Objective Justification

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Not all Lutherans agree on the doctrine of Objective Justification. A notable dissenting synod would be the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (ELDONA). The discerning reader should look at their arguments too.

Simply stated in my own words, the doctrine teaches that Jesus died for everyone and paid for the sins of everyone, even for the people who will be in hell for all eternity.  Below is the wording put out by the LCMS.

“By “objective” or “universal” justification one means that God has declared the whole world to be righteous for Christ’s sake and that righteousness has thus been procured for all people. It is objective because this was God’s unilateral act prior to and in no way dependent upon man’s response to it, and universal because all human beings are embraced by this verdict. God has acquired the forgiveness of sins for all people by declaring that the world for Christ’s sake has been forgiven. The acquiring of forgiveness is the pronouncement of forgiveness.” – CTCR Report Study Theses on Justification #23

 

I’ve assembled some rather standard proof texts for this. These are not all of the passages used in the CTCR but rather are the ones that I found convincing.  Below you will see that passages that I understand as clearly including either everyone in a broad sense or unbelievers in a narrow one.

 

“‘My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 ESV

“3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Tim 2:3-6 ESV

‘Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. ‘ Rom 5:18 ESV

“He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Heb 7:27 ESV

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

 

Some I’ve read will try to take the passages teaching gratia universalis and argue that they are speaking to all of a narrow category.  So all of some if that helps.  The reason I chose those listed above is because they juxtapose two groups against each other as I think this approach steps around those arguments.  The easiest one being 1 John 2:1-2 which I will post again:

 

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 ESV

 

The apostle John was certainly a believer, so when he says Jesus is the propitiation for “our” sins he would most logically be meaning himself and the other believers he is writing to.  Then when he wraps in the sins of the whole world in opposition to “our” the plainest rendering is that he is juxtaposing non-believers against believers.  For him to be juxtaposing believers against believers would be repetitive at best.

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I would use similar argumentation for the other passages presented.  In context and at their plainest meaning Christ died for all.  To me, to read passages like this another way smacks of the hand stands and back flips I remember SDA doing on passages like Col 2:16.

Here is the problem some like to present though, if Christ died for all does it not also follow that nobody is going to hell?  Does this mean you have to be a universalist?  Read this passage one more time, I’ve highlighted a different section in verse 6.

“3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Tim 2:3-6 ESV

Notice above that God desires all to be saved and has given himself as a ransom for all.  It would not be logical to assume that Paul was flipping categories in this one line of thought.  The same all in verse 4 is the same all in verse 6. However we see in other passages that some people do go to hell.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ….’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41-46 ESV

 

The debt has been paid for all, no blood was spared on the cross. The manner in which we receive this gift is where I would draw the distinction, not in who it was shed for. Man receives faith as a gift via means of grace.

Regarding means of grace, below are a few posts I have written that I believe lay out that claim Biblically, I don’t want to re-do the work here. Be advised that each of these rely on posts that precede them so if these are all new concepts for you then be prepared for a long study that took me years to work out.

 

Faith

Grace

Justification

 

Final Thoughts

 

I agree with Objective Justification because I think it’s the plainest way of understanding all of these texts. God has paid the price for everyone. A full pardon exists for everyone even though God knew full and well before he created anyone who will receive it and who would not. We receive that pardon by grace through means.

Why?  I don’t care I just want to believe what’s true….

What does this change?  This isn’t just a thought doctrine, it changes the kinds of words you’re comfortable using or not comfortable with.  For example, I would have no problem saying “Christ died for everyone” or that he “paid it all”.  I would not agree with the notion that he only died for the elect.  I simply distinguish between sin being paid for and forgiveness being received.  All sin was paid for on the cross, and forgiveness is received in word and sacrament.

 

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Original Sin: The Curse on Men and Women

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In this post I want to discuss the curse placed on men and women at the fall.  For an older post only on Original Sin please click HERE.

Throughout history there is a broad distinction between men and women as it pertains to production and distribution.  I think there is a tie in to scripture on this and I want to explore that idea.  Also I want to address the false approach that many take with regards to the curse.  It’s not primarily a law we fulfill so much as it is a burden placed upon us.

To get started, I’d like to point out that the curse of the fall spreads out to all humanity.  It wasn’t something that God just placed on Adam and Eve.  Simply stated, if your flesh can die then you are impacted by the curse.

‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. ‘ Romans 5:12-14 NASB

The Curse on Man

‘Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19 NASB

 

The mistake that I think gets made by many is to read the curse in Genesis 3 as prescriptive rather than descriptive.  The curse isn’t something you have to follow for it to be true.  It’s a curse that’s placed upon you.  In this case, the curse on man is we have to work to survive.

If you don’t do that you will die.  Not only this, but the planet itself that presumably once was designed to work for you is now working against you.  Nature itself has been refashioned into a weapon that works against your own survival and those you provide for.  Although there are implications for everyone else, God certainly intended man to bear this curse as evidence by the laws given for men to follow.  For an exposition on that I recommend my post titled “Gender Roles“.  By design, curse, and rule the intent was for man to bear production.

The way I see it, even with a first world context after the cross this curse is still as much a reality as it ever was.  By his grace God has permitted means by which we can mitigate some of this curse, but such things only prove the existence of the curse by their necessity.  By nature of the fact that we even wish to mitigate it means we concede to its existence and burden.

Should a man be lazy and not provide for his family ultimately the curse works against him in his own bloodline.  If your family doesn’t thrive the results are self evident, in the most extreme case you end up being the last leaf or close to it on your family tree.  Family is the only thing you take with you to heaven so the results of such sins are eternal even if you don’t go to hell.

The Curse on Woman

‘To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”‘ Genesis 3:16 NASB

This is the one that gets quoted by feminists left, right, and center for why they don’t agree with the Bible.  According to this analysis I found online Patriarchy and Women’s Subordination: A Theoretical Analysis (Pages 3-6) it appears that feminists generally agree that patriarchy predates recorded human history.

“According to the radical feminists (Brownmiller 1976, Firestone 1974), patriarchy preceded private property. They believe that the original and basic contradiction is between the sexes and not between economic classes. Radical feminists consider all women to be a class. Unlike the traditionalists, however, they do not believe that patriarchy is natural or that it has always existed and will continue to do so.” – Pg 5

It goes without saying that if you believe something to be older than private property then you believe it is going to be very old indeed.  She likely considers this older than a Christian would the time of Abraham for example.

“According to Lerner (1989), patriarchy was not one event but a process developing over a period of almost 2500 years (from approximately 3100 BC to 600 BC) and a number of factors and forces that were responsible for the establishment of male supremacy as we see it today. Gerda Lerner (1989), begins by emphasizing the importance of women history in women’s struggle against patriarchy and for equality. According to her, patriarchy, in fact, preceded the formation of private property and class society.” – Pg 6

They tend to have a wide array of theories as to how “the patriarchy” came to be if you read the rest of the document.  The notion of such things going back to creation or coming from God would be antithetical to their beliefs so I wouldn’t expect them to actually go in that direction.  However, I would simply like to point out that Genesis 3:16 seems to offer an explanation consistent with their observations of a pre-historic patriarchy.

What do I mean by that?  I mean that God said man would rule over woman as a curse and that this reality has colored all of human history.  Such things have not been limited by time period or geography and any exceptions I’ve seen offered only prove the rule rather than contradicting it.

So by nature of the fact that secular feminists spill so much ink and energy fighting “the patriarchy? means that by their actions they concede that the curse is a reality even if they don’t internally agree on the mechanism.  How I see it, even if they succeed in mitigating that curse after the cross with the sword of government and first world conveniences all they would prove is that God’s grace has permitted a societal context where some effects of the curse can be at least temporarily mitigated.

If a woman flees from this curse, like man the punishment is received in her very bloodline.  Bearing children is a particular work of a woman’s calling.  A failure to procreate is a very definitive end to your line on this earth.  And that is a self evident curse on anyone whether or not they agree with it.  A good example of this would be the Shakers,  as of 2017 there are only two living at this time.  That at least is an effective case study on what happens when a group of people adhering to a tradition cease to breed.  Before too long they cease to exist.

 

Conclusion

 

Just wrapping up these ideas and putting the pieces together what strikes me is that those who carry their curse burden head on seem to evade the more permanent consequences.

What do I mean by that?  I mean that a man who produces and a woman who distributes is more likely to have a healthy family that passes down to the next generation.  They have plenty of plates around the table and lots of stockings over the fireplace at Christmas.  They have someone to care for them when they are old, remember them when they are gone, and to share memories with in heaven.  Those who flee the curse are cut off by nature in whole or in part.  I just find that to be a compelling and fearful idea.

Does this mean it is wrong for a woman to work and provide for her family too?  No I don’t think so.  Like I said at the outset, the curse should be read descriptively not prescriptively.  In these cases I just think that means she is choosing to bear both curses.  That would explain why many women who choose to do this are burdened with the stress of racing their biological clock as they establish their career.  These women have my sympathy and admiration in such cases, not my scorn.

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Clint Eastwood Reads Praise Song Lyrics: Lutheran Satire

This video is amazing, check it out when you get a chance.  You wont be disappointed.

 

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Children attacked by “She Bears”

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This is one of the stories in the old testament that tends to get left out of sunday school story time.  I got to hear it when I was in the 8th grade though because I decided to tease my teacher for his baldness.  He told me to cut it out or I might get attacked by a she bear.

Naturally I didn’t know what a she bear was, I found out it was simply King James for female bear.  This is a reference to an old testament story where Elisha was taunted by youths in Bethel for being bald.  He cursed them in the name of the Lord and they were attacked and torn to shreds.

‘Then he [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord . Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. He went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria. ‘ 2 Kings 2:23-25 NASB

I was not prepared to read that passage at all.  At the time it actually brought me to tears.  My poor teacher tried to contextualize it for me the best that he could.  He pointed out that the text probably isn’t about very young children, and that it was a grave sin to speak ill of a prophet of God.  My teacher wasn’t willing to say that speaking ill of a prophet always deserved such a punishment.  He placed it only in that time and place and assumed other things must have been happening that we don’t know about.

Why?  I don’t know.  I didn’t speak to my teacher any further about the topic and just kinda carried it with me for a while.

The teaching I grew up with was that God is always loving.  Not a great deal of care was placed into how exactly love is defined.  Generally, the practice was to define love in whatever terms it meant to you personally and then view God on those terms.  Love was this squishy word that kinda meant whatever you want it to.  Thus in practice your god was this squishy idea who is whoever you want him to be.  My god certainly would never send bears to eat someone just because they called a guy bald!  I had an idol and I didn’t know that was what I was actually dealing with.  The bible had profaned my idol and I was upset.

God is Holy and perfect, and the Bible defines his Wrath as a stemming from his Holiness.  Sin is not a minor thing to a Holy God.  Just because mean words to a Prophet of God is not something we consider to be that bad doesn’t mean it’s equally nothing to God.  He views sin through his eyes not ours, and accordingly punishes sin according to his degree of measurement.  If you don’t see what those youths did as deserving of being mauled by a bear then that only reveals how warped and sinful your thinking is.

Maybe they were covered under the old testament sacramental system and had received faith from God.  Maybe they are in heaven right now.  I don’t know, this passage doesn’t give those kinds of details.  However what we do see is Christological typology.  Jesus does tell us to look for him in the old testament.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” John 5:39 NASB

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” Luke 24:27 NASB

What I see from that perspective is that these kids sinned.  And that sin is greater in the eyes of God than it is in mine.  It is so great a sin that it deserves eternal torment in hell.  What we see is that God judges them with having their flesh torn apart just as one day he would do to his own son for our sake.

The clearest way the Love of God has ever been expressed is in what he did for us on the cross.  He bore the wrath, having his flesh torn apart for our sins.  Instead of us suffering as we deserve Jesus has suffered for us, and this old testament event is given to us to show us what we deserve, and what punishment has been taken for us by Christ.

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Andy Stanley: Unhitching the Old Testament

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Andy Stanley is a very famous preacher in the seeker sensitive movement.  Recently he has taken some bad press for what some perceive to be an attack on the Old Testament.

In my opinion, I think he views the Old Testament as most Christians do the apocrypha or didache.  That is, a non-canonical source that contains some truth but isn’t the Word of God.  But then again, he has made some statements that walk this back so I’m not 100% sure if I’m getting him wrong or if he is deliberately attempting to obfuscate.

His aim seems to be two fold, on one end he doesn’t want to have to apologetically defend old testament stories like creation and Jonah.  On the other end he doesn’t want to use old testament categories and terminology to define sins condemned by the apostles.

Either way I don’t agree with his statements.  I think we should trust that God will fulfill his promises and that his word doesn’t return void.  Preach the Word and stand aside as God does his work in it.  Don’t trip about having to explain Jonah or creation.  God has promised to give faith when his word is preached.  If their heart is hardened after rejecting the Word it’s not your fault.  If they need apologetics later that’s fine, but doing apologetics is preaching law and shouldn’t be confused with gospel.

As far as using old testament terminology is concerned, later in this post I am going to argue that if you don’t do this you turn the Bible into whatever you want it to say and it loses all objective authority on law.

In one of his more recent sermons though he decided to use Acts 15 as a means to “unhitch” the old testament from Christianity.  Those were his words, he chose to walk them back but he didn’t take them back either.  I encourage you read both articles.  My understanding is that he views the laws given in Acts 15 as a prescriptive and descriptive lock stock and barrel replacement of the old testament.

 

Stanley 5/11/18

Stanley 5/18/18

Stanley 1 Stanley 2

 

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The first thing I would want to point out is that Paul held a high regard for the Old Testament.  When he wrote the passage below he would have certainly had old testament scriptures in mind.

“16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness 2 Tim 3:16 ESV

Reproof? Correction? Instruction in righteousness?  That is an odd way of saying we should unhitch ourselves if you ask me.  If you read an older article I have HERE you will see that the apostles frequently cite old testament passages to prove that Jesus is the messiah.  If we are to unhitch ourselves wouldn’t that be an odd approach for proving Jesus is the messiah?  If realizing this was purely experiential why did they cite the old testament so much?

As with most things though, and to be fair, Andy Stanley isn’t 100% wrong.  There is a certain sense in which we don’t use Old Testament laws anymore.  The sabbath for example, and other such ceremonial laws, are stated by scripture to be obsolete.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Heb 8:13 ESV

That said, we find many places in the new covenant where the apostles prescriptively teach laws that are also taught in the old covenant.  A good example of this is the commandment not to commit murder.

“9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Rom 13:9 ESV

“15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” 1 Ptr 4:15 ESV

We can see that the apostles clearly teach after the cross that you shouldn’t commit murder. This is taught well into the new covenant after the cross.

Here’s the deal though, what’s murder???

Is murder simply killing like stepping on a spider?  Does it only apply to people?  Is capital punishment murder? Is it murder when a solider kills another human in a time of war?  Is abortion murder?  What is the Biblical definition of murder??

Though the apostles do condemn murder, they never define it on their own.  The definition comes from the Torah.  One can be reasonably certain those receiving the apostles letters had a copy of the Septuagint on account of the fact that the apostles quote it so frequently, and would have been familiar with it’s teachings and categories.

Also, one can reasonably assume that because the apostles quote the Septuagint frequently that they have knowledge of it too.  Thus when they cite sins like “murder” they would have intended old covenant categories and definitions of it.

It’s not enough to pull the meaning of a word from a modern dictionary, particularly when you are talking about writings that are 2000 years old.  You have to define the word by what the author intended.  Without using the old testament as a Go-To you can’t define murder at all.  Your interpretation of the apostles commands not to murder would be solely dependent on your own personal opinion.

Same issue with sexual immorality for example.  This one is a bit easier due to Jesus restrictions placed in Matt 19 but Lev 18 and others flesh the details out in ways that are particularly helpful today.  Andy Stanley even cites sexual immorality in his sermon on Act 15 and unsurprisingly leaves it soley up to personal interpretation.

In my opinion he is setting himself up for the big reveal on being pro LGBT at some point here in the future.  Time will prove me right or wrong on that.  But the approach that I see Andy Stanley using would be very expedient for embracing the “Gay Christian” movement promoted by Matthew Vines and others today.  If sexual immorality is only a matter of personal conscience then in every practical manner it’s whatever you say it is for you.

The correct way of understanding the Torah as obsolete is in a prescriptive sense.  My understanding of Andy Stanley is that he doesn’t want it to be used in a definitive sense either.  This approach is not Biblical.  The reason is because the apostles clearly use and cite the old testament frequently, and because if you don’t use it definitively the apostles teachings lose all clarity.  The new testament becomes completely open to interpretation and any teachings derived would be unfalsifiable.

“16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness 2 Tim 3:16 ESV

How could you authoritatively reprove someone for choosing to murder if you can’t define the word?  How could you correct someone who has a false understanding?  How could you train someone if their interpretation is just as good as yours?  Paul’s teaching here in Timothy would simply be false if the Torah cannot be used in a definitive sense.

Conclusion

I understand that believing in creation or Jonah and the whale are not popular teachings to hold to these days.  I also don’t care.  We shouldn’t abandon scripture because people want to poke fun.  The faith God gives us is real and sufficient for believing things that we cannot presently prove to be true.

If someone won’t embrace Christianity because of Jonah it’s a faith issue not an intellectual one.  If we believe someone receives faith as a gift from God (Eph 2:8) when the Word of God is preached (Rom 10:17) then that should be our approach to addressing their obstacle.  If they need a little help with some apologetic argumentation for the sake of their intellect that’s fine too.

However, when you throw out the Word of God to replace the apologetic you remove the actual solution to the faith issue.  In the end, you won’t save the church doing that, you will just have a goat entertainment center.  Which in my estimation is what Any Stanley is selling.

 

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Where is the Armchair Theologian?

This brief post is to give an update to those who follow my blog.  I have not been posting as much as I used to.  This blog has helped me personally a great deal.  Since starting it out I have learned how to think in ways that I simply couldn’t before.

Part of that process is holding everything I post to a certain personal standard.  In leaving adventism I found a certain way of reading the scriptures.  A process that is objective and falsifiable.  For me this was a new experience and I try to write everything to that standard.  Though I have alot of ideas bouncing around in my head that I would love to blog on, I won’t put it here if I don’t feel I can follow that methodology.  It’s my own personal rule.

Since then, I have scratched most of my itches theologically speaking.  I will keep blogging from time to time.  In the near future I plan on writing for a team called the Messed up Church.  I will keep my same process, but will stick to topics that I can personally demonstrate from clear scripture.  I think there is a place on the internet for laity like me to do this and I want to be a part of that.

From time to time I will still post a theological statement or even a series.  You just wont see those as often as you used to.  The blog isn’t going anywhere though.  I still get messages from current and former adventists who read my older posts, and new lutherans who have found the others.  I will keep the domain and all these posts online for people to find.

God Bless

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What is a Sacrament?

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When I first started studying Lutheran theology I had barely heard the word “sacrament” in my life. It’s not a term that comes up in american culture or Protestantism in general very frequently. It certainly wasn’t a point of discussion in Adventism.  While I have covered the sacraments in my entry on Justification, with this post I want to dig a bit further back into the Bible and cover the old testament too.

This post will be building on concepts and Biblical teachings that I have presented in the past. For the sake of space I will not be repeating myself, so if you are just as unfamiliar with the term as I was then I recommend reading the following posts first.  Also, I will be linking to them in places that I think might be relevant to the reader.

Where does the word Sacrament come from?

 

The word Sacrament actually has it’s root in the Latin Biblical texts. Anytime the word we would use for “mystery” in the Bible would come up Jerome translated it as “sacramentum” in the Vulgate.

 

“32 sacramentum hoc magnum est ego autem dico in Christo et in ecclesia 33 verumtamen et vos singuli unusquisque suam uxorem sicut se ipsum diligat uxor autem ut timeat virum” Ephesians 5:32-33 Latin Vulgate

“32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:32:33 KJV

 

My point is the Church got the word from reading the Bible, it’s not just made up out of thin air. Just like some Christians like to use the word “rapture” instead of “harpazo” many today like to use the word “sacrament”.  That said, even though it does technically appear in the Bible the word sacrament is used more as a theological term than anything else.  Like saying “Trinity” or “Original Sin“.  Such terms refer to broad themes and teachings in scripture.

 

What does Sacrament mean then?

 

The best definition of the word is one that is based on scripture. Whether you are hot or cold to the use of the word, there are times in scripture when God uses a physical thing to deliver heavenly blessings to his people. If you are more comfortable with another word than sacrament then go for it, I’m gonna stick with it though.

 

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. ‘ Numbers 21:8-9 KJV

 

Above we see an example of an old covenant sacrament. Notice that Moses is commanded to hold up a brass snake for everyone to look at. When they look upon the physical object in front of them they receive a blessing from heaven.

 

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This is one of my favorite examples of an old testament sacrament because Jesus even uses it to point straight to the cross, which we receive in the Eucharist. There’s more though.

