Friday, February 15, 2008

America still works, and will in the future


Michael Lind: (Hat tip to Matt)"...even in more normal times there are three ubiquitous myths about America that make the country seem weaker and more chaotic than it really is. The first myth, which is mainly a conservative one, is that racial and ethnic rivalries are tearing America apart. The second myth, which is mainly a liberal one, is that America will soon be overwhelmed by religious fundamentalists. The third myth, an economic one beloved of centrists, is that the retirement of the baby boomers will bankrupt the country because of runaway social security entitlement costs.

America does, of course, have many problems, such as spiraling healthcare costs and a decline in social mobility. Yet the truth is that apart from the temporary frictions caused by current immigration from Latin America, the US is more integrated than ever. Racial and cultural diversity is in long-term decline, as a result of the success of the melting pot in merging groups through assimilation and intermarriage—and many of the country's infamous social pathologies, from violent crime to teenage drug use, are also seeing improvements. Americans are far more religious than Europeans, but the "religious right" is concentrated among white southern Protestants. And there is no genuine long-term entitlement problem in the US.


The US suffers from healthcare cost inflation, a problem that will be solved one way or another in the near future, long before it cripples the economy as a whole. And the long-term costs of social security, America's public pension programme, could be met by moderate benefit cuts or a moderate growth in the US government share of GDP. With a linguistically united, increasingly racially mixed supermajority and a solvent system of middle-class entitlements, the US will remain first among equals for generations to come, even in a multipolar world with several great powers...
"

An absolutely brilliant analysis of the United States and it's future.
The numbers and thoughts on immigration are compelling and a breath of fresh air. The current and future state of the church is worrisome for a Evangelical Christian like me, but not terribly so.
Social security, while I disagree with it as a program, will still be ticking when I'm a grandfather.

Excellent read, one that dwells on the real situation, rather then the pessimistic view of the world that we find ourselves with, mostly because we live in the news cycle of the day.

(Under_the_mercy, I will be replying to your last comment soon, but not tonight. Thanks for being a civil and well versed blogger.)

66 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

It is a great article, though it is written from a somewhat more 'liberal' perspective than your own.

Have a great weekend.

under_the_mercy said...

Hmm, seems they are forgetting the dropping value of our dollar. After all, inflation is basically impossible to cure except by a recession or depression.

Daniel said...

Hello again Palm boy. It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to read your blog. Good to see it still going strong.

I guess I’m going to have to disagree with you on the economic part of this article. The housing market is very bad. Our dollar is weak, 76.03 on the USDX, or in terms that someone like me would understand, is trading equal to or a little lower than the Canadian loonie. The U.S government owes (officially) $9,291,899,089,252.55, although I have repeatedly heard the figure $55 trillion (that’s with a “T” mind you) in total debt, including entitlements, social security, etc. Here is another interesting site called The National Debt Clock. It keeps a running total on how much we owe. This guy I have been reading for the past year-and-a-half seems to be right on most of his predictions most of the time. I hope he’s wrong here. Oh, and by the way, I think I heard that social security was going to be bankrupt by 2040 or there-a-bouts, baring some major reform.

Sorry for taking such a pessimistic view on this but this is how I see it. I probably won’t be able to answer any replies because of lack of time, but feel free to rebut anything you can.

Under_the_mercy, the only way to virtually eliminate inflation is with a currency backed by a precious metal of some kind (e.g. silver or gold).

Off topic but I couldn’t resist. As Ron Paul will apparently not be winning the Republican nomination, I will be voting for the Constitution Party candidate in November. I would recommend stopping by and taking a look.

Daniel said...

Off topic again, but I thought this was hilarious.

SolaMeanie said...

We also mustn't leave out the possibility of God doing something in judgment on the country. That could throw a spanner in the works real easily. And lest we think it can't or won't happen, remember that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego got carted off to Babylon with the rest of the nation.

