Tell me Robert, is anger a sin?
Like all mental attitudes, it certainly can be, if allowed to progress past a certain point. That is why we are told: "in your anger, do not sin" – a better translation of which is "when you are upset, don't give in to sin". For a full explanation of Ephesians 4:26, see the link.
In Jesus our dear Lord,
'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-- neither hot nor cold-- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.' (Revelation 3:16)
I am starting to believe that anger and love are different expressions of the same emotion, and that we have a fundamental misunderstanding of what love really is. Nobody who is incapable of great anger is capable of great love, and nobody who is capable of great love is incapable of great anger.
'Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-- as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.' (Luke 7:47)
As Christ Himself said, those who are great sinners are those who are the most capable of the greatest love. Those who only sin a little can only love a little. Those who never sin are literally dead, and therefore completely incapable of love. The greatest believer of all time was Moses, and do you know what was the action that caused God to call him?
'So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.' (Exodus 2:14)
What did Jacob prophesy of Levi, the only tribe allowed to enter the holiest of holies?
'Simeon and Levi are brothers-- their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.' (Genesis 49:5-7)
Of course, as this passage highlights, there is a difference between anger and love, but that difference is in placement, not in nature. Anger is rooted in pride, but love cannot be self-seeking (I Corinthians 13:5). Righteous anger is essentially an expression of obedience to God, while unrighteous anger is an expression of pride. The truth is, it is not in spite of Satan's creation as the 'day-star' and most perfect of angels that he rebelled, but it is because of it. Satan was created with an almost perfect love of God, which means he was endowed with the ability of almost perfect hatred. That is why he rebels against God: he hates God almost perfectly. Of course, Christ's love, and therefore hatred, is actually perfect:
'Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.' (Psalm 137:8-9)
This is why God's judgement of Christ, in ordered to be the perfect act of love, was required to be a perfect act of God's wrath.
I've heard this idea before in secular usage, never in biblical usage. I can't think of any scriptures to support it; I don't believe that Luke 7:47 demonstrates the point. Our Lord says that Mary Magdalene's love/appreciation for Him/God was great because she realized just how much she had been forgiven. The flip-side of that is that people who don't have much to be forgiven (in their imperfect estimate) are relatively unappreciative. Of course, every human being has so much to be grateful for when it comes to the forgiveness of sins (of all types) that we all ought to be as grateful as Mary, and even more so to an unlimited degree (Jesus had to pay the price of spiritual death for every single sin). Anyone who, in our Lord's hypothetical, thinks he/she has little to be thankful for is really only involved in grand self-delusion; so in that respect our Lord's remark is somewhat ironical. But anger plays no role in this story, and nothing in scripture suggests that anger was a significant part of Mary's emotional makeup. Similarly, there is nothing to suggest that the devil is more angry than others (more deceitful and ungrateful, yes), although he is certainly arrogant to perhaps the greatest possible degree (there is Rev.12:12). On the other hand, I don't see any evidence of love in him at all in scripture (so he's probably not the best case study for this question).
To me a critical thing here is that it is possible to be filled with wrath in a righteous cause and not be engaged in sinful conduct – although that is a very difficult line to walk, hence the Holy Spirit empowered advice not to let the sun go down on our anger (Eph.4:26); we have numerous examples of the wrath of God in scripture (although this is an anthropopathism; see the link).
There are plenty of example of the righteous being angry, even great believers (not only Moses but David too; e.g., 1Sam.25:21-22 NKJV), but in the majority of cases my sense is that it often leads (or has the potential to lead) to no particular good when "temper is lost" (e.g., Acts 16:18-19). Anger is an emotion which, as you rightly point out, is rooted in pride and arrogance. As I sometimes say, when we allow ourselves to get overly vexed and seek to act on that anger, it is as if we are saying "the nerve of that person / those people to do that TO ME . . .", the implication being that offending us is the same thing as offending God. But if we were acting in humility, loving God more than ourselves, we would let the offense pass:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1st Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV
All human beings are emotional. In the power of evil, great negative emotion is possible. In the power of the Spirit, great positive emotion is possible. Disciplining the emotions and channeling them for good is essential for any believer to make serious forward progress in the Christian life. However, anger, rage, wrath, vexation, and giving in to these emotions is the absolute opposite of being disciplined in this regard; and because two things are in opposition does not necessarily mean that they are essentially connected (at least not in the Bible). If we love ourselves more than the Lord, we may well give in to anger and vent our spleen against those who dare cross us; but if we love the Lord more than ourselves, we certainly ought to recognize that none of what is happening down here on the earth is about us, and we ought to stop taking things in this world (ruled and directed by the devil) so personally (see the link: in SR 4 "The Battlefield").
In short, while I agree that there is a relationship (both are powerful emotions), and while it may be true that those who love the Lord the most may also be capable of being horrifically angry (when they let their divine perspective be turned inside out), I am loath to equate the two: love is the greatest virtue; anger perhaps the greatest sin next to arrogance (and difficult to disentangle from it). So while it is true that the greatest spiritual failures sometimes turn out to be the greatest spiritual success stories (as in the case of Paul), I would not want to say anything that would give anyone any encouragement to see anger (or any sin) in a positive light.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I am remorseful for equating the sin of anger with the greatest virtue of love. I think I had a movie emotionally push me to a bad emotional disposition by stimulating outrage and a desire for vengeance.
However, anger is a difficult emotion for me to understand. I have been angry in the past, but yet I cannot describe how anger feels like. This is not the case for the other emotions. I understand the emotions that feel good perfectly (e.g. euphoria, contentment, pleasure) and I understand the emotions that are emotions that feel bad perfectly (anxiety, sadness, boredom). But anger is difficult to understand, because the cause of anger is something bad to the one emoting, but yet anger itself does not feel bad. From this perspective, the opposite of anger would then be lust: when one is lustful, the cause of lust is something good, but the state of feeling lust is bad.
I have tried using psychology to understand my feelings, but I am trying to understand my feelings from both a Biblical and personal point of view. The simplest emotions are happiness and sadness. Peace does not even feel like an emotion, but rather it feels like the absence of emotions. I am not saying that peace is the absence of emotion, but it feels like the absence of emotion. A verse that I find difficult to understand is the list of the fruit of the Spirit. For reference, here is the list:
How can one be both joyous and peaceful? When I am filled with joy, I usually feel some amount of excitement, but how can one feel both peace and excitement at the same time?
No worries on this end. Emotions are difficult things to understand. Essentially, they are of the body – which means in many cases of the sin nature, which is always interacting with (or battling) the human spirit for control of the heart/mind. Without a sin nature, the spirit would rule the heart/mind and the emotions would provide support/enjoyment. Outside of Eden, however, most human beings who are not extremely well-disciplined often find their emotions "ruling the roost", so to speak. The emotions, empowered by the sin nature, often flood the heart with waves of "feeling" that are difficult to resist/control. An important aspect of spiritual growth is learning that this is the case and learning to "go with what we know" by faith rather than to "reel with what we feel" which may have nothing to do with God's perspective on things. For this reason, in my opinion, the Bible speaks of negative emotions purely as things to be avoided and appreciated for what they are: sins and distractions – if we let them into the driver's seat of the heart/mind.
So I'm not sure that "understanding" our emotions (beyond the obvious) is possible, nor am I convinced that if we did have a better understanding of them we would do any better with controlling them. Emotions rise and fall like a roller-coaster, especially under the pressure of external stimuli. Peace is the preferred Christian status quo, and that peace is founded on the understanding that God is the One who is really in control, not us. So while our emotions may gyrate, we ought to be focused on the goal ahead like a laser beam, and we ought to be walking, running toward the finish line without any swerving from the course. Emotions want us to slow down, turn aside, get distracted, feel sorry for ourselves, blame others, involve ourselves in all manner of pointless activities. The truth which we know in our heart – or as mature believers we should know and in fact possess not as gnosis but as epignosis (link) – ought to be our guiding star. And we will find that if we do follow the truth regardless of what our emotions tell us, we will pass the tests of pressure that come our way, and, eventually, our emotions will come around and start to follow and support instead of trying to lead and rebel (although as long as we are in this flesh there will be times when we have to ignore what we feel and push ahead, waiting for our feelings to catch up with what we know is the right thing to do).
So I would say that peace is not at all inconsistent with joy. We can have peace facing a firing squad (if we really do trust in the will of God); we can have peace when all is going well for us or not so well; we can have peace when we are elated by some good news or success. Becoming overjoyed to the point of losing one's peace and doing/saying/thinking things that are wrong or self-destructive as a result is an example of letting joy/happiness/elation knock out our Christian peace (running off after our emotions instead of holding the reins in).
In closing, emotions are not "bad" in and of themselves; indeed, they are a big part of what makes us human. But we have sin natures; therefore emotion paid heed to instead of kept in a subordinate role will almost always produce a bad result. There are plenty of secular and religious "disciplines" that seek to keep the emotions in check, but only biblical Christianity recognizes them for what they are, blessing from God, but corrupted by sin and therefore in need being objectively tempered and controlled through the truth of the Word of God . . . as long as we are in these corrupted bodies. After the resurrection, we will know only unbridled joy, and there will never be a moment when we are not at perfect peace.
Here are a couple of links where these matters are discussed:
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.
Who controls our thoughts and emotions?
The Battlefield (in SR #4)
Walking with Jesus
in Peter #16: Transforming our Thinking
Techniques of virtue thinking (in Pet.17)
Satan's Techniques of Temptation
Our New Orientation as Reborn Believer (in BB 4B)
In your Anger, do not Sin: Ephesians 4:26 and the Sin Nature
Guilt vs. Guidance
In anticipation of that great day to come.
In Jesus our dear Lord,
I do not think that it is obvious that fear is a sin. You are correct that, from a purely logical point of view, one can only fear when one does not believe that God will give us bearable situations. From a purely logical point of view, one can only grieve when one believes that the person is dead and never coming back. From a logical, theological perspective, both emotions are somewhat blasphemous, as God will never give us an unbearable situation, nor is it the case that when someone dies, that they're gone' in an Epicurean sense. So from a purely logical and theological perspective, nobody should fear and nobody should grieve.
But humans are not logical creatures. We have both the capacity for logic and the capacity for emotion. We fear and we grieve. Jesus Christ was not just divine, but He was both divine and human, uncompromised in both. And if we truly believe that He was uncompromised in both His divinity and in His humanity, we must believe that He was endowed with the full capacity to experience the gamut of human emotions. We know that Jesus grieved when Lazarus was dead, because the gospel tells us that Jesus wept, yet Jesus was capable of raising him back from the dead. So why would Jesus weep if not only did He know that the dead are not truly 'gone,' but could physically and materially prove so? Because Jesus Christ was human, and humans emotionally feel grief. We should not think that His feeling of grief was a lack of faith either, but it was the emotional expression of grief, independent from logical or theological concerns.
If this is the case, then can we also believe that Jesus feared?
