Friday, May 11, 2012
There always have been many skeptics of the Bible and the morality which is based upon it. But today there are very vocal atheists who love to "expose" the supposed absurdities of the moral strictures of the Bible. This is especially true regarding the commandment disallowing homosexual activity. One skeptic mocked an Orthodox Jew who pointed out that the book of Leviticus clearly and absolutely condemns homosexual relations. This skeptic noted that Leviticus also says what one may do with his slaves. He went on and on about how the OT tells us that we may have slaves. To him, this showed that the Bible was not the arbiter of right and wrong, but an old book with a flawed morality. The problem with this skeptic's analysis, if it even can be called such, is that he is comparing apples and oranges. The laws governing slavery in ancient Israel are governmental laws, not moral laws. God was not approving slavery when He made laws governing it. We have laws governing public intoxication. Does that mean that the government approves of public intoxication? No. It means that since there are people who are going to get intoxicated despite what anyone thinks about it, we must have laws that cover it. The same thing was true regarding slavery in ancient Israel. God never said that He approved slavery, but rather than forbidding it, He severely restricted it. But that brings up an important question: why did God not simply forbid it? We do not have the complete answer to that. We might have a hint, however, in what Jesus said about marriage and divorce. In his arguments with the Pharisees regarding divorce, Jesus said that God did not like divorce but that He allowed it because "of the hardness of your hearts". Divorce was never God's intention. God allowed divorce because it was better, practically speaking, than not allowing it. Perhaps the situation with slavery was similar. Maybe it was better to have strict laws covering slavery than forbidding it entirely at that time. Now this may not sit well with our modern sensibilities, but God is not bound by how we feel about things. When we read the Old Testament and try to understand it, we must be aware that God made moral laws, He made governmental laws, and He also made religious (ceremonial) laws as well. Please do not be fooled by what the skeptics of the Bible say. The Bible's moral laws are still the standard that we all must follow.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Do Christians and Muslims and (fill-in-the-blank) all worship the same God? Sincere people ask this question, but it really is not the right question. First of all, we are not saved by worship, but by faith through grace. If two people worship the 'same God' and one has faith and the other does not, they are not on the same footing. One is saved and the other is not. This whole question of who we worship is less important than it seems. Now, I grant this, that it is important that you worship and serve the true and living God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am not saying that worship is irrelevant. Far from it. Some argue, in particular, about whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Some Christians say yes and others say no. There is merit to both arguments. One side argues that since the Christians worship God who is Triune and Muslims don't, then they do not worship the same God. The other side says that they both worship the one Creator God. As far as the former argument goes, we would have to conclude that Jews, who are not Trinitarian, must worship a different God than the Christians. But there is great difficulty here since the Christian God comes to us right out of the Old Testament. Christians and Jews both say that they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So it seems that Trinitarianism alone is not a sufficient reason to say that one has a different God. But I am not ready to jump on the "we-all-worship-the-same-God" bandwagon. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, she argued about where God ought to be worshiped. Jesus told her that the Samaritans worshiped "what they did not know". The subject as to whether it was the same God never came up. It was not relevant. What was relevant was whether or not the true God accepted their worship. Jesus was clear on that point. He stated that salvation was from the Jews. (And Jesus, of course, was from the Jews.) The relevant question is not whether we have the same God, but whether we have the same Jesus. Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do men say that I am?". There were then, as there are now, multiple answers to that question. Then Jesus asked the disciples who they believed He was. Peter answered that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus told Peter that he was blessed. Peter got it right. We have to get it right as well. It's the most important question in the world. (Nonmessianic) Jews and Muslims get this wrong. Some who call themselves Christians get this wrong. This is where the rubber meets the road. For God to accept you into His eternal kingdom, you must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Paul said that we must reject those who "preach another Jesus". John said that those who deny the deity of Jesus are Antichrist and are liars. So the real question is not whether we worship the same God, but whether we worship the same Jesus.