Archive for the ‘Scripturalist Short Takes’ Category

John Robbins

John W. Robbins

I’ve studied the work of John Robbins for twenty years now, but I still find myself amazed at his ability to articulate profound ideas in simple direct language.

I recently re-listened to his lecture Money, Freedom and the Bible and found the following gems from Robbins in his responses to audience questions after his talk was over.

Crime Punishment versus Crime Prevention

22:41 But again it would seem that there were no regulatory police in ancient Israel. The buyers and sellers were responsible for making sure that they were not being cheated.  And if detected in fraud, a person was subject to stiff penalties. Biblical law follows the principle of punishing wrong doers rather than trying to regulate everyone in the hope of preventing wrongdoing.

The Law of Jubilee

34:37 So the law of Jubilee is gone.  That ended at the resurrection of Christ.  Incidentally, there’s no record of ancient Israel ever observing the law of Jubilee throughout the Old Testament.  The law was on the books but it was not observed.

Sins and Crimes / Rendering What is Due to Caesar and to God

35:25 The Bible condemns many things as sins, that it does not give the authority to civil government to punish.  The things that it gives the authority to civil government to punish are specifically listed when there are civil penalties involved. If there is no civil penalty, we can only conclude that, although this particular action or thought is immoral, government has no right to punish it.  I think it’s important that Paul said that the purpose of the ruler is to punish wrongdoers, not wrong thinkers. He says wrongdoers.  I think every word is important. And there you have the beginning of the idea of freedom of opinion, freedom of conscience. Just as when Christ said render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the thing that are Gods, you have for the first time a challenge to the totalitarian state of Greece and Rome. Up to then everything was Caesars.  Everything was rendered to Caesar. Or everything was rendered to the polis.  The polis could kill Socrates for corrupting the youth of Athens. But Christ first made the distinction, he said some things were Caesars and some things were not Caesars. And we’re to render to each what is his due.

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John RobbinsYou never know what you’re going to find when looking through old computer files. In my case, I stumbled upon this little gem of a quote from John Robbins. Here, with his typical brevity and clarity, he teaches about the crucial distinction between knowledge and opinion.

“I distinguish – as the Bible and Plato do – between three noetic states: knowledge, opinion, and ignorance. Perhaps you do not so distinguish. But why would you not distinguish between knowledge and opinion, or knowledge and ignorance? It seems to me that a refusal or failure to distinguish between these thee states can lead only to greater confusion. Knowledge is always true. One cannot know that 2 + 2 = 5. Opinions may be true or false. Ignorance is neither true nor false. What distinguishes a true opinion form knowledge is an account of that opinion: It is giving reasons. Sudduth dared me to provide any passage of Scripture that so defines knowledge. It seems to me that here are many. For example, ‘Be ready to give a reason…’ ‘To the Law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to that Word, there is no light in them.’ ‘In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ All, not some. Hidden, not available to discovery by men. The Scripture is both the content and the account of knowledge.” (Yahoo Van Til Ring, msg. 373, 1-22-99).

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