Friday, November 25, 2005

Postmodernism and Thanksgiving

What are postmodernists thankful for anyway?

"The lack of grounds for any approach, centering, or categories has provided a valuable opening for critiques of the dominant approaches by feminism, anti-colonialism, and other liberating movements. But implicitly these movement go beyond critique, and beyond post-modernism which holds that liberation is impossible because some categories, distinctions and social controls will always again re-surround any liberating attempt, and also that liberation is not a ground for deciding anything. Going beyond these two tenets of post-modernism, can we articulate the assumption that we will and should use the demise of all categories to free people, rather than to justify Dostoyevsky's Ivan, or one's own "superior" culture, class, or "free" market economics?"
-http://www.focusing.org/apm.htm

I spent Thanksgiving with Nancy's relatives at her grandparents' place in New Jersey. Since there was no room at the "big table," Nancy and I ate at the "kids" table, which actually was just a seperate table with Bill, Claudia, Will, and Scott.

Bill - Nancy's uncle, in his 40's, teaches business grad students - including ethics
Claudia - Bill's fiancee, in her 40's (I think), teaches business grad students, liberal, pro-abortion, anti-war, pro-Kerry/Edwards, outspoken
Will - Bill's 19 year old son, genius, speaks authoritatively, laughs a lot and loudly
Scott - Bill's 17 year old son, smart, quiet, looks up to Will
Nancy - my beautiful wife, smart, believer
me - I'll let you decide.

So, early into our Thanksgiving dinner, Claudia starts letting us know her liberal, pro-choice views. Well, may God deal with me severely if ever I let that go unchallenged. So, I called her to task. We got into a polite but intense conversation about abortion which led to a conversation about ethics, faith, God. I certainly let my views be known, and I did so with kindness - which was probably the best that I could do, but I did not and do not feel real good about the situation. I would imagine that Jesus would have expressed more indignation. The Apostle Paul would have probably acted with more authority than I did. Isaiah probably would have preached about God's wrath. John the Baptist would have probably said, "Repent." I said, among other things, "Death is the wrong time to get a lesson in theology." Maybe I did handle the situation well. But usually, when it comes to abortion, I get more indignant. I did not this time, partially out of fear and partially out of a desire to keep peace during Thanksgiving dinner. This is probably idolatry for which I need to repent - even though 99 out of 100 "Christians" would probably say that keeping peace during Thanksgiving dinner is the winsome and wise thing to do.

Anyway, for better or for worse, we stopped the conversation. But thanks to Will, later we got back on a similar discussion. Will was talking about postmodernism. Will's intellect is amazing. He was analyzing in depth postmodern thought. I forget one of the precise statements that Will made, but he said, "Postmodernism rejects .... (something)." This, of course, is an absolute statement. So, I started bantering with him - essentially saying, "What about logic?" If postmodernism rejects absolutes, then asserting an absolute statement is a contradiction. When I pointed this out, the response was, "That's ok because postmodernism accepts contradictions."

Well, I was somewhat flabbergasted by this, but not surprised, and I expressed my thought that to accept contradictions is ridiculous. This led everyone into a deep conversation about postmodernism which in turn led to a conversation about Christian dogma. That these intelligent and educated people were seriously giving postmodernism authentic consideration is totally ridiculous, yet not surprising in this culture. But what was more troublesome was the pressure they were putting on people to give postmodernism that same consideration. How many times Will said, "We must..." or "You have to..." was humorous to me. If there are no ethical absolutes, then I do not have to do anything. There is no "must." But, we were not expercting postmodernism to be consistent.

To be fair, Will made it clear that he does not categorize himself as a postmodernist. He is too smart for that.

What was disconcerting was the political implications of postmodernism. If there are no absolutes, and postmodernism accepts contradictions, then how do you have an intelligent conversation about rights, law, ethics, and politics. True to contradictory postmodernism, the conversation about policy forming from the postmodern point of view was completely inconsistent with some of the theoretical abstractions and metaphors that had been previously discussed during dinner. That this worldview is as popular as it is, is really disconcerting because these people vote. How do you have courts without having a standard of right and wrong? How do you write law, if words hold no meaning? How do you presume to have rights at all, if this world is not real in the first place? How do you speak of the "greater good" of society, if goodness is subjective?

At one point of the conversation (and I think this bridged the conversation to a discussion of Christian dogma), I asked if people at that table believed that being open-minded was a good thing? I think Will was well aware with where I was going with this, and he did not immediately say, "Yes." But his dad did. So then I asked, "Are you openminded to the idea that a lot of your ideas are nothing but foolishness?" Bill said, "No." So, I said, "Then, you are a closed-minded person." Will responded to this with a big word that I did not know, but basically he said that my assessment was unfair and not true. (Of course, this implies that fairness and truth have absolute standards that both he and I know very well). He also began to suggest that I was being hypocritical because I am not openminded to the idea that Christianity is false. But then I made it clear that I never claimed that I was openminded, nor that being openminded was necessarily always a good thing.

Then, we got into a conversation about Chrisitianity. Bill expressed his problem with the dogmatic claims of Christianity and every other dogmatic religion. I explained to him that inasmuch as the doctrines, creeds, and assertions of other religions, philosophies, and worldviews are not all bad and wrong. Inasmuch as they are in agreement with Christian dogma, then they are right. But inasmuch as they contradict Christian dogma, they are wrong and damnable.

Nancy had some good things to say throughout the conversation, especially at this point. Nancy, with her wonderful sweetness showed Bill and the others that, as a professing Christian, I have to reject all doctrines that are in conflict with Christianity. I had pretty much said the same thing, but people were all the more eager to listen to Nancy. We balance each other out pretty well. Nancy is sweet and winsome. I am adament about sticking to sound doctrine.

This led to a discussion of divine revelation, and I, of course, asserted that I have had divine revelation, and that without divine revelation, you can't know the truth.

Ryan, Nancy's brother, also got involved in this conversation. I was glad to have the opportunity to witness to him. He seemed very open, and he seems to have a desire to read the Bible and learn more.

Scott also had some real interesting questions for me. We had a good conversation too.

Eventually, the conversation was brought to a close without any real awkwardness. We proceeded on to a friendly game of scrabble.

Father in Heaven, let your kingdom come, and let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Reveal yourself to Nancy's relatives. Draw them to yourself. Show them the depth of your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

17 Comments:

Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Hey Dan,

I read your blog. I kind of felt sorry for Nancy's "liberal" relatives as I think you took them by suprise by exposing the logical paradoxes and contradictions of "natural language". When you say if "you are opened minded" then you must accept a "closed mind view" otherwise you are not opened minded, well this is taking a person not well versed in philosophy by suprise and stumbling them. I can say "this sentence is false". Now what is it true or false ? if it is true then it is false and vice versa. These are logical tricks that expose the limits of language and logic, but you can't use them to empower your point of view because that is like cheating. There are no absolutes, not even the ones that doubt this sentence, in fact if you were sure you would not try to argue logically but then you use logic on and off and then say you have a revelation. Well I can say I have a revelation that all you say is false. Do you know if it is true ? You will never know just as I can never know what your revelation is. How can you be sure that your god is not speaking to you through me ? You will never know or be sure because only doubts and questions and uncertainty exists. Therefore your relatives are right and you are dead wrong!

Anyways matter-energy itself is very vague and may not exist at all so live it up while you can. Look into quantum mechanics. I had an absolute revelation that atoms don't exist. There are only small elvis presleys playing the guitar and singing and those are the elementary particles you humans think are atoms. Now my revelation is absolute truth.

You also say that a government should terrorize the evil doers. Well what should they do ? whip them ? shoot them , I don't get what you mean and I don't think it is a very kind or christian way to deal with evil people. You should love the evil people more than yourself!

Anyways, just to give you a real opposition and not that nimble one Nancy's relatives gave you. Have a nice hoilday,

3:20 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

ElvisfromEurope is my dear Uncle Joe from Italy. Please pray for him.

Joe says, "There are no absolutes."

OK, so then the word no is not absolutely, "No." In fact, it can mean "yes" or it could mean nothing at all or it could mean anything I want it to mean because logical paradoxes are so beautiful.

So, then the statement, "There are no absolutes" really means: "Yes, there are positively absolutes." After all, contradictions are cool - and words have no meaning unless I decide that they have meaning, in which case I am free to say that Christianity is false and wrong and evil.

Postmodernists love to play with language like this. Incidentally, so do I; its kinda fun. But at the end of the day, Uncle Joe doesn't want his daughters to be kidnapped, raped, and murdered. He might even go so far as to say that such actions would be sinful and wrong. He doesn't really believe, "there are no absolutes."

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

Dan,
As for the first half of your blog: You're right, you aren't Jesus, and you aren't John the Baptist, and you aren't Paul...(as I recall you're closest to Peter.) Anyways, with the exception of Christ, I think it is a lot to live up to, to expect yourself to be like all of those men. Christ himself didn't always portray the same emotions in every situation. His anger in the temple was cleary different than his attitude in other situations. That doesn't even factor in family. Anyways, my point would be - don't be so hard on yourself. You did stand up for what; who you believe in and I'm sure there is no doubt in their minds that you are a Christian.
I really respect you for your honesty and passion and it's awesome that you got the opportunity over thanksgiving. I'm sure Christmas will be another opportunity too.
Don't be so hard on yourself.

10:27 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

In defense of Postmodernism-- I think you overly equate it with nihilism.

Recognizing that absolutes rarely capture reality, that various aspects of reality are contradictory and confusing-- there's wisdom in that.

Accepting postmondernism doesn't mean we abandon laws or policies-- but it does mean we accept the possibilities that the justice system may rife with injustice, that laws may be unlawful, or that the greater good may be a bad thing.

Of course, I am openminded-- and wouldn't be at all surprised to find out everything i've ever thought is sheer foolishness.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

You won't often "hear" this from me, but it is good to be openminded - in the sense that we all have room to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. I applaud that.

Also, when I say that there are very definate moral absolutes; that does not mean that things are all simple. Very often, thing are complicated - kinda like calculus. Calculus is very complicated - but also absolute. That is what makes calculus so elegant.

I encourage you to read the rest of my blog. More importantly, I encourage you to read the Bible. Check out the Book of John. I pray that God will reveal himself to you.

Being openminded when you are not sure about something is a good thing. However, I would say that finding answers is very possible. I have found some answers (not all). For example, rape is wrong. I am not openminded to any idea, doctrine, or creed that says otherwise. Loving people is good; I am not open to any idea that says otherwise.

You are right to say that the justice system is filled with all kinds of injustices. Worse (or at least just as badly), when people say that there is no real right and wrong, confronting and exposing that injustice becomes very difficult.

God bless you. Seek and you shall find - when you seek with all your heart.

5:11 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Your proof of "absolutes" is based on a person's normal-automatic-biological reaction to something that is done against that person. So for example, you punch me, I will punch you back (and all other similar examples). The only thing that is "absolute" is the way we are biologically and mentally wired to react to wrong doings. There is no need to create a metaphysics, philosophy or religion about these situations. There is nothing interesting about how we automatically react to these situations. If anything, it shows how limited and hard-wired humans actually are. If you touch fire your hand will automatically retract. The normal civil laws of most countries are adeguate for all these situations. And chistians should actually love those who do wrong doings which is even more bizarre.

6:03 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan, you are right that some kind of absolutes must exist otherwise you couldn't say anything. The problem is that different religions-ideologies choose different sets of absolutes. Now how do they choose which set ? maybe through revelation or through logic or simply because it is fashionable or for aesthetic reasons. Thus you arrive at cultural "relativism". Anyways you are a good debater and would make a good lawyer.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Uncle Joe,

Thanks for the compliment.

Just a reminder: Even when we disagree, I still love you and am praying for you. I think you know that, but I'm making a real effort to model what I preach, and not just preach. The world is not hurting for a lack of preachers, but it is hurting from a lack of authentic Christians who will actually practice what Jesus preached. I fall way short of living up to the example of Christ. The call of God on my life is to truly love my neighbor as I love myself and even more - to love my neighbor as Christ loves me.

I really encourage you to read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. He is also the author of the Chronicles of Narnia series. The movie "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" (the 2nd and most popular book of the series) had just been made into a movie and just came out last week. Maybe you've heard about it. It is really big in the states right now; I'm not sure if has had success in Europe or not.

Anyway, the story is an allegory of the gospel, and it is great. C.S. Lewis, the author, was an atheist for a long time. He fought in WWI, and saw some ugly and horrible things - friends dying and everything. Later, he had several Christian intellectuals really challenge his thinking. Over a period of time and conversations with people like JRR Tolkien among others, he eventually came to faith in Christ. In "Mere Christianity" Lewis argues for the case of a God first of all, and then for the case for the God of the Bible. He starts his argument by pointing out that people of all races, cultures, social classes, and all times have been quarreling. He uses this fact to argue that there is a sort of standard or moral law that generally both parties agree on whenever they quarrel. Otherwise, he says, people might fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word - because when you quarrel, most of the time, you are trying to show that you are right and that your opponent is wrong. Well, that would just be nonsense if a real right and wrong did not exist.

So, Lewis argues that a real standard of right and wrong does exist and is imposing itself on us and secondly, we have all broken that moral law.

Then, he ventures on to what lies behind the law - and he argues that what lies behind the law has a mind and is therefore some kind of God.

At this point, he is still a million miles away from the Christian God of the Bible, but through such reasoning, he slowly but surely makes a strong case for Christianity.

I highly recommend the book. Lewis doesn't get everything totally right - but on the main doctrines of the faith, Lewis and I are in agreement.

As for quantum mechanics, I have to ask you: Do you have a real understanding of the intricacies of quantum mechanics? Or is your understanding more on the surface? It seems to me that someone who doesn't understand quantum mechanics can read some things about it, and then their minds can take off into the world of science fiction (which I know that you enjoy). That is fine; but then, to be truthful, you are now on the topic of science fiction, and not science. To make it seem like you are speaking from the viewpoint of science is not quite truthful. I'm not saying you have done this. I'm just saying there is a huge difference between a discussion about science and a discussion about science fiction.

The whole idea that the smallest of the sub-atomic "particles" are really tiny "elis presleys playing the guitar" is ridiculous. Furthermore, you don't really believe that; you are just being argumentative. If we are going to get anywhere in our discussion, then we need to be intellectually honest. I really believe the gospel. You don't really believe that sub-atomic particles are tiny Elvis Presleys.

By the way, I heard Elvis Presley's stepbrother preach before. He has quite a story. He had been messed up on drugs for a long time and his life was just a mess. And then one day, he was in church. He heard the gospel preached. As he put it: "The kid sat down, and the man stood up." He gave his heart and his life to Jesus Christ. And now he is a preacher of the gospel. Glory to God.

Also, before he got saved, he would talk to Elvis about this girl who kept telling him that he needed Jesus. Elvis' response: "She's right, ya know. You need to listen to her, Rick."

As for the government: The Bible has commanded justice. Loving people means protecting people. Protecting the masses means bringing the criminals to justice. It is not loving to the innocent to let the unrestrained workers of iniquity terrorize the people. The government needs to do justly. That is their God-given mandate.

God loves you.

5:21 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I disagree with a lot of you axioms, but your adherence to logic is most appealing.
---

True absolutes are always hard to come by, and dilemma and paradoxes abound. Take rape, for example. Rape certainly is upsetting and unpleasant, but is it always 100% wrong, under every circumstance? Is there any instance where rape might not be wrong? For example, is rape justified if the women are evil?

I would say no-- even the rape of the evil is still wrong. I'd hope most christians would agree with me. If you disagree however, and think the rape of the evil may in some cases be justified as divine retribution, then you have a "get out of jail" free card for the following dilemma. But if rape is an absolute wrong, we have to question whether god is absolutely good or whether certain parts of the bible are accurate recordings of god's will. Consider:

In the old testament, as the Israelites are conquering Canaan, they are regularly instructed by Moses and God to rape the captive virgins, who are to be considered spoils of war.

"And when the LORD thy God hath delivered [the city] it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee." (Deut 20:13).

"Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves." Numbers 31

(Deut 21:10, Judges 21:10 have similar themes)
-------

Of course, it's no secret that the old testament is full of things shocking to modern sentiments-- slavery, incest, rape, murder, pillaging.

I introduce them to show the problem with holding all three of the following points of view simultaneous:

1. God is all-good.
2. The old testament is flawless, error-free, literal truth, and divinely-inspired.
3. Murder and rape are wrong.

The old testament, on its surface at least, appears to condone all sorts of horrible things. If (2) holds, then God would appear to condone those things. If (3) holds, then it contradicts (1).

I've seen two main responses to this argument.

Reponse 1: "Even though the old testament seems to condone rape, murder, genocide, and other such evils-- it doesn't really, it just appears that way. While there are lots of quotes that seem to endorse sinful behaviour, those quotes don't really convey God's will-- they convey Moses' flawed human will, the Israelites sinful practices, or etc."

My reply: But if all the many many many quotes which seem to straightforwardly condone moral wrongs all actual have alternative meanings which aren't at all obvious.... then how can anyone quote from the old testament with certainty as to what it means. If the old testament is so obtuse that it would, at first glance, seem to suggest god condone's genocide, how can we be certain of the true meaning of any part of it? How can I trust the Leviticus 18:22 proscription against homosexuality in a book that would seem to condone killing every single male in various towns-- even children.

The second response I get is trickier, and brings up Platonic issues from the Euthyphro dialogue.

Reponse 2: "Whatever God commands IS good. This isn't the same as saying God only commands us to do things that are good. Rather, this say that something is good if and only if it is the will of God. Obedience to God is the only true good, and if God commands us to kill our neighbors or rape captives, then that IS good".

This is a logically sound position, but not a very satisfying one. How can we distinguish between Christians and Satanists, if their justification is "whatever my god wants me to do is the good thing to do". Holding this position seems to say that there is no real different between good and evil-- it's just a matter of whose team you're on. Good isn't really 'good' or 'loving' according to this view-- it's just 'obedience to the most powerful deity on the block'.

What do you think about all this?

11:07 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

very complicated indeed....

3:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

I am going to give a short answer for now; unfortunately, I don't have much time at the moment to address this.

It is my understanding that the Scriptures you quoted from did not endorse rape. You are assuming that keeping the women equals rape. While the Bible does not specifically condemn slavery, it does command just treatment of slaves.

Secondly, God used the Israelites as agents of His divine wrath on their ungodly neighbors. Also, God used the surrounding nations as agents of wrath on the Israelites when the Israelites were out of line.

The modern mind abhors this, and unfortunately I don't time now to explain this more fully.

However, God is just and merciful. He is holy - who kills on contact. He is also merciful. The cross is where justice and mercy meet. When Jesus died on the cross, God's just wrath against sin was satisfied, so that now His mercy flows freely to all who believe.

The Bible is God's word. I caution you. You are a mere man - a sinner. While you should love God with all your mind and ask hard questions (I always encourage that), be reverent. God is holy and awesome and just. You are not. So, it is not your place to sit in judgment over the Word of God. However, if you don't understand, I would advise you to ask the Author. Go to Him with your anger. He is big enough to handle it. But go to Him in humility. You are not God.

I will answer this more fully later. God bless you as you continue to seek Him.

5:34 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Hi marco, I just wanted to say that I have seen these kinds of debates often; I knew people who were "marxists" and would reason logically only up to a certain point, then they would revert to any number of irrational or non scientific, non proven pseudo affirmations of how capitalism was evil etc. Now Dan does something similar, he uses logic only up to a certain point then reverts to clear cut sentences like "my gospel is the absolute truth, how dare you use logic when talking about God" etc. In this case you really can't discuss the topic any longer, it is like take it or leave it, the world is "this" whatever "this" may be. Actually most debates on any topic end up in a similar way, as in the end each person chooses an arbitrary set of absolutes and values after which there is no longer any discussion.

4:33 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

This is an interesting philosophical problem and in Dan's favor I would like to add that in any direction you choose to start studying reality, you always assign some arbitrary assumptions-ideas-concepts and values and any starting point will always have some logical contradictions. So he starts by affirming the gospel-religion as absolute, and a scientist will start by assigning math- experimentation as absolute. Neither are completely free of contradictions although science at least has the lowest number of contradictions. But 1 or 20 contradictions does not mean one is superior to another, so any position is somewhat justified. The fact is religion has so may quirk details and assignments that anything similar can be equally valid and that is why you have Zen, Yoga, Freud, Marx etc.

6:47 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Well, people usually retreat from logic when the tough questions start, but I have hope it has more to do with time constraints than genuine irrationality.
---

I assume the logic for saying that "you may keep the women for yourselves" and "she shall be married to you under compulsion" doesn't entail rape is the following logic:

1. God is all-good. (Given: from faith)
2. The bible is the word of God. (Given: from faith)
3. Rape is always wrong. (Given: from my morality)

Therefore, without even cracking the cover, we can deduce the bible doesn't and cannot endorse rape, and if it SEEMS to endorse rape, we're just not reading it right. So while someone who doesn't know God might read "You make keep the captured virgins for your own use" and conclude they're to be raped, someone who fully understands God know that can't be what it means, because God would never endorse rape. Given statements (1), (2), and (3), that conclusion is totally logically sound.

---

So far so good, but look what happens when I use my own take on things to interpret Leviticus.

(1) God is all good. (Given from faith)
(2) The bible is the word of god. (Given from faith)
(3) Consensual homosexuality is not wrong, and in particular, killing someone because they're gay is very wrong. (Given from my morality).

Therefore, since homosexuality isn't wrong, I can know a priori that god can't condem it, and therefore, when Leviticus says "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death.", even though most people say that means homosexuality is wrong, I can conclude that we're misinterpreting it, and it must instead be.. perhaps condeming something else instead-- perhaps insulting men by calling them women.

The logic is the same, but most christians would agree with the first line of reasoning, but disagree with the second.

Perhaps they're point out that while Rape is an absolute, my moral assessment about homosexuality is in error.

But how do you know homosexuality is wrong? Because the bible says so.

But how do you know the bible says that? because homosexuality is wrong.
---

So what if there ARE contradictions and tautologies-- there's plenty of them in any extended belief system. True, true. But if i'm trying to decide whether buddhism is true or whether christianity is true, it's my job to look at these sorts of things and try to use my rational mind to figure out which religion, if any, is the true one.

More on this later.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco/Joe,

Joe - Not your last post, but the one before that seemed sort of smug. I have not "retreated" from logic. I did not give a great explanation of my position, but I also have not - in the least - panicked, threw up my hands, and responded with gibberish. In fact, I gave the best answer I could in about 3 minutes.

To the both of you (and the whole world): Rape is always wrong. No where in Scripture does God ever command anyone to rape a woman. That would be detestable. Our God is a God of love and justice.

However, God has commanded in the Old Testament a very tough justice system that includes capital punishment for certain crimes.

Homosexuality is wrong. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament is clear about this. In Israel, under Mosaic Law, homosexual acts were punishable by death. God is serious about the issue.

God invented sex. He designed sex to be between a man and a woman who love one another and who have committed their lives and their hearts to one another in marriage. God wants us to enjoy sex responsibly. It is good.

But the devil takes those things that are good and perverts them. Pornography, bestiality, rape, extra-marital sex, and homosexuality are all perversions of the kind of sex that God has intended for us to enjoy. The results are terrible: Broken hearts, broken marriages, divorce, bitterness, jealousy, the list goes on.

Let me make this clear: We are all sinners. I am not any better than a homosexual. I hate homosexuality, but I am committed to loving homosexuals, and helping homosexuals find freedom in Christ. I think that part of the problem, in many cases, is that our society has said that men loving men is not manly. This is a lie from the pit of hell. However, I am fully aware that while that objection might have held more water ten years ago, our society has gotten to the point where homosexuality is almost cool. This is rebellion against everything holy. This society needs to repent for celebrating homosexuality.

This society also needs to repent for celebrating heterosexual perversions as well.

To understand the harshness of God in the Old Testament, everything you read past Genesis 12 must be considered in light of the covenant God made with Abraham. See, in Genesis 11, the world was united against God. They wanted to make a name for themselves rather than to exalt YHWH. So, God, in His Sovereignty, came down and confused their languages and spread them over the world. He then picked one people - the Israelites - as a covenant nation. He blessed them and promised that through them all peoples would be blessed.

Gensis 12:1-3 says, "The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Here God established His covenant with Abraham. (This is the NIV translation by the way). Notice that it says "all peoples on earth will be blessed," and not "all people on earth will be blessed." God was saying that through Israel, all people groups - that is people from all cultures, languages, nations, races, etc, would be blessed. That was the point of the nation of Israel (although they quite often forgot that). This was God's plan of redemption. The people were united against God, and God has a plan of redemption.

But included in this promise is a promise to curse those who curse Israel. Those who curse Israel will be cursed. When God curses people, He doesn't mess around. In His justice, He kills people. In fact, He was about to kill Moses for forgetting the promise to Abraham, but his wife stepped in and saved his butt. (See Exodus 4:24-26).

God works all things out for His glory. Governments rise and governments fall, and through it all God is accomplishing His purposes.

Consider the 400 years of history between the end of the Old Testament and the coming of Christ. There was some crazy and some evil things that were happening. But it was in that context, "in the fullness of time" that "God sent His son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law." (See Galatians 4). Christ, a descendent of Abraham - to whom God gave His irrevocable promise - and yet who is fully God and existed before Abraham, came into the world, taught us the truth, died on the cross, and rose from the dead, so that many would see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrated His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Revelation 7:9-10 says, "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'"

Here, in these words of prophecy, we see the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12. People from all over the world will gather together on that great and glorious day to worship our great and awesome God. You do not want to miss it.

I hope this helps, but I know that it is far from a complete answer to your question. I have more thoughts about the issue, but it will have to wait. (lousy time constraints)

God bless you.

2:41 PM  
Blogger paprika said...

I can see that not much has changed you are always going to be a strong one and i can say that you have very much so encouraged me to shout to the rooftops that i am a christian and i know what God wants from me especially when i read his word i will pray for you to reach other students as you have me!
-w/much love
marie

12:16 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marie,
You make me very happy. I'm honored to have been your teacher and just to know you. Stay strong in the LORD.
I love you, kid.
Have a Merry Christmas!
And Long Live Aslan!
Dan

8:46 AM  

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