For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.

Romans 1:20

John Robbins

If you’ve ever read a book or heard a lecture on Christian apologetics, there’s a good chance Romans 1:19-20 were brought up. Perhaps these verses were cited as proof that all men know God, so that no one could claim ignorance of God on judgment day. That, of course, is true. Responsibility is based on knowledge, and since God has revealed himself to all men, all men are accountable to him.

Bible commentators, as well as the authors of the Westminster Confession, have identified two ways in which God reveals himself to men: general revelation and special revelation.

Special revelation is identical with the 66 books of the Bible. The Scriptures are God’s written, propositional revelation, which principally teach us, “What man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man,” in the words of the Shorter Catechism.

But what about general revelation? Just what is it that is meant by this term? The most common answer is that general revelation is identical with nature. We are told that when men look to the heavens and see the stars, or cast their eyes upon the majestic mountains they behold God’s attributes and, to that extent, know him and are therefore rightfully held responsible by him, even if they have never so much as heard the name of Jesus Christ.

Here’s one example of this line of reasoning.

Paul stresses the reality and universality of divine revelation, which is perpetual (“since the creation,” v.20) and perspicuous (“clearly seen,” v.20). Divine invisibility, eternity, and power are all expressed in and through the created order…The invisible God is revealed through the visible medium of creation. This revelation is manifest; it is not obscured but clearly seen (New Geneva Study Bible).

The commentators manifestly argue that one can reason from visible creation to an invisible God, but does this really make sense? On one hand, such an argument is appealing to Christians. We believe in God and rightfully want others to share that belief. But simply because we like the conclusion of an argument does not mean that it is a good argument. This is the case even if the conclusion of argument – that there is an immortal, invisible all wise God who created and sustains the world – is true.

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March Madness

Second Amendment

“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself,” wrote the Apostle Paul to the Romans. The context of these words from Romans 14:14 was a treatment about the proper Christian attitude toward, and use of, food. In particular, it centered around the controversial topic of food sacrificed to idols. Some Christians had no problem with eating it. For others, it was a major stumbling block.

Paul’s point was that meat, even if it had been sacrificed to idols, was simply meat. A Christian could eat of it and be blameless. But not all Christians saw it that way. Some believers saw eating such meat as sinful. Concerning these individuals, Paul wrote, “but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. That is to say, if a Christian was convinced that the act of eating meat sacrificed to idols was a sin, then it would be a sin for him to do so.

This passage is one of the clearest proof texts in Scripture showing that things in themselves are neither good nor evil – “there is nothing unclean of itself,” but rather that good and evil reside in the heart of the man.

Jesus made this same point when answering his disciples about a question they had about one of his parables. He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?…What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:18-23).

Because some people misuse food does not make food bad in itself. Sex is not inherently evil because some men are fornicators and adulterers, nor is language itself wicked because some men are deceivers and blasphemers. Scripture does not seek to ban any of these things. What it does do is to define what constitutes the lawful and the unlawful use of them.

What is true of food, sex and language is also true of guns: They are neither good nor evil in themselves; rather, it is the thoughts and intents of the heart that make their use right or wrong.

One man uses a gun to defend his family and property from a home invader; another uses it to rob a bank or to shoot up a school. Those who seek to ban private citizens from owing and using guns argue, contra Jesus and Paul, that the problem lies with the thing itself, not with the evil thoughts of evil men.

It’s an old saying, but one that holds true, guns don’t kill people, people do.

Billy Graham

The body of Rev. Billy Graham, who died February 21 at age 99, lies in the Capitol Rotunda as President Donald Trump, officials and dignitaries pay tribute to America’s most famous evangelist, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington.  (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press) 

In the second year of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, became king…And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like his father David (2 Kings 14:1, 3).

Judge not, lest you be judged! How many times have Christians had that verse flung in their face when discussing some point of doctrine, usually with an unbeliever. This verse, wielded as if some all conquering shut down argument, seems to be the only passage of Scripture that many people know.

Now if Jesus actually meant what these people seem to think he meant – that all judgment of every sort by anyone is always wrong – ironically they also condemn themselves, for by speaking as they do they are judging Christians and telling them they are wrong to find fault with the words or actions of another.

But Jesus did not mean to condemn all judgment. He intended to condemn unrighteous judgment, that is to say, judgment by the wrong standard. This can be seen elsewhere in Scripture where Christ told his followers to “judge with righteous judgment.”

Further, in writing to Timothy the Apostle Paul advised his younger colleague that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for,” among other things, “reproof [and] for correction.” That is to say, Scripture is to be used to judge the actions and the words of men.

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Mourners look at a memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in a park in Parkland, Florida on February 16, 2018. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at the Florida high school leaving 17 people dead and 15 injured. / AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE

In light of the well-organized, well-funded, and unprecedented attacks on the Second Amendment and on its supporters in recent days, it seemed good to me to set down a few inconvenient truths relating to the right to bear arms and the causes of mass shootings

First, as the old saying goes, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” An article in the Huffington Post from last fall called this argument tired, logic-deficient, obvious and irrelevant, but it is nothing of the sort.

True, the argument has been around for a while. I remember it being used back in the day when I was a kid, but that doesn’t make it tired. In fact, it may be one of the most important truths to bring up in any discussion about the Second Amendment.

Guns are inanimate objects. They have now will of their own, no moral agency. In themselves, they are neither good nor evil. Guns are tools as are hammers, baseball bats and pickup trucks. And just as hammers, baseball bats and pickup trucks can be used for both good and evil, so too can guns.

Neither good nor evil reside in the gun, they reside in the heart of the person using the gun.

The Huffpo calls this point obvious. But is it? It’s fair to say that it should be obvious, but given the rush to restrict or outright ban gun ownership by certain groups following the school shooting in Parkland, FL, I’m not so sure it is.

If it were obvious, it should be equally obvious that stripping citizens of their right to bear arms is not the proper response to mass shootings. Yet the gun grabbers have never been more shrill in their demands to limit, or completely eliminate, Americans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to own guns.

“There ought to be a law to banning ‘X’ to ensure that ‘Y’ never happens again,” on the other hand, really is a tired response to tragedy, but that doesn’t stop people from making the argument.

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