"THE BOOK OF ACTS" "What Hinders Me From Being Baptized?" (8:36) INTRODUCTION 1. With the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, we have an example of conversion involving one... a. Who was very religious, yet still lost - Ac 8:27-28 b. Who was willing to learn, open to being taught - Ac 8:29-34 c. To whom Philip preached Jesus - Ac 8:35 d. Who then immediately requested and received baptism - Ac 8:36-38 2. His inquiry, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" is enlightening... a. It reveals that baptism in water was integral to preaching Christ - Ac 8:35-36 b. Indeed it was commanded by Christ Himself - Mk 16:15-16 c. His apostles commanded it as well - cf. Ac 2:38; 10:47-48 3. His inquiry also raises questions that we do well to ask... a. What does hinder one from being baptized? b. What should not hinder one from being baptized? [In answer to such questions, let's first notice...] I. WHAT DOES HINDER ONE A. LACK OF FAITH... 1. Belief in Christ as a prerequisite is clearly stated by Philip - Ac 8:37 2. Jesus also stressed the necessity of faith - Mk 16:16; cf. Jn 8:24 -- If one does not believe, or is incapable of belief, then that hinders baptism B. LACK OF REPENTANCE... 1. Repentance as a prerequisite to baptism is implied by Peter - Ac 2:36-38 2. It is clearly a prerequisite to having one's sins "blotted out" - Ac 3:19 -- If one does not repent, or is incapable of repentance, then that hinders baptism C. LACK OF WATER... 1. We are talking about baptism in water - Ac 8:36; 10:47 2. A baptism that "washes away sin", because it is a burial with Christ - Ac 22:16; Ro 6:3-4 -- If there is no water, then that hinders baptism [Of course, lack of water is rarely the issue. God has made water plentiful. It is the lack of faith or repentance that is really the only thing that hinders one from being baptized. Yet people often allow things they should not to keep themselves from being baptized. Let's now examine...] II. WHAT SHOULD NOT HINDER ONE A. PRIDE... 1. Some are too proud to admit they need forgiveness for their sins 2. Some are too proud to acknowledge they are mistaken about their need for baptism 3. Such pride will keep God away - cf. Ps 138:6; Jm 4:6 -- Pride should never hinder one from being baptized B. FAMILY... 1. Some are concerned what their family will think 2. Perhaps they are afraid of being disowned by their family 3. Jesus made clear that family should not prevent us from doing His will - Mt 10:37-38 -- Family should never hinder one from being baptized C. PEER PRESSURE... 1. Some are afraid of being ridiculed or ostracized by their friends 2. It was peer pressure that kept some from confessing Jesus - cf.Jn 12:42-43 3. Jesus made it clear that what others think should not sway us - cf. Lk 9:26 -- Peer pressure should never hinder one from being baptized D. IMPROPER MISUNDERSTANDING... 1. Some believe they do not know enough to be baptized a. They presume that one must know everything the Bible teaches b. Yet like the eunuch, most conversions in the NT occurred after one sermon c. Jesus stated that much teaching follows, not precedes, baptism - Mt 28:19-20 d. If one is a penitent believer, willing to follow Jesus as Lord, they are ready 2. Some believe they are not good enough to be baptized a. They presume that they must reform themselves first b. But baptism is for sinners, not saints c. Much spiritual development occurs after salvation, not before - cf. Col 3:1-14 d. If one has repented (changed their mind to serve God), they are ready -- Improper misunderstanding should never hinder one from being baptized E. LOCATION, TIME OF DAY OR NIGHT... 1. Some may think baptism can occur only at certain times 2. As in response to the invitation at the end of a sermon, or at a special baptismal service 3. The eunuch's baptism illustrates it can be done anywhere, anytime - Ac 8:38 4. Likewise the baptisms of the Philippian jailor and his family - Ac 16:25-33 -- The time or place should never hinder one from being baptized CONCLUSION 1. After the eunuch was baptized, he went on his way rejoicing - Ac 8:39 a. He believed that Jesus was the Christ, who died for his sins b. He confessed his faith in Jesus as the Christ c. Though not mentioned, we can assume that he repented of his sins 2. If you desire the same assurance of salvation the eunuch enjoyed... a. Then let nothing hinder you from obeying the gospel in the same manner b. Be baptized as soon as possible, upon the confession of your faith in Jesus "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." - Ac 22:16
"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Conversion Of The Ethiopian (8:26-40) INTRODUCTION 1. The conversions we have noted so far have involved large numbers of people... a. The 3000 at Pentecost - Ac 2:1-41 b. The 2000 on Solomon's Porch - Ac 3:1-4:4 c. The multitudes in Samaria - Ac 8:5-13 2. In each case, the gospel message was basically the same... a. Christ is proclaimed b. Responses called for included faith, repentance and baptism 3. Now we have the opportunity to examine the conversion of just one person... a. A queen's treasurer, a eunuch from Ethiopia b. A very religious man, who had traveled a great distance to worship God 4. With the account of the conversion of "The Ethiopian"... a. We not only have the opportunity to confirm what we have already learned b. We can also glean a few more points regarding Biblical conversions [Let's start with a reading and review of the basic facts related to this conversion...] I. THE CONVERSION OF THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH A. PHILIP IS SENT TO THE EUNUCH... 1. An angel of the Lord tells Philip to go toward Gaza - Ac 8:26 2. On the way there is a man sitting in his chariot - Ac 8:27-28 a. A eunuch of Ethiopia, in charge of the treasury of Queen Candace b. Returning home from having gone to worship in Jerusalem c. Reading from the prophet Isaiah 3. The Spirit tells Philip to overtake the chariot - Ac 8:29 B. PHILIP PREACHES JESUS TO HIM... 1. Hearing the eunuch reading Isaiah, Philip asks if he understands - Ac 8:30 2. The eunuch asks Philip to help him - Ac 8:31-34 a. He expresses a need for someone to guide him, and invites Philip to sit with him b. The scripture under consideration is Isa 53:7-8 1) Which speaks of one led as a sheep to the slaughter 2) Which describes one whose life is taken from the earth c. The eunuch asks if Isaiah was speaking of himself, or of someone else 3. Beginning with that Scripture, Philip preaches Jesus to him - Ac 8:35 C. THE EUNUCH IS BAPTIZED... 1. The eunuch expresses a desire to be baptized - Ac 8:36-37 a. Seeing some water along the way, he wonders what would hinder him from being baptized b. Philip replies that if he believes with all his heart, he may c. The eunuch confesses his faith in Jesus as the Son of God 2. Philip baptizes the eunuch - Ac 8:38-40 a. Stopping the chariot, both Philip and the eunuch go down into the water b. Philip then baptizes him c. When they come up out of the water, the Spirit catches Philip away d. Though seeing Philip no more, the eunuch goes on his way rejoicing e. Philip is found at Azotus, and continues preaching in the cities until he arrives at Caesarea [One might wonder why the Spirit led Luke to spend so much time describing the conversion of just one person. Clearly there must be important lessons or principles that we can glean from this historical account. With that in mind, let me offer..] II. SOME OBSERVATIONS A. PROSPECTS FOR THE GOSPEL... 1. The Ethiopian eunuch was a very religious man a. He had traveled a great distance to worship in Jerusalem b. He was reading from the Scriptures when Philip found him 2. In fact, most examples of conversions involved very devout people a. The 3000 at Pentecost, who had traveled to observe the feast b. Later, we will study the conversions of such people as: 1) Paul, the Pharisee zealous for the Law 2) Cornelius, the devout Gentile who feared God and prayed always 3) Lydia, a woman who met every Sabbath to pray with others 3. From this we can glean the following... a. Just because one is religious does not mean they are saved! b. Religious people are often good prospects for the gospel! 