Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bible complaints

I have recently been challenged by someone to carefully consider my beliefs in scripture. This is an awesome challenge for me as it always provides fuel for thought. Objections are those things that do not make me cringe in fear, but rather cause me to go to our Fathers word, the bible.

There are three elements to this complaint, all supported in scripture itself. What surprises me is that this person seems to be the anti-evangelist. They want to, using scripture, prove that I should not follow scripture. I would have it no other way.

"Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! 41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; 42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. 43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules."
- Psalms 119:40 - 43

There are many other difficult verses I want to cover and these are easy practice.

Firstly, did men write the bible? Of course they did. But they did so under divine inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16 makes that clear. Secondly, the faith I have is in Christ alone. There is no other real God, nor is there any other worthy God. What I mean by that is: if, in eternity, I am proved wrong, I will: happily burn in (whoever's) hell for believing that my God is Christ, for all of Him. There has to be this element to faith. Faith cannot exist with proof. Since faith is what I must have, then faith is what I have.

To start off the argument I would like to say that my theology may be summarized in two very simple words: 'God first'. I have a high view of scripture and in all things God is sovereign. God is true because that is who He is, not because there is truth. What I mean is that if God is gentle, if He smites someone down, He is still gentle and therefore that was a gentle God. If this were not the case, He would not be God. So when the bible says that God is gentle, yet orders the death of someone, it is for His glory and His purpose. God needs no defender for His actions. There is a beautiful quote of what should be the view of scripture:

"The debate over inerrancy frequently comes down to choosing whether or not to tolerate such problems as 'unanswered questions' or to transfer them to the category of 'demonstrated problems.' Often that decision reflects ones internal attitude toward Scripture and towards critical methods. If Scripture is accepted as the inspired word of God, as the 'standard that sets the standard,' one will be reluctant to charge it with error - since to do so one must have some other, perhaps higher, norm by which to evaluate Scripture."1

With the basis stated, lets get started.

I am not sure what the exactly the first 'complaint' is but let us look at a particularly disturbing verse:

"No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD"

This seems to me the hardest of the three. What does 'assembly' mean here? Does it mean that if a man's organ is removed (against his will, or by accident) he cannot enter heaven? Or does it mean that he cannot be a priest (or hold some office) in the old testiment temple? To be serious, the context would not suggest the former. In the very next verse, it says that a bastard child may not enter into the assembly. Does God condemn people because of their parents? I praise Him by saying NAY! Even the old testiment teaches that! See Ezekiel 18. The interpretive problem here is context. In all these verses, God is protecting the purity of His people. These verses do not speak of salvation, just old testiment rules. What is the application of this verse today? God cares who is in church office.

The second complaint (at least it is defined) is that the bible was written as "population control." This amuses me as those who were writing the bible would have, I assume, laughed in the face of someone who said that, had they not been so humble. Can you imagine telling a guy locked up in jail, after being beaten for preaching, that all he was interested in was population control? Paul got 39 lashes five times for preaching the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:24). People were dying because of the word of God. The 'population control' thing is Catholic and since they do not believe in contraceptives, they may even find this rather humorous.

Also the bible does not say it should be used as governmental rule. I was thinking this very morning how great it would be if everyone was forced to follow Christian rules, because South Africa could surely use it. However, as a baptist, I believe in the separation of Church and state. If you do not believe the bible I cannot force it on you. Only God can provide the repentance necessary (2 Timothy 2:25).

With that in mind lets look at the 'suppoting' verse:

" If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church"
- 1 Corinthians 14:35

I think the lady is more complaining about 'woman control' rather than 'population control.' Yes, the bible does teach this. But again your issue is context.

"the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says."
- 1 Corinthians 14:34

The Law said it. This is no new teaching. In fact all that is denied here is a little doctrine of original sin.

To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

That is why women must be silent in churches. This is obviously during preaching or something like that, not as legalistic as 'when they walk through the doors.' They are also not permitted to be preachers, for exactly the same reason (1 Timothy 2:12 - 15).

And finally, the last complaint. A question of old testiment law.

"Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death."
- Exodus 35:2

So what now? I must kill people in the name of the Lord for working on the sabbath. Well, Jesus said he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). What did He do? He died on the cross. He bore the punishment of sins. So we don't have to. It's the same reason we don't sacrifice animals anymore. Jesus is the sacrifice that ended sacrifices. What is the application of the verse today? 1. God is in favour of the death penalty. 2. He takes the sabbath (His holy day for His people) seriously. Plus the new testiment changes the view, a part of the new covenant:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself."
-Romans 14:5-7

God is telling us that we are now free in Him. You'll find many old testiment laws, including the golden rule, in the new testiment. Some things fall away, but not in a sense that they are forgotten.

Praise be to God for His most awesome word of truth!

1 "The Origin of the Bible", by F.F. Bruce, J.I. Packer, Philip Comfort and Carl F.H. Henry, Tyndale House Publishers, 2003

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