Christians are Immoral

A common objection towards Christianity is that we’re hypocrites, immoral people who don’t follow God’s commands and shove our religion down the throat of the masses.

All I can say is, Amen. That’s exactly what I would expect. Why? Because the Bible teaches a certain anthropology and our behavior confirms this anthropology.

A popular secular anthropology is that human nature is basically good, that everyone tells a white lie, maybe they cheat on their taxes, they cuss at people in traffic but they aren’t serial killers. We aren’t all so bad.

While I understand the reasoning, this anthropology only makes sense if we presuppose a system of morality. What system of morality are we using when we say people are basically good? It seems we are using a comparative morality. Imagine it as a 1-10 scale. 1 is good, 10 is bad. In the 1 category we have Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. In 10 we have Hitler, Stalin, Serial Killers, etc. Most of us are between the 2-5, so we are okay. Once you get into 6+, that’s when you’re probably serving prison time.

When we compare ourselves to others, we inevitably make excuses for our own behavior over someone else’s. So our comparison is like trying to look at yourself after taking a shower, cloudy and not accurate.

If we are to compare ourselves to someone who had no sin, we realize just how bad we are.

Pointing out that Christians do bad things is not an argument against Christianity, it is an affirmation of Christianity.

Because all that claim points out is that the biblical anthropology, that all men are sinners who fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23) is true. So when a Christian fails to love his neighbor, that is to be expected, though not encouraged.

Jesus tells us that we have to perfect, like the Father is. (Matthew 5:48) That is terrifying. Because we are not anywhere near the perfection of the Father. The Apostle Paul comforts us, by telling us this precious truth.

“The Messiah did not know sin, but God made him to be sin on our behalf, so that in him we might embody God’s faithfulness to the covenant” 
(2 Corinthians 5:21 , Kingdom New Testament, N.T. Wright’s Translation)

Because of Jesus, I can be perfect like he said I had to be in Matthew 5. Some take this to mean that we can achieve perfection, I think that is nonsense. What it is instead is Jesus took our place on the cross, effectively taking our place in judgement. So when God judges us, he could rightly condemn us for all sins, what Jonathan Edwards called Cosmic Treason. Even secular nations know, the penalty for treason is death.

But praise God, because the verdict from the heavenly judge will be “Not Guilty” because Jesus has imputed his righteousness to us. So, yes, we christians are immoral, but our savior isn’t. You weren’t called to follow our example but his. This doesn’t mean we are fine with our sinful behavior, the Apostle Paul tells us that we should not sin just because grace abounds. (Romans 6:1)

This is a heart disposition, because any sin counter of just how much sin is too much is arbitrary.

So to the accuser, who says “Christians are immoral”, I ask, what’s your point?

Precious Puritan Propaganda

Christian Rap Artist/Spoken word poet Propaganda made waves years ago when he released a song titled “Precious Puritans”. I actually saw him open up for Andy Mineo a few years ago. I want to dissect this song lyrically. Propaganda is a very talented guy, so it would be easy to just nod your head along to the song and accept what he is saying at face value. I remember when I first listened to this track, I was out in Florida, walking around, enjoying the scenery.

This was when I realized what Propaganda was saying. Some of his statements gave me goosebumps, others left me scratching my head. Without further ado, let’s talks about the lyrics.

Propaganda opens up talking about this issue as a “in-house issue”. This is a good sign, to some this may be unfamiliar terminology. What a Christian means when they say this is that both sides are Christians, rather than questioning the salvation of someone over whatever the issue is.

“Pastor, it’s hard for me when you quote puritans.” 

He will get into later what it is so hard for him and what we will find is that his reasoning is unfounded historically. However, it is important that we pay attention to why he feels the way he does. Being historically inaccurate doesn’t mean his feelings are invalid, but misplaced.

“You know they were chaplains on slave ships?” 

Actually, no they weren’t. This is where I was thinking “Well, he picked the right name for his career.” He’s thinking of the New England Puritans, only one of which is quoted popularly today. That man is Jonathan Edwards, who was not a chaplain on a slave ship. (He did own slaves and I’ve covered that here. Also there is historical debate on whether Edwards can even be considered a Puritan historically) These aren’t the wide selection of Puritans quoted and read today.

“Would you quote Columbus to the Cherokees?”

There are a lot of factors and assumptions going on in this statement. I do not deny the ramifications of historical actions, however, I do think it is a false equivalency to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has the same skin color as you or even who are related to you. I’m related to John Ross, a cherokee chief who helped the Cherokee people during the trail of tears. I’m not against learning about or even quoting Christopher Columbus, because despite his evil deeds, he is an important historical figure.

Just because someone is evil, doesn’t mean we erase them from history. I’m sick of this censorship mentality. I’m not saying Propaganda is taking it that far, but I see it as a logical outcome to this tiptoeing around historical figures. Sometimes Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, etc al. need to be quoted to people.

He mentions blind privilege, I can only assume he is referring to a sociological structure that is not founded on biblical standards, along with being philosophically bankrupt. To quote Dr. Jordan Peterson:

 The idea of white privilege is absolutely reprehensible. And it’s not because white people aren’t privileged. We have all sorts of privileges, and most people have privileges of all sorts, and you should be grateful for your privileges and work to deserve them. But the idea that you can target an ethnic group with a collective crime, regardless of the specific innocence or guilt of the constituent elements of that group – there is absolutely nothing that’s more racist than that. It’s absolutely abhorrent. If you really want to know more about that sort of thing, you should read about the Kulaks in the Soviet Union in the 1920’s. They were farmers who were very productive. They were the most productive element of the agricultural strata in Russia. And they were virtually all killed, raped, and robbed by the collectivists who insisted that because they showed signs of wealth, they were criminals and robbers. One of the consequences of the prosecution of the Kulaks was the death of six million Ukrainians from a famine in the 1930’s. The idea of collectively held guilt at the level of the individual as a legal or philosophical principle is dangerous. It’s precisely this sort of danger that people who are really looking for trouble would push. Just a cursory glance at 20th century history should teach anyone who wants to know exactly how unacceptable that is.”

Propaganda then goes on an emotional tirade in which he asserts the Puritans had a multiple-image view, in which whites were superior, in some sort of Hamite theory of origins, maybe? It’s not entirely clear what he is referring too. I’d like to see a source on Puritans teaching that other races were not made in the image of God, or made in some sort of lesser image.

“It must be nice to not have to consider race.” 

It really is nice and something that those who have bought into the progressive view of social justice seem incapable of doing.

He then asserts something astonishing to me. He mentions and implies that the Valley of Vision written by the Puritans, was Holy Spirit inspired. He then asks, why did this not lead to a rebellion against the slave trade? Well, it did. I will give you an example that I’m very familiar with. Jonathan Edwards pushed for African-Americans and Native Americans to be considered full members of the church and to be allowed baptism, when at such a time it was not a popular thing to do. Edwards’ son wrote a treatise against slavery and cited his father was the inspiration.

Much like the Salem witch Trials, some Puritans participated but they also helped end it. This broad brush Propaganda paints the Puritans is not honest.

His emotional rhetoric takes a turn, where I guess he is using an argumentum ad absurdum, because he says ridiculous things like “the puritans weren’t inerrant” okay, who claimed that? And that God only spoke to “white men with epic beards” I’m pretty a lot of Puritans didn’t even have beards. Especially the most popular ones, like John Owen. I get the point that he thinks people are hero worshipping the Puritans and maybe in some ways and in some cases that is happening. But he is really reaching and trying to prove to much with these statements.

He then spouts some black hebrew israelite rhetoric with “You know those paintings aren’t actually Jesus right? That’s Michelangelo’s boyfriend.” Which is very confusing, because the young stud in question was Tommaso Dei Cavalieri, an italian nobleman. Usually, the comparison to Jesus’ appearance is that it was copied from Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentinois. 

But are you really going to lecture a bunch of Reformed people (who are sticklers on the 2CV rule) about the paintings of white Jesus?

He ends the song by talking about he feels bad when people want to quote him. (sorry for quoting you heavily.)

In the rare moment I’m quoted, I do feel bad. I do think “What if they knew I did X or Y?” Which is why we shouldn’t refuse to quote other people who would probably think the same thing. This is an in-house issue as you said. Every single Puritan was a totally depraved sinner that could only be saved because the imputed righteousness of their Savior was applied to them. The same goes for all of us Christians.

“Why do you quote them?” 

I quote them because what they say is true. I quote them because their holiness gives you a good kick in the teeth. I quote them because they help my spiritual walk. I quote them because they were flawed human beings like the rest of us. The friend who did the beautiful broken-pen writing quoting me said this and I reaches the heart of this issue:

“The Gospel doesn’t condone perpetual victimhood.”
– Kayla

Peer-reviewed Resource


Puritan Conscience and New England Slavery Bernard Rosenthal The New England Quarterly Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 62-81

The Rise of Gender Gnosticism

You can’t possibly know about female issues if you aren’t one! We have the secret knowledge of…anecdotes.

It has become quite popular to exclude thinking from circles due to arbitrary standards. Though this applies to both genders, I will be focusing on the rhetoric of the “No Uterus, No Opinion” crowd. For an analysis on male gender gnosticism, view this article.

I never understood the validity of a truth claim being tied to someone’s gender. Surely, there is experiential knowledge and we can talk about properly basic beliefs and epistemology, but 9 times out of 10, that isn’t what the person is arguing, no, it is far more simplistic than that.

You have male genitalia, therefore you can’t have the right opinion on women’s issues. This would explain why you would come to such poor conclusions such as being Pro-Life or against businesses being forced to provide birth control.

I had always thought that they’d at least accept someone who was on their team, so to speak. A male who agreed with their conclusions. Even these men are in danger of the gender gnostic ridicule. They will hear statements like “male allies are still men.” “It’s not your place to fight for us.” It is typically a lose-lose situation.

The idea that there is a secret knowledge that only certain people can attain is not new. The apostles in the NT dealt with gnostics trying to corrupt the new testament with their fake gospels and new revelations. These gnostics are implicity doing that, but more explicitly, they’re challenging the perceived male-dominated culture.

The problem with this is that it is not logically coherent. For example, the Pro-Life debate is not contingent on the feelings or experiential knowledge of being pregnant. Even though many of these same people who say men have no say because they can’t be pregnant are fine with a woman identifying as a man and saying they’re pregnant.

When you narrow the debate to what you feel and what you have experienced you have developed an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Of course I’m not going to pretend I know what it’s like to be pregnant or have a period. But just because you go through these things doesn’t mean you’re automatically right about women’s issues.

There are plenty of women who disagree with each other on women’s issues. They have a uterus, so do they get an opinion? Well, not really. “They’re self-hating women, you see, because they don’t agree with me.”

The Gender Gnostic is at least consistent in ascribing secret knowledge to themself that is inherent in their gender and also being able to read if the person is self-hating or not.

Does the Female gender gnostic consistently believe that circumcision is a man issue that they can’t have an opinion on?

You can have an opinion on anything you want but there is a difference between an informed opinion and an uniformed opinion. Someone who has done their research but happens to be the wrong gender should not be disqualified from discussion.

I do think there is value in experiential knowledge, I’m more than willing to hear a woman tell me about their struggles with womanhood. However, my lack of not having that struggle doesn’t disqualify me from saying “Hey, you shouldn’t kill that life inside you.”

Gnosticism has risen, who will challenge it?

The Racist Roots of Young-Earth Creationism

I recently saw an article regarding Dr. Henry Morris, a YEC icon, essentially accusing him of racism. What I found was pretty disturbing. She rightly critiqued Ken Ham’s faulty attempts to make Evolution a racist idea. I will be sampling from her article, but go read the entire thing. Though, this critique isn’t a new one, here is a critique of the same book by Morris by someone in 2013.  

Young-Earth Creationism and Evolution are both ideas that claim to be supported by Science, while both views can have implications on race, neither is racist in and of itself.

People have always tried to use ideas to support their preconceived prejudices. As Libby Anne pointed out, people used Evolution to assert that Caucasians were more highly evolved than the other races and that the curse of Ham is still a curse on the black race today.

