Thursday, April 22, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

God is impartial. Why would you agree or disagree with this statement?


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

If I understand the word impartial correct, it could be used for a judge. A judge must not be in too close a relationship (if any) to the accused. He must not have a pre-defined or in advance communicated opinion.

God seems to have some kind of relationship with mankind. He told his opinion beforehand: he loves us.

Does this make him impartial?

For me those things rather show his love and mercy, no impartiality. So even if it was a sign for it, I could perfectly live with it.

(Did I miss the whole thing?)

Greg said...

I was thinking of impartial as something like neutral. So no, you didn't miss the whole thing.

If we reflect on God as judge, he seems far from a neutral one, but do you think he should be? Would it somehow be better if he was neutral?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

that's what I tried to say with my last paragraph. God should not be neutral. If he was neutral, there would be no love, no mercy. And those we need, if we do not want to be sentenced...

Greg said...

Thanks. Good. If God is not neutral and therefore, might we say biased, or as you imply, too close to the accused, does this create problems for God being fair?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

I often wonder what fair(ness) means nowadays. People seem to miss the point if it comes to grace.

Let's take presents as an example. When I give a present to somebody, I have to give the same present to a coequal person. Otherwise I am not fair. Everybody has to be equal... And this leaves us without the real present, since the present turns into an obligation.

God is fair, even if he does not seem to deal the same with everybody (which the non-neutrality implies).

carter said...

Interesting spin. Satan is referred to in scriptural places as the Accuser, somewhat like a prosecutor. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate (from the French word for attorney). All have sinned. The penalty must be administered, but Christ has "paid" it. But there is more to impartiality than the "criminal" aspect of a Court. As the Lord told Samuel when he was seeking which of Jesse's sons to annoint, man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. The scriptural admonitions of justice in the books of the law and the prophets speak over and over of justice for the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the aliens as opposed to tipping the scales in favor of the rich and/or powerful. At the same time, God admonishes not to favor the poor merely because they are poor. God loves impartially. Or did I miss the point?

Angela said...

God loves everyone equally and pours out his
love and forgiveness on those who come to him,
as Lukas was saying.

Yet this idea of God as a neutral judge would imply
that we can be whoever we want to be and have
license to do whatever we want and God will judge
us impartially. This seems to show a lack of care
on God's part. He has designed us well and intends
us to be prosperous for his purposes. Therefore,
his compassion is heightened by his NOT being

Greg said...

True. Most of the time fair today connotes equal treatment for everyone. But is there no obligation for God to consider this notion of fair? Is God free to impose a bias it whatever way he wants?

Greg said...

Thanks. Good thoughts. You suggest that God loves impartiality in terms of a balanced treatment. While this is true in some cases, there are others where God seems notoriously biased toward, for example, Abraham and Sarah, Israel, and against the Pharisees and Scribes.

Greg said...

Thanks. Helpful insights. If God's compassion is heightened by his not being impartial, would it be accurate to say that God is compassionate because he is biased?

carter said...

Greg--your response opens a door of issues that I have wondered about recently, especially intercessory prayer. As far as the scribes and pharisees, I don't think God was against them as scribes and pharisees, but against the abuses of their position. As for Sarah and Abraham, hmmmmm . . ..

Sisyphos said...

Why does the word partial (from part) has the negative connotation of unfair? I think being partial is a problem if being partial is not a characteristic towards the just/rightous whole.
If a partial act goes against the whole or does not have the whole as the goal or even conceals from the whole, then it is unjust and in negatively partial.
God is acting partially towards the just whole

Greg said...

In the case of some of the Pharisees and Scribes it seems like God is biased against those who refuse his bias to critique them when they go their own way and his bias to therefore accept others.

Greg said...

Thanks. So there is a negatively partial and a positively partial?

Sisyphos said...

Maybe it is somehow inappropiate for the discussion how I concentrate on the meaning of "partial" as derived from "part" in opposition to "whole". If you had used "neutral" or "just" I could not have responded in this way but when I saw the word "im-partial" this association came to my mind and I tried to work with it.
Gods part-ial acts are hard to understand sometimes. They seem to be arbitrary and inconsistent. For example his part-ial concentration on Israel seems to be unjust/negatively partial.
We have to hope that the divine part-ial actions are targeting a whole not yet being wholly actualized, which transforms the part-whole configuration in the world in a just and redemptive way - that they are positively partial.

Greg said...

True. The notion of impartial is more a question of being or character that it is act per se. Yet, of course, act is connected to both.

If I get your drift, you want to say that God's seemingly partial actions towards Israel would be negative if they didn't have a total (whole) target. Should we be able to hope for the whole (total) of God's partial actions this would make them positive.

I wonder if the criteria of whole is itself just and if so on what grounds?

Sisyphos said...

Well, the whole I would think is described with metaphors like gehenna, heaven, new Jerusalem, shalom.
I am not sure though whether this addresses your question.

carter said...

Angela's last comment raises the very question that paul asked in Romans: because I am forgiven and grace abounds, why can't I just sin all the more since it makes the grace factor greater as well?

Greg said...

Well, I was wondering if you thought that the partial that doesn't have a whole in target is always unjust - negative. If so, on what grounds?

Seems to me that even the metaphors you mention will be somewhat partial.

Greg said...

Paul's rhetorical question about sinning to increase grace is met with the response, to his primarily Jewish reader in Romans, no way. Grace accepted changes orientation, identity, and destiny. For sin no longer has dominion because of the work of Christ and being in Christ, not under law and therefore under the releasing power of grace.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Greg: Is God free to impose a bias it whatever way he wants?

No. I mean he is not able to do it in every way, since he is just/righteous. But yes, since you bring in his will. As the sovereign Lord of all, he is free.

And yes, I think he is free indeed. Because he will not damnify anybody. As we are all sinners - as carter stated - justice would mean penalty/separateness from God. Yet God offers salvation. This is highly biased. But it is great. Why should he not be free to do so? And why should anyone not want him to offer it (i.e. to be biased)?

Why would anyone want an obligation to be fair/neutral/unbiased?

Greg said...

Good questions and thoughts. I agree. God is biased in many ways an free to be so. Were he not bias he would not be the God of Scripture.

Is being just/righteous a bias?

In answer to your last question, I would say this was a major part of the Enlightenment - modernism, which demanded a detached and pristine evaluation of the facts in order to make a judgment.

carter said...

Greg: in response to your response to my last comment: I know that.

As you reply to some of these posts, are you giggling?

carter said...

Go back to the original question: We have a god who cannot be confined much less fully comprehended. To a degree God is very biased. Why else would he stoop to raise us up? To a degree, he is very unbiased: he loves us all and offers grace to us all. It is astounding to me that those two facets of God are one.

Sisyphos said...

It seems that my comments are not helping the discussion. I will try to describe it in other ways: Gods actions sometimes are so difficult to understand (for example when he demands that six descendant of Saul should be hanged or when he demands that little girls and toddlers should be killed with the sword or with stoning) Those partial acts go against our understanding ... how can we trust this God. It could be the case that those stories are describing a real, just God but it is also possible that they are just the projections of a nationalistic, primitive nation trying to rise and survive. They seem to be unjust and ridiculous.
Therefore the metaphors of shalom and heaven and judgement provide another more wholistic target.
More wholistic because it is not just about Israel but about all humans and nature.
The description in the Apocalypse seems to be more wholistic than the partial exclusive care for Israel (which could be more likely just a projection).

Greg said...

Interesting way to put it, but I have a question. Are love and grace unbiased?

Sisyphos said...

And as I described above: it is interesting that being part-ial is considered to be something negative - that it has the connotations of unjust. The part and whole configuration is an old philosophical configuration (words are part of the whole of a sentence and the sentences are a part of the whole of a text and the the texts are a part of the whole of a genre or of the whole of the works of one author). Now I tried to bring this neutral part and whole configuration into play with the word "partial" which appearently has a negative connotation. In doing so I tried to point out that Gods part-ial actions seem to be partial but
that there is a promised whole whoch goes beyond the part-ial difficult actions of God and sheds light on those part-ial actions and shows that they are part-ial but not necessarily have the negative connotations of unjust.
Why? Because those part-ial acts are trying to create and actualize a wholistic vision of God which is manifested in the future present metaphors of heaven and shalom.
The whole of the divine part-ial actions are not understandable without this target, without those metaphors (washing away tears, the wolf next to the lamb).
His part-ial actions in the past and the presence are trying to actualize a future which is not yet completed.
So: is God impartial? No, because although the scriptural part-ial actions might give this impression since they go against our understanding of justice, Scripture also talks metaphorically about a whole which is understandable to everyone and which manifests justice and peace to everyone.
To take his past and present part-ial actions together might leave us with a confusing whole and therefore we need those future metaphors.
Well, the question was asked very broadly so I took this route.
And I was a little bit black-and-white because not all part-ial actions of God are not understandable or seem to be unjust.
Anyway, I hope this makes sense. Otherwise, thanks for the critique - it helped me articulating and thinking

Greg said...