 

“And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” Leviticus 4:20 KJV

 

“And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. … For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” Leviticus 16:27,30 KJV

 

“And one kid of the goats, to make an atonement for you.” Numbers 28:30 KJV

 

Read above, the goat isn’t a symbolic goat. Neither is the bullock, they are real physical earthly ordinary things. The atonement the people were receiving though was also real but from heaven. In this God used a physical thing to deliver something heavenly to his people. Hebrews even clarifies that the sacrifices themselves have no power.

 

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Hebrews 10:4 KJV

 

I don’t think that Moses was wrong in Leviticus when he said the Israelite’s received forgiveness from the blood of bulls and goats.  Instead, I would argue that it is what God delivered to his people in with and under the sacrifice that forgave their sins. Just as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in with and under the sacrament from 2000 years ago, so to did the old covenant Jews receive the body and blood of Christ in with and under the sacrifice of bulls and goats.

I simply agree with the likes of Martin Luther and St. Augustine in how a sacrament is to be understood.

 

Accedat verbum ad sacramentum ad elementum et fit sacramentum” which means that ‘when the Word is added to the element or the natural substance, it becomes a sacrament,’ that is, a holy, divine thing and sign.” Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, Fourth Part: Baptism, sections 17-18, in The Book of Concord

“Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Why does He not say, You are clean through the baptism wherewith you have been washed, but through the word which I have spoken unto you, save only that in the water also it is the word that cleanses? Take away the word, and the water is neither more nor less than water. The word is added to the element, and there results the Sacrament, as if itself also a kind of visible word. For He had said also to the same effect, when washing the disciples’ feet, He that is washed needs not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. And whence has water so great an efficacy, as in touching the body to cleanse the soul, save by the operation of the word; and that not because it is uttered, but because it is believed? For even in the word itself the passing sound is one thing, the abiding efficacy another. This is the word of faith which we preach, says the apostle, that if you shall confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10 Accordingly, we read in the Acts of the Apostles, Purifying their hearts by faith; Acts 15:9 and, says the blessed Peter in his epistle, Even as baptism does also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience. This is the word of faith which we preach, whereby baptism, doubtless, is also consecrated, in order to its possession of the power to cleanse. For Christ, who is the vine with us, and the husbandman with the Father, loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. And then read the apostle, and see what he adds: That He might sanctify it, cleansing it with the washing of water by the word. Ephesians 5:25-26 The cleansing, therefore, would on no account be attributed to the fleeting and perishable element, were it not for that which is added, by the word. This word of faith possesses such virtue in the Church of God, that through the medium of him who in faith presents, and blesses, and sprinkles it, He cleanses even the tiny infant, although itself unable as yet with the heart to believe unto righteousness, and to make confession with the mouth unto salvation. All this is done by means of the word, whereof the Lord says, Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” – St. Augustine, Tractate 80 (John 15:1-3)

 

To sum it up, God has chosen to convey his grace to us by means, a concept I have broken down in my post on Justification , grace, and faith.  Some of those means of grace that he uses are conveyed by physical elements.  In the Lord’s Supper we receive faith, the forgiveness of sins in his body and blood, delivered in with and under the elements of bread and wine.  In Baptism we receive faith, the forgiveness of sins delivered in the water combined with the word.

 

 

Just Baptism and Communion? What about the other five sacraments?

 

The Roman Catholic Church (and others) teach a total of seven (7) sacraments.  They are listed below:

Baptism.

Eucharist.

Confirmation.

Reconciliation.

Anointing of the sick.

Marriage.

Holy orders.

Lutherans would agree that the first two on that list are sacraments.  Confirmation is practiced and is certainly a good thing.  Even evangelical churches do it (technically) they are just usually less organized about it.  Yes, through the preaching of the word (if it is done) confirmation does give faith by means, but there is no physical element that conveys it.  Same applies for most of the others to be honest.  I do want to address anointing of the sick and marriage though.

 

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15 KJV

“Of this unction as a sacrament we find no word in Scriptures. The anointing of which James speaks in this passage, cp. Mark 6, 13, was an extraordinary means used in the early Church for the miraculous healing of bodily ailments. This anointing was not done in preparing the sick person for a blessed death, but for the purpose of healing; the forgiveness of sins is not ascribed to the oil, but to the prayer of faith.” Kretzmann Commentaries

 

On the face of it we do see how this could be seen as a sacrament.  You have a physical element, and you have a blessing of heaven.  But you don’t have God giving that blessing via the element.  Notice in this case there is a prayer of faith.  I think it could be read as a sacrament if there were other scripture tying receiving faith to the anointing of oil.  But we don’t have that in this case, since the scripture is silent there, we should be as well.

What about marriage though?  The theology nerds reading my blog probably noticed that to justify the biblical origin of the word “sacrament” I used a verse in which Paul refers to marriage as a great “sacramentum”.  Which is of course why I clarified that I am using it like I do words like “Trinity”.  It’s a theological term.

 

“32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:32:33 KJV

 

Why is marriage not a sacrament?  Simply because there is no physical element to it.  One could call it a sacramental union, that’s fine.  But biblically speaking the word sacrament wouldn’t be the best one when employed with the definition I am using.

To be fair I don’t think a Roman Catholic would argue that all 7 of the sacraments they teach entail a physical element.  They would likely just say that they define the word sacrament differently than we do.  Which is common, most denominations tend to define it a bit differently.