I'm quite sure that our Lord had a perfect fear of God (in His humanity), as Isaiah 11:2-3 tells us. However, I'm also certain that He never committed the sin of fear. When the emotional load of distress/anxiety explodes into the sin of fear is something which is hard to pinpoint with precision. However, fear "full blown" is a lack of trust in the Lord and His ability to deliver us no matter what we see with these fleshly eyes. Our Lord never had nor exhibited a scintilla of such fear-driven doubt. Just as there is a difference between godly grief and godless desperation, so there is a difference between being emotionally aware of potential trouble on the one hand and giving in to it to the point of doubt on the other. In His humanity, that is a fight our Lord had to fight just as we do . . . except He never even came close to losing the fight one single time.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus,
I found your discussion of Ephesians 4:26 online and thought you might be interested in a different view. Or not. The verse quoted is a question, not a command. "Be ye angry but sin not?" Unfortunately, punctuation was not an "in" thing in earlier days. The meaning here is that it is not possible to be angry without being in sin at that moment because you are "off target," meaning you have lost your mindset of perfect love of the type that Jesus demonstrated with his life. You cannot be angry without hate in your heart (mindset), and hate is sinful. A full explanation and justification for the fact that Jesus was never angry is attached. Most theologians are so wed to their convictions that their love of being right is greater than their love for truth. Jesus said if we know the truth, the truth will set us free. Loving being right when you're wrong doesn't do that for us. Wishing you joy,
I think this is really a linguistic problem, not a theological one nor an issue of punctuation. Ephesians 4:26 is a quotation of Psalm 4:4, taken directly from the Septuagint version. In the Hebrew, both verbs are in the imperative, but Hebrew poetry allows for a looser connection of two ideas presented in parallel understood to be taken together (as is true of much poetry, especially from the ancient world), whereas in prose one would have to be actually subordinated to the other (the technical name for this is paratactic vs. hypotactic syntax). The LXX has correctly assessed the relationship between the two verbs, and Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thus uses that version for this quote. In the Greek, the second verb has to be in the imperative (on account of the negative me whereas ouk would be used if this were a statement), and so it cannot be a question. For these reasons, the proposed translation you offer is unworkable from a strictly linguistic point of view. Here is a translation I have produced (which does take into account the necessity of taking the second verb as an imperative):
(26) When you are upset, don't give in to sin; don't let the sun set while you are still upset (i.e., don't brood over this irritation). (27) That will only give the devil an opportunity.
I hope you can see from the entire context that this translation yields a reasonable and understandable result which connects all the ideas; it is also completely reflective of what is actually in the Greek text.
I would certainly agree that anger is a problem. Indeed, it's more of a problem than most Christians realize. It is essentially an arrogant mind-set that puts one's own will over all circumstances and the interests of others. In effect, it takes the image of God within and assumes that we ARE God – who dares to cross us in our divinity? Anger is the handmaiden of arrogance; the two go hand in hand, and wherever pride is in the ascendant, trouble cannot be far off (arrogance was, after all, at the heart of the devil's revolt). However, when you say "it is not possible to be angry without being in sin", I would have to disagree. Aside from the proposition that there is such a thing as non-sinful "righteous indignation", it is also true in the case of genuinely sinful anger that our heart can be on the point of giving in to such emotions and yet, through self-discipline and with the help of the Spirit, we can refrain from outright sin. In other words, we can be tempted (irritated), yet not submit to temptation (irate to the point of sinfulness); we can be irritated, and not allow ourselves to react to the irritation in a sinful way. That is precisely what Paul is calling on us to do here: when provoked, don't let yourself fall into the sin of anger. Q.E.D.
Apologies for not delving into the attached file; for obvious reasons, it is my policy not to open unsolicited attachments.
In Jesus Christ,
During today's sermon one of our pastors talked about anger, specifically Ephesians 4:26. Despite picking up on the fact that the sentence is most definitely circumstantial (i.e. it really isn't "be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger" but rather "[when you are caused by circumstances to] be angry, do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger"), he still presented a distinction between "righteous anger" and "unrighteous anger." He pointed out two events in which God was angry: when Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, and God before the flood [though of course no Nephilim were mentioned]. The argument, in essence, was, "if God can have righteous anger, then we too can have righteous anger because we are made in his image." The short rundown of what he classifies "righteous anger" is that the person who feels angry is:
1) Grieved at whatever sin causes the anger (cf. Gen 6:6)
2) Hopeful of reconciliation and putting forth every effort towards that cause.
I suppose my question is rather academic in that we will all get angry at some point (at people who wrong us, at bad drivers that put everybody else in danger, etc.), but should we get angry at all? Is there such a thing as righteous anger for humans? Does God experience anger in a sense that we generally associate with that word (e.g., Revelation 14:19 and 19:15, the "wine press of God's wrath")?
Good to hear from you, my friend. I hope your college year is (on the point of) coming to a very nice conclusion and that you've enjoyed the experience.
The "bottom line" you include here explains what's wrong with sermons. In fact, this talk you report is more than a sermon in that it attempts to explain a biblical passage. However, it's always better to take passages in context and to approach them as what they are rather than trying to build talks around them. Failure on these points can lead to misunderstandings. And it really is a shame if the result of "Bible teaching" is that those taught are more confused afterwards than they were before (a common occurrence in Laodicea).
You can find the details on this passage – which you seem to have understood perfectly well before this talk if less so afterwards – at the following link: "In Your Anger, do not Sin: Ephesians 4:26 and the Sin Nature".
As to specifics:
1) If our Lord were ever angry, we can be assured that He never was sinfully angry, and also that He never did anything "out of anger", that is, with anger being the motivation for something He otherwise would not have done. But what does the scripture say? The three synoptics relate the fact of His cleansing of the temple during passion week (Matt.21:12ff.; Mk.11:15ff.; Lk.19:45ff.), and the gospel of John relates the fact of His cleansing of the temple at the inauguration of His three and a half year ministry (John 2:13ff.; see the link: "Temple Cleansings"). Unless I am missing something, however, I don't find any mention of anger present in any of these passages. Jesus took on a genuine human nature to save us from our sins, and He is described as being "grieved" by the hardness of heart He encounters (Mk.3:5), but we are not told in this case that He was in any way emotionally distraught (even though it is a common way to represent Him in movies and other graphic representations – which shows the dangers of such things). No doubt anger et al. is not mentioned even if true precisely so that we will not draw the sorts of conclusions speaker wants us to draw. What our Lord did, both at the beginning and conclusion of His ministry, was to very vividly demonstrate to the people of that time God's attitude towards their materialization of the Law whose spiritual power they should have been emphasizing but had completely ignored.
2) Genesis 6:6 is an anthropopathism (see the link: the Wrath of God and Anthropopathism); that is, an attribution to God of human emotions and motives as an illustration only for our benefit to help us to understand what pleases and displeases Him. Note again, however, that the word here is, again, "grieved" rather than "angered". Anger is a loss of control, and we may be sure that God cannot lose control. Anger is madness, the quintessential form of human/creature madness as the ancients understood (i.e., the Greek word for passion/emotion/anger/madness is one and the same: orge, and even in English being "mad" may describe either anger or insanity, depending on the context). When we are angry and let our anger take control, we have no control of our own. It is hard to please God under those circumstances:
For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
James 1:20 NKJV
3) For the wrath of God, see the link above. For the rest of us, the verse above says it all, in my view. I do understand how emotions are a fundamental part of being human and how some people have a greater problem with "anger management" than others, and also that in certain circumstances, a desperate fight in military combat, for example, drawing on all manner of emotion might be, for some, a legitimate thing to do. However, I find no scriptural basis to recommend it, and find it to be a better course to lead our emotions, whatever they may be, rather than giving ourselves over to following them on any occasion. Anger is a very poor follower, and it is fair to ask whether we have ever truly been in control of our emotions when acting "out of anger". If not, then my counsel would be to put aside all thoughts of something like "righteous anger" as even possible (let alone necessary or helpful). When God "vents His wrath", He does so in perfect justice, and we do know, don't we, that He would much rather "save all", if only "all were willing to be saved". It's hard to imagine any human being "angry" and also able to keep mercy and love firmly in mind.
In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who endured so much in this world in our behalf – and then went to the cross to bear our sins.
Thanks for the good wishes. College has been a mixed bag honestly. I've enjoyed being around people who are on the whole more interesting, civilized, and open to rational discourse. I've not enjoyed so much some of the pressure to "open your mind" and "enlighten yourself," etc. etc. It's always been ironic to me how the advice "stay true to yourself" and "be open to new things" come into conflict in college, and it seems as if the former is always thrown out for the latter, with "new things" just being a euphemism for "all the stuff your parents worked very hard to protect you from." It saddens me to watch people make choices that will have lasting consequences, especially when said people are deceived (or at least willfully ignorant) about whatever it is they are doing (common it seems, even with otherwise intelligent people). The academics are also a mixed bag. I genuinely like what I am learning, but I also dislike the pressure grades put on me, and the fact that my self-worth feels tied to them. I struggle with perfectionism and the mark seems to take on more meaning than true understanding.
I suspected the answer would be something like this. Being angry (for any reason, at all) never seemed to mesh with spiritual common sense, since anger accomplishes nothing. Is it a motivator? Sure. But so is truth, and truth motivates even in times when there is no great injustice being dealt to you. After going back and looking at the passages about Jesus and the temple, I was actually surprised to see that nowhere is anger mentioned. I had always thought that it must be there because the passage is so often used as a "proof text" for the topic.
On the other hand ... how does one drive people out and turn over tables in a calm, peaceful manner? Actions like these generally involve emotion when human beings are involved. Did Jesus call the pharisees a brood of vipers flatly, stating objective fact? Obviously Jesus is an exception to normal human behavior, but I fear my conception is lacking. It is hard to imagine such things and not associate emotion with them.
1) Not all emotions are bad, right? They can be manipulated and twisted, and are seldom a good basis for behavior, but I don't think they are inherently evil. Anger is bad, and perhaps desire, fear and hate as well. But what about joy, courage, exhilaration, and the like? Is it just moderation that is key? What are the ones we should avoid?
2) Did Jesus have emotions? He wept when Lazarus died, and it's hard to picture Gethsemane as cold and emotionless (it is part of "the passion," after all). Is there a way we as Christians ought to manage our emotions to emulate how Christ handled them?
Yes we all have emotions, and Jesus did (does) too – being a genuine human being in all respect. But He never let His emotions out of control. And we too will never be well served if we ever subordinate our will, the deliberation side of our inner person, to what is essentially the motivational side of our inner person, one dominated by the sin nature (for sin infests the psycho-physical body-mind wherein the emotions "dwell", for want of a better analogy). As I have said many times, Christians need to learn to follow the truth they know is true in their hearts. If we lead with our "spiritual minds" (Eph.4:23 – just before in the context we're discussing), then eventually our emotions will follow; and we will also learn with growth how to suppress the bad and encourage ourselves with the good, cleaving to the truth and dictating to our emotions rather than the other way around. It is difficult to see, for Christians in this world, how "wrath" on our part could ever be of much help in most circumstances – or at least how we would not be better served finding better ways that anger to motivate ourselves. Giving in to it, letting it lead us in rage, will seldom result in good things (in my view). Absent life-and-death situations, we are better off following Paul's Spirit-inspired advice: "when you are tempted to anger, don't let it get out of control to the point of sinfulness".
There is more about all this at Ichthys at the links:
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.
Who controls our thoughts and emotions?
Our New Orientation as Reborn Believer (in BB 4B)
In your Anger, do not Sin: Ephesians 4:26 and the Sin Nature
Guilt vs. Guidance
Thanks also for your encouraging perspective on college life – encouraging because you have clearly spotted the flaws and dangers, and have successfully negotiated the year in a way honorable to our Lord (something I dare say a majority of Christians who've gone to college can't say).
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
I was just wondering why it was stated this way in Judges: "The Lord: and His soul was grieved" (Judg.10:16).
Thank you have a great day. God Bless
The "soul" is the inner person (rather than a "thing" per se like the human spirit is; see the link), and can often, as here, be better translated as "heart". So it "grieved the Lord" or "pained Him in His heart" is what the passage means in Hebrew.
What we have here is something called in theology an "anthropopathism" (see the link). In a nutshell, what this means is that God often describes Himself in human terms so that human beings may better understand His motivations. He is divine, and deity is far beyond our true comprehension here on earth in these very limited bodies. What this particular way of saying things does is to let us know that although God did not approve of Israel's conduct, He was not unaware of their suffering and, since they had now repented in heart and in deed, it was just for Him to come to their rescue. This sort of thing blessedly lets us know and understand that He is a God of love, and that even when He punishes us it is "not as our sins deserve" (Ps.103:10); that instead He comports Himself towards us just like a father does towards His own dear sons and daughters (Heb.12:5-9) – and He is our eternal Father, after all.
Please feel free to write back about any of the above.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Ray Comfort wrote the following on his blog,
[God] certainly does [enjoy vengeance], and so do I because I am made in His image. When I hear of some unrepentant raping murderer who laughed at the parents of the girls whose throats he slit, being brought to justice, I have great joy. I want to see equity. I want him to be punished for the sake of those girls--whose precious lives he cut short, for the parents who have been left with unending anguish, and for the sake of that which is right, good, and just.'
He then goes on to argue that because we see judgment upon the wicked as good, Hell is also good because it serves as an eternal prison for those who commit evil. However, unless emotionally manipulated, I do not enjoy the suffering of the wicked, because it is pointless. The girl is still dead and the parents are still mourning, so what, exactly, has been accomplished by the wicked man's suffering?
The whole concept of retributive justice reminds me of the Hindu doctrine of 'karma,' where bad things cause a `disturbance in the Force' and therefore the universe demands an equal but opposite reaction to bring about cosmic harmony. However, karmaic thinking strikes me as a positively Satanic doctrine; one that creates a new wrong for each existing wrong. Therefore it is not a mystery that Jesus said,
'You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.'
There is something, however, that I do enjoy when I see an evil man brought to justice: the idea that the folly of his actions will be exposed to the light, and no longer will he be able to think that he `got away' with it. Some men, when they do evil, start to believe that they are wise beyond mortal beings because they have done evil. But evil is fundamentally a logical contradiction which has yet to be taken to its fullest conclusion, as best described in Kant's idea of the kategorischer imperativ. Sometimes, when a murderer makes a calculated decision that the benefits of the murder outweighs the guilt of the murder, it is necessary that the murderer be executed in order for that folly to be exposed.
God is perfect. He is also God. Whenever scripture takes about Him being "angry" or "joyful", etc., we have to do with anthropopathism, that is, the attribution by God to God of human emotions in order for us to have some small idea of His motivations (see the link: "Groaning of the Spirit"). It is also good to remember that God wants all to be saved (1Tim.2:4), and that Jesus died for the sins of all, enduring their punishment like the burning bush, in order that all might be saved. On the topic, I also find this in scripture:
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?'
Ezekiel 33:11 NIV
Since God (The Father) isn't human and knows everything, when the Old Testament says that he "got angry" or "remembered", is he being given humans characteristics so that he can explain things to us the best he can? Or does he actually get angry?
Very nice! Theologically this is called "Anthropopathism" (see the link), and it is a blessed device whereby God has given us a way to understand viscerally how He looks at certain matters. It is not loving to give your child the impression that you don't care if he/she runs across the street into traffic, and you would probably be legitimately furious when disciplining him/her thereafter – but it might be good policy to appear so in any case as a palliative against further foolish behavior of this sort on his/her part (i.e., even if they still don't fear the traffic since they weren't hit, they may think twice out of a healthy respect of your likely adverse reaction to doing it again). God does not actually "get mad" when we sin and/or turn away from Him, but He does love us – more than we can know – and the consequences of our missteps may be more severe than running out into traffic (they can be eternal, after all); so, in His love and grace, He gives us these pictures of His heart to which we can easily relate, even though He is not subject to human emotional reactions (not only is He God, but of course nothing comes as a surprise to Him since nothing could happen if He had not already decreed it).
Regarding 2 Timothy 1:9, you wrote: God planned everything before creation began to include all the grace we would be given in the gift of Jesus Christ, i.e., He did this in "eternity past". This is a term I use [though I did not coin it] to distinguish between God's pre-creation activities and "eternity" which usually means "heaven" now or in the future when Christians hear the word. NIV uses "before the beginning of time"; literally from the Greek it is "before times eternal" (note the plural). Could you clarify the point you make about "times" being used in plural in "before times eternal"?
Paul does this not only here in this passage but also at Romans 16:25 and Titus 1:2; he uses the plural, perhaps taking a cue from Hebrew usage (where 'olam is sometimes pluralized "for intensity"); the net effect of the plural is that Paul heads off thereby any idea that the "ancient time" might belong to our present universe of time and space; this is his way, through the Spirit, of making it as clear as can be that this "time" was outside of our "time" so as to be not only "eternal" but a majestic "times" rather than a "time" subject to time and space = "eternity past", as my old pastor used to say, or as we might say today, "before the world began". John uses the Greek phrase en archei for the same idea = "at first" without a "the" (i.e., before time and space came into being), parallelling the Hebrew bereshith of Genesis 1:1, which literally means "in [a] beginning", not "the" beginning, because God has no beginning or end, only this universe of time and space He created does (n.b., the LXX translates bereshith as en archei as well).
I really enjoyed reading your piece answering the KJV only question. I am a what you would call a KJV onliest. Translation is logical not spiritual. The Christian should be led of God in every endeavor of service. JW's claim "Divine" translation assistance. I have been reading and comparing a corrected spelling version of the 1599 Geneva Bible. It translates Eph. 3:21 "Forever". It's a much easier read then the old because of the corrected spelling. Check it out.
Good to make your acquaintance. Thanks for the vote of confidence. On Ephesians 3:21, the phrasing in the Greek here is interesting, but not unprecedented (cf. Gal.5:4; Phil.4:20; and of our course our Lord uses eis ton aiona throughout the gospels). Paul's phrasing, eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos ton aionon, can, I suppose, be reduced to "forever" (since that is essentially what it means), but that sacrifices a good deal of the deliberate emphasis. Here is a case where KJV is very good: "throughout all ages, world without end" – although "world without end" has been mightily misinterpreted and that is not at all what the phrase means literally; meanwhile, NKJV: "to all generations, forever and ever" splits up the first phrase from the following two and makes it appear that these are not to be taken together closely (which is the wrong impression). It's interesting to me that you describe yourself as a "KJV onliest", but here prefer and are recommending an interpretive translation which, while essentially correct, is pretty far from the literal Greek. The closest to what the Greek actual says that I have seen is Young's rendition:
"to all the generations of the age of the ages"
The point is to emphasize God's complete superiority to time (and space). We need time (and space) to exist, and, finite creatures that we are, cannot truly imagine anything else. But scripture lets us know with these wonderful phrases that the Lord is God before during and after whatever time there may be, have been, or will be in the future.
Yours in Jesus Christ who is our Lord and Savior forever – however we phrase it.
First, let me ‘thank you’ for responding to my request, so "Thank You!" I have many questions and I will be connecting with you from my personal email from this point forward. I am middle aged, and, following a serious health scare, back into the ‘loving arms of our Saviour’. I am thankful for this opportunity to know Him better and continue my journey on earth. Please feel free to destroy my understanding, for I am a seeker of truth. I believe we are on earth to know Him. I will start my questions, at the beginning or better said ‘before in the beginning’. I am not an avid church goer, but was raised in the SDA faith. Your position on Satan and his fallen angels to be replaced by Adam and his children is what caught my attention, since I have never heard anyone ever say that, other than Ellen G. White, since I was a child, at my mother’s knee, in morning devotion. I am working from a personal premise (my understanding) that The Word of God is Christ poured out ‘to be seen’ of men and angels. The Word is also Christ, the Lord God of Hosts and Jesus Christ on earth. I hold fast to the belief that no man or no one has seen God at anytime, in His fullness, but the Son. My understanding leads me to believe the only God, that Lucifer saw is The Word of God, for He is the only one that declared Him, resting in the bosom of His Father, the unapproachable light dwelling in eternity, His Habitation. (but above time & space, maybe a different story). My initial correspondence with you will start here - before in the beginning and if you don’t tire of me quickly, I look forward to knowing you better.
Question 1: If God is from everlasting to everlasting, who was John 1:1 talking about?
When two or more gather, in His name…
Thanks for the email. I have received your other one as well, but will deal first with what you have asked here about John 1:1 (and will also wait to hear back from you on this one before moving on, inasmuch as these are fundamental issues).
Even though the operative phrase in John 1:1 is often translated "in the beginning", there is no definite article present in the Greek (i.e., no "the"). As such, the Greek phrase en archei is a deliberate parallel of the phrase in Genesis 1:1, bereshith, which, likewise, has no definite article (although of course the English versions never reflect this important fact). The lack of the article in both cases is significant. When English speakers hear, "in the beginning", they assume, not completely without reason, that there was some point of departure for everything (including perhaps God – and that is a grave mistake to make). There was a discrete "beginning" for the world we see, the physical universe of space and time (as well as the heavenly dimensions we cannot presently see), but not for God who "is" and always "was" and always "will be" (irrespective of time or space). God existed before He made the universe, before He created the angels, and before any of the seen or unseen parts of the present cosmos came into being through His creative act. Put another way, God transcends time and space. How this is and what this entails defies description by creatures such as we are who have been made for time/space and exist only in time/space. But that is the way it "is", and that is why the language in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 is so careful. One could translate the former "the first thing God did [in respect to the universe we now see] was create the heavens and the earth"; and John 1:1 "before creation, the Word was with God". That, in any case, is what the phrases mean respectively: God existed, God "was" before anything was created by Him.
The above has important implications for understanding "who" God is, and also for understanding the Trinity. To put this as simply as possible, God is spirit (rather than "a spirit"), and His existence as such precedes the cosmos we can see and is completely independent of it. The world only exists because God created it, and only continues to exist because He "holds it together" (that is the meaning of the Greek at Colossians 1:17). God could have created a quadrillion such universes in the blink of an eye, and still certainly can. What is most significant about our world, the only world in fact, is God's wonderfully merciful participation in it: only by wedding Himself to this world in the Person of Christ who became a human being in addition to His deity was it possible to create creatures with genuine free will to share a blessed eternity with Him. Why? Because genuine free will for all means that because some (and, in the case of human beings, most) will refuse Him (resulting in sin), such a creation necessitates redemption – and only someone who was both God and also of this world could possible pay the price for that redemption. Jesus was God; Jesus is God; but since His physical birth Jesus Christ is also a genuine human being. As the second Person of the Godhead, though coequal, con-substantial, and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, our Lord Jesus' role has ever been to represent God to His creatures, most importantly of course in dying for the sins of the world that all might be saved (without which spiritual death none could be saved; see the link).
Yes, He was the original Angel of the Lord, the primary point of reference to God for angelic kind before the rebellion and fall of Satan and before the creation of mankind. However, based upon what else we know of the third heaven (from Revelation chapter five, for example), it is clear that angelic kind have always had access to the throne of God on which the Father sits. After death, following our Lord's resurrection and ascension, saved human beings after death also "behold His face" – but only in their interim bodies (no one can "see God" in this sinful earthly frame "and live").
I invite your attention in particular to part 1 of Bible Basics, "Theology" and also part 4B, "Soteriology", where most of these matters are discussed in detail, and welcome any further questions you may have about the above.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your quick response. I will read both Bible Basics you suggested, but I am a little confused about why different versions of the Bible translate differently, thus leading to misconception? Misconception - more than one consciousness, as opposed to a ‘particular’ consciousness or all consciousness? ‘a spirit’ vs ‘spirit’ vs ‘that spirit’
Example: (biblical translations over time, forward)
In 1599 - John 4:24 (GNV) - 24 God is a [a]Spirit,
In 1611 - John 4:24 (KJV) 24 God is a Spirit:
John 4:24 - (NKJV) 24 God is Spirit,
John 4:24 - (CJB) 24 God is spirit;
Response: Yes, He was the original Angel of the Lord.
Question: So, is Christ and Michael, the archangel, the same?
1) Are you saying the Jesus Christ or Christ, The Lord was the prototype, the Blueprint of all angelic beings? (for God was in Christ and Christ in God)
2) Is the throne of God, the gateway to eternity thru Jesus Christ, our Lord, assuming Heaven is not eternity? Or is eternity a consciousness, thru Jesus Christ our Lord, in Heaven?
I don’t want to be a pain, just thirsty for knowledge
By all means, you're very welcome. As to your current batch of questions here:
1) Translation is both an art and a science, but in order to "correctly" translate a passage in the Bible, not only must the language be understood in Greek (or Hebrew or Aramaic, as the case may be), but all of the other assumed information behind the verse needs to be understood as well. The Bible was written at a particular time to a particular culture in a particular language that meant something very particular to those who first received it – all of these things have to be taken into account. There is a tendency among English speakers of our day to assume that all languages and all cultural perspectives and all historical periods are essentially more or less the same – and that is far from being the case. Also importantly, the Bible is written to believers, and is thus packed with theology, which, in many cases, must be understood first in order to get the full meaning of the passage. For example, if I were to translate a book on "String Theory" into ancient Greek, I would probably give many wrong impressions, because I don't understand much about Physics, let alone string theory. You see, all translation, as I often have recourse to say, is by necessity also interpretation: there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of ways to translate complicated passages and still not be technically incorrect (but as I tell my students, "try to stay away from the millions and billions of demonstrably wrong ones"). Yet each of these "interpretations" will differ from every other one in some way and may lead to "misconceptions", as you put it, for a large variety of reasons sketched only tangentially above.
The Greek of John 4:24 says, literally, "God [is] spirit". Greek does not possess an "indefinite article" per se, although it does have an indefinite pronoun (tis, tinos) which can be employed if the meaning is "a" as opposed to " ___ ". Also, the word pneuma means spirit or Spirit (as in "Holy Spirit", where the "Holy" is often left out in scripture even though understood). I think that the more versions you check, the more differences you will find. I don't see any "progression over time" in translations. What we have rather, in my opinion, is the natural divergence between translator and translator (hence between version and version).
In Greek, there really is no appreciable difference between "God is a spirit" and "God is spirit". This may seem significant in English, but only if an overweight of emphasis is placed on the "a" as in, "God is A spirit" (as in "only one of many"). That is not what the Greek means (ti, the neuter of tis, tinos would be necessary to include for that to be the meaning, in my view). This verse is calling attention to God's essence, therefore, and not limiting Him to some finite albeit invisible form – far from it (the intent is precisely the opposite).
Here are some links on this issue:
Bible Versions and their Veracity (in "Read Your Bible")
The New International Version of the Bible and some issues in Bible translation
Are New Bible Translations Part of a Conspiracy?
Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading II
Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations VI
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations V
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations IV
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations III
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations I
Some Issues of Transmission, Translation, and Transliteration
How to use the Bible translations at Ichthys.
2) No, Michael is an angel (an archangel). Jesus is God. Here are some links which discusses this:
The Divinity of Christ (not Michael)
Michael and the SDA
Michael and the Angel of the Lord
3) Jesus Christ is God. He is a member of the Trinity, and, as such, co-equal and co-eternal and con-substantial with the Father and the Spirit. In this creation, in the plan of God, His chosen role is to represent God to creatures and to carry out the plan of God. As such, He appeared in the Old Testament very often as "the Angel of the Lord" (see the link). This does not mean the Jesus is or ever was a finite angel (He is not and never was). The word "angel" in Hebrew and Greek both means "messenger" and sometimes in biblical contexts "manifestation". Christ manifested Himself to certain Old Testament believers (Moses, in particular) as the visible face of God to humanity. I would also shy away from words such as "prototype" or "blueprint" because they may give the impression that God is "figuring things out" as He goes along or "has a general plan without having the specifics determined". Much to the contrary, the plan of God has incorporated every single decision every free will creature will ever make – and absolutely everything else as well (this is covered in BB 4B).
4) Jesus is "the way" of salvation; but that means a person can only be saved through faith in Him. The third heaven is a literal place, the present abode of the Father. The first "Eden" was on the earth, but God removed Himself from the present heavens and earth and assumed His present "battle headquarters" in the third heaven following Satan's revolt and subsequent corruption of the present world (see the link: "The Seven Edens"). The third heaven is where His throne is at present (this is where believers are now taken after departing earth; see the link), and the Father will not return to earth until after the millennium has run its course, and these present "heavens and earth" are destroyed and replaced with the new heavens and earth "where [only] righteousness dwells". That is when the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven; that is the time of the Father's "advent" (see the link).
When people use the word "eternity" (not actually a biblical word, though it and its cognates are often used for certain Greek and Hebrew phrases), they often mean quite different things by it. You and I are mortal, meaning, we will eventually exit these temporary bodies, one way or another. Those who have already "moved on" are either in torments or in the third heaven. The resurrection, our "eternal status", has not yet taken place, but after the end of the Millennium, every human being will have been resurrected, whether "to life" (believers) or "to death" (unbelievers). The true Church of Christ, present day believers, will be resurrected at Jesus' second advent return, and thus will be in an "eternal" status, although "eternity" will not yet have commenced in the final corporate sense of the destruction of this cosmos and its replacement with a pristine and incorruptible one.
The above is a very quick sketch of the outlines of "eschatology", so please forgive its abruptness. I have covered these matters so far in two complete series, the Satanic Rebellion series, and the Coming Tribulation series, consisting of many parts and many thousands of words (there are also many other places at Ichthys where these matters are considered; please have a look at the "Index of Subject" link).
Best wishes for your continued growth in the truth of the Word of God!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I was reading and busy with some other things, but last night before stepping into bed decided to read the part on your site about Satan's rebellion and fall. So I will (God willing). I have an idea what that was about, something about not knowing whether God's love was self-interested or altruistic ... including in His spiritual offspring. Because of not knowing for sure doubt arose, on the one had believing that God's love was unselfish -also in us- while on the other hand believing it was selfish. Did God create because it made Him happy, and would also enjoy His happiness in His creations, and would not do so if it would make Him unhappy? Or would He do it even if it would give Him hell? In the symbolic story of Job Satan tried to disguise this question in his mind by suggesting that Job's love of God was conditional: selfish. God knowing His love also in Job made it possible for Satan to find out, and thus be relieved of his tormenting hell. In the end Job gets everything he enjoyed back and even more than that. Because now Satan was no longer Satan, and cooperated with God, now convinced that thank God he had been mistaken in his suspicion. That's why you hear nothing about there being a Satan anymore at the end of that story. It had been an extension of God -as one of His creatures, in that creature- who as a new creation had felt that doubt and gotten angry at God and his creatures, still believing the thank God untrue hypothesis.
"And the anger of the Lord was again kindled against Israel, and stirred up David among them, saying: Go, number Israel and Judah."
2 Sam 24:1
"And Satan rose up against Israel: and moved David to number Israel."
1 Chron 21:1
There is a lot more to say about this subject, but this one is long enough already.
Good to hear from you.
In my opinion, while we can get some idea of God's motivations from observing the world He has made (e.g., we have some idea of the Father from the concept of a perfect father extrapolated), He is so far above even words fail – as in this case: He exists outside of puny time and space so that the word "above" is only an insufficient convenience. We love, but He is love. If I were to put it in a nutshell, I would say that all He has done He has done for us – that is the only way to explain the ineffable sacrifice of Christ, taking on humanity and, like the bush Moses saw, burning without being consumed in the darkness on the cross until He has purged away all of mankind's sins.
Please see the link: "The Spiritual Death of Christ".
I think if you persevere in the Satanic Rebellion series you will come to see quite clearly that the devil is very real, and that mythologizing him away is spiritually dangerous.
In our dear loving Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr. Luckinbill
I had stumbled onto the Ichthys site several days ago and have read through several portions.
Yesterday (now a few days ago), after having read 'the Genesis Gap', I was fairly intrigued. Surely this concept seems to offer some explanation to the lengthy fossil/geologic records which the evolutionists readily cite. Oddly enough, shortly after reading 'tGG' I looked at Gen 1 in my study bible to see my own handwriting having written the words 'had become' in the margin with an arrow drawn to the word 'was' (Now the Earth 'was' void...) in Gen 1:2...The wild part is, I had not remembered writing this (but upon seeing it I did vaguely recall writing it months prior) but very vaguely recalled having seen a source online (cannot recall the source) that would have prompted me to do this.
I suppose to add proper personal context on my part, I don't study the bible much as of late. I had studied with varying intensities over the last 20 or so years. There is much more to my personal history that would effect context, but I will let it simply that I consider myself basically a 'failed christian'. I do believe in one god as a creator and had tried desperately to follow Jesus in the early 90s, but have 'lived like the world' since then. I might also add that I am acutely aware of, and averse to, the satanic empire as it consolidates and unfolds before our eyes.
One question I must pose pertains to your concepts in comparison between the Genesis Gap vs. 'Part 1 Satan's Rebellion & Fall From Grace'. In Part 1, you present that the means by which satan had convinced a percentage of the other angels to follow in his rebellion was to 'tempt' them with 'something they didn't or couldn't have', namely corporeality and sensations experienced by humans. If this were the case, is it not in contradiction to the Genesis Gap concept which outlines satan's initial rebellion (which Part 1 claims would be of less significance/effect/chance of success without enlisting other angels) which caused the initial cosmic/global judgement which necessitated the 7-day restoration, all of which was prior to the creation of man? If man had yet to be created, how could satan tempt the other angels with human sensations?
I also thought of another concept that I had heard in a sermon may years ago. It had to do with the term 'supernatural'. The sermon pointed out how American culture places a very 'spooky' or mysterious quality on the word supernatural. Yet it went on to say that supernatural 'per se' means MORE natural, and that we in the finite/flesh realm are actually 'less' natural than the angelic realm. Almost to say that we are like 'plastic' replicas of the higher realm(s)...basically trapped in limited flesh with much more limited senses. That said, I cant relate as to why angelic biengs would choose to confine themselves to the limits that flesh engenders?
This vein of logic also brings to mind two distinct concepts regarding 'man' and the devil(s), For most of my life (from concepts learned in childhood and after) I have been of the thought that man's creation was a direct (or subsequent) result of the PRIOR rebellion and fall of satan and his cohorts, much as you expressed in your works, However, over the years I have read several times that man (namely Adam, and I suppose Eve as well) was actually the cause of the satanic revolt. Something to the effect of 'satan was ordered by god to kneel before Adam, which satan found objectionable thus rebelling.'
Another concept which has puzzled me for years regards the nephillim <(which I have studied much of over time). The concept expressed in Gen 6:2: "2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose" implies that lust was the motive of the angels to interbreed with human women. I find it difficult to reconcile mere lust with some 'grand plan' of satan to genetically corrupt all of mankind thus thwarting plans of god. To me, lust seems like a mere selfish motive and almost a 'weakness' <(a trait I would not readily ascribe to superior angelic beings)...whereas a calculated, detailed and methodical conspiracy to genetically tamper with our species for 'higher' nefarious purposes is much more 'directed' and purpose-driven than mere lust.
I have also had great difficulty with the concept that Noah and his family were the only remaining humans not contaminated by angelic DNA (upright in all his generations)...Of course, I don't claim to know the approximate population of the world at that time, but must assume it to have been fairly substantial. What are the odds that one mere family was spared the contamination? It is also highly implicit that Noah's peers, who lacked faith and scoffed at his ark, may have been 'saved' had they had faith, prehaps gaining a place on the ark...but this would fly in the face of their genetic contamination.
Another concept I had recently inquired (a youtube video) of: How is it reasonable that god sent the deluge (a global calamity to the extent of destroying ALL flesh on earth), while sparing the 8 humans on the ark, only to have the genetic contamination 'slip through' anyway? If god makes no mistakes, and the very purpose of the flood was genetic cleansing, where did the contaminated DNA manifesting in the Annakites (and other nephillim-contaminated canaanite tribes) come from? Perhaps subsequent angelic mingling with human women? But if so, why all the horror and drama of the flood?
From the 'nephillim logic', I have long since regarded 'demons' per se, as the disembodied spirits of the dead nephillim; drawing distinctions between 'demons' and fallen angels. On this note, there is a woman who has a youtube channel called 'Paradox Brown', one of her videos goes into great length to detail more than one 'wave' of fallen angels. She really touches on the fallen angels imprisoned in the abyss in chains (referenced in the NT, Jude and 1st Peter I believe, and maybe in OT as well) to have been the 'first wave' of fallen angels a la 'book of Enoch', yet she biblically argues against the validity of the book of Enoch.
To me, logic dictates, if satan is 'prince and power of the air', ruler of this world and it's kingdoms, the 'god of this age', he cannot be trapped and chained in the abyss. Neither are the demons that possessed the people afflicted in the NT. So clearly, some fallen angels are improsoned (and logic would dictate disempowered) while others are free to roam. These concepts are very complex...especially when we are forced to deal with vague (and very few) biblical references scattered throughout the whole of scripture. Considering the very scope, severity and magnitude of these massive conditions that so profoundly effect all of mankind on a global level over epochs, I would surely think god's 'word' would provide more than a few ambiguous encoded references to the adversary. I view it as a great diservice to mankind, the age-old victim of invisible forces seeking our destruction.
To borrow a bit of logic you had stated: "Would Eve have sinned had the devil not tempted her?" I must add to this logic. Was either Adam or Eve, in addition to being warned not to eat the forbidden fruit, specifically warned that some 'third party' may well come along to entice this very act? I don't see this in scripture. So I will add the question: "Would Eve have sinned in such a manner, having been explicitly warned that the 'devil' (in whatever guise he may appear) would tempt her in such a way?" It just seems to me, that a very naive Adam and Eve were set up by the wise and crafty devil, yet god was quite willing to allow this to happen...a vague warning of 'death' and nondisclosure of the powerful enemy prowling around with free access...all this keeping in mind god's foreknowledge of all. Simply, I think we, as humanity, were set up.
I now ponder a bit more a concept shared with me years ago, the possibility of a 'pre-Adamic race.' It seems there is enough cause for this in the 'double account' of the creation of man. The Gen 1:26 vs. Gen 2:7 accounts almost appear to be distinct as opposed to a 're-telling'. Even now, as I look over these verses again, I spot blatant contradictions that seem to 'set man up' for the inevitable fall.
Gen 1: 29: "Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." <<<There is clearly no prohibition on any select tree or plant for consumption by man...baring mistranslating 'every', to me, means every and 'on the face of the whole earth' is all-encompassing.
Also, Gen 2:16:And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die." I find it odd that man is first instructed (in the same sentence) that he is free to eat of ANY tree...then almost as an afterthought, god says "but" don't eat from the forbidden tree.
Would Adam even have any concept of 'death' (certainly you will die)...surely he had never seen another human, let alone a human who had died.
In Gen 3:2, when Eve debates the serpent regarding the forbidden tree, she says: ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden..." I cannot help but contrast her statement with Gen 2:9 "In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." By this logic, how does the reader know that Eve (rightly or mistakenly) is referring to the tree of 'knowledge' vs the tree of 'life'...she references only the 'tree in the middle of the garden', which is where both trees were located. Did Eve even rightly know which tree she was referring to? Of course all of my ponderings to these trees would be seemingly of less significance of the term 'tree' is metaphor as opposed to literal trees.
I just noticed your reply to my test email. I added some to 'this' email over a few days. I will send it off now. At the risk of sounding like a flatterer: I read over your history and credentials and your academic achievements are very impressive, way beyond my asscoiates degree that I aquired a few years ago at age 39. Even so, I like to think that I have a fair grasp of English and have learned to try to 'weigh' my observations with reason and logic (cause and effect). I must also mention that I took notice that you were explicit in stating you are a 'grace ministry' and do not accept donations. To me, this is surely a hallmark of genuine Christian effort, I can't recall any 'christian-based' group that ever explicitly regected contributions...
I also realize that my overall composition in this email is suffering in it's composition and ask you to bear with me. I pose these questions to you because you have clearly done alot of research on these subjects. If I seem less than 'loving' toward god, I mean no offense to you personally. Years of never ending questions, breeches of any semblance of logic, set-ups and betrayals by many friends and associates who operated under banners of 'christianity', and the loss (over the years) of many friends and loved ones (especially all of my Grandparents)...and to contemplate that so many of these loved ones are held in 'limbo' in Sheole to awate resurection of judgement and the second death in the lake of fire...have all combined to cause me to question god's very motives and morality. I think it's quite easy for one in Jesus' shoes to tell a grieving man "Let the dead bury their dead..." and to readily tell humanity to blindly foresake their family and loved ones to follow him. I notice Jesus was never called to abandon his family and friends, they were with him right up to the ascention...why should the rest of humanity have to ascribe to 'the sword that divides'? I speak of real life pain, anguish and grief (as well as mortal terror)...not mere petty rationalizations aversed to god..I talk of funerals and utter loss of people who were in the ranks of all I had ever known who are all now dead and gone...good, descent hard-working folks.
Also I will mention that I had been introduced to Calvanistic doctrines and had looked into the scriptural basis for 'pre-destination' in terms of wicked and righteous. I am not claiming to subscribe to Calvanist doctrine, but I again fault the 'word of god' for the explicit verses that support such a doctrine.
I hope my writting make some semblamce of sense. I appreciate any insight you may offer. As time (and mental faculty) permits, I will resume reading more of your work on your site...
Good to make your acquaintance. Thanks for your positive comments and interesting email. You broach a large number of subjects here with many questions direct and indirect. There is much to say, however, I am fixated on your comment: "I do believe in one god as a creator and had tried desperately to follow Jesus in the early 90s, but have 'lived like the world' since then". This, along with some other things you say later, make it seem to me at least as if the real issue for you is one of faith in general rather than theology/cosmology/logic in particular (and apologies in advance if I have read all this wrongly).
Without faith in Jesus Christ, none can be saved.
"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
John 14:6 NKJV
There is nothing unique in finding fault with God – as He is perceived and His actions are perceived by faulty human logic in particular. The devil was the first to take this path, and in fact he was only rationalizing his own desires around into a brief against the Lord. But that is what everyone who "kicks against the goads" does, and many of us have done that . . . only to find that it is impossible to fight God. Better to find that out in this life before opportunity evaporates than later when the last chance for choice is lost.
God is perfect (otherwise He would not be God, transcendent of time and space in His very essence). Thus, in fact, God is fair (He could not be otherwise). In fact, God is righteous (He could not be otherwise). In fact, everything He has done and will do is absolutely just, and has to be so. For God is justice. He can't be unfair. And God is love. He gave His Son up to die for the sins of the world, to personally bear them in His body on the cross, to burn, like the bush in the desert, and not be consumed, until He had thoroughly removed your sins and mine as an issue in salvation. If that is not love, I do not know what it could be. Start there with logic. Human "logic" when employed in the realm of the theological usually begins with false premises about God – who He really is, what He is really like, and what His motives actually are. As in computer-ese, even with the best logical processes, "garbage in" equals "garbage out". If we start with the premise, whether obvious to us and others or not, that God is not being fair, then He will be judged by us as "not fair!"; if we start with the premise that He is justice itself and incapable of the most minute bit of injustice, we will see that whatever condemnation results from this process of human and angelic history, a process where in free will is given a truly fair rein, must be a result of that choice. That is one of the truly despicable things about the devil and his m.o., namely, refusing to take responsibility for his actions. In my humble opinion, if a person is unwilling to submit to the Lord . . . which requires only the non-meritorious acceptance of the Gift of Jesus Christ . . . then said person ought at the very least be willing to acknowledge the truth of the matter, namely that he/she has chosen hell rather than submission (even though the consequences of refusing so small an act of subordination are so vastly horrible), rather than wasting the precious time he/she has before being thrown into the lake of fire concocting voluminous and clever-seeming indictments of God. The Lord will not be impressed with these when said person stands before the Great White Throne.
There is no way really for any person to look deep into the heart of another and see where the other person is in terms of faith. We can only go by what we see and hear. I have to believe that since you came to this ministry – and since you are still clearly concerned about these matters – that there is still a "heartbeat" to your faith. Kindle it and revive it. There is only one reason to be in this world: to believe in Jesus Christ . . . and to serve Him with all our hearts thereafter. The latter takes the nourishment of the Word of God, and it would certainly be my pleasure to have you avail yourself of the materials at Ichthys for that noble purpose.
"But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner."
Hebrews 6:9 NKJV
Please do feel free to write me back any time.
Yours in the One who died for all our sins that we might have eternal life through simple faith in His Name, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear Dr. Luckinbill
Thank you for investing your time to reply as I am sure you have a busy schedule. I assume you 'keyboard' (actually type as opposed to hunt & peck, as I do) so hopefully the time factor doesn't demand as much from you as it otherwise would. Please don't feel pressured to reply to my comments in any time sensitive manner.
As far as the 'base premise' or 'base perspective' regarding god as perfect and righteous in an individual's mind...is it not 'what it is'?
Humans are so complex and differing in mindsets and mentalities, and I feel we are all products of our environments even after we learn to observe and draw our own conclusions. I have long called a human's childhood the 'foundation' of that person. Once the 'base programming' is there, how does one go back, tear down the foundation and rebuild? Add to the foundation, countless real-life observations, as well as historical study, of allowed injustices beyond comprehension. Then mix in the bible, which many claim as the inerrant 'word of god', with the uncountable contradictions throughout it's contents...And it's not even that simple, we must choose which version of scripture (KJV vs NIT, etc) and countless other versions, codexes, translations over the millenia. From the Protestant revolt against roman catholic monopoly thru today, there have been spawned countless varying doctrines and denominations...So when Jesus himself is quoted as saying "A house divided against itself cannot stand..." (in reference to the satanic kingdom) why is it that god clearly allows me to logically see that christianity itself is blatantly 'a house divided against itself' ?
I understand and do appreciate your concern for my soul in warning me of "concocting voluminous and clever-seeming indictments of God"...but I think this is an oversimplification. I am aware of the verses which warn "Does the clay question the potter?"...and..."Who are you, oh man, to speak back to god?" But I must reason, although humans are made of the dust of the earth (clay), we are surely more than mere 'clay' once life is breathed into us. We are living sentient organisms with millions of nerve endings that are subject to a lifetime of pain, and potentially a lifetime of heartache and mental anguish, loss, grief, fear, etc...so much negative (yet tangible) substance...how can ones who suffer be all wrong for questioning the most powerful being with their plight?
As far as "namely, refusing to take responsibility for his actions." or we humans doing the same thing, I must ask: Why are all humans in history condemned to take responsibility for the actions of Adam & Eve? As you pointed out in your works, satan and the angels knew full well what they were doing in rebelling against god and they were not created with sin per se (quite an amazing concept: the 'spontanious' cultivation of sin and disharmony in the heart of satan, with no precedence whatsoever)...But we pro-created humans are all born under an invisible yolk. We are born liable to god for sinful actions of not only elements of the invisible angelic realm, but our naive uninformed Edenic parents. How does anyone with a sense of fairness or justice reconcile this with reason and logic?
As far as the oft-spoken-of 'choice' and 'freewill' that we all have. The very polar (black and white) choice to submit to god vs. ignore god. To me, logic and reason dictate that a true choice would come with no consequence. As an analogy: A neighborhood thug threatens and demands protection money from a local merchant. The merchant has a choice to pay the ransom or be beaten and killed. Is this really a choice? In my book, I call this extortion. Do it my way or suffer the consequences. So might makes right? And to make it even worse, in my analogy the 'main, thug (the 'godfather' so to speak) is hidden away in a far off palace, while lesser thugs employ the same M.O. against our merchant. The lesser thug is rarely (if ever) seen, but his systemic dominance of the neighborhood is total and pervasive. His way and methods are in the merchant's face no matter what direction he looks, from the very birth of the merchant. The merchant's parents and most of the people he knows have long since succumbed to the system of the lesser thug, it is all they have ever known. Yet the godfather thug is jealous and enraged by the merchant's dealings with the lesser thug...but the godfather thug will only send vague, cryptic and contradictory warnings of his intention to come into the neighborhood and burn the whole thing down at the end. Would it not be more just for the godfather thug to simple eliminate the lesser thug? After all, it is well within his power to do so.
I realize I am still attempting to convey a point that you have already declared "The Lord will not be impressed with these when said person stands before the Great White Throne." and I have considered this many times over the years. But god gave me whatever level of intellect I have, gave me (either by birth or life experience) a mind that no longer blindly accepts scenarios that just do not equate, that fly in the face of any logic or reason. Job questioned god, and god responded. I truly feel Job was the ultimate tool (pawn). The original fight is between god and satan, your works claim that we (humanity) are the 'replacement' for the fallen angels...to prove a point to satan. We are second-hand proxies, bench warmers brought in to patch up the failures of the starting team...and we're on the field wearing blindfolds and earplugs...and the 'team owner' is wagering on us ("Have you considered my servant Job...?") <<<even initiating the wager...and if we (humanity) fail in this wager, individually or as a team, the team owner will torment us for eternity....and on top of it all, it's our fault? Talk about scapegoating?
How many 'christians' the world over (but especially in America) are total frauds? Lying to god, themselves and others as they run amok in blatant hypocrisy? They would never 'speak ill of god' per se, they flatter god (and others) with their tongue. Can I not get any credit for at least being honest? All the painful and difficult concepts I pose to you, I have long since asked of god many times over. I would be lying if I claimed that god never gave me blessings. My studies of history and horrid tribulations visited on millions of my fellow man are proof-positive that I have yet to be exposed to much of the worst this world has to offer. Yet all of my blessings have been tempered with undercurrents seemingly designed to cause me to fail at every turn. I am an incredible under-achiever in this American society...a society that I have come to view as a sick, twisted, materialistic freemasonic republic that has become the centerpiece for literally ushering in the NWO at the behest of the European 'black nobility.' Just because I argue with god, it does not take away my loathing and contempt for the satanic system. Satan's works are vile and putrid...all I need ponder is any one of the countless genocides of history to instinctively know such works are conscious orchestrated evil of the utmost depravity.
In certain verses of the bible it says 'the world will hate you for my sake'...and it seems to me that the world has always hated me. It is a miracle a few times over that I am alive and have 10 fingers and 10 toes. God has surely delivered my very life on more than one occasion. Yet I have still accumulated enough damage over time..damage that jades one. I have come to see betrayal by fellow man as the norm...And many 'christians' are in these ranks. I have several 'friends' and associates who praise Jesus and are a big deal in their respective churches, as they advance themselves financially while exploiting labor of others (even gloating, to me, directly of said exploitations), they satisfy all their material desires, and this is publicly accepted as blessings from god. Some satisfy carnal lusts, much more discretely, yet somehow I am normally made privy to these conquests...Some do (or have) even satisfy bloodlusts and revenge for transgressions (real or perceived) against them. Back in highschool, I was even commissioned by my best friend, a 'christian' (not a 'jam it down your throat' christian; but a christian who would calmy 'plant little seeds' of 'faith' and would readily answer any biblical questions) to arrange a meeting with a guy from my former high school who had fought with him while drunk <(my christian friend was the drunk one...he had about a six month bout with alcohol that ended on the night of te first fight) so he could fight him again. Seems some of the jocks at our school busted his chops for a black eye. Keep in mind, this friend of mine is one of the most principled, respectable, discipled humans I have known. I denied his commission to arrange the meeting (it had to be me, because I was the one who previously attended the school of the perp and could readily make the arrangement)...I denied this many times: "Let it go...It's just gonne be more trouble" But, he wouldnt take no for an answer. I over-ruled reason and logic out of loyalty for my friend...You wanna guess how many times he's sold me out over the years? Mostly by reputation, judgements, betraying confidences etc.
I am tired of being everyone's cheap labor and whipping boy. I am tired of this elitist attitude that comes along with their lying freemason-infested brand of christianity. I rebuke them before god almighty, I beg god to institute justice and humble them and show them their errors...I beg god to allow me to ascend beyond the nightmare social status that I have been consigned to...I have long since given up on pipe-dreams of 'wealth' and have no desire for grande things (huge house, flashy car...even a wife or kids)...but I do desire credibility. And credibility is lost on folks at the bottom of the food chain. But more than credibility, I would seek peace...peace that has never come. So, ultimately, who do I start blaming...? God of course. These total hypocrites are progressing systematically and never looking back. They are never derailed in their big picture...onward and upward...married with kids, now a boat, now a vacation cabin, always a great vacation...some drink, some dont...But the one commonality they all share is their puffed up elitism. The arrogance is disgusting...and right behind the arrogance is their jew-like exploitation of others, who are less fortunate, to ascend even higher. And they do all of this in the name of god and Jesus. Then they have the gall to judge me in certain sin areas...even if it is clearly an area in my life that I have gotten control of (once a dog, always a dog...even though I have sworn women off years ago) God knows all of this...sees all of this...and the trend goes on unchallenged... I at least attempt to repent my sins, especially if I've done anything against others. But these people I speak of can in no way have any repentance...and it's just fine with god to let them go along their merry way. And they muddy the very name of god while sinning so much with their 'christian' elite status. This is the main reason I call myself a 'failed' christian. Even if I call upon the name of Jesus as the son of god to save me, if I choose to go to a pub and drink beer & shoot pool, I dont see myself as any good witness.
Well, I'm mentally winded. Perhaps I've cried on your shoulder too much. I wrote to you because in your Ichthys site I see articulation, effort, an analytical mind, detail orientation. The most apprehension I would have in sharing all of this with you is asking for your time, a valuable comodity for all of us. I fully understand your concerns expressed for my soul in your reply, but I must inquire as to some of the other concepts I had originally questioned of you (your time permitting of course)..especially the Calvanism inquiry.
There's even more to chew on here, but to even less purpose without taking first things first. Another thing that many people are planning to throw in the Lord's face at the last judgment is "What about person X, person Y and person Z? Person X claimed to be Christian, but was a rat! Person Y was not a Christian, but was a fine human being by every earthly standard! Person Z never had a chance to become a Christian, never having heard the gospel! So the fact that I am not a Christian should not damn me, even though I was not a fine human being by every earthly standard and did know about the gospel!"
Yes it is simple. "I" must stand on my own record before the eternal bar of judgment. However the Lord disposes of anyone else, I will receive my own judgment. And what is the logic here? Do I assume by implying that the Lord is unfair in His dealing with X, Y, and Z, that He will now be "fair" to me according to my lights because I have brought these points of rebuttal up? Am I planning to shame the God of the universe into being fair "just once" in my own case by condemning Him of being unfair in the cases of all (or almost all) others? Logically, if He really is unfair to others, I have no hope of Him being "fair" the way I see things in my case either. Logically, and theologically, if in fact He is always fair, genuinely fair (as is indeed the truth), to others, He will be fair to me too. So if I have found His dealings with X, Y and Z unfair, it must be my evaluation of these matters that is wrong, not His.
Against You and You alone have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your eyes. Therefore you will be proven righteous in what you say, and blameless in your judgment.
Yes it is simple. X was not really a believer; or X was disciplined for his/her sins in a just way while still in this life, and has life eternal being cleansed by Christ's blood. Y may have been upright, but "all sin" (Rom.3:23), and Y was not without sin: since God demands perfection, the smallest sin was enough to demand condemnation, absent cleansing, and Y rejected the cleansing and forgiveness God provided in the blood of His Son, throwing that precious sacrifice back in His face. Z did hear the gospel; or Z did not hear the gospel, but God knew all that was going on in Z's heart and when Z became of aware of Him and wanted no part of Him, at that point throwing pearls before swine was not necessary. And none of this has nothing to do with "I". "I" have heard that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. "I" am aware that I am a sinner with no way to redeem myself. And, despite all my clever philosophizing, "I" am also cognizant, deep in my heart, that God is righteous and just, and that there is no way to condemn Him or refute Him or fight with Him. Perhaps if I am able to convince others that there is, I may sleep better tonight, but only if I ignore that still, small voice of the Spirit which tells me I am oh so wrong. Yes it is simple. Put your faith in Jesus Christ and be saved.
For you have been saved by (God's) grace through faith (in Christ); and this did not come from you - it is God's gift. Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
For there is no deliverance through any other person, nor has any other name on earth been given by which we must be saved.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."
My concern is with your spiritual welfare and your eternal life.
In Jesus Christ through faith in whom alone we are delivered from death unto life eternal.
Hello--I hope you are well. I have a question regarding Ps. 82 and the grammar in Exodus 7:1.. This Mormon and others, contend that in Ps. 82, REAL gods are being discussed, that God made, and that He was unmaking them and killing them (I am paraphrasing). Of course, read in context, human judges are what the psalmist is talking about. But ocean just keeps telling me to read the psalm as it is and stop reading my 4th century interpretation into it and just take it at face value, for what it actually says. I just tell him to read ALL of it in context and compare it with the totality of Scripture--which means it is impossible for these "gods' in Ps. 82 to be real Gods/gods, because scripture says there is ONLY one God, plus, "gods" can mean "mighty ones" and even "angels" in context and in here, they mean "human judges" who had the power of life and death over the people in their judging, making them "mighty ones." But God obviously was NOT too pleased with some of them for judging unjustly. He asked me where these judges came from, to put them into historical context. Honestly, they know so little of biblical history...I told him that before Israel/Judah had kings, they had judges who ruled them. AFTER they had kings, they still had religious leaders who judged the people according to the Law of Moses. And according to Psalm 82, God was none to pleased with many of them, for judging so unjustly.
SO...I told him to take Exodus 7:1 at face value, where God tells Moses He will make him a god/God to Pharaoh, and Aaron his prophet. Of course, nearly all bibles I know of have "like a/as a" God/god" to Pharaoh. Now, he says that is different, that grammar demands in Exodus 7:1 to have "like/as" because there isn't always an equivalent word in Hebrew for every English word. So, I am asking if there is a Hebrew word equivalent to our "like a/as"? Also, I always thought the "as a/like a" was added in Exodus 7:1 because the entire Scriptural witness declares that there is only one God; all others called "gods" are "so-called gods" and "the idols of the nations are demons," etc. And that God Himself declares there is no other God besides Himself; that none was formed before Him and none will be formed after Him.
I had him at a "catch-22"--he says to take Ps. 82 at face value and just believe what it says. Yet, he won't take Ex. 7:1 at face value--that God must REALLy have made Moses a REAL God to Pharaoh--because he says the grammar demands the addition of "like/as" into the verse. Yet it makes sense without it. But it is obvious to ME, from the rest of scripture, that it does NOT mean that Moses was made a real God to pharaoh, since the entire scriptural witness says there is only ONE GOD--and neither Moses nor the "gods"--judges--of Ps. 82 can be real Gods/gods. SO--why then doesn't he realize that the "gods" of Ps. 82 are "so-called" gods? Because Mormons believe they can be made 'gods" over their own planets, if they do some things on this earth while alive, that will earn them the privilege of "exaltation" after death and being gods over their own worlds, they can populate with their own spirit babies. You really get into science fiction with Mormonism...heck, Star Trek was more believable....
Anyway, I just wanted your take on this, plus the "grammar" thing. Thanks as always.
It is frustrating trying to reason with the unreasonable. I admire your patience – it certainly exceeds mine. This is no doubt why I was gifted as a Bible teacher rather than in the area of apologetics.
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, "You are gods" ’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?"
John 10:34-36 NKJV
Those "to whom" the Word of God comes are "gods" ('el), "mighty ones", that is, those empowered and enlightened by God ('elohiym), "The Mighty One". What correspondent is guilty of doing here is taking an English word, "gods", and back-transferring our English notions of what that word can and cannot mean to the Hebrew vocabulary and context. Our Lord's words above make it clear that human beings were the recipients of the quote in Psalm 82, and we do know, as you rightly point out, that angels sometimes also are called "mighty ones" – but neither angels nor human beings are ever called "the Mighty One" – that is to say, the plural 'elohiym is never used for a single angel or a single human being. And why would God not call us "el"? He made us in His image. We have the capacity to understand and respond in a moral fashion to the truth, the "Word of God" – and it is this very reception of the truth (and in this case its rejection) that provides the reason for using the word in Psalm 82: "He called them gods, to whom the word of God came".
As to the rest of the nonsense, I will only say that while some people's imaginary god or gods make mistakes, find things out by experience, and are limited in time and space, our God created the world from nothing in the blink of an eye, having decreed the end from the beginning in every detail – without which decree nothing that happens could happen. The difference between their god/gods and our God is vast – as vast as the difference between a lie and the truth.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thanks for your input. I do have a lot of patience; can't be an apologist without it.
What about the Exodus 7:1 verse? Does the Hebrew grammar demand putting "as/like" in the verse? I know that God certainly did NOT make a true God out of Moses, but I just wanted to know if the grammar--Hebrew or English--demands putting "as/like" in this verse? Thanks again.
When it's a question of a true comparison, Hebrew generally uses the comparative particle ce- (e.g., Gen.32:12). However, I'm not sure this is merely a comparison. To me, this means more like "I will make you God to Pharaoh" in the sense of "acting in the capacity of God (i.e., God's legitimate spokesman) in regard to Pharaoh" – because Moses was the one with whom Pharaoh was interacting (not God directly but most definitely with God indirectly). Neither English nor Hebrew is so regular and predictable in this respect, however, that anyone could say dogmatically that what we have here is not a true comparison or a case of apposition as opposed to a two object construction, at least in terms of grammar. In terms of theology, however, since Moses was not actually made [into] "God", the phrase is not meant in that two object sense here (i.e., of making A into B).
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you, sirs, for your long and informative discussion of Jesus as GOD. As far as I can see you did not discuss the creedal statement of Jesus agreeing with a Jew in Mk 12.29. Did Jesus here express his understanding that God is TRIUNE? Or did Jesus here give us a unitary monotheistic creed- God is one Person?
The posting to which you refer is a series of email responses to questions, not a comprehensive exegesis of the four gospels. You might want check out the systematic offering: Christology. (section I.1: "Jesus Christ is truly Divine").
In Mark 12:29 our Lord quotes Deuteronomy 6:4-5. It's as simple as that. It is almost certainly true that many of His listeners misunderstood "God is one" to mean "God exists in only one person". People are still doing that today, after all, but that is certainly not what the verse says, and most definitely not what it means. The "oneness" of the Trinity is one of the features that makes our God, three in Person, one in essence, unique – they have always been "one" in purpose in every respect (cf. "Now he who plants and he who waters are one": 1Cor.3:8 NKJV).
Here are some links which address these issues:
The Hebrew word for 'one' ('echadh) and the uniqueness of God
The Persons of God (in BB 1: Theology)
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thanks, Robert, to be quite clear are saying that Jesus’ affirmation of the Shema is Jesus affirmation of the Trinity? So then your view is that the Jew and Jesus agreed that God is three in one? Is that your point? The Jew obviously did not misunderstand Jesus at all. They agreed—you say ,that God is 3 in one. Thanks for a brief yes or no.
If yes or no is the answer, what's the question?
Thanks, the question is simply: Does Jesus affirm a Triune God agreeing with the Jew in Mark 12:29? You appear to be asserting, against many scholars, that Jesus expressed, along with the Jew, belief in a Triune God. Have I understood you rightly on this point. Yes or no? As you know, many commentators see Jesus as affirming the unitary monotheism of Judaism, and not belief in a Triune God.
With all due respect, I'm not sure it's simple at all: the question has multiple layers and is built on a number assumptions I wouldn't assume. For example, we are only told what the person our Lord was speaking with said, not what he may have thought . . . or what he may have thought Jesus meant (and whether or not he was right about this). Our Lord spoke in parables for a reason, namely, to be able to speak the truth while still giving those to whom He came a genuine choice. That is to say, the truth was there, for those who wished to receive it; for the rest, it was "a mystery". Jesus is God, as well as man. He knew full well the details of the Trinity. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5 without elaborating on the point about which you ask. Could He have said more? Without question. Why did He not do so? Probably because it was doubtful if this person, let alone most of the crowd and this generation in general, would have been able to receive it. They did not understand that the Messiah was God become human too. And they expected a conquering hero, not a humble carpenter. They wanted the crown, but they stumbled over the cross. Giving only what might be received was thus gracious in the extreme. That is what Jesus did, in my estimation. Everything He said was true. The fact that He did not say more here was a blessing to those who might otherwise have taken offense (as in the case of this person). In my reading, I doubt the person was saved at this point; I'm sure he had doubts about Jesus being the Messiah. But by giving him only the truth he could accept at that point, our Lord set him up for receiving the whole truth of the gospel when the events of the cross and resurrection took place. We will have to wait until our own great day to find out more.
I'm not sure whether this is "yes" or "no", but it's the best I can do for you on this one.
In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,
Robert, thanks so much for your time. In the scholarly circles I am aware of (as a teacher of NT and Greek and Hebrew), the question I asked is treated like this: Dr. Colin Brown at Fuller for example on Mk 12:29: "Jesus’ identification of Deut 6 (the shema) as the first commandment indicates his fundamental commitment to the monotheistic orthodoxy of the Torah. (Jesus then and Now, p. 39). So then Jesus obviously believed in the creed of Israel. My question to you was simply: was this not a unitary monotheistic creed? James Dunn and many others say the same. Do you disagree that Jesus was a Jewish unitary monotheist? What has happened to the perspicuity of Scripture? I thought everyone knew that Jews based on Deut 6 believed that God is a single Person one YHVH. YHVH echad. Thus Jesus and the Jew agreed here. Love your neighbor was part of the same basic command, which is quite clear. YHVH is a single Person, I would say, 7000 times in the OT. Not two or three. If we say that there are three, each of whom is YHVH then we arrive at 1 X = 3Xs, and that cannot work.
Thanks for your time,
The Trinity is present in the Old Testament – for all who are willing to see it (e.g., Gen.1:26; Is.63:10-15). The fact that the depths of this mystery are only revealed "in Christ" (e.g., Col.1:26-27) is part and parcel of the shadows before the cross and the contrasting perspicuity, as you put, after the cross. The fact that the majority of our Lord's generation had a completely incorrect appraisal of these matters is hardly a recommendation for us to accept their view. After all, they entirely refused to accept Him (Jn.1:11). Yes, the Father (YHVH) is a single person; and so is the Lord Jesus, and so is the Lord, the Spirit – three distinct persons, sharing one divine essence. As far as I am aware, that is the classic definition of the Trinity, and I don't know of any scriptures which are not in consonance with it. If the fact that certain scriptures can be read the wrong way or give indication of certain persons in scripture, non-believers, thinking the wrong way about this issue troubles some, it does not trouble me – at all.
As I intimated previously, I would have to say that the person in this passage (Mk 12:29) interviewing our Lord was almost certainly ignorant of the details of the doctrine of the Trinity, and also most likely did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, let alone accepting Him as deity. So what he meant in quoting this passage was almost certainly different than what our Lord, who is the truth, the Word of God incarnate, knew about it. The fact that our Lord did not "take him to school" on the finer points is completely consistent with His gracious approach throughout the first advent. Jesus certainly could have appeared in paralyzing, blazing glory and left no doubt as to the facts about who He really was. But that would have removed the issue of faith – and faith is what it is all about here on earth. This approach of our Lord's in this incident is instructive for us as well: loading people down with more than they can bear at present is not necessarily the best approach. Seeing a spark of positive inclination to the truth, our Lord fanned that flame without blowing on it so hard that He put it out immediately. Whatever happened to this particular individual we shall have to wait until kingdom come to find out, but I nourish high hopes in his case. That is speculation, but the Trinity and the true meaning of Deuteronomy 6:4ff. (as opposed to how it is traditionally understood by unbelievers) is not.
After all, the Old Testament was written by believers, for believers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:15-21) – and we are the only ones who have the ability to know what these things mean, because they may only be discerned spiritually (1Cor.2:14). Only those who believe in Israel have ever been "of Israel" (Rom.9:6); for those who are of the tradition but not the faith of Abraham, blindness has been the rule from our Lord's day until the present (Rom.11:25). Therefore the speculations of all who do not believe, whether Jew or gentile, are merely that, no matter how erudite they may appear.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thanks so very much again. You know of course that the major players in the Christology battle today, Dunn, Wright, Hurtado, Bowman etc disagree with you. Hervey in his Constraints of Monotheism is also very clear along with the standard commentaries, etc that Judaism was never Trinitarian. Bowman says that Jesus in Mk 12:29 was obviously in the mainstream of Jewish unitary monotheism. Just one point: You say this: "Yahweh is singular but can be used to refer to any of the Trinity's members individually". So then you have three who are each YHVH but this does not make three YHVHs? This is language and logic which makes no sense. 3 X cannot be 1 X. SO then is GOD one YHVH and three who are YHVH?
Do you believe that "today I have begotten you" means "in eternity I gave you a beginnngless beginning"? (eternal generation, abandoned by many leading Trinitarians today).
Are you are a reader of Millard Erickson on the Trinity and do you agree with him?
As far as I know, most who are involved in the traditionalist church-visible disagree with me about most things (a badge of honor, as well as a firm indication, if not of being on the right track, at least of not being on the wrong one). Jesus was/is God. To the extent that "Jesus in Mk 12:29 was obviously in the mainstream of Jewish unitary monotheism", to that extent "the mainstream of Jewish unitary monotheism" was right about the Trinity; but to the extent that they were wrong, to that extent this statement by Hervey is incorrect.
