you have suggested; that is, metaphorically (based on these 2 qualifiers: "of discipline," & "of correction"). -Scott



In at least two of those passages, I think this is entirely justified. "Rod of discipline" and "rod of correction" seem to invite metaphorical interpretation like "breastplate of righteousness" does. –Peace2You

This is not warranted at all, especially upon closer examination of the cited passages. Let me state here that I do understand that you don't have a problem with a parent who spanks or with one who interprets the rod passages in the manner that I have suggested. I understand that. However, let me offer a working definition of "metaphor" that I think we can agree upon:




Metaphor: a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.




Let's now revisit the rod passages of Proverbs, along with viewing the passage on the armor that you referred to (I'll also throw in one for free from 1 Thessalonians 5 as well).

Proverbs 10:13 - On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.

Proverbs 13:24 - Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Proverbs 14:3 - By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.

Proverbs 22:8 - Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.

Proverbs 22:15 - Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13 - Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. [take a close look here]

Proverbs 23:14 - If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. [take a close look here]

Proverbs 26:3 - A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. [take a close look here]

Proverbs 29:15 - The rod *and* reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. [some translations do use "rod of correction" here, leaving out "and reproof"; again, take a close look here]


-//-




Ephesians 6:10-18a - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, *which is the word of God *[here is an in-text explanation], praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. *[sword of the Spirit is, in the text itself, defined as the word of God]




-//-




1 Thessalonians 5:8 - But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.




-//-




Now - while the context of the Ephesians 6 and the 1 Thessalonians 5 passages naturally lend themselves to metaphorical interpretation (i.e. denoting similarities between belt/truth, breastplate/righteousness, shoes/gospel, shield/faith, helmet/salvation, & sword/Spirit), the qualifiers “of _________” in 3 out of 9 Proverbs' "rod" passages don't look to parallel in the same way at all. In other words, sword of the Spirit is to the Word of God as belt is to truth (these are clear metaphors), but sword of the Spirit is not to the Word of God as rod is to discipline; that is to say, the sword of the Spirit IS the word of God . . . it does not BRING ABOUT the Word of God . . . at the same time, the rod IS NOT discipline . . . rather, it serves the purpose of bring about discipline. Context (at least of the usage of rod throughout Proverbs) should suffice to make the point.While the Ephesians 6 and 1 Thessalonians 5 passages are clearly metaphorical in that they are denoting similarities or comparisons between 2 unlike things, the passages in Proverbs take on more of a cause/effect relationship. I don't see how it is justified here to draw a similarity between rod and correction and/or discipline.

Added to this, as a matter of cultural manners and customs, the audience would have understood the shebet (or, rod) to mean a scion or stick utilized in writing, fighting, punishing, ruling, walking, etc. Usage of shebet could hypothetically be used in a figurative manner at times, but relative to child-discipline, it is not warranted. This paragraph and the one preceding it are very important, so I encourage you to read through them a few more times before moving on.




Proverbs 22:15 - Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. [The tool (rod) utilized to bring about a certain objective (discipline) . . . ]

Proverbs 29:15 - The rod *and* reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. [some translations do use "rod of correction" here, leaving out "and reproof"] [The instrument (rod) used for the purpose of bringing about correction] . . . -Scott


I think discipline and correction will save your child's life. –Peace2You

Agreed. –Scott


But I don't think it is necessary that the rod be a part of that. –Peace2You

The Bible says that corporal punishment is to be a major component of a parent's disciplinary toolbox; created man is who says otherwise. Note that I did not say that nothing else should be utilized in discipline save the rod; not at all, for we have additional instruction such as the following:

Proverbs 29:15 - The rod *and reproof* give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. -Scott


As I said, I don't look down on anyone who does think that way, though. –Peace2You

True. –Scott



It is entirely justified by scripture. I just don't think it is required. –Peace2You

