R. C. Sproul’s popular lecture on Protestant Reformer Martin Luther.
Leviticus 19:28 states: “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves…” (NASB). Is this a forbiddance of getting a tattoo? Or was this written for a specific people, in a specific time, with a specific example in mind (God’s mind). Lets see what some commentators have to say on what this example would be that caused God to forbid marking or engraving on one’s body.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary: v. 28“They shall make cuts or prints in their flesh for the dead; for the heathen did so to pacify the infernal deities…”
New Bible Commentary: vv. 29-31 “The main focus of this section is to exclude rites and practices associated with pagan, Canaanite religion, particularly those which were physically or morally disfiguring. Abuse of the body in the name of religion is a wide spread human aberration…”
The International Bible Commentary: v. 28 “Cutting the flesh was a feature of the worship of Melqart (Baal in Old Testament)…. There are various explanations of this self-disfigurement which have been advanced: to provide blood for a departed spirit, to render mourners unrecognizable to departed spirits, to drive away the spirits by the life-force resident in the blood, and so on…”
The point here is that if one were to interpret this in a wooden literal sense that applies to today’s tattooing of the body for non-religious purposes, then one would apply verse 27 to getting “bowl-cuts.” For we read: “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads, nor harm the edges of your beard” (NASB).
Matthew Henry Commentary: “Those that worshipped the hosts of heaven, in honor of them, cut their hair so that their heads might resemble the celestial globe; but, as the custom was foolish in itself, so being done with respect to their false gods, it was idolatrous.”
Yes, Matthew Henry just called the bowl-cut “foolish,” but when done for religious purposes, it is wrong. As with the tattoo, if done for spiritual purposes, it is forbidden. If done for personal reasons, I see no harm. If I am wrong, I suspect that when one receives their glorified body, it will be washed clean with the blood of Christ. Because only then will we be perfect, the creation God originally intended.
I see no clear precedence in the Bible for not getting a tattoo if done for non-religious purposes. If one were to interpret this as following the law, a maelstrom would soon follow; not to mention the book of Galatians being thrown out the window.
I have been reading over PSALM 145 a few times… meditating on the Song calling us to action, to praise of our Lord, and the like. Verse 10 stood out a bit to me, I will explain. But first, here are a few different versions of the same verse:
I noticed a split here… almost a change in “who” was being spoken of here. The first section included ALL of creation… everything in it. The second section of that verse seem to delineate a separated people. In supporting the idea that this first part is speaking to every being within creation (even creation “itself”) is again noted at the very end of the Psalms:
- Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah! (CSB)
Everything that breathes are not regenerated. This includes, in my thinking, even the unregenerate — since the breath. I started to think of verses such as Revelation 5:13; Isaiah 45:23-24; Philippians 2:10-11, and the like. Of course we are all familiar with this Philippians verse:
- “so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (NASB).
Here is some in-depth commentary on this verse:
Likewise, I was drawn to REVELATION 5:13 as connected to this Psalms and it’s future ruminations:
This verse drips with this distinction I noted in Psalm 145:10. Here are a [more than] few commentaries on Revelation 5:13 —
This extended quote picks up a few points into Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, enjoy the suffering…
- Michael Reeves and Tim Chester, Why The Reformation Still Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2016), 99-105.
In case one is wondering, I highly recommend this book as well as Reeves other book, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. It is the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation… for God’s sake learn about it.
What follows is the section of the book Professor Wayne Grudem was touching on in his class:
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 275-279.
2. Some Theories About Creation Seem Clearly Inconsistent With the Teachings of Scripture. In this section we will examine three types of explanation of the origin of the universe that seem clearly inconsistent with Scripture.
a. Secular Theories: For the sake of completeness we mention here only briefly that any purely secular theories of the origin of the universe would be unacceptable for those who believe in Scripture. A “secular” theory is any theory of the origin of the universe that does not see an infinite-personal God as responsible for creating the universe by intelligent design. Thus, the “big bang” theory (in a secular form in which God is excluded), or any theories that hold that matter has always existed, would be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture that God created the universe out of nothing, and that he did so for his own glory. (When Darwinian evolution is thought of in a totally materialistic sense, as it most often is, it would belong in this category also.)19
b. Theistic Evolution: Ever since the publication of Charles Darwin’s book Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), some Christians have proposed that living organisms came about by the process of evolution that Darwin proposed, but that God guided that process so that the result was just what he wanted it to be. This view is called theistic evolution because it advocates belief in God (it is “theistic”) and in evolution too. Many who hold to theistic evolution would propose that God intervened in the process at some crucial points, usually (1) the creation of matter at the beginning, (2) the creation of the simplest life form, and (3) the creation of man. But, with the possible exception of those points of intervention, theistic evolutionists hold that evolution proceeded in the ways now discovered by natural scientists, and that it was the process that God decided to use in allowing all of the other forms of life on earth to develop. They believe that the random mutation of living things led to the evolution of higher life forms through the fact that those that had an “adaptive advantage” (a mutation that allowed them to be better fitted to survive in their environment) lived when others did not.
Theistic evolutionists are quite prepared to change their views of the way evolution came about, because, according to their standpoint, the Bible does not specify how it happened. It is therefore up to us to discover this through ordinary scientific investigation. They would argue that as we learn more and more about the way in which evolution came about, we are simply learning more and more about the process that God used to bring about the development of life forms.
The objections to theistic evolution are as follows:
1. The clear teaching of Scripture that there is purposefulness in God’s work of creation seems incompatible with the randomness demanded by evolutionary theory. When Scripture reports that God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:24), it pictures God as doing things intentionally and with a purpose for each thing he does. But this is the opposite of allowing mutations to proceed entirely randomly, with no purpose for the millions of mutations that would have to come about, under evolutionary theory, before a new species could emerge.
The fundamental difference between a biblical view of creation and theistic evolution lies here: the driving force that brings about change and the development of new species in all evolutionary schemes is randomness. Without the random mutation of organisms you do not have evolution in the modem scientific sense at all. Random mutation is the underlying force that brings about eventual development from the simplest to the most complex life forms. But the driving force in the development of new organisms according to Scripture is God’s intelligent design. God created “the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind” (Gen. 1:21 Niv). “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and – all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:25 my). These statements seem inconsistent with the idea of God creating or directing or observing millions of random mutations, none of which were “very good” in the way he intended, none of which really were the kinds of plants or animals he wanted to have on the earth. Instead of the straightforward biblical account of God’s creation, the theistic evolution view has to understand events to have occurred something like this:
That may seem a strange explanation, but it is precisely what the theistic evolutionist must postulate for each of the hundreds of thousands of different kinds of plants and animals on the earth: they all developed through a process of random mutation over millions of years, gradually increasing in complexity as occasional mutations turned out to be advantageous to the creature.
A theistic evolutionist may object that God intervened in the process and guided it at many points in the direction he wanted it to go. But once this is allowed then there is purpose and intelligent design in the process—we no longer have evolution at all, because there is no longer random mutation (at the points of divine interaction). No secular evolutionist would accept such intervention by an intelligent, purposeful Creator. But once a Christian agrees to some active, purposeful design by God, then there is no longer any need for randomness or any development emerging from random mutation. Thus we may as well have God immediately creating each distinct creature without thousands of attempts that fail.
2. Scripture pictures God’s creative word as bringing immediate response. When the Bible talks about God’s creative word it emphasizes the power of his word and its ability to accomplish his purpose.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood forth. (Ps. 33:6, 9)
This kind of statement seems incompatible with the idea that God spoke and after millions of years and millions of random mutations in living things his power brought about the result that he had called for. Rather, as soon as God says, “Let the earth put forth vegetation,” the very next sentence tells us, “And it was so” (Gen. 1:11).
3. When Scripture tells us that God made plants and animals to reproduce “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:11, 24), it suggests that God created many different types of plants and animals and that, though there would be some differentiation among them (note many different sizes, races, and personal characteristics among human beings!), nonetheless there would be some narrow limits to the kind of change that could come about through genetic mutations.20
4. God’s present active role in creating or forming every living thing that now comes into being is hard to reconcile with the distant “hands off” kind of oversight of evolution that is proposed by theistic evolution. David is able to confess, “You formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13). And God said to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11). God makes the grass grow (Ps. 104:14; Matt. 6:30) and feeds the birds (Mau. 6:26) and the other creatures of the forest (Ps. 104:21, 27-30). If God is so involved in causing the growth and development of every step of every living thing even now, does it seem consistent with Scripture to say that these life forms were originally brought about by an evolutionary process directed by random mutation rather than by God’s direct, purposeful creation, and that only after they had been created did he begin his active involvement in directing them each moment?
