It is funny. In this conversation (which is part two, part one can be found here) I have noticed a theme… which is, the detractors in question will bring up topics of a religious bent, even going as far as quoting Scripture; then, when corrected on the theological or historical/cultural aspects they themselves brought up — they mention why talk religion? They continue that faith is a personal thing that no one will ever agree on.
You see, they expect others to see their viewpoint on the Bible, but then when simple in text explanations (exegesis) are explained — clearly — all of a sudden you are accused of “nitpicking and going through contortions” (that is a quote). So, this second part unlike the first that dealt more with Natural Law and biology deals more with Biblical texts and proofs brought up in conversation. These skeptical positions enumerated herein are held typically by liberal progressive skeptics… which many in the conversation reject politically (that is, liberalism and progressivism). I was disappointing that many of my fellow brethren could make cogent, stat/fact filled arguments incorporating history and reason to refute liberal/progressive positions. But as soon as religion is mentioned, the previously held conservative linear thought is jettisoned for a more emotion-based, feelings styled approach that uses unfounded and unreasonable positions.
Which is why this was written with the idea that it should not be taken as a personal attack as much as a mild correction and clarion call to conservative thought even in looking at religious positions. It is a funny thing that they understand this in conversation between liberals and conservatives, but not between liberal believers and conservative believers.
I will explain with an example recently posted on this same FaceBook group regarding Ronald Reagan’s birthday. In it Chris corrects another for his egregious take on history.
Now, anyone in an emotional conversation knows that typically when people write lists of reasons why they do not believe in a particular ideology — in this case, conservative/Republican fiscal ideals and philosophy — these people will merely produce a new list when the previous one is dealt with point-by-point incorporating history, facts, and reason. You see, said-person being responded to really doesn’t want to change, or listen to reason. They JUST WANT to feel like they have reasons to reject a position. And even thought this rejection is psychologically based, a feeling that one has to have reasons in their rejection runs deep. I give an analogy in my first chapter from my book:
…I say “honestly asked” because often times people just ask questions to purposefully deflect their own understanding of the topic. Once you give a reasonably well thought out answer, the dishonest interviewer typically will not inculcate this response and consider changing his or her mind based on the new evidence you just gave them, they typically respond with another question. The problem is not with the topic or evidence that is being discussed, the problem might well be that the person in question just doesn’t want to re-think their position, no matter how much evidence he or she finds or is presented with. Let me explain with an example from the book, Classical Apologetics:
But even a sound epistemic system, flawless deductive reasoning, and impeccable inductive procedure does not guarantee a proper conclusion. Emotional bias or antipathy might block the way to the necessary conclusion of the research. That thinkers may obstinately resist a logical verdict is humorously illustrated by John Warwick Montgomery’s modern parable:
Once upon a time (note the mystical cast) there was a man who thought he was dead. His concerned wife and friends sent him to the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist determined to cure him by convincing him of one fact that contradicted his beliefs that he was dead. The fact that the psychiatrist decided to use was the simple truth that dead men do not bleed. He put his patient to work reading medical texts, observing autopsies, etc. After weeks of effort the patient finally said, “All right, all right! You’ve convinced me. Dead men do not bleed.” Whereupon the psychiatrist stuck him in the arm with a needle, and the blood flowed. The man looked down with a contorted, ashen face and cried, “Good Lord! Dead men bleed after all!”
Emotional prejudice is not limited to dull-witted, the illiterate, and poorly educated. Philosophers and theologians are not exempt from the vested interests and psychological prejudice that distort logical thinking. The question of the existence of God evokes deep emotional and psychological prejudice. People understand that the question of the existence of God is not one that is of neutral consequence. We understand intuitively, if not in terms of its full rational implication, that the existence of an eternal Creator before whom we are ultimately accountable and responsible is a matter that touches the very core of life.
You see, the Christian-theistic worldview does not just offer answers in religious areas and is silent in the political arena, rather, it forces one to confront popular culture, which often times demands political or cultural change. This can cause religious and non-religious persons alike to become very intolerant, especially when the topic combines a person’s religious views and that of currant affairs…
 Epistemology – “the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth.” C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2002), 39.
 R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 69-70.
One comment on the above post by ChrisH was this one by CF:
C.F.’s comment needs to be kept in mind as we look at the skeptical responses to the idea that homosexual behavior is of equal cultural levels as keeping kosher. A “good understanding” of the culture, text, language, and the like, is lacking. These detractors take SUCH STRONG, ABSOLUTE positions on the Biblical texts based on no cultural understanding… and then in the same breath accuse me (or whomever) that we are being waaayyy too legalistic and literal. Their uninformed, prejudicial position strays far away from proper hermeneutics that any ancient text (not just the Bible) deserves. To be clear, this rejection is more in line with liberalism and progressive thinking rather than the deep thinking of conservative ideals that many in this group profess. I would counsel these believers to be CONSISTENT in how they deal with tough subjects. Religious or political.
I will start the conversation with Dennis Prager correcting Obama on his (really, the liberal position) Biblical knowledge. He deals with the same topic that was presented to me by two people, fortuitously AFTER my conversation about the same topic: ShellFish! Now to the conversation.
G.C. starts out the second round of conversation by saying:
I do not get offended by Sean’s words – neither do I take them as Gospel. He is no closer to knowing God’s heart than Satan himself. And I don’t mean that as an insult, but as a simple fact applicable to ALL of us. I will tell you that the Archbishop of Miami, several Monsignors, dozens of priests, including my pastor, are very loving of my partner and I. The Church’s ‘official’ teachings are known by all, but as long as I don’t attempt to ‘marry’ my partner, my sin is no worse than the divorcee who lives with the new lover and doesn’t remarry. In my heart, I KNOW God blesses my union – damn official teachings and damn Sean Giordano (not really, but his argument here – lol). But I do accept that marriage is one man/one woman, NO divorce – what God has joined together let no man tear apart. But I’ll let God judge – I won’t. My own sister is divorced, although she’s never remarried. Again, I don’t get upset because Sean Giordano has a theological viewpoint and verbalizes it without hatred. A lib will insist that HAVING that opinion is in itself hateful and homophobic. And I’m starting to see a lot of conservative gayswithnthesame attitude on sites like GOProud. Pisses me off.
No offense taken. Your point on how a liberal versus how conservatives react is well stated. And I am proud to be in the same camp as you my friend.
There are sins that are worse than others. We will be rewarded for the varying good works we do, and be judged for our sins. God sets up ideals very clearly in His Scripture, not SeanG’s book. And God spoke through His prophets, through the apostles, and through Himself (YHWH, Jesus). Obviously the only sin that counts is denying Christ’s nature and confessing with our mouths our need for salvation through Him.
Again, you mentioned me and the church. Neither of these “institutions” dictate what Scripture has clearly stated. ANd God wants an ideal, and the Christian especially should say:
♛ Divorce is not normative or God’s will;
♛ AND, homosexual relations are not normative or God’s will.
In other words, God hates divorce, and God hates the homosexual act. In other words, the Church (via the Bible) should discourage and not encourage divorce. Likewise, the Church (via the Bible) should discourage and not encourage homosexual behavior.
This does not mean he has withheld grace and forgiveness to the repentant believer. But the repentant believer would not continuously marry, and divorce, and piously say God blesses or condones that action. This has nothing to do with your salvation, nor, does it say that God blesses divorce or same-sex relationships. Take note as well that the original languages help you dissect the truth of Scripture (Matthew 5:32):
The Greek words for “commit” and “commits” come from the root words MOICHEUO and MOIXAO. The first word is in the aorist passive tense meaning that the act of committing adultery is completed and done against the woman. This would suggest that he subsequently has sexual relations with some other woman. This is the message of Matt 19:9; Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18. The second word is in the present middle tense meaning that the woman commits adultery herself by marrying another man. Such divorces are unbiblical divorces.
