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2 comments | Monday, February 27, 2006

My son (almost five years old), seems to be the most successful at stumping me. Answering his questions about God, the Trinity et al, in a manner in which he can understand, is one of the most intricate and sensitive things to come across. This is more difficult than going toe to toe with a staunch atheist. He, and other children his age, are most inquisitive; this is some what of a virtue lost in people as they grow older—or marinate too long in front of the television. I can use all the help I can get, that’s why I purchased these books:

Big thoughts for little thinkers:

1. The Trinity
2. The Mission
3. The Scripture
4. The gospel

The thought did cross my mind that some adults (including atheist) may even benefit from this reading. Nonetheless, if these books can get by Fred Sanders, they must be good. He says:

I had nothing to do with this book, and found it by chance. But it is a book after my own heart. Not only does it present the Trinity without ever using any of those analogies that I find so distracting and off-the-subject, but it presents the gospel along the way, as a natural outgrowth of discussing the Trinity. Is that perfect? I actually recommend it for reading with very young children.

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7 comments | Friday, February 24, 2006


…I might as well dig the hole deeper. In my previous post, I commented on the structure God has set up for marriage. Specifically, women are to submit to their husbands. Of course, this is qualified with how men are men are to love their wife as Christ loved the Church.

Following this lead, I want to comment a little on women in ministry; particularly, women preaching. As a side note, I am open to any objections to my position, so long as they are supported by scripture.

We find in the NT 1 Timothy 2:13-14 states "Let a woman learn in quietness with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; but to be in quietness."

At first glance, the passage comes off as somewhat blunt (at least it did to me); but let’s look at this in context. The second chapter of Timothy begins with the encouragement of sound doctrine and the proper behavior of followers of Christ. Appropriate behavior for both men and women are being addressed. Moreover, in verses 3-5 women are told to be:

“teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
As can be seen by setting the context, it’s not necessarily that women cannot teach per se, it’s more that they cannot teach in the capacity of making men submissive to them; this perceptibly would include teaching in the Church. Supporting this interpretation, John Piper says the following:

"Paul's argumentation in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 is that men ought to bear primary responsibility for leadership and teaching in the church (that is, be the elders): 1) because in creating man first God taught that men should take responsibility for leadership in relation to woman and 2) because the fall of Adam and Eve shows that the neglect of this divine pattern puts men and women in a more vulnerable position and leads to transgression.
This; however, does not imply that there are no specific and important roles for women. There are many areas where women are needed and are gifted in. God created us differently, for different purposes, both of which are of equal importance—but different roles (importance and roles should not be confused).
In effect, my position on women preaching is that there ought not to be any. However, if anyone wants to make a biblical case otherwise—I am still open.

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4 comments | Thursday, February 16, 2006

It’s always a sensitive issue when dealing with the role of women in a marriage relationship. Today’s cultural influence, past experiences, and emotions all cloud our thought—I am even guilty of this myself. This is why the issue is often diverted onto trails never meant to be, and why I have never actually taking on the issue. However, Tim Challies has more chutzpa than I; well actually, he has just dedicated some serious study into what the Bible has to say about the wife’s submission to the husband and is reporting his findings.

Challies offers ten “proofs” to support the claim that a woman is to submit to her husband:

  • The order of creation: Adam was created before Eve. This may seem to be weak grounds for an argument yet it was strong enough for Paul to mention in 1 Timothy 2:12-13 where he does not "permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man...For Adam was formed first, then Eve." Inherent in the order of creation is the foundation for the order of human relationships.

  • The representation of the human race: It was Adam who had a special role in representing the human race. Though Eve was the first to sin, it was Adam who was considered most culpable for their combined disobedience. In Corinthians we read that, "as in Adam all men die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Christ is the second Adam, not the second Eve as we might expect if the Bible held Adam and Eve as being equal in representation and leadership.

  • The naming of woman: Adam was given the honor and responsibility of naming his wife. "She shall be called woman," he said, "because she was taken out of man" (Genesis 2:23). Within the Scriptures we see that the person who names something is always the one who has authority over it. This parallels the account of creation where God named the night and the day, the expanse, the earth and the waters. By naming them He showed His authority.


  • The naming of the human race: The human race is named after Adam, not Eve. Neither is it named after both Adam and Eve. God named the human race "man." "When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created" (Genesis 5:1-2). While this does not provide a cut and dry case, it points again to the headship and leadership of the man in the created order.


  • The primary accountability: God held Adam primarily accountable for the Fall. While Adam and Eve hid from God, God called "to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:9). God did not call to both Adam and Eve, but called to Adam alone. Dr. Grudem draws an analogy of a parent who, upon entering a room where several children have been misbehaving, will summon the oldest and demand answers. It is the oldest who bears greatest responsibility. In the same way God summoned Adam and demanded an account of both his sin and that of his wife. Notice that Satan reversed this order, approaching Eve before Adam in an obvious (and successful) attempt to disrupt the God-given pattern


  • The purpose of women: Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve. While feminists have made much of the term "helper," the fact remains that in any given situation, the person doing the helping necessarily places himself in a subordinate role to the person needing help. Yet helping does not remove accountability. While I may help my son with a paper route, the ultimate responsibility is still his. Eve's role, from the beginning of creation, was to be a helper for Adam. This does not by any means indicate inferiority, but a helper who was Adam's equal. She differed in ways that would complement Adam.


  • The conflict: A dire consequence of the Fall is the conflict it has introduced into the relationships of husbands and wives. In Genesis 3:16 God tells Eve, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." This desire is to interfere with or distort the role of her husband. The roles God gave to the husband and wife have been distorted through the Fall. Eve would now rebel against the God-given authority of her husband and he would abuse the authority to rule poorly, forcefully and even harshly.


  • The restoration: When creation is restored through the work of Christ we do not find an undoing of the marriage order. Were submission a consequence of the Fall we would expect Christ to "make all things new" in this manner. Instead we find that Christ provides power to overcome the sinful impulses of a wife against her husband and the husband's response of ruling harshly over her. But Christ does not remove the order of a husband being in authority over his wife.


  • The mystery: When the Apostle Paul wrote of a "mystery" he was describing something that was understood only faintly in the Old Testament but became clear in the New. In Ephesians 5:31-32 Paul shows that the ultimate purpose in marriage is to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church. "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." Dr. Grudem says, "Although Adam and Eve did not know it, their relationship represented the relationship between Christ and the church. They were created to represent that relationship, and that is what all marriages are supposed to do. In that relationship, Adam represents Christ and Eve represents the church..."


  • The parallel with the Trinity: The triune nature of God provides the perfect example of submission. "The equality, differences, and unity between men and women reflects the equality, differences and unity of the Trinity." We are blessed and honored to be able to represent that relationship in our marriages.

Challies makes some fine Biblical points here. The two cents I would add would be the role of a man, and how, to a certain extent, it’s our fault this is a controversy. I think this subject at hand has only become controversial because men have abused the principal of submission. There is no need for an explanation on this—we all know this is true in various ways and degrees. Men are to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church. I truly think that in a Christian home, if this is done correctly, the woman is confident, willing, and pleased to submit to her husband. In fact, if a woman is unwilling to submit to the husband, I would say it’s the general principal that the man has failed to show his love and leadership effectively (were all guilty to some extent).

If men would act like Men (in the Biblical sense), then women would not feel inferior, unloved, insignificant, and invisible; and discussions of this nature would not be “controversial.” A man needs his wife—Adam could not be happy without Eve as God stated, "It is not good for the man to be alone…”. In a Biblical realm, there is no lopsided relationship; and just as there are different roles in the Trinity, there is oneness; and for the two individuals in marriage there is oneness.

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4 comments | Saturday, February 11, 2006

In order to maintain a fruitful discussion when handling the problem of evil, several preliminary issues must be dealt with before one can effectively and honestly proceed. In this brief post, I will attempt to present these required clarifications. First, this is in no way and exhaustive attempt to address, or down play evil—if anything, this is for my own edification.


It’s pretty much a guarantee that some time during a conversation with a non-believer the “Evil exists; therefore, [the Christian] God cannot exist” objection will come up (or be thrown in your face). The objection can be genuine, but most of the time it’s used to dismiss whatever the current topic(s) that might be at hand.

In a slightly more formal formulation of this argument see below:

P1. If God exists, He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.
P2. If God is omniscient, He knows when any evil is occurring (or about to occur).
P3. If God is omnibenevolent, he would want to prevent all evil.P
4. If God is omnipotent, he could prevent all evil.

P5. So, if God existed, there would be no evil. (P1-P4)
P6. There is evil in the world.
C. Therefore, God cannot exist. (P5,P6)

There are several different ways to formulate this objection, but this is generally (in my experience) how it is presented, although in presentation—not as formalized.

Logical Possibilities

The non-believers objection seems to demand the logical impossibility of the existence of both an omnibenevolent God and evil. However, I don’t know that there is a good reason to think this is logically impossible. In fact, there is a logical possibility that it is the case that both exist. So, unless it can be explicitly shown that it is logically impossible, the very plausibly of evil and a benevolent God existing defeats the logical inconsistency.

Logical Probabilities

Though it’s not necessarily logically impossible for both God and evil to exist, one could argue that it’s not probable. Consider all the gratuitous pain and suffering that occurs in the world; millions of books could be filled with horrid accounts of disgusting torture and unnecessary suffering. As one accumulates the examples of these hideous things, it is easy to see why they measure the evils they see as an overshadowing to the possible existence of an omnibenevolent God.

I can not explain exactly why God does what he does, or allows what he allows, for I am not in the mind of God. Moreover, it’s difficult to give an all encompassing answer to the objector, because I don’t know exactly what is being put in play. I can say, however, that if the factors of evil are being relatively compared to the flavor of a good tasty bagel; surely the probability of God’s omnibenevolent existence will plummet. I am not saying that this is what is being done, I am just showing that depending of the variables that are in play; it will have a significant effect of the results of ones analysis.

Insofar as all the factors for the probability for Gods existence are appropriately applied, and compared to evil, one can confidently see that Gods existence is more probable than not—even when evil is taken into account (perhaps in the future, I can dedicate a complete blog post to this effect). When it is claimed that evil perils the probability of Gods existence, it can be asked, “What is evil relatively measure up to?”

Riddle Me This:

Without actually distinguishing between moral and natural evil, notice that P2 presumes that evil exists: “He knows when any evil is occurring.” This premise (along with P6) will only work if some objective form of “evil” actually exists. Bringing out this point can help isolate the issue. The best way to do this, it seems to me, is to ask a simple question:

(A) Is something evil because you say it’s evil? Or (B) Do you say something is evil because it IS evil?

The question is actually familiar to Christians, and often used (in one formulation or another) as a rejoinder to Gods moral nature (Euthyphro Dilemma). Nevertheless, the question helps get to the central point I want to discuss.

Evil is what I say it is:

Consider question (A) If something is evil because on says it’s evil; then it’s a matter of mere opinion. Question (A) makes evil a human convention that does not transcend the individual; thus, under question (A), evil does not exist. Therefore, P6 is effectively defeated if (A) is the standpoint. There’s really no way out of it; the argument against God due to evil only works if there is such thing as real objective “evil.”

It’s Evil for all people, all times, and all places:

This now leaves us with the latter, proposition (B): Do you say something is evil because it IS evil?

If (B) is true then evil is objective—or external to the individual; otherwise your stuck with proposition (A). Now, if evil can be identified as objective, a problem arises for the objector. Specifically, if evil is objective, then we must to give an account of its source. Insofar as we believe that real objective evil exists, we therefore have good grounds for believing that God exists. In fact, the very objection presupposes Gods existence.
Consider the following syllogism:

1. P presupposes Q
2. P
3. Therefore, Q

Or, we can also present this as logically equivalent to the following:
1. If P, then Q.
2. P
3. Therefore, Q.