The 1st sentence above is odd to me, especially when taken together with the 2nd one that follows it. If the "rod" is to be understood in a metaphorical sense (as a non-literal way to refer to discipline and correction in general), then I don't see how it is entirely justified by Scripture. Is one justified in using the breastplate of righteousness in a wooden literal manner? –Scott


Proving this is quite easy. All we need do is observe that many people raise their children with strong discipline but without corporal punishment, and if their children turn out to be God-following, God-fearing adults, then the method succeeded. –Peace2You

Not at all! Have you observed ALL the children of people that failed to exercise corporal punishment, yet were otherwise strong in their disciplinary approach (even the ones that are dead and those who are yet to be born)? Even if you did (which you didn’t), how can you be so sure that you correctly interpreted that which you observed? What you have observed doesn't prove anything at the end of the day.

This is where induction, or seeking to reason from a part to the whole, fails us (though it, admittedly, has much appeal for pragmatically-minded Americans). In any event, it isn't quite as easy as you say it is. What you just did perfectly takes the form of a fallacious argument, known as asserting the consequent. Allow me to explain:




Asserting/Affirming the Consequent:




Premise 1: If A, then B;
Premise 2: B;
Conclusion: Therefore, A . . .




-//-

Can you spot the problem above before moving on? Try to see for yourself before reading on!!

-//-

Okay! The problem is that *A* was never established as a true premise in its own right whatsoever (look again); it was merely asserted or posited (“IF” A) in an attempt to make sense out of the situation. It was presupposed or assumed before-hand. In fact, *B* could be the case for many reasons other than *A*.

If we fill the construct with the meat of your argument for the success of variant methodologies of discipline other than corporal punishment, it would look like this:




Premise 1: *If* [A] non-physical forms of discipline can be successful, then [B] I will observe God-following/God-fearing grown-ups who were disciplined consistently and actively, yet without the use of corporal punishment.

Premise 2: It is the case that [B] I observe God-following/God-fearing grown-ups who were not literally spanked, yet who were disciplined consistently and actively.

Conclusion: Therefore, [A] non-physical forms of discipline can be successful.




-//-

Therefore what? Therefore nothing! Do you see the problem??
This suffers from the same problems as expounded upon above. *B* (. . . then I will observe God-following/God-fearing grown-ups who were disciplined consistently and actively, yet without the use of corporal punishment . . .) can be the case for any number of reasons other than A.

Watch . . .

Premise 1: *If* [A] God can graciously produce a faithful servant in spite of the failure of his parents to spank, then [B] I will observe God-following/God-fearing grown-ups who were disciplined consistently and actively, yet without the use of corporal punishment.

Premise 2: It is the case that [B] I observe God-following/God-fearing grown-ups who were not literally spanked, yet who were disciplined consistently and actively.

Conclusion: Therefore, [A] God can graciously produce a faithful servant in spite of the failure of his parents to spank.

-//-

NOTE – Notice, however, that the disobedience of the parents remains just that . . . disobedience. It is not validated based on the Godly life of their offspring. You can find children who were raised correctly and who turned out bad; also, you can find children who were raised in horrendous conditions but who are present testimonies to the grace and mercy of the Lord. Regardless, we as Christian parents still have a standard to abide by; failing to adhere to Biblical precepts (in this case relative to the upbringing of offspring) is sin and nothing less.

-//-

I'll note some things here in closing:

1. We serve a gracious God who can certainly bring about what He desires in spite of our many failings as parents. Like you, I know many grown-ups that were not spanked and that turned out fine - granted. Thank God for that! However, this doesn't presuppose a successful method of discipline. The parents of those now grown-ups were still disobedient to revealed Biblical precepts. God is so gracious and we are so undeserving of it. Soli Deo Gloria!!

2. Let's alter things a bit for the sake of better understanding this issue. I know a child-hood acquaintance of mine that was spanked and is currently awaiting execution in Florida. I know many who were spanked that aren't beacons of integrity. If your argument about the success of non-corporal methods of discipline is valid, then is spanking non-successful in light of the failures? This would be irrational.

