Monday, May 30, 2011

Was Judas Really That Bad? part 4: Son of Destruction

Now every time we have this discussion, I have to point out the obvious. Please notice that Jesus refers to Judas by two different terms.

First, Jesus tells the disciples "one of you will betray Me". Now I realize that all of the disciples in some sense betrayed Jesus. But Jesus tells Peter that Peter would deny Him. In fact, Jesus explains that the Shepherd would be struck and the sheep would be scattered by quoting Zecharia 13:7. This was after Judas had left and was separate from the rest of the disciples. In this case, Peter most certainly represents the rest of the disciples.

So let me make this clear. Jesus never says that the disciples would betray Him. Only one receives that label. He also makes clear that He prayed for Peter and the rest of the disciples to be restored. Once again, we must ask if Jesus' prayer must also be applied to the Betrayer Judas? The answer should be obvious.

Now to the issue of the phrase, "son of perdition" or "destruction".

John 17:12  While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

We must see again that Jesus never calls the other disciples "son of Destruction". He only refers to Judas with that title. But what does he mean by it? Well, let's take a look. After Jesus explains that Judas would betray him Him he makes a very troubling statement.

Mat 26:24  The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

Yes, it would have been better for Judas to not have been born! The horror of such a thought is incredible. Jesus gives us information about the destiny of Judas. In a note about Matthew 1:1 and 11:19, commentator Barnes offers this insight about the phrases when "son of..." is used.

The term son was given by the Hebrews to those who possessed the character described by the word or name following. Thus, sons of Belial - those who possessed his character; children of wisdom those who were wise, Mat_11:19. Thus Judas is called a son of perdition because he had the character of a destroyer. He was a traitor and a murderer. And this shows that he who knew the heart regarded his character as that of a wicked man one whose appropriate name was that of a son of perdition.

Again, please note Jesus is making a clear break and distinction between Judas and the rest of the disciples. Jesus is making and adopting the disciples to be "sons of God" [John 1:12] through His saving work except Judas.

This idea is similar throughout all of Scripture. See Genesis 3 and the promised Seed.

Gen 3:15  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Perhaps it truly bothers us that one could be so close to Jesus and yet be ordained a "son of destruction". Perhaps it bothers us that Jesus did not pray for Judas as He did the other disciples. Perhaps it bothers us that God has such freedom to save whom He will, and we do not. Perhaps we are bothered by a Scripture and Word of God that confronts our traditions that we so strongly desire to cling to. Perhaps it is all of these things and more.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I pray that we would think logically and clearly about such issues. But even more importantly, I pray that we would listen to God's Word with repentant hearts. For in fighting the truths of Scripture, are we not all doing the very things the Disciples did that last night? We all think we would never deny our Lord. But what about His Word?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Was Judas That Bad: part 3: Jesus' Intercession

Another passage that is often cited in defense of Judas having some kind of freewill to truly repent and come to Christ is from John 17, which is Jesus' final prayer at the Last Supper.

While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Now I think contextually, we may couple this with the events that happen later in the night when Jesus insured that His disciples would not suffer arrest and the commentary by John.

Joh 18:9  This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one."
One argument is that Jesus did not lose Judas in the sense that Judas was still saved even though Jesus lost him during the night. In other words, Jesus was merely talking about the disciples and the events of the night, and not their souls.

As interesting as this argument may seem, it is to connect these verses together in a way that was not originally intended. John is making an application of Jesus' promise from John 6 and John 17. However, to deny that there is any salvific sense to these texts is to go beyond their original meaning.

In John 17:3, Jesus is praying for His disciples that they may have eternal life. This is then connected to their having received His word in verse 8. He also prays for them to be kept from the world while living in the world. To think this is mere protection from events and not their souls from the evils of this world is to miss the salvific sense of verse 11.

Joh 17:11  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

These Disciples were to be kept in the Father's Name. They are kept because of the perfect union between Father and Son. Jesus is not praying for one group of men while the Father chooses another. Jesus is not trying to accomplish the Father's will and failing to do so with Judas. As we see in Jesus' own words, He did accomplish all the Father sent Him to do.

17:4  I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

So we must ask the obvious question. Do we really believe in an all powerful Savior who actually accomplishes His Father's will? Perhaps a little mediation on the perfect work of Christ could be considered from Hebrews.

Heb 10:14  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
So why did Jesus not pray and intercede for Judas' soul? In the next post, we must look at the phrase, "Son of Destruction".

Friday, May 27, 2011

Judas That Bad?: Part 2: He Hanged Himself

The first thing I need to deal with is the primary argument from Matthew 27:3. This seems to be the most quoted verse in defense of the idea that Judas truly repented of his sin and was saved.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,

Now on the face of it, the phrase "changed his mind", which is also translated by the King James as, "repented himself" and the CEV translation renders this as, "he was sorry", seems to lend itself in our American thinking that Judas was truly sorry. Therefore Judas is now in heaven.

The problem here is with our American thinking about human nature and ability. We seem to think that a man's conscience which is pricked somehow means that the Holy Spirit intends to do something salvific. Listen to Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 7 as the Holy Spirit has given them to us.

2Co 7:9  Now I rejoice, not that you were grieved, but that you were grieved to repentance. For you were grieved according to God, that you might suffer loss in nothing by us.
2Co 7:10  For the grief according to God works repentance to salvation, not to be regretted. But the grief of the world works death.

Notice that the Spirit of God explains to us that natural man and the spiritual man both may feel sorrow. Shouldn't that be obvious? This comports with our everyday experience. But the assumption by many is that all men are capable of working up in themselves a true repentant heart, or it assumes that God gives everyone an equal chance through some kind of prevenient grace. This is all just assumed.

Anecdotally, just the other day, I had to assist a female that was involved in a car accident. She felt extremely guilty about what she had done. She probably will never do whatever she was doing that caused her to have the accident again. Yet she is still fully culpable for what she had done and will pay for it via insurance or whatever. The range of human ability and emotions is wide, but to assume it is able to produce within itself godly sorrow is simply, again, an assumption that we shall see does not fit with all of the Biblical text.

We must understand that there is a godly sorrow that leads to repentance of salvation. It is a Spirit borne sorrow that causes a person to look outside of themselves and to Christ. Is this what Judas did? Let's read the rest of the verse.

Mat 27:5  And tossing the silver pieces into the temple, he left. And going away he hanged himself.

In this text we see the guilt ridden man try to do what is right. But he recognizes it is too late. There is simply nothing in the text that warrants for us to believe he repented with godly sorrow. There is nothing in the text that hints he looked to God for salvation. Instead, we have the simple statement that "he hanged himself." The text, unlike all of the other Disciples, leaves an extremely negative taste in your mouth. As the old testament states, "Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Was Judas Really That Bad?

Every couple of years, the local churches headed by the local Methodist church of Scott County put on an Easter Pageant. And every couple of years the conversation about Judas inevitably comes up. Did he go to heaven when he died or not?

This year's pageant was no exception. It is kind of a strange thing. It is like a mini discussion or debate that seems to pass by in an almost nonchalant manner. I think mainly because the person playing Judas certainly wants to know, but also because it is probably one of the saddest stories in the bible. When you think about it, it is a deeply troubling account. Not only are we curious, I think an even deeper reason we want to excuse or justify Judas in some way is that the accounts of his betrayal strike at the heart of our theology.

What I mean is simple. I think we intuitively know that Jesus was not merely predicting the future. Jesus not only predicted Judas' betrayal, but he also predicts several events during the next night and few days. He seems to do so in such a way that the events are ordained by God and serve His purpose. So on the one hand, the passion accounts look like perfectly normal events in the sense that all of the actions are consistent with what men might do. On the other hand, the passion accounts record the events in such a way as if every thing was "going as planned". For instance, Jesus said to Judas,

 "What you are about to do, do it quickly." [John 13:27]

I don't know how long I will spend on this, but in case you're thinking, "Why bother?" I think this is a good discussion because it will make us look closer at the Biblical accounts concerning Judas, and it will also force us to reconsider how we approach Scripture. For the Traditions that bog us down in allowing these accounts to speak clearly are massive. Perhaps by challenging some of these Traditions, we may see the truth about mankind in general and ourselves in particular.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Right To Choose Your Gender

This article on parents raising a "genderless baby" is just fascinating. When the baby was born, the parents decided to perhaps share weight, length but not to share...everything.

That, however, is it. When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to the rest of their friends and family that stated: 'We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).'
So freedom is even choosing your own sex. As dad later says,

The couple believe they are releasing Storm from the constraints society imposes on males and females. They claim children can make meaningful decisions for themselves from a very young age.
Now there are plenty of aspects of the article that are troubling, but I just have to ask, "Is it really that difficult to accept how God made you?"

What about the created order? Think about it for a moment. The parents of this child did something. A male and a female came together in a way that is obviously a part of the created order and produced a child. Now to ignore the obvious truth that we are not able to change that (I know about all of the technological arguments that say otherwise or the feminists who would argue strenuously but their silliness aside...) is to further suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. This kind of thinking is just further evidence of the great lengths mankind will go in their rebellion against their Creator.

As for the children making meaningful decisions, perhaps we should ask the child if he is mature enough to think his parents are fit for parenting? I mean seriously. Anyone who has had children or was once a child, knows that this statement is completely bogus. This kind of thinking is simply trying to help people believe they live in a world of fantasy in which they may control every aspect of their own destiny in an autonomous and absolute manner. Yet it doesn't take much to look down and know if you are a boy or girl. You can't control that any more than you may wish away the fact a tsunami wiped out a bunch of Japanese people recently. You can't wish away the reality that a hundred people or more were wiped off the face of the earth Sunday by a tornado. I wonder if these parents ever look at the world around them. When they see  male and female dogs come together in that sexual way, do they ever impose the obvious upon the dogs, or do they allow the dogs the freedom to live in a world to choose which one is male and female?

Why force the boundaries of boy or girl? Why not open the choice to species. Perhaps the child will choose to be a dolphin.

The article seems to say that Mr. Stocker had some kind of epiphany.

At first it was just a thought. Then Mr Stocker found an infamous 1978 book in his school library called X: A Fabulous Child's Story, about a genderless child named X who faces bullying head on, proving that he or she is well-adjusted.
There you have it. Those who can face bullying are well adjusted. Never mind that serial killers think themselves "well adjusted". In fact, they often feel great about themselves. Consider this statement from this article.

You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.

You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered.

Now I am not saying that this child will be a psychopath. What I am saying is that simply because someone stands up to bullying does not make a person healthy. Yes, there is a such thing as false guilt. But that is not always the case.

What this kind of child rearing really does is offer a worldview in which there are no parameters or moral framework. And yet this is being done in the name of a philosophy that while saying the world is what we make of it, it also say the Christian worldview is wrong. Yet how can that be?

To put it another way, could this child freely choose to say that he embraces Jesus Christ and His moral law as absolute? Somehow I doubt the child's freedom will be allowed to be that free. This is the problem with living in a fantasy world. It will eventually come crashing down.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Whose Revelation: Hawking's or God's?

I have always been fascinated by how much men know about things they can't possible know, especially things pertaining to the afterlife. In this article on Yahoo News, the brilliant Stephen Hawking explain to us merely evolved ape men how the "after life is a fairy story". The article states,

But in 2010, Hawking told Diane Sawyer that "science will win" in a battle with religion "because it works."

Now by what epistemology does he start to know that science works? Or to put in Christian terms, by what source of revelation does he know what he claims to know about science? Well, I have no doubt he would give some sort of pragmatic answer. But you see, he gets to assume presuppositions and never has to defend them. He is making claims of knowledge that he can't possibly know within a merely scientific framework because there is no such thing as a merely scientific framework.

Believe it or not, Christians like science. But hey, even those who have never heard of Christianity or atheism have used science for millennia. So this statement is just pure arrogance. The next paragraph quote Hawking's real thought about religion.

"What could define God [is a conception of divinity] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God," Hawking told Sawyer. "They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible."

Now let's break this down. First, how does he get the authority to tell us anything about his views of God. To put it another way, if he believes religion is just merely man-made, then isn't this just another version since he is a mere man? Simply because he has a brilliant mind about scientific matters, does not mean he has the answers. He is presupposing quite a bit to get to his conclusions.

The last statement is a far stretch. Why is it impossible to say that God cares for man simply because he lives on a tiny blue ball? Who are we to tell the Creator how He is to function or how He creates the universe? Yes, even the Psalmist stated, "Who is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" But this is in a far greater context than the mere creation. David is comparing his sinful self to an Almighty Creator. But the middle sentence is a claim he makes due to his atheistic worldview.

They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship.

He simply assumes yet another revelatory power of knowing that all religions make God in the image of man. As true as that may be, how does he know this? Did he scientifically verify this? By what methods did use to come to this conclusion? It should be obvious that he assumes that anyone who lives outside of his modern scientific world (which is really a philosophically driven world) is an outdated moron.
Hawking's latest book, "The Grand Design," challenged Isaac Newton's theory that the solar system could not have been created without God. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going

Again, how does he know spontaneous creation accounts for the creation around us? This is the biggest problem with atheism. It simply has to assume that things may come into existence due to an a prior commitment to its anti-God starting point. No one lives their lives in this fashion. When Hawking saw the first wheel chair, it never dawned upon his fertile mind that it spontaneously generated. In fact, he never even questioned it has a designer and builder. He simply assumed it. He could nothing else. It is not even something he may argue for or against. He has to just assume it. Yet when it comes to his own hands or eyes or DNA, all of a sudden he abandons the world in which he must live to one  that is man-made. In other words, he leaps to a world invented by his own creative man-made revelation. The only thing that connects these worlds together or at least holds his schizophrenic thoughts together is the truth that he must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to make his imaginary world work at all.

It is a shame that Hawking and the rest of mankind seeks revelation outside of God's Word. In doing so, he has abandoned the only source to true meaning in this life and the next. In the last paragraph he answers the "meaning of life" question and offers what in essence is nothing.

So if everyone is destined to power-down like computers at the end of their lives, what should humans do to lend meaning to their experience?

"We should seek the greatest value of our action," Hawking told the paper.

There you have it. Your life will mean something because the prophet Stephen Hawking has said so, if you will but follow his revelation and commands. Nothing plus nothing still equals nothing. Hawking, who by his own admission is a nobody in this universe, has given us nothing in order for us to feel something of value.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Slut-Walk Protests

SlutWalk protests must be the new thing that bored people need to protest. As is stated in this article, a comment by a police officer has

"inspired a march in Toronto last month that drew more than 3,000 people, as well as SlutWalks since then in Dallas, Asheville, North Carolina, and Ottawa, Ontario."

Now it seems to me the original context of the quote by the officer wasn't really sanctifying the idea that raping sluts is acceptable in the remotest way. Supposedly the officer said something to the effect "that women should avoid dressing like 'sluts' to avoid being raped or victimized". So the article states the reason for their protests.
"The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault," said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Massachusetts, another Boston organizer. "It's to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality ... essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way."

Aside from the silly assumption that cops think it is OK to rape slutty women, perhaps we could see his comments in a different light. Would anyone deny that it might not be towards one's favor to flash a lot of high dollar cash in a public place and then walk down a dark alley. I mean really. No one would say it is OK to mug the guy with cash simply because he flashed it about.

Now of course one might say it is immoral to be arrogant and to be so self-centered, therefore he got his just desserts. It is simply being pompous and arrogant. So this flashing of cash behavior is in a different category. As we know from the quote from the article, sexuality has no moral dimension. So in other words, we have to grant their false premise, that being sexually immoral is healthy and normal, and that simple common sense advise, don't dress or behave in a way that might aggravate a potential situation, is bad. And if anyone disagrees, you're a mean spirited bigot. Why? Because the Slut-Paraders say so.

Another problem with this nonsensical argument is that everyone knows men are far more protective of women than women when it comes to rape. Lawyers know that when picking a jury pool in a rape case, the more women you have, the more likely they will think "slut". While the men are far more likely to think, "What if this were my daughter".

And of course there is the "self-righteous" argument. It is true that people may become Pharisaical. I have no doubt that when Jesus went to the tax-collectors and sinners, he was viewed as "unclean". Yet Jesus did offer the forgiveness of sins and called men to repentance. He was a holy man and called men to holiness (perhaps not the kind of holiness legalistic people desire, but I digress). So the Pharisaical argument may be true, it is not necessarily an argument that proves anything.

But in the end, this is showing a far deeper problem in our culture. We live in a culture that literally has no moral compass and is unable to think logically and clearly and reasonably. Please do not misunderstand. Rape is a crime that needs to be punished. But on what moral basis do these crowds protest "advise" from an officer when there's probably an abortion clinic just down the street that is murdering little children. Now there's something to protest.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Here's Something You Ought To Know About Intelligent Design has done a fair job on the creation/evolution debate in the classroom debate.