All seven of those things, in one manner or another, are certainly things that the christian church does.  And people do receive faith one way or another as they are done.  So really the difference does come down to the underlying theology.  For example, Lutheran ministers will still perform marriages and anoint the sick.  They just won’t refer to the act as a sacrament when they do it or theologically classify it that way.

 

Conclusion

 

Why does God use physical elements to give faith to people?  In my opinion, I believe it is for our assurance.  God is perfectly capable of giving us faith by the preaching of his word (Rom 10:17).  There is however a subjectivity in our mind of interpreting and remembering such events that is just going to be there.

Did I really hear the preacher? 

Did I really mean what I felt? 

Was my decision for Jesus decisive enough?

What if I was distracted?

Of course we shouldn’t worry about such things, but I think God knows we will because of the weaknesses of the flesh.  So, I would argue he has given us the sacraments in part to mitigate doubt or insecurity.  I know I was baptized, I remember how the water felt, there were witnesses.  They even gave me a piece of paper to prove it.  That’s my opinion, take is as you will.

Even if that’s not the true reason the why is less important than the what.  The “what” is that God has promised to deliver faith to us by means.  So logically we should go wherever that is.  See you at church next Sunday.

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Soteriology | Tagged | 1 Comment

Why doesn’t anyone go to church anymore?

People in church

Ask anyone over the age of 50 and they will tell you that everyone used to go to church.  You didn’t ask people if they went to church, you asked them which one they went to.  It was as simple as that.  If you didn’t go then there was something wrong with you.  It’s fair to ask why?  Why doesn’t anyone go to church anymore?  A very large church recently put out the question and got some feedback.    I have posted the photos below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

I do find it somewhat ironic that most of the posters get a little “judgey” about how “judgmental” they believe Christians are.  I don’t know if they see the contradiction in their reasoning, but even if they don’t, I don’t think they are telling the whole truth anyways.

In this post I am going to answer the question Biblically.  My source, besides scripture, is a nice video put out by Lutheran Satire.  I will be presenting most of the same passages that they did.  Their video is linked at the bottom if you want to watch it.

The real reason people don’t go to church anymore stems from original sin, they  simply hate Jesus. Nothing has really changed over the past generations.  The only thing we have lost is the social pressure that used to exist for people to go to church.  Not only is that gone but it’s actually starting to swing the other way.  Right now we are just seeing more clearly what has always been there.

 

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18‭-‬19 NASB

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11‭-‬12 NASB

“Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” John 10:25‭-‬26 NASB

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” Colossians 1:21 NASB

 

The unbeliever is hostile to God in their very mind.  They don’t want to be around the body of Christ.  Why would they?  They hate him.  Why would one want to spend more time with someone they hate?

An unbeliever doesn’t need you to change your worship style to make them happy.  The only thing that is going to make them happy is if you throw out Jesus altogether.  Not so coincidentally this is what the “seeker sensitive” crowd actually does.  When you do this though you end up entertaining goats instead of converting people though.  It solves the problem of low attendance, but it does it in ways that quite simply just aren’t relevant to why you want higher attendance in the first place.

We need pastors that preach the word in and out every week.  People need to be condemned by the law and risen by the gospel.  That way no matter if there is 10 people in your service or 1000 they are at least believers.

 

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23 NASB

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13 NASB

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 NASB

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NASB

 

Below is the video I promised along with another that I think is relevant.  Both are short and fun to watch.

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Nature of Man | Tagged , | 9 Comments

The Narcissism of Homosexuality

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It is becoming more popular today to deny what the Bible teaches about this sin altogether.  Over the past two years we have seen many evangelical leaders flip on this issue in what appears to be an attempt to maintain their cultural relevance.  If you want to find an older post on that topic specifically please click HERE.

Today I am not going there, I am assuming you have already picked through that post or other material.  I want to dig a bit deeper into this topic.

What exactly is the sin of homosexuality when we look at it Biblically? 

Sexual Orientation?

The concept of sexual orientation isn’t taught in the Bible at all.  It’s a modern term with it’s roots in psychology.  I’m not knocking the entire field, there is certainly value in it.  But one should be aware that it is one of the softer sciences and is based on a secular anthropology (study of man).  For example, original sin isn’t a concept that is interacted with in psychology.  

I’m not denying the possibility of a biological or psychological component to sin. I’m just saying that the philosophical baggage that comes with the secular concept of sexual orientation isn’t a thing I feel the need to interact with.

In the clearest passages of scripture we don’t even see a concept of a heterosexual orientation.  Biblically speaking, sexual desire isn’t a definitive reason for getting married.

 

“And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, ‘and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh‘?  Matthew 19:4-5 NASB

 

The reason Jesus gives is we were created male and female.  In an older post I presented that it is our job to either serve God as single men and women or get married and procreate.  Orientation doesn’t factor into this equation.

 

Why does created Male and Female matter?

 

Read the passage below, pay special attention to the correlation made between Adam’s helper and those of the creatures brought to him.

 

‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. ‘ Genesis 2:18-24 NASB

 

I find it interesting that God wanted Adam to see at least some of the other creatures that were created before making Eve.  A natural order of male and female would have been obvious to him with the types of animals (birds and beasts) that are cited.  It would be reasonable for him to ask ‘who is here for me?’.  At the end we see the verse that Jesus was quoting too which takes us straight back to the creation narrative.

The word I want to zero in on is the one the NASB translates as “suitable” in verse 18 above. I’ll repost a few different versions below.

 

‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ‘ Genesis 2:18 NASB

‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ‘ Genesis 2:18 ESV

‘And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. ‘ Genesis 2:18 KJV

 

Untitled

Source: Biblehub.com

The idea of ones soul being defined separately than their body is actually a gnostic concept.  Biblically mankind is a whole, body and soul.  That’s why death is so abhorrent to God’s original design.

Taking it one step further though, just as your body is male your soul is male.  Just as your body is female your soul is female.  To split the baby here and have a male body with a female soul requires a gnostic or secular anthropology under-girding your philosophy, not a Christian one.  To mix match the two worldviews for the conclusion you have predetermined is intellectually inconsistent at best.

That said, notice the scripture above teaches that men correspond to women.  We are “suitable” for each other.  We “fit” together.  This shouldn’t be a complicated concept but since our modern narcissistic culture has muddied the waters I’ll post a picture to make it simple.

 

lock-and-key-chula-vista

 

Yeah that’s what I mean

Men and women fit quite well together, almost as if we were designed that way wouldn’t you say?  This basic aspect of our nature is the only way we survive generation to generation at a sustainable rate.  All I am saying is how we fit together physically is the same way we fit together spiritually.  It’s a corresponding image, one is not the same as the other but both men and women are made for each other.

 

Homosexuality isn’t Correspondence

 

With homosexuality you have a craving for a mirror image, not a corresponding one.  Instead of a lock and key you have a lock and lock or a key and key.  Such an arrangement no longer has any design or obvious functionality.  Simply stated, the command to “be fruitful and multiply” has no meaning to two men or to two women.  And that’s because it was never intended to.

Instead of desiring the corresponding image intended at creation for a purpose one is seeking a mirror image simply because they personally want it.  What am I saying?  I’m saying when you get lower to the root of what defines homosexuality as a sin, I believe it is the sin of narcissism.

This is particularly challenging for us to see today.  Narcissism is one of the chief virtues of our modern secular society.  Luther would have called this a theology of glory (yes I will be blogging on that later).

 

You do you bro

I had to do what was right for me

I am going to have to do this my way

I had to find myself

 

You’ve heard all that before.  Narcissism isn’t a sin in secular culture anymore, it’s a pagan sacrament of some kind.  I don’t know how that happened or when it happened but we are on the other side of that shift now.    The sin of homosexuality is simply another symptom of the same disease.  To those who argue that orientation is a spectrum I would respond that narcissism can certainly exist in a spectrum of severity with an array of accidents and attributes.

 

Does that mean some people are born narcissists???

What???

How is that their fault???

 

Well the answer to the above is yes.  We are born dead in trespasses and sins, by nature children of wrath.

 

‘Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. ‘ Ephesians 2:3 NASB

For more on this read the post on original sin

The point is that there is no way anything shakes down that it’s not your fault some how.  Even in your greatest moments of self sacrifice and philanthropy you’re still guilty of some measure of pride or false piety.

Even in the nature in which you are born you’re still guilty to the point that you justly deserve the wrath of God.  Saying that we are born narcissists is no different than saying we are born with original sin.

 

Conclusion

 

This blog has a fair number of readers now so I can’t just assume I have no gay audience.  So to address any of them let me say that even though all our sin goes back to adam it still ends at Christ.  He is the answer.  The answer is not you ultimately overcoming your sin or your desires.  Expect to wrestle with sin in all its forms your whole life.   Even in your greatest moments of failure know that Jesus died for you.  Even in your greatest moments of triumph over a particular sin know that you’re still a sinner and Jesus died for you.

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Law | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Is it a sin to drink alcohol?

 

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It is common for fundamentalist groups, like Seventh Day Adventists, to teach that it is a sin to drink alcohol in any context.  I remember when I was baptized SDA I had to sign an agreement that I would never drink it.  This is pretty standard so if you were also baptized in the SDA church then it’s likely you signed off on a similar pledge as well.

Let’s take a look at the Bible and see what it condemns and what it does not condemn with regards to alcohol.

 

Drinking Alcohol

 

Is it a sin in and of itself to drink alcohol?  I’ve checked each of these proof-texts below to ensure I’m not taking them out of context.  Links are provided so that you can easily verify for yourself.  This question answers itself pretty quickly take a look:

 

“Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7

“He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.” Psalms 104:14-15

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23

You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. Deuteronomy 14:26

 

 

In the first two we can see that it is spoken of positively in such a manner that ones heart becomes glad or cheerful.  In the last one we have a direction for Timothy to use it to help him with his stomach issues.  I think that is enough to prove that simply allowing alcohol to touch your lips is not in and of itself a sin.  If it were we would not see the Bible telling us to use it for recreational and medicinal purposes.

The last verse is helpful for proving that the alcohol being referenced isn’t grape juice.  Notice he references both wine and “strong drink”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a mean glass of grape juice but I would never refer to it as a “strong drink”.  Additionally, the process for keeping wine in an unfermented state didn’t exist until the 19th century,  so I would argue that asserting grape juice here would be an anachronism.

 

Jesus Drank Wine

 

If Jesus drank wine that would be a good argument against it being a sin.  This one is pretty easy too.