3. There are upstanding citizens that were spanked as children, and then there are problem-citizens that were spanked. Additionally, there are upstanding citizens who were not spanked, and then there are problem-citizens who were. If what we "observe" in a limited capacity (a particular) can be expanded to a universal truth (a general), then we now have a bona fide tangled web of unintelligible non-sense.

4. Spanking can be abused . . . sorely abused. Non-physical disciplinary measures can be abused also. This pretty much goes without saying; I know you would agree.

5. As I understand it, Proverbs is a book of principles . . . not necessarily promises. Sometimes we do all we know how to do in seeking to raise Godly offspring . . . and then it all hits the fan (although I would say that this is more the exception than the rule). Ultimately, the destiny of every child is in the hands of our Sovereign God, to do with them what He sees fit to do for His Glory. We must get into the Word though, finding out what God has said about raising kids - then we must implement those things in practical ways, praying that God would bring about awesome things through the means of good parental instruction. God can surely bring about what He has decreed to the exclusion of means; however, it doesn’t seem that He chooses to do so for the most part.

6. No matter what "seems" to work in our day of pragmatism, what has God said/revealed to us in the Bible? If sin is any lack of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God, we would do well to familiarize ourselves with His revelation (that law). -Scott



I know several such people. Their children are not foolish or dead . . . –Peace2You

Okay. –Scott



. . . and they never felt prompting from the spirit that they were not following God's ways by not spanking their children, though they honestly sought God's wisdom on the matter. –Peace2You
This is an entirely different issue here, although our subject led us here quite nicely. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed. I think I will start a new thread on this, so as to not get too far off course here in this one. I'll call it "The Prompting of the Spirit & Guidance," and I'll post it under the umbrella of "Exegesis." –Scott

To read that thread (very short, but very helpful), simply click on the following link:


-//-



I didn’t receive anymore responses from Peace2You.







-End of Series-



[Scratching the Surface 2.6]

11 August 2006

The Sufficiency of Scripture & Child Discipline II


In S.T.S. 2.3, I briefly referenced a recent discussion I’d had with someone over Biblical methods of child-discipline (in particular, whether or not to spank your child), noting a popular but dangerous line of reasoning that was communicated to me. Since that time, I have decided that there is good merit to printing the majority of that dialogue, the first part of which was published in S.T.S. 2.4. My reason was simply this: there are too many lessons covered in that correspondence to merely deal with one portion of it. So, with that said, I’ll here paste the part two of that discussion. Since this dialogue happened in thread format (on a forum), you may see some repetition here and there. Because of this, I will seek to be extra-careful in how I lay out the dialogue.

-//-

My initial post that kicked off the discussion:

“I know someone that, as a matter of child-discipline, will bite her child if that child were to bite one of her playmates. Moreover, she will go so far as to desire to leave teeth marks. I am pro-corporal punishment and consistently use a wooden/plastic spoon in a first-time obedience manner with my son, but I'm not really sure how I feel about the biting (I lean away from it actually). One of my other friends (who is not a big fan of corporal punishment at all) asked: ‘How do you expect to teach against that which is wrong by doing what is wrong in itself?’ This sort of over-simplified thinking could work her into a pretzel in my opinion - if pressed a bit further. For example, I could see her arguing the same way against spanking. One popular line is: "I just can't see how violence is ever justified." Well, some would seek to show that corporal punishment is not a form of violence, per se. I don't know about that (i.e., self defense, cases of just war, capital punishment when appropriate, etc.). I would like to generate some discussion on these various concerns.” -Scott

-//-

For starters, let’s take 2 pieces from the above paragraph and address them.




1 - “How do you expect to teach against that which is wrong by doing what is
wrong in itself?” This sort of over-simplified thinking could work her into a
pretzel in my opinion - if pressed a bit further. For example, I could see her
arguing the same way against spanking.



2 - One popular line is: “I just can't see how violence is ever justified.”
Well, some would seek to show that corporal punishment is not violence, per se.
I don't know about that (i.e., self defense, cases of just war, capital
punishment when appropriate, etc.). I would like to generate some discussion on
these various concerns.