1) They already fear God and respect His authority 2) As such, they simply need to be shown "the way of God more accurately" - cf. Ac 18:26 c. Those who are truly seeking God's will, will one day have an opportunity to hear the gospel and obey it! - Mt 5:6 -- This does not discount the fact that rank sinners are often receptive (cf. the Corinthians, 1Co 6:9-11), but good people are usually more open to the Word B. WHAT IT MEANS TO PREACH JESUS... 1. From Isaiah's "quotation" (Isa 52:13-53:11), we know it involves teaching: a. How Jesus died for our sins - cf. 1Co 15:1-3 b. How Jesus has been exalted by God - cf. Ac 2:36; 3:13; 5:30-31 2. From the Eunuch's "question" (Ac 8:36), we know it includes stressing: a. The importance of baptism 1) Why did the eunuch ask, "What hinders me from being baptized?" 2) Perhaps because Philip told him... a) What the Lord had said - Mk 16:15-16 b) The purpose of baptism, as expressed by Peter and Paul - Ac 2:38; Ro 6:3-4; 1Pe 3:21 -- As we have seen and will see, baptism is the expected response when one believes in Jesus b. The immediacy of baptism 1) Why did the eunuch asked to be baptized right then ("See, here is water.")? 2) Perhaps because baptism's purpose is such that one does not want to delay a) It is "for the remission of sins" - Ac 2:38 b) It is to have one's sins "washed away" - Ac 22:16 c) It is an appeal for a clear conscience - 1Pe 3:21 -- Indeed, in every example of conversion found in Acts, people were baptized immediately, after just one lesson! 3. From Philip's "qualification" (Ac 8:37), we know it requires explaining: a. The necessity of faith in Jesus 1) One must believe in Jesus as the Son of God - Jn 8:24; 20:30-31 2) Without faith, God won't do His work in our baptism - cf. Col 2:12 b. The necessity of whole-heartedness in our faith 1) God has always required whole-heartedness - cf. Mt 22:37 2) Without it, even those saved are in danger of falling away - cf. He 3:12-14 -- Unless "you believe with all your heart", you are not a proper subject for baptism! C. BAPTISM... 1. Baptism involves water a. When the eunuch was baptized... 1) "...both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water" - Ac 8:38 2) "...he baptized him" - Ac 8:38 3) "...they came up out of the water" - Ac 8:39 b. Later, we see the same truth expressed by Peter - cf. Ac 10:47-48 2. Baptism involves a burial in water a. Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water - Ac 8:38 1) If sprinkling satisfies the meaning of baptism, it seems strange that Philip would need to go down into the water 2) Why get wet, when all he needed to do was get a handful of water? b. Baptism means "to immerse", and such requires the baptizer to get in the water with the one being baptized c. Later, Paul describes baptism as a "burial" - cf. Ro 6:3-4; Col 2:12 3. Baptism is NOT a public confession of one's faith a. Some say that the purpose of baptism is to publicly confess one's faith in Christ 1) Especially those who deny that baptism is for the remission of sins 2) Seeking to provide a reason for baptism, they offer this as an alternative 3) But the Bible nowhere says this is the purpose for baptism! b. If the purpose of baptism is to publicly confess one's faith... 1) Why did Philip baptize the eunuch? a) There was no one else around to witness the baptism b) They were all alone in the desert 2) Why didn't Philip answer the eunuch's question differently? a) He wanted to know what would hinder him from being baptized b) If baptism is a public confession of one's faith, we would expect Philip to say he must wait until they get to town, find a church, etc. c. But the purpose of baptism is such that it can be done... 1) In public or in private 2) With thousands present, or with just the one doing the baptizing -- Later, we will see that the conversion of the Philippian Jailor also involved a baptism in relative privacy CONCLUSION 1. With the conversion of "The Ethiopian", we are impressed with the simplicity of
salvation... a. With a simple presentation of the gospel, one can be saved after just one lesson b. Whether it is preached to large crowds or to just one person, the gospel is indeed God's power to save! - cf. Ro 1:16 2. When the gospel of Jesus is truly preached... a. The death of Jesus for our sins will be stressed b. The importance of baptism as commanded by Jesus will be mentioned as well 1) Such that people will want to know "what hinders me from being baptized?" 2) Such that people will want to baptized immediately c. The purpose of baptism will be properly understood, knowing that one can be baptized in private just as well as in public d. The necessity for a wholehearted faith in Jesus will be emphasized, otherwise one simply gets wet in baptism! Was your conversion anything like that of "The Ethiopian"? When someone "preached Jesus" to you, were you compelled to ask: "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" - Acts 8:36 If not, have you considered why not? Could it be that the gospel of Jesus Christ was not shared with you in its fullness...?
Should the Quran be Taken Literally?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Political correctness, like a narcotic, renders victims mindless and biased in the ability to see the obvious. In an attempt to evade the teachings of the Bible, theological liberals have long insisted that Bible statements are not to be taken literally. We have been told that we must not be “a literalist” when it comes to Bible interpretation and, when we read the Bible, we must not take it literally. Sadly, many Americans have been duped by over a century of propaganda perpetrated by higher critics who seek to undermine confidence in the inspiration of the Bible. Nevertheless, the evidence is decisive: the Bible possesses the attributes of inspiration that prove its divine origin.1 And its meanings, as originally intended by God, can be understood.
To suggest that the Bible is not to be taken literally is nonsensical. True, the Bible contains much figurative language, i.e., it includes figures of speech (e.g., simile, metaphor, hyperbole, metonymy, synecdoche, etc.)—just like our own English language (e.g., “quit cold turkey,” “stretch my legs,” “died laughing”). But figurative language still communicates meaning that can be comprehended. Do those who allege that the Bible is not to be literalized want us to interpret their allegation literally? Of course. Even if a few metaphors are “thrown” into the discussion, can we “grasp” what is being communicated? Yes, even as that question can be understood, though it contains two figurative expressions. Likewise the Bible may also be understood. It communicates literal truth. Any diligent student can ascertain the original intent of the divinely guided writers.
Though its divine origin has been decisively disputed,2 the same may be said of the Quran. It was written with a view to being understood. The host of passages that advocate violent jihad are unquestionably conveyed in contexts that demonstrate their literality. No figurative language alters the very plain meanings evident in the admonitions pertaining to physical warfare. For example, Surah 3 alludes to two literal battles fought by Muslim armies—the battle of Badr and the battle of Uhud. Consider Surah 47 in Mohammed Pickthall’s celebrated Muslim translation—
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks…. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain. He will guide them and improve their state, and bring them in unto the Garden [Paradise—DM] which He hath made known to them (Surah 47:4-6, emp. added).3No Muslim would deny that “those who disbelieve,” “actions,” and “Garden” (i.e., Paradise) are literal. Likewise, no true Quran-made Muslim would deny that “battle,” “slain,” and “smiting of the necks” are literal as well. This Surah is calling for Muslims to engage in literal violent warfare with unbelievers (i.e., those who do not accept Islam) by severing their heads. The sooner the politically correct, multicultural mindset faces reality, the sooner the threat posed by terrorists can be addressed in a meaningful manner.