I see your point. And I don't object. I was just thinking about the requirement for the whole target to always be necessary for God's partial action to be positive. Maybe it is indeed sometimes the case, but do you think it is always so?

Sisyphos said...

Always? Maybe no but in general: Yes
How could we trust God otherwise? If we dont see that his actions are targeting this described whole - how could we either trust that he is not a projected war God of Israel or an evil spirit?
Or am I demanding too much transparency in your opinion?

manuelkuhs said...

I'm joining the conversation a bit late but I read most of the comments so hopefully what I will say will make sense...

I think Scripture teaches clearly that God is perfectly just and that he is never partial in his judgements:
"He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both [are] abomination to the LORD." Prov. 17:15
"[He is] the Rock, his work [is] perfect: for all his ways [are] judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right [is] he." Deut. 32:3

Furthermore, he is called the judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25).

So I think it is important to maintain that God is completely just. He never, ever "winks" at sin or overlooks it, and He never, ever condemns a righteous person. He is perfectly just.

This means that every sin has to be punished. The wages of sin is always death. And either a human will pay that punishment himself/herself in the eternal lake of fire, OR Christ Jesus took that punishment upon Himself so that God's justice is now satisfied.

This is the only way in which God can forgive sinners. And this is the meaning of Romans 3:25-26:
"Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

In order for God to forgive us, there has to be a BASIS for that forgiveness since God is a just God. This basis is that Christ paid for the sins of all who believe, so that God can forgive them without compromising His justice.

carter said...

Greg: in answer to your question whether love and grace are unbiased: of course not. On the other hand, they are offered to all without bias. That is why I said that the two facets are one.

I appreciate the questions, by the way, that Sisyphos raises. Thank you, Greg, for not pretending that there are simple answers to such looming issues.

Greg said...

Thanks for these thoughts. I'm not convinced that the Proverbs passage is talking about God. Do you see it doing so? Seems like it says: Anyone who approves of the wicked or anyone who condemns the just are equally unacceptable to God. If that's the case, it would simply to underline that God is not impartial. Far from it.

Well, do you think that God's being just is some neutral state? Not likely. God is partial. He does not judge from some aloof or disconnected point, but from his bias towards sin and justice.

I agree that forgiveness needs a basis and, of course, the work of Christ take place in the context, first of all, of Israel. He is willing to take on the covenant curses, not only for Israel, but so the KOG can arrive, bringing redemption to those outside Israel.

In the last part of your comment. I think I would want to say that Christ dies for the sins of the world (everyone), not just for those that believe. If so, then forgiveness is offered to all unconditionally. The sole condition is that it be accepted.

Greg said...

I agree. I like the way that you state it: that God's grace and love are offered to all without bias. And maybe, we could add that this is the case because God is bias.

Sisyphos said...

So ... the answer to the denial of ethics could be: yes, I am biased - whatever science tells us, whatever ontology tells us ... I am biased and choose justice and love?

Greg said...

A denial of ethics would indeed be addressed by and connected to ontology, epistemology, science, and Scripture. But, not whatever they tell us. Each has an informing capacity for particular settings in a dialogue. So, yes, our biases are both there and also can be shaped by the informers to ethical ends.

manuelkuhs said...


Regarding Proverbs 17:15: WHY does God hate the justification of the wicked and the condemnation of the righteous?

It is because of who He is. He is light, and in Him there is no darkness.

You are surely not seriously suggesting that God would justify the wicked and condemn the righteous? If so, then there could be saints in hell and demons in heaven...

My point was that God can only justify wicked sinners by Jesus paying the penalty for their sins.

If God was partial and simply able to forgive sinners without justice being satisfied, then why did Jesus need to die?

Also you said "forgiveness is offered to all unconditionally. The sole condition is that it be accepted." Surely this is a total contradiction?

Greg said...

Just back. Well? How about this? To be just is to be partial or bias, not neutral.

Forgiveness is unconditionally conditional and that's not a contradiction. Think about it. God's offer for forgiveness extends to all, but all do not accept the offer.

manuelkuhs said...