You see, someone could see a parent spanking a child and say . . . "You shouldn't teach your child about right/wrong by doing a wrong action" . . . well, I'm going to turn around and tell you that you are presupposing that spanking is a wrong action (for whatever reason one might think that it is). In other words, I would seek to reverse the burden of proof, making you lay out a solid case for spanking being wrong.

Furthermore, I would ask you to put your argument in the form of a syllogism so I could see whether or not you have a real argument or not to respond to. It would look like this with most opponents of corporal punishment (though not Peace2You, to be fair, as he is not necessarily against corporal punishment):



P1: Spanking is a form of violence;
P2: Violence is wrong;
C: Therefore, spanking is wrong.


This is a bit (a lot) sloppy when broken down and unpacked. First, we would have to go further back to see whether spanking constituted a legit form of violence (P1). For the sake of argumentation, I'll go ahead and concede that point, as I believe that premise 1 is a true premise. Second, we would then have to examine whether all forms of violence were inherently immoral and wrong (P2). If the answer given to that is "yes," then what do we do when someone breaks into our homes? When we may be in a position to help someone who is being beaten up? Capital punishment?

You could work yourself into a pretzel if not careful . . . really careful. Inconsistency and arbitrariness has a way of bubbling to the surface for exposure when we carefully analyze a thing according to strict logical construction. Failure to establish the given premises as true results not in an argument, but rather in an unjustified assertion which carries no weight at all.

Added to this, lets say that you didn't spank. Let's say that you gave a talking to, withheld privileges, or used timeout, etc. (not that these things should never be used). Does the non-physical nature of the chosen course of action give your child permission to put their teacher in time-out? Lecture grandmother? Withhold the sharing of toys from a playmate? By no means. In a similar way, good spanking doesn't teach your child that it's alright to hit someone else. I can do things as a parent that are off-limits to my children, much the same way that officers could over civilians -- teachers over students -- supervisors over employees, etc. There are differing roles, some of them carrying more weight, privileges, and responsibilities than others . . . yet none of them stating that the teacher is inherently more worthy or valuable than the student.

-//-

Many "biter-parents" may appeal to the "eye for eye/tooth for tooth" principle (lex talionis; also spelled lex taliones) as somewhat of a justification for doing such a thing. Unfortunately, they do a hatchet-job on that great governmental principle of the Bible in order to do so. This law of retaliation or retribution is a civil law to be carried out by appropriate governing authorities . . . not us. With that said, though, some things need to be noted:



(1) civilians like us don't equate to an ordained governing body; the state
is licensed to do many things that would be off-limits to your average civilian;

(2) lex talionis is about pure punishment or justice for a wrong committed;
in that sense, it is not about rehabilitation or education or moral instruction
whatsoever -- it's penal and punitive -- it's about justice, plain and simple;

(3) there is a major difference between justice and discipline in the
context of rearing a child; in the justice system, punishment may range from a
parking ticket to death, depending on what has taken place . . . justice is
penal or punitive in nature . . . disciplining your child has much more to do
with education or moral instruction . . . big difference;

(4) lex talionis doesn't mean what many think it does . . . the ultimate
point is that the punishment must fit the crime in some real sense, not that I
get to take your eye out if you take mine (especially when speaking of minors);
if somebody steals a loaf of bread, we don't whack their arm off;

(5) justice systems/penal institutions are sorely misunderstood in our day
. . . for example, many view them as places of rehabilitation -- this is totally
wrong; when rehab doesn't take place, many get their underwear worked into a
bowline knot and go to belly-aching about the failures of our justice system
(and there are problems to be sure); the problem here is that penal institutions
were never meant to instruct criminals first and foremost -- they have
historically existed to punish criminals; it's like folks who say that capital
punishment never works because it's not looking to be a strong deterrent (as if
they could actually know this in any sort of meaningful way) . . . my response
is that capital punishment works every single time -- every time it's used, the
prisoner dies; a deterrent factor may be a secondary positive factor, but it is
not an issue of priority;


-//-

All of the above is to basically say that justice is NOT what disciplining your children should be about. Biter-moms do greatly err here!

