A popular level objection to Christianity today is to ask a Christian if Jesus killed little babies in the Old Testament. This banks on the idea of the Trinity and judgments recorded in the Old Testament such as the Flood or the slaughtering of the Canaanites. Another version of the problem of evil, the objection is that Jesus doesn't love people and is a baby killer. But this objection makes a number of mistakes that I will address here.
1. Who is God?
It may seem strange to start here, but this is where we should always begin. God is the maximally great being. Triune in nature, He is just, holy, righteous, and merciful. He is also love. So how could God judge? The issue comes down to thinking of God on equal footing with man. However, God is not man. Man is His creation - created in His image. But man is fallen. God however, is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, all powerful, personal, and all loving. To bring God down to our level is to misidentify the creator of the universe.
2. What is Murder?
Murder is rightly said to be the intentional taking of innocent human life without good cause. But, it is the taking of innocent human life by other humans. God is creator and the author of life and death. When God judges and takes life, He judges rightly as He is the standard of good. When we violate God's law, He is right to judge. When judgement befell man in the flood, God would have known several things: Noah was the only righteous man left, it would have been impossible for him to care for all of the children left. In wiping out mankind other than Noah's family, God was able to start over again to curtail the corruption that had overtaken the earth.
3. A Wrong View of Eternity
In the taking of the lives of children, God brought their innocent lives into His presence for eternity - to be raised up on the last day. We often think of life as only being the short time we have here, yet God has put eternity into the hearts of man. It is why so many cannot fathom there isn't an afterlife. We have an innate sense of it. But if this is the case, then why is abortion wrong some may ask? Reviewing our definition of murder, we do not have the ability or right to decide life or death outside of what authority God has given for keeping law and order. Abortion is the taking of innocent human life without sufficient cause. Because God brings an aborted child into His presence doesn't change the crime that was committed.
This objection is designed to bring the issue into an emotional arena, yet our emotions have nothing to do with the truth. Strangely, God judged the Canaanites for sacrificing their infants to the god Molech. In 2015, the total number of abortions performed in the US - including data from non reporting states - was 826,169. That is nearly 1 million abortions in 2015 alone. Yet the objection is claiming God is a moral monster for judging the earth and for killing babies. It would be good to find out if the person making the objection has an issue with this number.
This is part two of a two-part series on the Reproductive Health Act
With the passage of New York's Reproductive Health Act, the debate over abortion has intensified. A popular argument against the Pro Life position is to claim pro life views are "religious" in nature and not to be believed.
This is a fallacious argument on two fronts and while it is a myth that pro life arguments are religious, let's address the idea head on.
First, to say "you're just religious" is an Ad Hominem. It's like calling someone a "racist" to shutdown a conversation. Whether or not someone is religious has no bearing on the truth or falsehood of an argument.
Second, to say an argument is religious is a genetic fallacy - that is - claiming an argument is false because of where it comes from. The argument stands or falls on it's own merits, not those of the person making the claim. To say you cannot read religious websites or trust religious arguments is to ignore the argument itself and disengage. This is intellectually dishonest and is a tactic that goes beyond the abortion issue in our society. You must deal with the facts of any argument and the fact is the RHA expands late term abortions that were previously prohibited by NY state law.
This is part one of a two part series on the passing of New York's Reproductive Health Act.
The recent passing of New York state's Reproductive Health Act has caused an uproar between Pro Choice and Pro Life advocates. There is much confusion as to what the bill actually says and does.
The fact checking web site, Snopes, has posted an article fact checking the claim from Pro Life advocates that the bill allows abortion up to term. So did Snopes get this one right? Here's what they did get right:
Some have cited this as a slam dunk on Pro Life advocates who claim the bill allows for unrestricted abortion up to term. But the truth is, the term "health" is ambiguous in the bill and is separated from "life" as a different scenario. Health can mean anything from Gestational Diabetes to Pre-eclampsia. It can also be used to mean anything health related - from mental stress to economic strain.
Jay Watts, president of Merely Human, Inc. believes those who do not think the bill would be used in that manner have not read the bill and do not understand current abortion law.
