4/15/15

From Jim McGuiggan... The death of a tyrant

The death of a tyrant

The ancient Greeks told stories of Sisyphus, the cunning founder of Corinth. For making fools of the gods of the underworld he was punished to labor at a hopeless task. He was to roll a huge block of granite up a high, very steep hill and roll it down the other side. Each time he got the huge stone to the pinnacle his strength was gone and it rolled back down to the bottom. It wasn't just the effort that bathed him in sweat and exhausted him completely that made the punishment intolerable, it was the 'almost but never' aspect of it. Had he believed, without doubt, that it was beyond him, the torment wouldn't have been so exquisite but coupled with the endless failure was the conviction that this time he could manage it.
Exodus 14 tells of Israel trapped between the Red Sea and the most powerful army in the world, between an insurmountable obstacle to freedom and pitiless tyranny. In response to their despairing protests Moses assures them God will deliver them. “You see these Egyptians?” asked God (14:13), “you will see them again no more, for ever!” The waters opened up for Israel and closed to bury forever the army of their bitter oppressor. The text tells us that Israel looked at the dead bodies of their once feared tormentors and believed in God and Moses. Finally! Those who picked their bones clean, those who bled them white were dead! 'You will never see them again' said God. Whatever they had to face in years ahead-this battle was won and it would remain as a prophecy, a promise that nothing was beyond their hope!
Years of torture and generations of humiliation—ended. How many rebellions had been planned and come to nothing? How often had they turned their eyes heavenward in despair? The hope born in youth would often die in old age. Optimism and cheerfulness would have been replaced in a nation's heart by grim submission and a sullen endurance. Then with such speed and finality the tyranny was obliterated and the years of bondage were forgotten in the joy of liberty as they gaped on the corpses of their oppressors on the shores of the Sea (Exodus 14:30).
And has "the Exodus" no message for the world at large? Is there any aspect of biblical teaching more eagerly sought than the message that the God of all the earth hates oppression, punishes oppressors, takes note of the weeping of the poor and exploited? That the Lord of all the earth will right all wrongs? Israel wasn't just lucky that their God happened to hate cruelty and felt the pain of the defenseless. No, Israel's God is the God of all humans and they all need to hear that he is as opposed to their tormentors as he was to Israel's! This is the one true God we must take to the nations of the world who (often in desperation) have turned their eyes to lifeless idols or dark and savage deities.
Well bred and well fed secularists sneer at a message which has become too familiar to them but which has laid the foundations of their freedom and prosperity. Theologian Clark Pinnock protests that we in the West allow the bored and argumentative secularists to set the agenda for our proclamation while multiplied millions of bewildered people are eager and need to hear about the true God who delivers the oppressed from the clutches of their enemies (see Psalm 10). Since secularists thrust the message from them, we turn to the rest of the world and (maybe) they will hear.
But the message of the Exodus is not only for brutalized nations and communities; it has a word of assurance and hope for all who suffer under tyranny of any sort. Too many of us have lived under a tyranny of a personal nature. Uncleanness, bitterness, drunkenness, greed, gossip, arrogance, immorality, self righteousness. To be endlessly assured that we were forgiven was grand but not nearly enough. Years ago we became captives. So long ago, perhaps, that we can't remember when we knew what freedom was. There was never a doubt in our minds that it was slavery and there never was a time when we didn't long to be free but endless rebellions, countless uprisings against the dictator came to nothing, hope died and we were left with gloomy views of the future; a future in which we saw ourselves as old men and old women still in the clutches of a cruel parasite. When we came to see it as that, life became grim submission, a joyless patience; better than nothing, of course, but so far beneath the life in which the soul dares to believe that the tyrant can and will die.
Then one day it happened. For some of us the calendar could be marked because on that day our Redeemer arrived, not silently and in secret but as though with a mighty rush of water and we saw the enemy dead and lying all around us. For many of us the passage from death to life, from slavery to liberty, from shame and humiliation to honour, happened without our noticing it and the tyrants we saw in former days passed away. We saw them again no more. Whatever the future was to hold, whatever tyrant we were to face-we'd see that slave-lord never again for ever.
(I don't believe every person is enslaved to a particular besetting sin that is of life-destroying proportions but I believe that every person—no exceptions—is in dire need of saving and keeping grace. I believe that every person—no exceptions—can be humbled by a tyrant and I believe that there are those who haven't yet seen their bondage. Comparing themselves with themselves they're blinded by their own glory. I believe that God is anxious to deliver hosts of us not from particular and grievous wickedness but from pathetic lives, shallow views and trivial pursuits. But it's mainly for those who struggle with evils that single them out, evils that make others doubt the genuineness of their discipleship, evils that cause even themselves to doubt their longing for a holy freedom—it's for those these words are especially aimed.)
The healing of others must not be viewed as one more nail in your coffin but as another prophecy, another assurance that tyranny will die. That God will not allow his child to vanish without rescue. Your day is coming. Your name is not Sisyphus. Those who have never known a deep, enduring and awful struggle can still sympathize and are praying you on. Those who have finally found God's redeemer in a friend, a husband, a wife, a child, a parent, a doctor and now know the joy of liberation, they are urging you on. One day God looking out of heaven will hear you, out of the darkness of your own crucifixion, taking on your lips the words his own Son had on his: 'It is finished!'
Finished the power and lure of the evil, finished the shame and humiliation of it, the bird has escaped the snare and the tyrant is dead!
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

Antisemitism and the Crucifixion of Christ: Who Murdered Jesus? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1244

Antisemitism and the Crucifixion of Christ: Who Murdered Jesus?
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Perhaps you have heard the furor surrounding Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion,” scheduled for release in March 2004. The official Web site states: “Passion is a vivid depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ’s life” (Passion Web site). Special emphasis is placed on the physical suffering Christ endured. Throughout the film, the language spoken is the first-century Jewish language, Aramaic, except when the Romans speak their language, i.e., Latin (Novak, 2003). Gibson, who both produced and directed the film, sank $25 million of his own money into the venture.
The stir over the film stems from the role of the Jews in their involvement in Christ’s crucifixion. In fact, outcries of “anti-Semitism” have been vociferous, especially from representatives of the Anti-Defamation League. Their contention is that Jews are depicted in the film as “bloodthirsty, sadistic, money-hungry enemies of God” who are portrayed as “the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus” (as quoted in Hudson, 2003; cf. Zoll, 2003). The fear is that the film will fuel hatred and bigotry against Jews. A committee of nine Jewish and Catholic scholars unanimously found the film to project a uniformly negative picture of Jews (“ADL and Mel…”). The Vatican has avoided offering an endorsement of the film by declining to make an official statement for the time being (“Vatican Has Not…”; cf. “Mel Gibson’s…”). This action is to be expected in view of the conciliatory tone manifested by Vatican II (Abbott, 1955, pp. 663-667). Even Twentieth Century Fox has decided not to participate in the distribution of the film (“20th Decides…”; cf. “Legislator Tries…”; O’Reilly…”).
Separate from the controversy generated by Gibson’s film, the more central issue concerns to what extent the Jewish generation of the first century contributed to, or participated in, the death of Christ. If the New Testament is the verbally inspired Word of God, then it is an accurate and reliable report of the facts, and its depiction of the details surrounding the crucifixion are normative and final. That being the case, how does the New Testament represent the role of the Jews in the death of Christ?
A great many verses allude to the role played by the Jews, especially the leadership, in the death of Jesus. For some time prior to the crucifixion, the Jewish authorities were determined to oppose Jesus. This persecution was aimed at achieving His death:
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff (Luke 4:28-30, emp. added).
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:18-19, emp. added).
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, becausethe Jews sought to kill Him… “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (John 7:1-2,19, emp. added).
“I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:37-41,59, emp. added).
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him…. Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand (John 10:31-32,39, emp. added).
Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death…. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him (John 11:53, 57, emp. added).
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him (Luke 19:47-48, emp. added).
And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people (Luke 22:2, emp. added).
Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him (Matthew 26:3-4, emp. added).
These (and many other) verses demonstrate unquestionable participation of the Jews in bringing about the death of Jesus. One still can hear the mournful tones of Jesus Himself, in His sadness over the Jews rejecting Him: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-39). He was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the demise of the Jewish commonwealth at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70. Read carefully His unmistakable allusion to the reason for this holocaustic event:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
He clearly attributed their national demise to their stubborn rejection of Him as the predicted Messiah, Savior, and King.
Does the Bible, then, indicate that a large percentage, perhaps even a majority, of the Jews of first century Palestine was “collectively guilty” for the death of Jesus? The inspired evidence suggests so. Listen carefully to the apostle Paul’s assessment, keeping in mind that he, himself, was a Jew—in fact, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 22:3; Romans 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:22). Speaking to Thessalonian Christians, he wrote:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, emp. added).
This same apostle Paul met with constant resistance from fellow Jews. After he spoke at the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, a crowd of people that consisted of nearly the whole city gathered to hear him expound the Word of God. Notice the reaction of the Jews in the crowd:
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles….” But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region (Acts 13:45-46,50-51).
Paul met with the same resistance from the general Jewish public that Jesus encountered—so much so that he wrote to Gentiles concerning Jews: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake” (Romans 11:28). He meant that the majority of the Jews had rejected Christ and Christianity. Only a “remnant” (Romans 11:5), i.e., a small minority, embraced Christ.
What role did the Romans play in the death of Christ? It certainly is true that Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. First-century Palestine was under the jurisdiction of Rome. Though Rome permitted the Jews to retain a king in Judea (Herod), the Jews were subject to Roman law in legal matters. In order to achieve the execution of Jesus, the Jews had to appeal to the Roman authorities for permission (John 18:31). A simple reading of the verses that pertain to Jewish attempts to acquire this permission for the execution are clear in their depiction of Roman reluctance in the matter. Pilate, the governing procurator in Jerusalem, sought literally to quell and diffuse the Jewish efforts to kill Jesus. He called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and stated plainly to them:
“You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”—who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:14-25).
It is difficult to conceptualize the level of hostility possessed by the Jewish hierarchy, and even by a segment of the Jewish population, toward a man who had done nothing worthy of such hatred. It is incredible to think that they would clamor for the release of a known murderer and insurrectionist, rather than allow the release of Jesus. Yes, the Roman authority was complicit in the death of Jesus. But Pilate would have had no interest in pursuing the matter if the Jewish leaders and crowd had not pressed for it. In fact, he went to great lengths to perform a symbolic ceremony in order to communicate the fact that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death. He announced to the multitude: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it” (Matthew 27:24). Technically, the Romans cannot rightly be said to be ultimately responsible. If the Jews had not pressed the matter, Pilate never would have conceded to having Him executed. The apostle Peter made this point very clear by placing the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on the shoulders of Jerusalem Jews:
Men of Israel…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses (Acts 3:12-16, emp. added).
Notice that even though the Romans administered the actual crucifixion, Peter pointedly stated to his Jewish audience, not only that Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but that the Jews (“you”)—not the Romans—“killed the Prince of life.”
Does God lay the blame for the death of Christ on the Jews as an ethnic group? Of course not. Though the generation of Jews who were contemporary to Jesus cried out to Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25, emp. added), it remains a biblical fact that “the son shall not bear the guilt of the father” (Ezekiel 18:20). A majority of a particular ethnic group in a particular geographical locale at a particular moment in history may band together and act in concert to perpetrate a social injustice. But such an action does not indict all individuals everywhere who share that ethnicity. “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), and neither should there be with any of us.
In fact, the New Testament teaches that ethnicity should have nothing to do with the practice of the Christian religion—which includes how we see ourselves, as well as how we treat others. Listen carefully to Paul’s declarations on the subject: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed” (Galatians 3:28-29, emp. added). Jesus obliterates the ethnic distinction between Jew and non-Jew:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:14-17).
In the higher sense, neither the Jews nor the Romans crucified Jesus. Oh, they were all complicit, including Judas Iscariot. But so were we. Every accountable human being who has ever lived or ever will live has committed sin that necessitated the death of Christ—if atonement was to be made so that sin could be forgiven. Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), every sinner is responsible for His death. But that being said, the Bible is equally clear that in reality, Jesus laid down His own life for humanity: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:11,17-18; cf. Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 3:16). Of course, the fact that Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself on the behalf of humanity does not alter the fact that it still required human beings, in this case first-century Jews, exercising their own free will to kill Him. A good summary passage on this matter is Acts 4:27-28—“for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.”