Some will deviate from the propositions, or attempt to evade the question I pose by pointing out that the problem of evil is an internal inconsistency with Christianity itself, rather than a problem of their own (the objector). This is fine; however, the objector will have to effectively concede that the objection raised has nothing to do with their own dismissal of Gods existence, or has anything to do with their personal experience of evil in their own lives; because evil does not exist. However, even the charge of internal inconsistency fails to discredit Christianity, let alone the existence of God.

While one raises a problem of logical incoherence, or internal inconsistency they inadvertently argue for what they are arguing against. There is nothing internally inconsistent theologically with the “problem” of evil. However, it is not my intent in this post to argue for the theological consistency of Christianity and the way we observe the world today—including observations of evil.

Conclusion

I have attempted to point out that (1) The existence of both evil and an omnibenevolent God is logically plausible (2) The existence of evil does not necessarily surmount the probability of an omnibenevolent God (3) If evil is subjective the argument is immaterial (4) If evil is objective the objector has to give an account of it (5) There is no internal inconsistency with Christianity and the existence of evil.

In closure, the argument from evil can only be relevant if is meaningful, and it can only be meaningful if there is such thing as evil. What does this do for objector? It creates a dilemma—one that must be honestly examined. Though this could be much more developed, going through these key points is absolutely necessary to having a meaningful discussion about evil. There is really only one way to solve the problem of evil; we must stop trying to have God justify himself to us; but try to have ourselves justified before God. There is only one way to do this—through the Cross.

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0 comments | Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I recall a discussion that I had with some Jehovah’s Witness that frequent my door. One of the heated subjects that always seem to arise is the doctrine of the Trinity. Yes, the J_Dubs have some stock slogans up their sleeve; such as “The word Trinity doesn’t even show up in the Bible” and many others. In heated, I mean they become fierce; they have even rolled their eyes and snickered at me before. Of course, I am always apt to point out their obvious degrading gestures to which they quickly apply their red herring tactics.

Nevertheless, I was pleased to read Fred Sanders short remarks on The Trinity between OT and NT. While reading it, it brought to mind my fond memories of doorbells ah ringing.


In the fullness of time, the one God revealed that he eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of the Trinity is a biblical doctrine. But if you ask where the Trinity is clearly declared in scripture, you should take care to avoid certain common errors. One error is to dive immediately into prooftexting the doctrine by trying to locate verses which explicitly teach it.

[…]

Where in the Bible is the Trinity revealed? Not in the Old Testament, which looks forward to the revealing of the Son; and not in the New Testament, which looks backward to the revealing of the Son. It is revealed in the historical events that take place between the testaments, the events which fulfill the expectation of the Old Testament and provoke the writing of the New Testament. The Trinity is revealed when the Trinity appears in history, when the Father sends the Son and pours out the Spirit on all flesh

This explains why the New Testament almost offhandedly refers to the Trinity, presupposing it and never bothering to present it as a new idea. The fact that the Son has appeared for our salvation is behind every line of the New Testament, is the main point, is what’s New and what’s Testament about the New Testament.

[…]

The Trinity is in the Bible, not in the OT or the NT, but between them. “Between” does not mean in the intertestamental period of the Maccabees and such. “Between” does not mean the blank sheet of paper that divides the two testaments in your Bible. “Between” means in the central events on which all salvation history turns, the sending of the Son and the outpouring of the Spirit

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0 comments | Thursday, February 02, 2006

This seems to be an old debate recently published on the web by Frame.

The Subject of the debate is:

"How does one go about defining the Regulative Principle of Worship? The relationship of Scripture, our confessional history, and the contemporary audience."

For those who are interested, this is an informative exchange.

HT: JT (Between Two Worlds)

Link

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