Ken Ham’s Creation Museum supports the Hamite theory of origins which has roots in racism. We will get in a circular bout if we discuss whether or not the Bible teaches the hamite theory of origins, whether it is true or not, you can’t ignore the conclusions this theory takes the person who accepts it.  I won’t go far as to say Ham is racist because he believes this theory, for that would be as silly as saying someone is racist for believing in Evolution. 

Here is an image from a creationist textbook used in Texas Public Schools, parroting the hamite theory of origins

The purpose of this post is not to examine the Hamite theory from an exegetical point of view, but needless to say, the Hamite theory is rejected by science.

The point of this post is to show that while it is true that some adherents to YEC or Evolution are/were racist, this does not negate the idea. What matters is evidence. To my fellow Christians, please dump the “Evolution is racist” arguments, they’re awful.

Recommended Resource


Re-constructing Babel: Discourse analysis, hermeneutics and the Interpretive Arc Allan Bell Discourse Studies, Vol. 13, No. 5, Special Issue on Hermeneutics and Discourse Analysis (October 2011), pp. 519-568

Paul: The Sexist Apostle?

“Jesus is good, Paul not so much.” “You quote Paul too much, how about trying to quote Jesus more?” These types of attitudes are growing in christian circles. The reasoning for these statements are two-fold. The first issue is the person’s understanding of inspiration and inerrancy. That’s a separate issue from the discussion of this post. We will be focusing on the second and more common reason, at least in my experience. The second objection to Paul is that he was a sexist man. 

It is my belief that the Apostle Paul isn’t sexist despite not fitting into our 21st century’s sensibilities. What I think is happening is people use Paul to support their sexism, so people conclude that Paul is sexist also. 

So, why is Paul a sexist? Why is he the poster boy for religious chauvinism among popular culture? Let’s address a few assumptions before we get into the detractors of the Apostle. 

This will inevitably lead to a discussion on inerrancy and inspiration, because unless Paul was able to slip in some sexism pass the divine editor, how could it be the word of God if it is both prescriptive, binding and sexist? (The assumption being that sexism is wrong.) 

Generally speaking, I would agree that it would be a problem if Paul was writing a prescriptive sexist passage binding unto all Christians. But this is not what is happening. 

There are two major passages that are cited to prove the Apostle Paul just does not respect women like he should. The first is discussion on head-coverings in 1 Corinthians 11. The second is the more popular citation, Paul’s supposed barring women from leadership in 1 Timothy 2:12. 

The Apostle Paul states: 
And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off. . .”

This verse was admittedly perplexing the first time I read it. Christians are by no means monolithic on this verse. There are some who read this and see it as binding on women currently, thus we see etsy headcoverings and facebook pages dedicated to the craft. There are some who view this as a cultural issue. Even within these two positions there are many subviews, so it would be difficult to pain with a large brush on the interpretations of Christians regarding this passage. 

The question is this, Did God command women to wear head-coverings or did Paul? Was this Paul’s patriarchal fetish or is there something deeper here? 

Let’s discuss the historical background of the Corinthian passage before we form a conclusion. 

The Corinthian church was not a fan favorite, they were functionally idolatrous. The Lord’s supper was considered cannibalism. Christians would often perform baptisms at night to avoid persecution, this lead to rumors being spread that the Christians were doing cultic orgies, since the person being baptized was usually naked. The Corinthian church was no newcomer to controversy. 

Paul in chapter 7 just introduced a revolutionary concept at the time. This idea was martial partnership. The idea that women were not property but instead equal is something not common in that time period nor in religious marriage rites. Women truly are equal to Paul, otherwise he could not be arguing the way he is in 1 Cor 7:4. 

Specifically, Paul argues for a mutual consent in regards to conjugal relations. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)  

So I think it is safe to assume that Paul was not sexist. So what did he mean in 1 Corinthians 11? Well, recent scholarship has an answer. Many Christians have attributed this to cultural relevance and the command passed away over time, but had no scholarship to back up this assumption. 

Now we do.  I go in depth on this peer-reviewed work here

Now, let’s move to 1 Timothy 2:12. 

Paul says that he does not “permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” 

Let’s consider other facts and view this passage in light of those facts. First, Paul endorses the ministry of Sister Phoebe, who was a deacon in the church. (Romans 16:1) 

Paul mentions his co-workers in the faith, Priscilla and Aquila, naming the woman first, which was uncustomary during his time. (While today it is more common to introduce the woman first, e.g. ladies and gentleman)

Are we to assume that Paul is simultaneously a misogynist and at the same time declaring their equality and endorsing their ministries? If your a priori assumption is that the Bible contradicts itself everywhere, I could see why you would be tempted by the simplicity of this answer. 

Let’s move away from the simple and take another look at 1 Timothy 2:12. First, the translation. 

The word “authority” translated by English versions is the greek word 

authentein. The reason why this is noteworthy is because Paul usually uses the greek word exousia (e.g. 1 Cor 6:12, 7:4, 1 Cor 6:12, 7:4, 9:4-6, 9:12, 11:10, 2 Cor 2:8, 10:8, 13:10, Col. 1:13, 2 Thess 3:12, Rom 6:15, 9:21).   or some form of it. authentein implies aggression in extra-biblical texts and is translated “domineer” by the Latin Vulgate. Considering this, it is possible that Paul is referring to something other than mere authority. 

Biblical Scholar Craig Keener makes an insightful point that while false teachers were mostly men, women spread false teaching through congregations. It is very possible that women had limited biblical training and would make easy prey for false teachers, so their interest in false teaching would prove to be dangerous. It is not obvious that Paul’s statement would be a permanent restriction for all time. 

I do not think that doctrines should be based on hapax legomenon (a word that occurs once) when a word only occurs once, it makes it harder to interpret the author’s original meaning.  I also make the assumption that the author does not contradict himself unless proven otherwise. 

Rebecca Groothuis notes “It is inconsistent to regard the dress code in 1 Tim 2:9 as culturally relative, and therefore temporary, but the restriction on women’s ministry as universal and permanent. These instructions were part of the same paragraph and flow of thought.”

There are two popular understandings of this passage. I will summarize generally what kind of views on 1 Timothy 2:12 are espoused by these groups.

Complementarism 

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is to be taken literally, as a universal command. It applies just as much today as it did when the Apostle Paul wrote it. Women should learn in “quietness,”– this is probably not a literal silence but submission to authority. They shouldn’t teach in an authoritative manner or exercise authority over men. This includes women preachers and teachers. 
  • Prophecy has less authority than teaching, Paul allows women to do this in 1 Corinthians 11:5. This shows that God gives different roles without making women inferior to men.

    Egalitarianism
     
    Prophecy carries just as much if not more authority than teaching. Paul allowed women to prophesy in 1 Corinthians 11:5, so his ban on women from teaching at the church of Ephesus must have been exclusive.

    Paul used Scripture to support cultural issues (such as head coverings and sperm hair in 1 Cor. 11) that existed in Paul’s time and don’t apply today.

    Paul wrote 1 Timothy as a letter to Timothy, giving him instruction and guidance on how to pastor at the Ephesus church. The letter seems to address  current situations at that specific church and were not meant to be universal commands.

    Conclusion

    “Far from being repressive and chauvinistic,” Biblical scholar Robin Scroggs asserts, “Paul is the one clear and strong voice in the New Testament speaking for the freedom and equality of women. [1]

    I do not think Paul could be considered a Feminist by today’s standards but he no doubt revolutionized the way people thought about women in his area in the first century. 

[1] “Paul: Chauvinist or Liberationist?” Robin Scroggs. Christian Century. March 15, 1972.

False Rape Accusations: The Return of Potiphar’s Wife

There is a popular instance in the Bible, where Joseph was accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife, because he refused to have sex with her.  (Genesis 39:1-20) To a feminist today, She was the victim in this story.

I do not say that to generalize, but simply take their rhetoric to its logical conclusion.

Innocent until proven guilty, The 14th amendment guarantees that everyone has equal rights under the law. Unfortunately, it’s now “Guilty until proven innocent” in regards to rape due to the rise of third-wave feminism.

I actually had the privilege of talking to a feminist who held this position, it was 3 years ago. I remember it vividly because it was something that left me dumbfounded. I elucidated a point to which I still hold to today,  that in regards to rape accusations, we should require evidence for conviction. I also argued that there should be a consequence for false rape accusations, and it’s absurd to think that anyone who claims rape is telling the truth, especially today, when many turn up to false.

Now, before you call me a “rape apologist” or any other buzzword to sling against the character of someone who disagrees with you, let me ask you something. Is it really a bad thing that I want evidence for a truth claim? Think about that for a second, in fact, take all the time you need.

My motivation is not “against women” though I’m sure it will be characterized that way. My motivation is no matter what the crime, I don’t want an innocent person to serve for something they didn’t do.

False rape accusations hurt more than just the man accused. Though it will hurt the man’s reputation for the rest of his life, due to people believing he’s a rapist for no other reason than that he was accused of it. Imagine a society in which anyone could accuse you of anything and even if you’re cleared of it in a court of law, people still think you did it.

It also hurts actual rape victims, because like the boy who cried wolf, falsehoods increase the chance that someone might not believe you. So, these people who want to get back at their ex, have buyer’s remorse, or whatever motivation, who falsely accuse someone are not only hurting the accused, but rape victims as well.

In the military, when a person impersonates a member it’s called “Stolen Valor”. I think this concept applies to this situation. When you pretend that you were raped, you have stolen something from rape victims. You didn’t go through what they did, you don’t know the healing process, you don’t know the psychological effects it had on them, but for the cause of being a victim, you stomp on the torn clothes of the actual victims.

Common Christian Misconceptions About Evolution

When looking at what Stephen Jay Gould called “The magisterium of science” we are amazed at the developments we see. Anesthesia, for example, is a given in America, yet Dr. Morton and Dr. Wallace were the first to achieve this scientific development that we take for granted and it didn’t happen till 1846! Just a few hundred years ago, people were drinking alcohol to numb the pain of getting a limb removed.
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How the NIV takes the KJV Out To The Woodshed

Conspiracy theories seem to always be rising in popularity and Christians are not immune to them.  One of them is that every single English translation of the Bible that came after the KJV is a perversion of God’s word and therefore Satanic.  Satan sure gets a lot of credit in conspiracy theories, I hope he can handle all the bad publicity.

As someone who fell into this embarrassing mindset 6 years ago, I can resonate with the certainty someone can cherish with the KJV. The KJV works as a successful crutch for those who don’t understand or don’t know anything about Textual Criticism.

KJV-Onlyism has caused a lot of division among Christians. When anyone who uses a differing translation is automatically assumed to be in a lesser spiritual state (e.g. Ripinger) or lost. (e.g. Steven Anderson)

The subtle irony in all of this is that the KJV-Only argumentation can easily be turned against itself. The proverbial foot in the mouth. One example of KJV-Only Argumentation is the newer versions water down the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The way they show this is by comparing one verse in two different translations.

No evaluation of the manuscripts or arguments about the original languages, just comparing the English translations. This is functionally an argument from piety.

So in being consistent with the KJV-Onlyist logic, I will present verse comparisons only in the English and show how the NIV takes the KJV to the woodshed.

The NIV is more clear on the doctrine of the Trinity than the KJV.

John 1:18 (NIV): “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

John 1:18 (KJV): “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

In the KJV’s translation of John 1:18, we read that Jesus is the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father. The unclarity of this expression is part of the reason KJV-Onlyists tend to be Modalists.

In the NIV, we see clearly the deity of Christ. For the NIV says that Jesus is the one and only Son who is himself God.

Instead of discussing which translation is correct based on the Greek language, in keeping up the spirit of KJV-Onlyism, I will merely say which verse honors God?(Apparently KJV-Onlyists can’t take what they dish out. This is the argument KJV-Onlyists use. In particular, those who say the English improves the greek and hebrew so we don’t need to talk about it. I’m being consistent with their argumentation. This argumentation is not my own.)  Why would the KJV water down the deity of Christ and not be as clear as the supposed perversion? Were the KJV Translators secretly trying to down play the deity of our Lord?

You see, conspiracy theories are easy to turn around, because they aren’t based in reality.