Donald R. Fox

NATIONAL SECURITY: Lately there has been a mish-mash of articles and rhetoric from a variety of peoples stating that we, the USA, cannot violate our values. This sprigs from the so-called torture of known terrorists who had information, because we needed to protect the citizenship of our nation. Personally, I believe the use of the word torture is over stated. O yes, we need to obtain information from these terrorists who would love to cut our throats or better yet set off an atomic bomb in down-town Manhattan. The greatest responsibility of government is to protect its citizens!

Some critics are now condemning the USA for the way we conducted war operations during WW2. What our government did during this era was to end a terrible worldwide war. Our President, our Generals and right down to the foot soldiers and sailors, did their job; they won the war bringing peace. How dare some present-day Americans to condemn our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers for what they did during this Great War? Some sound off on subjects, they know nothing about and say, “It’s against our values." This is pure nonsense! I am being judgmental now: some who make such a type of statements don’t understand what true values or standards are.

Now to the point: As citizens, we need to allow our armed forces, CIA and other type National Security agencies to do their job. Period! The type of loose-lip talking, we have today would not have been tolerated during WW2. In my opinion, the word treason needs to be brushed off and used again. Many of these modern liberal critics are giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies. Mark that down!

ETHICAL AND MORAL ISSUES: There have always been “gay folks” and the like. In times past they lived a quieter and reserved life-style. They did not push themselves on the general public within your face hate speech, demanding you accept his or her life style as normal. There are the militant demanding and acceptance of same-sex marriage with the ridicule of anyone who defends “traditional marriage between a man and a woman." Truly, a mixed value storm! Traditionally, marriage between one man and one woman is a long established and accepted value system, is it not?

THE WORD OF GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL TRUE VALUES: When God’s standards are applied; there are great stability and peace in our society. The huge problem is that man has determined to be his own judge as to values. Their wants, determines and decides what is right or wrong. Not so! The do your own thing crowd may spout their value system; however, that does not make it right. We must not allow ourselves to drift toward a wrong value system. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be very careful, “that we hence forth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14).
A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6; 21:25)
In the midst of all this confusion and despite the seeming victory of the forces of evil if we will keep our heads we will not be shaken from our steadfastness or moved away from the hope of the gospel.”

One Ship drives East and another West,
While the self same breezes blow;

‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale

That determines the way they go

As the winds of the sea so ways of fate

As we journey along through life,
Tis the set of the soul that decides the goal
And not the calm or the strife.”

(Reference: Page 162-163, Forty Years On The Firing Line, by G. C. Brewer, Copyright, 1948 by Old Paths Book Club, Kansas City, Missouri)

NOTE: See essays titled “VALUES” and “WISHY WASHY ETHICS” for additional study.

When “Doing Good” Is Bad By Allen Webster


When “Doing Good” Is Bad

By Allen Webster

Thesis:  There is a time for serving others in material tasks, and a time when we shouldn’t.
Once Martha became aggravated at Mary and said to the Lord, “. . . dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” (Luke 10:40).  Jesus reprimanded her for serving!  He said, “. . . Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (10:41-42).  It was good to fix a meal for the Lord; it was better to listen to him teach.  This applies today to someone who misses the Bible class to fix a dish for the noon fellowship meal or to someone who forsakes worshipping the Lord to mow a widow’s lawn.  It’s good to fix a dish or mow a lawn, but it should be done at a different time.  Families who have to sit with the sick should schedule the shifts during church services to family members who do not attend (if you can’t get them to go) so all God’s saints can join in worship.  It is also overkill for a whole family to stay home with one sick person.  Let all those who can, go.  (Incidentally, on another occasion Martha’s service was appropriate, John 12:2.) The elder brother shows that reward for service can be cancelled out by a bad attitude.  He answered his father, “Lo, these many years do I serve thee . . .” (Luke 15:29), but his father insisted that he needed to forgive his prodigal brother and enter the feast (15:32).  The son, representing the Pharisees, reminds us that we do not put God in our debt by our service.  Rather, to use Jesus’ words:  “. . . when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).  We are saved to serve; but we cannot serve to be saved.  We might be great “church workers” and still miss heaven if we harbor ill-will toward a brother or sister.  If we manifest a sour “wish-I-were-somewhere-else” attitude, we’ve given unacceptable service (cf., 1 Chronicles 29:9; Psalms 2:11; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Philippians 4:4).
The apostles practiced “time management” by appointing others to “wait on tables” while they prayed and taught (Acts 6:1-7).  It might be poor judgment for us to serve others if something more important needs attention.  Elders, Bible teachers, prayer leaders and preachers should always be willing to roll up their sleeves and take out the garbage, clean the baptistery or answer benevolence calls, but they should not forsake more important things to do so.  There are only so many hours in the day, days in the year and years in a lifetime.  They can burn themselves out trying to do everything.  Since everybody needs to work, and since some are uncomfortable teaching, preaching, leading prayers and visiting the lost/wayward, it makes sense to let deacons and other members “wait tables” to free time for more important soul-saving tasks that might not get done otherwise.
It’s all about priorities and attitudes.  Always do the best thing at the time for the right reason.

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Second Gospel Sermon (3:1-26) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                   The Second Gospel Sermon (3:1-26)


1. In "The First Gospel Sermon", we learned the apostle Peter...
   a. Proclaimed the death, burial, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ - Ac 2:22-35
   b. Called for a response of faith, repentance, and baptism for remission of sins - Ac 2:36-41 

2. We will now consider "The Second Gospel Sermon", also preached by Peter...
   a. Found in chapter three of the book of Acts
   b. Which took place at Solomon's porch in the temple

[Let's begin by reviewing the circumstances that provided the opportunity for the sermon...]


      1. Christians had been gathering daily in the temple - Ac 2:46
      2. Peter and John arrived at the "hour of prayer, the ninth hour" (3 p.m.) - Ac 3:1

      1. Who was left daily at the gate of the temple called "Beautiful" - Ac 3:2-3
         a. Perhaps the Nicanor Gate made of Corinthian bronze
         b. At the East entrance to the Court of Women
         c. To ask alms from the people entering the temple, who asked Peter and John for alms
      2. Peter healed him in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth - Ac 3:4-8
         a. The lame man expected alms, but Peter gave him something better silver and gold!
         b. Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up
         c. His feet and ankles received strength, the miracle was immediate and total!

      1. Drawn by the scene of the man walking, praising God - Ac 3:9-10
         a. Who was walking, praising God
         b. The people were amazed, wondering, for they knew he had been lame from birth
      2. They gathered in the porch called "Solomon's" - Ac 3:11
         a. A colonnaded area along the eastern wall of the temple area - ESVSB
         b. With double columns 38 feet tall, spanning 49 feet, supporting cedar ceilings - AYBD

[Note the similarity to the events in Acts 2:  a miraculous event
occurred, it attracted the attention of the people.  As before, Peter
used the opportunity to preach the gospel...]


      1. The miracle was not by the power or godliness of Peter and John - Ac 3:12
      2. It was through faith in God's Servant, Jesus - Ac 3:13-16
         a. Whom the God of their fathers had glorified!
         b. Whom they had delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate!
         c. Whom they denied, asking for a murderer to be released in his stead!
         d. Whom they killed, but God raised from the dead and seen by eyewitnesses!
         e. Whom Peter describes as the Holy One, the Just, the Prince of Life!
      3. Through faith in His name the lame man was healed - Ac 3:16
         a. Note well: it was Peter and John's faith in Jesus, not the lame man's faith
         b. For the lame man had not expected a miracle, but silver or gold - cf. Ac 3:4-7

      1. Peter acknowledges that they and their rulers acted in ignorance - Ac 3:17
      2. What occurred was foretold and fulfilled by God - Ac 3:18; cf. Ac 2:23
      3. Yet ignorance was no excuse, so they must "repent and be converted" - Ac 3:19
         a. Repent - change their minds their minds regarding Jesus and their sinful ways
         b  Be converted - turn back to God, which may imply baptism  - cf. Ac 2:38; 1Pe 3:21
      4. Reasons to repent and turn to God are given - Ac 3:19-26
         a. That their sins may be blotted out (remitted) - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16
         b. That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the
            Lord (possibly referring to the gift of the Spirit)- cf. Ac 2:38; Jn 7:37-39; Ga 4:6; 5:22-23
         c. That God may send Jesus Christ (a reference to His second coming) - cf. 2Pe 3:12
            1) Who was preached to them before (via the prophets)
            2) Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration
               of all things (of which the prophets had also spoken)
         d. Lest they be utterly destroyed
            1) For Moses spoke of this Prophet (Jesus) - cf. Deu 18:15
            2) Those who will not Him, God will require it of them - cf. Deu 18:18-19
         e. They were sons of the prophets, and of the covenant God made with their fathers
            1) A covenant made with Abraham, to bless the world in his seed - Gen 12:3; 22:18
            2) A promise fulfilled by God through His Servant Jesus, Whom He raised
               a) Who was sent by God to bless them
               b) To bless them by turning them away from their sins


1. The response to "The Second Gospel Sermon" proved two-fold...
      a. A negative response by the religious leaders - Ac 4:1-3
      b. A positive response by many who heard (2000 believed) - Ac 4:4

2. Again we see that gospel preaching involved... 
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus Christ
   b. Calling on people to respond with repentance (with faith and baptism implied)
   c. Offering the remission of sins and refreshing gift of the Spirit

3. We also learn that it included proclaiming...
   a. The character of Jesus (Servant, Holy, Just, Prince of life, Christ, Prophet)
   b. The return of Jesus (i.e., His second coming)

How have you responded to the gospel preaching?  In faithful obedience,
or have you been hardening your heart by refusing to obey God's Prophet
and His apostles in faith, repentance and baptism...?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The First Church Of Christ (2:42-47) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                 The First Church Of Christ (2:42-47)


1. During His ministry, Jesus said He would build His church - Mt 16:18

2. With the preaching of the first gospel sermon...
   a. Those that gladly received the Word were baptized - Ac 2:41
   b. They numbered 3000 souls - ibid.

[From our text (Ac 2:42-47) we learn that thus began the first church of
Jesus Christ, located in Jerusalem.  What was it like?  What should we be
like today?  Note first that they were...]


      1. Jesus expected people to accept their teachings - Jn 13:20; Mt 28:20
      2. He gave the apostles the Holy Spirit to guide them - Jn 16:12-13
      3. Thus the apostles' word was to be received as the Word of God
         - 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13-14

      1. Many churches today do not, allowing societal trends to
         supplant the Word
      2. We need to heed Christ and His apostles regarding this - Mt 15:8-9; 2Th 2:15

[If we are to be a true church of Christ, we must emulate the Jerusalem
church in its steadfastness to the apostles' doctrine.  Next we note that they were...]


      1. Godly people have always delighted in "spiritual sharing" - Ps 122:1; Lk 22:14-16; 1Jn 1:3
      2. Sharing by assembling together is crucial to spiritual wellbeing - He 10:24-25

      1. Many Christians today do not, allowing many things to hinder their assembling
      2. We need to set our priorities straight - cf. Mt 6:33; Lk 10:41-42

[A true church will be made up of members who value the principle of
assembling and sharing in spiritual matters.  The first church of Christ was also...]


      1. The context would suggest this refers to the Lord's Supper,
         which is a type of fellowship for it is called a sharing, a communion - 1Co 10:16
      2. Jesus Himself instituted the Supper, and was observed weekly - 1Co 11:23-34; Ac 20:7

      1. Sadly many churches do not, observing it monthly, quarterly, annually, or not at all
      2. Others allow many things to hinder their observance:  family, jobs, recreation

[But a true church of Christ will provide weekly opportunities for its
members to partake, and its members will make diligent effort to
participate.  Another aspect of a true church of Christ is being...]


      1. Jesus taught His disciples to pray and not lose heart - Lk 11:1-4; 18:1-8
      2. He now serves as our High Priest, through whom we can pray - He 4:14-16

      1. We are taught to pray fervently, frequently - 1Th 5:17; Col 4:2
      2. Sadly, many churches and Christians are negligent in this important spiritual activity

[If we desire to be a true church of Christ, then let us be a people of
prayer!  As we continue in our text, we learn from the first church of Christ that they were...]


      1. Demonstrated in our text, but also later - Ac 4:32-35
      2. Such love was a sign of true discipleship - Jn 13:34-35
      3. Other churches had similar love for their brethren - 1Co 16:15; 1Th 4:9-10

      1. We are to love one another fervently - 1Pe 1:22
      2. In dire circumstances, would we be willing to emulate the early disciples? - cf. 1Jn 3:16-17

[While we may not face the same circumstances, we should prepare
ourselves should similar occasions arise.  ***  As we continue examining
the first church of Christ, we notice that they were...]


      1. Note the phrase "continuing daily"
      2. They did not serve the Lord just one day a week
      3. Perhaps it was "daily service" that resulted in "daily additions" - cf. Ac 2:47; 5:42

      1. Serving the Lord every day of the week?
      2. Including serving one another? - cf. He 3:12-14

[A true New Testament church will emulate the first church of Christ with
daily service among its members.  Consider also that the Jerusalem church was...]


      1. Note the phrase "with one accord"
      2. United in their worship, and in their concern - cf. Ac 4:32
      3. The sort of unity for which Jesus prayed - Jn 17:20-23

      1. The unity the apostles worked diligently to maintain? - 1Co 1:10; Ep 4:1-3; Php 2:1-2; 1Pe 3:8
      2. Oneness of mind, purpose, and work, with a joyful and humble attitude?

[A true church of Christ will work hard to fulfill the prayer of Christ
and maintain the unity of the Spirit.  Another observation about the
devotion of the first church of Christ...]


      1. Note the phrase "with gladness and simplicity of heart"
      2. The word "simplicity" involves "humility associated with simplicity of life" - Louw Nida
      3. Likely reflecting their contentment with what they had - cf. 1Ti 6:6-10

      1. Having learned contentment like Paul had? - Php 4:11-12
      2. A contentment based on trust in God and willingness to share? - cf. 1Ti 6:17-19

[A true church of Christ will consist of members, whether rich or poor,
who go about their lives with joyful simplicity.  They will also go about
their lives like the first church of Christ, being...]


      1. Despite their difficulties, they lived their lives praising God
      2. Like the faithful saints under the Old Covenant - Ps 145:1-2; 146:1-2; 147:1

      1. Delighting in opportunities to praise God?
      2. Offering the sacrifice of praise continually? - cf. He 13:15

[A true church of Christ will be filled with people who love to praise
God, not grumbling or complaining.  Finally, we observe that the first
church of Christ was...]


      1. Note the phrase "having favor with all the people"
      2. As the NLT puts it, "enjoying the goodwill of all the people"
      3. A consequence of following the example of their Lord - e.g.,
         Lk 2:52; Ro 14:17-19

      1. Living lives that promotes goodwill from those who are lost?
      2. Lives that as far as depends on us are peaceful and blameless?
         - cf. Ro 12:17-21; 1Co 10:32-33; 1Ti 2:1-4; Php 2:14-15


1. With the first church of Christ, God has given us an example of what
   a true church of Christ should be like:  devoted to...
   a. Apostles' doctrine         f. Daily service
   b. Spiritual fellowship       g. Purposeful unity
   c. Breaking bread             h. Joyful simplicity
   d. Steadfast prayer           i. Praising God
   e. Brotherly love             j. The people

2. Too often, churches today are more like those described in the
   following poem...

                          "FACTS 19:71-72"
                     Every individual
                     Each with his own opinions.
                     Competing for his own possessions
                     Looks out for his own,
                     Assuming there are no needs.
                     And once a week
                     Going to their private church
                     (With an annual communion)
                     Each return to his castle,
                     Fellowshipping with his family
                     Over good "native" cooking
                     After a short silent "grace",
                     And glad to be away from everybody.
                     Occasionally there are
                     New faces at church,
                     And last year
                     Someone was saved.
                                    ~ Myron Augsburger

Brethren, may this never be true of us...!

*** Conclude first part here if lesson is presented in two parts

Islam Says a Husband May Beat His Wife by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Islam Says a Husband May Beat His Wife

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The politically correct climate of American culture is characterized by a host of self-contradictory and nonsensical viewpoints. One example is the way the left is vociferous in its support and defense of the spread of Islam via the construction of mosques and permission to teach about Islam in public schools. The left quickly steps forward and loudly condemns anyone who would dare to raise a finger of concern about the impact of Islam on the American way of life.
Yet, ironically, the social liberal, who disdains Christian morality, gives a “free pass” to Islam on some of the very issues for which it has viciously opposed the Christian moorings of American society. The “women’s lib” movement of the 1960s is a glaring example. The fight for “women’s rights” and the equal status of women in the home and on the job has been a hallmark of the liberal establishment. And yet, incredibly, the Islamic world has been known since its inception to consign women to an inferior status and to exert a degrading influence on them. How many female advocates of “women’s lib” would be willing to wear what Muslim women are required to wear around the world? How many “liberated women” in America would be willing to be subjected to a polygamous husband who relegates her to one among several other of his wives? And how many American women would be in favor of implementing the Quran’s teaching regarding the right of the husband to beat his wife? Read it for yourself in Mohammed Pickthall’s celebrated Muslim translation:
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great (Surah 4:34, emp. added; cf. 4:11; 2:223,228,282; 38:45; 16:58-59; see also Brooks, 1995; Trifkovic, 2002, pp. 153-167).
A host of Islamic translations confirm this translation. The words in bold above are rendered in Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation: “refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly).” Ahmed Raza Khan’s translation reads: “do not cohabit with them, and (lastly) beat them.” Abul A’la Maududi has “remain apart from them in beds, and beat them.” Wahiduddin Khan “refuse to share their beds, and finally hit them.” Muhamad Abib Shakir has “leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them.” Shaykh Muhammad Sarwar reads: “do not sleep with them and beat them.” The Saheeh International translation reads: “forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.” Hassan Qaribullah and Ahmed Darwish have: “desert them in the bed and smack them (without harshness).” Ali Quli Qarai’s rendering reads: “keep away from them in the bed, and [as the last resort] beat them” (Tanzil Project, 2007-2014).
As if these instructions were not enough to awaken the sensibilities of the political/moral left, consider further the penalty enjoined by the Quran for the adulterer, keeping in mind that the practice of adultery is commonplace among the anti-Christian establishment of our nation (Bonewell, 2012).
The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.... And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony—They indeed are evildoers (Surah 24:2,4, emp. added).
Are those who believe Islam ought to be accommodated and encouraged to participate fully in the political and educational framework of the nation willing to allow Sharia law to become the law of the country?


Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications), 2002 reprint.
Bonewell, Kelly (2012), “Adultery: Just the Statistics,” The End of All Our Exploring, http://www.kellybonewell.com/psychology/adultery-just-the-statistics/.
Brooks, Geraldine (1995), Nine Parts of Desire (New York, NY: Anchor Books).
Tanzil Project (2007-2014), http://tanzil.net/#4:34.
Trifkovic, Serge (2002), The Sword of the Prophet (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press).

The Perfect Analogy by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


The Perfect Analogy

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

One of the problems with William Paley’s design arguments, critics allege, is that his analogies were imperfect. For example, while we know that watchmakers exist and make watches, or at least that such skill is available, we cannot be sure that nature has such a Maker. In other words, while the watchmaker is real and apparent, we know of God only by inferring His existence from the things He supposedly designed.
The clearest response to this claim comes from archaeology, which rummages through nature looking for evidence of human activity. On occasion, it unearths something with no modern analogy. For example, archaeologists still do not fully understand how the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid, and no one is building such pyramids today. Yet few people would argue that it is anything but a feat of ancient Egyptian engineering.
The argument applies equally to future events. Carl Sagan wrote that a “single message from space” would show evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe (1979, p. 275). Just recently (1993), he and his co-workers declared that Earth harbors not only life, but intelligent life, based solely on data gathered from the Galileo spacecraft. Researchers hope to use similar techniques in identifying intelligence from extraterrestrial radio emissions (even in a “single message”). Yet they would know nothing about the cause of that message, apart from inferring that it must be intelligent enough to make such a transmission.
This is precisely the argument used by Paley, and modern science has served only to sharpen his analogies. Paley saw design in the wonders of life, but through our knowledge of DNA, we can observe the genetic code responsible for that life.
How do we know that something has an intelligent cause, like DNA or a message from space? Simple order is not enough (e.g., a crystal of salt, or the sequence of letters “aabbaabb”). Nor is mere complexity sufficient (e.g., a random arrangement of molecules, or the sequence of letters “adndjbsaf”). Rather, it must contain information, or specified complexity (e.g., a sequence of binary digits making up a computer program, or the sentence “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”). Using four chemical “letters,” DNA contains instructions for thousands of different proteins, enzymes, and hormones. This information is so like the products of intelligence—especially language and computer programs—that we must infer an intelligent cause of life (Geisler and Anderson, 1987).


Geisler, Norman L. and J. Kerby Anderson (1987), Origin Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Sagan, Carl (1979), Broca’s Brain (New York: Random House).
Sagan, Carl, et al. (1993), “A Search for Life on Earth from the Galileo Spacecraft,” Nature, 365:715-716, October 21.

The Euthyphro Dilemma by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Euthyphro Dilemma

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.


 What do atheists mean when they speak of the “Euthyphro Dilemma” as a means to discredit theism?


The so-called Euthyphro Dilemma has its genesis in Plato’s dialogue Euthyphro in which Socrates and Euthyphro discuss the nature of piety: “Is the pious  loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” (2008). Over time, philosophers have sharpened the salient point of the dilemma by presenting it in a modified form. The world-renowned late atheist philosopher Antony G.N. Flew worded the argument this way: “Are the things which are good good because God approves of those things, or is it the case that God approves of those things which are good because they are good?” (Warren and Flew, 1977, p. 26). By this thorny contention, the atheist hopes to dismiss the notion of God by placing the theist in an untenable dilemma.
On the one hand, if an action is right simply because God approves it, then morality would be the product of the arbitrary will of God, which He could just as easily alter. Instead of saying that lying and murder are wrong, He could just as well have said they are right—and that divine intention would make them so. On the other hand, if God approves of an action because it is inherently good, then an objective standard exists outside of God that He merely acknowledges. Such a law would therefore be above and higher than God. By the Euthyphro Dilemma, atheists think they have demonstrated that good is either above or beneath God and thereby proof that God is not God (see Figure 1).
Figure 1:
The Euthyphro Dilemma
Figure 2: Reality
But this dilemma is impotent in that it fails to take into account the nature, being, and character of the perfect God of the Bible who is eternal and infinite in all of His attributes. Goodness, like all God’s other attributes, flows from His very being as the Ultimate Good (see Figure 2). Good is neither above nor below God (cf. Mark 10:18; 1 John 4:8; Psalm 33:5). God’s attributes and God’s will are inseparable. The alternatives posed by the atheist do not pose a proper dilemma.


Plato (2008), Euthyphro, trans. Benjamin Jowett, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1642/1642-h/1642-h.htm.
Warren, Thomas and Antony G.N. Flew (1977), The Warren-Flew Debate on the Existence of God (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press), info@nationalchristianpress.net.

Jesus Gives "Church" Meaning by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Jesus Gives "Church" Meaning

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The Greek word ekklesia, translated as “church” in most English Bibles, simply means “assembly.” In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church (ekklesia).” Hence, we could read this verse, “I (Jesus) will build my assembly.” Paul wrote, “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). Again, this world translated “churches” could be translated “assemblies.”
Interestingly, the same term used in the two verses above (ekklesia) also is used at times in reference to secular assemblies. For example, in Acts 19:32 the term ekklesia is used to speak of the mob at Ephesus. The text reads: “Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly (ekklesia) was confused.”
One might ask, “How do I know if the text is speaking about a secular assembly or the church?” Answer: The modifying words in the context of a particular passage are what make it possible to distinguish the kind of assembly to which the Bible writers were referring. We know that the assemblies Paul mentioned in Romans 16:16 are churches because ekklesia is modified by the phrase “of Christ.” Likewise, in Acts 20:28, we know the assembly mentioned is the church because it is modified by the phrase, “of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (emp. added). The word “assembly” is set apart from secular assemblies in these passages because the context points to a group of people owned by Christ.
The religious world needs to understand that Jesus is the one who gives ekklesia meaning. When mere human names and terms are placed alongside “church,” then the name no longer possesses the meaning that God intended for it to have. Christians should wear the name of Christ (and Christ only) because He purchased the church (Acts 20:28) and said it was His (Matthew 16:18).
Without the work of Jesus, nothing would separate us from man-made assemblies. He gave ekklesia a new meaning in the first century, and continues to give it meaning today when we wear His name.

Genealogies and the Virgin Birth of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Genealogies and the Virgin Birth of Christ

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Rarely (if ever) have I read the words “genealogy” and “exciting” in the same sentence. It seems most people consider the genealogies of Christ as some of the Bible’s dullest reading. They frequently are described as boring, dry, and monotonous—full of “begets” that many would just as soon “forget.” In reality, however, exciting pearls of truth often are overlooked. One of these truths that escapes the reader who simply skims (or skips) the genealogies is the virgin birth of Christ.
In Matthew’s genealogy of Christ, it may be that one fails to see how the verb “begot” is used 39 times between Abraham and Joseph (verses 2-16a). And yet, instead of claiming that Joseph begot Jesus, Matthew wrote: “…and Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ” (1:16, emp. added). This wording stands in stark contrast to the format in the preceding verses (“Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, etc.”). Joseph did not beget Jesus; rather, he is referred to as “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.” The Holy Spirit was emphasizing the fact that Jesus was not conceived as the result of anything Joseph did. Rather, Mary “was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, emp. added). An angel even informed Joseph that he was not the father of Jesus, rather that which was conceived [literally, “begotten”] in her was “of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20).
Matthew gave us a second “hint” of the virgin birth of Christ when he wrote: “…and Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ” (1:16, emp. added). One might assume that the “whom” in this verse refers to Joseph as Jesus’ father. Others may think it is talking about both Joseph and Mary as His parents. An English teacher likely would point out that we cannot tell to whom the word “whom” belongs in this verse, because when the English word “whom” is used in a sentence it can refer to either men or women; or, it can refer to both. Though usually we can tell the meaning by the context in which the word is found, such is not the case in Matthew 1:16. Our English translations simply do not reveal the marvelous truth concealed in this verse. In order to unveil this “Gospel gem,” one must consult the language in which the New Testament was written originally—Greek. The English phrase “of whom was born Jesus” is translated from the Greek relative feminine pronoun (hes). In this verse, the feminine gender can refer only to Mary. Biblical genealogies regularly emphasize the fathers who sire a child, but here Matthew indicates that Jesus received His humanity only from His mother. Thus, Joseph is excluded from any involvement in the birth of Christ, the Son of God.
While Matthew’s genealogy clearly establishes Christ as the legal heir to the throne by tracing His ancestry down through the royal line of the kings of Israel all the way to Joseph the carpenter (and to Jesus), he still emphasizes Mary as the biological parent “of whom” Jesus was born. What accuracy! What precision! What a wonderful truth found within a genealogy so often overlooked.

God, Design, and Natural Selection by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


God, Design, and Natural Selection

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In a September 2016 New Scientist article titled “Can We Ever Know If God Exists?”1 Executive Editor Graham Lawton insisted that “the only coherent and rational position is agnosticism.”2 Allegedly, there is not enough legitimate evidence to come to the rational conclusion that “God exists.” For example, Lawton called the design argument for God’s existence a “superficially persuasive argument” that is “very refutable.”3 And how is it supposedly refuted? What evidence did Lawton offer in contradiction to the design argument? He presented only one statement: “Evolution by natural selection, working over vast lengths of time, is all you need.”4
Sadly, many people will naively take Lawton at his word and assume, “He must be right. I guess we can’t prove that God exists.” The simple fact is, however, his “refutation” of the design argument is nothing of the sort. First, the design argument for God’s existence is an actual logical argument.
Premise 1: Anything that exhibits complex, functional design demands an intelligent designer.
Premise 2: The Universe exhibits complex, functional design.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Universe must have an intelligent Designer.
This argument for God is logically sound and observationally true. Even atheists frequently testify to the “design” in nature. For example, Australian atheistic astrophysicist Paul Davies has admitted that the Universe is “uniquely hospitable,” “remarkable,” and “ordered in an intelligible way.” He even confessed to the “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe.5 The simple fact is, to deny either premise of the design argument is to deny reality, while to deny the conclusion is to deny logic.
Second, “Evolution by natural selection, working over vast lengths of time, is [not!]6 all you need.” Certainly the fit adapt and survive, and pass along their advantageous genetic traits [example: longer legs in some animals] to their offspring, but such processes (1) cannot create complex, functional design from nothing, (2) cannot change non-design into design, and (3) do not (and cannot) change one kind of animal into another. The simple fact is, natural selection does not design anything. As evolutionist Hugo de Vries admitted long ago, “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.”7 It cannot explain the arrival of the perfectly designed “bomb-producing” bombardier beetle anymore than it can rationally explain the communication skills of the “sophisticated,” “intelligent,” “tailor-made,” color-changing Cuttlefish.8
Atheistic evolution is simply inept to deal with the reasonable arguments for the existence of God, including the logically sound design argument. To say that the design argument has “turned out to be very refutable” is simply false. And to act as if natural selection over long periods of time is the answer to the design observed in nature is equally fallacious. Such talk may sound nice in theoretical circles, but the evidence on a real observational and philosophically sound level still points to design that demands a designer. In truth, regardless of what Lawton and New Scientist say, we can know that God exists.9


1 Graham Lawton (2016), “Can We Ever Know If God Exists?” New Scientist, 231[3089]:39, September 3.
2 An agnostic is “a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable”—Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary (2016), http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic, emp. added.
3 Lawton, p. 39, emp. added.
4 Ibid.
5 Paul Davies (2007), “Laying Down the Laws,” New Scientist, 194[2610]:30,34, June 30.
6 Parenthetical comment added.
7 Hugo De Vries (1905), Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation, ed. Daniel Trembly MacDougal (Chicago, IL: Open Court), pp. 825-826, emp. added.
8 Eric Lyons (2008), “The Cause of the Cuttlefish,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2505&topic=328.
9 See the Existence of God section of ApologeticsPress.org for a plethora of articles on this subject: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12.

Should Christians Favor Accepting Syrian Refugees? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Should Christians Favor Accepting Syrian Refugees?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The recent civil war in Syria, involving the Assad regime and various radical Islamic rebel elements and factions—both Sunni and Shiite (Seale, 2012; “Syrian Refugees…,” 2012; Cloud and Abdulrahim, 2013; “Migrant Crisis…,” 2015; “Kingdom Slams…,” 2015) has resulted in millions of Syrian Muslims fleeing their homeland. This circumstance has sparked a considerable discussion among Americans and the world regarding the propriety of refusing to receive refugees into one’s home country. Setting politics and other considerations aside, the Christian’s primary concern is to ascertain God’s will on such a matter. What does He want Christians to do in response to this “humanitarian” crisis?
The only way to know God’s will on any subject is to go to the only resource on the planet that contains that will—the Bible. What is God’s will regarding accepting refugees and immigrants from other countries? Interestingly, the only civil law code in human history authored by God Himself is the Law of Moses. When one cares to examine everything the Bible says about treatment of “strangers” under the Law of Moses, it is quickly evident that the #1 concern of God in the acceptance of foreigners into one’s country is their moral, religious, and spiritual condition. That is, God was vitally concerned about the spiritual impact the foreigners would have on Israel’s ability to remain loyal to Him, untainted by moral and religious contamination. Hence, God issued several civil decrees that strictly regulated the acceptance of foreigners into Israelite society. Among other strictures, foreigners were required to:
  • observe the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14)
  • be excluded from Passover (Exodus 12:43,45—unless the foreigner was willing to naturalize via circumcision [Exodus 12:48])
  • refrain from eating blood (Leviticus 17:12)
  • abstain from sexual immorality, including homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and adultery (Leviticus 18:26)
  • not blaspheme the name of God (Leviticus 24:16,22)—an offense that at one time was upheld by American courts (e.g., in People v. Ruggles, the New York State Supreme Court declared: “Blasphemy against God, and contumelious reproaches, and profane ridicule of Christ or the Holy Scriptures, are offenses punishable at the common law, whether uttered by words or writings.”)
For those who (1) believe in God and trust God, and (2) understand that His directives in the civil law code given to the Israelites were “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12; cf. Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:72,77,97,113,142,163), then such directives—which emanated from the mind of Deity—carry great weight in sorting out the current discussion regarding the acceptance of foreign refugees.
It would seem that foreigners who immigrated to Israel were not required by God to convert to Judaism. However, they were strictly forbidden from engaging in any religious practices that were deemed unacceptable according to God’s will. For example, one of the religious precepts practiced by the Canaanite peoples of Ammon and Phoenicia was to offer their children as a propitiatory sacrifice to their god Molech. Such a false religious practice was an abomination to God. He demanded that the death penalty be invoked for such conduct (Leviticus 18:21). Religious freedom did not extend to an Ammonite immigrant to the extent that he was allowed to practice his religion on this point; he was to be executed if he did (Leviticus 20:2).

Contemplate the following scenario. Suppose in ancient Israel the Moabites attacked the Ammonites, or the Ammonites themselves experienced an internal political upheaval, causing thousands of Ammonite refugees to flee north, west, or south to the corresponding transjordanic tribal lands of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben (see map on previous page). Would God have insisted that godly love for neighbors would require that the Israelites take them in? The relevant passages indicate that God would not have wanted them received unconditionally. He would not have sanctioned a massive influx of pagan peoples into the heart of Israelite society, bringing their immoralities and false religion with them, with no safeguards or means by which to protect the moral and spiritual health of the Israelites. Further, what Ammonite would want to come to Israel where he would not be allowed to practice his religion, and where the morals and customs of the people would contradict his own? One could only imagine that Ammonites would not want to be subjected to such rigid moral conditions. However, they most certainly would want to come if they discovered that they could retain their evil religious practices, get welfare money from the Israelites, and locate in such numbers that they could take over local city government and schools.

The Founders

The Founders of the American Republic possessed precisely the same concerns. To them, “freedom” did not mean permission to engage in any practice deemed by Christian standards to be immoral or threatening to the Christian community. Consider, for example, prominent Founder Gouverneur Morris, who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the New York State militia, was a member of the Continental Congress, signing both the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution, served as America’s Minister Plenipotentiary to France during the notorious French Revolution (1792-1794), and also served in the U.S. Senate. Though the French sought to establish a Republic like America, Morris’ observations of French life, which he witnessed firsthand, led him to believe the population of France was incapable of governing themselves and creating a Republic like we enjoy. Why? Among other concerns, he saw very little evidence of worship of the true God, and with an air of regret, he observed: “I do not yet perceive that reformation of morals without which liberty is but an empty sound” (Morris, 1888, 2:7-8, emp. added). As the storm clouds of the Revolution were gathering over France, writing from Paris in 1789, he explained:
The materials for a revolution in this country are very indifferent. Everybody agrees that there is an utter prostration of morals—but this general position can never convey to the American mind the degree of depravity…. The great mass of the people have no religion but their priests, no law but their superiors, no morals but their interest.... Paris is perhaps as wicked a spot as exists. Incest, murder, bestiality, fraud, rapine, oppression, baseness, cruelty;…every bad passion exerts its peculiar energy. How the conflict will terminate Heaven knows. Badly I fear; that is to say, in slavery (1:68-69,200-201, emp. added).
He concluded that the French were “a nation not yet fitted by education and habit for the enjoyment of freedom” (1:109). Consequently, the Founders did not encourage immigration from such countries whose population would seriously undermine the underpinnings of the American Republic. [NOTE: For another example among many, see the opinion of the State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Commonwealth v. Nesbit in 1859 which declared the attitude of the Founders and the nation as a whole in its utter rejection of pagan morality.]
The vast majority of the Syrian refugees are Muslims. They do not share Christian values in several key, critical points (including polygamy, treatment of women, and severing limbs as punishment—Miller, 2005, pp. 177ff.,192-197). Muslim enclaves already in America, like those in several European countries, gradually transform their neighborhoods into Islamic strongholds where Sharia law is applied (Gaffney, 2015; Hickford, 2015; Hohmann, 2015; James, 2014; Kern, 2015a; Kern, 2015b; Bailey, 2015; Selk, 2015a; Selk, 2015b; Sheikh, 2015, Spencer, 2014). Though it may take many years, gradual encroachment on American culture due to “immigration jihad” will conceivably transform the U.S. into an Islamic nation. The Founders so designed the Republic that the citizens govern themselves. Hence, the moral, spiritual, and religious condition of the majority of citizens ultimately determines which politicians are installed on every level of government, what laws are made, and what content the teachers will teach in public schools. In short, the influx of Muslims will radically transform American civilization. Such an observation hardly constitutes racism or hate speech.

Good Samaritan?

But what about the “Good Samaritan”? Shouldn’t Christians show compassion? Most certainly. But how? What does God expect in such a situation? The story of the Good Samaritan pertains to individuals treating other individuals kindly. It does not refer to God’s will regarding the immigration policies of nations. On the contrary, God expressed His will with regard to immigration in His civil law code He gave to the Israelites. Further, when the Good Samaritan rendered aid to the stranger he encountered, he saw to his immediate needs (Luke 10:33-35). This attention did not entail transporting the man to the Samaritan’s own country or home—many miles away.
Many political and religious disturbances occur in many countries of the world and have for thousands of years. America has long rendered assistance to a host of needy peoples of various countries. Yet Christian compassion does not—in God’s sight—necessitate bringing large numbers of displaced peoples to America without suitable regard for the potential moral and spiritual threat to the health, safety, and future of the nation. There is nothing in the Bible that would lead us to believe that refusing refugees into the country is a violation of the Bible principle of compassion and concern for others. Should the good Samaritan have taken into his home a complete stranger without regard to the man’s moral and religious condition? Should he have jeopardized the safety of his own wife and children when he left to continue his business, as the text says he did? The Bible, in fact, teaches that we have just as much responsibility to be kind and benevolent to ourselves, our families, and our fellow citizens as we do to peoples of other countries (Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 5:25,28). Is God, Himself, guilty of violating His own benevolent nature when He placed restrictions on immigrants and refugees to Israel? Clearly, carte blanche reception of refugees into one’s own country does not trump all other considerations—not the least of which is the spiritual impact of that reception.
A far more rational, appropriate solution would be to assist the refugees with returning to their own country, or other Muslim countries, by interceding on their behalf, whether diplomatically or militarily, to right the wrongs being inflicted on them by their persecutors. There is nothing about Christianity that necessitates relocating foreigners to America who possess conflicting—and counterproductive—moral and religious values.
So the question of receiving refugees into the U.S. is not about “compassion,” benevolence, or Christian kindness. After all, America leads the world in providing the greatest amount of humanitarian assistance in the Syrian refugee crisis (Chorley, 2015). Rather, in keeping with God’s own assessment of nations, the key, all-encompassing issue that our national leaders ought to be taking into consideration is: what will be the moral and religious impact with the entrance of these peoples, and will their presence over the long term affect the ability of America to retain its unique and historically unparalleled status? Indeed, will the moral and religious syncretism, that will inevitably result from such decisions, enable the God of the Bible to continue to bless America?


Bailey, Sarah (2015), “In the First Majority-Muslim U.S. City, Residents Tense About Its Future,” The Washington Post, November 21, https://goo.gl/KW5KMc.
Chorley, Matt (2015), “British Aid to Refugees Smashes Through £1BILLION as Cameron Boasts UK is Spending More Than Any EU Country,” Daily Mail, September 4, http://goo.gl/Srf17S.
Cloud, David and Raja Abdulrahim (2013), “U.S. Has Secretly Provided Arms Training to Syria Rebels Since 2012,” Los Angeles Times, June 21, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/21/world/la-fg-cia-syria-20130622.
Commonwealth v. Nesbit (1859), Pa. 398; 1859 Pa. LEXIS 240.
Gaffney, Frank (2015), “Sharia Shaping a New Europe,” Secure Freedom Radio Podcasts, Center for Security Policy, September 21, http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/09/21/sharia-shaping-a-new-europe/.
Hickford, Michele (2015), “Already Here: Meet America’s FIRST Muslim Majority City,” Allenbwest.com, November 22, http://www.allenbwest.com/2015/11/already-here-meet-americas-first-muslim-majority-city/.
Hohmann, Leo (2015), “Major U.S. City Poised to Implement Islamic Law,” July 23, http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/major-u-s-city-poised-to-implement-islamic-law/#c23Cxzir1klfk84R.99.
James, Dean (2014), “Christians Win Big Lawsuit Against Muslim Thugs in Dearborn, Michigan!” America’s Freedom Fighters, March 24, http://www.americasfreedomfighters.com/2014/03/24/christians-win-big-lawsuit-against-muslim-thugs-in-dearborn-michigan/.
Kern, Soeren (2015a), “European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 1: France,” Gatestone Institute, January 20http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5128/france-no-go-zones.
Kern, Soeren (2015b), “European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 2: Britain,” Gatestone Institute, February 3, http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5177/no-go-zones-britain.
“Kingdom Slams Racism Against Muslim Refugees” (2015), Arab News, November 25, http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/840761.
“Migrant Crisis: One Million Enter Europe in 2015” (2015), BBC News, December 22, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35158769.
Miller, Dave (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Morris, Anne Cary, ed. (1888), The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons).
People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns. 290 (N.Y. 1811).
Seale, Patrick (2012), “What Is Really Happening in Syria?” Washington Report, August, 17-18, http://www.wrmea.org/2012-august/what-is-really-happening-in-syria.html.
Selk, Avi (2015a), “Irving City Council Backs State Bill Muslims Say Targets Them,”The Dallas Morning News, March 19, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150319-dispute-on-islam-roils-irving.ece.
Selk, Avi (2015b), “Irving Muslims Join Voter Rolls in Record Numbers,” The Dallas Morning News, May 10, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/local-politics/20150510-irving-muslims-join-voter-rolls-in-record-numbers.ece.
Sheikh, Zia (2015), “Islamic Center of Irving Statement Regarding ‘Shariah Court’,” Islamic Center of Irving, http://irvingmasjid.org/index.php/ici-statement-regarding-sharia-court.
Spencer, Robert (2014), “Dearborn: Muslim at City Council Meeting Calls for Sharia Patrols, Restriction on Free Speech,” JihadWatch, February 22, http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/02/dearborn-muslim-at-city-council-meeting-calls-for-sharia-patrols-restriction-on-free-speech.
“Syrian Refugees Flood into Turkey” (2012), The Telegraph, March 13, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9141678/Syrian-refugees-flood-into-Turkey.html.

Seeing God “Face to Face” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Seeing God “Face to Face”

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In the Kyle Butt/Dan Barker debate, Dan Barker alleged that He “knows” the God of the Bible cannot exist because “there are mutually incompatible properties/characteristics of the God that’s in this book [the Bible—EL] that rule out the possibility of His existence” (2009). One of the supposed contradictions that Barker mentioned was that God claims invisibility, yet has been seen. (His assertion is found 10 minutes and 55 seconds into his first speech.) Since biblical passages such as Exodus 33:20-23, John 1:18, and 1 John 4:12 teach that God cannot be seen, while other scriptures indicate that man has seen God and spoken to him “face to face” (Exodus 33:11; Genesis 32:30), allegedly “the God of the Bible does not exist.”
Although in modern times words are regularly used in many different senses (e.g., hot and cold, good and bad), Barker, like so many Bible critics, has dismissed the possibility that the terms in the aforementioned passages were used in different senses. Throughout Scripture, however, words are often used in various ways. In James 2:5, the term “poor” refers to material wealth, whereas the term “rich” has to do with a person’s spiritual well-being. In Philippians 3:12,15, Paul used the term “perfect” (NASB) in different senses. Although Paul had attained spiritual maturity (“perfection”) in Christ (vs. 15), he had not yet attained the perfect “final thing, the victor’s prize of the heavenly calling in Christ Jesus” (Schippers, 1971, 2:62; cf. Philippians 3:9-11). Similarly, in one sense man has seen God, but in another sense he has not.
Consider the first chapter of John where we learn that in the beginning Jesus was with God and “was God” (1:1; cf. 14,17). Though John wrote that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14), he indicated only four sentences later that “no one has seen God at any time” (1:18; 1 John 4:12). Was Jesus God? Yes. Did man see Jesus? Yes. So in what sense has man not seen God? No human has ever seen Jesus in His true image (i.e., as a spirit Being—John 4:24—in all of His fullness, glory, and splendor). When God, the Word, appeared on Earth 2,000 years ago, He came in a veiled form. In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul mentioned that Christ—Who had existed in heaven “in the form of God”—“made Himself of no reputation,” and took on the “likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Mankind saw an embodiment of deity as Jesus dwelt on Earth in the form of a man. Men saw “the Word” that “became flesh.” Likewise, when Jacob “struggled with God” (Genesis 32:28), He saw only a form of God, not the spiritual, invisible, omnipresent God Who fills heaven and Earth (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
But what about those statements which indicate that man saw or spoke to God “face to face”? Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:30). Gideon proclaimed: “I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face” (Judges 6:22). Exodus 33:11 affirms that “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” First, although these men witnessed great and awesome things, they still only saw manifestations of God and a part of His glory (cf. Exodus 33:18-23). Second, the words “face” and “face to face” are used in different senses in Scripture. Though Exodus 33:11 reveals that God spoke to Moses “face to face,” only nine verses later God told Moses, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (33:20). Are we to believe (as Barker and other critics assert) that the author of Exodus was so misguided that he wrote contradictory statements within only nine verses of each other? Certainly not! What then does the Bible mean when it says that God “knew” (Deuteronomy 34:10) or “spoke to Moses face to face” (Exodus 33:11)? The answer is found in Numbers 12. Aaron and Miriam had spoken against Moses and arrogantly asked: “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:2). God then appeared to Aaron and Miriam, saying: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord” (Numbers 12:6-8, emp. added). Notice the contrast: God spoke to the prophets of Israel through visions and dreams, but to Moses He spoke, “not in dark sayings,” but “plainly.” In other words, God, Who never showed His face to Moses (Exodus 33:20), nevertheless allowed Moses to see “some unmistakable evidence of His glorious presence” (Jamieson, 1997), and spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (33:11), i.e., He spoke to Moses plainly, directly, etc.
The Bible does not reveal “mutually incompatible characteristics of God” as Barker has alleged. His assertions in no way prove that the God of the Bible does not exist or that the Bible is unreliable. In truth, Barker’s comments merely reveal that he is a dishonest interpreter of Scripture. If Barker can work “side by side” with a colleague without literally working inches from him (Barker, 2008, p. 335), or if he can see “eye to eye” with a fellow atheist without ever literally looking into the atheist’s eyes, then Barker can understand that God could speak “face to face” with Moses without literally revealing to him His full, glorious “face.”


Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Schippers, R. (1971), “Telos,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).