I just wanted to be a Puddleglum today, LOL. I'll try to be more cheery next time.

under_the_mercy said...

Daniel thanks for your post, I totally agree. My post was actually referring to inflation once it was allready in place.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Maybe this is bringing up theology, but I dont believe God judges nations in the present day.

God's wrath is reserved until the end times.

God's government of the earth cannot be seperated from his dealings with Israel. At present, in the times of the Gentiles, those governmental dealins are suspended and God allows the nations to determine their course.

God will not pour out His judgement on America or any other nation until those days before Christ's return.

God Bless

Matthew

SolaMeanie said...

Matt,

Maybe you could email me your reasons for thinking so. I am genuinely curious. I know of nowhere in Scripture (or better yet, can't think of a place off the top of my head) where it says God will not judge a nation prior to Christ's return. I'd be interested in the discussion, although it's off topic here.

Perhaps I could post something about it on my blog in the next day or two, and we can get a larger discussion going on this.

In the meantime, blessings to you, and praying for Robert's healing from pneumonia!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

How would you know it if God did judge a nation?

Daniel said...

Read Deuteronomy Chapter 28. The Law (non-sacrificial of course) is still binding for believers today. No, we are not saved by the law, but how else do we know how God wants us to live? America richly deserves God’s judgment from what I can see. Can any one here who is honest with themselves think of any reasons why God should NOT judge us? Many of the Deuteronomy 28 judgments have come upon us already, and it looks like there may be more coming. Hope this helps.

Sorry to hear about the pneumonia Palm boy and I’ll be praying for a speedy recovery for you.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel
I don't believe the law is for believers today, but that is too big an issue to go into here.

If some disaster were to happen to America, on what basis could we legitimately claim it was God's judgment?

Daniel said...

Matt,
The way your statement sounds to me is similar to the Deists, only that you are saying that after Jesus died and rose again, God stepped back and let the world go. It also sounds like you said that He will not interfere again until Armageddon. As I said before (and you have probably noticed), my replies will probably be sporadic, so if you’ll be patient with me, I’ll try to answer your questions.

In answer to your question, look back to Deut. 28 again. The latter 53 verses describe what happens when God judges a nation. First, we have to look, has America broken God’s laws? Yes. Our sins include murder (we just had another shooting on an Illinois collage campus), abortion (same as murder), and homosexuality, to name a few. So we richly deserve God’s judgment, have the curses started yet? At least a few have. Deut. 28:22b-24 describe major drought. Anyone here recall that drought in the southern states? I think they are still having problems. Compare verses 12b+13 with verses 43+44. After WWII, the U.S. was the largest creditor nation in the world. And now? We are one of the largest debtors on the planet. Like you said, this topic could go on for a long time so I am going to cut it short. Hope this helps.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, Deutoronomy is a message to Israel before she entered the promised land.

What in chapter 28 leads you to the conclusion that the principle it outlines applies to Gentile nations?

under_the_mercy said...

I'm not sure but I think I might be seeing a basic missunderstanding here. I think the question presented is whether both the old testament and new testament laws are binding to the Christian today or just the new testament laws.

I have heard both arguments frequently argued and personally succribe to the latter.

Daniel said...

Matt, sorry for being so long in getting back to you. I guess I’m going to have to flip the question. Where do you read that the Old Testament does NOT apply to Christians? Does that mean that Exodus 20:1-17 are the ‘10 Commandments’ for Jews and the ‘10 Suggestions’ for Christians? Remember Christ said in Matthew 5:17, 18, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Has everything in the Old Testament been accomplished? I guess I just don’t see your Biblical reasoning and so I don’t know how exactly to answer your question.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, so I take it you are circumcised, you keep the Biblical feasts and you never eat a bacon sandwich?

The Mosaic law is a system. You cannot seperate the parts of it that you want to keep from the parts that you dont. The principle that we find in Galatians is clear that we are not under the law. Rather, we are to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matt

Daniel said...

Matt, Christ’s death on the cross did away with ceremonial law. The Law basically had two parts. One part was God’s commands for the Israelites; the other was what they had to do when they broke God’s commands. Do you think that we should basically throw out the Old Testament as it is irrelevant for Christians today? Remember, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable….”

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"The Law basically had two parts. One part was God’s commands for the Israelites; the other was what they had to do when they broke God’s commands."

Where do you get the idea that the law was in two parts?

"Do you think that we should basically throw out the Old Testament as it is irrelevant for Christians today? Remember, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable….”"

The law as a system was for Israel. However, we can benefit by studying the Old Testament as it reveals God's character.

Daniel said...

Matt, the two parts were the ceremonial, or sacrificial law, and the non-ceremonial law. The ceremonial law dealt with anything concerning sacrifices or the tabernacle/temple. The feasts were also under the ceremonial law. This part of the law pretty much just pointed to Christ. As our once-for-all sacrifice, we no longer need the blood of lambs, bulls, and goats. The non-ceremonial law deals with how God wants us to live. Unless God stated in the New Testament NOT to do something that was recorded in the Old Testament, it is my belief that we are still bound to do it.

By the way, how do you reply so quickly? I’m just about ready to give myself a pat on the back if I get back to you in 24 hours and it seems that your replies are just about instantaneous. Hmm. Maybe I’m just slow.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, maybe I reply quickly because I dont think about my comments carefully.

Can we look at Galatians 5?

3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Is Paul talking about the ceremonial or the non-ceremonial part of the law?

Daniel said...

Matt, if that’s your version of not thinking carefully, than I had better stop now before you start thinking.

Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, circumcission was the sign of the covenant.

Paul here tells us that the person who gets circumcised puts himself under an obligation to keep the whole law.

Do you think he is talking about only the ceremonial law or the parts that are non-ceremonial?

Daniel said...

Matt, that would be the ceremonial part. They were trying to do faith + works and to a certain extent earn their salvation.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, do you not think that 'the whole law' is a peculiar way of referring to only the ceremonial part of the law?

Daniel said...

Matt, not when you keep in mind that we should be keeping the non-ceremonial part anyway. He’s basically saying ‘ok, so you want also to keep circumcision in order to get to heaven, then you have to keep everything else, from the feast days, to the sacrifices, to the dietary laws, and everything in between.’ They were trying to add circumcision to Christ’s work and Paul was showing them the error in their thinking. By the way, do the Ten Commandments still apply to us?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, all of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament except the Sabbath. Breaking those commandments is not consistent with living life in the Spirit, though the Christian is not under law as a system.

Your claim that the whole law' means only the ceremonial part seems pretty radical.

Can you mention any other passages where 'the whole law' means only the ceremonial part?

Daniel said...

Matt, the whole law is referring to both parts of it. Paul is saying that if you want to include circumcision, than you have to include all of the law. We are not required to obey the whole law, just the parts that tell us how God wants us to live, i.e. the non-ceremonial part of it. And we are still required to obey the Sabbath law, albeit on Sunday, as that is the day Christ rose from the dead.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, I agree with you that the whole law that is referred to here includes both the ceremonial and non-ceremonial aspects of the law.

However, this creates a problem for your position. You see Paul's comment here presupposes that the law is one indivisible unit.

His argument is that if a person tries to keep part of the law, then he is obligated to keep the rest. It is one system.

He might just as easily have said "Every man that keeps the Sabbath is a debtor to do the whole law."

The argument of Galatians is that the believer is freed from the law as a system.

If you try to keep any part of the law, you put yourself in bondage. You must keep the whole law, and that includes circumcission, the dietary laws and the feasts. Keeping the law makes one a debtor to do the whole law.

In place of keeping the law, to which the believer is dead, the apostle Paul urges the Galatians to walk in the Spirit and thus avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Paul nowhere exorts the Galatians or any other body of Christians to keep 'the non-ceremonial part of the law'. Such a concept is foreign to his theology.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Daniel said...

Matt, Christ’s atonement paid the penalty for our sins. We now no longer need the blood of bulls and goats to cover our sin. You’re saying that none of the law applies to us. So now what is sin? Where do we find what sin is? Are tattoos ok? What about profanity? How are any of the fruits of the spirit contrary to the law? There are those who say ‘we should only obey the spirit of the law.’ The law says ‘thou shalt not commit adultery. Christ said ‘who ever lusts after a woman commits adultery with her in his heart.’ Ouch.

I Have Galatians 5 in front of me, and I’m not seeing what you are seeing. We are to obey the non-ceremonial part of the law, and the Galatians wanted to add circumcision. Paul then countered by saying that if they wanted to do that, then they had to obey ALL of it, including the sacrifices, the dietary laws, etc. We do not have to obey those laws. We are under grace. Our obedience to the law should come from a desire to please God and to do His will. Your viewpoint, also known as antinomianism (or anti-law), is actually a fairly recent doctrine. It is defined as ‘The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.’ This viewpoint started to take hold with the advent of Arminianism in the late 16’th and early 17’th centuries, although it can be traced back to a British monk named Pelagius around 400A.D.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, your statements on church history are not factually accurate, but I will not go into that.

Where in Galatians does Paul draw any kind of distinction between the ceremonial and non-ceremonial parts of the law?

under_the_mercy said...

"salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace"

I believe that position would be Calvinist, not Arminian.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Under the Mercy, I think both Calvinists and Arminians would claim to believe that statement, though they would mean different things by it. I am neither. I think both Calvinism and Arminianism have significant problems.

Daniel said...

Matt, either you are not getting what I’m saying or I’m not getting what you’re saying. I’m going to shoot off a few verses on the law and you can tell me what you think.

Romans 3:27-31 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

What law do we uphold, and why do we uphold it?

Romans 7:7-13 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Apart from the Law, how do we know what sin is?
Galatians 3:1-5 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Here is the Galatians’ problem. They were trying to earn their salvation. They wanted faith + works. Doesn’t work. Galatians 5:2 says Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

Galatians 5:3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

We are not required to do anything in the Law that was to be done by the Levites, as Jesus is our high priest and has fulfilled the sacrificial law.

A side note. You say you disagree with both the Calvinists AND the Arminianists? Please explain.

Daniel said...

Under_the_mercy, I was referring principally to the ‘belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral’ part. I myself am a Calvinist and I believe that we are saved by grace through faith, apart from anything we could ever do.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, the first thing I will say is that in none of the verses you cite does Paul draw any distinction between the 'moral' and the 'ceremonial' law. This distinction has been dreamed up by theologians.

Romans 3:27-31

When Paul talks about upholding the law here, he is not saying that we are to keep it. He is dealing with the issue of the faith that justifies apart from the law.

Christ's sacrificial work establishes the divine authority of the law in satisfying it's penalty. Thus, justification apart from the law does not nullify the law.

"Apart from the Law, how do we know what sin is?"

This is an important use of the law. The conscience also points to the reality of sin, but as you correctly point out, the law has also has this role.

"Here is the Galatians’ problem. They were trying to earn their salvation. They wanted faith + works. Doesn’t work. Galatians 5:2 says Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all."

Certainly Galatians establishes that the law cannot justify.

However, Galatians is just as much about sanctification as it is about justification. Paul identifies walking in the Spirit as the means of sanctification, not law.

There is nothing in Galatians to indicate that keeping the law has any part in sanctification, just as it has no part in justification.

Galatians 5:3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

Indeed.

However, if a person aspires to keep any part of the law, he is under an obligation to keep all of it. Part obediance is not obediance at all.

"A side note. You say you disagree with both the Calvinists AND the Arminianists? Please explain."

That is another topic all together and I would rather not go into that now.

There are different forms of Calvinism and Arminianism. And not every Christian necessarilly falls into those two categories.

I tend to lean more towards Arminianism on predestination, but I acknoledge there are some problems with the concept of free-will.

I strongly agree with Calvinism that believers are eternally secure in Christ, but I cannot agree to any of the Five Points of Calvinism. I think Calvinism has big problems in proving its teaching from Scripture.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

under_the_mercy said...

"I strongly agree with Calvinism that believers are eternally secure in Christ, but I cannot agree to any of the Five Points of Calvinism."

That would be one of the five points.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

UTM, no.

Its TULIP not TULIE. Perserverance goes beyond simply being eternall secure in Christ and holds that all believers will perservere in faithfulness until death.

Holding to Eternal Security does not necessarilly entail believing that believers will perservere to the end. The New Testament affirms in many places the possibility of failure and apostasy on the part of a believer.

While believers are eternally secure in Christ and can never be lost, there are temporal (chastening and premature death) and eternal consequences (loss of inheritance and rewards) for disobedience in the Christian life.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

under_the_mercy said...

I would be interested in hearing where you got that information from. I personally did somewhat extensive research on the subject during and after my slow conversion to calvinism and have never heard that definition before.

Daniel said...

Matt, sorry I’m taking so long in getting back to you, and I’m not going to be able to tonight either. One thing I will say is that under_the_mercy is right, ‘Perseverance of the Saints’ says that we are eternally secure in Christ.

If you would be so kind as to briefly outline your views on the Calvinist/Arminianist debate, I won’t comment either way.

Daniel said...

Under_the_mercy, what definition are you referring to?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, I get into lots of debates on Calvinism on the group blog Unashamed of Grace. I am not keen to get into another one here.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Under the Mercy, I agree that all Calvinists believe in eternal security. However, Perserverance goes beyond this.

The best way to understand Calvinism is to look at the Westminster Confession:

Of the Perseverance of the Saints

'I. They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.[1]

II. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father;[2] upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ,[3] the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them,[4] and the nature of the covenant of grace:[5] from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof.[6]

III. Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins;[7] and, for a time, continue therein:[8] whereby they incur God's displeasure,[9] and grieve His Holy Spirit,[10] come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts,[11] have their hearts hardened,[12] and their consciences wounded;[13] hurt and scandalize others,[14] and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.[15]'


As you can see, the confession affirms that believers are eternally saved, however, it also maintains that they will perservere unto the end and remain in a state of grace.

In the last clause, it acknowledges that believers may backslide, however, it maintains this is 'for a time' and thus Calvinists hold that true believers will repent of their backsliding before death.

To the contrary, I maintain that believers may backslide permanently and apostatize, though they be eternally secure in Christ.

God Bless

Matthew

under_the_mercy said...

I see nowhere in the text you mentioned that a believer will repent before death. the phrase "for a time" could just as easily be reffering to a period of backsliding on earth ending with death and heaven.

I have personally read Calvin's Institutes and know many calvinists, and I can assure you that your interpretation of the calvinist position of perserverance of the saints is not widely shared.

Labeling the Westminster Confession of Faith as the best way to understand calvinism is sketchy at best. The term didn't even come around till after Arminius gathered a following and started pushing his ideas.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Under the Mercy, I only wish you were right.

If you want I can find you some quotations to support what is meant by Perserverance.

I have attended a Calvinist Baptist church. I have read Berkhof, Grudem, AW Pink, JC Ryle, Calvin and many other writers.

I am perhaps a little perpexed that you do not understand Perserverance the same way.

Perhaps you could define what you mean by the term 'perserverance'?

Daniel said...

Matt, sorry I’ve been so long in getting back to you.

Perhaps I have been approaching this conversation the wrong way. So let me ask a question. How do we know how God wants us to live?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

By reading the Bible.

We look carefully at the commands that are given. We have to consider them in the context of the progressive unfolding of God's dealings. However, regardless of whether every command applies to us in the Christian dispensation, every command reveals something about the character of God and is therefore for our edification.

God Bless

Matt

Daniel said...

Matt, does all of the Bible apply to us? Is the Old Testament anything more than a history lesson for us? Does a command have to be repeated in the New Testament to apply to us Christians?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

If there is a command in the Old Testament that is not repeated in the New Testament, one would need to look at who this command is given to.

If the command is specifially given to all mankind and there are no indications in its context that it had a temporal limitation, then it would apply to Christians.

However, there are many commands in the Old Testament that were given to particular individuals, particular groups of people and to the nation of Israel.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matt

Daniel said...

Matt, would you please explain what you meant by ‘If the command is specifially given to all mankind and there are no indications in its context that it had a temporal limitation, then it would apply to Christians.’ Could you give me an example?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

You asked me about how I would handle a commandment that was mentioned in the OT, but not the NT.

Are there such commandments?

I think you need to provide the examples here.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

A command would apply if:

1) It was clearly given to all makind without limitation.

2) It was not related to particular historical circumstances.

Daniel said...

Matt, how about Leviticus 18:23? It says “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.”

Deuteronomy 22:5 says “A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” This one I don’t recall being in the New Testament, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Leviticus 19:28 says “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”

And need I mention the various laws regarding marriage?

If you need any more let me know.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

These commands are part of the law of Israel, which is not given to the Gentiles. You would not seek to obey many of the commandments that this law contains, such as not wearing garments made of two materials.

However, this law reflects God's holy character and many of the laws have their foundation in absolute moral principles.



“Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.”

As a command, this is given to Israel.

There is no universal command to all men not to do this thing. However, that does not mean it is permissable.

The consistent teaching of Scripture is that there is a right form of sexual behaviour and sexual immorality.

Romans 1:25-26 makes clear that God is utterly opposed to wrong forms of sexuality.

It is not clear from verse 26 of Romans 1 what form of sexual immorality the women were involved in, but it is highly possible that it was bestiality.

The ultimate teaching of Scripture on sexuality goes back to Gen 2:24. This shows that true sexuality is the marital act.

We can be sure that bestiality is wrong because it is contrary to what the Bible presents as a portrait of right sexuality and also because nature shows us that this is abnormal behaviour.

"Deuteronomy 22:5 says “A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” This one I don’t recall being in the New Testament, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong."

This is a command given to Israel.

Does this mean that it is okay for men and women to cross-dress?

I would strongly argue that cross-dressing is wrong because of the fundamental distinction between man and woman.

The distinction between man and woman can be seen in God's dealings and in the order that is given to the Church for its activities.

God has made men and women different and recognising this is central to a right understanding of humanity.

We should therefore look with great suspicion on men wearing women's clothes and women wearing men's clothes.

We must also recognise that some garments that a man might wear would be contrary to NT commands for women to be modest in their dress.

The problem for Christians today is that clothes change their significance in different cultures.

It is not always easy to distinguish what is male and what is female.

It is vitally important for Christians not to fall into the trap of making man-made laws about dress.

For instance, is it okay for women to wear pants (or trousers to us British)?

Most Christians would say yes.

Other Christians would suggest that pants are immodest on women because they give away too much of the shape of the woman's abdomen and I have some sympatht with that view.

This is a matter where a Chrsitian must make a judgement using her conscience.

"Leviticus 19:28 says “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”

This may have been given to prevent the Israelites from adopting some pagan custom. Or it may have been to prevent tbem from becoming too much like their neighbours.

So is it okay for Christians to get a tattoo?

Some Christians would say definitely not because our bodies are made in the image of God and tattoos would defile them. But then is it wrong for girls to pierce their ears?

Another argument against Christians getting tattoos is that they present a negative image. Christians should not be associated with loose living.