Conclusion: Divorce was not in God’s original plan. God only allows it because of the hardness of hearts. The effect of this sin is just like any other sin; there are always consequences that are unavoidable. But do not forget that God forgives this sin. He forgave King David who killed and committed adultery. There is no sin God does not forgive. (Source)
Here are the very next words/list out of G.C.’s mouth [keyboard]:
Again, I respond:
Lets stick with your example of shellfish G.C., as E.M. also brought it up. I want to deal with this in a couple of ways. Firstly, the entirety of Leviticus was not written for everyone. There are parts that speak to the Jewish nation of the day (the Hebraic peoples), and other commands that included more than just the Jewish nation. We know this because God says, “Speak to the sons of Israel saying…” He gives instructions to the Israelites, not to the rest of the nations.
✂ *SNIP* ✂
Here is a list of instances when the occurrence of the phrase “Speak to the Sons of Israel saying…” is found in Leviticus, the book under consideration.
Lev. 4:2, atonement for unintentional sins
Lev. 7:23, don’t eat fat from ox, sheep, or goat
Lev. 7:29, procedures for peace offering to the Lord
Lev. 11:2, list of animals the Israelites may eat
Lev. 12:2, uncleanness after giving birth
Lev. 23:24, rest on 1st day of 7th month
Lev. 23:34, Feast of Booths on 15th day of 7th month
Lev. 24:15, the one cursing God will bear his sin
So, we can see a host of things that dealt only with Israel.
However, there are abominations that did not apply only to Israel, but to everyone else also. Again, let’s look at Leviticus.
✞ Lev. 18:22-30, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; FOR BY ALL THESE THE NATIONS WHICH I AM CASTING OUT BEFORE YOU HAVE BECOME DEFILED 25 ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and SHALL NOT DO ANY OF THESE ABOMINATIONS, NEITHER THE NATIVE, NOR THE ALIEN WHO SOJOURNS AMONG YOU 27 (FOR THE MEN OF THE LAND WHO HAVE BEEN BEFORE YOU HAVE DONE ALL THESE ABOMINATIONS, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land may not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has SPEWED OUT THE NATION WHICH HAS BEEN BEFORE YOU. 29 ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 ‘Thus YOU ARE TO KEEP MY CHARGE, THAT YOU DO NOT PRACTICE ANY OF THE ABOMINABLE CUSTOMS WHICH HAVE BEEN PRACTICED BEFORE YOU, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’”
What abominations is Lev. 18:22-30 speaking of? Contextually, chapter 17 is about blood atonement procedures, so that is for Israel, not for everyone. In Chapter 18 God says to Israel, “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you,” (Lev. 18:3). So, now instead of it applying only to Israel, God mentions things that are done by Egypt and the land of Canaan. What were the things those nations did? The chapter contains the following.
Lev. 18:6-18, don’t uncover the nakedness of various relatives.
Lev. 18:19, don’t have sexual relations with woman on her period
Lev. 18:20, don’t have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife
Lev. 18:21, don’t offer children to Molech
Lev. 18:22, don’t lie with a male as with a female
Lev. 18:23 don’t have intercourse with animals.
✂ *UNSNIP* ✂
…MORE, my second point… patience please:
The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the housetop about noon. Then he became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he went into a visionary state. He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!” “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common and ritually unclean!” Again, a second time, a voice said to him, “What God has made clean, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into heaven.
Peter Visits Cornelius
While Peter was deeply perplexed about what the vision he had seen might mean, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, stood at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon, who was also named Peter, was lodging there. While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, “Three men are here looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and accompany them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men and said, “Here I am, the one you’re looking for. What is the reason you’re here?” They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” Peter then invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went with him.
The edict against the ethnic/religious Jew (“the sons of Israel”) was lifted in this verse. So contrary to the horrible arguments often made by Skeptics of the Christian faith, You, G.C., should not use the same horrible exegesis that non-believers use. The same can be said regarding arguments for same-sex marriage needing to be made well. (Per Mr. Blatt, whom I agree with on this point — that is, a coherent reasonable case needs to be made for same-sex marriage. A case that isn’t arbitrary, like liberals tend towards.) So to do hermeneutics need to be used well in the Christians life. No matter where it leads you (often times it leads ALL OF US to face our sins and sinful nature, right?).
Here are the very next words/list out of G.C.’s mouth [keyboard]:
You see, G.C. (as well as E.M.) do not want to accept what the Bible says at face value.
They have no need for ways to approach ancient texts to allow personal opinion and deconstructionism (progressive values) to be set aside and create a model for all people to equally and fairly come to these texts to get the most truth from them.
I explain this well in another post where the Bible is attacked and the people doing so are the literalists/legalists, similar to G.C. and Others.
They are the absolutists.
Conservative Christian and Jews are not the Biblical literalists as these skeptics define it (wrongly, creating a straw-man)… even though we are painted as such.
- In other words, they incorporate what they deny, while applying straw-man positions to our side, its very convoluted on their part and why progressives typically think these attacks are acceptable.
A final word from Dr. Copan, that also touches a bit on the salvonic history involved in this discussion, that is often overlooked by the skeptics. He makes a point also about the wooden interpretation of the pharisees and has to point out that these topics (divorce, slavery, and the like) are not ideals from God but Him dealing with man’s “hardness of heart.”
… Jesus’s approach reminds us that there’s a multilevel ethic that cautions against a monolithic, single-level ethic that simply “parks” at Deuteronomy 24 and doesn’t consider the redemptive component of this legislation. The certificate of divorce was to protect the wife, who would, by necessity, have to remarry to come under the shelter of a husband to escape poverty and shame. This law took into consideration the well-being of the wife. So when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, their wooden interpretation made it difficult to see that Moses’s words didn’t represent an absolute ethic. (Keep in mind that God’s commands involving divorce—and even slavery—are given not as ideals, but because of the hardness of human hearts [Matt. 19:81.) These Pharisees approached Scripture in a way that made it virtually impossible for them to see any further, as Jesus pointed out—to see that there was an even greater good of sacrificially serving in the kingdom by forgoing the joys and benefits of marriage (Matt. 19:10-12).
So as we look at many of these Levitical laws, we must appreciate them in their historical context, as God’s temporary provision, but also look at the underlying spirit and movement across the sweep of salvation history. As we do so, we see that the movement of Scripture consistently prohibits homosexual activity (for example), on the one hand. However, the movement of Scripture consistently affirms the full humanity of slaves (e.g., Job 31:13-15), eventually encouraging slaves to pursue their freedom (1 Cor. 7:21). As we noted earlier, slavery wasn’t commanded but permitted (as was divorce) because of the hardness of human hearts. Homosexuality is a different matter. New Testament scholar R. T. France writes that direct references to homosexual activity in Scripture are “uniformly hostile”; homosexual behavior—so common in surrounding cultures (ancient Near Eastern/Greco-Roman)—was “simply alien to the Jewish and Christian ethos.” Note too that acts—rather than mere inclinations/tendencies (whether homosexual or heterosexual)—are judged to be immoral and worthy of censure in Scripture.
So it’s wrongheaded to claim that homosexual acts were “just cultural” or simply “on the same level” as the kosher or clothing laws that God gave to help set Israel apart from its pagan neighbors. Levitical law also prohibits adultery, bestiality, murder, and theft, and surely these go far beyond the temporary prohibitions of eating shrimp or pork!
Paul Copan, How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong?: Responding to Objections That Leave Christians Speechless (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker books, 2005), 174-175.
One last small dialogue from the larger strain. E.M. mentioned the following:
“Jesus never mentions homosexuality in the bible.”
To which I quoted Scripture (not to mention Jesus was heavily involved in writing Leviticus! Just Sayin’). I respond:
You are wrong E.M., Jesus specifically mentions the ideal (Matthew 19:4-6) I have continuously spoken to above.
He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (The Message Bible ~ Red is Jesus)
This organic union is what I speak to in part one.
You can read more about how to approach text in ways any deep-thinking literary critic is trained to as well as the person seeking truth. Obviously G.C. rejects portions of Scripture to embolden his view how he views man’s nature and his own standing before God. He fashions God and His Holy Spirit to fit his conception. Not based on deep study, but of psychological wants and needs. You can click through to my other post. I caution you however, this is a step those interested in truth should take. Those not interested in literary criticism, history, hermeneutics, and the like, shouldn’t take.
These are three books I recommend to the serious student: