Friday, May 24, 2013

What about that Old Testament stuff? It's unethical!

Often, the main offense people take to the Bible is the old testament. They see the actions of God in the old testament as cruel, unjust, unloving and that's just some of the nice things said; I've heard worse about the old testament and of God. At first read, sure, there are cruel and unjust things (according to us) done in the old testament, there's no doubt about that. After a second read, a second thought, and looking at another viewpoint the old testament is understood clearly.

I've read a good essay about the old testament and its ethics, so I thought I would share it here. This essay is from the Apologetics Study Bible and it's written by Christopher Wright.

1) Prejudice against scripture
  • OT portrays a violent God
  • OT portrays a violent people
  • OT is filled with narratives recounting horrendous events
  • Disreputable people playing major roles
2) Reasons the Old Testament is Ethical
  • It was ethical for Jesus
  1. He accepted the truth and ethical validity of the OT in His life, mission, and teaching.
  2. Mt 6-7 sayings don't contradict, but deepen/correct popular inferences.
  3. Jesus reminded His hearers that Leviticus 19 also says, "Love the alien as yourself," extending this to include "love your enemy."
  4. Jesus affirmed and strengthened the OT ethic.
  • Narratives describe what happened, not what was necessarily approved.
  1. We assume wrongly that if a story is in scripture, it must be "what God wanted."
  2. Biblical narrators dealt with the real world, with all its corrupt and fallen ambiguity.
  3. Shouldn't mistake realism for ethical approval.
  4. OT stories challenge us to wonder at God's amazing grace and to patience in continually working out His purposes through such morally compromised people.
  5. OT stories challenge us to be discerning in evaluating their conduct according to standards the OT itself provides.
  • The Conquest of Canaan
  1. Must be understood for what it was.
  2. It was a limited event. The conquest narratives describe one particular period of Israel's long history. Many of the other wars that occur in the OT narrative had no divine sanction, and some were clearly condemned as the actions of proud, greedy Kings or military rivals.
3) An eye for an eye is remarkably humane
  • Metaphorical, not literal
  • Not a license for unlimited vengeance, but the opposite; it established the fundamental legal principle of proportionality.
  • Punishment mustn't exceed the gravity of the offense.

More OT ethics resources:
Peter S. Williams on the ethics of the Old Testament here
Questions about the Bible
Questions about God
Moral and ethics resources at Apologetics315

Friday Mentionables: Piper's tweet, origin of life, and the IRS

 Those Deleted Tweets - Desiring God blog
Tweet by John Piper after Oklahoma tornado - Knue 101.5

Origin of life debate between Michael Ruse and Faz Rana (debate summary/review)
Owning Human Genes - Talking Philosophy 

IRS fascist Lois Lerner pleads fifth to avoid transparency and accountability - WK blog

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Watercooler Wednesday: The Honeymoon is over or The Obama Admin Spied on Fox Reporter

It's here! And a day early at that. I wanted to go ahead and get it out. Starting next week, Watercooler Wednesday will actually be on Wednesday. Andy and Brian are two characters I've constructed out of personalities from my past and the present of people I've met in person and online. They will develop more as weeks go by. Also, these conversations have been edited from emails and messages I've had with real people. I've done my best to edit them to fit the characters of Andy and Brian. I will have profiles on Andy and Brian a little later when I actually decide what to do with them in this series. For now, just know they are two guys at work talking at the watercooler.

Andy: Brian, what up my man? *laughs* Did you read the "chilling" report on twitchy? I read about it on that right-wing nutjob blog Wintery Knight. Why are right-wingers so upset about it? Scanning emails is a form of safety. I'm not that angry with what happened, although, I have to admit I was a little surprised by it.

Brian: The only surprising thing here is that this got out. Anyone who hasn't seen - nearly from the day he took office - that Eric Holder is the very definition of government corruption is blind as a bat. The dude is evil, and I don't use that term lightly. Cover-ups everywhere, and they all lead back to him. He, of course, not only doesn't remember anything - a la Hillary in the Whitewater investigation - but he actively lashes out at anyone who dares question him. This is a guy who is committed to fundamentally restructuring our government in very radical ways and using all means, legal and illegal, to get it done. In some ways, I think he's more of a villain than Obama.

All that said, Obama knew what he was getting with Holder. He got exactly what he wanted and has backed Holder to the hilt. If the fecal matter ever contacts the air circulation device - and it looks like maybe it has - Holder becomes a martyr to protect Obama. Actually, I think Holder would relish that role, politically dying for the cause of statism. Some of Obama's picks - like Hillary - were concessions to the political establishment, but Holder and Emanuel were clearly the picks of the young, Alinski-trained revolutionary Obama. The one I can't decide on is Sebelius. She didn't strike me as that radical, more of your average, run-of-the-mill liberal, when she was nominated. Not a lot of radicals can get elected governor of a pretty conservative state like Kansas, but HHS has been one of the more aggressive agencies in promoting statism in this administration. Is she just a willing tool or does she actively seek to radically increase the size and scope of government? I can't decide.

I think it's interesting to examine this Rosen story in light of what else was going on around that time... the "war on Fox News". People forget that the administration was trying to de-legitimize FNC as a news organization at that time. Was that to weaken or remove Rosen's press protections? Was it simply another tactic to silence a critical voice? Was there another motive that isn't yet clear? The fact that all the other news orgs would play along was sure to help. Not only is Fox the only conservative news network out there, they also tend to spank the others in the ratings. All that allowed the war on Fox to continue with almost no protest in the MSM. Only now, when the parallels between Obama and Nixon, the press's favorite Republican whipping boy (and with good reason), are too obvious to ignore, does all this get the play it deserves.

I only worry that the issues involved are too arcane to resonate with the public at large. "We were just trying to keep you safe" is something people understand and buy into. "We need the right to publish classified information in order to keep the government honest" is a harder case to make to the average Joe.

Andy: You know I think this issue might be too arcane for the very reason you mentioned. I like safety. A lot. If the government can be there and protect me then I'm all for it, especially if it looks like a bad guy is the recipient of justice. Some say I do not realize the huge amount of freedom Americans lose for "protection" like that. For example my friend Julia particularly likes to point out that I like government safety, that I talk highly of the FDA, foodstamps, and Homeland Security (police state stuff) but then I also hate when some of my freedoms are taken away, e.g. taxes being too high or religious freedoms. She tries to explain to me that is the result of having a large federal government and police state. She also tries to explain those programs are how "it" (government) gets so large. It's hard for me to see that and after she points it out, sometimes (depending on my mood) I'll relent and say, "Well, I do like the safety those programs bring." I really like the idea of our budget getting balanced, getting out of debt, and I am a big fan of political and religious freedom, but I also really like safety at a higher level. As some wise guy once said, "Safety first!" 

Brian: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

I think a lot of folks have the mindset that, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't fear government monitoring of your activities. I myself have subscribed to that notion in the past, and I'm still a little conflicted on the idea of a "right to privacy". It isn't explicitly in the Constitution - it's derived from the Fourth Amendment, I think - and the courts have convoluted this implied right to defend everything from abortion to same-sex marriage. On the other hand, it gets a little dicier with the press, since their job is to report the facts, however they came by them.

As to your friend's point about how "it" gets so large, it's because bureaucracy naturally seeks to perpetuate and expand itself. Consider the Census, for example. The Census was mandated to take a count of how many people live in a particular place to determine congressional apportionment. That's it. Have you seen a Census form? Should be about the size of a pack of gum or a business card at most: "How many folks, counting you, live at your house? OK, thanks. U.S. Census Bureau" Instead, it asks a lot of personal questions about income, race, your job, etc. And that's the "short form". I've not seen a "long form". Now they send people to your house to interview you about all this personal stuff. It costs a fortune! (Remember when Obama was touting the job growth that resulted from hiring a bunch of temporary census workers?) And then they do all these estimates and stuff in between years. Why? They have one job. Find out how many people live in a place every 10 years! But no, they had to expand to do all this other "useful" stuff. Like we don't have polling agencies and whatnot for that. And don't give me that crap about getting unbiased data. We've seen just how "unbiased" the federal government is in the last couple of weeks, haven't we?

What about the National Weather Service? Like we don't have the Weather Channel and umpteen local stations with Doppler radars! But no, now we've got the NWS inventing global warming to perpetuate its own existence, make a case for more funding, etc. The postal service? The only reason UPS and FedEx don't do the same job cheaper is because the federal government outlawed them from competing with the USPS and its bloated union contracts!

Listen, on some things, I think Ron Paul is a straight up nutjob, but give him or someone like Tom Coburn about a week to hack out the stupid crap that the federal government either isn't explicitly authorized to do or shouldn't be doing, and the national deficit is gonna sink like the friggin' Titanic.

Andy: Humph.You righties are so dumb.

*Andy takes a long drink then goes back to his office*

Brian: Sigh. That is some good water.

*Brian whistles back to his office*

Monday, May 20, 2013

Announcement! New Weekly Post coming soon!

UPDATE: First watercooler wednesday post has been posted! Check it out here or by clicking 'home' and scrolling. 

Here at Reformed Seth, we already have Monday's "Quote of the Week" and "Friday Mentionables," so I thought I would add another weekly post for the middle of the week: watercooler wednesday. It is going to be a conversational style post involving two characters talking about a topic. The topic may be a "hot topic," you know something that is being talked about in the news and such but it may also be one of those "permanent questions" that has been talked about since the days of the ancient hebrews and greeks.

I have a few characters in mind for the dialogues but give me some time to feel out this weekly post. The first month may be a little rocky while I try to find some characters. Most importantly, share the posts! I want this to be one of my most popular posts. So, if you like the posts then please share them. If you don't like the posts, then still please share them with your friends (or enemies!) because I want this weekly post to start conversation.

If you have some ideas for Watercooler Wednesday then comment below.

Quote of the Week: Allan Bloom on Alternatives

A serious life means being fully aware of the alternatives, thinking about them with all the intensity one brings to bear on life-and-death questions, in full recognition that every choice is a great risk with necessary consequences that are hard to bear.

- Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

Obama and the Broken Arrow

Mark is back! Let's see "how mark c's it..."

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

Obama and the Broken Arrow

I am not using the term Broken Arrow, as it was used in the movie by the same name, I am using Broken Arrow as the way it was used back in Vietnam, as shown in the movie We Were Soldiers, also showing the comparison to Rome when it was a world power.

There was a time, long-long ago, even before I was born, that a citizen of Rome could go anywhere in the known world, and not be bothered, They wouldn’t be robbed, murdered, accosted, troubled in any way, because to do so would bring down the weight of the Roman Empire and no one wanted that.

Speed forward to the middle of the 19th century, when an American could go anywhere in the world, and for the most part, be left alone, because America was seen as a great country, kind, generous, caring, and so were the people of America. Countries were happy to be a host to relatives, or visitors from our country, as were considered so powerful.

Speed forward to the demise of the American spirit, and to the Broken Arrow. Somehow we became the world’s police force. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, suddenly we were not looked upon with joy, but seen as a conquering nation, spreading our ideals in places that didn’t want them or need them. People questioned how we as a country could tell other countries how to run their lives, when our country was such a mess. War protestors, race riots, racism down south, a congress that didn’t work and kept promising everything to everyone with no way to pay for it.

Now in the movie We Were Soldiers, there is a scene, when the American forces are under attack, surrounded on all sides, and will soon be overrun; Danger Close is the term that would be used. The leader of the American forces is forced to call a Broken Arrow, which would in turn, make every aircraft in the area to make them the number one priority, to save them at all costs. That was THE American standard for our fighting men and women who served the country in one way or another. Our pledge to them: no one is left behind. They could find comfort in the fact we would always find them and bring them home.

So we now have to admit to a failure in the current administration, and its leadership, in holding to the standard that if an American is in trouble, WE WILL GO AND GET THEM! Benghazi showed that it no longer mattered if you were “danger close” because Obama is “idiot close”. Hillary failed in such a magnitude, that the cheating, lying, scumbag of a husband seems to shine brighter as a good person, as she yells, “At this time, WHAT DOES IT MATTER?” It mattered because we as a nation broke a promise to those that serve our purpose in other countries, that if you are in trouble, especially if it is muslims, then you are on your own, and if you die, someone further down the chain of command will say something nice at your funeral, and you might get a form letter also saying, ‘Sorry, wish we could have done something different, but I was running for reelection, and had to go to a fund raiser, and the people who I had put in charge didn’t’ think it was worth my time to let me know, and see if I would do something to save you. OR, I knew about it, but I am afraid of muslims, because when I finally come out of the closet, and admit to being a muslim, I don’t want them to be upset with me, for killing some of them, besides, I’m Teflon, and nothing sticks to me.’(the quotes are mine, I imagine this is what they would say, no one actually said it, to do so would so accepting responsibility, and having balls, which no one in this administration seems to have. Thought Hillary’s were bigger than Barry’s, turns out I was wrong.)

So, now we have to ask ourselves, with all the new scandals erupting as people on the left, and in the media are realizing, Barry is an asshat, a fool, and tool, and pretty much a waste of breath, we have to accept, until the next presidential election, or if the Senate changes hands in 2014 and impeaches the bastard, since his parents WERE NOT MARRIED, how badly is our reputation going to be soiled and sullied, by this man, and will we be able to get ourselves out from his destructive policies and ways.
With prayer, and God on our side, we have a hope.

Or at least, that is how Mark C’s it…

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quote of the Week: Sophocles on Tyrants

The tyrant is a child of Pride
Who drinks from his sickening cup
Recklessness and vanity,
Until from his high crest headlong
He plummets to the dust of hope.

-Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, line 872

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ligonier Coram Deo: The Sureness of Christ's Payment

Today, Ligonier's "coram deo" from their devotional post is rooted in the following verse:
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”(Psalm 85:10) 

What is the coram deo?
Today’s passage contains the beautiful imagery of justice and peace (or mercy, as other translations put it) kissing each other. Our Father graciously restores peace between Himself and us in Christ Jesus. This peace is permanent, for it is not based on ignoring our sins and faults but on God’s sure willingness to accept the perfect payment of Jesus in our behalf. And since the Lord has accepted this payment, this peace must be eternal, for otherwise He would have let His Son die in vain. 
 God is the God who rescues. His rescuing is different from fictional heroes like Superman who after rescuing the person(s) leaves after the rescue is over. God is different. He rescues then protects the person like a shepherd watches over his sheep. 

John 6:37 - 40
37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 10:27-30 
27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30  I and the Father are one.”
Romans 8:31 - 39
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These are three of my favorite biblical passages. These passages give us the concept of "the God who rescues." God rescues sinners from ultimate suffering. He truly rescues. He doesn't pull you out of danger then wish that you don't fall into danger again. His rescue is concrete. His rescue is without fail. His rescue is so true that "no one is able to snatch them out" of His hand. When you put your trust in Christ alone for salvation then you are rescued from ultimate suffering. You aren't just rescued from a current unfavorable predicament. You are rescued from an eternity of separation from God.

This doesn't mean the rest of your days on earth will be perfect. However, it does mean that the Helper will preserve you until your final salvation, which will be at the end of your earthly life. The doctrine "the perseverance of the saints" is a doctrine full of hope, security, and a realization that the God who rescues you, not only rescues you, but loves you and nothing can separate you from the love He lavishes on those who trust in Him alone for salvation.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quote of the Week - Jonathan Edwards on the virtues of Christ

All the virtues which appeared in Christ shone brightest in the close of His life, under the trials He then met. Eminent virtue always shows brightest in the fire. Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace. It was chiefly under those trials which Christ endured in the close of His life, that His love to God, His honor of God's majesty, His regard to the honor of His law, His spirit of obedience, His humility, contempt of the world, His patience, meekness, and spirit of forgiveness towards men, appeared. Indeed, every thing that Christ did to work out redemption for us appears mainly in the close of His life. Here mainly is His satisfaction for sin, and here chiefly is His merit of eternal life for sinners, and here chiefly appears the brightness of His example which He has set us for imitation.

- Jonathan Edwards, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, 1895, pg. 67

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Mentionables: Mind and Cosmos, Psalms and Theology

Another week, another "Mentionables" post. I don't have many links this week due to lack of reading. Hate on haters. :\

J.P. Moreland's philosophical note on Nagel's Mind and Cosmos

C.S. Lewis' reflections on the psalms
John Calvin on the Wonder of the Psalms 

Tony-Allen continues his Therapeutic Theology series with Therapeutic Theology IV: A New "D'Oh"!