Scriptures

Thoughts on the Scriptures (Part Two)

The nature of Scriptures as the divinely inspired Word of God remains a concept that is difficult for a great many people, even amidst the Christian faith. It’s perhaps not that terribly surprising. The reason why is because the Bible itself can be difficult to read, particularly if one does not know how to read it.

Now this is not meant to be a condescending statement or an insulting thought. It is simply meant to express a reality. Literate and educated, people are trained from the earliest of ages to read, which is, hopefully a passion that carries on through the remainder of their lives. Yet, what they’re trained to read differs from Scripture. Even considering historic literature, there must be a recognition that there is a fundamental difference that exists between the Bible and any other book that has been written. This, in turn, reminds the reader that they have to approach it in a different way than they might otherwise read a book.

Once this is understood and accepted a great deal of confusion is cleared up, liberating the reader from their own preconceived notions and biases which might have, up to that point, held them back. In a sense they unlock the Scripture, not because the Word of God is somehow closed off or hidden, but because the reader is now forced to look at the words offered in a different light, in a different manner. The core problem is that this isn’t easily arrived. It involves training the oneself, considering basic principles which are necessary but that are not necessarily intuitive.

How then does one begin this process? What do they do? How should one look at and reflect upon the Word of God in order to derive the meaning from it? These are the core questions which the reader must ask themselves before they even begin the process of delving into the Word, and it involves recognizing some basic concepts as they do.

The Bible Isn’t A Self-Help Manual

First and foremost, the reader must recognize that the Scriptures are not a self-help manual. They are not written that way, nor should they be understood that way. In fact, there is an incredible danger when one opens up the words of Scripture believing that or believing that it is somehow centered around them. The reason why is because they then have a tendency to make it all about them. They then take verses, as if they exist outside of the context of the passage, shaping and molding them to fit their own needs and purposes.

Christ himself warns against this in the fifth chapter of John’s Gospel as he looks to those rulers of the people and says to them that they search the Scriptures believing that through them they will have eternal life. For them, the Word of God was an instruction manual, it was a self-help manual, teaching them nothing more than to live with piety so that they might live and act in a proper manner. Yet, this was an incorrect way of considering the Word of God. Rather, they needed to understand it as being about God, and His redemption plan through Christ Jesus, understanding that all Scriptures bore witness of him. (Jn. 5:39-40) In this sense, the Bible isn’t about the reader, it is about Christ.

The Scriptures are God’s means of revealing Himself to mankind, who He is, and the work which He is doing in the world. He does this by directing the focus and the attention to the visible image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15) He is the only begotten son of God, begotten before all worlds, and it is belief in him that brings everlasting life. (Jn 3:16) This points to the Scriptures then being about Christ because it is he who makes God known, (Jn. 1:18) the way, the truth and the life, the only way to the Father. (Jn. 14:16)

What this then allows for is, through faith, through the adoption which occurs in faith, for the individual to come into relationship with God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This then, allows for the individual to frame their life according to God’s will. The Christian, the disciple of Christ, is intended to imitate God, (Eph. 5:1) to purify themselves just as Christ is pure. (1 Jn. 3:3) If this is the case, the divine revelation of God carries specific implications. It is, after all, good for all teaching, for reproof and correction, for instruction in righteousness that the children of God may be equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Through a greater knowledge of Christ the individual comes to a greater understanding of God, of who He is, what He has done, and what it is that He desires. This, in turn, has very specific implications for the life of the believer. It transforms them and creates within them the desire to share the good news of God’s grace, love, and mercy. Scriptures provide that means as one goes forth into all nations, teaching to observe all which Christ himself commanded. (Matt. 28:19-20) It is Scripture which allows for them to do so in truth. Rather than a subjective oral tradition, or a human book that is subject to change they have the enduring Word of the Lord, inspired by the Spirit and preserved through the ages.

Context is King

What this means is that the Scriptures must be read in a very specific manner, one which understands what they are and respects that. After all, if it is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity, what this means is that it must be read in a manner which reflects that. This is the part that seems frequently lost when one is reading Scripture. Verses are often treated as being what can only be described as piece meal. They are taken out of the context which they exist in, the passage, chapter or book, and treated as if they stand alone.

Yet, with the possible exception of Proverbs, the passages of Scripture do not exist in a vacuum. They cannot be separated as if they somehow stand alone, uninfluenced by the situations, circumstances, and situations they were written amidst, unshackled from all that surrounds them. In this sense the meaning of passages are determined by their literary and historical conditions, as well as that which immediate precedes and proceed from it. then establishes the initial parameters by which one can then understand Scriptures, and what they are actually saying.

This is significant because the main goal of reading Scripture is to find the actual meaning of the passage. This can only happen when one understands two basic ideas. The first is what the authors intent is in writing what he is actually writing. The second is how the original audience would have understood that what it was that he was trying to teach or say to them. Creating a symbiotic relationship with each other, they provide the reader then with insight into the significance of what is being articulated.

Consider, for example, Philippians 4:13, one of the verses that is frequently cited. Here the Apostle writes to the church in Philippi, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” What does this actually mean though?

Philippians is what would be considered to be a prison epistle or captivity letter written during his Roman imprisonment. It is not a time of considerable triumph or success for him. In fact, it is a time of suffering for him, one in which many might have lost hope, and he is taxed. Yet, he finds strength, and that strength comes from God who carries him through. Thus, as John Owen would write, “In everything that God brings our way, we must recognize that God’s goodness, kindness, love and tenderness are somehow present.”

This is a vastly different picture than one get’s when they take the verse out of its context and forces it to stand by itself without an understanding of the authorial intent or the audience interpretation. This is something that can be viewed throughout Scripture. Consider, for example, John 8:32. Here Christ says those famous words, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Without the context of what he is actually saying, one can interpret truth to mean anything, regardless of what he is actually saying and what he is actually referring to. This can, in turn, can be used to promote false teaching and false doctrine.

But then that is, invariably, the danger of taking Scripture out of context. Verses, or portion of verses alone, can be made to say whatever one may want them to say. This makes it dependent then on man’s interpretation rather than God’s plain meaning, as man informs Scripture rather than Scripture informing man.

The Significance of Genre

The struggle with context isn’t surprising though, at least not in some senses. The reason why is because there can be a degree of difficulty involved in reading Scripture. From beginning to end it tells the same story through a process of progressive revelation, as God reveals the fullness of His plan through the ages. Yet, it doesn’t always tell that story in the same way, or through the same format. In many senses what then has to be understood is that it is a diverse book inspired by the Spirit of God as it tells a single-story spanning thousands of years, articulated through many different voices and experiences.

Just as passages can’t be taken as piece meal, neither can one read the all the Scriptures with a one-size-fits-all treatment. Though it is unified in its ultimate purpose of testifying of Christ, it doesn’t necessarily do that in a comply unified manner, as if the Spirit of God did more than divinely inspired, completely taking over the individual author to write it all in one completely integrated manner. If this was what God had intended human authors would have been unnecessary completely. He could have simply opened the heavens and handed down Scripture written by His own finger.

Sixty-six books of varying lengths compiled together between the same covers, they vary in their genres considerably, and even within the genres there can be deviations away from the major form which the book itself follows. Each of these genres have to be rightly and properly viewed as being unique. The Psalms, for example, are poetry. This poetry can follow rhythmic prose, metaphor or parallelism. There are a number of books which would be considered Historical, whereas others would be classified as Narratives, Epistles, Prophecy and Apocalyptic, etc. Then, within these books, other genres might occur. For example, in historical books one might find poetic form, the Song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15, or they will find parables within the Gospels, which, by their nature, are narrative in form.

These different forms of literature then require a different way of reading and understanding the text. To fail to do so can, in fact, cause a great deal of confusion. This confusion, in turn, can lead one to a number of incorrect assumptions about God, about who He is, how He acts and what He, ultimately, expects from His children. They miss what He is trying to convey, and the truth that He desires for them to learn.  For example, to read the Psalms as if they were a historic book would lead to one quickly misreading the text and cause considerable problems in trying to ascertain what it’s actually saying. After all, the poetic license of the Psalms leads to the use of hyperbole, allegory, apostrophe, anthropomorphism, and a number of other literary techniques. Likewise, one cannot read prophecy and apocalyptic literature as if it were historical or narrative. They have to consider the fact that signs, symbols and imagery are used in very specific ways in order to convey a very particular message, and idea about future events.

To this end the reader must consider the aim of what is trying to be conveyed in the book as they journey through the Scriptures, seeking to interact with God’s Word in a manner that befits it. The believer is, after all, called to rightly handle the Word of Truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

This, obviously, is not everything that the reader must consider when they sit down to study the Bible, and these matters, such as bias and exegesis versus eisegesis, and the principle of Scriptura Scripturae interpres, or Scripture interprets Scripture, are other fundamentals that will be explored in the next article. For the time though, these three guiding ideas should provide the reader of God’s divinely inspired Word with the basics that they need to begin a deeper and more profitable dive into it, deriving from its pages what God intends, rather than simply what they may want God to say.

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Christian Life, Scriptures

Thoughts on the Scriptures (Part One)

What is the Bible? That is one of those questions where, depending on who is asked, one can get a variety of answers. In many of these instances that is, perhaps, not that terribly surprising. One can expect a certain response if they ask an Atheist or a Muslim or a Buddhist or someone who adheres to the Hindu faith for example. Where the answer can be more disturbing is when one asks those who claim a Christian faith what they believe the Bible to be.

A few years ago now Gallup did a study and what they found was that only approximately 24% of Americans considered the Bible to be the literal word of God versus 47% who believed it to be the inspired word of God, some to be taken literally, some not, and 26% who believed it to be a book of fables, myths and legends mixed with some history to offer us some good moral lessons. The general conclusion that the Gallup survey was that over the past 30 years the view of Americans with regards to the Bible has been shifting. Those who believe it to be the literal Word of God are decreasing in numbers, while those who view it as something less, considerably less, have been increasing.

This is not simply something that is limited to non-Christians. In fact, it has become more commonly accepted in some Christian circles. The Bible is no longer seen as being the Word of God. Rather, it is accepted as being a guide, a man-made, man-authored book, meant to give instruction to live a good life. Because of this it is ultimately up to the individual to determine what they are going to accept, and what needs to be relegated to the palpably obscure, ignored as ancient, and archaic, no longer relevant to society today. What makes someone uncomfortable or uneasy amidst the present spirit of the age can simply be tossed aside.

The inclination to disregard Scripture, or to simply ignore the Word of God is not something new, nor is it unique to the present world. To consider the fall to sin is to recognize this fact. What, after all, are the words of the Serpent? He begins by asking “Did God actually say…” (Gen. 3:1) before stating that God didn’t mean what He said. (Gen. 3:4-5) His deception, his manipulation begins with questioning what God said before coming right out and stating that the word’s which God Himself spoke were not, in fact, accurate.

What this teaches, what this demonstrates is the reality that there is an inherent danger to questioning the Word of God, to treating it as if it was nothing more than a guide that one is able to pick and choose from. Disobedience against God – sin – quickly follows. The individual places themselves outside of the Word of God and, therein, places themselves outside of the will of God.

The Christian does not get to pick and choose what they believe out of the Bible. That is not how Scripture works. What is truth is not based on how an individual feels at any given time, nor is it based on the cultural zeitgeist. It is timeless and enduring, and, if it is found to be in direct conflict with what is being espoused in society then it’s society that’s fundamentally wrong, not Scriptures.

For the Christian this should be a non-negotiable starting ground for us. Why? Because this is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity, and, in revealing Himself in this manner, He preserves the means by which man may come to know Him.

God-Breathed

In his epistle to his young protégé the apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) What this is intended to point to for the Christian is the reality of the Word of God. The Greek word here, θεόπνευστος, which is translated as “breathed out by God”, is found only once in the Scriptures. It’s more likely a word Paul himself coined in order to express a very specific idea. This is namely that Scriptures are, by their very nature, sacred and divine in their origin.

The idea of holy breath is one that is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word רוּחַ, as a case in point, is the word for wind or breath. Yet, it is also the word which, when it is brought together with God, comes to mean the Spirit of God. This is seen, for example, in the Creation Narrative in Genesis 1:2. What this then shows is the true author of Scripture.

What is perhaps interesting here is to compare Paul’s words in 2 Timothy to the words of the author of Hebrews. It’s here that we read “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:12-13)

In these two verses we are given two different descriptions for the Word of God. The first is, as discussed, the idea that it is God-breathed. The second is that it is “living and active.” The significance of this can be seen in the creation of man. The distinction between man and the other creation is the fact that he is created in the image of God. While the rest of creation is brought into existence through the spoken word of its Creator man is unique, because his life is given by the breath of God.

In this sense, the fact that the Scriptures are “God-breathed” and alive and active reflects something incredibly important. Just as the breath of God does not destroy that which is human in man, but, rather, imparts upon him that which transcends the temporal, namely the soul, so too then does the breath of God bring life to the Holy Scriptures, not destroying that which is human, but imparting on it that which surpasses the human.

To this end the Spirit will use human authors, their experiences and their understanding, but He will move them in such a way that they will communicate God’s purpose and meaning. To this end the Spirit guides and navigates them to where they must be, giving to them knowledge and wisdom that transcends their own.

Scriptures, in turn, are multifaceted. They are, first and foremost, intended to reveal God to man, to point to Christ and the ultimate salvation which comes through Him. This is their primary purpose. Through the power of the Spirit, it is intended to convict the sinner, and draw them to a sincere faith.  In teaching about Christ, pointing to that grace which saves, it further instructs the Christian in that faith.

Into All Nations

It is the instruction which the Scriptures offer which tends to be what’s most problematic for most people. Christ as a moral teacher can generally be accepted, because, as the argument is articulated, he is simply about love. Even the most famous instance of Jesus’ judgment, where he overturns the tables at the Temple amidst his righteous anger, (Matt. 21:12-13; Mk. 11:15-18) is viewed through this lens. It is viewed as his indignation against the religious of his day, not necessarily those who had corrupted the Word of God and chased after the earthly amidst their own depravity.

Once one ventures into the other works of Scripture, then that is where the difficulties begin. The writings of Paul, for example, are quickly discounted, or, if not completely ignored, picked at for scraps until there is nothing there. Why would one, after all, listen to Paul, when he speaks on matters that Christ himself was silent on?

What’s missed in this argument is the nature of the context of Christ’s ministry on earth. Though he would, as is expected for that period, encounter the gentile world, particularly in the form of Rome, which ruled the region at that time, Christ preached to an early first century Jewish population. Though some, such as the Sadducees, might have worked with Rome, the reality was that they had largely rejected the Hellenization of the their religious and cultural life, noted in the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire between 167 and 141 BC. The Gospel, after all, comes first to the Jewish people, those who God promised a Savior.

Thus, Christ himself would not teach on particular matters, because it was not necessary for him to for the immediate context in which he was in. Sins which were prevalent within Greek or Roman culture were not prevalent within Jewish culture during that time. Other matters were. Thus, Christ’s silence on something cannot logically, or consistently be considered to be an affirmation of it.

Yet, this Savior is not limited solely Jewish population. This dynamic is not only reflected throughout the Old Testament but in the words of Christ himself. It is he, after all, who tells his followers to go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, teaching them to observe all he commanded them. (Matt. 28:19-20) This extends the mission of Christ beyond the Jewish context.

Paul, on the other hand, was chosen by God, called as an apostle, for a specific purpose. This was, namely, to live the Great Commission command and carry the Gospel to the Gentile world. To this end, he is, naturally, going to speak on issues which are more prevalent within the Greek and the Roman world, issues which the Jewish population would have, ultimately, taken for granted, based on their understanding of God and His laws.

When Paul then speaks of Scripture being “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”, he is recognizing that the entirety of God’s Word is there to instruct the individual that they may live as imitators of Christ. (Eph. 5:1-2) This means the whole counsel of God, recognizing that God is one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, united in purpose. The instruction, the words of Christ then exist in harmony with those words which are divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. There is no disunity or distance that exists between them.

Scripture teaches based on the knowledge of God even if the hands are used to write them, and their experiences are reflected in them. This is how God has chosen to teach to us that we may live as His children. The instruction there is not some sort of buffet dinner whereby the diner may pick and chose what is to their liking, learning from one area of God’s instruction while ignoring others because it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

Pride

Yet so often that is what is done, and it is done based on the sin of pride. There is nearly two thousand years that exists between the last of the New Testament being written, and the present age. It’s an even longer gap that exists between the final words of the Old Testament and the modern world. Though it may not be articulated as such, what is often come to is the belief that we know better. We have advanced further than the Patriarchs and the Prophets, the Apostles and the Disciples found within the pages of Scripture. We have technology that puts information at our fingertips, and we have pushed the development of science to new frontiers. What could they possibly teach, particularly since so many of their notions and ideas are archaic comparatively?

The mentality that can be reflected in the present age with regards to Scripture do not reflect the wisdom of men. Rather, what it reveals is the pride and vanity, the hubris that can be reflected in the minds of men. It is a sin that is reflected in the fall of humanity at Eden or at the Tower of Babel, the belief that we can know as much as God, if not more, the belief that we are capable of reaching the same heights as God.

Pride is what Augustine of Hippo regarded as the prototypical sin, the sin by which other sins will proceed from, and in his Confessions, he recognized that it was this sin of pride which had, ultimately, kept him from understanding and appreciating Scriptures for what they actually were. It was only when he was able to humble himself, that he would find the truth of Scripture would be open to him. It was in that humility that he was able to admit the weakness of his own reasoning, and, in that weakness, find himself able to grow in truth, submitting himself to God.

For the individual to recognize the authority and the teaching of Scripture as it is, rather than what they desire it to be, they must first humble themselves, and, in setting aside that pride, enter into their study with a deep sense of humility. It is only then that they can begin to recognize that no matter how far humanity believes it may have advanced, no matter how great humanity may believe its knowledge is, it is God, and God alone, who is the source of all knowledge, wisdom, and reason as His foundational truth transcends the ages.

In the grand scope of our own knowledge what we have to then recognize is that we have only advanced a short time, a short way, and, in reality, we can only see a short distant in the future. What we assume to be the dominant assumptions of our age are transitory. They are subject to change. Yet it is God who has no beginning and no end. It is God who can look across the scope of time and space, understanding all things, including that which is veiled to us. This is the God who preserves His Word from age to age that we may be steadfast in it.

Now all of this may lead to discussions about how it is that Scripture should be understood, and that is a fruitful discussion. Yet, before that can even be entered into one must begin with a baseline. This baseline for the Christian must be based on a high view of Scripture, one which accepts it as the divinely inspired Word of God.

For the Christian there can be no compromise on this reality. Why? Because the moment that this compromise begins is the moment in which we open our faith to worldly influences and forces, influences and forces which are inherently opposed to it. This, in turn, opens the door to all sorts of disobedience to God, to heresy and idolatry even as it allows for sin to come and dominant our lives.

God does not give us His Word, He does not preserve His Word simply for His own benefit, nor does He do it so that we may take it glibly, picking and choosing what is important from it. He does it that we may come to know Him through Christ Jesus, and, in that, be instructed in all righteousness, equipped for every work He lays in front of us, even as we purify ourselves as Christ himself is pure. So, as the hymnist once declared, let us too pray “Lord, grant, while worlds endure, we keep its teachings pure throughout all generations.”

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Christian Life, Theology

The Gods of Our Own Making

One of my favorite units in English class back when I was in school was mythology. The focus was always on Greek and Roman, but it often sent me down a rabbit hole where I would read anything I could find on the topic. I would be engrossed in the stories of the Norse gods, or the myths that surrounded the various native tribes, or the ancient stories from China, taking whatever books our school library had and just losing myself in them.

The one thing that always struck me about the Greek and Roman gods was just how human they were. In some senses they were more human than the people that they were said to govern over. They were deeply flawed individuals prone to the full depravity of human nature when left unchecked. Unaccountable to anyone, they allowed for their passions, and vices, rage, and selfishness run wild.

When man is given the opportunity to create his own god this is what happens though. Not only do these gods begin to take on the traits of humanity, they tend to take them on in exaggerated form. They become hyperbolic, accentuating our worst possible traits. Why? I suppose, in no small part it’s part of human nature. There is a part of us that likes our idols to affirm whatever base urge or instinct we may have. We worship them because they allow for us to be whomever we desire to be, without having to justify ourselves within a deeper moral framework. They are powerful, and vengeful, but so long as we give them their due reverence, they will allow for us to act and behave however we so choose.

This isn’t limited to the ancient Greeks though. In fact, we see it frequently today, particularly in some places within Christianity. It isn’t so much that they create a god. Rather, God Himself is deconstructed, and then re-molded. To paraphrase the old adage: God created man in His image, and man, in his hubris, decided to return the favor and recreate God in his image. Taking on the form of man, this idol in the form of the Christian God does not exemplify the best of humanity. Rather, he is there for no other reason to affirm humanity regardless of anything else, used as nothing more than a tool by which we are capable of justifying ourselves.

This is important for us to recognize, and to guard ourselves against. After all, as A.W. Tozer would write in the opening words, his classic Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.”

The question then becomes how do we recognize this idol we have created out of the Holy God? How do we counter this idol that we have created?

The Lesser God

We live in a society that has become overwhelmed by subjective morality. What we find is that the concept of “The Truth” is spoken about less and less. Rather, what everything is centered around “his truth” or “her truth” and this concept of “lived experience” perhaps best expressed in Louis Althusser’s structuralist Marxist perspective. It’s reflected in this notion that everything in our society is fluid. Stability, even in those concepts once agreed upon universally, is quickly abandoned as we argue nothing is settled.

This runs contrary to God. As we are reminded in Scripture we are not to be carried away by strange teachings. Christ is, after all, the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8-9) He is the great high priest who never fails, understanding our temptations, having been tempted himself, but who never stumbled himself. (Heb. 4:15) We are called to consistency, away from diverse doctrine and teachings, because he is utterly consistent in who he is. God does not change (Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6) and His Word stands forever. (Is. 40:8)

These two concepts run contrary to each other. They are diametrically opposed to each other. There is no construct where “his truth” or “her truth” can fit within a faith system where we understand God to be “the Truth”, where we understand Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, the only path to the Father. (Jn. 14:6) As the fourth century theologian Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, would express, “He who is the way does not lead us into by-paths or trackless wastes. He who is the truth does not mock us with lies. He who is the life does not betray us into delusions, which are death.”

When this occurs, this tension, this rift, a society has two choices. The first is to bring itself in line with objective truth, to abandon its hubris, and to humble itself in the face of its creator. The second is to tear down God, to bring Him down to our level, and remold Him, refashion Him in our image, to create something which accepts, and affirms all that our society accepts and affirms amidst the cultural zeitgeist.

We have seen, time and time again, that it was the second of these two options that our society has opted for. Rather than submitting itself to God, and His Word, it has, in its vanity and pride, sought to change who He was. In the belief that our ability to reason, our ability to discern is greater than that of God, we slowly pick apart Scriptures, taking what we want, and leaving the rest as nothing more than a relic of a bygone era. Carefully, ensuring it fits into the mold of what we need it to be, we then reframe it to fit our purposes and our meaning, recklessly abandoning who He is so that He may become who we claim He needs to be.

The fundamental problem here is that, though it perhaps does not start this way, by abandoning the idea of the majesty of God, the holiness of God, the transcendent nature of Him, what we end up with is something lesser than ourselves. Not only does this new image of God become a reflection of our own base, corrupt human nature, it becomes a dark reflection of who we are. Essentially God is transformed into a lesser god, one who’s only consistent attribute is his inconsistency. Once something falls out of vogue or fashion, he must change again. Like those ancient pagan gods his love and his wrath, his justice and his mercy, are subject not to some higher, or deeper sense of truth. Rather they are the product of human passions and lusts.

The New Pantheon

This, in turn, leads to the creation of a new pantheon of gods, one’s which reflect the cultural values and priorities of our society. Though they may not have their own names, they are reflected in a bizarre new sacramental worship, with their own distinct temples and liturgical demands, their adherents demanding blind devotion and reverence to the values in which they stand for.

A reflection of our society is the fact that we have, in many senses become polytheistic without ever fully accepting its polytheism. We have, in synergistic vanity, sought to recreate Christianity amidst religious pluralism that merges it with our cultural values. The byproduct of this is that new gods are born, new deities are formed, becoming these spirits of our age which we worship, promising to us that we can, with their help, overcome nature and the natural order.

“Pride”, “Convenience”, “Identity”, “Deconstruction”, “Subjectivity”, “Progressivism”, “Affirmation”, these are but a few of the offspring of this newly constructed, blatantly human god. They demand total allegiance, total and complete commitment to the cause in which they are the patron of. What’s more is that ,much like their ancient counterparts, they adhere to no law, to no deeper rule, except that which they are willing to recognize at any given time. They are not bound by the generally accepted and agreed upon societal order. If this societal order stands in their way, that order must be changed to affirm their desires.

How though do we know them to be a god? How do we know that they are deities within our society? At this point, after all, it seems as if it is nothing more than hyperbolic, exaggerated language.

The simple answer to this is nature. We establish this pantheon above nature, above the natural order, establishing, and redefining the laws of nature. They have complete control over it. Through the Christian God that they have the creator figure, the one who asserts moral and spiritual authority over all. This authority is then delegated down to the appropriate patron, who becomes the highest power over this particular area. Nature can be changed, the natural order can be subverted, truth can be changed, as we accept the idea that the laws of nature are subject to their power, to their abilities, to their influence. We can see examples of this woven throughout the Western World today as this idolatry takes over and upheaval follows.

This is what the Christian must guard themselves against, recognizing that “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” (Jnh. 2:8) In turning to this new pantheon amidst the recreated god of man’s liking, this mythical god that’s the stuff of legends and stories, they abandon the true and living God, they abandon Christ, the beloved Savior, and they abandon the Spirit, their helper and comforter who brings peace. They adopt idols, speaking for them, speaking for their gods because they have ears that cannot hear, eyes that cannot see, and ears that cannot hear, no different than the statues of silver and gold, except now pillars of vain ideology.

The Challenge

This does not mean that it will be simple or easy. It’s frightening to not only abandon the world, but to go against the dominant assumptions of one’s age, to forsake the idols and the idolatry of one’s society. There is a fear that goes with not bowing, not kneeling before the idols of this world, particularly as one considers the power which this new ideology, this new religion holds. To be declared a heretic or an enemy to the present gods of our society is to, really, put a target on ones back. To be considered a confessor in this world is to open oneself to scorn and ridicule, and perhaps worse.

Yet, God demands no other way. As the beloved disciple would remind us, after all, we cannot love the world or anything in it, because, if we do, the love of the Father is not within us. After all, what is in this world is the desires of our flesh, the desires of our eyes, it is a pride which comes not from our Lord, but, rather, from this world itself. (1 Jn. 2:15-16) Our loyalty, our allegiance is to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, alone.

This means that we must reject not only this re-created, re-structured god, this vain and selfish god of our making, but the pantheon of lesser gods which he creates. We must cling to foundational, objective truth, seeking the righteousness and holiness of God, turning away from the love of this world and the things that are of it. We must recognize the unchanging, inalterable nature of our God, realizing that any attempt to change, or to alter His divinely inspired Word sets us on a path away from Him, and towards the gods of our own making.

How though? The simple answer is by rejecting any compromise on objective truth. A significant reason for how we got to this place is because we were willing to compromise here, or there, told that if we simply allowed for this or that minor concession the line would be drawn there and their would be no crossing it. Recent history has exposed us to a different reality than that. Each compromise, each concession moves us further and further from Christ, and closer and closer to idolatry, until finally it eventually takes over. Suddenly, we lament the direction, wondering how such debauchery became accepted.

It became accepted because we slowly opened the door. Like Pandora we, ourselves, opened the box in our own naivety and let out a world of struggle and suffering, of wickedness and depravity. We may not be able to shut the door once it was open, now watching as our society kneels before the Baal and the Moloch, the Dionysus and Hermaphroditus and Zeus of our own making, but we can make our stand for biblical truth, refusing to allow for them to usurp our faith and recreate it for their own purposes and meaning. We can push back against the spiritual encroachments that occur, standing for the true love of Christ, a love which calls the sinner to righteousness amidst the sacrifice of the cross.

Christianity cannot co-exist with other religions, and it is not inclined towards religious pluralism. It cannot exist without a proper reverence of God, one that recognizes His majesty, His sovereignty and His authority, all of which exists above man, realizing that the created cannot recreate the creator without venturing into total and complete depravity. It cannot exist within a polytheistic framework where the spirit of our age produces these new deities which demands our praise and worship, creating with them new sacraments and ordinances to fit our world today.

God demands our loyalty, and, as He does, we are reminded that it is a choice between Him or the World. We can love one but we cannot love both, not without radically altering who God is, re-forming him to take on the image of a lesser god, one who is base and corrupt, who reflects the worst that humanity has to offer. Thus, in the words of Joshua in his farewell sermon:

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:14-15)

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Ecclesiology, Theology

What’s the Big Deal About Going to Church

What’s the big deal about church attendance? Does church membership even really matter? That appears to be the as we witness a seeming rapid decline in recent years.

Some of it is, perhaps, not surprising. One might expect a sharp decline in attendance in recent years, like the 6% drop that occurred between 2019 and 2021. In the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic churches were closed, some struggled to go digital having never expected to leave the analog world. Roadblocks were placed in front of in person worship, even when social distancing was observed, and as things began to slowly open up again, there were many who just didn’t necessarily come back.

It’s not simply COVID though. The decline has been years in the making. For example, Gallup, which has been tracking church membership in the United States since 1937, noted last year that for the first-time membership has dropped below 50%. Up until roughly the beginning of the 21st century this number hovered somewhere around 70%. Then it began its decline, now sitting at around 47%.

The truth is that there are any number of reasons for those dropping numbers, each a discussion in and of themselves. Some of them are incredibly valid reasons bore out of a place of hurt, and pain, or out of the loss of a sense of community in the church. Churches, bodies comprised of flawed humans prone to mistakes, miscalculations, and poor judgment, can cause pain and sorrow that chase people away. Though this is not the case in every instance, we can’t discount the effect that this has had on church memberships. People, hurt people, leave, and vow they will never come back.

But the reason why people leave is a broader topic, another discussion for another day. The question is can we ignore, even forsake fellowship? Is church attendance and membership no real big deal when it comes right down to it? These are particularly relevant questions in our present day and age where we can stream our services, listening to sermons on the go. No longer constrained to geographic boundaries we can listen to a pastor we particularly enjoy anywhere in the country or the world whenever we want without disrupting our life. Suddenly we can sleep in or take the kids to travel games on Sunday and still feel like we are, on some level, still doing church.

Yet, this is an incredibly dangerous practice, an incredibly dangerous mindset for the Christian to slip into. The reality is that the church, as a fellowship, is incredibly important to the believer for their spiritual growth, maturity, development, and safety. Church is one of those absolute necessities for the disciple of Christ, not only that they may properly worship God in communion with other believers, which is the most important reason, but for their own security.

The Danger of Being One:

What we have to recognize is that the dangers, they are plenty. This world, it is filled with threats which we, often times, can’t even really see. They surround us, and detached, distant from the flock of Christ, they become even more prevalent even if we don’t recognize their apparent presence in our lives. Slowly, and surely, they chip away at us, and our faith, when we are determined to live the solitary existence, or believe that we can exist apart from the flock of Christ, as if it were somehow a mere suggestion more than anything else.

As I think about this my mind goes to one of the most often recited parables of Christ. This is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. (Matt. 18:12-14; Lk. 15:3-7) In this story Jesus tells of the shepherd who, in noticing one of his sheep has wandered away, leaves his flock of ninety-nine remaining to find the lost. It’s a beautiful tale of the love that the shepherd has, rejoicing as he carries the one who has strayed home on his shoulders.

We look at this story as one of redemption and restoration, the answer of our Savior, the Good Shephard, to the Pharisees and religious leaders who would question why he would eat with tax collectors and sinners, the unclean who rejected by righteous society, the subject of their scorn. Yet, there is another element to this story as well, one that we must rightly consider. This is namely why the shepherd leaves the flock of ninety-nine to seek out and bring back the one who is lost.

There is a danger to be out in the world alone, away from the flock. The apostle Peter describes this danger in his first epistle, reminding the reader that our adversary the devil is out there, walking about, prowling as he seeks those whom he can devour. (1 Pet. 5:8) Any who watches the nature channel or has seen a documentary about lions recognize that the lion prefers to hunt the one who has wandered away from the flock or the herd, lurking in the grass, hidden away until the perfect time to pounce, and capture his prey.

The lone Christian, separated from the flock, the church, makes easy prey for the devil. They aren’t receiving the nourishment and the protection of the shepherd who cares for them. Instead, they are isolated without the defenses that they need in a hard, harsh world filled with hazards and perils, risks and threats. They are subjected to the elements around them that would subject them to harm and hurt as they find that there is little shelter or comfort to protect them.

We are told of the importance of fellowship, of the edify, nourishing, uplifting nature of fellowship, of the accountability and care that it brings because it is important. Left alone we are weak and vulnerable, even if we refuse to recognize it. It is why the Parable of the Lost Sheep is a parable of restoration, because if the lost sheep could go it alone there would be no need for the shepherd to go after him and return him to safety.

But God is Everywhere:

But we aren’t really going it alone. After all, God is everywhere, so He is always with us. We don’t really need church for fellowship because we can have fellowship with God anywhere.

This is an argument I’ve heard used many times over the years. The truth is that we are exceptionally blessed because we can practice the presence of God wherever we are, in whatever we are doing. We have the Scriptures readily available in any translation we want. We can hold a physical bible in our hands, or we can download an app to our phone or tablet and carry it wherever we want.

More than that, God is, indeed, everywhere. His qualities, His presence, His divine nature, and eternal power, they are shown in all that He has created. (Rom. 1:19-20) The glory of God is declared from the heavens. (Ps. 19:1-4) Yet, as Paul reminds us, these are invisible attributes. In that, we are reminded of the words of Augustine of Hippo who wrote in his letters, “Invisible things are seen in a special and appropriate way. When they are seen they are much more certain than the objects of the bodily sense, but they are said to be invisible because they cannot be seen by mortal eyes.”

God is everywhere, but He chooses to reveal Himself in certain ways and certain places. One of the key ways He does this is through His Word, and where His Word is preached in truth and purity.

In Hebrews we are given the admonition not to forsake the assembly, not to neglect meeting together. (Heb. 10:25) Why? Because to we are to gather in order that we may, communally, receive what God has, ultimately given us. Here, we see the visible presence of the invisible that surrounds us, our eyes open to the heavenly in faith and hope, as God unveils for us. By forsaking, or abandoning the assembly, by removing ourselves from it, we not only neglect the Gospel, we close our eyes to it, finding it easier to slowly move away from it, drifting from a life with God.

To claim then that we do not need church because we God is everywhere, is to claim the presence of God in one area, but to miss, and neglect God in another. It is to step away from that place where He has chosen to clearly reveal Himself in the blessed communion that He offers through the bride of Christ. One cannot legitimately say that they desire to worship God where He reveals Himself if they are not willing to come to the place where He does truly reveal Himself. They cannot forsake the visible presence, saying that the invisible will be enough without some measure of a cost to themselves.

Love for God and Love for Your Neighbor:

What’s more is that church, and how we worship in church, represents two fundamental directions, namely the vertical and the horizontal. The horizontal is how we honor God. As we direct our praise upwards we are seeking those things which are above. (Col. 3:1-2) In this sense, what we are pursuing what Christ himself refers to as the greatest commandment, namely that we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. (Matt. 22:37)

There is another element of the greatest commandment though. This is, namely, that we love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matt. 22:39) Our membership and our participation in the body of Christ is one of the ways in which we fulfil this commandment, living together in community with one another, blessing tone another, praying with one another, joined together in one heart joined together horizontally, but directed upwards vertically.

How? Well, the simple answer is multifold. It is reflected in what we are doing together, and how we are doing it. This is namely edifying and uplifting each other, (1 Cor. 14:12) holding each other to account, restoring them in a spirit of gentleness and love, (Gal. 6:1) giving witness to the larger community, including the unbeliever (1 Cor. 14:16) and offering instruction in righteousness and pure doctrine. (1 Tim. 4:11-14) In this sense, each believer, in worship, as a part and a portion of the church, represents a part of God’s temple which, then, comes together in order to glorify Him, and magnify His Spirit to others.

This horizontal element which is essential to our relationship with our neighbor is reflected throughout the Scripture as well. Consider Paul in his writing to the church in Ephesus. He tells them that they are to be filled with the Spirit. One of the ways in which this is manifested in how they address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph. 5:18-19) This, in turn, shows us how our faith is not simply an individual expression, but one which exists as part of a larger community, reminding us that to love God is to love one another, to worship God is to worship with one another, and to live in communion with God is to live in community with one another.

Now, none of this is to say that we must join a church, or we must attend a church regardless of what that church says and does. The truth is that we need to show discernment and wisdom, and we must prayerfully consider what that church does, what it believes and how it honors God. The reason why is because there are a number of churches out there that have false teachers, or toxic cultures that can hinder our spiritual growth. There are a number of churches out there that offer up false doctrine and false teaching which can confuse us.

Yet, this reality does not free us from the obligation that we have to find a true, Bible-believing, Christ preaching, God honoring community that will help us grow spiritually as we seek to praise and glorify our God. We are building blocks, built together on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ as our chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:10-22) We find our completion when we are part of the greater whole. It is when we are joined together in unity, bound together in love for the glory of God that our purpose is ultimately fulfilled. We must live like this, recognizing that we are no longer strangers, but rather a family in the household of God, who we are the adopted children of through the atoning work of Christ Jesus.

So yes, church attendance is important, as is church membership. It is essential to who we are in Christ. Nothing in this world, or of this world can replace that fact. The sooner we recognize that the sooner we can center our priorities and recognize that our churches must be the focal point of our understanding of what community must be and must look like, recapturing a deeper peace which comes through living in communion with one another.

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Apologetics

Is There a Biblical Case for Abortion?

How should the Christian view abortion? That seems to be a question that’s asked more and more in our society today, particularly as Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood dominate the news cycle. There are a lot of competing voices out there, and, in many instances, it can sow considerable confusion.

 

Yet this isn’t one of those issues where there is room for confusion, nor is it one of those topics which are up for debate. It is not an issue that exists somewhere in the grey area in between black and white, a maybe in the grander question of right or wrong. It is a sin regardless of the dominant assumptions or the present secular worldview that seems to take hold of the world around us. 

 

Now, even as I write this, I realize that there are some out there who will vehemently disagree with me. What’s more, is that they will point to some of the so-called mainstream “Christian” denominations, church bodies that have not only adopted a pro-abortion stance but that go as far as to bless abortion clinics as their examples. These are, after all, large groups which, while professing faith in Christ, have brought themselves to the forefront of the discourse, and, in doing so, have sought to add legitimacy to those advocating for the murder of unborn children.

 

Scripture, after all, is silent on this issue, they will argue, nor does it say that life begins at conception, or that the child in the womb should be considered a human. They will present carefully crafted statements that confirm their bias before outright dismissing anyone who disagrees with them as embracing an oppressive, patriarchal theology that seeks to rob women of their dignity and bodily autonomy. This, they say, is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

 

What perhaps adds more confusion is the fact that there are many Pastors who have chosen to keep silent on this issue in the name of unity. When pressed on whether pro-life positions should be pushed, or pro-abortion candidates should be rejected, they will say it’s not as simple as that. Why? Because, though they embrace a pro-life position, they have come to accept the idea that it can peacefully co-exist beside a pro-abortion one without any inherent tension. Thus they are willing to compromise on the matter, never quite understanding that each compromise pushes the discussion further to the extreme as ideas such as “safe, legal, and rare” are cast aside and the post is moved to abortion on demand without limits until the moment of birth.

 

 All of this points to the fact that we need to have a better understanding of what Scripture says, and what it, ultimately, teaches us on the matter of life and abortion. There are, after all, any number of misconceptions and misrepresentations that are presented as, somehow, someway being fact.

 

Scripture Life Begins with the First Breath:

 

The idea that “Life begins with the first breath” is a common argument that is used as of late. It stems from the creation account as it is told in Genesis. In chapter 2, verse 7 the reader is told, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” That portion of the passage, where it states that “God… breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” is central to their argument because it is precisely at that moment that we are told that man becomes a living creature.

 

Here is the inherent problem with this argument: it’s based on a poor understanding of Scripture, and an even worse understanding of what is actually happening in this portion of the creation narrative. In other words, it’s wrong, and it’s wrong on many levels.

 

First, even from a cursory glance at the text, one notices a key problem. This is, namely, that the text itself speaks of God breathing into the nostrils of Adam. It makes absolutely no mention of Adam, himself, drawing breath himself. As such, what is recognized is the fact that life, it is not determined by when man acts. Rather, life is determined when God acts. Thus, it is for God Himself, and no one else, to determine when and where life begins.

 

The second problem is the fact that this text is what would be considered descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Let me explain: when we consider the Bible, we can divide the text into two general categories. The first is descriptive, this is the act of describing something that happened. The second is prescriptive, this teaches how something should happen. The creation narrative is telling the story of how everything came into being, not how everything will continue to come into being after the fact. It is a singular event, unique in its nature and its scope.

 

To say Genesis 2:7 is somehow prescriptive is to venture onto the stage of the theater of the absurd because it means that the entirety of the creation account is prescriptive as well. Children are not born to their mothers. Rather, they are formed out of the dust of the ground as fully grown adult males. Women, likewise, to be considered a woman, must be taken from the rib of a man while he is caused to sleep, otherwise, she is not considered to be a woman.

 

This, of course, leads to the next problem, which is the question of what this breath of life is. There is serious Old Testament scholarship that argues that the breath of life itself, that which God breathed into the nostrils of Adam, must be considered the soul. The word in Hebrew that concludes the passage, לְנֶפֶשׁ, does not need to be translated as “creature”, as it is in the English Standard Version. It could just as easily be translated as “Soul.” That was how the Early Church viewed it as well. Gregory of Nazianzus, in his Dogmatic Hymns, would express it like this, “The soul is the breath of God, a substance of heaven mixed with the lowest earth”, while Tertullian, in his treatises On the Soul would state that the souls origin would come from the breath of God.

 

To understand Genesis 2:7 as, somehow, someway, an argument that life only begins outside the womb is to grossly misread and misunderstand the passage. It is to rip it out of context and apply to it a meaning that was never intended for it.

 

The Only Mention the Bible Makes of Abortion is How to Perform One:

 

This is another argument that has gained enormous popularity as of late. It is based on a reading again from the Pentateuch. This time the passage is found in the fourth book of Moses, which we more commonly refer to as Numbers. In Chapter 5, from verses 11 through to 31, there is a test that is given for women who are caught in adultery. The passage itself is a long one, but the gest of it is that if a husband suspects his wife of adultery but has no proof, he is to bring her to the priest with a grain offering. The Priest will then take holy water in an earthenware vessel, place dust from the floor in it, and set the woman before the Lord, unbinding her hair as she holds the offering. At that point, she will make an oath before drinking the water.

 

The eventual effect, we read, is one of two things will happen. If she was unfaithful, her womb will swell and her thighs will fall, and she will become cursed. If she was not, then she will be considered clean and will be free to conceive a child.

 

This passage, unlike the previous, was, in fact, prescriptive, rather than descriptive, at least for the children of Israel. A law, it was something that was lived out. Yet, to understand this passage as a description of how to perform an abortion is, again, a gross misreading of it.

 

What is apparent to the reader of this text is that there are other forces at work than simply the Priest. These forces extend beyond simple nature. This is reflected in the fact that all the woman must drink is holy water with dust from the ground in it. It was not a special concoction or a special brew. That, in and of itself, is telling. The reason why is because, coming out of Egypt, there would be little question that they would have known what an abortion was and how to perform it. It was, after all, something that was described in the Ebers Papyrus.

 

The writings on that ancient Egyptian document laid out herbal drinks that would be swallowed and certain cleansing activities that would have to be performed. Nowhere did it describe drinking dirt water and unbinding one’s hair. Containing any number of different medical treatments that were prevalent for the period, its writings on abortion laid out herbal beverages that had to be drank and activities related to female anatomy. This vastly differed from the idea of drinking dirt water and unbinding one’s hair.

 

The language doesn’t lend itself to the idea of an abortion. Rather it references a curse, to divine action. If the woman is guilty then there will be an effect, and she will become cursed among her people. If she is innocent then nothing will happen to her, she will be free to conceive. God judges if a secret sin is committed and God acts according to His statutes.

 

The Scriptures are Silent on When Life Begins:

 

This represents perhaps one of the most longstanding, and pervasive myths that is used to justify the idea of a Christian pro-abortion opinion. Simply put, it states that Christians are reading into the text the belief that life begins in the womb when there is nothing to support it. One may point to Psalm 139, which states, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Ps. 139:13-14) That, though, the abortion advocate will argue, is purely symbolic, poetic language.

 

This is a common technique that is used to discredit. It’s a game that’s played in order to move the target as it were. It doesn’t matter that the Christian faith has, historically, recognized this as being an expression of how God fashioned us. Ambrose of Milan, for example, described it as the Lord God supporting us from the moment that He fashioned us, and decreed that we would be born, pointing then to Jeremiah 1:5 to support this concept. Despite the fact that Psalm 139 reflects an incredibly personal reflection of existence, reflecting God’s knowledge, and power, His presence in the life of the individual, it is said not to count, and should be discarded out of hand.

 

At any rate, that doesn’t account for Jesus, and the fact that he never mentioned when it was that life began, they would go on to argue. Never mind the simple fact that Jesus would have a deeper understanding of the Old Testament, the deepest understanding of it, being the Word made flesh, present with God as the only begotten son before time began. (Jn. 1:1-18) If it is not directly mentioned in the New Testament, and, in particular, the Gospels, which account for the life of Christ, it doesn’t matter.

 

Yet, what doesn’t seem to be accounted for is the accounts that are found in the earliest chapters of the Gospels. In Matthew 1:18, for example, it states that Mary was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. The text here makes no distinction between a life in the womb and a life outside of it, recognizing that it is indeed a child. Luke’s account of the nativity narrative, likewise, uses similar language, not just for Mary, the mother of Jesus, but for Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, as well.

 

Luke’s account will go further though. It’s in the first chapter that the reader finds an interesting account of when Mary went to visit her cousin. There, as she entered the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, we read that the child that Elizabeth was carrying leaped in the womb even as she was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Lk. 1:39-40) Her natural response was then to recognize the blessing that was bestowed on Mary and to praise the child that was in her womb. (Lk. 1:42)

 

The presence of Jesus is what is most apparent in this portion of the text. It is all a fundamental reaction and response to nothing less than the full presence of God made flesh. God made flesh, the Word made flesh is not some distant presence that will come forth only after Mary gives birth, and he draws his first breath, somehow, someway, something different while in the womb than he will be outside of it. God made flesh is, indeed, the child who is in the womb.

 

To argue then that this child in the womb was somehow not human, or somehow simply a parasite feeding off the mother, which is often the argument being presented by those advocating for abortion in order to justify the killing of the child, is to argue that there was a point when Christ was not fully human or fully God, which, in turn, rejects one of the fundamental, foundational tenants of the Christian faith.

 

Yet, if we properly understand that Jesus was fully human at the point of His conception then we recognize that all children, from the point of conception forward, are indeed fully human as well. This is due to the fact that Christ came to live the full scope of the human experience with absolutely no exception. He would be born as man was, live as he lived, be tempted as he was tempted, before dying as the great propitiation for our sins. The only core differences would be in how he would be conceived, the sinless life he would live and his eventual resurrection, conquering sin, death, and the devil, and, even that resurrection would pave the way for our blameless life, redeemed by His blood, and our own eventual resurrection.

 

Christianity is, by its nature, a pro-life, anti-abortion religion. Any attempt to cast it differently is not only an attempt to re-write and recast the Scriptures but also a rejection and repudiation of them. It is that simple.

 

Yes, there will always be those who seek to reframe the Scripture, just as there always have been. They are those who seek to confirm their own biases by taking the clear teachings which are found in the Word, tearing them out of context, and reshaping them, whittling away at passages and verses until they can fit the square peg into the round hole. The problem is that, at that moment, it ceases to be the Word of God anymore, and becomes the teaching of men cloaked in biblical language, manipulating, and deceiving the believer as they find that they are led down a heretical path.

 

Lord, we pray that You protect us from such a dangerous direction, keeping us then steadfast in Your Word. Amen.

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