-//-

A sloppy or a good anthropology will make a big difference here. It all depends on your worldview. Is man's (more specifically, a criminal's) primary problem one of a pathological nature, needing therapy? Or is is moral, requiring justice/punishment? I am getting way off here, so let me bring it back and close it out.

Ultimately, I would ask you (anybody really) what authoritative standard you are appealing to in order to make your case:



*Is that standard transcendent, universal, abstract, invariant, and
absolute (given/revealed to us by One who transcends our physical existence, One
Who is all-knowing, and One Who has created us and has the very hairs of our
heads numbered)?

**Or is that standard local and private (an invention or popular convention
of man that is agreed upon by consensus)?

***If the former, then what is it and how do you know? Why is it
authoritative?

****If the latter, then I have no reason or obligation to comply and can
simply invent my own philosophies . . . and so could Hitler, etc.


-//-

Examples of appealing to local and private "standards" would be:



[a] Feelings - but if your feeling one way makes it right, then what
happens when I appeal to a conflicting feeling?

[b] Intuition - "

[c] Experiences - "

[d] Testimony of "Experts" - But who are the experts? Where did they get
their stuff? What worldview are they proceeding from and can it stand? Who
designated them as such and why did they do so? What about other "experts" that
would take issue with the previous experts? Who wins and why?? Your book says
this, but mine says the opposite, etc.



The next response I received from Peace2You follows (you’ll notice that he addresses some items published in Part 1 of this series). In Part 3 (S.T.S. 2.6), I will include my response to this and close out this series. Hang in there!




I'm familiar with all the scriptures on the rod. Sorry if I interpet scripture a
bit less literally than you and don't take an actual rod to be necessary. In at
least two of those passages, I think this is entirely justified "rod of
discipline" and "rod of correction" seem to invite metaphorical interpretation
like "breastplate of righteousness" does. I think discipline and correction will
save your child's life. But I don't think it is necessary that the rod be a part
of that. As I said, I don't look down on anyone who does think that way, though.
It is entirely justified by scripture. I just don't think it is required.
Proving this is quite easy. All we need do is observe that many people raise
their children with strong discipline but without corporal punishment, and if
their children turn out to be God-following, God-fearing adults, then the method
succeeded. I know several such people. Their children are not foolish or dead,
and they never felt prompting from the spirit that they were not following God's
ways by not spanking their children, though they honestly sought God's wisdom on
the matter. –Peace2You

-//-

To be continued . . .

--

[Scratching the Surface 2.5]

A Not So Great Quote




"Nothing is more dangerous than religion in politics and government when it becomes divisive . . . . . . I'll give you examples: Iraq. Northern Ireland. Palestine." -John C. ("Jack") Danforth [Republican Episcopal Priest]





-//-


Let's turn that around in order to expose some things:




"Nothing is more dangerous than no religion in politics and government. Here are some examples: The evolutionary philosophy of Nazism that led to the direct deaths of millions and started a world war; atheistic Communism where 25 million were killed in Russia during the Bolshevik and Stalinist eras; 75 million in China under Mao Tse-Tung; 2 million in Cambodia; millions more in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America; and the deaths of tens of millions of pre-born babies by those who don't want religion and politics to mix."



-//-


If we could withstand the sophistry and empty rhetoric tossed in our direction long enough to think rationally about things, we would do much better! At the end of the day, you cannot separate and divorce politics from the more foundational worldview that gives birth to those political leanings. After all, why isn’t everybody liberal? Why isn’t everybody conservative? You see, there are *reasons* for these things. Secularism is ultimately a variant ideology or philosophy and not some neutral position disconnected from “religion”. Remember that one who is skeptical of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs. Neutrality is mythical!!