Posted tagged ‘Bible’

Why I’m Mostly a Cessationist

May 16, 2009

The recent debate with Coramdeo gave me an opportunity to reflect, study, and reason through the issue of Spiritual gifts.  Most importantly, I was able to see the arguments and Scripture used to support cessationism.

The title of this post may seem in contradiction to my previous one.  However, as I will show, I still have the same problems with cessationism yet consider myself to be one.

Definitions

Most of the difficulty in studying and discussing the issue of spiritual gifts lies in what the heck we mean when we say things.  To some, cessationism means a belief that God never does any miracles, nor imparts His power onto His people in the form of “gifts”, anymore. 

To some, continuationism means those who believe that the gifts have continued in the exact same way they occured in the New Testament.

In fact, even the term “gifts” is hard to nail down.  If God has given me the gift of prophecy, does that mean I hold the office of prophet?  Or merely that God has gifted me with the ability to teach His Word?  Is not speaking God’s Word directly in the lives, hearts and minds of fellow Christians a gift?  If I participated in a healing through prayer, does that mean I have the gift of healing?  Or is it that God just did a singular work of healing?  Is not a singular healing still a gift?  How many healings do I have to be involved in before I “have the gift”?

Do you see how hard to define these words become?  Alot of explanation is needed before we are on the same page when I say the word “gifts”.  In order to clarify, I will attempt to parse out a difference here:  I consider that a “gift of the Spirit” has been bestowed upon someone even if they only do it once.  Does that person “have the gift of healing”?  I don’t know, but at that moment they did.  You can think of this as a single incidence of God working through a believer, it’s the same thing, I’m just using the word “gift” to describe it. 

On the other hand, the office of healer or prophet is someone that can do it all the time.  Just as the man who holds the office of president is president all the time, if you went to someone who held the office of healer, you would be healed.  Some may think of this as someone “having the gift of healing” but I’m using the phrase office of ____ to describe it because it provides the separation we need when discussing this issue.

I’m interested in discussing these definitions and seeing if there is a better fit out there that allows us a better way to think about this issue.

It doesn’t matter what definition to the these words you subscribe to, it matters how people use them.  The cessationism I have a problem with is the one that says “God just doesn’t do these things anymore”.  The cessationism I have become to subscribe to is the kind that says the gifts are wholly different than they were in the 1st century, and the offices have ceased.  I will explain what I mean.

 Historical Cessationism

Ok, the above term is nothing I’ve heard of before.  Perhaps there is a term out there that already represents what I’m about to describe, but I just thought of this one. 

My cessationism comes from the annals of history.  If you read the history of the church and especially the writings of the early church fathers, not only do you not hear of any prophets but you see them lamenting the fact that there aren’t any!  Think about it from their point of view:  There has been a long standing tradition of prophets existing in the world as recorded in the Old Testament, which continued with a flurry as recorded by the Book of Acts.  In fact, you could consider every writer of the New Testament as prophets as they were inspired to write the Word of God.

The early church fathers would naturally assume that this tradition would continue.  However, it did not.  They all looked around them and all they could see was false prophets who went against the Word of God  (There is a good reference here for that).  The office of prophet seemed to be…gone.

Another exercise could be to look around today.  Are there any prophets?  Maybe, but I haven’t seen any.  He’d have to prove himself and, sorry, Benny Hin is not it.  Same with the office of healer.  Sure, God has and does perform miraculous healing using prayer and the actions of His Church.  However, the office of healer is someone that heals all the time.   Think about a guy like Peter.  If you went to him, you were healed.  In studying early church history, and looking at the world around us, there doesn’t seem to be someone like that.

So, history seems to attest to the cessation of the offices of prophet and healer.  My cessationism is historically informed. 

Why the “Mostly”

I can call myself a historical cessationist but not a Biblical cessationist because Biblical cessationism doesn’t presently exist.  That is, the Bible says the gifts will cease but in describing whenthe gifts will cease, it is clear that it is not now.  Let’s look at the verses used to support cessationism and why I can say that Biblical cessationism doesn’t exist.

1 Cor 13 is one of the more popular ones used: 

…but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part;  10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

There are many problems with translating “the perfect” as the “the canon” and that is explained in one of my previous posts.  The bottom line is that at the very least, it is just as likely that Paul is referring to “the perfect” to be the coming of our glorified bodies in heaven as it is the canon.  In fact, the NIV translates “the perfect” as “perfection”.  The only way that this passage is solid evidence that the gifts ceased with the canon is if you want it to be.

Eph 4:11-13 is also used quite frequently.  The argument made here is that the offices of prophets and apostles have ceased because the church has been established:

11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

This point is more well explained in my previous post, so I’ll be brief here.  Basically, it is bad Biblical hermeneutics to pick two offices out of the five Paul mentions in the same breath and say, “those have ceased!”.  If those two have ceased because of the establishment of the church, then all five have ceased because Paul lists all five together.  The only reason a cessationist will say that the offices of pastor, teacher and evangelist hasn’t ceased is because it’s obvious they haven’t!  They use the passage when it supports their position (apostle and prophet) but ignore it when it doesn’t (pastor, teacher and evangelist). 

Also, Paul tells us when these office will ceased and, I’m sorry, but looking around at the church today we have not attained the unity of the faith and are not mature men “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”.  That is not the Church today.  So just by a plain reading of the text, it’s clear that Paul is not talking about the current church as to when the gifts will cease. 

Remember, I agree that the office of prophet and apostle have ceased, but that’s just not what this passage says.

Another argument used to support cessationism is that if you read the New Testament, the only people who perform the gifts of tongues, prophecy and healing are either Jesus, the Apostles, or those the Apostles laid hands upon to give the gifts. 

The ironic part is that if really doread the New Testament, Scripture doesn’t support this position.  There are a few instances (Acts 8, Acts 19…to name the ones I remember off the top) where those who receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands immediately begin speaking in tongues and prophesying.  However, Scripture never says that the laying on of hands imparted Spiritual gifts.  This is an non-Biblical idea.  In fact, there are two cases in the Book of Acts that render this position irrational. 

Stephen and Philip weren’t apostles, they were deacons, and didn’t receive the Holy Spirit through the laying of hands (as far as we can tell) and yet could perform “signs and wonders” (Acts 6 for Stephen and Acts 8 for Philip).  In Acts 10, Cornelius becomes the first purely Gentile convert to Christianity.  Peter isn’t even done speaking, doesn’t lay hands on them or baptize them and Cornelius and his family and friends receive the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in tongues and prophesying. 

Conclusion

I look in the history of the church, and the current state of the church, and I see that the office of prophet and healer has ceased to exist.  I look in the Scriptures and I find that I can’t say the gifts have ceased.  I see clear guidelines in how to use them and discern what is actually from the Spirit and what isn’t. 

I also see that Paul emphasizes one gift over all others:  Love.  We should not focus on, pray for or consider important any other gift besides love.

Why I Have a Problem with Cessationism

April 28, 2009

This is my third post in the debate on the cessation of spiritual gifts.

So far, I have merely responded to posts made by Coramdeo.  But now I want to explain my true position on cessationism, why I have a problem with it, and why I think the spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy and healing may still happen today.

Here is my Main Problem with Cessationism

It’s an absolute negative statement.  What I mean is this:  even if cessationists are claiming that only certain gifts don’t happen anymore, and the others do, they are saying that the gifts that have ceased never happen under any circumstances

I got in a discussion with my father over this issue and he asked me a very telling question.  He asked me, “What purpose does tongues have today?”  This was meant has a rhetorical question, of course.  In fact, it is not the question that matters at all, it is the assumption behind the question, the reason the question was rhetorical, that means something.  My father, in his Christian life and theological education, which has been long and extensive, has decided that there is no purpose for the gift of tongues.  Unfortunately, “decided” is not the most accurate word.  “Assumed” is the most accurate because no one can know an absolute negative.  No one can know that there is no use for tongues ever under any circumstances.

And yet, that it what cessasionism claims.

Are we really ready to believe that the Holy Spirit would never, ever use tongues, healing or prophecy under any circumstances?  Even if I travel to a 3rd world country where I don’t know the language, the Spirit couldn’t use tongues to speak a language I don’t know to bring people to a knowledge of Christ?  How more useful can you get?

In order for me to subscribe to cessationism I would have to know for sure that the Spirit would never use tongues, healing or prophecy (that doesn’t attempt to add to Scripture) under any circumstances or any time, ever.  I’m just not ready to do that.

A Caveat

The reason I’m not ready to that is because there is no clear cut Scriptural reason for cessationism.  I have no problem with absolute negatives in themselves, but only with clear Scriptural backing.  For instance, Scripture is clear that there is no other way to God besides Jesus Christ.  It’s an absolute negative, and I can know it because God tells me so.  I would have to be equally Scripturally convinced of cessationism.

Caveat #2

If the term “cessationism” is being used to describe a position where the gifts are different or used much more sparingly in modern times, then I don’t have a problem with that stance.  I completely agree that the historical context matters and being two thousand years post-Cornelius Gentiles is not the same as being a Jew two years removed from Pentecost.

It makes sense that the Holy Spirit would bestow the gifts upon those building the church differently than those who are born two thousand years after the church has been built.  However, I draw the line on making absolute statements about what the Holy Spirit will and won’t do unless Scripture is clear on that absolute statement. 

Three Elephants

The reason I’m not Scripturally convinced of the absolute negative, is that there are a few problems with cessionism, or “elephants in the room” if you will.

One of these elephants is 1 Cor 13 as explained in my previous post.  This passage is often used in support of cessationism however their are many problems in interpreting “the perfect” to mean the canon of Scripture.  Again, this was explained previously.

Eph 4:11-13 is also used as a proof text for cessationism.  This passage says that certain offices have been appointed by God, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”  So Paul mentions them all in the same breath.  Then he tells us what purpose those offices were appointed for, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ“.  Then he gives us under what circumstances those offices will cease, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

What the cessationists do is say that this means the offices of apostles and prophets have ceased.  I have no problem with believing this is true.  However, the office of apostle hasn’t ceased because the Church is established, it has ceased because the definition of Apostle is someone who has seen the Risen Jesus face to face.  And since He’s ascended . . .

It’s also bad hermenuetics to pick out two of the offices mentioned all in the same breath and say “only these two have ceased because the church and canon are established” when Paul makes no distinction between the offices and when they will cease.  Paul is exactly saying that all these offices will cease at a certain time and he doesn’t say that some will cease first and others second, or third etc.  To insert an order here is just bad Biblical interpretation. 

Also, Paul never says that these gifts will cease when the Church is established.  The cessationist crowd must interpret “until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” to mean the church.  The parsing out of what exactly this is referring to would take a long time.  It will suffice to say here that, looking at myself and the rest of the church, I’m not comfortable saying that since we have the canon we are “mature” to the degree “of the fullness of Christ“.  If Paul is describing the church here, his description doesn’t accurately reflect any church I’ve ever heard of, in modern times or in the early church.

The third elephant in the room of cessationism ties in closely with this passage in Ephesians.  In Coramdeo’s original post on this subject he says:

I think the N.T is quite evident that Pastors and Teacher are to continue on, but we do not have much evidence that Apostles or Prophets should continue on, and in light of other passages I think it is best to conclude that Apostles and Prophet offices have ceased.

I completely agree with Coramdeo here.  There is no need to add to Scripture and so the office of Prophet (in the Old Testament sense) has ceased and Christ ascended two thousand years ago so the office of apostle died with the twelve.  However, what Coramdeo is concluding here is that since those offices have ceased, so too have certain gifts.

The elephant in the room is two men by the name of Stephen and Philip.  Both of these men were not Apostles, they were deacons.  And yet, Luke tells us that Stephen performed “great signs and wonders” (Acts 6) while the people of Samaria “heard and saw that signs which he [Philip] was performing” (Acts 8).  So deacons, and not just Apostles, were capable of performing “great signs and wonders” of the Holy Spirit.  Even since the office of Apostle has ceased, apparently that doesn’t mean that gifts must cease. 

Jesus Himself seems to support this definition of those who can perform works of the Spirit. 

Mark 16:17-18, “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So the qualification of those who can do such things are “those who have believed”.  That’s it. 

Let Us Pursue Love

Let us also be skeptical.  Just because believers can do such things, it doesn’t mean that this does, or should, go on all around us.  It also doesn’t mean that the gifts of prophecy, tongues or healing should be a primary pursuit of ours.  1 Cor 13:

1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

In fact, in 1 Cor 14 Paul explains in strict detail how gifts should be handled and that the goal should be for the edification of the church.  These guidelines should absolutely be followed or the gifts are not being used correctly.  And if they’re not being used correctly, then it’s not of the Spirit.  Paul concludes the chapter with, “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.  But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”

Since we do not have solid Scriptural backing for doing so, let us not subscribe to an absolute negative regarding certain gifts.  But let us pursue the greatest gift of the Spirit, love, and let us do everything for the edification of the Church and be bold enough to follow the guidelines laid down by Paul, squashing any “manifestation of the Spirit” that does not follow them.

A Logical Deduction Against The Resurrection

March 3, 2009

Is the belief in a resurrected human being inherently illogical? 

This was the recent claim of a commenter here at Apologia (let’s call him “Money”).  Since claiming something is illogical requires you to logically show it, I requested a logical deduction from Money.  I was actually surprised when he obliged! 

I think his response is a very common one; one that Christians must know how to respond to. 

His logical deduction for how the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is illogical is as follows:

P1: No dead humans physically rise from the dead. (This is a true premise, unless it can be shown false)
P2: Jesus was a dead human. (True premise)
::: Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. (The conclusion, which must be true when both premises are true).

Right away, red flags should be popping up in the Christian apologists’ mind, saying…

1.  ***Warning!***  Logical Fallacy Being Committed!

P1 is where Moneys’ deduction falls apart.  He is committing a informal logical fallacy called a “special pleading”.  The specific type of special pleading Money is committing is one where he is asking us to accept a premise based upon data that is impossible collect.  That is, in order for Money to know that “No dead humans physically rise from the dead”, Money would have to investigate the deaths of every human being on the face of this planet for all of history past and determine that not a single one of them rose from the dead.

Since this is impossible, P1 is invalid.

(Update:  As Neil pointed out, P1 is also committing an informal logical fallacy called “begging the question”.  If the question is about whether or not a man rose from the dead, how can one of Money’s premises be that people don’t rise from the dead?  That’s a great example of begging the question.  Thanks Neil.)

(Update #2:  A big thanks to Tim Nichols for pointing out something else that I missed.  Money doesn’t even have the Christian claim nailed down correctly.  Christians don’t claim that people rise from the dead all the time.  We claim that it was an unprecedented, earth shattering, paradigm shifting event that happened to someone who wasn’t merely human, but God incarnate.)

2.  A Conclusion Can’t Be a Premise!

P1 is a conclusion from another, unstated, logical deduction.  Since, as we said in point #1, Money’s premise (P1) can’t be known by observable means.  Therefore it must be deduced from other premises.  The deduction to prove P1 would be something like this (remember, we must limit the premises to statements we can know):

P1′:  All human beings die at some point
P2′:  I have never seen a human being come back alive
:::  Human beings don’t rise from the dead

See how even that doesn’t even work?  All I can say, rationally, is that I’ve never seen a human being rise from the dead.  It doesn’t follow then, that I can know that no human being has ever risen from the dead or that humans just don’t rise from the dead, as a rule.  The conclusion just doesn’t follow.

3.  The Onus of Proof Is on the One Making the Statement

Referring to P1, Money says,

“This is a true premise, unless it can be shown false.”

This is not how a logical premise works.  We can’t consider a premise true just because it can’t be proven false.  Another way to word Money’s statement is, “Since my premise can’t be shown to be false, therefore it is true.”  That would be like saying, “The existence of a one eyed, pink unicorn can’t be proven false, therefore one exists.”  It just doesn’t follow.

An Anti-Supernatural Bias

Money then switches gears and begins to attack the logic behind a belief in the Resurrection.

Money says:

With trying to prove that Jesus was Resurrected, you have to prove, logically, the  supernatural events can occur within the laws of nature.

Says who?  Who says that Christ’s Resurrection must happen in the bounds of nature?  Money has decided, without reason, that the supernatural must happen within the bounds of nature.  Money has decided what God can and cannot do.  Money is making a theological argument here, one that he has no support for. 

Money then makes another unscientific, theological assertion (regarding the above statement):

…which is a logical contradiction since that which is observed in the natural world is/must be natural, and therefore not supernatural.

Do you see what he just did?  It’s a perfect argument.  Money is saying that the only phenomena that can happen are natural phenomena, therefore the supernatural doesn’t happen.  Another unscientific, theological argument.  Surely a scientific experiment, or a logical deduction, didn’t tell Money that ONLY natural phenomena take place.  Since it’s not from science or logic, how can Money know such a thing? 

Money goes on:

You need to logically show how that Jesus was capable of such a feat. It isn’t logical because it is bound contradictions and unverified truth claims.

Well that, Money, I can do.  Even if you take the Bible as a mere story, Jesus is God Himself in that story.  Is not God capable of raising the dead?

The ironic part is that Money claims the Resurrection must be subject to “verified truth claims” in order be believed.  The hypocrisy of this statement is two fold:

1.  The Gospel accounts, Acts, and a few of the Pauline Epistles are the account of verifiable, undisputed eyewitnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Why doesn’t he believe their eyewitness testimony?

2.  Every statement Money has made so far is an unverified truth claim.  “Dead people absolutely don’t rise from the dead,” and “only natural phenomena happen” are my two favorites.  It’s the pot calling the kettle “black”.

Excluding something at the outset without reason, as Money has done with the supernatural, betrays a bias that renders the discussion pointless until the bias is removed.

Biblical Contradictions?

January 7, 2009

One of the favorite reasons that critics of the Bible site for their criticism is the contradictions that are “obvious” through out the text.  Their argument is that since the Bible is supposed to be the Word of God, therefore it shouldn’t have any contradictions and yet we find tons of them.  Do we really?  There are two things that must be mentioned first:

1.  The Definition of a Contradiction

We can take the American Heritage Dictionary definition, “To assert or express the opposite of a statement” or “To be contrary to; to be inconsistent with”.  Notice that the definition of contradiction isn’t something that “sounds weird” or you’ve decided that “God wouldn’t say it like that” or “I wouldn’t say it like that”.  It is a statement that must be directly contrary to another statement. 

In other words, the two (or more) statements must violate the Law of Logic known as “The Law of Non-Contradiction”, making it illogical for us to believe the Bible is inerrant. 

2.  If You’ve Already Decided, a priori, That the Bible Cannot Be God’s Word . . .

then just stop reading now.  Nothing I can say will dissuade you of your presupposition.  However, if you are open to an argument that might be contrary to what other people taught you than this might be for you. 

Recently, one of the commentors on this blog linked a website, that gives a list of many Biblical “contradictions”.  I thought that it might be fun to go through some of them just to see how contradictory they are.

The Shape of the Earth

One of the contradictions the site lists is that the Bible is inconsistent with what the shape of the earth is.

Isaiah 40:22: It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.

Matthew 4:8:  Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.

The author of the article then says:

Astronomical bodies are spherical, and you cannot see the entire exterior surface from anyplace. The kingdoms of Egypt, China, Greece, Crete, sections of Asia Minor, India, Maya (in Mexico), Carthage (North Africa), Rome (Italy), Korea, and other settlements from these kingdoms of the world were widely distributed.

Those who are Biblical literalists and inerrantists like me, aren’t ignorant of figures of speech, metaphor, analogy, parable and poetry.  Nor is the Bible disqualified as being inerrant for using them.  Here, what these Biblical critics must do is ignore the literary license the writers of the Bible have to use figures of speech or ignore the possibility of supernatural phenomena.  Here are a few explanations as to why Matthew is not trying to describe a flat earth.

1.  If someone gives me a tour of their house and then a friend asks me, “Did he give you the full tour?”, and I answer with, “Yea, he showed me everything.”  Did the home owner really show me “everything” in the world?  “Everything” in the house?  Of course not, it’s a figure of speech used to describe the fact that he showed me the whole house on the tour. 

2.  Another way this could be the figure of speech is that Matthew, and Satan, were trying to get across an idea.  Satan is offering all of the kingdoms of the world to Jesus.  Whether he actually showed Jesus “all the kingdoms” or just showed Jesus the glory of a few, which represented the whole, the idea is that “all the kingdoms” were offered to Jesus.  If you show me Los Angeles and say, “I’ll give you all of the cities of America and their glory”, I get the idea of how glorious that could be. 

3.  Even in a hypothetical “the Bible is just a story” sense, both Jesus and Satan had power.  Jesus healed people and raised them from the dead and Satan is the highest of arch-angels.  It’s not possible that when taking Jesus on top of a high mountain, Satan showed Jesus, in an illusionary sense, the glory of “all the kingdoms” in the world on the earth beneath the mountain in one place?  Matthew could literally be describing the fact that Satan showed Jesus everything, but not that Jesus was able to see all the kingdoms of the world, as they were and where they were, on that mountain top.  There is a big difference.

Also, shouldn’t we be commending the Bible for describing  a spherical Earth over a thousand years before the Greeks figured it out?  Instead, Biblical critics decide to manufacture contradictions to justify their beliefs.  The above verses don’t violate the Law of Non-Contradiction, not even close. 

Snakes Do Not Eat Dirt

GEN 3:14:  And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.

The site claims that since snakes don’t eat dirt, therefore the Bible is in error. 

Actually, yes they do.  I thought atheists were supposed to know something about biology.  As the snake flicks it’s tongue out, it brings little pieces of dust into it’s mouth.  The bits of dirt go into an organ in the roof of the snake’s mouth called the “Jacobson’s organ”, which is home to a pair of sensory organs which helps the snake smell.  That’s how the snake smells, by pulling dirt or “dust” into it’s mouth.  Looks like the Bible had it right thousands of years before biology figured it out.

Jesus’ Last Words

Matthew 27:46: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”  and v. 50 “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”

Luke 23:46.  And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.”  Having said this, He breathed His last.

John 19:30.  Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

Remember, our criteria is that the statements must violate the Law of Non-Contradiction.  Let’s see if this is true. 

Firstly, let’s note that none of the reports of Jesus’ last words say what he did not say.  Matthew doesn’t say, “And Jesus did not say ‘It is finished’ “.  Matthew, Luke, and John is just reporting what Jesus said.  So right off the bat we don’t have to have any problem with Matthew recording one thing that Jesus said and Luke and John recording two other things that Jesus said.  This will become more likely as we go on here.

Secondly, Matthew actually expresses that Jesus said other things on the cross.  In the quote above, Matthew describes “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice” (italics my own).  Matthew describes Jesus as crying out “again” JUST LIKE the first time, where Matthew recorded His words.  The second time Jesus cries out, Matthew just doesn’t record His words.  So there is no problem with stating that Jesus said “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRITand It is finished” before breathing His last. 

Thirdly, each writer wrote their Gospel for a purpose and to a specific audience.  Matthew wrote his Gospel to a Jewish audience.  When Jesus said, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME,” He wasn’t actually saying that God had left him, He was quoting Psalm 22. 

The Pharisee’s who were present would have memorized the entire Old Testament, but how did they reference a particular passage since there were no numbered chapters?  In the case of the Psalms, they would reference the first sentence of the particular Psalm, and then everyone in the discussion would be able to recall the entire Psalm by memory.  Psalm 22 starts out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, and guess what follows in v.12-18, oh that’s right, a prophecy about the Messiah, a description of the events that had just taken place, down to the last detail.  Jesus was referencing an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah and saying, “See, these things just took place down to the letter, they happened to me, I am the Messiah.”

The point is that Matthew recorded these particular words of Jesus because he was writing to a Jewish audience and only these words would have been significant to the Jew.

Fourthly, John was writing to the Gentile unbeliever.  “It is finished“, is a description that Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross, especially the bringing of all humanity to the Father, not just the Jews, was accomplished.  This is only significant to a Gentile.  Why did Luke write Jesus’ last words differently than Matthew?  I don’t know, perhaps he read Matthew’s Gospel and wanted to record the other words that Jesus “cried out with a loud voice”.

Either way the above statements do not qualify as a “contradiction”.  In fact, ironically,  if the each passage had Jesus saying the exact same thing, Biblical critics would say, “See, they just copied from eachother!  They weren’t really there or they made it up!”.  Isn’t it the hallmark of eyewitness testimony that people see the same event differently and yet still truthfully?

The Geneology of Jesus

In two places in the New Testament the genealogy of Jesus son of Mary is mentioned. MAT 1:6-16 and LUK 3:23-31. Each gives the ancestors of Joseph the CLAIMED husband of Mary and Step father of Jesus. The first one starts from Abraham(verse 2) all the way down to Jesus. The second one from Jesus all the way back to Adam. The only common name to these two lists between David and Jesus is JOSEPH, How can this be true? and also How can Jesus have a genealogy when all Muslims and most Christians believe that Jesus had/has no father.

 This one is easy.  The Matthew geneology traces Jesus ancestry on Joseph’s side and the Luke geneology traces it on Mary’s side. 

The reason for this is that Matthew was talking to Jews for only they care about geneologies on the father’s side.  Although Jesus’ true father is God, Jesus is still of royal blood on his legal father’s side.  This would be important to the Jew.

Luke, who read Matthew’s Gospel, wanted to tell Theophilus (whom he wrote the Gospel for) everything that took place “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).  Wanting to be exact, and knowing the geneology of Jesus’ father’s side was already in print, gave the geneology of Mary. 

Any critic would only have to do some quick research to discover this.  The point is that they don’t want to, it suits their lifestyle and worldview to think of the Bible as having contradictions.

Judas Died How?

MAT 27:5: “And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself.”

ACT 1:18: “And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out.”

 It can’t be both?  Luke didn’t say that Judas didn’t hang himself and Matthew didn’t say that Judas didn’t burst asunder.  How about this; Judas hung himself over the field that he purchased (we know that to be true) and the rope, or the branch or his head broke off and he fell into the field, his guts gushing out.  Both are correct, but Luke wanted to be more detailed than Matthew (since Luke, at the beginning of his Gospel, explains that there are other accounts out there regarding these events, which probably includes Matthew’s Gospel), which is consistent with how Luke treats most situations he writes about and his mission statement described at the beginning of his Gospel. 

Conclusion

I look forward to finding and debunking more of these claimed “contradictions” in the Bible and I find it amusing how easily researched some of them are.  It’s just that the critic doesn’t want the Bible to be inerrant, it would mess with his lifestyle and worldview.

New Testament Manuscript Evidence: How We Can Know the Bible is Accurate

December 21, 2008

The question any Christian, at some point in their life, should be asking is:  How do we know that the Bible is what it says it is?  Fully answering that question takes a measure of faith.  However, there are certain things we CAN know.  This article is about those things.

A.  We Are Currently Reading the 2nd Century New Testament

A manuscript is a document that is written by hand.  In this context, I mean it specifically as an ancient document from a unique source that was written by hand.  In the ancient world, there were obviously no printing presses.  Everything had to be copied down by the work of a scribe, or some other literate person.  This heightens the chance for differences in translation.  Taking into account the entirety of the ancient manuscripts, there are about 150,000 variations.

1. An Explanation of Variations

The common misconception, and a favored critique of the Bible, is that such variants render the New Testament void of truth besides any abstract spiritual or moral ideals.  Specifically, the Bible says writers of the Gospels claimed they saw Jesus rise from the dead.  With all the variations over the next two thousand years, how can you possibly know that the writers really ever claimed such a thing?

The truth is, of the 150,00 variations, 99.9% of them have no affect on the New Testament at all.  That is, the differences consist of something similar to one scribe writing “Christ Jesus” while another wrote “Jesus Christ”.  Many differences are simply missing a insignificant word.  When the evidence is all on the table, there are only 50 significant variations (the number 50 will become more significant a bit later on). 

Even with these fifty variations, no Christian doctrine is changed.  The differences aren’t that one manuscript says that Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek” and another says, “Slap your enemy on the other cheek”.  The differences aren’t  that significant.

The principle used in textual analysis is this:  Just as the number of scribes increases the possibility of error, so does the ability to find the true meaning of the text.  Even with the variations are significant, none of them affect any Christian doctrine.

2.  The New Testament Manuscripts are Supremely Reliable

“Reliability” as far as any ancient manuscript scholar is concerned is decided by number of manuscripts and how close in time they are to the original writing.  For instance, the earliest manuscripts of the writings of Plato, which the vast majority of scholars consider reliable, are 1200 years after Plato put quill to papyrus, and we only have seven copies of them.  Let’s compare other works of antiquity (carm.org’s chart is great in this regard). 

  • Lucretius              1200 years       2 copies
  • Pliny                    750 years      7 copies
  • Plato                   1200 years    7 copies
  • Demosthenes   800 years      8 copies
  • Herodotus         1300 years    8 copies
  • Ceasar               1000 years    10 copies
  • Tacitus               1000 years    20 copies
  • Aristotle             1400 years    49 copies

These writings are considered “reliable” in that they accurately reflect the original writings.  Now, let’s look at the New Testament.

  •  New Testament       Less than 100 years         5600 copies

Dr. Benjamin Warfield concludes, “If we compare the present state of the text of the New Testament with that of no matter what other ancient work, we must…declare it marvelously exact.”

Dr. Norman Geisler has some other points for our consideration.  The average secular work of antiquity hangs on by only a handful of manuscripts, while the New Testament boasts thousands.  The average length of time between ancient manuscripts is 1000 years.  However, the New Testament has fragments within a generation of the writers, whole books within one hundred years, the majority of the New Testament within 200 years, and the entire New Testament within 250 years. 

This is unprecedented as far as ancient scholarship goes and the only conclusion can be that the New Testament is supremely reliable.

B.  Our Current New Testament is what the Original Authors Intended to Say

Part of the reason we know this goes hand in hand with the process of textual analysis as well.  For instance, if there are several manuscripts of an original work that I don’t have, and one of the sentences in each manuscript reads like this:

Manuscript #1:  Jesus Chris died for our sins

Manuscript #2:  Jsus Christ died for or sins

Manuscript #3:  Jesus Christ died our sins

Manuscript #4:  Jesus Christ died for sins

Manuscript #5:  Jesus Christ dide for our sin. 

Comparing these different manuscripts, can I come to an accurate conclusion of what the original author intended to say?  Of course I can.  Now, this is a simplistic example but the over 99% of the textual variations are solved in this way.  Not only can the differences be reconciled, but the original intent of the author can be discovered as well. 

1.  Overwhelming Evidence

In addition to the already mentioned 5600 Greek manuscripts and fragments of the New Testament, we have 10,000 thousand Latin Vulgates and 9,300 other early versions which gives us more than 24,000 early New Testament manuscripts  (McDowell’s Evidence That demands a Verdict, vol.1, 1972 pgs.40-48; and Time, January 23, 1995, pg.57).  Remember, of these thousands of manuscripts, there are only fifty major variations.  That astoundingly accurate!

But how credible are these manuscripts?  As has been previously mentioned, we have many early Greek manuscripts.  What dates have been attributed to the earliest ones and what do they contain? 

Important
Manuscript
Papyri
Contents

Date
Original Written

MSS
Date

(John Rylands
Fragment)3
John 18:31-33,37-38 circa
96 A.D.
circa
125
A.D.
   

(Chester Beatty Papyrus)
Rom. 5:176:3,5-14; 8:15-25, 27-35, 379:32; 10:1-11, 22, 24-33, 3514:8,915:9, 11-33; 16:1-23, 25-27; Heb.; 1 & 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Phil., Col.; 1 Thess. 1:1,9-10; 2:1-3; 5:5-9, 23-28 50’s-70’s circa
200
A.D.
   

(Bodmer Papyrus)
John 1:16:11,3514:26; fragment of 14:29-21:9

70’s

circa
200
A.D.
   
P67  Matt. 3:9,15; 5:20-22, 25-28   circa
200
A.D.
   

In addition to these, we have since found a fragment of Matthew 26 called the Magdelene manuscript that has been dated 65/66 AD. 

Considering the comparison between the New Testament and secular works, we must conclude that the New Testament is amazingly preserved.  No other ancient writing can make the claim to be even close in time span as the New Testament.  The New Testament manuscripts are mostly from 150-200 years after the original writings with one less than 100 years and one coexistent fragment. 

Although we don’t have the originals, the sheer volume and dates of the New Testament manuscripts makes the evidence overwhelming.

2.  Logical Deduction

Secularists are fond of accusing Christians of being forced to abandon all reason in order to believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ (as evidenced by his Resurrection).  Let’s see if this is true.

Through the Magdelene fragment we know that Matthew was written in the life time of the eyewitnesses.  In fact, we know that Matthew himself was an eyewitness.  How?  If someone wrote a book about an event that happened thirty years ago, claiming to be an eyewitness, but was not, wouldn’t there be an uproar among the actual eyewitnesses?  He’d be labeled a liar and his book would be soundly discredited, no one would bother to have it copied.  Remember that copying a book in the first century, especially one as long as Matthew, was an arduous, time consuming and expensive task.  Churches, or home congregations, would have had to literally save up for the manuscript of a book they wanted to have, so they would have chosen wisely.  Would they really have chosen to spend the money on a book who’s facts, and the integrity of the author, was unreliable?

So, we have a book written during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, written by an eyewitness.  Matthew not only claimed to have witnessed the life and works of Jesus, but claimed that many others were there as well and named those individuals.  If someone wrote a book naming you as an individual who had witnessed certain event, or participated in said events, and you in fact did NOT, wouldn’t you speak up?  Wouldn’t this also discredit Matthew’s Gospel? 

Specifically, Matthew wrote that He witnessed a man who everyone saw crucified rise from the dead.  And then, another eyewitness, John, wrote the same thing.  Another man, Mark, who was the historian of another eyewitness, Peter, wrote the same thing.  Finally, a man who claimed to have fully investigated the matter, including interviewing eyewitnesses, Luke, wrote a book claiming to have seen Jesus rise from the dead. 

In a modern court room, wouldn’t the judge accept the eyewitness testimony of four people?  If four men pointed to another man who was under arrest for bank robbery and said, “This is the man whom we saw rob the bank!”, wouldn’t that man be convicted?  The Gospels tell us that, at one point, Jesus was in a crowd of five hundred people after his Resurrection.  What about the testimony of five hundred people?  Would a judge accept that? 

Why Didn’t the Jews Prove the Apostles Wrong?

That a Galilean carpenter named Jesus had been crucified for blasphemy was common knowledge in Jerusalem.  The Jewish ruling class, the Sadducees, who had paid Judas to betray Jesus, would have watched the fulfillment of their investment. 

Once the apostles had started to go around proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, why didn’t the Sadducees prove them wrong?  They knew where Jesus had been buried.  Why didn’t they grab His body, parade it through the streets, and kill Christianity right then?  It would have been that easy.

Would the Apostles Die for What They Knew Was a Lie?

The eyewitness accounts of men aren’t much good if they recant under cross-examination.  Yet, the Apostles held onto their accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection under the most harsh of cross examinations; gruesome death (all accept one was executed for not recanting the Way). 

Let’s say that a doctor, a tax collector and some fishermen, were to some how over power an entire Roman guard unit, twenty to fifty of the most well trained soldiers in the world (think ancient day Army Rangers); Roman soldiers were often executed for failing their posts so they would have fought to the death.  After over powering these soldiers, the apostles then rolled back a boulder that would have at least weighed a ton, and stole Jesus’ body.  They then perpetrated a hoax in order to . . . die? 

What money or power did they gain by lying about Jesus’ Resurrection?  It seemed they only gained death.  Wouldn’t at least ONE of them have recanted, being unwilling to die for what they knew was a lie?  Once that individual recanted, wouldn’t the Sadducees have then spread this recantation far and wide and have killed Christianity?  It would have been that easy.

Conclusion

Many Western minds assume that because there were no newspapers, CNN, or internet two thousand years ago, anything could have been fabricated and such simple minds would have accepted it.  These were not the Dark Ages, this was the era of the Greek philosopher, the skeptic and the stoics.  The Pharisees would memorize the entire Old Testament. These were not simpletons.  

Through manuscript evidence, and textual analysis, we know that at least one eyewitness testimony (Matthew) was written in the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, within about thirty-five years of Christ’s death.  We also know that three other men, either eyewitnesses themselves, or forming accounts based on eyewitness testimony, corroborated Matthew’s account.  Through the sheer volume of manuscripts we know that Matthew, and the rest of the New Testament, has been unchanged since then.  Through logical deduction we know that it would have been easy to prove the apostles wrong if the Sadducees had just been able to find Jesus’ body from the tomb they put it in or had been able to get one of the apostles to recant (and boy did they try).  Would any man really die for what he knew to be a lie?

The only logical conclusion, then, is that these men actually did see Jesus rise from the dead.

 

Note:  This is by no means exhaustive.  I know that I have left out many manuscripts and sources of New Testament reliability, including the letters of the early church fathers.  Also, there are probably many arguments and explanations left unsaid.  I want to use this post as a jumping off point that I can later use to further explore the evidence for the New Testament.  Another one of the good resources I used is here.

Is God Evil? A Response; Part Two

December 10, 2008

Daniel Florien, as I hoped he would, is continuing his series on exploring whether or not the God of the Bible is actually evil, contrary to what us Christians would want you to believe.  Well, more accurately, Daniel isn’t really technically exploring the issue, he’s already decided that God IS evil and is going through the Bible looking for support for this position.  I’m also not sure that continuing is an accurate description of his latest post.  As you read his post, you might think of it as a re-hash of the earlier Adam and Eve post and I’d have to agree.  His latest post seems more like a “big picture” treatment of the Adam and Eve article. 

As in the previous post in the series, Daniel uses conveniently misunderstood facts and strawmen, and erroneous logic, to put the blame on God.  In fact . . .

Accurately Describing Genesis, the Blame is Not on God

To begin his article, Daniel uses an analogy to describe the situation in the Garden of Eden.

Professor Sidney was proud — he was the creator of the first sentient, emotional beings made by man.

Right there, we’re starting off on a bad foot because man wasn’t created by another created, fallible creature.  Man was created by an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

The Humloids (as he called them) were programmed with instructions to pick any of the flowers in the biodome except one.

That’s just plain inaccurate.  Humans were not “programmed” in the same sense that a man made computer program is.  We were given our DNA and our morphological traits, but also given free will.  A more accurate analogy would be the father of grown children:  Is he really to blame for what his twenty-five year old son and daughter do?  Why not?  His children have free will do they not? 

The subject of Adam and Eve’s free will was also conveniently missing from Daniel’s previous post on the subject, and the error was pointed out to him.  Why, then, is Daniel still subscribing to the error?  Because he must in order to put the blame on God.

They thought they would die if they picked the forbidden flower — a harmless little joke that still made him chuckle.

They DID die for picking the fruit.  God never said they would die immediately, but the moment they ate of the fruit, they began to die. 

Here were his beloved Humloids — with the forbidden flower in their hair! They had done what he had forbidden! He was furious! He would kill them all! No — a slow death would be better. He would make them suffer.

This is where Daniel’s initial decision to make the designer in his analogy a human is key.  If the designer is a fallible human being then his analogy makes us angry.  How dare a human decide that another being should suffer!  However, if Daniel was accurate to the Biblical story, the designer would have to be an infallible, all-powerful, all-knowing God. 

Erroneous Logic

Only an all-powerful, all-knowing, Just and Righteous God has the right, nay the obligation, to punish His creation when they disobey Him.  This is absolutely a part of the Biblical doctrine of the nature of God.  However, the attributes of Love and Grace are also very explicit in the Biblical text. 

God gave Adam and Eve life, and everything they ever wanted.  With His love, God gave them literally a paradise in which to live.  No death, no suffering, not even vanity.  He only asked ONE thing of them.  And they couldn’t do it.  To affirm the story of the Garden and Eve, and yet dis affirm the REASON for God’s actions, and why He is able to punish His creation, is to be logically inconsistent. 

Even if Daniel wants to talk about Genesis in the form of a myth-story, that works too.  Part of the myth-story is that God is Just, Righteous and Holy.  If the prospect of such a God offends Daniel, as it obviously does, then fine, be an atheist.  But to treat the actions of God in that myth-story with a critical eye while ignoring the reasons the myth-story gives for God’s actions, his Justice and Righteousness, is to twist the story for your own benefit.  Daniel is literally creating His own version of a god who isn’t Just and Righteous, applying that to the God described in the Bible, and then attempting to call that God evil. 

Daniel:  “Only an evil God commits those acts.”

The Bible:  “Only a Righteous God is justified in those acts”

What’s the difference?  Daniel starts with the presupposition that God is subject to Daniel’s morality while the Bible presupposes that humanity is subject to God’s morality. 

Further, are we really accurately describing the human experience as nothing but “suffering”, as Daniel puts it?  

Strawmen!

Daniel then decides to strawman Christian beliefs in an attempt to show how absurd they are.  It’s easy to do.  In a section entitled, “Is that Why Bad Things Happen?”, Daniel lists a few things that are bad and why the strawmanned Christian explanations are wrong.

When an innocent baby dies of a birth defect, is it because our ancestors ate some fruit? . . . I don’t think so. Birth defects happen because of medical problems, which we have gotten better at screening and fixing.

Daniel can’t really be suggesting that a Christian denies the natural explanations for medical problems and immediately goes back to the Garden can he?  Sadly, yes.  I’ll let the absurdity of that strawman stand for itself.

When a daughter is raped and killed by her step-father, is it because the step-father inherited “original sin”? . . . People are raped and killed by others not because we all have original sin, but because some people are mentally unstable, which through medication and therapy can sometimes be remedied.

Notice how Daniel didn’t call a rapist and a murderer “evil”, only “mentally unstable”.  He isn’t willing to hold fellow human beings to the “evil” standard, but he’ll happily apply it to God.  I smell a bias!  I’ll come back to how this isn’t an answer either.

When a tsunami destroys a city and millions are killed, is it because of an ancient myth passed on for thousands of years before it was written down? . . . Natural disasters occur not because some invisible man in the sky controls them, but because of natural forces on this earth.

This isn’t a why answer because . . . 

There is no “Why” in Atheism

At the beginning of the section, Daniel asks the question, “why do bad things happen?”.  In none of his examples and answers, does Daniel answer the question.  Go back to the quotes and see for yourself, does Daniel answer “why”?  No really, I want you to go back and re-read them, it’ll only take a second, just read the parts in quotations.  

He only answers how.  

It’s not his fault.  Atheism can’t answer why.  Think about it, why do natural disasters happen?  Because of natural forces.  That’s begging the question isn’t it?!  It’s just like saying, “Natural disasters happen because natural forces cause them.”  Circular!  Why do the natural forces cause them?!

Why is a metaphysical question.  Atheism cannot answer metaphysical questions without being inconsistent.  So when Daniel mocks the Christian answers of why, he is only trying to cover up that he has no answer!  Every time an atheist attempts to answer why he’s truly only answering how.  It’s the best that he can do.

Why Prop. 8 Still Scares Me

November 10, 2008

I keep this blog out of the political realm because, frankly, human beings have much more pressing issues than what is going on in Washington.  That is why you will notice that this article, although about a political issue, isn’t about politics at all.

For those of you who have lived in a cave for the past 2 months, California’s Prop 8 proposed to add an amendment to the California State Constitution, defining marriage as ONLY between a man and a woman.  A brief history:  in 2000, Prop 22, which prevented same-sex marriage, passed with 61.4% approval and only 38.6% against.  On April 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned Prop 22 in In re Marriage Cases.  The defenders of traditional marriage had an answer ready and quickly gathered over 1 million votes in order to put Prop 8 on the ballot for November 4th. 

Prop 8 has passed and, being a constitional amendment, has overturned the California Supreme Courts’ decision on April 15th.  As a Christian, I should be content, right?  Traditional marriage has been protected for another day, shouldn’t I feel a sense of comfort in that?  But, I had no comfort.  The way Prop. 8 has played out over the last month, even with it winning, has left me with nothing but apprehension for the future of humanity.

But why “the future of humanity” hyperbole?

I honestly contemplated wether or not this had anything to do with the Biblical position on homosexuality.  Yet, I work with several homosexuals, two on a daily basis, and, if this apprehension was due to the issue of homosexuality in general, I would have this aversion to them, and I don’t.  People are people, and even though they know how I feel about their lifestyle, we get along splendidly. 

They Tried to Redefine a Word

I realized that there were a few things about Prop. 8 that had nothing to do with homosexuality that just literally scared me.  The first being that the “No on Prop. 8” people (specifically the lawyers who brought the In re Marriages Cases to the California Supreme Court, the activist group that hired them, and those that wrote and supported the TV and radio advertisements) were attempting to redefine a word.

Wether you consider the Bible to be God’s Word, mere history or farce, marriage has been defined as the joining of a man to a woman since the beginning of recorded history.  I understand an individuals desire to marry the person they love, gay or straight.  However, because a miniscule part of the population desires something, we should redefine a word that has existed as it is for hundreds upon hundreds of years to satisfy them?

What about redefining the word “rape” to only include women that didn’t have a certain blood-alcohol level at the time of sex?  What about redefining the word “murder” to only include those that didn’t deserve it?  What about redefining the word “citizen” to include only those born in this country.  Surely, there is a minority of the population out there who desire each. Before the ad campaign for “No on Prop. 8”, I would have thought those ideas farfetched.  But if we start at redefining the word “marriage” just because certain people want to do so, what’s next?  You may scoff at the idea, but I challenge you to think about it again.  What if the MAJORITY wanted to start redefining words, would we grant them such power?  Should we?

Not Once Did They Mention The Issue Being Voted On

“No on Prop. 8” did it.  They were able to run an entire ad campaign about same-sex marriage without uttering the words “same-sex marriage”.  The second thing that scared me was, not only did they do this, but it nearly worked.  They had almost half of California voting no on Prop. 8 based on the phrase “equal rights for all” when the vote was about “same-sex marriage”.  One of the “no on Prop. 8” ads even prominently displayed the phrase, “Regardless of how you feel about marriage, Prop. 8 is just wrong.”  Am I in bizarro world?  “Regardless of how you feel about marriage…”?  The Prop is ABOUT marriage! 

This would be just like if I said to you, “Regardless on how you feel about who should be president, Barack Obama should be president.”  Shouldn’t we all be insulted and apprehensive that legislation was almost passed without ever mentioning what the legislation was about?

However, you may be reading this, saying to yourself, “Prop. 8 DID take away a basic human right.”  That is another thing that scared me, about the “no on Prop. 8” campaign, they tried to redefine basic human rights

Having a Marriage License Is Not A Basic Human Right

Is having a business license a basic human right?  What about having a driver’s license?  Could I sue the DMV for not giving me a drivers license based on them “violating my human rights?”  Of course not.  Could I sue my ex-wife (I don’t have one of those by the way) for “violating my human rights” by divorcing me?  Of course not.  Having a marriage license is not, and has never been, a basic human right. 

Isn’t it scary, that the “No on Prop. 8” people were almost able to redefine what basic human rights are?  Isn’t it scary, the amount of outrage produced at the mere mention of a violation of human rights, without questioning whether or not human rights have actually been violated?  Isn’t it scary the fervor that can be drummed up about seemingly any subject if a group mentions “human rights”?  Shouldn’t we ALL be wary of the implications of this?

The ironic part is that the real human rights issue, wether or not same-sex couples have the same legal rights and standing as heterosexual couples, hasn’t changed.  Homosexual couples have, since 2005, been able to apply for a civil union and recieve the exact same benefits any married couple does.  So even if homosexuals were allowed to marry, there legal status wouldn’t change a bit.  The issue then, clearly, is not one of equal rights, but one of redefining what equal rights are.

“Stop the Hate, No on 8”

It’s a common tactic among those who have no valid argument, to make those that oppose them out to be “evil”.  Christians are commonly guilty of this as well.  For the “no on Prop. 8” people, this has taken the form of calling those that voted Yes as “hating” homosexuals.  Several reports have actually compared the restriction of marriage with the Japanese internment of the 1940’s and the restriction of African Americans to the back of the bus and the “seperate but equal” classroom.

Homosexuals are not being rounded up into internment camps like the Japanese were, they are not being beaten by the police in the streets like the hippies of the ’60’s, nor getting tear-gassed like Reagan did on the campus of UC Berkeley in the spring of ’69, nor are homosexuals getting hosed by firefighters during protests like the African American’s were in the ’60’s.  I can only pray that society gets a grip on it’s self.  Homosexual couples have the exact same rights as heteros, and their speech is being honored as all speech should be.  There is no discrimination taking place.  Why is desiring that the definition of marriage stay the same labeled as hate?

Besides a personal feeling of anger at being told that I hate a group of people, shouldn’t we all be worried at the prospect of a group labeling those who disagree with them as haters?  It would be the same as saying that all those who voted for John McCain hate black people. 

The “No on Prop. 8” proponents should ask themselves one question.  Who, exactly, is spreading the hate?  Those comparing the restriction of marriage to it’s correct definition to racism should be ashamed of holding this country back from the racial progress we’ve demonstrated by electing an African American man with the middle name of “Hussein” to the office of the Presidency.

Conclusion

Same-sex couples, under a civil union, have the same legal rights and priviledges that someone with a marriage license has.  Not only is there no discrimination taking place, there are no basic human rights being violated.  The right to own a marriage license is based on the definition of marriage, just as owning a driver’s license is restricted to meeting certain requirements.

The proponents of same-sex marriage know this.  So they attempted to redefine the word marriage by stroking the flames of emotion with talk of an erroneously defined “basic human rights violation” while  those standing up for the definition of marriage are labeled as haters.  Shouldn’t we all be wary of and fight against such guilt and hate mongering tactics?