God’s Identity Crisis: Part III – Taking Life

PL

One of the harshest criticisms leveled again God in the Old Testament are His orders to take life, and in particular, large groups, such as the Jews devastating the Canaanites in order to occupy the land. In fact, many have charged God with genocide. Comparisons to the German Holocaust of the Jews are often raised, but this is not a fair comparison and is only intended to disparage and not illustrate.

Did God Commit Genocide?

God never ordered the Jews to annihilate the Canaanites, but to dispossess them. They were to kill those who refuse to be dispossessed. They were not allowed to chase down those who ran away. It was also located to a very specific geography, the land of Canaan. There were people racially similar whom God had not any order to attack and kill, and that’s because they were not living in Canaan, the Hebrew land of promise.

It was much more than they were living in the land God intended for the Jews. They were a wicked people. If you reconsider what we discussed in the Second Part of this series, God has the right to be angry at sin and punish it.

  • The Canaanites practiced “abominable customs” (Leviticus 18:30).
  • They engaged in “detestable things” (Deuteronomy 18:9).
  • Their idolatry involved witchcraft, and they tried to cast spells on people and summon the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).
  • They would even “burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:30).

Add to this that God was long-suffering with these people and gave them time to repent. Going back to the time of Abraham over 400 years prior, they were evil, but it was not yet in full bloom. He patiently waited until the sins of these people were complete before he ordered any action against them (Genesis 15:16).

Innocent Life

And still, critics claim God is blameworthy of evil because oftentimes children were slaughtered along with the adults. The insistence that this is innocent life being taken reckons blame on God, according to the skeptics. These lives are innocent, but upon what basis does the atheist declare this? By denying the Bible as the Word of God, they have also rejected any objective and absolute code for human morality. Therefore, the skeptic has no grounds to say anything in God is wrong since they cannot prove anything is wrong.

What is both ironic and sad is that these same skeptics do not really believe that it is morally wrong to kill all children or to take away all innocent lives. By seeing man in purely a materialistic way, we are no more than a body, just flesh and nothing more. When the unborn child in inconvenient or unwanted, killing it is not only not immoral, it is often called the right thing to do. Life does not being at birth, but at conception, and that is because we are more than flesh. We are all given by God a spirit.

The atheist will sometimes blame God for babies that died in the Canaanite captivity, saying that they lost their life, and this life is all we have. As beings with souls, this life is not all we have. All of those babies killed in Canaan died innocently, and thus are barred from the doom of hell and are guaranteed a place beside God in the eternity of Heaven. If those babies had grown to maturity, there is the greatest probability that they would have become as depraved as all other Canaanite adults.

To this, the atheist often responds that if this is true, then we should kill all babies and make sure they go on to Heaven. That is unreasonable because we, as limited humans, do not know the consequences of all action, unlike God. Some, like Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, not only favored abortion, but would justify killing sick children and the elderly. But neither she nor anyone else can tell if that young hemophilic will cure cancer or lead warring nations into peace.

Only God is in the position to legislate the death of innocents because only God knows what will be the consequences of these actions. All life begins with God and we are all in His hand. When we die, our eternal spirit returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7). And while we are alive, it is only in God that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). If all life belongs to God, He may legitimately determine when a life has or has not achieved its purpose. And from there, God alone may designate when a life may legitimately end. God is not blameworthy for the deaths of the Canaanites, even their innocent children, just as He is not guilty of any wrong for any person who dies even today. Instead of blaming God and being angry with God, we should love and serve Him, and submit to Him with all of our heart.

 

Posted in apologetics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Identity Crisis: Part II – God’s Anger

anger1

When people level the charge that the description of God changes from the Old to the New Testament, they quite often are not so much upset that God seems to change in as much as He was once a mean and angry God. This begs the question, does God ever have the right to be angry? While being overcome with wrath is sinful, we are warned to “be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). This means that anger in and of itself in not immoral. If a Christian can be justified while in anger, then God may express anger and not be blameworthy for it.

