Vol. 4, No. 6
Since You Asked
~ Page 18 ~
The main thing I'm trying to imply is that many Christians do things that are immoral and wronge. I am an athiest and I have always donated to charity and kept a good will. Wars have been fought over god and I wouldn't think god (if there is a god) would like that. The other thing I would like to state is your cruel usage of propaganda against athiests. Though some athiests are as you have described them the same goes for religious groups. The talibon, the KKK, and all racial gangs are just as bad as the worst athiest. I will not try to convince you that there isn't a god but all I ask is that we live side by sides and respect each others views. You act as if being athiest is a horrible sin but why should God even care if we worship him. As long as I don't do anything wronge I don't see why God should really care. Thanks for your time. ~ Joe Kramer-Miller
Admittedly, Christians as well as non-Christians, including atheists, "do things that are immoral and wronge." That is called sin. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). One might say that non-Christians major in unrighteousness and minor in righteousness, while Christians major in righteousness and minor in unrighteousness. The difference between non-Christians and Christians, fundamentally, is that Christians have been forgiven of their past sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38) and can receive forgiveness of any subsequent sins upon their penitence and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:8-9), while non-Christians have not submitted themselves to God obediently (Hebrews 5:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), but seek to establish their own standard of righteousness (Romans 10:1-3). Further, faithful Christians entertain a legitimate hope of a desirable existence beyond this life (Matthew 25:34, 46), whereas atheists have no expectations beyond the few years intervening between birth and the grave.
Christian: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8-9).
Non-Christian: "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3).
It is gracious of the querist to grant that atheists also can be 'immoral and wronge,' that is "... bad ... worst atheist." One has to wonder, though, to what standard would an atheist appeal to discern that either Christians or non-Christians, including atheists, are "immoral and wronge" and "bad" or "worst." It cannot be to any innate human quality to which the atheist appeals, because an innate quality within us implies God (since a non-God origin from dead matter could hardly be supposed capable of producing innate moral consciousness). In the absence of morality (for which God would be responsible), any alternate human generated standard of conduct, which may opt for 'live and let live' or reciprocal tolerance principles, would hardly rush to assign as "immoral and wronge," "bad" or "worst" any activity that did not adversely and severely affect the community. Further, whatever deed, no matter how distasteful to some, would not be taboo under atheism as long as the majority subscribed to it or acquiesced (e.g., genocidal gas chambers of Nazi Germany). The point is that there can be no absolute and universal standard right and wrong without either a divine standard to which all are amenable or a standard of any origin to which every accountable soul on the planet subscribes.
While admirable that an atheist would 'donate to charity,' why? Again, such an action could not be the result of an innate quality (as far as the atheist is concerned). Is it merely like paying insurance, hoping that were you to be in need that you would be the recipient of similar generosity? Is it a matter of pragmatic anticipation of reciprocal treatment from someone who is not genuinely interested in another's welfare? Charity among atheists is no more predictable than evolutionary charity among species respecting the survival of the fittest.
The phrase "if there is a god" is an amusing collection of words for an avowed atheist to publish. Doubt respecting the existence of God is correctly the position of an agnostic rather than an atheist. Essentially, though, there is little difference consequentially between the two. They may both live their lives about the same and both lack hope respecting eternity. Neither obediently submit to God and receive the blessings in this life or in eternity reserved for them (1 Peter 1:3).
Interestingly, the querist propounds the 'things Christians do that he views as immoral and wronge' and chooses to illustrate with illustrations that do not correspond to Christianity. For instance, the "talibon" to which he refers purport not to be Christian, but perceive of themselves as Muslims and the enemies of Christians. The "talibon" are described by other Muslims as extreme fringe and not representative of most Muslims. The "talibon," then, hardly illustrate Christianity. Neither do "racial gangs" represent primitive Christianity. Even if "the KKK" and "racial gangs" imagine themselves to be Christians, they do not follow the tenets of Christianity and are viewed by most people as extremists and not representative of Christianity. Yet, many atrocities have been perpetrated over the centuries by those who profess Christianity. However, the failure of various people to faithfully follow New Testament Christianity does not of itself mitigate against Christianity since they did not or do not follow its doctrine.
God, through the Bible, pronounces atheism to be "a horrible sin" (Romans 1:18-31).
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful" (Romans 1:28-31).
The Book of Job records a fair assessment of the way in which atheists view God.
"They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?" (Job 21:13-15).
Finally, the querist wonders, "As long as I don't do anything wronge I don't see why God should really care." There's that pesky problem of right and wrong again, dependent on a standard of righteousness, which for the atheist there is none. The God of the universe views all not with him as against him (Matthew 12:30). The Creator of all that is, including mankind, has the prerogative of requiring souls worship and serve (Deuteronomy 6:13; Matthew 4:10) him, and be rewarded or punished accordingly (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-15). In addition, man has always proven to be his own worst guide as he navigates through life toward eternity. "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).
What the querist styles as "cruel usage of propaganda against atheists" is God's ordinance, in which he lovingly and earnestly desires that every soul be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Yet, God will not always forbear and will finally bring all of humanity into judgment (John 5:28-29; 2 Peter 3:10-12).
Where can I find the scripture that address the issue of not knowing one season from the other in the last days?
Biblically, the "last days" refers to the Christian dispensation -- synonymous with the period of Christianity or the Gospel Age. Prophetically, the "last days" pertained to the establishment of the kingdom or church in Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-2).
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:2-3).
Likewise, the prophet Joel foretold of the establishment of the kingdom or church in Jerusalem in the "last days" (Joel 2:28-3:2). The apostle Peter in Acts 2:16-21 quotes the Joel prophecy and applies it to the events of Acts 2 (i.e., the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the establishment of the church). Jesus, preceding his Ascension, sent the apostles to Jerusalem accordingly (Luke 24:47-49; Acts 1:4, 8-12).
Jesus, Scripture says, conducted his ministry in the "last days." "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:2). The "last days" refers to the final of three dispensations of religious history: Patriarchy, Judaism and Christianity.
Rather than the seasons melding into a single indiscernible season, signaling the imminent return of Christ, the Bible teaches that the seasons will continue as they are without interruption. God caused to be recorded after the universal flood of Noah's day his intention to do just that. "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22). Our Lord himself indicated the same.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come (Matthew 24:36-42).
Just as in the days of Noah preceding the flood, the second coming of Christ will come suddenly and unexpectedly. A change of seasons will not give away the imminent return of Christ at time's end.
... where do we get our instructions about interpretation. The ole' standard by command, example and necessary inference is good till we get to something that folks see differently because they may be using a different standard by which to interpret a given scripture. ~ Steve Summers
Hermeneutics is the study of interpretation. It is "the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible)."1
HERMENEUTICS. This term, from Gk. hermeµneuo ('interpret'), is used to denote (a) the study and statement of the principles on which a text -- for present purposes, the biblical text -- is to be understood, or (b) the interpretation of the text in such a way that its message comes home to the reader or hearer.2
Contrary to what some may imagine, the common procedure by which one understands any set of instructions in the secular world is identical to the procedure by which one interprets biblical text. Hermeneutics is not some sort of religious apparatus that has no relationship to the world in which we live. Hence, the commands or imperative statements, approved examples and implications (from which we necessarily infer) by which one can properly evaluate biblical text are the same means by which each of us understands communication between any persons. In other words, logic or what is able to be reasoned from available evidence is equally adept for understanding both religious and secular communications.
Little children learn the language within a few short years, complete with an understanding of the significance of commands, approved examples and implication. There are no other mechanisms of communication! Amazingly, people often have little difficulty in everyday communications, using these tools of interpretation, but border upon becoming spiritual idiots when called upon to apply their skills of communication to Scripture.
The understood premise of hermeneutics is the intention to exegete or derive from a communication only what it intends to convey. Regarding the Bible, for instance, one ought only desire to understand precisely what the original recipients of any text were expected to understand -- no more and no less! On the other hand, eisegesis is "the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas."3 Likewise, to allegorize a communication, such as a Bible text, is to remove it from its true context and meaning by reducing it to symbolism. Neither eisegesis nor the allegory satisfactorily communicates the meaning of either Bible text or any contemporary communication.
Regarding commands or imperative statements, one needs to ascertain if they are general or specific. Mark 16:15-16 records a general command respecting evangelizing the world with the Gospel -- "go." The means of going to accomplish the proclamation of the Gospel is not specified. We must choose the means, such as car, train, boat, plane, radio, television, printed matter, etc. Ephesians 5:19, though, specifies a kind of worshipful music -- singing -- which excludes due to its specificity every other type of music in worship. This principle occurs respecting the reason Jesus Christ could not be a priest on earth (Hebrews 7:14; 8:4).
Often when encountering Scripture, the obvious meaning of which they find distasteful, some people resort to the ploy of "using a different standard by which to interpret a given scripture." This approach is the essence of the so-called new hermeneutics. Unlike formerly accepted commands or imperative statements, approved examples and implication that characterized hermeneutics, the new hermeneutics has no formula to elicit the meaning of any communication. The only fundamental rule of new hermeneutics seems to be that it cannot mean what it has always been understood to mean, if what it has always been understood to mean is something that is now viewed as distasteful. That is not hermeneutics; that is rebellion against God by changing is holy Word (Galatians 1:6-9).
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" (Isaiah 5:20-21).
1 Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated) 1993.
2 The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.
3 Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.