5. The special creation of Adam, and Eve from him, is a strong reason to break with theistic evolution. Those theistic evolutionists who argue for a special creation of Adam and Eve because of the statements in Genesis 1-2 have really broken with evolutionary theory at the point that is of most concern to human beings anyway. But if, on the basis of Scripture, we insist upon God’s special intervention at the point of the creation of Adam and Eve, then what is to prevent our allowing that God intervened, in a similar way, in the creation of living organisms?
We must realize that the special creation of Adam and Eve as recorded in Scripture shows them to be far different from the nearly animal, just barely human creatures that evolutionists would say were the first humans, creatures who descended from ancestors that were highly developed nonhuman apelike creatures. Scripture pictures the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, as possessing highly developed linguistic, moral, and spiritual abilities from the moment they were created. They can talk with each other. They can even talk with God. They are very different from the nearly animal first humans, descended from nonhuman apelike creatures, of evolutionary theory.
Some may object that Genesis 1-2 does not intend to portray Adam and Eve as literal individuals, but (a) the historical narrative in Genesis continues without a break into the obviously historical material about Abraham (Gen. 12), showing that the author intended the entire section to be historical,21 and (b) in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49, Paul affirms the existence of the “one man” Adam through whom sin came into the world, and bases his discussion of Christ’s representative work of earning salvation on the previous historical pattern of Adam being a representative for mankind as well. Moreover, the New Testament elsewhere clearly understands Adam and Eve to be historical figures (cf. Luke 3:38; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14). The New Testament also assumes the historicity of the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11) and Abel (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24).
6. There are many scientific problems with evolutionary theory (see the following section). The increasing number of questions about the validity of the theory of evolution being raised even by non-Christians in various scientific disciplines indicates that anyone who claims to be forced to believe in evolution because the “scientific facts” leave no other option has simply not considered all the evidence on the other side. The scientific data do not force one to accept evolution, and if the scriptural record argues convincingly against it as well, it does not seem to be a valid theory for a Christian to adopt.
It seems most appropriate to conclude in the words of geologist Davis A. Young, “The position of theistic evolutionism as expressed by some of its proponents is not a consistently Christian position. It is not a truly biblical position, for it is based in part on principles that are imported into Christianity.”22 According to Louis Berkhof “theistic evolution is really a child of embarrassment, which calls God in at periodic intervals to help nature over the chasms that yawn at her feet. It is neither the biblical doctrine of creation, nor a consistent theory of evolution.”23
 See pp. 279-87 below, for a discussion of Darwinian evolution.
 “We do not need to insist that the Hebrew word min (“kind”) corresponds exactly with the biological category “species,” for that is simply a modern means of classifying different living things. But the Hebrew word does seem to indicate a narrow specification of various types of living things. It is used, for example, to speak of several very specific types of animals that bear young and are distinguished according to their “kind.” Scripture speaks of “the falcon according to its kind,” “every raven according to its kind,” “the hawk according to its kind,” “the heron according to its kind,” and “the locust according to its kind” (Lev. 11:14, 15, 16, 19, 22). Other animals that exist according to an individual “kind” are the cricket, grasshopper, great lizard, buzzard, kite, sea gull, and stork (Lev. 11:22, 29; Deut. 14:13, 14, 15, 18). These are very specific kinds of animals, and God created them so that they would reproduce only according to their own “kinds.” It seems that this would allow only for diversification within each of these types of animals (larger or smaller hawks, hawks of different color and with different shapes of beaks, etc.), but certainly not any “macroevolutionary” change into entirely different kinds of birds. (Frair and Davis, A Case for Creation, p. 129, think that “kind” may correspond to family or order today, or else to no precise twentieth-century equivalent.)
 Note the phrase “These are the generations of” introducing successive sections in the Genesis narrative at Gen. 2:4 (heavens and the earth); 5:1 (Adam); 6:9 (Noah); 10:1 (the sons of Noah); 11:10 (Shem); 11:27 (Terah, the father of Abraham); 25:12 (Ishmael); 25:19 (Isaac); 36:1 (Esau); and 37:2 (Jacob). The translation of the phrase may differ in various English versions, but the Hebrew expression is the same and literally says, “These are the generations of….” By this literary device the author has introduced various sections of his historical narrative, tying it all together in a unified whole, and indicating that it is to be understood as history-writing of the same sort throughout. If the author intends us to understand Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as historical figures, then he also intends us to understand Adam and Eve as historical figures.
 Davis A. Young, Creation and the Flood: An Alternative to Flood Geology and Theistic Evolution (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), p. 38. Young includes a discussion of the views of Richard H. Bube, one of the leading proponents of theistic evolution today (pp. 33-35).
 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 139-40.
A great theological short. A short quick response to an issue on the afterlife. See my post on this subject of “evil” here:
- James E. Taylor, Introducing Apologetics: Cultivating Christian Commitment (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 257-259.
Hinduism may be the most metaphysically diverse of all religious traditions, since its practitioners have been polytheists, monotheists, pantheists, panentheists, atheists, and agnostics. This metaphysical diversity is grounded in the widespread Hindu conviction that the truth about ultimate reality is inexpressible and unknowable.
The Hindu name for ultimate reality is Brahman. In spite of the general skepticism just mentioned, many Hindu scholars have studied the Vedic texts (especially the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma-sutra) to articulate an understanding of Brahman and Brahman’s relationship to the universe. The philosophical/theological systems formulated are called Vedanta. The three most influential vedantic thinkers are Sankara (788-820), Ramanuja (1017-1137), and Madhya (thirteenth century AD).
Sankara’s view is called Advaita (non-duality) Vedanta. According to this worldview, reality is one, and the one is Brahman. It follows that the only absolute reality is Brahman, and therefore everything that exists is Brahman. Thus, each individual atman (soul) is identical with Atman (the world soul), and Atman is the same thing as Brahman. Though Brahman may seem to be a personal lord with a variety of divine attributes who is worthy of worship, Brahman is really impersonal (and so not appropriately worshiped) and completely without different and distinct qualities (except for being, consciousness, and bliss). This is clearly a version of pantheism, which accounts for polytheism at the popular level: The allegedly many gods are just manifestations of Brahman. Sankara says that the assumption that there are many real things (human beings, animals, plants, inorganic things, different qualities of things, etc.) is due to ignorance and that this ignorance is caused by maya (illusion). According to his view, salvation comes through eliminating maya and the ignorance based on it by becoming enlightened. Enlightenment involves grasping that everything (including oneself, of course) is really (distinctionless and impersonal) Brahman.
Sankara’s interpretation of the Vedas is philosophically problematic, and because of this, it does not provide a plausible challenge to Christian exclusivism. The main problem with his view is that it says, on the one hand, that there is only one thing and thus no distinctions between different kinds of things, and, on the other hand, that there is a distinction between maya and ultimate reality, ignorance and enlightenment, bondage to samsara and liberation from it, and so on. In short, Sankara’s Hindu theology is self-contradictory. Moreover, it does not help to distinguish, as Sankara does, between absolute reality (Brahman) and conventional reality (maya). This too is a distinction between two different things, and if Brahman is all, then there cannot be two different things. An additional problem is that Sankara’s view is inconsistent with the wisdom of collective human sensory experience, which reveals a world of many real things. An appeal to mystical experience does not save his position. There is no good reason to trust such an experience, since insofar as it supports Sankara’s view, it contradicts both reason and sense perception.
Ramanuja is a later Hindu thinker who tried to improve on Sankara’s theology by attempting to be faithful to the theme of unity between Atman and Brahman in the Vedas while avoiding contradiction. His theology is a qualified nondualism. According to his view, the universe is Brahman’s body, which emerges or emanates eternally out of Brahman and through which Brahman expresses itself. As such, the universe is coeternal with and dependent on Brahman, but it is not the same thing as Brahman. Therefore, the universe can consist in many different things, including souls, which are not identical with Brahman. If we take this to mean that the universe is part of Brahman, then Ramanuja’s theology is a version of panentheism. If instead Brahman’s body is not a part of Brahman, then Ramanuja’s view is a version of contingency monotheism. Either way, Ramanuja avoids Sankara’s pantheism. Moreover, whereas Sankara conceives of Brahman as impersonal, Ramanuja believes Brahman is a personal God who has become incarnate in many forms (such as Rama and Krishna)2 and who gives grace to save human beings who love him and are devoted to him (but this salvation does not involve atonement).i
Though Ramanuja’s picture of reality avoids the contradictory antirealism of Sankara’s approach, and though it includes some Christian themes, it faces a problem of evil that is more serious than the one afflicting the Abrahamic faiths. In the first place, if his view is panentheistic, so that the universe is part of God and the universe contains evil, then a part of God is evil. But Ramanuja says that God is perfect. Therefore, the universe does not contain evil, or God is not perfect, or the universe is not a part of God. Since it seems best to affirm the last of these alternatives, it seems best to reject the panentheistic interpretation of Ramanuja’s theology. Second, since Ramanuja affirms the eternality of souls (a consequence of his denial of creation ex nihilo), then those souls that have not yet been liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth have already suffered eternally. But this is an experience equivalent to eternal suffering in hell—at least with respect to length of time. Therefore, all of us still caught in the cycle of death and rebirth have no freedom of choice in this life to avoid eternal suffering. We have already endured it! According to the Christian view, all human beings suffer only a finite amount during the one earthly existence they are granted, and they are given an opportunity to choose freely whether to suffer eternally apart from God. Moreover, there is consequently a much greater amount of pain and suffering for which Ramanuja needs to account than there is in the Christian view.