Scripture is very clear that God is "no respecter of person", that is, He is not partial or biassed (Deu. 10:17; 2Ch 19:7; Act. 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; Jam. 2:9; 1Pe. 1:17). The only way He can treat some people (believers) different to others (unbelievers) is through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. But this is not partiality because justice is perfectly justified.

I can't believe you're trying to convince me that "unconditionally unconditional" is not a logical contradiction. That's like saying something is a sort of blackish-white. Or imperfectly-perfect. Or righteously-unrighteous.

If salvation is offered to all on the condition that they believe, then salvation is conditional.

I don't really understand some of the things you say but to me it's very clear that the Bible says God is "no respecter of persons".

Greg said...

If you look carefully at just one of your Biblical proof texts, notably Dt 10:17, you can read earlier in the paragraph about God's bias to Israel, and of course this is before Christ arrives. The point of the passage you cite seems to be that God is trustworthy: cannot be bribed and is not partial (as Israel might be) in his execution of justice for all - therefore Israel should love the stranger and treat them justly as God has done so for them. Consequently, God is always just and never unjust and this shows that God has a bias to justice. This means that God does not waver in being just, yet it is important to not discount God's love which surpasses justice.

I wrote that forgiveness was unconditionally conditional, so you must have misread. No contradiction here.

But, of course, not everything is black and white. Christians are a people of color.

God is no respecter of persons in that they might have some claim on God (Rm 2 is all about Jews doing this), but God so loved the world that he sent his only Son.

manuelkuhs said...

Dear Greg,

I think I am getting confused - apologies. You say that God is not partial in his execution of justice - with which I agree and which is my whole point. But then you say that God is biased towards Israel. Obviously He is biased towards them in that He loved and chose them above all the other nations. But this does not mean He treats them with a different measure of justice. He doesn't merely "turn a blind eye" to them - because He must punish sin.

The whole point of the Gospel is that God has to punish sin (we are all sinners) and the only way anyone can be saved is through the death of a substitute - if God could simply ignore His justice for certain people then there would be no need for Christ. But through the substitutionary atonement of Christ God is both just and the justifier of the ungodly. And through the offering up of Christ God showed to the whole world that He was perfectly righteous and that His justice was met in the forgiveness of the sins of His people (Rom. 3:25-26).

I am not sure what you mean about everything NOT being black and white. "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5. That things aren't black and white is what postmodernists say - meaning that everything is relative, things cannot be known certainly, etc.; I presume you mean something else by this.

Also, God doesn't offer forgiveness to everyone. First, most people die without ever even hearing the Gospel and the promise of the forgiveness of sins - how did God offer it to them? Second, whenever the Bible promises the forgiveness of sins it is only offered/promised to those who believe, e.g. John 3:16b: "whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". The command to repent and believe is given to everyone who hears the Gospel. But salvation is only promised to those who actually repent and believe. Both the command and the promise for those who obey the command must be preached to as many as possible without distinction.

Also, it is pretty clear in Scripture that Christ didn't die for everyone - e.g. if He died as a substitute for the sins of everyone, everyone would be saved. If "world" in 1 John 2:2 meant "every single person ever alive" then Jesus would have "propitiated", that is, made a covering for the sins of everyone - and everyone would be saved. There are many instances in Scripture where "world" clearly does not mean every human being, e.g. Luke 2:1; John 7:4; John 12:19; Acts 17:6, etc. The meaning of this world must therefore be identified from the context and from the rest of Scripture - since "Scripture interprets Scripture". If Jesus is the Saviour of all men (1Ti 4:10), "all men" cannot refer to everyone either because Scripture clearly teaches that not everyone is saved.

Greg said...

Well, let's try to clear things up a bit. Of course this is not always easy through blogging, but here goes.

Yes, I think you have a notion of partial that is not mine. As I see it, God is just because he has a bias to be just. He is not a neutral agent, but one who has predispositions that commit him to a course of action. God, I don't think, can do anything he pleases because he has made promises that he will do certain things and not others. So, God as revealed in Scripture, is a God who is bias and this is never hidden or seen to be something wrong, as if neutrality was an asset.

Are you sure what you mention as the "whole point" of the gospel is accurate? Seems to me that the good news is that Jesus has inaugurated the KOG - fulfilling the OT (true, dealing with sin and the offer of forgiveness are part of this, but there is far more going on than merely individualistic salvation), which carries significant connotations that God is King of the world, and the good news is about the expression of this kingship in Jesus and all that it means, first for Israel, then all humanity, and the cosmos.

By the way, there are more, and even perhaps better ways, of talking about the atonement than penal substitution.

And this brings me to the black and white. As you readily acknowledge the word "world" doesn't always mean the same thing. Matter of fact there are at least 8 possible meanings for the Greek word kosmos in the NT. What happens to black and white? True, the context often helps to discern which one of the 8 is referred to, but there are still 8 possibilities.

Furthermore, and perhaps more relevant, is the truth that everything is not black and white. Such a statement is not postmodern as you suggest, but Christian. Neither everything is B&W, nor everything is relative, are possible for us as knowers. We are dependent knowers and we don't have enough information to have exhaustive knowledge. Our knowledge is sufficient, not complete. Not sure what you have in mind with "known certainly."

Why could not God's offer of forgiveness pertain to all, even if all won't accept it or don't have the opportunity to hear about it? If forgiveness is unconditional, then its offer is not dependent on the condition of it being heard about or received. But the unconditional offer does not mean all would be saved or forgiven because the other dimension is conditioned by a response. Forgiveness therefore, is unconditionally conditional.

manuelkuhs said...

Hey Greg,

Yes writing things can always lead to misunderstandings:(

I certainly don't want to fight over words, so if you mean by "bias" that God has a "bias" toward justice and is not morally neutral, then I certainly agree with you.

The Apostle Paul taught that Christ's substitutionary atonement, marked as complete and successful by Christ's resurrection, is of first importance:

"For I delivered unto you first of all [that is, of highest importance, see other translations] that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" 1Co. 15:3-4

And regarding the kingdom of God Paul said, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).

There are "better" ways of talking about the atonement than penal substitution? Please do explain.

If by saying not all things are black and white you mean that we do not know all things, then I again agree with you. But it remains true that God is light and in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). The Scriptures are a light (not darkness) to our feet and a lamp (which shines light not darkness) for our path. The things that God has revealed in Scripture belong to us and our children, and He wants us to understand them; the things He has not revealed in Scripture (such as the exact date of Christ's return) is not for us to determine (Deu. 29:29).

The fact remains that God has NOT offered forgiveness to everyone since many have died without ever hearing the Gospel. For example, you cannot claim to have offered Caesar Augustus money - because you weren't alive at his time, you did not interact with him - you could not have made the offer. In the same way, because many died without hearing the Gospel, they did not hear the offer made in that Gospel - therefore, God did not offer them forgiveness.

To say that God offered forgiveness to people who died without hearing this offer is absolutely meaningless. It's like telling your wife who just cleaned the whole house herself that you offered to help with cleaning the house when in fact you never said a word about this to her. She'll probably call you a liar.

Please show me from Scripture where God offers forgiveness to everyone.

You said, "If forgiveness is unconditional, then its offer is not dependent on the condition of it being heard about or received." However, your logical implication ("then...") does not follow from the proposition ("if..."), since in the proposition you deal with "forgiveness" and in the implication you deal with something different (the offer of forgiveness). The following would be correct:

"If forgiveness is unconditional, then FORGIVENESS is not dependent on the condition of it being heard about or received."

In other words, if forgiveness is unconditional for everyone, then everyone will be forgiven - because it is unconditional.

If you love someone unconditionally, then you will certainly love them - becuase the love is unconditional.

If you say you love someone unconditionally, but then you stop loving them because they were mean to you - you did not love them unconditionally. Or at least you stopped loving them unconditionally. Your love became conditional.

Greg said...

Ok. I'll just pick up on a few things. Forgiveness existed before the gospel ever came into time and space. In the OT sacrifice was instituted so that Israel might be forgiven and this is far from meaningless. But through the gospel forgiveness is extended to every tribe and nation in an unconditional manner - you don't have to be an Israelite - offer sacrifice - go to the temple - keep the law. The only condition is that you accept the offer. My thought is that the gospel is available for all, but that does not mean all will hear or accept it, though it's still available. Likewise for forgiveness, which is now tied to the gospel.

Either - or thinking, where not warranted, will lead you down blind alleys. Try a both-and perspective sometimes. It may open up the truth and not close it down.

On the atonement, I would suggest that you can do a little reading on this issue: Kevin Vanhoozer has a worthwhile essay in a book titled The Glory of the Atonement. He has some good references there for further reading should you be interested.

manuelkuhs said...

I might check out that book sometime. I was more hoping for a simple answer from you...

I'm disappointed you didn't reply with any verses from Scripture. Can you give a single verse in which God offers forgiveness to every single person?

Also, the Bible is clear that the Old Testament sacrifices had ZERO power to grant forgiveness:

"For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Heb. 10:4

The rest of this chapter clearly explains that the sacrifices merely pointed forward to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ by which He made atonement for sins once for all.

Greg said...

I'm afraid there are no simple answers for the atonement and if you do a little reading about the discussion going on, it might help you understand some of the complexities. After all, it's important for Christians to realize that there are different and sometimes more biblical ways of formulating things than they might be aware of - the notion that it's just me and my Bible can actually be not only a sign of arrogance, but equally ignorance.

Again, I would make the connection that if the gospel is offered to all, then so are God's love and forgiveness - of course in the context of the appearance of the good news. Another way of saying this is, it's God's grace. By the way, the Bible is not merely of book of proof texts that one can use as a tool to prove one's point. If so, the Bible can never challenge one's theology (and you do have a theology), because one already knows exactly what the Bible says. The Bible, however, has to be read not only for ourselves, in that this may promote sinful practices, but against ourselves so that one might see the blind spot in one's own eye. This is the reason I have not, for the most part, met you on the proof text ground, but more on the theological one. To deal with the Bible in a credible manner, we would have to look deeply at the context of each of the verses you throw out to try to determine if they are actually saying what you say they do. This is a matter of good interpretative practice and proof texts are often, though not always, far from that.

I find it inaccurate to appeal to Hebrews to say that sacrifice amounted to nothing. Animal sacrifice covered sin in the OT, so that people like Abraham, Sarah, David, Jeremiah and many thousands of others could continue to be in God's presence as God's people. True, animal sacrifice does not finally deal with sin, but it was instituted by God to make a temporary provision for forgiveness that counted for God and the people.

manuelkuhs said...


First, I totally agree with you that the "me and my bible" attitude is not only arrogant but ignorant. God has promised to lead the whole Church (and not individuals) into all truth, and this includes the Church of the past. This is one of the reasons I subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity as a faithful summary of the Scriptures. These are creeds which were formulated during the Reformation.

However, just because "me and my bible" is wrong, this in no way minimizes the fact that Scripture is the ONLY rule of faith for believers and the final authority in all matters of doctrine.

It remains that throughout this discussion you have simply given your opinions and referenced one book, and have practically never actually engaged with Scripture. Maybe I misunderstood; I presumed you were an Evangelical who was interested in what God taught in the Scriptures; I just looked through the entire thread and apart from my quotations of Scripture you referenced in passing 2 passages and that was it (nobody else in this entire thread appealed to Scripture). It seems you are not interested in what Scriptures say (at least this is the impression you have given). I think people reading this thread will get the same impression. You have been merely philosphizing and even though I twice asked you to give a Scripture proof for what you were saying all you did was tell me to read a book. You have excused this by saying that things are not "black and white" and insinuated that these issues (i.e. the Bible) is much more complicated. I pity Christians who are not intellectuals if that is true. Thankfully it is not.

manuelkuhs said...

To be quite honest I really don't care that you "find it inaccurate" that I appeal to Hebrews that the Old Testament sacrifices "amounted to nothing". First, I did not say they were meaningless (they pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ and thus helped the faith of OT saints who were saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone just like we are). Second, GOD (not me) says in Hebrews, ""For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Rom. 3:25 further clarifies that it was through Christ's sacrifice that God forgave the sins of OT saints.

I did not want to say this as harshly, but I will now:

When you said, after me pointing you to Heb. 10:4 TWICE, that "Animal sacrifice covered sin in the OT", you called God a liar. God says, "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins". I don't think God could say it any clearer. And the context is talking exactly about the meaning of OT sacrifices. These sacrifices were merely "types" and "shadows" of the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ which is what the OT saints trusted in.

Now I am sure you will give me some more of your high intellectual stuff about "oh the context of Hebrews" and "oh you should read this and that book" - but if you cannot yourself prove this to me, I submit there is something deeply wrong.

I was hoping for some good, edifying discussion of what Scripture teaches. Until you are ready to discuss what Scripture teaches, as opposed to telling me that things are not black and white and that I should read such-and-such a book, my discussion here is over because I am wasting my time.

P.S.: My position that the OT sacrifices did not take away sins but were merely shadows and types of Christ's sacrifice is the position of all Reformed churches (see e.g. Belgic Confession Article 25) and so this is not merely "me and my bible". My position that Christ did not die for every human being is equally the position of all Reformed churches (see Canons of Dordt).

Greg said...

I have tried to re-direct your proof-text approach to the Bible a couple of times by pointing to context. Your reactions are, sadly, to say God wrote Scripture and therefore what you say God says. What this amounts to is you can never be wrong and if that's the case then I will not try to convince you otherwise. Let me just say that those who take this kind of attitude toward their own views, do not really have a high - evangelical view of Scripture.

I fear that you have again misunderstood me. In your last response you even include my term "covered" in regards to the God instituted practice of animal sacrifice in the OT. I never said that these sacrifices took away sin, but that they were God's way of covering sin so that he could remain in a relationship with his people Israel.

Manuel, I strongly suggest that you become a more careful reader, not only of my words, but of the biblical text that you seem to say you hold in such high esteem. This text is very important to me, but I just read differently than you do.

Greg said...

In response to your recent comment. Yes, I'm afraid I'm one of those evangelicals who is interested in worldview, theology, culture, politics, philosophy, art, and the Bible. And yes, I believe the Bible is a complex book for a complex world, but if someone asks what they need to do to be saved, it is very simple - believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to say that I'm saying Christians need to be intellectuals then that is not the case. I do believe, however, that it is important for Christians to be able to engage with ideas for the sake of a valid testimony to Christ and on behalf of and out of love for the other.

I know that you may not further waste your time here, but I suggest that you reflect on your understanding of "proof." I have no idea what you mean by this term. Maybe it's, the Bible says it, you believe it = proof. I don't really know. At any rate, it might be worth thinking about.

carter said...

Manuelkuhs said: "I just looked through the entire thread and apart from my quotations of Scripture you referenced in passing 2 passages and that was it (nobody else in this entire thread appealed to Scripture). It seems you are not interested in what Scriptures say (at least this is the impression you have given)."

I have to say, he missed much. I have waited a while to respond so that my response might be measured.

So many take the scriptures literally, but they do not take them seriously.

carter said...

That may have been a bit harsh--therefore, not measured.

Greg said...

Thanks. You make a valuable observation and draw a useful conclusion.

manuelkuhs said...

Carter: Care to specify which Scripture references I missed in this thread? Also, care to offer some pointers for how I don't take Scriptures seriously? I certainly am a horrible sinner who struggles with sin everyday, but I don't see how a principle of mine of not taking Scripture seriously has manifested itself in this thread...

Greg: You earlier said, "animal sacrifice does not finally deal with sin, but it was instituted by God to make a temporary provision for forgiveness that counted for God and the people."
To say that OT sacrifices made a "temporary provision" for sins is to say that they "temporarily" took away sins. How could God (even temporarily) forgive a sinner apart from a (temporary) payment of sin being made? So I don't think I misunderstood you.

Regarding "proof" I am not sure exactly how to understand what you said.

I believe: If the Bible says it, it is true. Call me simple if you like. I have in the past misinterpreted the Bible and have changed my views on several issues. Nonetheless, when I have studied an issue in the Bible and come to a conclusion, I must obey that conclusion - unless someone shows me it's a wrong conclusion.

I don't see any other way of doing it.

Greg said...

No, I do think you misunderstand. To take away is not the same thing as to cover over - the blood of bulls and goats, at least from an OT perspective, covers over sin. And if it does not function this way, I don't think that God could have remained in the presence of the people of Israel. God, after all, is the one who instituted this type of provision.

The Bible says not to wear mixed fibers. Do you? The Bible says to treat your slaves well. Do you? The Bible says many things, but what it says and how we interpret what it says and then how that is to be applied, is also a question of reading carefully. By the way, even the accounts of the resurrection don't recount it in exactly the same way - interpretation would seem to have to be factored in - even to the biblical text itself.

I'm glad that you don't want to give up what's biblical - if in fact it is - unless someone points you to a more biblical perspective.

carter said...

manuel: i ask your forgiveness if i have offended you. however, this blog is not the time or place for a war of words. you accusing greg of calling god a liar is most offensive to me. you have ignored much of what was scriptural but that had no specific reference to book, chapter and verse.

but finally, i ask your forgiveness for using this forum and saying that you took it literally but not seriously.

carter said...

Greg and all other bloggers: I apologize to you as well.