A Jealous God

One of the charges against God is that He is a jealous God, as He claims even for Himself (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24). Jealousy is a vice this world condemns, so worldly people castigate God for being a jealous God. But the Bible word for jealous in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament simply means that you want to keep what you possess and are not willing to share.

We teach our children to share their toys, but there are times where this jealousy is not only appropriate, but required, such as in marriage. A man should not want to share his wife with other men. That is adultery. Likewise, God does not want His people to “cheat” on Him with false gods and idols. This is what is meant by God being a jealous God, and there is no inappropriate anger in this.

Paul encourages first century saints to be jealous for, or in other words, greatly desire, to possess spiritual gifts (First Corinthians 12:31; 14:1,39). Also, he says to the same congregation that he is jealous over them with a godly jealousy, in that he does not want them to have anything to do with the lies of the devil (Second Corinthians 11:2). This is nothing like the vice known today as jealousy where a man acts domineering and manipulative towards his wife, or a woman who nags and harangues her husband. This is wrong, but this is not God when He works within His appropriate jealous nature.

The Wrath of God

God’s anger is not like human anger. He never flies off the handle or gets caught up in the heat of the moment. God never gets in the throes of over-expression or the wild swing of emotionalism. His anger is always in response to sin, and therefore, it is always appropriate and rationally retributive.

If one has the notion that the God of the Old Testament was always angry it’s because the Jews were always in rebellion against Him. The Lord is angry every day at sin (Psalm 7:11), and the Jews gave Him every reason to angry with them every day. That does not take away from how God also blessed the Jews in spite of themselves. It also doesn’t change that our God of love as revealed in the New Testament will also condemn sin committed on this side of the cross, as well.

God has the right to be angry. Just like any parent, teacher, employer, or anyone else in authority, when those who should be in submission act instead with rebellion, those in charge can be angry and act upon it without being sinful. The difference is God is never wrong in the wrath He displays, or will display when He judges the world on our final day.

Posted in apologetics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Identity Crisis: Part I – The Bible Got It Right

gid1

There are folk out there who are critical of how the Bible depicts God. To them, it seems as if an angry and vengeful God of the Old Covenant went to therapy during the time in between the testaments and came out in the New Covenant as a happy and loving God. This is not so much a criticism against the being or existence of God as much as it against the reliability of Scripture, for there are many who level this charge who still believe in God but not the Bible.

If one reads the whole Bible, they will not come away with this position. They will notice that God is loving and vengeful in both the Old and New Testaments. The only ones who parrot this accusation are those who read criticisms of the Bible, but never take the time to read the Bible for themselves. When it comes to a complete and thorough description of God, the Bible got it right. This makes sense, seeing that the Bible is the Word of God and completely reliable.

God Doesn’t Change

In the Bible, God is described as having many different Divine attributes, such as He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-holy. Too, He is all-loving while possessing the prerogative of judgment against sin. But more to the point here is that God is immutable, which simply put means God doesn’t change.

The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. That means there is as much love with God in the Old Testament as there is the New, and there is as much wrath with God in the New as there is the Old. Many verses attest to God’s unchangeable nature.

  • God is not a man, that He should lie. Neither is He the son of man that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19).
  • I am the Lord. I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
  • Every good and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

God did not change His nature during the intertestamental period. To insist the mean God from the front of the Bible is worthy of rejection, but the God of the back of the Bible is acceptable is foolish, since it is the same God all along. To say otherwise is to disparage the Bible, but it is also a slander against its author, too, our God in Heaven.

Both Merciful and Just

The whole Bible shows a consistent God, one who demonstrates love and one who pours His wrath on sin. There are more passages in the Old Testament that I can list here that show the love of God, so I will list a portion of them.