I think this email, along with the others, demonstrates what I have been struggling to get across to you, namely, that if a person allows himself to have his thinking on these important matters delineated and channeled by either traditional or academic constructs, the chances of closely intersecting with the actual truth of scripture are remote – if only because the terms have already been defined before the data is even considered.
To sum up this point: 1) the Trinity is a reality; 2) it is present in the Old Testament; 3) the fact that it was deliberately set in shadows is no more remarkable than the fact that first advent, the incarnation of Christ, and all manner of divine realities were not made perspicuous until after the cross.
As to your "does that not make three YHVHs?" My reply: not at all. God is one, one in essence, three in person. The Bible is theological as opposed to logical (by human canons, at any rate, which make many non-spiritual assumptions). The fact that the Trinity (among many other important doctrines, as in the co-existence and mutual interdependence of predestination and free will, to take one other notable one) does not make sense in materialistic terms to non-spiritual people is of no moment in spiritual terms. Human beings all have an identical essence (we too are "one" in that regard), but do not share the exact same essence with each other as the Trinity does – that is why we are described as being made "in the image of God" (free will) but only "according to the likeness of God". God is "one" in a way we cannot really fathom – reflected, for example, in the reality that the Trinity is always in perfect agreement. There are three persons of the Godhead; they are all called "Lord" or YHVH or kyrios in scripture (e.g., "the Lord Jesus Christ": Acts 11:17; "the Lord is the Spirit": 2Cor.3:17). And this – to my mind very clear NT exposition of the truth – is foreshadowed also clearly enough in the OT for anyone with questions to have them put to rest:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;
Genesis 1:26 NKJV
For He said, "Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie."
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
Then he remembered the days of old,
Moses and his people, saying:
"Where is He who brought them up out of the sea
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
Who led them by the right hand of Moses,
With His glorious arm,
Dividing the water before them
To make for Himself an everlasting name,
Who led them through the deep,
As a horse in the wilderness,
That they might not stumble?"
As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people,
To make Yourself a glorious name.
Look down from heaven,
And see from Your habitation, holy and glorious.
Where are Your zeal and Your strength,
The yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me?
Are they restrained?
Isaiah 63:8-15 NKJV
Psalm 2:7 is referring to the incarnation; the millennial rule of the Messiah is the theme of the Psalm, and that millennial rule requires the incarnation (of Christ – the second person of the Trinity, God having taken on true humanity).
I never got much out of Erickson (I'm no respecter of persons, so quoting innumerable theologians is not very convincing to me – only if they have anything meaningful to say). If interested in looking further, here are the links at Ichthys:
BB 1: Theology
BB 4A: Christology
In the end, it's not about theology or tradition or academic disputes. In the end, it's about what the truth really is. God certainly knows – and He knows how He expects us to think about the truth, to find it, learn it, believe it and cherish it. And that truth is in His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate.
Yours in our dear Lord,
Thanks so much, Robert,
I see your point. But it is you who wrote that "each one of the three individually is YAHWEH.’’And you also say that all three together is YAHWEH. So then this 1X 3X is justified by the non-logical language you say God uses? Did you really intend that equivocation on YHVH? That sounds to me like 3 YHVH’s as well as 1 YHVH. My career has been to investigate to the best of my ability, and I am as suspicious of tradition as you are. I wonder why Ps. 110:1, massively quoted in the NT is not one of your main concerns. Both are lord yes but one is not GOD (adoni). Jesus is the Lord Messiah surely, over and over again.
It's not an equivocation, and it's only a "problem" if YHVH is a human being, or a super-human being, or a god small "g"; that is, it's only a problem if YHVH is finite – so as to be individuated in the way in which we finite human beings are familiar with individuation here within this finite universe. But He is infinite and exists and always existed quite apart from His creation of time and space. After all, the translation of this name is something along the lines of "He who is being" (see the link: "The Divine Name "). What is difficult from our limited human perspective is comprehending that God is three in person without at the same time being three in essence (or, alternatively, how He can be of one essence and still be three in person). To us these two propositions may seem impossibly incompatible, but that is the fundamental truth of the Trinity. So, yes, I have no problem with saying that the Trinity are deity, individually and collectively, three separate persons sharing the same divine essence. As I say, that is merely a variation on the theme of the classic expression of the Trinity.
On Psalm 110:1, the word kyrios is used for both parties in all of the New Testament citations. This rendering reflects the LXX, but it also verifies for us that both parties are indeed kyrios, Lord (in context, then, divine). I am aware that the singular suffix is used in the MT of Psalm 110:1, however, these vowel points are late, so that we cannot rule out a deliberate change (in the ca. eighth century A.D.) for apologetic reasons. Not that it matters (in my view). Consider: David refers not only to YHVH but also to an 'Adon – someone who outranks him. That is certainly Jesus' point when He quotes the verse: how can someone who is clearly David's son (the Messiah) also be his 'Adon and outrank him? For me, equating both as kyrios in the NT is sufficient to show that the Messiah is divine. But even for those who want to make a distinction in Psalm 110:1 based upon the difference in the words as pointed in the MT (and perhaps even placing weight on the suffix – not convincing in my view), the best that might be said is that the verse does not conclusively prove that the Messiah is God, merely that He outranks David. It certainly doesn't disprove or even cause problems for the Trinity, however, even if the NT passages which translate the passage are left out of the mix (i.e., it doesn't come close to proving that the Messiah is not divine).
In my opinion, there are better places to look for gaining confidence in Christ's deity (although that is how I read the passage indeed). However, I will say that if we wrongly imagine that there are serious conflicts between the OT and the NT and the views of the people who penned them, then we would not be dealing with the divinely inspired Word of God but merely humanly concocted materials that may have something to do with God or god whatever that relationship might be and whatever He or he might be, with everyone free to fill in the blanks however they may wish. No amount of respect or scholarship can bridge that gap.
Yours in our dear Jesus Christ, "my Lord and my God!" (Jn.20:28),
Robert, you said, It's not an equivocation, and it's only a "problem" if YHVH is a human being, or a super-human being, or a god; that is, it's only a problem if YHVH is finite -- so as to be individuated in the way in which we are familiar with individuation here within this finite universe. This, with respect, is the end of all logic and language! The word "one" is a numerator and we should all understand it. A God who equivocates on the easy word one, is playing tricks.
The Jews understood this for their whole history and Jesus whom Christians claim to be their teacher is quite clear about unitary monotheism Mk 12:29. The word one means one and not more than one, in Hebrew, Greek and English. God speaks to us in language which can be understood or He does not speak to us at all! Ps 110:1 is quite clear: YHVH is one Person (7.000 times) and the Messiah is my lord. Hi, Robert, then you are a solo player and disagree with the Trinitarians. That is your privilege but it may be dangerous to be the sole member of your own school. The words of Jesus in Mk 12:29 are still our judge and I would rather accept them now! The very complexity of your answers, raises suspicions! Try telling God or Jesus that 1 X = 3X’s! He won’t understand you.
I am not alone. I am a member of the Body of Christ, His true Church.
The LORD is Jesus:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
Zechariah 3:1-3 NKJV
"One" in Hebrew can mean "unique" (see previously supplied link):
"And who is like Your people, like Israel, a unique ['echadh] nation on the earth . . ."
2nd Samuel 7:23
Only someone who is God can come from heaven and become a human being (see the link: "The Spiritual Death of Christ"):
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2nd John 1:7 NKJV
Jesus had to be both God and man in order to go into the darkness and stand judgment for our sins during those three hours of darkness on Calvary; only by believing in Him, who He really is and what He has really done, does anyone have eternal life:
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1st John 5:12 NKJV
The truth is the truth. Scripture means what it means. Your unwillingness to accept it does not negate it.
In Jesus Christ, the God-man, before whom all will stand,
Robert, thanks, Actually one means one! It is the numeral in Hebrew and English. It as a falsehood to say that one means more than one! One nation is not two or more nations! One PERSON is one Person. God is one Person and none of the 31, 000 verses in Scripture say GOD and mean a Triune GOD. You wrote, Robert, that YHVH is the name of each of the three individually. So you propse 3 who are each YHVH! Ps 110:1 I quite clear that YHVH is one PERSON. "every good gift comes from heaven" - a very Jewish idiom, and the origin of the Son is spelled out in Luke 1:35 and Matt 1:18, 20. One cannot be human and prehuman! I don’t think you have fully examiined all this, the creed of Jesus is the creed we need "The Lord our God is one LORD" One YHVH not three who are YHVH. Just trying to be helpful,
From the beginning, you have not been listening to a single word I have been saying (that is the only way to interpret this sophomoric response of yours). That is certainly your right, however, this is a ministry designed to help believers in Jesus Christ who wish to learn about the truth of the Word of God. And I fear that neither stipulation is true of you.
Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear.
There is hope for you – and for all mankind. That hope is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the God-man who died for the sins of the world – as only someone who was both God and man could do. This is the only Jesus who can save you (Acts 16:31).
In the Name of our dear Savior Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God.
Robert, thanks again for your time. I am a seasoned non-Trinitarian! (and there are lots of them) You make no sense as long as you say each one of the three is YHVH! That is three YHVH’s and breaks every law of language! Jesus affirmed the unitarian creed of Israel in Mk 12:29. Jn 17:3.
So with respect it does not just help to say I am poisoned or blind . I need facts! Thanks again.
I think that the Greek church fathers took the church for a ride! I am not without some experience having taught the Bible language in a Bible college. My first degree was at Oxford. Why not believe what Jesus affirmed in Ps 110:1 and MK 12:29?Jesus was a Jew and no sane Jew claims to BE God! Jesus perfectly reflected the ONE GOD, certainly Three who are each GOD makes three GODS! Again, thanks for your time,
Facts are just what I have been trying to provide. However, these things are spiritually discerned. Salvation comes from faith, not logic.
To avoid further incorrect assumptions, please answer a question for me. Do you accept the New Testament as divinely inspired, being God's truth in its every part?
In Jesus my Lord and my God,
Robert, thanks, All language is logic!!! I have to refuse your amazing statement. You are caught in a mystical fog if you reject language! My faith is in the words of God and Jesus came to give us an understanding to know God (I Jn 5:20) Satan is a master of deception and fog language like "eternal generation" and "Jesus was man but not a man" There is no communication without the laws of language and logic! If one means more than one, all language and sense is destroyed. So you don’t believe that lexicons define words?
Does that mean you're not going to answer my question?
There's not much point in arguing with someone who rejects the authority of scripture.
In Jesus my Lord and my God,
Bob, I accept entirely the authority of Scripture! And the authority of scripture is found in the historical grammatical method! We simply say that GOD should be defined by Jesus as he does in Mk12 :29. God is a single PERSON thousands and thousands of times and never is HE Three. It is a matter of reading the text, I think. You spoke of faith as somehow not attached to the actual words of the Bible. I reject that definition of faith.
You write: "I accept entirely the authority of Scripture!"
Well then, there is no need to worry about definitional arguments which require logical deductions based upon prior assumptions (such as the one you are all het about). There are plenty of NT scriptures which put the matter beyond argument:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 NKJV
Jesus is the Word, and the Word is God.
Please see the link: "Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God?"
Thanks so much. So now you are telling me that there are two who are eternal GOD. You might first define Jesus’ definition of God in Mk 12:29. How many LORDS? Many Christians seem not to care much about the words of Jesus What makes you put a W on word?Why not word?
God with God is very odd. Ps 110:1 is a much better place to start. 1300 times in your NT you are seeing that the Father is GOD and not Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God and Luke 1:35 says why and how. I think you do not know the ride the Greek church fathers took the church on: awful fighting and excommunicating etc.
I'll pray for you.