CONCLUSION

Anti-Semitism is sinful and unchristian. Those who crucified Jesus are to be pitied. Even Jesus said concerning them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). But we need not deny or rewrite history in the process. We are now living in a post-Christian culture. If Gibson would have produced a movie depicting Jesus as a homosexual, the liberal, “politically correct,” anti-Christian forces would have been the first to defend the undertaking under the guise of “artistic license,” “free speech,” and “creativity.” But dare to venture into spiritual reality by showing the historicity of sinful man mistreating the Son of God, and the champions of moral degradation and hedonism raise angry, bitter voices of protest. The irony of the ages is—He died even for them.

REFERENCES

Abbott, Walter, ed. (1966), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: America Press).
“ADL and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/interfaith/gibson_qa.asp.
Hudson, Deal (2003), “The Gospel according to Braveheart,” The Spectator, [On-line], URL: http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old&section=current&issue=2003-09-20&id=3427&searchText=.
“Legislator Tries to Censor Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/8/27/124709.shtml.
“Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion’ Makes Waves,” [On-line], URL: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/08/entertainment/main567445.shtml.
Novak, Michael (2003), “Passion Play,” The Weekly Standard, [On-line], URL: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/014ziqma.asp.
“O’Reilly: Elite Media out to Destroy Mel Gibson,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/9/15/223513.shtml.
Passion Web site, [On-line], URL: http://www.passion-movie.com/english/index.html.
“20th Decides Against Distributing Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.imdb.com/SB?20030829#3.
“Vatican Has Not Taken A Position on Gibson’s Film ‘The Passion,’ Top Cardinal Assures ADL,” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/VaticanJewish_96/4355_96.htm.
Zoll, Rachel (2003), “Jewish Civil Rights Leader Says Actor Mel Gibson Espouses Anti-Semitic Views,” [On-line], URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/09/19/national1505EDT0626.DTL.

Academia’s Asinine Assault on the Bible by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1813