 

‘The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ‘ Luke 7:34

‘The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” ‘ Matthew 11:19

 

Both passages reference the same comment but they also make the same point.  Notice that Jesus was being accused of doing in excess what he freely admits to actually doing.  He states he was eating and is accused of gluttony.  He states he was drinking and is accused of drunkenness.  All I am saying is that it would be twisting the text to say that Jesus is only admitting to drinking water.  The plainest reading is that he was drinking alcohol and was accused of getting drunk on it.

 

Later in this post I am going to argue that drunkenness is in fact a sin, but let’s at least concede that the mere act of drinking quantities that don’t equal drunkenness is not a sin.

 

Communion Wine

 

If drinking in any context is a sin then why did Jesus use wine in the last supper?  The Church has also used wine exclusively for the first 1900 or so years every time she has had communion.  Grape juice in communion is actually recent development, and one I don’t agree with.

Notice below that Paul was chastising the Corinthians for getting drunk on communion wine.  While getting drunk on it is certainly wrong to do, this text does show that the wine they were using had alcohol in it.

 

“for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,” 1 Corinthians 11:20-21

“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,”Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”” Matthew 26:27-29

 

Since we see wine used in communion that would be further evidence that simply drinking alcohol isn’t a sin.  In my research I found that the belief that you can never drink at all comes to us from the american puritan tradition, specifically the temperance movement.  In the 19th century the Church in America was responding to problems of drunkenness and went a bit too far.

The culmination of this was of course the prohibition which made drinking illegal for everyone.  That didn’t work out too well and society in general has been moving the complete opposite direction since.  Logically some would have tried to look for Biblical reasons to support the temperance movement, and some of the bad theology and historical anachronisms they employed persist to this day.

As an aside, some do argue that since leaven was forbidden during the passover that means wine was non-alcoholic.  This is actually a creative argument but it is an anachronism nevertheless.  Ancient Jews only recognized the leaven in the bread regarding passover, not in the wine.  Below is a quote from my Jewish source on this fact:

“Of the hundreds of species of yeast, the Passover prohibition only applies to yeast which is a product of one of the following five grains: wheat, barley, oat, spelt, or rye. Yeast which is the product of grapes, or its sugars, is not considered chametz (leavened food).” – Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski

 

The Sin of Drunkenness

 

While drinking in and of itself is not a sin, as is in fact encouraged in scripture, this isn’t true for drunkenness.  It is actually a sin to be a drunkard, this is just as easily demonstrated as the arguments above.

 

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18

“Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.” Romans 13:13

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

“For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:3

 

Putting it bluntly, drinking is not a sin but getting drunk is.  Some try to argue that only alcoholism is a sin but getting drunk from time to time is not.  This is an anachronistic argument because it’s not a distinction apparent in the text.  Passages like the first one I posted above though (Eph 5:18 ) are clear that you shouldn’t get drunk at all.  So let’s leave it at that.

How much drinking meets the Biblical definition of “drunk” though?  Where is the line?  It has to be somewhere.  This asks a question that we all kind of know the answer to anyways.  While you can never get a clinical answer out of the Bible on this one you can draw some helpful lines in the sand.  First I will post the definition from the 1828 KJV dictionary and then a few passages to make my point.

 

DRUNKENNESS, n.

1. Intoxication; inebriation; a state in which a person is overwhelmed or overpowered with spirituous liquors, so that his reason is disordered, and he reels or staggers in walking. Drunkenness renders some persons stupid, others gay, others sullen, others furious.

Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness.

2. Habitually ebriety or intoxication.

3. Disorder of the faculties resembling intoxication by liquors; inflammation; frenzy; rage.

 

I realize there are newer dictionaries out there.  I happen to like this one because it is free and has more theologically relevant definitions than a modern dictionary does.  What stands out to me is a loss of control of ones faculties.  The line in the sand so to speak is the loss of your inhibitions.  This actually mirrors the biblical narratives where drinking is condemned.  Here are some examples that stand out nicely.

 

“Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” Genesis 9:20-24

 

Noah is regarded as a man of righteousness in scripture (Gen 6:9), yet above we see an example of him failing in that regard.  Even though his story was used as type and shadow of Christ saving the world from sin, he could only be a type and shadow.  He wasn’t perfect, we needed someone who was.

For the purposes of my point in this blog post we can see that when you’re so drunk that you’re stripping naked… yeah that’s a line in the sand on what we would call drunk.  Not saying it has to get to that point before we are going to call it “drunk” in a Biblical sense, but this is a pretty good indicator of the degree of inebriation the Bible writers consider drunkenness to include.

 

“So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” Genesis 19:32-33

 

In the story above Lot becomes so drunk that he loses all inhibitions and sleeps with his own daughters, which is committing the sin of incest.

Putting it all together I would argue that a good Biblical definition of drunkenness is a state in which you have voluntarily surrendered your inhibitions against sin over to either the devil or to your own depravity.  I wouldn’t limit it to alcohol either, I would include any substance that elicits the same effect.

 

Conclusion

 

How much alcohol does it take before you lose your judgment and start to commit sins that you otherwise would not do?  It’s going to be a little bit different for everyone, but I am assuming that you probably know where that line is for you.  Don’t cross it, doing so is a sin.  When you fail in this or anything also know that in the Bible it says that Jesus died for you and forgives you of your sins, so on account of your gratefulness try harder next time.

 

Does this mean you have to drink?  of course not.  Just as you can’t Biblically impose a law that forbids drinking you also can’t impose a law that forces it.  Responsible drinking is one of those things that exists in Christian freedom.  Getting drunk though is not.

 

 

 

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