The third Hindu theologian is Madhya. According to his view, the universe is eternal and completely independent of God. His theology is a member of the cosmological dualism family. Thus, he avoids the problems facing Sankara’s pantheism and the panentheist interpretation of Ramanuja. Moreover, he says God is the designer of the universe but not the creator. Therefore, his theology does not have to explain why God either created or eternally generates a universe that contains evil, pain, and suffering. Like Ramanuja, he also affirms that God is personal, has become incarnate in different forms, and offers salvation by grace.
But Madhva’s account of God and the world has two serious problems. First, from the standpoint of Hinduism, it does not affirm the close relationship between God and the universe that is taught by the Vedas. Second, it can provide no satisfying philosophical explanation of the existence of the universe. Since Madhva’s position is that the universe is both eternal and independent, the universe’s existence is a brute fact. But the Abrahamic faiths and the other versions of Hinduism can all explain the existence of the universe as identical with God (Sankara), a part of or dependent on God (Ramanuja), or created by God out of nothing (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Therefore, these other theologies are superior to Madhva’s theology in this respect.
2. In Hinduism, an incarnation of God is called an avatar.
i. RPT’s note. Ramanuja seems close to some theistic beliefs, but one should be aware that he lived around 1017–1137 AD, and so borrowed from Christianity to try and “fix” the glaring problems in Hinduism.
There are three notable perspectives:
- Christ spent his three days suffering the wrath of God.
- Christ spent his three days proclaiming his victory over the Satanic kingdom.
- Christ spent his three days preaching the Gospel to the Old Testament believers who dwelt in a separated portion of the netherworld.
Here is a look at the non-Biblical version of this view that Jesus descended into hell:
The main issue with this false doctrine is that it renders the work on the cross null… here is a good clip of Mark Driscoll explaining the issue well. (This was a clip from Mark’s sermon, “Suffering to Learn – 1 Peter 3:17-22“):
Here as well is a quick confrontation by WATCHMAN explaining the core of the deviation,
For a dealing with Joel Osteen’s view, see a post entitled, “Joel Osteen’s False Teaching That Jesus went to Hell, by Lori Eldridge.” The implications of this false view of “It Is Finished” is noted by Matt Slick of CARM:
A person on my YouTube pointed something out…. and it is this: that there are orthodox views about this “visit” to hell. Period. Here is his comment:
- The bible says in 1 peter 3:19 that he went to hell to proclaim his victory, not to suffer. the false doctrine isn’t that he went to hell, it is that it had anything to do with atonement.
HANK HANEGRAAFF reigns is the idea to allow for Biblical views rather than just one narrow view:
Lee Strobel and Hank Hanegraaff speaks on Christ’s Date of Birth. While Hanegraaff makes it clear that Jesus was not born on December 25th, that doesn’t mean we cannot celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
(JUMP TO Richard Foster’s crap!)
A fellow bibliophile passes (updated tribute).
Take note that while a solid believing Christian can glean some practical wisdom and life organizing skills from Dallas Willard… this same Christian should be wary of Dallas’ theological bent. Dallas was off in his theology…he was a UNIVERSALIST in the mold of other Emergent theologians:
The following [long] audios comes by way of Chris Rosbrough from PIRATE CHRISTIAN RADIO. They are — again — long, and allow the astute listener some insights into where the late Dr. Willard may have been missing the Gospel target.
But Dallas Willard is not the only person promoting some bad theology via New Age authors and books (like the below) and authors:
I will explain why anyone recommending this work is either ignorant of it’s contents, or theologically soft on cults and the occult. Celebration of Discipline is a New Age book, here are some scans of a couple worrisome parts (CLICK TO ENLARGE IN ANOTHER TAB). Here are pages 27 through 28 from Richard Foster’s book:
And page 170 from the 1st printing (this was changed in later printings):
PRO: Wayne Grudem
CON: John Mark Reynolds
(See my POST on the issue)
Theologian Wayne Grudem deals with the moral objections to not voting for Trump (the entire article is actually MORE than just this):