On the other hand, it may be becoming more socially acceptable to have tattoos, so it might not be such a bad thing.

We have no commandment in the NT not to do this. Therefore we must not forbid our brethren from doing such a thing.

This is a matter that must be treated like meat sacrificed to idols.

We are at liberty to get a tattoo, but we must not do so if it would offend our brethren or if it would compromise our Gospel witness.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Daniel said...

Matt, you do realize that your arguments are for the most part, ‘based possibly on this principle and on what I feel to be true, this is wrong.’ Is it not easier to say, ‘God said it so it is wrong’?

What would you say regarding Leviticus 20:10-21, where it talks about different sexual relations with various people in you immediate family? Verse 17 says ‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off before the eyes of their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.’ That’s one man and one woman marriage. Is it ok now?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, the word fornication that is used in the New Testament can mean fornication. It seems probable that where the word is used in the NT, the writers included incestuous acts.

I think the importance of sexuality in human life and in Biblical morality give us good reason for thinking that these laws on relations reflect God's moral absolutes and are universal in scope.

The law against brother-sister incest is supported by both biology and the custom of many cultures.

Do you think that Christians today must obey Deutoronomy 24:4?

"her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."

Is it permissable for a man to re-marry his former wife after she has had sexual relations with another man?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

By the way, Daniel. where do you think Cain got his wife?

Daniel said...

Matt, I’ll answer your questions in reverse order. Cain’s wife was either his sister, nice, or even possibly his grandniece. In answer to your unasked question, I was unaware that the law was written at this point in history.

On Deuteronomy 24:4, unless you have found a command in the New Testament that would negate this, than I would have to say no.

Here in the US and Back when the KJV was written, fornication means ‘voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.’ Do you have a different definition of the word in England, or is there another definition of the word that I am unaware of?

Where do you find these ‘absolute moral principles’? What makes you think that they are absolute?

All of these answers that you have given me, with the possible exception of the cultural explanation for the tattoos, can be traced in the end to yourself as the final authority.

This site should give some food for thought.
http://reformed-theology.org/ice/newslet/be/be.12.79.htm

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"Cain’s wife was either his sister, nice, or even possibly his grandniece. In answer to your unasked question, I was unaware that the law was written at this point in history."

So it was okay to marry one's sister then?

That is very interesting because it means that the law of Moses does not correspond 100% with God's moral absolutes.

It means that the law does not apply to everybody in every time and circumstance.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, with regard to the word 'fornication', this English word is used in place of the Greek word 'porneia' which can mean incest.

Daniel said...

Matt, one has to ask why God put that law into effect. God gave that law when close marriage started to become dangerous. Adam and Eve had no mutant genes and their children had very few, thus close marriage was fine. Come the time of Moses and the Exodus, their genes had degenerated enough that those types of relations were dangerous. As with many of God’s Laws, it seems to have been put into place to protect us.

With regard to the word ‘incest,’ what does it usually mean? We must be very careful when trying to strain a word to get a particular meaning.

Ufda, I just noticed that out of 59 comments, the last 51 have pretty much been you vs. me on whether or not the law is still applicable.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, when used in Jewish literature, the word porneia could mean relations that fell within the Levitical prohibitions.

"As with many of God’s Laws, it seems to have been put into place to protect us."

So the believer finds herself in the position of having to determine which parts of the law are necessary to protect us and which parts are part of your 'ceremonial law.'

Essentially you are in the same position as I am.

You must make an interpretative judgment as to which parts of the law are in the moral law and which parts may be regarded as ceremonial.

God Bless

Matt

Daniel said...

anielMatt, I don’t pretend to be a language expert (because I’m not), but I’m pretty sure that ‘porneia’ is Greek and the Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew.