  • I will make all My goodness pass before thee” (Exodus 33:19).
  • Good and upright is the Lord” (Psalm 25:8).
  • The earth is full of Thy goodness” (Psalm 33:5).
  • The goodness of God endures continually” (Psalm 52:1).
  • The Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting” (Psalm 100:5).
  • I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed upon us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed upon them according to His mercies and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).
  • I am the Lord that executes lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth, or in these things I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24).
  • The Lord is good to them that wait on Him, to the soul that seeks Him” (Lamentation 3:25).
  • The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble” (Nahum 1:7).

And as I said, there are many more than these. The point is clear: God is always good. So why does it seem that the Old and New Testaments still read a little differently? While God is the same, the covenants are not. The first is a covenant one is born into, while the second is one choses.

Here’s an illustration. Two men need a fence built. One contracts builders and other asks friends to help. The first man may spell out detailed rules including warnings of what would happen if they loaf on the job or show up late or even not finish. The man who gets friends to help will not need to do that. They help out of love, not contrived obligations. God chose the Jews back then, but most of the Jews never chose God even though they were born into covenant with Him. But Christians come to God out of a free will choice and love. The two Testaments will read a bit differently because the audiences are different, not the God behind them.

Still, God does warn his New Testament saints about awaits the world for its impenitence, as well as for them if they fall away and turn their back on Jesus and the gospel. In a parable, Jesus describes God as angry at those who will kill Him as his Son (Matthew 22:7). God’s vengeance against sin is also seen many times in the book of Revelation (6:16-17, 14:10-11, 15:1,7, 16:19, 19:15). The epistles also show this truth.

  • For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18).
  • Let no man deceive you, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).
  • And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, with flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Second Thessalonians 1:7-8).
  • So I swear in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest” (Hebrews 3:11).

Always keep in mind that the unchangeable God of Heaven lives and is real, and His holy Word is reliable. Reject either of these, and you will miss out on the future and eternal goodness of God and only know His never ending wrath.

Posted in apologetics | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Science & Religion

sci-rel

Evolution is not only false, but impossible. It is scientifically unfeasible at every corner. Everything from the beginning of the universe to the beginning of human life cannot be explained by materialistic scientific proposals. All of these have a Divine origin. This is what science itself proves, but not the kind that begins with an anti-supernatural bias.

Science by Mob Rule

Quite often the secularist has tried to frame the debate as if it is science against religion. This tries to paint religion as having no scientific evidence on its side. It also intends to hide how secular materialist science is itself a religion. They treat the theory of evolution like an established fact, and not as it is, a bad theory that requires more blind faith than science.

These secularists will try to act like there should be no discussion because the discussion has already taken place and it’s been settled by all the scientists, as we should go along with the consensus and not reject it. Any new scientific discovery should be poured through the filter of the consensus and not challenge it ever. But a scientific view is not true because it’s popular, but because it has been verified by the scientific method, which evolution has not. No one has ever tested evolution in the lab and have been able to duplicate it.

Science that Advances

Most scientific breakthroughs happened when someone went against the consensus thought. If you must ride the bandwagon to be considered scientifically sound, we would still believe in a flat earth or a geocentric solar system. Physics would not have been changed by Newton and later by Einstein. Almost all medical advances occurred because someone thought outside of the box. Even Darwin’s evolution was at one time unconventional and new.

The advocates of material evolution are serious scientists. They should know better. A theory, by its very definition, is not a universal absolute. It is a possible explanation for something. Knowing evolution is a theory means there may be a possible better explanation, one that fits the facts better. One cannot accept a theory as law, and it certainly should not be held as beyond scrutiny because it is considered the consensus view. The role of science is to search for the truth, even if it is new, even if it is not the popular view at any given time.

The balance between spiritual faith and worldly knowledge is characterized quite well in a quote by Albert Einstein: “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”

 

Posted in apologetics | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Fall Of 2016

fall

Of those reading this article, some personally know me and others only through this blog. So I’d like to let you know something personal. Last year I fell, and it was bad. I either slightly tore or strained or sprained or all of the above my interior knee ligaments on my right leg and I spent a week in the hospital. Add to that I have chronic lymphedema in both legs. That means the lymphatic fluids do not drain up from my legs but without great difficulty, and the result is my legs are terribly swollen. Each leg weighs over 100 lbs. if you can imagine that.