Endnotes1 Kyle Butt (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press); Jackson, Wayne (1982), “The Holy Scriptures—Verbally Inspired,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/holyscri.pdf.
2 See Dave Miller (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
3 Mohammed Pickthall (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
The Unity of the Bible
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Most people who read the Bible in the 21st century rarely stop to think about the 66 different books that compose the sacred Scriptures. Because the 66 books fit together so perfectly, it is easy to consider them to be one organic unit. The major themes and stories from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, flow through the remaining books, and their meanings and implications are developed throughout the entire biblical library. Because of its seamless unity, few take the time to consider that the 66 books of the Bible were written over a vast period of time by a host of writers. The first five books of the Old Testament were composed by Moses in about 1,450 B.C. (see Lyons and Staff, 2003). Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, was written by John, the apostle of Jesus and brother of James, between the years 60-100 A.D. (see Guthrie, 1970, pp. 949-961). Thus, the composition of the entire library of 66 books spanned some 1,600 years.
During those years, the books of the Bible were penned by approximately 40 men of varying backgrounds, cultures, and educational status. The book of Amos was written by a herdsman from Tekoa (1:1). Many of the Psalms were written by David, the shepherd-boy-turned-king. Ezra, “skilled scribe in the Law of Moses,” penned the book that bears his name (7:6). Nehemiah, the butler to King Artaxerxes, wrote the Old Testament book named for him. King Solomon, renowned in the ancient world for his immense wisdom, penned the majority of the Proverbs and the entire books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. The apostle Paul, a man highly educated at the feet of the Jewish teacher Gamaliel, wrote 13 of the 27 New Testament books. Luke, the first-century physician, penned the gospel account that bears his name as well as the book of Acts. Other New Testament writers included John, Peter, and Matthew, who were fishermen with little formal education.
To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the 66 books that compose the Bible fit together perfectly. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible. In fact, it would be impossible from a human standpoint to gather the writings of 40 men from the same culture, with the same educational background, during the same time period, and get any thing close to the unity that is evident in the Bible. The Bible’s unity is a piece of remarkable evidence that proves its divine origin. The remainder of this article will be devoted to showing several different aspects of the Bible’s unity. [NOTE: One of the primary examples of the Bible’s unity revolves around the Messianic prophecies contained in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament. The Messianic theme underlies the entire text of the 66 books of the Bible, and has been explored previously in Reason & Revelation (cf. Butt, 2006a).]
UNITY OF NARRATIVE MATERIAL
Noah’s FloodThe historic narrative detailing the events of the global Flood of Noah provides an excellent example of the Bible’s unity. In Genesis 6-9, Moses recorded the events surrounding the greatest physical catastrophic event in Earth history. In this story, God chose a man named Noah to build a huge ark designed to carry at least two of every kind of animal, eight humans (Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives—Genesis 7:13), and all necessary supplies. When Noah completed the construction of this amazing vessel, Genesis records that God sent a flood to cover the entire globe. The text says: “And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.... And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man” (Genesis 7:19-21). The worldwide Flood destroyed every creature that had the breath of life except those saved in the ark. These events were recorded by Moses in about 1,450 B.C.
As we scan the remaining books of the Bible, we find perfect harmony in regard to the events surrounding Noah, his descendants, and the global Flood. In 1 Chronicles, the text suggests that Noah’s three sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth, exactly as Genesis 7:13 records (1:1). The prophet Isaiah also referred to Noah (chapter 54). In that text, the prophet recorded the words God spoke to the Israelites of Isaiah’s day: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you” (54:9). The oath to which Isaiah referred is found in Genesis 9:11, where God said to Noah: “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Remarkably, Isaiah’s comment exhibits a perfect understanding and awareness of God’s statement to Noah, yet the prophet’s writings were separated from Moses’ writing of the Pentateuch by more than 600 years. In addition, the prophet Ezekiel acknowledged the story of Noah when he recorded God’s Word to the Israelites of his day: “‘Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness’” (14:19-20).
The books of the New Testament exhibit the same unity in regard to the story of Noah as those of the Old. Matthew records the words of Jesus regarding Noah: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (24:36-39). Notice the points of agreement between Jesus’ statement and the Genesis record. Jesus said that Noah was the man who built the ark. He also said that a great flood destroyed “them all,” referring to everyone outside the ark, exactly as the Genesis account described. In fact, even though Jesus did not go into great detail, every aspect of His statement agrees perfectly with the information recorded in the Old Testament regarding the Flood. Luke recorded a similar statement by Jesus in Luke 17:26-27, which is the parallel passage to Matthew 24:36-39. He exhibited additional unity with Genesis in that he recorded that Noah’s son was Shem (Luke 3:36).
In Hebrews 11, the Bible writer stated: “By faith, Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (11:7) This passage in Hebrews concurs with various other passages that show that Noah built an ark by which his family was saved. Additionally, the apostle Peter twice mentioned Noah and the global Flood. He stated: “...when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). He also said: “[I]f God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5). Notice several things about Peter’s comments regarding Noah. First, he records that Noah was the man who built the ark. Then he gives the exact number of people who were saved in that ark—eight. This number corresponds perfectly with the statement in Genesis 7:13 in which Moses said that Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives were saved. Furthermore, Peter states that the Flood destroyed the “ungodly.” His description of the lifestyle of those destroyed in the Flood perfectly matches the Genesis account which states: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Thus, from the first book of the Old Testament through 2 Peter, one of the last books written in the New Testament, the Bible exhibits complete and perfect unity in its dealing with Noah and the Flood. [NOTE: It is not the purpose of this discussion to verify the veracity and truth of the global Flood of Noah. That has been done successfully elsewhere (see Thompson, 1999). The sole purpose of this discussion is to show that the various Bible writers agree with each other in their individual assessments and statements regarding Noah and the Flood.]
Sodom and GomorrahThe names of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are synonymous with wickedness throughout the books of the Bible. Genesis explains that Abraham and Lot had been traveling together after leaving the city of Haran. Due to the multitude of cattle possessed by both men, their respective herdsmen began to quarrel. Not wanting any root of strife to spring up between them, Abraham asked Lot to choose what land he would take, and Abraham suggested that he would separate from Lot by moving to a different area. Lot looked to the plain of Jordan and saw that it was well-watered, so he “pitched his tent even as far as Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). In the text immediately following Lot’s decision, the Bible says: “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13).
Sodom and its sister city Gomorrah were so sinful that the Lord decided to destroy the cities by sending fire and brimstone down from heaven to consume them. In Genesis 19, the text explains that Lot showed hospitality to angels sent from God. Lot attempted to protect the angels from being abused by the men of Sodom. In turn, the angels helped Lot escape the city before God destroyed it. The text also records that Lot’s wife disobeyed the commandment of God delivered by the angels when she looked back at the city. As punishment for her disobedience, she was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).
Throughout the 66 books of the Bible, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is referenced as an example of God’s hatred of sin and His righteous judgment. The city of Sodom is mentioned over 40 times. The large majority of these instances have to do with the destruction brought on the city due to the wickedness of its inhabitants. The prophet Isaiah, in prophesying about the destruction of Babylon, noted that the wicked city would “be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (13:19). In Jeremiah’s prophecy against the nation of Edom, the prophet said: “‘As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,’ says the Lord, ‘No one shall remain there, nor shall a son of man dwell in it’” (Jeremiah 49:18). Jeremiah also stated: “The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, with no hand to help her!” (Lamentations 4:6). Ezekiel mentioned that Sodom was proud and committed abominations in the sight of the Lord, therefore the Lord took the city away as He saw fit (16:50). Amos also referenced the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and associated it with fire and burning (4:11).