Academia’s Asinine Assault on the Bible

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The professor, age 50, wearing casual slacks and a sport coat over a sweater, arrived at the lecture auditorium to teach his afternoon class, as some 350 students streamed in for Religion 202—one of the most popular classes on the campus of the large state university. Exuding an energetic, intellectually sophisticated manner, and projecting an endearing personality, the professor proceeded to propound a “problem” pertaining to the Bible. Pacing back and forth across the stage, he launched a ruthless but passionately eloquent tirade against the Bible’s alleged “anomalies,” “contradictions,” and “discrepancies.” It went something like this:
Entire stories have been added that were not in the original gospels. The woman taken in adultery is nothing other than a bit of tradition added by the Catholics 300 years after the New Testament was written. In contrast with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in the book of John Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, he did not tell any parables, he never cast out a demon, and there’s no last supper. The crucifixion stories differ with each other. In Mark, Jesus was terrified on the cross, while in John, he was perfectly composed. Key dates are different. The resurrection stories are different. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you find no trace of Jesus being divine, while in John you do. It’s time for you to think for yourself. You need reasons. That applies to religion. That applies to politics. Just because your parents believe something—isn’t good enough.
So it goes, week after week, a relentless, rapid-fire barrage of bombastic barbs intended to overwhelm, intimidate, and bully their young, uninformed, ill-equipped victims. This scenario has been repeated thousands of times over the past half century in universities all across America. The result has been catastrophic. One heartbroken mother’s recent remarks are typical: “My 22-year-old son just graduated from ________ University where he lost his faith in God and His Word. My husband and I did the best we knew how to raise him to love the church and God’s Word. But he has allowed the world to sway his beliefs.” Like toxic waste, sinister propaganda has been dumped on the youth of the nation by biased, dishonest professors who have no interest in allowing the so-called “academic freedom” they tout in the form of equal time for reputable rebuttal. As a result of their decades’ long labor, a liberal, anti-Christian academic atmosphere now thoroughly permeates the university system of America.
Never mind the fact that these guys have nothing new to say that has not already been said by skeptics over the centuries. Their claims are merely a repackaged version quickly seized upon by a complicit liberal media that eagerly creates instant credibility by thrusting the new “prophet” before a larger audience—as if what he is saying is fresh and newly discovered. The fact of the matter is that all their points have been made and answered long ago. For those who have taken the time to examine the evidence, it is readily apparent that their accusations are slanted, overstated, exaggerated, and transparently biased.
Observe that the above professorial tirade issues two charges: (1) the text of the Bible is tenuous and uncertain, and (2) the gospel records contradict each other. The latter claim has been soundly refuted in detail by biblical scholars over the centuries. The Apologetics Press Web site is loaded with articles and books that defeat accusations of alleged discrepancy (see, for example, Eric Lyons’ Anvil Rings 1 & 2). Regarding the former claim, Textual Criticism is a longstanding discipline that long ago yielded abundant evidence for the trustworthiness of the text of the New Testament. Over the last two centuries, the manuscript evidence has been thoroughly examined, resulting in complete exoneration for the integrity, genuineness, and accuracy of the Bible. Prejudiced professors refrain from divulging to their students that the vast majority of textual variants involve minor matters that do not affect salvation nor alter any basic teaching of the New Testament. Even those variants that might be deemed doctrinally significant pertain to matters that are treated elsewhere in the Bible where the question of genuineness is unobscured. No feature of Christian doctrine is at stake. When all of the textual evidence is considered, the vast majority of discordant readings have been resolved (e.g., Metzger, 1978, p. 185). One is brought to the firm conviction that we have in our possession the Bible as God intended.
The world’s foremost textual critics have confirmed this conclusion. Sir Frederic Kenyon, longtime director and principal librarian at the British Museum, whose scholarship and expertise to make pronouncements on textual criticism was second to none, stated: “Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established” (Kenyon, 1940, p. 288). The late F.F. Bruce, longtime Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of Manchester, England, remarked: “The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice” (1960, pp. 19-20). J.W. McGarvey, declared by the London Times to be “the ripest Bible scholar on earth” (Brigance, 1870, p. 4), conjoined: “All the authority and value possessed by these books when they were first written belong to them still” (1956, p. 17). And the eminent textual critics Westcott and Hort put the entire matter into perspective when they said:
Since textual criticism has various readings for its subject, and the discrimination of genuine readings from corruptions for its aim, discussions on textual criticism almost inevitably obscure the simple fact that variations are but secondary incidents of a fundamentally single and identical text. In the New Testament in particular it is difficult to escape an exaggerated impression as to the proportion which the words subject to variation bear to the whole text, and also, in most cases, as to their intrinsic importance. It is not superfluous therefore to state explicitly that the great bulk of the words of the New Testament stand out above all discriminative processes of criticism, because they are free from variation, and need only to be transcribed (1964, p. 564, emp. added).
Noting that the experience of two centuries of investigation and discussion had been achieved, these scholars concluded: “[T]he words in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the whole of the New Testament” (p. 565, emp. added).
Think of it. Men who literally spent their lives poring over ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, devoting their lives to meticulous, tedious analysis of the evidence, conversant with the original languages, without peer in their expertise and qualifications, have concluded that the Bible has been transmitted accurately. Then a prejudiced professor of religion has the unmitigated gall to brush aside the facts and pummel students with a slanted, half-baked viewpoint that flies in the face of two centuries of scholarly investigation? It is nothing short of inexcusable and intellectually dishonest. It’s time for parents to rise up and make universities accountable, or else cease sacrificing their children on the altar of pseudo-education. [NOTE: Those who are fearful that the integrity of the text of the Bible is compromised by the reality of textual variants need to be reminded that the world’s foremost textual critics have demonstrated that currently circulating copies of the New Testament do not differ substantially from the original (see Miller, 2005a, “Is Mark...,” 25[12]:89-95; Miller, 2010).]

REFERENCES

Brigance, L.L. (1870), “J.W. McGarvey,” in A Treatise on the Eldership by J.W. McGarvey (Murfreesboro, TN: DeHoff Publications, 1962 reprint).
Bruce, F.F. (1960), The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Kenyon, Sir Frederic (1940), The Bible and Archaeology (New York, NY: Harper).
McGarvey, J.W. (1956 reprint), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Metzger, Bruce M. (1978 reprint), The Text of the New Testament (New York, NY: Oxford University Press), second edition.
Westcott, B.A. and F.J.A. Hort (1964 reprint), The New Testament in the Original Greek (New York, NY: MacMillan).

A Christian Response to Descartes’ Radical Doubt by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2790

A Christian Response to Descartes’ Radical Doubt

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Modern philosophy is said to begin with René Descartes (1596-1650; Copleston, 1994, 4:1). Many think that “René Descartes is perhaps the single most important thinker of the European Enlightenment” (Hooker, 2009; cf. Copleston, 4:174ff.). Descartes is thought to be “the father of the subjective and idealistic (as was Bacon of the objective and realistic) tradition in modern philosophy,” who “began the great game of epistemology, which in [sic] Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant waxed into a Three Hundred Years’ War that at once stimulated and devastated modern philosophy” (Durant, 1926, pp. 116,117, parenthetical item in orig.; cf. p. 268). First, I will summarize the historical/philosophical context of Descartes’ work, which will provide two things: (1) An overview of his motivations, and (2) an explanation of why the Christian apologist should be prepared to counter certain of Descartes’ arguments. Second, I will examine the nature of Descartes’ doubt, which is central to his philosophy. Finally, I will offer a critique from the Christian perspective.

