Written on September 30th, 2010 by Christian Research Institute
A myth propped up by secular skeptics is that Scripture sanctions slavery. Nothing could be farther from the truth. First, it should be noted that far from extolling the virtues of slavery, the Bible denounces slavery as sin. The New Testament goes so far as to put slave traders in the same category as murderers, adulterers, perverts, and liars (1 Timothy 1:10).
Furthermore, slavery within the Old Testament context was sanctioned due to economic realities rather than racial or sexual prejudices. Because bankruptcy laws did not exist, people would voluntarily sell themselves into slavery. A craftsman could thus use his skills in servitude to discharge a debt. Even a convicted thief could make restitution by serving as a slave (Exodus 22:3).
Finally, while the Bible as a whole recognizes the reality of slavery, it never promotes the practice of slavery. In fact, it was the application of biblical principles that ultimately led to the overthrow of slavery, both in ancient Israel and in the United States of America. Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt became the model for the liberation of slaves in general. In America, many are beginning to wake up to the liberating biblical truth that all people are created by God with innate equality (Genesis 1:27; Acts 17:26–28; Galatians 3:28).
For further study, see Paul Copan, That’s Just Your Interpretation:Responding to Skeptics Who Challenge Your Faith
(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001), 171–178. See also Hank Hanegraaff, “President Bartlett’s Fallacious Diatribe
.” Available from CRI at www.equip.org.
Written by Ravi Zacharias on 04 August 2008. Posted at CARM.org. Featured Article
I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the Gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.
But then he said something I have never forgotten: “If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?” His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the Gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith
is not more visible.Read more
The following is an excerpt from STR Enhanced Solid Ground July 2012 by Greg Koukl.
“Jesus never condemned homosexuality.”
Though this is only a single sentence, it’s actually a full argument in shorthand, streamlined for brevity. The conclusion didn’t need to be stated. I got the point. I was wrong for attacking homosexuality on moral grounds. Because Jesus never condemned homosexuality, it is therefore morally acceptable behavior.“Are you saying that if Jesus doesn’t
specifically condemn something, then
He condones it?”
Notice, though, that the conclusion is not the only thing taken for granted here. The minor premise is stated and the conclusion is assumed, but what of the major premise, our first step in the argument? The unspoken major premise—the invisible wall
holding up this argument—contained a serious flaw that went undetected.
We can determine if this is a problem by asking what kind of major premise is needed to make this argument work. The full argument would have to look something like this: “Whatever Jesus did not explicitly condemn is morally acceptable. Jesus never explicitly condemned homosexuality. Therefore, homosexuality is morally acceptable.”
The form of this argument is good; nothing amiss here. But look closer at the major premise. It seems this statement is clearly false. It’s not true that whatever Jesus didn’t directly condemn is morally acceptable. Jesus never explicitly condemned slavery, child abuse, wife-beating, or even gaybashing, for that matter, but this proves nothing about His moral opinion on those issues.
Many Christians are caught flat-footed here, sensing something is wrong, but not knowing what it is. Sometimes we have to look more closely to identify the unspoken premise before we can see the problem clearly. In this case, that can be done by making the invisible wall visible.Page 6 of STR's July 2012 issue of Solid Ground - http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/Enhanced_Solid_Ground_July_2012.pdf?docID=6382&autologin=true
The following is an excerpt from STR Enhanced Solid Ground July 2012 by Greg Koukl.
- "Either Jesus is not God or God is not a trinity. "
This is a failure of equivocation, but the problem is difficult for most to see at first. It has to do with the troublesome word, “is.” There are at least five meanings for the word “is.”
Resolving the equivocation in this argument requires distinguishing between the “is” of essential predication (“Aristotle is human”) and the “is” of identity (“Aristotle is the author of the Nichomachean Ethics”). There are also the parts/whole “is” (“Aristotle is skin and bones”), the “is” of accidental predication (“Aristotle is white”), and the “is” of existence (“Aristotle is”).
When Christianity teaches that Jesus is God, it doesn’t mean that Jesus and God are exactly identical. Jesus is different from the Father. He shares the Father’s essential nature, but He is not everything that God is. God subsists in three persons; Jesus is only one of those persons.
- “Jesus is God. Mary is the mother of Jesus. Therefore, Mary is the mother of God.”
The form here seems correct—the conclusion follows from the premises. It also seems that the individual statements are true. But something’s wrong here. God is not the kind of being that has a mother. Where did we go wrong?
The problem becomes more obvious when we take it a step further: “Mary is the mother of God. God is a trinity. Therefore, Mary is the mother of the Trinity.” This, of course, is patently false. But why is there a problem if the form is sound and the claims are in order?
The trouble lies with the terms. There’s an equivocation here on the clause “Jesus is God” in the first syllogism. Jesus is a very unusual individual. Yes, He is God, but He’s also fully human. Jesus is one person with two natures, the nature of God and the nature of man.
When we say Jesus is God, we are not saying His humanity is divine. That would be a contradiction. We are saying He is God in that He has a divine nature. Mary is the mother Jesus in the sense that she’s the mother of His humanity. She is the mother
of His human nature, not His divine nature.
Equivocation—lack of clarity—on these terms makes a false conclusion seem sound. The claims are right. The form is right. But the conclusion is false because the meanings of the terms are equivocal.Page 5 of STR's July 2012 issue of Solid Ground - http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/Enhanced_Solid_Ground_July_2012.pdf?docID=6382&autologin=true
In Touch Ministries
May 24, 2012
The Dangers of False Teaching
Read | Galatians 1:6-9
The Word of God is truth that's living and able to penetrate human souls (Heb. 4:12). Consider how powerful Scripture is: it can change hearts, save lives from eternal condemnation, and give hope to the hopeless.
Is it any wonder, then, that the Bible is a battlefield of Satan? The Devil will do his best to destroy its message and truth. In fact, this has been our Enemy's continuous goal since he chose to turn from God.
Our heavenly Father has graciously let us know in advance the outcome of this ongoing battle: Truth will prevail. But while the Lord has the ultimate victory, Satan can gain ground among individuals. His tactics are dangerous and deceptive to the unsuspecting. For this reason, we should carefully guard against his attacks, which are hard to recognize unless we are prepared.
False teaching is one of Satan's preferred tactics for leading us astray. At first glance, such instruction often seems to align with Scripture, but do not be misled by the deception. Two things are essential for standing firm against these slippery falsehoods: to be well grounded in the truth of God's Word and to listen to His Spirit. Only then can we recognize the error and avoid the pitfalls of Satan's lies.
The Enemy longs to mislead believers so they'll be ineffective for the kingdom. He also wants to keep all unsaved souls far from salvation through Jesus Christ. Friends, prepare for battle. Grow in the knowledge of truth, and lean on God's Spirit to guide you moment by moment.
May 25, 2012
Exposing False Teachers
Read | 2 Peter 2:1-3
Recognizing a danger for the believers of his day, Peter penned this warning: "There will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies" (2 Pet. 2:1). His words are as true today as they were in the first century.
Spotting false teachers can be difficult, and many people are swayed by their lies. Matthew called them ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15). How, then, can we detect deceptive teaching?
First, become familiar with biblical truth, and be vigilant. On the surface, false teaching may seem to align with Scripture, but underneath lies a faulty agenda.
Second, listen for any denial of truth, such as someone who claims to believe in God but argues that the creation story is myth. It is dangerous to pick and choose which parts of the Bible can be taken literally.
Third, notice teachings that promote sensuality. False teachers interpret the Bible in a permissive way: they often make allowances for immorality, misrepresent grace, and justify sin as gratifying "natural desires." Why do they guide others this way? Some may not realize their mistake. Others are driven by power and greed: if a leader can stir a crowd emotionally, the offering plate will likely be full and the church will probably grow--both for the wrong reasons.
Don't be led astray by false doctrine. The wise will guard themselves by feasting daily on God's Word. Then they can compare teachings to Scripture and scrutinize them for the three signs of falsehood listed above. The truth is able to set us free, but lies entangle and lead to much bondage.
Q. What evidence would cause an "atheist" to be swayed to a faith-based worldview?
A. I was an atheist for much of my life, starting in high school. In fact, a while back I was contacted by a nurse who had been a classmate of mine at Prospect High School in suburban Chicago during the late 1960s. She recalled how she had been "the good Catholic girl," while I was the acerbic atheist who was constantly belittling her for her faith. She was stunned when she stumbled upon one of my books and discovered I had later become a Christian!
I think your question may reflect a misunderstanding about faith. When I was an atheist, I still had a "faith-based worldview" - it was a faith built on my unproven conclusion that God does not exist. We all take steps of faith each day of our lives. Let me explain.
I define faith as being a step we take in the same direction we believe the evidence is pointing. For instance, I'm sitting here at my computer while sipping a bottle of water. How did I know the water wasn't poisoned? Well, the bottle came sealed. It bears the label of a reputable water company. It looks clear. There was no odor coming from the bottle when I opened it. My wife gave it to me, and she has no reason to want to harm me. So based on that evidence, it made sense to take a step of faith in the same direction and take a sip. Did I know for an absolute fact that it wasn't poisoned? No, but all the evidence pointed in the direction that it was safe to drink and therefore it was rational to do so.
When I was a teenager, it seemed rational for me to become an atheist. The world looked chaotic and unplanned. I believed my teachers when they said the unguided processes of evolution explained the origin and development of life. The presence of so much suffering in the world seemed to argue against a deity, miracles appeared scientifically impossible, and so on. Reading atheist authors reinforced my views. It seemed logical to take a step of faith in the same direction the evidence appeared to be pointing and became an atheist.Read the rest of these Questions from Readers at Bible Gateway!
The following excerpt is by John, G. Stackhouse, Jr. in his book Humble Apologetics.
We are accustomed to taking the greatest of relational risks in this life, whether trusting a spouse, or trusting a surgeon, or trusting a rescuer. All we can do is to perform the same exercise of trust in religious matters as well, as human beings who recognize that we do not and cannot know it all before deciding--on anything.
To be sure, in many of our personal relationships--with friends, co-workers, family members, and so on--we are wise to trust people neither too much or too little. we ought to graduate our faith, as well as our assent, according to the warrants available. In ultimate relationships, though, we have to make more radical decisions. A fiancée cannot strictly calculate what faith she can put in her groom-to-be and then act proportionately. She cannot decide to enter a marriage at 60 percent confidence and therefore get only "60 percent married," with the understanding that she will proceed to marry her husband "more thoroughly" as their relationship goes along and her warrants presumably increase. At the altar she has to decide: "I do" or "I don't." She cannot know what her husband will be like in the future. She does not even have complete or certain knowledge of what he has been like in the past. (Indeed, when one considers how little one did know at the time of one's wedding . . . !) She must, however, enter into a lifetime's commitment, all or nothing, on the basis of what she does know. She must commit herself to trusting her husband. She must exercise faith that day.
She must, furthermore, continue to exercise faith every succeeding day of her marriage, for she will never arrive at full knowledge either of her husband's character or of his activities when he is not in her presence. And we would normally say that she is entirely right to keep trusting him on the basis of her increasing knowledge of him. She ought to do so, that is, at least until the sad day, if it ever comes, when the warrants against her continuing to trust him overwhelm her faith. Strange perfume on his shirt, unknown female callers on the phone, loss of affection when he is with her: Such data eventually add up. Then, we would conclude, she must indeed change her mind and her life, accordingly.
So such faith does not mean the suspension of critical thinking. And it doesn't mean that in the religious sphere, either. You might be entirely entitled to believe in religion X, given what you have learned in life to that point. But if you run up against a challenge (what contemporary philosophers call "potential defeaters"), the intelligent person is obliged to pay attention to them. you don't need to throw your faith aside at the first sign of trouble, of course. that would be as silly as a scientist trashing his years of research whenever a lab result came up "wrong." The truly critical thinker, however, pays attention to such difficulties. She tries creatively to see if they can be met within her current scheme of thought, or whether she needs to modify her views, or--in the extreme case--whether she needs to abandon her theory (about this chemical process, about this spouse, or about her this religion) for a better one.
Believing and Willing
We might think we would gladly choose the right path if God would just become visible and speak to us audibly. If we ourselves don't think so, we probably have had conversations with people who claim that if God would just give them a sign, a miracle, and indubitable proof of his presence, they would believe. And until God comes across this way, they imply, they will not believe.
Well, that was the actual experience for a whole generation of Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. Philip Yancey has pointed out that the ancient Israelite nation, after its exodus from Egypt, enjoyed the direct guidance of God every day through Moses. Not only did the Israelites witness the thunder and lightning of Mount Sinai, but as they travelled on from there, God was right in their midst, in the "tent of meeting." Moses would go in to consult with God "as a man speaks with his friend." With all of these warrants, did these witnesses to the presence of God therefore become especially devout?
On the contrary. They became whiny, greedy, impatient, and disobedient children who wanted God to perform now according to their immediate whims, or they would huffily march back to Egypt. God's immediate and evident presence was apparently no guarantee to spiritual goodness or wisdom. God's proximity was not the solution. It only made more obvious the real source of trouble, the hearts of the people themselves. And if we aren't convinced by this truth, we might consider how people responded when God later took human form and lived among us in the person of Jesus Christ for several decades. No, the problem is rarely that God is far away. The problem for most of us, most of the time, is what we tend to do with God whether God is distant or near.
by Matt Slick, CARM.org
· Agenda, the homosexuals want acceptability, recognition, and approval.
A. Homosexuals want others in society to think like them (and behave like them?). They are working hard to change moral, social, and political opinion to be more in line with what they want. They are not content to be what they want to be. They want others to accept them. They want others opinions to change and conform to their ideology and behavior. What gives them the right to try and change society into what they want it to be?
· Animal kingdom: Homosexuality occurs in the animal world; therefore, it is natural
A. Saying that homosexuality is natural because it occurs in the animal kingdom does not mean it is morally correct. Animals also eat each other alive, devour offspring, etc. Should we imitate those things as well because the animals do it? Of course not.
B. From an evolutionary perspective how does homosexuality further the development and distribution of the human species? It cannot. Homosexuality would obviously work for self extermination. Therefore, how is it natural if what it leads to is self destruction? It would seem that natural selection would have removed the "gene for homosexuality" since it would not lead to reproduction. It would seem then, that homosexuality is not natural but is a learned behavior.
· Born as Homosexuals: If homosexuals are born that way, it would be natural to them
A. There is no proof that homosexuals are born that way. Research is all over the place and no conclusive evidence has been shown that demonstrates they are born that way.
B. If a behavior is said to be natural to a person and this is why homosexuality should be accepted, is it not also natural that people lie and so they too should be accepted? Children don't need to be taught how to lie; it appears to be natural to them. Should we then say that because the behavior of lying is natural to people there should be special privileges for them, and accept their behavior in society because that's just the way they're born and that is their truth-orientation?
· Freedom like anyone else
A. They are already free to marry a person of the opposite sex, the same as anyone else.
B. They can still get married and express love, own businesses, own property, have sexual relations, received an inheritance, etc.
C. For homosexuals to advocate redefining marriage so it can include union between a man and man, and a woman and a woman, and to have it protected legally, is to want special rights for them due to their behavior. If behaviors are granted legal protection, then what about the behaviors of pedophilia, jump roping, and scuba diving? Should those behaviors also be given political protection?
D. Yes, they are free to love, hate, work, eat, etc. But they want marriage redefined to suit their behavior of same sex intercourse.
E. Freedom requires responsibility.
i. People are not free to rob banks, to murder, to steal, etc.
ii. Simply saying they aren't free to marry who they want to isn't a good enough objection because...
a. A person is not free to marry another person who is already married.
b. A brother and sister are not free to marry each other.
c. A pedophiliac and his younger "partner" are not free to marry each other, even if the younger person, say a 13 year old, wants to marry the older person.
d. A person is not free to marry an animal.
e. A person is not free to marry another person against that person's will.
f. If freedom to marry whomever you want to is the litmus test for marriage, then marriage will become meaningless as people redefine it to include those already married, siblings, children, animals, etc., as long as "love" is the defining characteristic.
iii. If we allow and promote homosexual marriage, then shouldn't we also allow and promote polygamy, polyandry, brothers and sisters getting married, pedophiliacs marrying children, and adults marrying animals? If not, why not?
A. Homosexuals say they should be able to marry who they love. But why is this true? What if a person wants to marry someone who is already married, or is a child? Should that person be allowed to marry someone because it is an issue of love? Of course not. Love is not the measure of marriage validity. There are other issues, so to say that homosexuals should be able to marry whoever they love is a misrepresentation of the issue.
· Rights, Civil:
A. Civil Rights
i. Homosexuals already have the same civil rights and restrictions as everyone else. They are able to hold jobs, marry people of the opposite sex, use the same bathrooms as anyone else, vote, etc. But, marriage is not a civil right. It is a privilege the same as the behavior of driving a car is a privilege, not a right.
ii. Homosexuals are using the civil rights movement to force their moral agenda on the rest of society...a moral agenda based on sexual behavior.
iii. Unalienable rights are given by God, according to the Declaration of Independence in the U.S.A.
a. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
b. These rights are irrespective of skin color, gender, age, etc. They are not based on behavior. If they were, then parachutists should get special rights, along with Jump Ropers, Race Car Drivers, and Skate Boarders because of their behaviors.
c. What is to prevent pedophiliacs from wanting their sexual behavior protected by "civil rights" laws? What about necrophiliacs, and those who practice bestiality? They also are defined by their sexual behaviour. Should they also be protected legally? If not, why not?
· Rights, special rights based on a behavior
A. They have the same rights under the law as do all people in America. The same laws apply to everyone equally. Laws often have restrictions. Behaviors are not civil rights. Stretching every day is not a civil right, nor is going to the gym, walking, going to the bathroom, etc. The sexual behavior of homosexuals is not a civil right. It is a behavior and the homosexuals are hiding under "civil rights" in order to change the meaning of marriage and force society into accepting it as normal.
B. To marry the same sex is to request special treatment by having special laws passed that socially and politically approve of a particular sexual behavior and redefine what marriage is. This is, by definition, special rights.