New Testament books present the same gruesome picture of wickedness and destruction as their Old Testament predecessors. In his gospel account, Luke recorded the words of Jesus, saying: “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all” (17:28-29, emp. added). Notice the similarities between the statement made by Jesus and the Old Testament narrative. First, Lot was associated with the city of Sodom. Second, the city was destroyed on “the day” that Lot left, as the Genesis accounts asserts. Third, the destruction was caused by fire and brimstone sent from heaven (cf. Genesis 19:24). Additionally, in Luke 17:31-32, when Jesus admonished His listeners not to look back when they fled Jerusalem, He said: “Remember Lot’s wife.” He was obviously referring to the fact that she was turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sodom.
The apostle Peter noted that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, turning them to ashes, but saved righteous Lot who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the Sodomites (2 Peter 2:6-8; cf. Jude 7). Lot’s righteousness is referenced by Peter and seen in the Genesis account when he confronted the wicked men of Sodom who were bent on abusing the visiting angels. Lot went out to the Sodomites and said: “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly” (Genesis 19:7). Also, the apostle John makes a passing reference to the wickedness of Sodom in Revelation 11:8. Thus, from the first book of the Old Testament to the last book of the New Testament, we have a completely unified picture of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah based on their wickedness.
In truth, the narratives of Noah’s Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are only two of literally hundreds of examples that could be produced to prove the Bible’s unity. Stories about Moses, Abraham, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Daniel, and Jonah provide equally impressive illustrations of the Bible’s perfect cohesion.
MORAL UNITY OF THE BIBLE
LyingThroughout the Bible, the writers consistently present lying in a negative light, describing it as sin. In John 8:44, Jesus is quoted as saying that the devil “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jesus’ statement about the devil is corroborated by the book of Genesis, in which the devil deceived Eve into thinking that she would escape death even if she disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-5,13). The apostle Paul also attested to Eve’s deception in 1 Timothy 2:14—“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
From the first chapters of Genesis, in which the devil’s first lie is recorded, to the last book of Revelation, lying is condemned wholesale. Moses scaled Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments from God, the ninth of which was, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5:20), or in other words, “you shall not lie about your neighbor.” The psalmist wrote: “I hate and abhor lying, but I love your law” (Psalm 119:163). Solomon, the wisest man alive during his time, wrote: “These six things the Lord hates...a lying tongue...a false witness who speaks lies” (Proverbs 6:16-19). The Old Testament prophets wrote similar statements about lying: “Now go, write it before them on a tablet...that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 30:8-9).
The New Testament continues the thought of the Old Testament in its denunciation of lying. On one occasion, a rich young man came to Jesus, asking Him what was necessary to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded by telling him to keep the commandments. The young man then asked Jesus which commandments he needed to keep. Jesus said: “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother” (Mark 10:19, emp. added). In speaking of lying, it has already been noted that Jesus attributed such activity to the devil, and condemned it as a practice that is totally foreign to the character of God (John 8:44).
Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, recorded the story of Ananias and Sapphira, in which God struck dead a man and his wife for lying (Acts 5:1-11). The apostle Paul, in his letter to the young preacher Titus, noted that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Paul also wrote to the Christians in Ephesus: “Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). In Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, John wrote: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Without fail, every Bible writer who comments on the moral value of lying condemns the practice. This fact, at first, may not seem remarkable, since many assume that lying has been condemned by every culture throughout history. But such is not the case. Under certain circumstances, a host of philosophers and teachers of morality have proposed that lying could be morally acceptable under certain circumstances. The atheistic writer Dan Barker is on record as saying: “We all know that it is sometimes necessary to tell a lie in order to protect someone from harm” (1992, p. 345, emp. added). Barker then illustrates with a scenario about a woman who is being hunted by her abusive husband, and he concluded: “I would consider it a moral act to lie to the man.” Yet, it is not only atheistic thinkers like Barker who have suggested that lying could be moral. The esteemed early church writers Origen and John Chrysostom both believed and wrote that under certain conditions, lying could be morally acceptable. And the Greek philosopher Plato took a similar stance (see Slater, 2007).
But the Bible states that lying is always morally wrong, never morally permissible. Throughout the 1,600 years of its production, the books of the Bible consistently maintain the idea that lying is immoral. The practice is never justified by any of the 40 different writers. Although skeptics have alleged that the Bible condones lying under certain circumstances, such allegations have been proven to be baseless and false (see Thompson and Estabrook, 2004). Not a single Bible writer swayed even a fraction in the unanimous condemnation of lying as a moral evil.
Additional examples of the moral unity of the Bible could easily be cited, including the Bible’s condemnation of adultery, the command to honor one’s parents, the prohibition on stealing and a host of others. [NOTE: The skeptic sometimes argues that since the Old Testament Law is no longer in force and the New Testament regulations differ from the Old, then God’s moral code changed as well. However, this allegation is false. By altering the system of animal sacrifices and physical ordinances in the Old Testament, God’s morality did not alter. For example, if the rules of baseball changed so that a person gets four strikes instead of three, that would not mean that the person could cheat by using a weighted bat. Changes in regulations are not equivalent to changes in moral judgments.]
DOCTRINAL UNITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Elder QualificationsLiterally thousands of instances of internal agreement between the New Testament books could be listed. One such example involves the subtle mention of Peter as an elder. In 1 Peter 5:1, the text says: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed” (emp. added). Of interest is the fact that, to be an elder, a man must be the “husband of one wife,” as stated by Paul in his letter to Titus (1:6). From reading Luke’s account of Jesus’ life, we discover that on one occasion Jesus visited Simon Peter’s house, at which time He healed Peter’s “wife’s mother” of a high fever (4:38). Thus, we know that Peter was married and would meet the requirement to become an elder by being the husband of one wife. Of further interest is the fact that the apostle Paul, although he provided immense teaching and edification to the church, is never described as holding the office of elder in the church. The context of 1 Corinthians 11 indicates that Paul remained unmarried so that he could focus his attention on his ministry. Thus, Paul would not have been the husband of one wife, and would not have been qualified to be an elder. When these facts are synthesized, then, we can understand that subtle statements in the books of 1 Peter, Titus, Luke, and 1 Corinthians intertwine perfectly to give a consistent picture of the qualifications of an elder as they related to the lives of Peter and Paul.
The Lord’s SupperThe examples and instructions pertaining to the Lord’s Supper provide another clear instance of New Testament unity. Near the end of all four gospel accounts, Jesus and the 12 apostles gathered in an upper room to eat the Passover. During that feast, Jesus instituted what is commonly known today as the Lord’s Supper. Luke’s account of the event states: “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’” (22:19-20). The Lord’s Supper, also known as communion (1 Corinthians 10:16), has been eaten in the assemblies of the church since its establishment.
Interestingly, the apostle Paul was not present with the Lord and the other apostles that night. In fact, during that time, his name was still Saul, and he was an unconverted Jewish leader. Yet, several years after his conversion, in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, emp. added).Notice how similar Paul’s wording is to Jesus’ statements in Luke. Both Luke and Paul acknowledge that this took place the night of Christ’s betrayal. Paul then quotes Jesus verbatim in several lines, in complete accord with the accounts recorded in the Gospel.
Where does Paul claim to have gotten the information regarding the Lord’s Supper? He explained to the Corinthians that he had received it “from the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:23). But if Paul was not in the upper room the night of the betrayal, how would he have received such information “from the Lord”? In the first chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, he is forced to defend his apostleship. In that context, he wrote to the Galatians: “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Thus, Paul’s statement that he had received the information concerning the Lord’s Supper from Jesus would be consistent with the direct communication with Christ he claims to have had when writing to the Galatians. [NOTE: I am not, here, trying to defend Paul’s claim of inspiration and direct revelation from Christ. The external evidences for the Bible’s inspiration have been discussed previously in Reason & Revelation (cf. Butt, 2004a; Butt, 2004b; Butt, 2006b; Butt, 2006c). Paul’s statements in this connection are being used solely to show the unity and internal consistency in the New Testament writings.]
In addition to the remarkable consistency and similarity of Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 11 concerning the Lord’s Supper and those in the gospel accounts, other information regarding the communion confirms the unity of the New Testament documents. The gospel accounts make it clear that Jesus rose “on the first day of the week” (cf. John 20:1; Luke 24:1; Mark 16:2; Matthew 28:1). In 1 Corinthians 11, in the context of the Lord’s Supper, Paul explains that the Corinthians were “coming together” to take the Lord’s Supper. His statements indicate that the church at Corinth was eating the Lord’s Supper during their worship assembly. Five chapters later, when Paul gave instructions for the monetary collection of the church, he wrote: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2). This verse indicates that the Corinthian church met on the first day of the week, at which time they would have eaten the Lord’s Supper and taken up their monetary contribution.
In Acts 20:7, the text states: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them....” The phrase “to break bread” is used here to refer to the Lord’s Supper (see Lyons, 2005b). Thus, the Bible provides an example of the church taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week and the Corinthian church meeting on the first day of the week to take up their collection and eat the Lord’s Supper. The first day of the week was the New Testament day of meeting based on the historical fact that Jesus rose on that day. Such internal consistency between Luke, Acts, and 1 Corinthians testifies to the New Testament’s inspiration.
BaptismThroughout the New Testament, various Bible writers address the theme of baptism with remarkable consistency. Such consistency is even more impressive in light of the varied and contradictory opinions held by many today in the religious world about the subject.
After Jesus’ resurrection, just before His ascension, He called His disciples together and issued to them what is often called the Great Commission. He said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). From His instructions, it is clear that baptism plays a key role in the conversion of the lost. In fact, in Mark’s account of the Gospel, he quotes Jesus as saying: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Mark’s account of Jesus’ statement clarifies the role of baptism, showing that it is an essential step in the salvation process.
The book of Acts records the history of the disciples fulfilling the Great Commission given to them by Christ. In Acts 2, we have the first recorded gospel sermon preached by Peter to the Jews in Jerusalem. In his powerful sermon, Peter explained to the Jews that they had crucified Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God. Many of the hearers believed Peter and asked what they needed to do. Peter responded by saying: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Notice that Peter connected baptism with the remission of sins, completely consistent with Jesus’ statement in Mark requiring baptism for salvation. Throughout the book of Acts, water baptism is presented as a necessary step in the conversion of the lost to Christ (Acts 8:37-38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15,31-33; 19:5). In fact, when the apostle Paul recounted his conversion, he quoted Ananias’ statement to him as follows: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Here, again, baptism is connected with the washing away or forgiveness of sins.
In the epistles, baptism is consistently presented in a way that conforms perfectly to the gospel accounts and Acts. In his letter to the Romans, Paul stated:
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).In these verses, Paul states that a person is baptized into Christ (cf. Galatians 3:27). In 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul says that salvation is in Christ. Thus, to obtain the salvation that is in Christ one must be baptized into Christ. Also note that Paul says that a person is baptized into the death of Christ (cf. Colossians 2:12). In Ephesians 1:7, Paul stated that the blood of Christ is the spiritual force that forgives a person’s sins. That blood was shed at His death. Thus, when a person is baptized into Christ’s death, he or she contacts the blood of Christ, linking baptism with the forgiveness of sins exactly as is presented in Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, and as is implied in Mark 16:15-16. The apostle Peter also spoke on baptism in a way that coincides flawlessly with Paul, Luke, Matthew, and Mark. Peter said: “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Notice that Peter connects baptism to salvation as the other writers, dependent upon the resurrection of Christ, exactly as Paul did. The New Testament’s presentation of baptism provides an outstanding illustration of the unity of the New Testament books. [NOTE: Skeptics often have accused the Bible of being contradictory on certain points regarding the doctrine of baptism. For a refutation of such an idea see Lyons, 2005a, pp. 193-198.]
The Writers Copied Each OtherThe skeptic may attempt to suggest that much of the agreement and unity found in the Bible is unremarkable because the writers could have copied the information from books that were written prior to their own writings. Let us critically consider such an objection. First, the mere objection assumes the perfect unity of the 66 books of the Bible. Why would a skeptic be forced to suggest that the various writers copied each other if their unity and agreement could be disputed? The fact that the skeptic must resort to this charge is evidence of the reality of the Bible’s unity.
Second, this allegation assumes that the various Old Testament prophets and New Testament writers had access to perfectly preserved texts of the various books they were “copying.” Interestingly, skeptics often deny the accurate and complete transmission of the text. If a skeptic demands that the unity is a result of copying, he will be forced to admit the astonishing preservation of the text of the Bible. And, while the Christian gladly acknowledges that such preservation did occur, and that some material would naturally be based on previous texts, it is not the case that the various writers would have had ready access to all the texts before they wrote.
Furthermore, non-canonical writers who had many of the same texts preserved for them wrote material that contradicted the canonical Scriptures. How is it that not a single book in the 66-book canon contains a single legitimate contradiction? Even if every writer had a copy of every other book in front of him before he wrote, such unity would be impossible from a human standpoint. In truth, individuals often contradict their own writings due to a slip of the mind or a change in their previous thinking. Yet no such slips, changes, or other aberrant occurrences can be found in the 66-book library of the Bible.
The Bible Contains ContradictionsSkeptics often suggest that the unity of the Bible is only superficial. They say that even though it might look like it is unified in its themes, on closer inspection it contains hundreds of discrepancies and contradictions. Dennis McKinsey, the author of The Skeptics Annotated Bible, stated:
Every analyst of the Bible should realize that the Book is a veritable miasma of contradictions, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, poor science, bad math, inaccurate geography, immoralities, degenerate heroes, false prophecies, boring repetitions, childish superstitions, silly miracles, and dry-as-dust discourse. But contradictions remain the most obvious, the most potent, the most easily proven, and the most common problem to plague the Book (1995, p. 71, emp. added).Yet, McKinsey and others have no legitimate basis to support the accusation that the Bible contradicts itself. Christian apologist Eric Lyons has done extensive work on the subject of alleged Bible contradictions, in which he has successfully refuted the idea that the various books of the Bible contradict each other. He has written two volumes of The Anvil Rings that provide over 500 pages of material refuting specific accusations made by the skeptic (2003; 2005a). In fact, for the last 2,000 years, a long line of competent Christian apologists have thoroughly and effectively refuted the charges of alleged biblical discrepancies (e.g., Gaussen, 1850; Haley, 1876; et al.). Even a cursory look at such research forces the honest student to conclude that if the Bible does, in fact, contain a genuine contradiction of some kind, it has not yet been found. When all the facts are considered, each alleged biblical contradiction has been shown to be something other than a legitimate contradiction. That is a powerful statement, considering the fact that no book in the world has been examined more closely or scrutinized more carefully. After the Bible has been put under the high-powered microscope of hostile criticism, and dissected by the razor-sharp scalpel of supposed contradictions, it rises from the surgery with no scratches or scars, none the worse for wear.
Butt, Kyle (2004a), “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” Reason & Revelation, 24:17-23.
Butt, Kyle (2004b), “Archaeology and the New Testament,” Reason & Revelation, 24:89-95.
Butt, Kyle (2006a), “The Predicted Messiah,” Reason & Revelation, 26:1-7.
Butt, Kyle (2006b), “Scientific Foreknowledge and Medical Acumen of the Bible,” Reason & Revelation, 26:89-95.
Butt, Kyle (2006c), “Tyre in Prophecy,” Reason & Revelation, 24:73-79.
Gaussen, L. (1850), Theopneustia: The Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (London: Johnstone & Hunter).
Guthrie, Donald (1970), New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press), third edition.
Haley, John (1876), An Examination of the Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Lyons, Eric (2003), The Anvil Rings: Volume 1 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2005a), The Anvil Rings: Volume 2 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2005b), “‘Breaking Bread’ on the ‘First Day’ of the Week” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/343.
Lyons, Eric and A.P. Staff (2003), “Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch,” Reason & Revelation, 23:1-7.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Slater, T. (2007), “Lying,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09469a.htm.
Thompson, Bert (1999), The Global Flood of Noah (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Thompson, Bert and Sam Estabrook (2004), “Does the Story of Rahab Mean that God Condones Lying?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/535.
The Moral Argument for the Existence of God
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In November 2006, several of the world’s leading atheistic evolutionary scientists gathered in La Jolla, California for the first “Beyond Belief” symposium (see Lyons and Butt, 2007), which the scientific journal New Scientist called “an ‘atheist love fest’” (Reilly, 2007, 196:7). The conference was held to discuss science, religion, and God, and specifically whether science should “do away with religion” (Brooks, 2006, 192:9). New Scientist writer Michael Brooks summarized the overall attitude of the attendees in the following words: “science can take on religion and win” (p. 11). The participants were ready to roll up their sleeves and “get on with it” (p. 11). They were ready to put science “In Place of God,” as Brooks titled his article.
Fast-forward one year to 2007—to the “Beyond Belief II” symposium—where some of the participants apparently approached the idea of a Supernatural Being much more cautiously. Even New Scientist, who covered the conference for a second year in a row, chose a drastically different article title the second time around—from “In Place of God” to the more sober, “God’s Place in a Rational World” (see Reilly, 196:7, emp. added). Author Michael Reilly gave some insight into the meeting by recording what one attendee, Edward Slingerland of the University of British Columbia (and founder of the Centre for the Study of Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture), openly acknowledged.
“Religion is not going away,” he announced. Even those of us who fancy ourselves rationalists and scientists, he said, rely on moral values—a set of distinctly unscientific beliefs.
Where, for instance, does our conviction that human rights are universal come from? “Humans’ rights to me are as mysterious as the holy trinity.... You can’t do a CT scan to show where humans’ rights are, you can’t cut someone open and show us their human rights.... It’s not an empirical thing, it’s just something we strongly believe. It’s a purely metaphysical entity” (p. 7, emp. added).Although some at the conference had the naïve belief that “[g]iven time and persistence, science will conquer all of nature’s mysteries” (Reilly, p. 7, emp. added), it is encouraging to know that at least one person alluded to one of the greatest proofs for God’s existence—the moral argument.
OBJECTIVE MORALITYWhy do most rational people believe in objective morality? That is, why do people generally think that some actions are “right” and some actions are “wrong,” regardless of people’s subjective opinions? Why do most people believe that it is “evil” or “wicked” (1) for someone to walk into a random house, shoot everyone in it, and steal everything in sight? (2) for a man to beat and rape a kind, innocent woman? (3) for an adult to torture an innocent child simply for the fun of it? or (4) for parents to have children for the sole purpose of abusing them sexually every day of their lives? Because, as evolutionist Edward Slingerland noted, humans have metaphysical rights—rights that are “a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses” (“Metaphysical,” 2011)—and “rely on moral values.” The fact is, most people, even many atheists, have admitted that real, objective good and evil exist.
Antony FlewDuring the last half of the 20th century, Dr. Antony Flew, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading in Reading, England, was considered one of the world’s most well known atheistic philosophers. From 1955-2000, he lectured and wrote extensively on matters pertaining to atheism. Some of his works include, but in no way are limited to, God and Philosophy (1966), Evolutionary Ethics (1967), Darwinian Evolution (1984), The Presumption of Atheism (1976), and Atheistic Humanism (1993). In September 1976, Dr. Flew debated Dr. Thomas B. Warren, Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Christian Apologetics at Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to this four-night debate on the existence of God, Warren, in agreement with the rules of the debate, asked Flew several questions in writing, including the following: “True/False. In murdering six million Jewish men, women, and children the Nazis were guilty of real (objective) moral wrong.” Flew answered “True.” He acknowledged the existence of “real (objective) moral wrong” (Warren and Flew, 1977, p. 248). [NOTE: In 2004, Flew started taking steps toward theism as he acknowledged the impossibility of a purely naturalistic explanation for life. See Miller, 2004 for more information.]
Wallace MatsonIn 1978, Dr. Warren met Dr. Wallace Matson, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California in Berkeley, California, in a public debate on the existence of God in Tampa, Florida. Once again, per the agreed-upon guidelines, the disputants were allowed to ask up to 10 questions prior to their debate. Once more, Warren asked: “True/False. In murdering six million Jewish men, women, and children the Nazis were guilty of real (objective) moral wrong.” Like Flew, Matson answered “True:” “real (objective) moral wrong” exists (Warren and Matson, 1978, p. 353). Matson even acknowledged in the affirmative (i.e., “true”) that “[i]f you had been a soldier during World War II and if the Nazis (1) had captured you and (2) had given you the choice of either joining them in their efforts to exterminate the Jews or being murdered, you would have had the objective moral obligation to die rather than to join them in the murder of Jewish men, women, and children” (p. 353, underline in orig.). Do not miss the point: Matson not only said that the Nazis were guilty of objective moral wrong, he even indicated that a person would have the “objective moral obligation to die” rather than join up with the murderous Nazi regime.
As Easy as 2 + 2Although objective morality may be outside the realm of the scientific method, every rational person can know that some things are innately good, while other things are innately evil. Antony Flew and Wallace Matson, two of the leading atheistic philosophers of the 20th century, forthrightly acknowledged the existence of objective morality. Though at times atheist Michael Ruse has seemed opposed to the idea of moral objectivity (see Ruse, 1989, p. 268), evenhe admitted in his book Darwinism Defended that “[t]he man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children, is just asmistaken as the man who says that 2 + 2 = 5” (1982, p. 275, emp. added). Indeed, one of the many reasons that “religion (i.e., God—EL) is not going away,” to use Edward Slingerland’s words, is because moral values are a metaphysical reality (cf. Romans 2:14-15). Philosophers Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl said it well: “Those who deny obvious moral rules—who say that murder and rape are morally benign, that cruelty is not a vice, and that cowardice is a virtue—do not merely have a different moral point of view; theyhave something wrong with them” (1998, p. 59, emp. added).
THE MORAL ARGUMENTThe moral argument for the existence of God has been stated in a variety of ways through the centuries. One way in which the basic argument has been worded is as follows (see Craig, n.d.; Craig and Tooley, 1994; Cowan, 2005, p. 166):
Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.Thomas B. Warren worded the argument in a positive, more detailed manner in his debates with atheist Antony Flew (p. 173) and Wallace Matson (p. 285).
Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
Conclusion: God exists.
- If the moral code and/or actions of any individual or society can properly be subjects of criticism (as to real moral wrong), then there must be some objective standard (some “higher law which transcends the provincial and transient”) which is other than the particular moral code and which has an obligatory character which can be recognized.
- The moral code and/or actions of any individual or society can properly be subjects of criticism (as to real moral wrong).
- Therefore, there must be some objective standard (some “higher law which transcends the provincial and transient”) which is other than the particular moral code and which has an obligatory character which can be recognized.
So were the Nazis guilty of “real (objective) moral wrong”? According to atheist Antony Flew, they were (Warren and Flew, p. 248). Atheist Wallace Matson agreed (Warren and Matson, p. 353). Whether theist or atheist, most rational people admit that some things really are atrocious. People do not merely feel like rape and child abuse may be wrong; they are wrong—innately wrong. Just as two plus two can really be known to be four, every rational human can know that some things are objectively good, while other things are objectively evil. However, reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective point of reference. If something (e.g., rape) “can properly be the subject of criticism (as to real moral wrong) then there must be some objective standard (some ‘higher law which transcends the provincial and transient’) which is other than the particular moral code and which has an obligatory character which can be recognized” (Warren and Matson, p. 284, emp. added).
DOES ATHEISM PROVIDE A LEGITIMATE OBJECTIVE STANDARD FOR MORALITY?Recognition by atheists of anything being morally wrong begs the question: How can an atheistlogically call something atrocious, deplorable, evil, or wicked? According to atheism, man is nothing but matter in motion. Humankind allegedly evolved from rocks and slime over billions of years. But who ever speaks of “wrong rocks,” “moral minerals,” “corrupt chemicals,” or “sinful slime?” People do not talk about morally depraved donkeys, evil elephants, or immoral monkeys. Pigs are not punished for being immoral when they eat their young. Komodo dragons are not corrupt because 10% of their diet consists of younger Komodo dragons. Killer whales are not guilty of murder. Black widows are not exterminated simply because the female often kills the male after copulation. Male animals are not tried for rape if they appear to forcibly copulate with females (cf. Thornhill, 2001). Dogs are not depraved for stealing the bone of another dog.
The fact that humans even contemplate morality testifies to the huge chasm between man and animals. Atheistic evolutionists have admitted that morals arise only in humans. According to Antony Flew, man is a moral being, yet “value did not exist before the first human being” (Warren and Flew, p. 248). Flew believed that morals came into existence only after man evolved, not beforehand when allegedly only animals existed on Earth. Though George Gaylord Simpson, one of the most recognized atheistic evolutionists of the 20th century, believed that “man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind,” he confessed that “[g]ood and evil, right and wrong, concepts irrelevant in nature except from the human viewpoint, become real and pressing features of the whole cosmos as viewed morally because morals arise only in man” (1951, p. 179, emp. added). Atheists admit that people (i.e., even “atheists”) have “their own innate sense of morality” (“Do Atheists…?, n.d.). No rational person makes such admissions about animals. As evolutionist Edward Slingerland stated, “Humans,” not animals, “rely on moral values” (as quoted in Reilly, 2007, 196:7).
Atheistic evolution cannot logically explain morals. Real, objective moral right or wrong cannot exist if humans are the offspring of animals. Young people (who are not allowed to act like animals at school) are frequently “reminded” in public school textbooks that they are the offspring of animals. According to one Earth science textbook, “Humans probably evolved from bacteria that lived more than 4 billion years ago” (Earth Science, 1989, p. 356).
When I graduated from high school in 1994, millions of public high school students in America were introduced to a new biology textbook by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. What sort of amazing things did they learn? For one, they were informed, “You are an animal and share a common heritage with earthworms” (Johnson, 1994, p. 453, emp. added). Allegedly, man not only descended from fish and four-footed beasts, we are beasts. Charles Darwin declared in chapter two of his book The Descent of Man: “My object in this chapter is solely to show that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties” (1871, 1:34). More recently, evolutionary environmentalist David Suzuki was interviewed by Jo Marchant of New Scientist magazine. Suzuki proclaimed: “[W]e must acknowledge that we are animals.... We like to think of ourselves as elevated above other creatures. But the human body evolved” from animals (as quoted in Marchant, 2008, 200:44, emp. added). One has to look no further than Marchant’s title to know his view of humanity. Allegedly, “We Should Act Like the Animals We Are” (p. 44, emp. added). The fact is, as Thomas B. Warren concluded in his debate with Antony Flew, “[T]he basic implication of the atheistic system does not allow objective moral right or objective moral wrong” (1977, p. 49).
ATHEISM: CONTRADICTORY AT BEST, HIDEOUS AT WORSTAtheists cannot logically condemn the Nazis for objective moral evil, while simultaneously saying that we arose from rocks and rodents. They cannot reasonably rebuke a child molester for being immoral, while at the same time believing that we evolved from slime. Reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective reference point. As Warren stated: “[T]here must be some objective standard (some “higher law which transcends the provincial and transient”) which is other than the particular moral code and which has an obligatory character which can be recognized” (Warren and Matson, p. 284).
Atheists find themselves in a conundrum: (1) They must admit to objective morality (which ultimately means that a moral lawgiver, i.e., God, Who is above and beyond the provincial and the transient, exists); or, (2) They must contend that everything is relative—that no action on Earth could ever be objectively good or evil. Rather, everything is subjective and situational.
Relatively few atheists seem to have had the courage (or audacity) to say forthrightly that atheism implies that objective good and evil do not exist. However, a few have. Some of the leading atheists and agnostics in the world, in fact, understand that if there is no God, then there can be no ultimate, binding standard of morality for humanity. Charles Darwin understood perfectly the moral implications of atheism, which is one reason he gave for being “content to remain an Agnostic” (1958, p. 94). In his autobiography, he wrote: “A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones” (1958, p. 94, emp. added). If a person has the urge to suffocate innocent children, like a snake may suffocate its victims (including people), then, if there is no God, there is no objective moral law against suffocating children. If a person impulsively drowns a kind elderly person, similar to a crocodile drowning its prey, then, if atheism is true, this action could neither be regarded as objectively good or evil.
According to Richard Dawkins, one of the early 21st century’s most famous atheists, “[L]ife has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA” (1995, 273:80):
So long as DNA is passed on, it does not matter who or what gets hurt in the process. Genes don’t care about suffering, because they don’t care about anything…. DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music…. This universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference (p. 85, emp. added).Although Dawkins could never prove that life’s sole purpose is to perpetuate DNA, he is right about one thing: if there is no God, then there is no good and no evil, only “pitiless indifference.” “It does not matter” to atheistic evolution “who or what gets hurt.”
Like Darwin and Dawkins, atheistic evolutionary biologist William Provine implicitly acknowledged the truthfulness of the first premise of the moral argument as stated by philosophers Craig and Cowan (“If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist”). In 1988, Provine penned an article for The Scientist titled, “Scientists, Face It! Science and Religion are Incompatible” (2:10). Although true science and Christianity live in perfect harmony with each other, Provine, in so far as he was referring to evolutionary science and its implications, was exactly right: evolutionary science and religion are incompatible. According to Provine,
No purposive principles exist in nature. Organic evolution has occurred by various combinations of random genetic drift, natural selection, Mendelian heredity, and many other purposeless mechanisms. Humans are complex organic machines that die completely with no survival of soul or psyche. Humans and other animals make choices frequently, but these are determined by the interaction of heredity and environment and are not the result of free will. No inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life (1988, p. 10, emp. added).Provine went on in the article to accuse evolutionists who fail to take their theory to its logical conclusion of suffering from the “trying to have one’s cake and eat it, too” syndrome. He supposed that they may be acting out of fear or wishful thinking or may just be intellectually dishonest. Why? Because they do not boldly admit what he does: atheistic evolution is true. Therefore, “No inherent moral or ethical laws exist.”
Atheistic philosopher Jean Paul Sartre summarized atheism well in a lecture he gave in 1946 titled “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Sartre stated, “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist…. [H]e cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself ” (1989, emp. added). “If God does not exist,” Sartre recognized that we have no “values or commands that could legitimise our behaviour. Thus we have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse” (1989).
Though few they may be, atheists such as Provine, Sartre, and others refuse to walk down the road of contradiction. That is, rather than deny the premise: “If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist,” they acknowledge it: “[e]verything is indeed permitted if God does not exist” (Sartre, 1989). Yet, if atheists refuse to admit that real moral objectivity exists, then they are forced to admit that, for example, when the Jews were starved, gassed, and experimented on “like the animals” they reportedly were (cf. Marchant, 2008), the Nazis did nothing inherently wrong. They were, to borrow from Provine, merely complex organic, meaningless mechanisms that chose to follow the orders of the Fuhrer. Or, to apply Dawkins reasoning, how could Hitler be guilty of wrong doing if he was simply trying to perpetuate the survival of the “best” DNA possible? “[I]t does not matter who or what gets hurt in the process,” right? “So long as DNA is passed on” (Dawkins, 273:85). Should we not just react with “pitiless indifference” since atheism implies that objective good and evil do not exist (p. 85)?
What about most of humanity’s condemnation of rape as an objective moral evil? Is it really an inherently evil act? Although evolutionist Randy Thornhill, co-author of the book A Natural History of Rape, “would like to see rape eradicated from human life” (Thornhill and Palmer, 2000, p. xi), he touted in a 2001 speech he delivered in Vancouver that rape is actually “evolutionary, biological and natural…. Our male ancestors became ancestors in part because they conditionally used rape” (2001). According to Thornhill and Palmer, “Evolutionary theory applies to rape, as it does to other areas of human affairs, on both logical and evidentiary grounds. There is no legitimate scientific reason not to apply evolutionary or ultimate hypotheses to rape…. Human rape arises from men’s evolved machinery for obtaining a high number of mates in an environment where females choose mates” (2000, pp. 55,190). If God does not exist, and if man evolved from lower life forms, in part because they “conditionally used rape,” then even rape cannot be called an objective moral evil. In fact, that is exactly what atheist Dan Barker admitted.
In his 2005 debate with Peter Payne on Does Ethics Require God?, Barker stated: “All actions are situational. There is not an action that is right or wrong. I can think of an exception in any case” (emp. added). Four years later, Kyle Butt asked Barker in their debate on the existence of God, “When would rape be acceptable?” (2009, p. 33). Although Barker tried to make his response as palatable as possible, he ultimately admitted that rape would be permissible if, for example, it meant saving humanity from certain destruction (pp. 33-34). [NOTE: One wonders how Barker can logically say that no actions are right or wrong, but then claim that situation ethics is right? Such a claim is a self-defeating statement. “Nothing is right. But situation ethics is right!?” Furthermore, on what basis does Barker think it is “right” to save humanity? His entire answer ultimately contradicts his already contradictory contentions.] Barker went on to admit (and even disturbingly joke) that it would be acceptable to rape two, two thousand, or even two million women, if, say, it resulted in saving six billion people from hypothetical alien invaders (p. 34). [NOTE: Alien invaders are not really all that imaginary in the world of atheism. After all, since life supposedly evolved on Earth, according to atheistic evolutionists it had to have also evolved in one form or another on some other distant planets in the Universe.] Do not miss the point. Dan Barker admitted that rape would be acceptable given certain circumstances. One obvious question is: who gets to decide the circumstances that warrant the rape of innocent women? Who is Barker to say that a man would be wrong to rape a woman for revenge, say, because she crashed into his new car? Or, who is Barker to say that it would be wrong to rape a woman for stealing $1,000 from him, etc. The fact is, once Barker (or any atheist) alleges that (1) God does not exist, and (2) therefore, “[n]o inherent moral or ethical laws exist” (Provine, 1988, 2:10; a logical deduction if God does not exist), then no one can logically be criticized for anything. As Sartre put it: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist” (1989). Rape, child abuse, multiple murder, pedophilia, bestiality, etc. cannot be condemned as objective evil, if God does not exist.
What happens when atheistic evolutionists take their godless philosophy to its logical conclusion, at least theoretically? They unveil the true, hideous nature of atheism. Consider, for example, the comments evolutionary ecologist Eric Pianka made in 2006 in Beaumont, Texas where he was recognized as the Distinguished Texas Scientist of the Year. According to Forrest M. Mimms, III, Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, Pianka condemned “the idea that humankind occupies a privileged position in the Universe” and “hammered his point home by exclaiming, ‘We’re no better than bacteria!’” (Mims, 2006). Pianka followed up this comment by expressing his concerns “about how human overpopulation is ruining the Earth” (Mims). According to Mims,
Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.... His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world’s population is airborne Ebola (Ebola Reston), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years (2006; for more information, see Butt, 2008, 28:51-52).
Although most people (a good 90% anyway) find Pianka’s suggestion appalling, if atheism is true, and humanity really “evolved from bacteria” (Earth Science, 1989, p. 356), there would be nothing inherently wrong for a man to attempt to murder billions of people, especially if he is doing it for a “good” reason (i.e., to save the only planet in the Universe on which we know for sure life exists). [NOTE: Again, such a reason that is deemed “good” can only exist if God does.]
CONCLUSIONThe moral argument for God’s existence exposes atheism as the self-contradictory, atrocious philosophy that it is. Atheists must either reject the truthfulness of the moral argument’s first premise (“If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist”) and illogically accept the indefensible idea that objective morality somehow arose from rocks and reptiles, or (2) they must reject the argument’s second premise (“Objective moral values exist”), and accept the insane, utterly repulsive idea that genocide, rape, murder, theft, child abuse, etc. can never once be condemned as objectively “wrong.” According to atheism, individuals who commit such actions are merely doing what their DNA led them to do. They are simply following through with their raw impulses and instincts, which allegedly evolved from our animal ancestors. What’s more, if atheism is true, individuals could never logically be punished for such immoral actions, since “no inherent moral or ethical laws exist” (Provine, 1988, p. 10).
For those who refuse to have God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28), life will forever be filled with the self-contradictory, unreasonable, inhumane lies of atheistic evolution. Indeed, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1a). When atheists actually follow through with their godless philosophy and let it complete its journey of indifference, they peel back the phony charming façade of atheism and reveal it for what the psalmist said that it actually is: corrupt and abominable, where no one does good (Psalm 14:1b). On the other hand, when theists follow the evidence to the Creator (cf. Psalm 19:1-4), they discover a benevolent God Who is good (Psalm 100:5; Mark 10:18) and Who demands that His obedient followers “do good to all” (Galatians 6:10).
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