CONTEXT

Burnham and Fieser observed: “Descartes’ philosophy developed in the context of the key features of Renaissance and early modern philosophy. Like the humanists, he rejected religious authority in the quest for scientific and philosophical knowledge” (see Kenny, 1968, p. 4; cf. Maritain, 1944, p. 55). Descartes was a devout Catholic, but was influenced by the Reformation’s challenge to Church authority and scholastic Aristotelianism (philosophy in the tradition of Aristotle’s thought; “René...,” 2008). Specifically, he was influenced by the scientific ideas of Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei (see Durant, 1926, p. 117). In 1633, the Catholic church condemned Galileo’s Dialogue because of its heliocentricity, and Descartes thought that his forthcoming work, Le Monde, would offend the church as well, so he postponed its publication (Galilei, 2001; “René...”; Fowler, 1996; Rodis-Lewis, 1992, p. 39; cf. Kenny, pp. 7-8). In fact, Descartes’ first major writing was published anonymously (see Cottingham, 1986, p.13).
In developing his rationalistic philosophy, Descartes positioned himself against scholasticism and Aristotelianism, as he explains in a letter to Voetius:
[T]he philosophy against which you rail with such violence...aims at the knowledge of the truths which are acquired by means of the natural light, and which promise the benefit of the human race; by contrast the dominant philosophy, which is taught in the schools and universities, is merely a muddled collection of opinions which are mostly open to doubts, as is proved by the debates that they occasion day after day, and which are entirely without practical benefit, as centuries of experience have proved only too well (quoted in Cottingham, p. 15; cf. Copleston, p. 174).
Descartes hoped that philosophy could be as certain as mathematics, the principles of which he saw as being exceptionally sound (1952a, 31:ix; 1952b, 31:14,31; cf. Loeb, 1992, p. 219; Rodis-Lewis, 1992, pp. 26ff.; Ree, 1975, pp. 28-34), and that his writings could replace traditional texts based on Aristotle (Ross, n.d.; cf. Cottingham, 16). “[H]e wanted to define an area in which everything could be completely explained by a reductionist, mechanistic physical science” (Ree, p. 91). “[T]he brand of knowledge Descartes seeks requires, at least, unshakably certain conviction,” and such knowledge he considered to be unavailable from authority or sense-perception (Newman, 2005). “Arithmetic, Geometry, and the other sciences of the same class, which regard merely the simplest and most general objects...contain somewhat that is certain and indubitable” (Descartes, 1952b, 31:77). Descartes challenged scholasticism generally because he thought that it had been convoluted by “jargon-manipulation and the juggling of authorities” as “the paramount road to academic advancement” (Cottingham, p. 5). [NOTE: The purpose of this article is not to assess scholasticism or Aristotelianism.]
Banach summarizes Descartes’ starting position: “In order to show that science rested on firm foundations and that these foundations lay in the mind and not the senses, Descartes began by bringing into doubt all the beliefs that come to us from the senses.... The obvious implication is that, since we do know that external objects exist, this knowledge cannot come to us through the senses, but through the mind” (n.d., parenthetical item in orig.). Maritain observed: “Descartes, on the contrary, who with the rest of the moderns makes science consist in invention rather than in judgment, has a hankering for a Science which with one and the same movement proves by discovering, and discovers by proving, established in complete certitude from its inception, rejecting of itself as an attempt against its being, every purely probable element” (1944, p. 55).
His method of acquiring this scientific conviction begins with doubt, which for Descartes took root in his general objection to his instructor’s methods (2007, p. 17). “[W]hen I considered the number of conflicting opinions touching a single matter that may be upheld by learned men, while there can be but one true, I reckoned as well-nigh false all that was only probable” (2007, p. 15). His doubt leads Descartes to the “insistence that philosophy should begin with the self and travel outward” (Durant, 1926, 336).
Whatever Descartes’ specific theological positions, his philosophical starting-point is dangerous to faith. Descartes’ project began by trusting in reason to the exclusion of revelation (both natural and special). This procedure is in contrast with Paul’s prescription: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). It falls to the Christian apologist to reason properly about what God has revealed (see Warren, 1982), and to defend the faith against the attacks of doubt. God expects us to use our senses as we come to a knowledge of Him (1 John 1:1-3), so we must critically analyze any approach to knowledge that attempts an overthrow of empiricism. As Wilson noted, Descartes had “a general metaphysical vision of reality, and commitments to a special conception of what the world is like and how it works” (1978, p. 221). We must ask whether that metaphysical vision is consistent with Christianity.

CARTESIAN DOUBT

From the foregoing, it is obvious that Descartes became a rationalist. Generally speaking, a rationalist “accepts the supremacy of reason, and aims at establishing a system of philosophy and ethics independent of arbitrary assumptions and authority” (“FAQs,” n.d.). Descartes summarized his rationalist perspective: “[I]t is now manifest to me that bodies themselves are not properly perceived by the senses nor by the faculty of imagination, but by the intellect alone” (2007, p. 88). Descartes sought “an absolute foundation for knowledge by proposing to doubt all things and accept as knowledge (or at least as a foundation for knowledge) only what could not be doubted” (Cannon, 2001, parenthetical item in orig.). For Descartes, this narrowed the field of possible knowledge, leaving only that of which “the light of reason” or “the light of nature” provide assurance (see Markie, 1992, p. 147; cf. Maritain, 1944, pp. 50, 115):
I thought that a procedure exactly the opposite was called for, and that I ought to reject as absolutely false all opinions in regard to which I could suppose the least ground for doubt, in order to ascertain whether after that there remained aught in my belief that was wholly indubitable. Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us; and because some men err in reasoning, and fall into paralogisms (pieces of false reasoning)...I, convinced that I was open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for demonstrations (2007, p. 31, parenthetical item added).
Descartes had been troubled by the recognition that his senses deceived him on occasion. For example, “I considered that the very same thoughts (presentations) which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true” (2007, p. 31, parenthetical item in orig.; cf. pp. 76-77; cf. Wilson, 1978, pp. 17ff.). Furthermore, “Descartes cannot yet be certain if there are any bodies in existence. Since one cannot ‘sense’ unless there is body present (otherwise it is a dream or a hallucination or a mirage or an illusion)” (Mahon, n.d., parenthetical item in orig.). In examining why his senses deceived him, Descartes proposed the possibility of a deceptive demon. “[S]ome malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me; I will suppose that the sky, the air, the earth, colors, figures, sounds, and all external things, are nothing better than the illusions of dreams, by which this being has laid snares for my credulity” (2007, pp. 78-79).
Descartes had disregarded empirical knowledge entirely (see 2007, p. 79), and settled on the one reality that, he believed, satisfied his radical criterion for truth:
But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am (COGITO ERGO SUM), was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the skeptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search (p. 31, parenthetical item and emp. in orig.).
Descartes focused on the one thing he believed is certain: that he is a “thinking thing” (2007, p. 84). He explained his rationale further in his Principles: “[W]hile rejecting in this way all those things which we can somehow doubt, and even imagining them to be false, we can indeed easily suppose that there is no God, no heaven, no material bodies; and even that we ourselves have no hands, or feet, in short, no body; yet we do not on that account suppose that we, who are thinking such things, are nothing” (p. 5). Cottingham observed: “The most striking feature about the accounts Descartes himself gives of the Cogito argument is that the certainty involved stems from the fact that the mediator has pushed his doubt to the limit.... [T]he very fact that I am around to entertain the doubt shows that I must exist” (p. 38).
Next, Descartes needed to develop a “permanent system of knowledge” from his theory of doubt (see Cottingham, p. 42). Wilson explained: “The upshot of the argument of the Meditations is that an external physical world can be proved to exist, thus in a sense affirming what everyone ‘knew’ all along; but the proof turns out to be arduous and to require immaterialist premises: people are wrong in thinking the direct evidence of the senses is sufficient” (p. 45). In this process of rebuilding the knowledge he previously deconstructed via radical doubt, Descartes reintroduced God. This move was essential to Descartes’ conviction that material objects exist:
Is there not a God...who causes these thoughts to arise in my mind? But why suppose such a being, for it may be I myself am capable of producing them? ... And in truth, as I have no ground for believing that Deity is deceitful, and as, indeed, I have not even considered the reasons by which the existence of a Deity of any kind is established, the ground of doubt that rests only on this supposition is very slight, and, so to speak, metaphysical (2007, pp. 81,90).
Descartes insisted that of all his perceptions of external objects, including his own body, the notion of God “has certainly in it more objective reality than those ideas by which finite substances are represented,” and that the effects of his perceptions must have correlative causes (2007, pp. 92-93). “And how could the cause communicate to it this reality unless it possessed it in itself? And hence it follows...that the more perfect, in other words, that which contains in itself more reality, cannot be the effect of the less perfect” (p. 93). Since Descartes clearly had an idea of God in his consciousness, and since he believed himself incapable of originating this idea independent of some exterior force on his intellect, then he concluded that that Being caused the idea (see pp. 94-97).
I should not, however, have the idea of an infinite substance, seeing I am a finite being, unless it were given me by some substance in reality infinite.... The idea, I say, of a being supremely perfect, and infinite, is in the highest degree true; for although, perhaps, we may imagine that such a being does not exist, we cannot, nevertheless, suppose that his idea represents nothing real, as I have already said of the idea of cold. It is likewise clear and distinct in the highest degree, since whatever the mind clearly and distinctly conceives as real or true, and as implying any perfection, is contained entire in this idea (pp. 96,97).
Hence Descartes did away with the demon, concluding that it is impossible for God, being perfect, to deceive him (p. 103). “[H]e is no deceiver...” (p. 115).
Having reached a conviction that God is real, Descartes proceeded to claim partial knowledge of material objects by virtue of God’s grace:
I cannot deny that we may have produced many other objects, or at least that he is able to produce them, so that I may occupy a place in the relation of a part to the great whole of his creatures.... And although there are perhaps innumerable objects in the world of which I have no idea in my understanding, it cannot, on that account be said that I am deprived of those ideas as of something that is due to my nature, but simply that I do not possess them, because, in truth, there is no ground to prove that Deity ought to have endowed me with a larger faculty of cognition than he has actually bestowed upon me (p. 105; cf. pp.112-113).
On Descartes’ account, humans can be certain that they possess knowledge only because God exists and can be trusted not to deceive.

CRITIQUE

Consider three problems with Descartes’ approach to knowledge: First, “Insistence upon a standard of absolute certainty eliminates the middle ground of reasonable evidence. It suggests that if you don’t have complete certainty you have no evidence at all” (Cannon, 2001). Anthony Kenny summarizes this objection: “Few would quarrel with the starting point: it is true that we grow up uncritically accepting many beliefs which may be false. But is it necessary, in order to rectify this, that we should on some occasion call in question all our beliefs? Can we not correct them piecemeal?” (p. 18). If, for example, when I strike my fist against a wall, I have an insufficient level of certainty that the wall is real, then what level of certainty is needed? Human beings necessarily operate on a level of faith in their senses, but that faith is biblical (as we will see), and certainly sufficient for human existence.
Kant points out that the Cogito falls short of proving Descartes’ point, because it also is an empirical notion: “The ‘I think’ is...an empirical proposition, and contains the expression, ‘I exist.’ But I cannot say ‘Everything, which thinks, exists;’ for in this case the property of thought would constitute all beings possessing it, necessary beings. Hence my existence cannot be considered as an inference from the proposition ‘I think,’ as Descartes maintained” (2003, p. 225). Also, Kenny raises the question of identity: “Is not Descartes rash in christening the substance in which the doubts of the Meditations inhere ‘ego’? To be sure, he explains that he is not yet committing himself to any doctrine about the nature of the ego.... But what ‘I’ refers to must at least be distinct from what ‘you’ refers to; otherwise the argument might as well run ‘cogitatur, ergo es’ (“thought exists, therefore, you are”) as ‘cogito ergo sum’ (“I think, therefore I am)” (1968, p. 62, parenthetical items added).
Second, “Insistence upon absolute clarity and distinctness to the skeptical reflecting mind eliminates consideration of any respect in which reality transcends full and determinate representation” (Cannon). Indeed, the very fact that Descartes knew that his senses occasionally “deceived” him, demonstrates that his senses usually (typically) provided him with accurate perceptions. The Bible teaches that we generally can place confidence in our senses, even to the degree of sinning, recognizing the need for salvation, and accessing remission of sins (e.g., Genesis 13:15; Matthew 5:13; Acts 13:44; John 20:24-30; etc.). Descartes’ argument is intelligible only if the illusive nature of dreams, for example, does not inhibit our general understanding of reality. Kant, therefore, emphasizes the need for “sensuous phenomena” in the “empirical world” while recognizing its limitations—even if they are God-given (2003, pp. 42,43,316; 1952, 42:337). In the Fourth Meditation, Descartes would seem to agree: “I have no reason...to think that it was obligatory on [God] to give to each of his works all the perfections he is able to bestow upon some” (2007, p. 105).
In this context, it is remarkable that Descartes moves swiftly from doubting his senses, to relying on them (and problematically placing the seat of empirical knowledge in the pineal gland; see Lockhorst, 2008; cf. Kenny, pp. 225-226):
And as I observed that in the words “I think, therefore I am,” there is nothing at all which gives me assurance of their truth beyond this, that I see very clearly that in order to think it is necessary to exist, I concluded that I might take, as a general rule, the principle, that all things which we very clearly and distinctly conceive are true, only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly conceive (2007, p. 32).
Perhaps this occurs because Descartes did not wish to be separated from the reality he knew prior to settling on the Cogito: “Proposing to rebuild one’s knowledge from the ground up because a number of things that once seemed true have become doubtful or false, as Descartes does, is a lot like being in a boat out on the ocean and proposing to abandon ship in order to rebuild the boat from the keel up just because it has developed a few leaks” (Cannon).
Third, Descartes did not provide a convincing reason for his rejection of the possibility that a demon was placing false ideas in his consciousness. Because all of Descartes’ evidence was rational, and none of it was empirical, his basis for thinking that God exists was a “clear and distinct” idea of a Person, “infinite, eternal, immutable, independent, all-knowing, all-powerful” (2007, pp. 96,97). Why could that idea not have been placed in Descartes’ mind by a god who is actually deceitful? Descartes finished where he started, but not prior to attempting an overthrow of empiricism. His pre-existing belief in God rescued Descartes from his own personal skepticism; but what of those readers who find his argument for the existence of God unconvincing? The truth is that God appeals to us by presenting us with biblical and extra-biblical evidence that agrees with our observation and rationality, all of which ultimately are derived from Him (Jeremiah 51:15).

CONCLUSION

Descartes’ radical doubt, which would entail dispensing with all epistemological knowledge, also would place an insurmountable roadblock to biblical faith. However, his doubt has been shown to be invalid. It is telling that rationalists still maintain a certain scientific epistemology (“FAQs,” n.d.). Perhaps we can hypothesize, with Maritain, that pride ultimately led Descartes to his radical doubt (pp. 33-62):
The pride of human knowledge appears thus as the very substance, solid and resistant, of rationalist hopes. Pride, a dense pride without frivolity or distraction, as stable as virtue, as vast a geometric extension, bitter and restless as the ocean, takes possession of Descartes to such an extent that it would seem the universal form of his interior workings and the principle of all his suffering (p. 56).
This is a stark contrast to Christ’s portrait of those who are pleasing to Him: “Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:15).
In light of Descartes’ major contributions to modern science and mathematics, it is remarkable that his doubt also led him to a radical distinction between mind and body, which we will not detail or critique here (it has been done elsewhere: see Hatfield, 1992, pp. 335-370; Kenny, 1968, pp. 216-226; Wilson, 1978, pp. 50-99). Ree summarized the necessity for this dualism: “[H]is dualism of mental and physical properties implied that since human beings had minds, they were more than mere parts of an all-engulfing physical universe” (p. 100). The connection between Descartes’ epistemology and his physiology, in light of the biblical doctrine of mind and body, would be the next logical step in this inquiry. [NOTE: Special thanks to Michael R. Young, Ph.D., for help with research.]

REFERENCES

Banach, David (n.d.), “Important Arguments from Descartes’ Meditations,” Anselm University, [On-line], URL: http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/dcarg.htm.
Burnham, Douglas and James Fieser (2006), “René Descartes,” University of Tennessee at Martin, [On-line], URL: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/d/descarte.htm.
Cannon, Dale (2001), “Descartes,” Western Oregon University, [On-line], URL:http://www.wou.edu/las/humanities/cannon/descartes.htm.
Copleston, Frederick (1994), A History of Philosophy (New York: Doubleday).
Cottingham, John (1986), Descartes (Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell).
Descartes, René (1952a reprint), Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross, ed. Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Descartes, René (1952b reprint), Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross, ed. Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Descartes, René (1983 reprint), Principles of Philosophy, trans. Valentine Rodger Miller and Reese P. Miller (Boston, MA: D. Reidel).
Descartes, René (2007 reprint), Discourse on Method/Meditations on First Philosophy (Illinois: Barnes & Noble).
Durant, Will (1926), The Story of Philosophy (New York: Simon & Schuster).
“FAQs” (n.d.), Rationalist Society of Australia, [On-line], URL: http://www.rationalist.com.au/faqs.htm.
Fowler, Michael (1996), “Life of Galileo,” University of Virginia, [On-line], URL:http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/109N/lectures/gal_life.htm.
Galilei, Galileo (2001 reprint), Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (New York: Modern Library).
Hatfield, Gary (1992), “Descartes’ Physiology and Its Relation to His Psychology,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University).
Hooker, Richard (2009), “The European Enlightenment: René Descartes,” Washington State University, [On-line], URL: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ENLIGHT/DESCARTE.HTM.
Kant, Immanuel (1952 reprint), Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Thomas Kingsmill Abbott, ed. Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1952).
Kant, Immanuel (2003 reprint), Critique of Pure Reason (Mineola, NY: Dover).
Kenny, Anthony (1968), Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy (New York: Random House).
Lockhorst, Gert-Jan (2008), “Descartes and the Pineal Gland,” Stanford University, [On-line], URL:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pineal-gland/#2.
Loeb, Louis E. (1992), “The Cartesian Circle,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press).
Mahon, James (n.d.), “Meditation II,” Washington and Lee University, [On-line], URL:http://home.wlu.edu/~mahonj/Descartes.M1.Mind.htm.
Maritain, Jaques (1944), The Dream of Descartes, trans. Mabelle L. Andison (New York: Philosophical Library).
Markie, Peter (1992), “The Cogito and Its Importance,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University).
Newman, Lex (2005), “Descartes’ Epistemology,” Stanford University, [On-line], URL:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/.
Ree, Jonathan (1975), Descartes (New York: Pica).
“René Descartes (1596-1650)” (2008), The European Graduate School, [On-line], URL:http://www.egs.edu/resources/descartes.html.
Rodis-Lewis, Genevieve (1992), “Descartes’ Life and the Development of His Philosophy,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University).
Ross, George Macdonald (n.d.), “Descartes Texts,” University of Leeds, [On-line], URL:http://www.philosophy.leeds.ac.uk/GMR/hmp/texts/modern/descartes/dcintro.html.
Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic and the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).
Wilson, Margaret Dauler (1978), Descartes (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul).

“Jesus Didn’t Condemn Homosexuality” by Kyle Butt, M.A.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1627

“Jesus Didn’t Condemn Homosexuality”

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

By and large, the American culture is aggressively promoting the sinful lifestyle of homosexuality. In the midst of such pressure, many people who call themselves Christians are caving in and accepting this perverted lifestyle in spite of God’s clear teachings against it (Butt, 2003). Just recently, the country singer Carrie Underwood stated that her Christian faith lead her to support gay marriage (Nilles, 2012). In truth, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ could never be accurately understood to lead a person to conclude that homosexual marriage is moral (Miller and Harrub, 2004).
One of the most common arguments made in support of homosexuality is that Jesus Christ did not explicitly condemn the practice. Supposedly, since Jesus never stated specifically: “Homosexuality is a sin,” then His failure to denounce the lifestyle can be interpreted to mean that He approved of it. This reasoning is riddled with error.
First, Jesus explained to His followers that He did not have time to teach them everything they needed to know. He told them that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all that He had taught, and would include additional teaching that He had not had time to cover. He told His disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). When we look to the inspired writings of the New Testament, we see the authors boldly and specifically condemning the practice based on the revelation they received from the Holy Spirit (Miller and Harrub, 2004). Thus, it is wrong to suggest that only the “words in red” are Jesus’ teachings. On the contrary, He foretold that more teaching would be done after His return to heaven due to the fact that the apostles “could not bear” all of it at the time.
Second, even if Jesus did not explicitly condemn the practice (though He actually did, as will be noted later), that certainly could not be used as evidence that He condoned the practice. For instance, where does Jesus explicitly state that bestiality is wrong? Where in the New Testament does Jesus state that polygamy is wrong? Where are the “words in red” that specifically condemn pedophilia? Are we to suppose that the Son of God condoned using crystal meth because there is not an explicit statement from Jesus’ mouth that says “do not smoke crystal meth?” The idea that silence from Jesus on a subject means He approved of or condoned the practice cannot be substantiated.
Finally, it must be considered that Jesus did, in fact, speak against homosexuality. On numerous occasions, Jesus condemned the sins of adultery (Matthew 19:18), sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9) and fornication (Matthew 15:19). These terms describe any type of sexual intercourse that is not within the confines of a marriage ordained by God. Jesus then proceeded to define exactly what God views as a morally permissible marriage. He stated:
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-6).
By defining marriage as between one male and one female, Jesus effectively condemned all other arrangements, including but not limited to one man and two women, one woman and two men, three men and one woman, three men and three women, one man and one man, one woman and one animal, etc. You can see the overwhelming logic of such. For Jesus to have to explicitly condemn every assortment of genders and numbers would be absurd. When He defined marriage between one man and one woman, He clearly showed that such an arrangement is the only one authorized by God.
Several years ago a man named Cory Moore “legally married his 2004 Cherry ES-335” Gibson guitar (“Man Marries Guitar,” 2007). He said: “The day I got her, I just knew she was the one…. I know it seems weird, but I really love her—like, really love her, with all my heart. I just wanted to make it official” (2007). Are we to conclude that because Jesus never specifically condemned a man marrying his guitar then the Son of God approved of such? To ask is to answer. In 2006, 41-year-old Sharon Tendler married a dolphin (“Woman Marries Dolphin,” 2006). Jesus never said one word explicitly about refraining from marrying a dolphin. Does that mean His “silence” should be viewed as approval? Not in any way.
Homosexuality is a sin. It always has been, and it always will be. The inspired New Testament writers repeatedly teach that to be the case. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would bring to the inspired writers information that they could not handle at the time of His departing. In addition, Jesus did explicitly define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The ruse to suggest that Jesus approves of homosexuality because He never expressly condemned it cannot be sustained logically, nor can it be defended on any type of moral grounds. The person who presumes to claim to be a Christian, and yet supports homosexuality, misunderstands the teachings of Christ and needs to repent and stop approving of a perverted, destructive practice that Jesus condemns (Matthew 19:1-9).

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Homosexuality—Sin, or Cultural Bad Habit?” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=1239.
“Man Marries Guitar” (2007), http://www.messandnoise.com/discussions/865688.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=557.
Nilles, Billy (2012), “Carrie Underwood Reveals She Supports Gay Marriage,” http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2012/06/11/carrie-underwood-supports-gay-marriage-christian/.
“Woman Marries Dolphin” (2006), http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/woman-marries-dolphin/2006/01/01/1136050339590.html.