Some days are better than others, some weeks are worse, but getting around is always difficult. I use a cane and sometimes a walker, and then I can only walk short distances. Standing for long periods of time is out, and I mean more than a few minutes.

My condition for multiple reasons had become worse after the fall. Physically, I am not as well off as a was before I ended up in the hospital (even though I have felt better in the past week or so). And many might say that overall I am doing worse now than before summer got going. I thought the same thing – often. But I should not be thinking that again.

A Rise Through A Fall

The great blessing of being infirmed is that is gives you chances to reflect. I’ve thought about a lot of things in the past seven months. I’ve been reminded of things, gained greater focus on others, and learned a few new things here and there. So let me sum it up in this: all that I have that is good is from God, and all that I have is from God, therefore all that I have is good.

Everything in life is itself a blessing or carries the potential for blessing, so everything is good. That includes troubles (more on that later). Open your eyes up to the blessing of all things, and you learn of the pleasure and joy there is in small things. Hold on to each moment of life, for it is a snapshot of something special. Savor every experience and engagement of life, because it may be your last.

Thank God For Troubles

Even those things we often think are bad are just the shell of some charm of the germ inside. I’ve felt my share of pain and discomfort because of my legs. But I no longer despise the pain, because when I feel pain I know that I am alive, and I am further reminded of why I am alive. And all those things that cause sorrow simply remind me that this world is not home, and that I have so much more to live for than simply this life.

I am even grateful for the evil in others. It gives me a chance to be gracious and forgiving, and even better, an opportunity to show someone the way out of sin. I am thankful for the suffering of other people, because it gives me an occasion to show pity and empathy and love.

I live alone and because of the health of my legs I am unable to drive, so most of my time is spent in my apartment. The only time I get out is to go to worship services or to the doctor. I used to dread my solitude, but for that, too, I am now grateful. Time alone teaches me again of the horror of being spiritually alone and isolated from God because of sin, and it makes we want to reconcile the sinner and his Savior.

Things Are Better

I still have my frustrations, my good days and my bad days. When I fall into a foul mood, I feel as I have the means of coping with it much better than before, – than before the fall of 2016.

Whenever something throws our life away from what we want, it is easy to feel as if all is lost. Instead, it is the beginning of new things fresh with their own wonders and opportunities. Suffering is not the misfortune of life, but failing to see all of the greatness of this life around you and to not use that to prepare for the life to come is the greatest misfortune of all. As long as there is life, there is happiness, and so much more. If I could relive the past year and without the fall that put me in the hospital, because of what I have come to learn in its reflection, then by God, let me fall every day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why I’m Writing This Blog

why

I have been the Managing Editor for a successful Creative Writing blog for the last few years. It is called A Word Fitly Spoken. I am a writer with now a dozen books published, seven novels, four non-fiction, and a children’s book. But before that, I was a minister for twenty-five years. I preached in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and New Mexico. But that’s all behind me now as I live as a Creative Writer. My fiction is now my ministry. My novels are lessons without being preachy.

But for all those years before I preached, taught, and wrote exclusively religious material, and that doesn’t go away. I may not be a minister of a congregation, but I can still minister. Just as I do with my books, I hope to do with my new blog, This Is My Father’s World.

I intend for this blog to stay mainly in the world of apologetics, but without being too difficult or overly scholastic. I can’t do that advanced math required for the more fancy sciences, and my vocabulary isn’t interested in being stretch by some of these secular philosophers. My approach to apologetics will tend to be more common sense. I may address things that are scientific and philosophical, but you won’t need an advance degree to understand, just enough sense as God gave the goose who could only walk backward. I look forward to learning with you, exploring with you, growing with you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment