Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Word of God and The Church- David Wells

"For it is certainly the case that the Word of God, read or preached, has the power to enter the innermost crevices of a person’s being, to shine light in unwanted places, to explode the myths and deceits by which fallen life sustains itself, and to bring that person face to face with the eternal God. It is this biblical Word which God uses to bring repentance, to excite faith, to give new life, to sustain that life once given, to correct, nurture, and guide the Church (Jer. 23:23; II Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:18). The biblical Word is self-authenticating under the power of the Holy Spirit. This Word of God is the means by which God accomplishes his saving work in his people, and this is a work that no evangelist and no preacher can do. This is why the dearth of serious, sustained biblical preaching in the Church today is a serious matter. When the Church loses the Word of God it loses the very means by which God does his work. In its absence, therefore, a script is being written, however unwittingly, for the Church’s undoing, not in one cataclysmic moment, but in a slow, inexorable slide made up of piece by tiny piece of daily dereliction."

David F. Wells – Above all Earthly Pow’rs

Monday, February 27, 2006

Pride and Insanity

Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast. Daniel 4:16

This verse is taken from the midst of a dream that king Nebuchadnezzar had concerning himself. The king had grown strong and the kingdom he ruled was prospering, but pride was in his heart. It is interesting that the Lord punished his pride with seven years of insanity, by taking his heart of a man and figuratively gave him the heart of a beast.

There is a parallel in today’s society. We have said that God is dead. We don’t need him. We are autonomous. This is pride parading as wisdom, but look what has happened because of it. If God does not exist then we must live in a closed system of cause and effect, making us merely beasts on the earth with no purpose or reason for our lives. Death becomes the end and no matter what you do in this life you will still cease to exist. The blind system of chance has created and destroyed you. The insanity comes in when people who hold this worldview continue to live like there is a reason for it. Hence, pride has led to insanity.

May it only be for a season as in Nebuchanezzar’s case. May we eventually step out of our insanity and may understanding return to our society that we may bless the most high, and give praise and honor to Him who lives forever. In Jesus Christ there is life, there is reason, and there is purpose. We may live our abundant lives for Him, and in the end, only the Christian can legitimately cry out, “death were is your sting? Grave where is your victory?”

-Doug Eaton-

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Serve Him - Andrew Peterson

High this mountain, broad this sea
Still, my sin ran deeper
Grave offense my soul did wreak
Against creation's keeper
But see what power so fell and fair
Has stayed his holy justice
God Himself all hell did bear
How great his love for us is

O serve Him, O serve Him
He who brings the morning
O serve Him, O serve Him
He who brings the morning

Ev'ry hour is a precious boon
Ev'ry breath is a mercy
Ev'ry glimpse of yonder moon
A balm upon this journey
How vast the heavens above this place
So small beneath His glory
Still He stooped and showed His face
And poured His mercy o'er me

O serve Him, O serve Him
He who brings the morning
O serve Him, O serve Him
He who brings the morning

Jesus, our Messiah King
For those who don't deserve Him
Conquered death all life to bring
So seek His face and serve Him

Sing, Oh sing
Praise His name forever
Oh, praise Him,
Oh, praise Him,
Praise His name forever

-Andrew Peterson-

Thursday, February 23, 2006

On Faith - Martin Luther

Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. ``Faith is not enough,''they say, ``You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.'' They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, ``I believe.'' That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn't come from this `faith,' either.

Instead, faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

Martin Luther - An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans,"

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Empty Confidence in the Flesh - John Calvin

Our Lord had no need to undertake the bearing of the cross except to attest and prove his obedience to the Father. But as for us, there are many reasons why we must pass our lives under a continual cross… We readily esteem our virtue above its due measure. And we do not doubt, whatever happens, that against all difficulties it will remain unbroken and unconquered. Hence we are lifted up to stupid and empty confidence in the flesh; and relying on it, we are then insolently proud against God himself, as if our own powers were sufficient without his grace.

He can best restrain this arrogance when he proves to us by experience not only that great incapacity but also the frailty under which we labor. Therefore, he afflicts us either with disgrace or poverty, or bereavement, or disease, or other calamities. Utterly unequal to bearing these, in so far as they touch us, we soon succumb to them. Thus humbled, we learn to call upon His power, which alone makes us stand fast under the weight of afflictions.

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion-

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Kisses of God

But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20

Children of God and those who long to be, run to your father while there is still time. Satan tells you that you are unworthy of the kisses of God, and the truth is you have never been worthy nor will you ever be. But that is the very reason you must go. Only the kisses of your father can offer you anything. The world will offer you its kisses but they are the kisses of Judas. Betraying kisses that will lead to your demise. Reject the kisses of this world and run to your Father.

There are kisses for every one of your despairs. Every wound and disease that eats at your soul can be addressed by the kisses of God. It would be worthwhile to quote Charles Spurgeon at length here, for much of this was drawn from his influence.

“Perhaps one whom I am addressing says, “even though I confess my sin, and seek God’s mercy, I shall still be in sore trouble for through my sin, I have brought myself down to poverty.” “There is a kiss for you,” says the Lord: “Thy bread shall be given thee, and water shall be sure.” “But I have even brought disease upon myself by sin,” says another. “There is a kiss for you, for I am Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.” “But I am dreadfully down at the heel,” says another. The Lord gives you also a kiss, and says, “I will lift you up, and provide for all your needs. No good thing will I withhold for them that walk uprightly.” All the promises in this Book belong to every repentant sinner, who returns to God believing in Jesus Christ, his son.”

Child of God, let the world scoff and the consequences of your sin run their course. You have the kisses of God. For every trial, even the self-inflicted ones, can now do you no harm for all things work together for the good of those who love Him, even the effects of our sin we now live with. And everything in this world will pass away, and we will one day enter the kingdom of our Lord. Where every tear will be dried and sadness will be no more. The world may continue to wound, and people may even look at you with disdainful eyes, but remember it is not their approval you need, you have the kisses of God.

-Doug Eaton-

P.S. This is from a sermon I once preached called the "Kisses of God" if anyone would like to have a copy of the entire sermon, send me an email at deaton@tiu.edu and I will send you a copy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mr. Evil Questioning - C.H. Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon, once preached a remarkable sermon on those who seek to supress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1). He spoke on how they will use evil questions to help sooth their conscience in order to go on in their sin. It was largely based on John Bunyan's book "The Holy War." Here is a short section from that sermon.


"Let me play the part of Mr. Diligence, and we will listen a moment or two while we hear old Mr. Evil Questioning talk. He is a ready fellow; he can talk upon almost any subject; I heard him the other day preach a sermon upon doctrine. He had been hearing a Calvinist minister. This minister had preached the truth as it is in Jesus and he had earnestly exhorted him to lay hold on Christ Jesus, but Mr. Evil Questioning put it thus—"Now, if there are so many to be saved, and there are a certain number of people that are not to be saved, then it can make no difference to me, I had better leave it as it is; for if I am to be saved I shall be saved, and if I am not to be saved I shall not be saved. Besides," said he, "it is irresistible grace that saves men. Now, if God sends that grace into my heart, then I shall be saved, and if he does not, why I cannot do anything, and therefore I may as leave sit still as try and do anything you know, I hear the minister say that faith and repentance are the gift of God; well, if they are the gift of God, how inconsistent he was to exhort me to believe and repent. The man does not understand logic. I shall not believe, I shall not repent. For, do you not see that it does not stand to reason that I should try to do either the one or the other, because they are both the gift of God." Thus the man satisfied himself, and while I heard him talking, I thought to myself, "I know you Mr. Evil Questioning, well, and I know your father too; you are a descendant of the old fellow that was hanged in Bad Street, in old Bunyan's time, and I only wish I had the hanging of you again."

He went another day to hear an Arminian preacher. He heard this preacher talking about the universal love, and the universal mercy of God; and this minister exhorted him to lay hold on Christ. But Mr. Evil Questioning is like a spider, he can suck gall out of any flower; so he went home and he said—"Well, if God is so infinitely merciful, then my sins are very little things indeed. I need make all this fuss and bother about them. I will just go on in them, and no doubt God will not be hard with me at the last, but will just forgive those sins off-hand, whether I believe or not. And, besides," said he, "his mercy is so lasting, that when I come to die I will just say, 'Lord, have mercy upon me,' and then I shall enter into the kingdom of heaven as well as the best of them. And what is the use of that man exhorting me to believe and to repent, for he told me I might fall from grace? I might as well not begin, as begin now, presently to leave off, so I will wait till the end of my life before I begin, and then I shall run the less risk of falling from grace afterwards." Thus he reasoned with himself.

Now whenever you hear that kind of argument, you may know at once there is a traitor there. You have discovered him. That is old Mr. Evil Questioning. Do not lose a moment, run straight up to your chamber, and tell the Lord that you have found out a traitor; ask him to send at once a warrant after him, to arrest the fellow who is doing the utmost he can to destroy your soul."

-C.H. Spurgeon-

Three Views of the Millenium

Pre, Post, and A - Millennialism

The millenium is found in Rev. 2o. In fact, it is the only place were it is explicitly stated. There have been primarily three different views held regarding it. These views deal with it's timing in relation to Christ's second coming and its nature, is it literal or figurative.

The three most common understandings of the millenium may sound a little different depending on who you talk with, but can be broken down into three different categories; premillennialism, postmillennialism or a-millennialism.

Today, the most predominant view is premillennialism. This view holds to the idea that Christ’s second coming will precede the millennium. According to Henry Virkler in his book Hermeneutics, premillennialists believe that “He (Christ) will descend to earth and set up a literal 1000-year earthly kingdom with its headquarters in Jerusalem” (Virkler, 201). It is important to understand that not all premillennialists agree on all the details. There are two major camps of premillennialists: traditional premillennialists and dispensational premillennialists. When it comes to the actual details of the millenium there will be a lot of disagreement on its nature and purpose, but to be a premillenialist a person must believe that Christ’s second coming will take place before the millennium (pre-millennium).

Postmillennialism, according to Virkler, “is the view that through evangelism, the world eventually will be reached for Christ. There will be a period in which the world will experience joy and peace because of its obedience to God. Christ will return to earth at the end of the millennium” (post-millennium) (201). It must be clarified that postmillennialists do not believe that everyone will be a Christian during this time, but that society as a whole will be Christian.

Amillennialism, according to Virkler, “is conceptually a form of postmillennialism. The millennium, in this theory, is symbolic and refers to the time between Christ’s first and second coming. During this time Christ rules symbolically in men’s hearts. Christ’s second coming will mark the end of the period.” Amillennialists believe the Christ will never have an earthly rule (a- or no-millennium)” (201).

The terms postmillennial and amillennial are sometimes interchangeable depending on who is defining the terms. I will use the definition provided by Virkler. The major difference between the two is that postmillennialists believe that Christianity will spread across the globe and usher in a time of peace. Amillennialists do not believe that Christianity will usher in this time of peace universally, except in the hearts of men. In the history of the Church, variant forms of these two positions have been the dominant view. Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology explains the most basic understanding of postmillennialism: “The common doctrine of the Church stated above, is that the conversion of the world, the restoration of the Jews, and the destruction of Antichrist are to precede the second coming of Christ, which event will be attended by the general resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, the end of the world, and the consummation of the Church” (Hodge, 861). This was the view of many of the reformers and the puritans and some suggest that even though the terms were not used, the bare bones of this doctrine shows through in Augustine’s famous work City of God. Postmillennialism seems to carry the worst stigmatism because of the fact that the liberals had hijacked this doctrine early in the twentieth century and turned it into a naturalistic and modernist’s doctrine. For a while, if you were a postmillennialist you were considered to be on your way to becoming a liberal—if you were not already. Though this was an actual concern, it was based on a misrepresentation of what postmillennialist’s actually believe. In fact, the puritans were postmillennial, but not commonly considered liberal. Consequently, postmillennialism cannot automatically be linked with liberalism.

Premillennialism, being the less commonly held view, began to gain momentum about 300 years ago. This was around the time that dispensationalism came onto the scene, but it did not find its origins at this time. In fact, Charles Hodge states, “In opposition to this view (postmillennialism) the doctrine of a premillennial advent of Christ has been extensively held from the days of the Apostles to the present time.” Two world wars also led many people to reconsider the idea that the world was getting better, which helped premillennialism become the new majority view.

Doug Eaton

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jehovah's Witnesses Radio Show

Here is a link to the latest radio show we did on the Jehovah's witnesses. To hear the program click on the link below, and at the top of that page click on the link titled "who are the Jehovah's Witnessess." It is a two hour program in mp3 format so it may take a minute or two to download.

Apologetics.com: Who are the Jehovah's witnesses

God bless,


P.S. The person with the funny voice is me, as I was fighting with a little laryngitis. :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

All I Need I Have in Christ

And he [Samson] was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised? Judges 15:18

It seems that many times when we have been strengthened by God and have done something great for the Lord we soon after find ourselves panting as if we were going to die, confounded by our weakness. That is why I find this passage about Samson so encouraging. Here is a man that by the strength of God killed thousands of the enemies of Israel, and then, moments later, finds himself about to die from the lack of something as simple as water. When God gives us some sort of victory in doing His work, it is easy to begin to see ourselves as stronger than we really are. So the Lord allows situations to arise that keep us dependent upon him. We often thank the Lord for His grace in times of triumph, but how often do we forget to thank Him for our times of defeat. If all things really work for the good of those that love Him, then grace comes in many forms. It comes in strength, but it also comes in defeats by showing us our weaknesses.

When we are on top it is easy to begin to think that this is where true life and happiness are to be found. We start to crave more of it. Success breeds the desire for more success. Until, if God does not show us our weaknesses, we begin to think that this is what we need to be happy, that this is what life is about. And without it contentment begins to disappear. But Christ calls out to us and says, don’t find your hope and peace in the good or the bad times, find it in Me, I am your salvation. Being in weakness has a way of shaking from our hands many of the earthly things we think we need, because through grace, it causes us to set our eyes on eternity, by realizing that we are not invincible.

I can remember one beautiful summer night we had a barbeque with the family. It was one of those times when you are usually at peace enjoying the cool summer evening. But this particular night I was miserable. I had been suffering with a chronic illness for some time. I didn’t know if I would ever have enjoyment again, but I remember in that moment, a thought came to me about finding my sufficiency in Christ. It didn’t matter if, through suffering, I would ever enjoy another moment of this life. I have Christ! What else do I need? Our true victory is not found in the conditions of this life, even if our victories are Godly. Our victory is found in Christ.

When the Lord opens us this hollow place, and the truths of Christ’s sufficiency begins to run toward us, we find ourselves revived even if the land is still parched.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Moral Absolutism 4: Graded Absolutism

Graded Absolutism (GA)

The final way to address moral dilemmas is to argue that there is a hierarchy built into God’s law, and at times some laws supersede other laws which is meant to handle these conflicts. This is graded absolutism. This view is held by such theologians as Norman Geisler, Stephen Mott, and Millard Erickson.

The graded absolutist starts out with the explanation that some laws are weightier than others (Matt 5:19) and some commands are greater than others (Matt. 22:36). This position can be explained quite simply when we think of civil disobedience. According to scripture, we are to obey the civil government, but what if that civil government commands us to worship a false god. Built into God’s absolute moral law of obeying government is the idea that we should do it only if it does not contradict God’s law. This is because obeying God is much greater command than obeying government.

In the case of the Midwives that lied in Egypt or Rahab who lied to hide the spies. The proponent of GA actually says that God commends them for their lying. Because in this situation the greater command to which lying must yield, is the protection of human life. GA differs from the conflicting absolutist in two ways. First, the conflicting absolutist says you must choose between the lesser of two evils, and second, when you do it you have actually sinned. The graded absolutist says, you must choose between the greater of two goods and when you do it you have done something good. The proponent of GA does not say that lying has been justified in the sense that to do it is to be held innocent. They actually go further and say that the lie is actually virtuous in this situation and to not do it would be wrong.

In the case of the mother with the tumor (see previous two posts), they would say that to try and save the mother is the greatest good, because you are actually trying to save both in spite of the minimal percentage of success in saving the child. To attempt to save both lives even at the cost of losing one is the greater good than letting one die without any attempt to save them both.

Strengths of this position

1) It has quite a bit of scriptural support for its graded view.
2) It sees God’s moral law in its entirety as absolute without waiver or conflict. The conflict only happens between specific commands.
3) It can answer many difficult passages in the Bible with ease, such as David eating the “bread of the presence” (see Mark 2:26)


1) It wavers on the absolute nature of specific commands.
2) It can appear to be a lesser version of situational ethics.

God Bless,


P.S. These have been simple presentations of these three positions and all of them deserve deeper consideration to really work out the details. So where do you fit? Do you lean more heavily to a certain view, or do you reject them all and have a different theory?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Moral Absolutism 3: Conflicting Absolutism

Conflicting Absolutism (CA)

Another way to deal with moral dilemmas is to admit that they really do exist, and try to deal with them head on. This is the position of the conflicting absolutist. This position is held by theologians such as, Helmut Thielicke, John Warwick Montgomery, J.I. Packer, and E.J. Carnell. This position is also known as ideal absolutism, as it believes that ideally God’s laws do not conflict, but in this fallen world there are times when they do. Some of the conflict is due to a lack of clarity on our part.

This position is probably the easiest to explain. When confronted with a moral dilemma, such as the midwives lying to protect the children or Rahab lying to protect the spies (see Joshua 2:1), what we must do is simply choose the lesser of two evils. In these two instances lying is the lesser sin than failing to protect the life of your neighbor. In these situations what we must do is admit that we had done wrong, repent, and ask God for forgiveness. In both of these situations God praised the women, not for their lying, but for their faith and doing the best they could in such a tough situation.

In the case of the mother with a tumor (see previous posts), it would be a greater sin to simply let the mother die without any attempt to save them both, since we never know for certain if the child will die. Though the chance of losing the child may be 99.9%, to not make any attempt would be the greater sin. If the child dies we must then ask for forgiveness.

Strengths of this position,

1) This position makes another strong attempt to stick to absolutes.
2) It’s not afraid to face moral dilemmas head on.


1) It begins to weaken those absolutes by stating that they are a bit ambiguous in this fallen world.
2) What do we do with the scripture that says Jesus was tempted in every way as we are? Does this mean that Jesus was tempted in a way that He had to choose between two sins, thus making him a sinner? Or was he not tempted in this way thus making the “tempted” verse untrue.
3) This verse also seems to go against the idea of repentance. To repent is to ask God for forgiveness with the idea that we will do our best to not do it again. But in this case we would have every intention of doing it again if faced with the same situation, because it’s the best decision we can make.

It seems to me this is the weakest of all three positions, but I do not consider J.I. Packer a light weight, in fact I enjoy most of what he has to say. I have not read him on this particular issue which makes me wonder if I’ve missed something in my understanding. But after reading Thielicke, this is the understanding that is presented by this position.

Next we will deal with the most controversial but probably the most logically consistent position; graded absolutism.

As you think through this, how do you handle the moral dilemmas presented in these posts?

God Bless,


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Monday, February 13, 2006

Moral Absolutism 2: Non-conflicting Absolutism

Non-Conflicting Absolutism (NCA)

One way to deal with moral dilemmas is to argue that they are only apparent conflicts but not real conflicts, hence the term Non-Conflicting Absolutism. This is one of the most popular positions. It is held by many great theologians such as, John Murray, Walter Kaiser, and John Frame. This view holds that God has given us absolute norms that cannot be altered. Any apparent conflict is due to a lack of knowledge rather than a real conflict in the commands.

Whenever there seems to be a conflict, such as in the case of the Midwives in Exodus 1, where a person must choose between loving her neighbor and lying, the reason the conflict seems to exist is because of a lack of knowledge in how to handle the situation. Whatever the person must do to love her neighbor she must do it without lying. A lie is always a lie and can never be justified by a non-conflicting absolutist. In this case the fact that God honored the midwives was not because of their lying but because of their faith. But had they chose not to lie, they would not have been held responsible for the deaths of the children, because they were not the one that would have killed them. That sin would rest upon the Egyptians.

The proponent of NCA is not ignorant of the effects of the decisions they make. Like the utilitarian, they try to look at the results of their actions, even if their actions are ethical. In the case of the Nazi’s at the door, it would not be unethical to tell them where the Jews are hiding if there is no other alternative. This is because the conflict is only apparent and not actual. Though it is not actually what they want to happen.

But what about the scenario of a pregnant mother who has a tumor that will kill her if not removed before the child is born, but to remove it would kill the child. In this type of situation they would bring into play, what is called the theory of double effect. What do we do in this situation? Whatever we do will have two effects, one positive and the other negative. In a case like this, an NCA proponent would say it is alright to try to save the mother because the death of the child is not intended. The action that they are taking is ethical. They are trying to save the mother not kill the child. And since there is no real ethical conflict the death of the child is a negative result of a positive action.

Strengths of This Position

1) It has a strong understanding of absolutes. There is never a time where lying becomes justified. In holding this position they seem to be very serious about the nature of absolutes.
2) They do everything they can to protect the nature of God. Since all of God’s moral laws stem from His nature, they argue that to believe in a conflict of moral laws is to believe in the possibility of conflict in God’s nature.
3) It can also be argue quite forcibly from scripture, though many Bible scholars would disagree.


1) In the case of the mother and the child, they seem to neglect the fact that their actions are really causing the death of the child. The argument of “we didn’t intend to” seems a bit of a weak one.
2) What do we do about David eating the “bread of the presence” which was not lawful for anyone to do, but is justified by Jesus (See Mark 2:26)? This is a clear violation of an absolute of the old covenant. Does this mean that David simply avoided the sin by not intending to eat the bread, but intended to feed the starving people and himself? This seems to redefine certain sins in order to justify others. It is a bit shaky but with some argument it may hold up.

Next we will look at the conflicting absolutist.

God Bless,


P.S. I do not consider myself an expert on these topic so if I misrepresented the position on a certain point, please feel free to point it out.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

God's Moral Law and Absolutism: Introduction

What do you do when it seems you have to choose between two sins? For instance the midwives in the old testament, do they lie and say the that Jewish women have their babies to quickly to kill them, or do they tell them the truth and put both themselves and the babies in danger (see Exodus chapter 1)? In this case they lied and God commends them for it. With my next few posts I hope to do my best to discuss some ethical theory surrounding God's moral law and absolutism. The book covers you will see in these posts are books I've read that have helped me come to the limited understanding that I have of this topic.

When studying ethics we encounter many different theories. Such as utilitarian ethics, virtue based ethics, and deontological ethics. Utilitarian ethics bases its ethical system on some non-moral outcome such as happiness or pleasure. For instance, the way we decide on what is right and wrong could be based on what will produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. A couple of the proponents of this view would be David Hume and John Stuart Mill. This is the view that seems to be the most popular in today’s secular society. Virtue based ethics looks to character to decide what is right and wrong. In other words we do not look to follow rules blindly, but we look to virtues that we wish to cultivate such as courage, prudence and temperance then we look to how we should live out our lives. As Leslie Stephens says, “The moral law…Has to be expressed in the form “be this” not in the form “do this.” Proponents of this view have been Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and of course Aristotle (though it is debated whether his teaching was as extreme as modern day virtue ethicists). This view has gained momentum in today’s church, and has also gained acceptance by many in the Emergent Church. It is also held by many in the catholic church.

Both views have their flaws, for instance utilitarian ethics would have to say that committing adultery is a good thing to do if it will lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. As we know this is contrary to scripture. Virtue based ethics has serious trouble in explaining how good character leads to doing the right thing. For example, if courage is a virtue we are trying to cultivate, how do we apply this to doing the right thing? A woman who abstains from an abortion could be said to be courageous, but so could the woman who was brave enough to have one. Which one is right? I realize if you hold to one of these view these simple arguments will not convince you but my point here is not to refute these system, but to look at absolutism.

The first two views we looked at say that there is no intrinsic value in any action. The value is in either in the outcome of the action (utilitarian) or in the character of the person doing the act (Virtue). Deontological ethics on the other hand is a duty or obligation driven system. Deontological ethics says there is some intrinsic value in certain actions, such as not killing, or truth telling, that requires us to do them. The prima fascia understanding of scripture and I believe the correct understanding seems to show this view as the most correct. There are certain actions that we are to do in order to be ethical. This flows from God’s moral law which is summarized in the Ten Commandments and further summarized when Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor. The Christian understanding of this view does not neglect the character of the person doing the act. For an act to truly be Godly it must stem from the right attitude or character. But there is value in certain acts and not only in the heart.

A person who holds this view is usually known as a Moral Absolutist. This means that the moral laws are absolute in that they are binding on all men, at all times and in all situations. Which most Christians hold to regarding the Ten Commandments and other moral principles found in scripture. But in this view there are what we call moral dilemmas. To use the old cliché, what do you do when the Nazi’s are at you door looking for Jews which you are hiding. You are under two different principles which seem to be in conflict. First, you are morally obligated not to lie, and second you are morally obligated to love your neighbor and protect them. Looking at this dilemma, there are three different categories of moral absolutists. There is the non-conflicting absolutist, the conflicting absolutist, and the graded or hierarchical absolutist. In three future posts I will be looking at each one of these to see how they answer the question. Due to time, I cannot promise that they will be my next three posts but I will do my best.

God Bless,


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Friday, February 10, 2006

On Tithing

Two blogs that I respect and enjoy reading (and they enjoy each others thoughts) have posted thoughts regarding tithing.

Puritan Belief has posted: Why Tithing is Wrong

In response to this post...

Drinking Deeply has posted an argument for tithing called: Tithing

Both are great brothers in the Lord discussing an issue worth talking about.


On The Reading of Books - Al Mohler

Here is a great post by Al Mohler on what we should read, and maybe what we should not be reading. For instance, should we be reading bad theology?

Responding to Readers on Reading

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Mormon Challenge - Carl Mosser

“[Approximately] 75-80 percent of Mormon converts come from specifically Protestant background. A well-known saying within LDS circles, based on the average size of a Baptist church in America, is “We baptize a Baptist church every week.” Whatever the actual figures are, the fact is that far more people convert to Mormonism from evangelical churches than vice versa. Second, given the current levels of biblical and theological literacy in evangelical churches and the kinds of converts produced by certain segments of the church growth movement, I am skeptical that evangelicalism is growing in the right kind of way to stave off groups like the Mormons. An increasingly theologically illiterate laity and an entertainment-focused pastoral ministry opens wide the doors of opportunity for Mormonism and other heterodox movements to attract converts from our churches.”

~Carl Mosser The New Mormon Challenge~

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Venerable Dead - Davies

Though there are many wonderful contemporary writers and many older ones not worth reading, the following quote seems to address a general trend we find in much of today's theology.
"The Vernerable Dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals."
Samuel Davies (1723-1761)
P.S. The picture is of C. H. Spurgeon's library.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On Atheists and The Good - Pascal

"Atheists.—What reason have they for saying that we cannot rise from the dead? What is more difficult, to be born or to rise again; that what has never been should be, or that what has been should be again? Is it more difficult to come into existence than to return to it? Habit makes the one appear easy to us; want of habit makes the other impossible. A popular way of thinking!".


Speaking on "that man without faith cannot know the true good, nor justice" He says...

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look."


"Our instinct makes us feel that we must seek our happiness outside ourselves. Our passions impel us outside, even when no objects present themselves to excite them. External objects tempt us of themselves, and call to us, even when we are not thinking of them. And thus philosophers have said in vain, “Retire within yourselves, you will find your good there.” We do not believe them, and those who believe them are the most empty and the most foolish.

Stoics say, “Retire within yourselves; it is there you will find your rest.” And that is not true.
Others say, “Go out of yourselves; seek happiness in amusement.” And this is not true. Illness comes. Happiness is neither without us nor within us. It is in God, both without us and within us."

Blaise pascal - Thoughts


Monday, February 06, 2006

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Schaeffer

"Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, said that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end: first, a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, affluence); second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor (this could be among countries in the family of nations as well as in a single nation); third, an obsession with sex; fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; fifth, an increased desire to live off the state. It all sounds so familiar."

Francis Schaeffer- How Should We Then Live

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Prayer: The Shadow of the Blessing - Spurgeon

This is one of my favorite Spurgeon devotions as it paints a great picture of the sovereignty of God in prayer.


"Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." --Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing's shadow. When the sunlight of God's mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

"Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above."

-Charles Spurgeon-

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Waiting for Salvation

For Your salvation I wait, O LORD. Gen. 49:18

In our text see Jacob, who is coming to the end of his life, prophesying over his sons, who are the twelve tribes of Israel. As we read the text we can see him propped up in bed weak from age, blessing his sons with perfect accuracy as to what God had planned for them. As he finished blessing Dan and was ready to bless Gad, we see a man weary of his travels in this world show his true desire; to end his waiting and be with his Lord.

Salvation had been his since God established covenant with him. After that there was never any doubt that Jacob had salvation, or that the promise would be fulfilled, but being saved in the land of our sojourn is not the same as reaching the land of our promise. No peace on this earth, though at times it is wonderful, will ever compare to having our destination reached and our salvation complete.

Let us learn from Jacob, the patriarch who at this point in his life was living comfortably in the land of Goshen. Jacob and his family had all they needed as they lived in Egypt's finest land. This would have been a needed retirement for a man who by God’s sovereign decree, had been through many rough waters, but even though things are good we find his desire for His Lord.

Waiting is never easy, even in our lands of Goshen, but God has promised to satisfy our desire. He has promised to complete the salvation He has started in us, but it is all in His time. What we don't want to do is to become so comfortable that we forget we are waiting for something better, or to become so overwhelmed by affliction that we cannot see the Celestial City waiting at the other end of the dark valley.

Though some may have all the comforts of this world, and others may be in times of affliction, together we wait for this one desire to be fulfilled. Let us in the middle of our God given work speak our true desire. Let us, whether we are in the land of famine or in the land of plenty, make our desire to be with our Father.

The world in all its pleasure,
nor pain in all its measure,
will change my one desire,
His salvation to acquire.

-Doug Eaton-

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Entrenched Intellectuallist - J.I. Packer Part 2

Now we move on to the entrenched intellectualist.

“Think now of the entrenched intellectualists in the evangelical world: a second familiar breed, though not as common as the previous type. Some of them seem to be victims of an insecure temperament and inferiority feelings, others to be reacting out of pride or pain against the zaniness of experientialism as they perceived it, but whatever the source of their syndrome the behavior-pattern in which they express it is distinctive and characteristic. Constantly they present themselves as rigid, argumentative, critical Christians, champions of God’s truth for whom orthodoxy is all. Upholding and defending their own view of that truth. Whether Calvinist or Arminian, dispensational or Pentecostal, national church reformist or Free Church separatist, or whatever it might be, is their leading interest, and they invest themselves unstintingly in this task. There is little warmth about them; relationally they are remote; experiences do not mean much to them; winning the battle for mental correctness is their one great purpose. They see, truly enough, that in our anti-rational, feeling-oriented, instant-gratification culture conceptual knowledge of divine things is undervalued, and they seek with passion to right the balance at this point. They understand the priority of the intellect well; the trouble is that intellectualism, expressing itself in endless campaigns for their own brand of right thinking, is almost if not quite all that they can offer, for it is almost if not quite all they have.”

J.I. Packer – A Quest for Godliness

In an effort to make sure Packer is not misrepresented here, let me say that packer is not against being “bubbly” or ‘intellectual’ they simply are not the ends in themselves for which Christ called us.


P.S. Just so no one has to make a comment regarding it, yes I know I have shown these characteristics from time to time. (Even though I lack the intellect needed.) May God give me grace to resist this.

The Restless Experientialists - J.I. Packer

In the next two posts I would like to quote J.I. Packer speaking of two different kinds of Christians we find in the church today. Both are on opposite sides of the spectrum. My hope is that by looking at these we may test ourselves to see if we lean too heavily to one side or the other, and find the balance that is found in God’s word.

“Those whom I call restless experientialists are a familiar breed, so much so that observers are sometimes tempted to define evangelicalism in terms of them. Their outlook is one of casual haphazardness and fretful impatience, of grasping after novelties, entertainments, and ‘highs’, and of valuing strong feelings above deep thoughts. They have little taste for solid study, humble self-examination, disciplined meditation, and unspectacular hard work in their callings and their prayers. They conceive the Christian life as one of exciting extraordinary experiences rather than of resolute rational righteousness. They dwell continually on the themes of joy, peace, happiness, satisfaction, and rest of soul with no balancing reference to the divine discontent of Romans 7, the fight of faith of Psalm 73, or the ‘lows’ of psalms 42, 88, and 102. Through their influence the spontaneous jollity of the simple extrovert comes to be equated with healthy Christian living, while saints of less sanguine and more complex temperament get driven almost to distraction because they cannot bubble over in the prescribed manner. In their restlessness these exuberant ones become uncritically credulous, reasoning that the more odd and striking an experience the more divine, supernatural, and spiritual it must be, and they scarcely give the scriptural virtue of steadiness a thought.”

J.I. Packer – A Quest for Godliness –

Next we will look at the entrenched intellecualists.