It shows people don’t understand abortion law in the U.S. The third trimester considerations in Roe were set aside in Doe v Bolton’s absurdly broad health exception back in 1973. That exception goes beyond physical health and life of the mother and includes emotional, financial, and familial health. Planned Parenthood v Casey reaffirmed the exception in 1992 while abandoning the trimester system for a viability standard. This means that New York both affirmed the health exception while simultaneously eliminating all other considerations for the unborn in their state penal code. They also opened up the possibility of heightened allowances for PA’s to participate in performing abortions.
In short, the bill actually expands the ability for late term abortions for all of the reasons abortions are performed in every state. The previous law which restricted late term abortions to only those scenarios that put the mother's life in danger (which are less than 2% of all abortions performed annually) has now been expanded to include the mother's health which is not more specifically defined in the bill. The bill also defines a "person" as someone who has been born and is alive. This is not a scientific statement, but rather a metaphysical one which the NY state legislature has no authority to make.
So the fact is, the Reproductive Health Act expands abortions in the state of New York to include late term abortions where as previously, New York state law restricted late term abortions.
Those are the facts.
The recent backlash against Lauren Daigle for her comments on homosexuality has sparked debate amongst Christians who both defend and critique her.
John Crist, a Christian comedian, recently posted a video on his Instagram feed condemning those who judged her for her comments. Crist seemed to be unaware that he himself was judging other Christians for their behavior. The thing is the church should make judgments on truth. The New Testament constantly warns us of false prophets and teachers. The apostle Paul tells us that "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ". If a brother errs, we take them aside lovingly to correct them. But what about someone like Daigle or Crist? Do Christian celebrities have a larger responsibility to adhere to sound teaching or to speak the truth? First, we should make a sober judgment against ourselves to see if we were in the same position, would we do any different. Secondly, we shouldn't confuse the act with someone's salvation. Each of us are a work in progress and the point of the Gospel is that we as human beings are constantly missing the mark. This is why Christ came and died on a cross.
That being said, we can rightly judge actions that have larger impacts on public perception of the Gospel and the Church and correct those actions if need be. When Jesus warned us "not to judge lest you be judged", He wanted us to not judge hypocritically. Paul put it this way in Romans "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?....While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?" Romans 2:2-3, 21&22
We tend to look to the famous for our theological marching orders. However, this is a mistake. Those like Daigle should be careful to place themselves under authoritative teachers, but we should be doing the same. Celebrities can fall into the popularity trap and so begin to follow the path of Progressive Christianity
We must strive as the Church to read the Bible, understand it's history, proper hermenuetics, orthodox theology, and a good apologetic. We also must not set up celebrities to fulfill a role they never were meant to. If we show a brother their error, it is out of love and their edification and shouldn't be to tear someone down. But we shouldn't look to a celebrity for our biblical instruction as they are in the entertainment business which is always a dangerous road for anyone to navigate and it shouldn't surprise us when one fails in some fashion but rather we should respond in prayer, grace, and truth. Not every so called Christian celebrity fails in this fashion as there are many who have a solid biblical understanding. But we should be able to rightly divide the truth for ourselves by delving into God's word and putting ourselves under solid, orthodox teachers and allow the truth to change us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
To fail to exhibit that we take truth seriously at those points where there is a cost in doing so, is to push the next generation into the relative, dialectical millstream that surrounds us. ~ Dr. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
Most have heard about Lauren Daigle's interview on iHeart radio when asked about homosexuality. When pressed as to whether it's a sin, she responded "I can't honestly answer on that, in a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don't know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can't say one way or the other. I'm not God."
This is not uncommon in the church today - especially amongst "Christian Entertainers". But it speaks to a larger problem in the world. "Hatespeech" is the buzzword of our culture. People are labeled as hateful simply for disagreeing with someone's perspective or lifestyle. For Christians, the temptation is to not be seen as a hater or a bigot. But this is not how Jesus taught us to live. The Gospel message is offensive at it's core. It tells us that we are evil at heart, beyond all hope. The love God shows us is in coming down as a man and dying a horrific death on a cross - a symbol of all the evil within us and what it takes to be declared righteous in His sight. People do not like to hear they are evil, that they are subject to God's wrath.
Sweet Jesus who loves everyone is the image the world likes. They don't care for the Jesus who whipped the money changers or who spoke of God's judgement. Christ came to seek and save the lost. But, just as the prodigal son, it's only after we realize how far we've fallen that we turn around and come home to Him where He is waiting to welcome us with open arms - rejoicing in our repentenance. When the spotlight is on, many who call themselves Christians compromise Jesus' message in order to maintain a popularity and to be seen as tolerant.
But Jesus said "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." - John 15:18-25
We are meant to be offensive because we follow our master. They hated Him and nailed Him to a cross. We must remember that the most loving thing we can do is tell someone the truth in love. When we compromise the Gospel message, we are doing more harm.
Apologetics can be a loaded term as it encompasses so much in the way of history, theology, philosophy, science, and archaeology. Many in the church make the claim that Jesus did not use apologetics, so why should we. But this is not the case.
For an illustration, let's take a look at Jesus pointing out a Self-Refuting argument.
In Matthew 12:22-28, we read about Jesus casting out a demon and the following exchange:
22Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Here, Jesus points out a clear logical fallacy committed by the Pharisees. In today's world, people still do the same thing. How often have you heard someone talk about speaking "their truth" or "that's true for you, but not for me"?
By asking questions the way Jesus did, we can point out the problems with these views to help bring a better understanding of the nature of truth and in so doing, bring someone closer to being ready to hear the Gospel.
Jesus used arguments and we should too.
Many have an idea that the discipline of Apologetics is limited to showing some esoteric point to be true or getting into long debates with atheists. The truth is, apologetics is about one thing - bringing people to Christ. Some see evangelism and apologetics as differing from each other in their end goal. But is this the case?
The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer referred to apologetics as "pre-evangelism". He believed that most were not ready to hear the Gospel as they had many questions or objections that were in their way. Apologetics was the way to prepare the person to hear the Gospel so that they could respond without the obstacles of those questions. One could say that apologetics correctly done would be the "handmaiden" of evangelism. Apologetics is there to help our evangelistic efforts, not to get into fights over doctrine or ideas about evolution.
In, The God Who Is There, Dr. Schaeffer wrote:
They (non Christians) are valuable, so we should meet them in love and compassion. Thus, we meet the person where he or she is. Consequently, if I were with Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail, and the Philippian jailer said to me, “sir, what must I do to be saved?” for me to start talking about epistemology would be horrible. I would say what Paul said, “Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” because the jailer was, on the basis of previous knowledge and events, ready for that answer. Now on the other hand, if we are dealing with someone who has honest problems and who really believes that truth is truth – things are true and things are false, it would then be a different need. In that situation, if he or she had questions on the historicity of Christ’s resurrection and so on, we would deal with those questions – because he or she already accepts that truth is truth. .
Evangelism and Apologetics go hand in hand and we should, as Christians, be prepared beforehand to engage in both disciplines so that we can follow the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations.
Scheaffer, Francis A. , The God Who Is There, InterVarsity Press, 1968.
*Editors Note: This article has been edited for clarity.
This idea is making the rounds once again. This go around, the narrative is blaming Zondervan for removing parts of the Bible. So, did the NIV version remove over 64,000 words from the King James Version of the Bible? In a word, yes. But it's not what you think.
First a bit of history. This is not exhaustive and I can recommend some colleagues of mine who can give a more detailed account. The King James Version of the Bible was based on a set of manuscripts known as the Textus Receptus or "received texts". This was a small group of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that was translated by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. The KJV was published in 1611. It also formed the basis for the Tyndale and Lutheran Bibles among others. These manuscripts were full of typographical errors and some books, like the Revelation of John, were not complete and were translated back into Greek from the Latin Vulgate adding more mistranslation and strange wordings to the mix. Also, many passages contained words that were mistranslated or that there were no English equivalents for, such as "Baptize". These manuscripts also contained passages that are not present in the earlier and much better Greek manuscripts found later at Oxyrhynchus Egypt.
So, the NIV when it was produced, relied on these manuscripts along with other sources to produce a more accurate translation than the KJV. The charge against it assumes that the KJV is the original version of the Bible which it is not. That is not to say that the NIV doesn't have it's own issues, but there was not a conspiracy by Zondervan or Harper Collins to sneak in a falsified copy of the Bible. And this accusation is a very old one. More modern translations such as the ESV or the NASB have footnotes for the variant passages to let you know they do not appear in the earliest manuscripts.
The larger issue here is many western Christian's ignorance of textual history. Can you trust your Bible? Absolutely. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence for the reliability of scripture and the sheer number of manuscripts show it hasn't changed over time. But, there is not and was not a conspiracy to change the Bible and remove words from it for the NIV version.
A few years ago, I saw a post by someone that immediately struck me as off:
"Sola Scriptura" is this a true saying? No, it is not. A person could memorize all of scripture and be no better for it. It is the Holy Spirit that gives understanding. It is not something that can be put into a bible translation, bible commentary, a theological writing, or traditions. It is the living water that flows from God. Do not put your trust in people and what they say, put your trust in God. He says he will teach us through the Holy Spirit. Go to the Lord in sincere humbleness with an empty mind of a child and let him teach. Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
Immediately, there are a couple of issues here and I want to give them a quick response.
First, something that glares at me is the statement "He says he will teach us through the Holy Spirit". Where do we get this idea? From Scripture! So unless the poster is suggesting the Holy Spirit planted in their mind or outright audibly told them this, scripture was the source for this teaching.
Sola Scriptura in Latin means “by Scripture Alone”. In Protestant Christian doctrine, it means that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the sole, infallible source for the teaching of the church and Revelation of God. It is considered inerrant and infallible in Christian doctrine.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. This means that the words of scripture are not mere writings and teachings of men, but the words of the LORD Himself.
Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit would remind us of all Jesus said. “"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Here, Jesus is clearly speaking to the apostles. This does not mean the Holy Spirit doesn’t teach us, but Jesus is clearly telling the disciples that the Spirit would remind them of all that He said and they in turn were able to write it down.
Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that all scripture is the authority for doctrine and theology. It doesn’t mean that the Bible is the only source for truth. In fact, in order for the Bible to be true, Truth must already exist and have a standard for it – in the case of Truth, that standard is God Himself. But the Bible is the inspired world of God containing all of the information needed to make one wise unto salvation - 2 Timothy 3:15
This objection mischaracterizes Sola Scriptura as a claim to be the sole source of Truth which is not the claim being made by this doctrine. And it does not align with scripture itself which clearly shows us that the Bible is the ultimate written authority for Christian doctrine, theology and practice. While the Holy Spirit leads and prompts believers, it does not contradict scripture nor impart ancient secret truths not revealed in scripture before now.
Often, I see other Christians objecting to the use of apologetics altogether. They will usually say that faith doesn't require evidence or it's not faith.
But is that the case? If we look at the word "faith" itself, we can get a clearer picture of what the Bible is actually talking about.
First, faith comes from the Latin "fides" which means "good trust". But the Greek word used in the New Testament is "pisteuo" which means to have confidence in or to credit the thing believed in. The other greek word used for faith is "pistis" which means "conviction of the truth of anything".
So faith is trust and trust is object centered. You put your trust in something. But does God require a blind trust or has He given evidence that we can put our trust in? As always, we must consult scripture.
First, Jesus says in John 10:24-26
"So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep."
And again in vs 36-38, Jesus says
"do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
What about Thomas? Jesus told him blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. But not seen what? The resurrected Jesus. But, what did Thomas see in the time he spent with Jesus? Healing of the sick, raising of the dead, casting out of demons, feeding of 4k and 5k, etc. Shouldn't then, Thomas have believed when Jesus told the disciples ahead of time that he would suffer, die, and on the 3rd day rise again? Jesus gave evidence.
What about John the Baptist? In Matthew 11, we see the following:
"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians:
"7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel." Phil 1:7
There are many more passages in the NT that admonish us to offer a defense (apologia) for the Gospel we preach. But the one that gives us the direct command is 1 Peter 3:15:
"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense(apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect"
In John 20, the apostle writes " Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
Acts 1:3 tells us "He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."
God has not left us without evidence of the truth. It becomes clear that we as Christians need to know what we believe, why we believe it, and how to articulate that truth.
"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:19-20