• Christian Living,  Culture,  Ethics,  New Testament

    Avoid Every Appearance of Evil (1 Thess 5:22)

    Growing up I often heard the King James Version rendition of 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” The implication of course was that Christians should avoid even the appearance of evil, not just evil actions themselves. Unfortunately this verse, like many others, has often been misinterpreted and misapplied. English Translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV Abstain from all appearance of evil. NKJV Abstain from every form of evil. ESV Abstain from every form of evil. HCSB/CSB Stay away from every kind of evil. NIV Reject every kind of evil. NASB Abstain from every form of evil. NET Stay away from every form of evil. Comparing the various English translations, we can see that only the KJV translates this verse as “appearance of evil.” There is a significant difference between “appearance of evil” and “form/kind of evil.” Hence, we note that it is the KJV against the rest of the English translations. Although some would use this difference…

  • Ethics,  Misc,  Old Testament

    The Bible and Eating Humans—Cannibalism?

    Okay, weird title. But, this is a question that came up recently, and it is an interesting theological exercise. Is eating human flesh wrong? We are not talking mainly about overt cannibalism, where one commits murder in order to eat human flesh (which is clearly wrong). We are mainly talking about surviving on a boat or in the mountains and the survivors eating humans (who have already died) to survive. For example, the survivors of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes who ate their companions to survive. Is it wrong for a Christian to eat human beings who have already died in order to survive? The closest the Bible gets to directly addressing this issue is in a few select prophecies to Israel that their sin will cause them famine and hardship which would result in cannibalism during sieges (cf. Lev 26:29; Deut 28:53-57; Jer 19:9; Ezek 5:10). Additionally,…

  • Ethics,  Law,  Old Testament

    You Shall Not Bear False Witness

    The ninth commandment prohibits bearing false witness (Exod 20:16). In many Christian circles this prohibition ends up simply being summarized as, “Don’t lie.” But there is a depth behind the ninth commandment that goes beyond just how we speak. The ninth commandment is intended to promote an entire lifestyle. Most people understand the prohibition against bearing false witness as a simple prohibition against speaking falsehood, yet this commandment is centered in a very specific context. The language which is used in this commandment centers around the legal setting in a court case. In Israel, as with the rest of the ancient Near East, a witness was essential to ensuring justice was carried out. In fact, the penalties for many ancient Near Eastern civilizations were harsh for any witness that construed the facts wrongly. Death was even a possible consequence for a false witness. On the other hand, some civilizations prized…

  • Christian Living,  Culture,  Ethics

    Christian Ethics and Worldview Systems

    Everyone is responsible for their actions, thus ultimately everyone has to decide whether an action is right or whether it is wrong. Even those who reject God must still have a system for determining whether something is right or wrong. One name for this systematic reasoning is called ethics. Ethics is simply a philosophy of determining what is morally right and what is morally wrong. There are two basic systems which people hold to in determining right and wrong. Consequential Ethics The first kind of system is called consequential ethics. Consequential ethics determines what is right or wrong based on the outcome. According to this system of thinking, no act is inherently good or bad in and of itself. It is the result that matters. In other words, consequential ethics believes that the end justifies the means. The underlying assumption of consequential ethics can take various forms, but ultimately proponents…

  • Apologetics,  Church,  Ethics,  Old Testament

    What is Marriage?

    We are in the midst of a time where terms are being redefined to suit one’s own purpose. However, if we want to think rightly and accurately about an issue, we need to think in terms of the definitions laid out in God’s Word. Nowhere is this more evident than in the question, “What is marriage?” In contrast to how marriage would have been defined even 10 years ago, the first search result of the question, “What is marriage” (Psychology Today) defines marriage as follows: Marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that putatively lasts until death, but in practice is often cut short by separation or divorce. Notice how marriage is defined here. Marriage is simply two people making their relationship (which already exists) public. This cultural definition of marriage is in stark…

  • Apologetics,  Culture,  Ethics

    Trump, Biden, and the Christian Vote

    I had intended to stay out of the foray of political postings. However, I have been compelled to write on the issue because I have seen some very poor reasoning among my Christian friends, and I have been asked by a few people to share my thoughts. So, even though it is an area where bitter disagreement is prone to exist, I have become convinced that it is very necessary to think through these issues as an exercise in Christian discernment. Two Reasons Not to Vote for Trump Trump is not a Christian. Some people might disagree on that, but if vulgar and pompous speech is an indication of character, it seems unlikely to me that Trump has submitted to the Lord. As such, it should come as no surprise that Trump does not act like a Christian. Further, he does not prize certain character traits which Christians prize. Does…

  • Christian Living,  Ethics

    The Bible and Pets: a Theology of Animals

    Americans love pets! It is reported that 67% of American households own a pet (the top pets being dogs). The amount of money Americans spend on their pets grows each year, increasing over 50% between 2013 and 2018. That means people spent $87 billion dollars on their pets in 2018! To put these numbers in perspective, in 2018 couples spent $845 on average per year on pets! Over 10 years (an average life span of a dog), that would mean spending $8,450 on one animal! Given the value that people put on their pets, it comes as no surprise that many hold to a viewpoint that pets are inherently equal to human beings. Although pets should be important to us, if we follow the cultural line of thinking we risk elevating pets to an unbiblical place. I think it is important for all Christians to be taught the differences between…

  • Ethics,  Review

    Book Review: Understanding Transgender Identities

    I know I am not the only one who has had a heightened interest in assessing the cultural revolution over the last 10 years. Over that short time, the culture has moved from a negative view of the sexual revolution to a full embrace. And today, although the cultural battle is essentially over, the battle of defining sexuality continues to rage in the church. Case in point, one of the most important conversations today is the issue of transgenderism. To help with this conversation, Baker Academic has published a four-views book (2019). James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy have edited the book which is entitled, Understanding Transgender Identities. Beilby is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University. Eddy is professor of biblical and theological studies also at Bethel University. They have co-edited six multiview volumes together, and this is the latest one. There are five contributing authors…

  • Church,  Culture,  Ethics

    Resources for George Floyd, Social Justice, and Racism

    Given the current events, I wanted to post some links to help people stay informed on how to think through such events biblically. The circumstances we see around us are fruits of seeds planted years ago with the rise of Social Justice and other worldly philosophies. Thankfully there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have done some excellent thinking on these issues and we are in their debt. Here are some of my favorite resources on these issues.  Resources on George Floyd and Current Events “George Floyd and the Gospel” – The Just Thinking Podcast gives an excellent response to the current events, the death of George Floyd, protests, and the riots. If you only listen to one thing, I would recommend this. Race, Justice and the Gospel: BBC Q&A with Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker – George Lawson interviews Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker on current events and…

  • Apologetics,  Ethics,  Theology

    The Connection between Evolution and Transgenderism

    If one were to turn back the clock 15 or 20 years, the words transgender or transgenderism would not have much (if any) meaning to most people. The push for the cultural acceptance of transgenderism is a relatively recent phenomenon. However, if we think through the secular worldview, which is based in evolution, transgenderism is a consistent outworking of that worldview. The Bible teaches the that the Creator created the entire universe and everything in it in 6 days (Genesis 1). The Bible also teaches that the Creator has ultimate authority over the universe and governs it as He sees fit. Every creature within creation must ultimately submit to the Creator’s law governing that creation. In contrast, the worldview of evolution emphasizes the absence of any design or Creator who gives law and direction. In this worldview, life originated through random chance, and continues to evolve through the principle of…