The parts of the law that are ceremonial are the ones that have to do with the sacrifices or the tabernacle/temple. They are the ones that became unnecessary because of Christ’s death. Christ is our atoning sacrifice and we no longer need the blood of animals to cover us. The believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we have no need for a temple. The only other laws that we no longer have to obey are the ones that we are specifically told that we don’t have to (e.g. the dietary laws).

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel,
"Matt, I don’t pretend to be a language expert (because I’m not), but I’m pretty sure that ‘porneia’ is Greek and the Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew."

You are missing my point. My point was that references to fornication in the NT may include sex within the forbidden degrees of Leviticus.

"The parts of the law that are ceremonial are the ones that have to do with the sacrifices or the tabernacle/temple."

What about the laws about the purification of women after menstruation as found in Leviticus 15?

Do Christian women need to go through the period of uncleanness?

Daniel said...

Matt,
‘You are missing my point. My point was that references to fornication in the NT may include sex within the forbidden degrees of Leviticus.’

Like you said, ‘may.’ Is your position strong enough that you can be dogmatic on the subject? Can you say ‘GOD SAID’ without a shadow of a doubt that God said it?

Lev 15. I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply, but it is a good point and I will have to look into it.

May we eat meat with blood in it?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Daniel, the Scriptures in totality are clear that brother and sister sexual relations are sinful. This conclusion does not depend upon quoting that verse in Leviticus.

"Lev 15. I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply, but it is a good point and I will have to look into it."

I have never heard any preachers telling Christian women to keep those rules. I would love to hear a sermon like that at my church!

In seriousness, to be consistent with your position that only the dietary and sacrificial laws are not in force (and I presume the judicial regulations of the law that are not in force in our countries) it would seem that you need to apply this law today.

Otherwise you are in the messy businness of having to make a judgment about whether this fits in the 'moral' or 'ceremonial' law.

What about clothing rules?

Do you refrain from wearing mixed cotton + polyester shirts (Deut 22:11)?

Do you wear fringes on the four quarters of your clothes (Ceut 22:12)?

As regards eating blood, there are some who share my position on the law who would refrain from eating blood on the basis of the Noahide Covenant and the Acts 15 ruling.

Personally, however, I believe blood is permissable. I think Jesus' principle in Mark 7:15 indicates that in principle, nothing external defiles a man. I find it significant that Paul never refers to the Acts 15 ruling in deciding the question of meats sacrificed to animals.

One of the things I have noticed about Christians who abstain from blood is that they are never consistent about it.

They refrain from eating blood sausage, but that is it. They dont drain blood from meat, they eat meat in restaurants that probably contains blood and they eat burgers and sausages.

If you are going to abstain from blood, the most consistent thing to do is to only eat halal or kosher meat.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matt

Daniel said...

Matt, how is the New Testament totally clear? I don’t see that it is on this subject.

Like I said, your Leviticus 15 point is a good one and I will look into it. I am not going to be dogmatic one way or the other. It might not apply because of Mark 7:14-23 and similar passages, but I’m not sure. I’ll also have to look into whether or not ‘clean and unclean’ apply today at all.

The ceremonial law was the part of the law that had to do with the temple, sacrifices, and priesthood. In essence everything that had to do with atoning for sin. Every thing that Christ’s death on the cross made unnecessary. The moral law shows how God wants us to live our lives.

The clothes one I’ll have to look up as well.

Whoever said that eating meat with blood defiles a man? God said don’t eat meat with the blood in it in both the Old and New Testaments. You want to know the best way to avoid eating meat with blood in it (other than becoming a vegetarian)? Cook the meat all the way through. Don’t eat your meat rare, medium rare, or even medium. Medium well can be cutting it close, but it generally has all of the blood cooked out of it. Eat your meat well done, you’ll be obeying God, and you’ll be greatly decreasing your chance of food bourn illness.

Why would blood be a problem with sacrificial animals? Paul was addressing whether or not it was ok to eat animals that had been sacrificed to idols.

How would you justify capital punishment?