10 Key Characteristics of God’s Kingship from the Psalms

Psalms 29, 47, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, and 99 are Royal Psalms that speak to the kingship of God.   These eight psalms reveal and emphasize ten key characteristics of God’s kingship: 1.) God is Lord over all the waters; 2.) God is Lord over all the earth; 3.) God is Lord over all the nations; 4.) God is Lord over all gods; 5.) God has a coming judgement over all; 6.) God is just and righteous in his coming judgement; 7.) God’s enemies will face God’s wrath at his coming judgement; 8.) God’s people will receive his peace, strength, blessing, and protection; 9.) God has worked the salvation of his people; and 10.) The proper response to the royal reign of God is for all to praise him.

Over the waters

First, we see that God is Lord over all.  This is seen in Psalm 29:3: “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.” He is over the waters, because he made them.  As their creator, he owns them.  (Psalm 95:5) Psalm 93:3 depicts flooding waters in anthropomorphic terms, referring to the raging floods and lifting up their voices, their roaring voices. Psalm 93:4 however proclaims that the Lord is higher in might than the raging flood waters, exclaiming that God is “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea.”  Going back to Psalm 29, verse 10 states, “The Lord is enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.”  The flood is the Flood of Genesis 6-9. This shows that God is sovereign in judgement against evil.  Despite the destruction that comes from the raging waters – the Lord sits enthroned over the flood.

Over all the earth

Second, God is Lord over all the earth.  Psalm 47:2 calls God “a great king over all the earth.” Later in the psalm, in verse 7, this kingship is repeated with the words, “God is the King of all the earth.”  The most intimidating land feature due to its sheer height and difficulty to cross is likely the mountains of the earth, yet before the Lord, Psalm 97:5 says, “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord.”  In the same way that God is Lord over the waters due to his status as their creator, so too the Lord is over the earth because “his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:5).

Over the nations 

Third, God is Lord over all the nations.  Psalm 47:8-9 says, “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.  The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.”  Just as the waters and the lands belong to God, Palm 47:10 reveals that “the kings of the earth belong to God” too.  Though these psalms do not state it, it’s clear from the rest of Scripture that the kings and the nobles of the nations belong to God – in fact all people belong to God – because God is the creator of us all; we are all his creatures.  Though in many times and in many places the rulers of this world wield much power and authority over the lives of their subjects, Psalm 99:2 makes it clear that the Lord “is exalted over all the nations.

Over the gods

                Fourth, God is Lord over all gods.  In this world, there are many gods that even kings will bow down to and submit their authority.  Above the waters, above the mountains, there are the heavens, where in various ways the gods of men have been envisioned to dwell – sometimes more often perceived to be present in a spiritual realm animating our physical realm or dwelling in another dimension outside our senses, yet able to impact our plain of existence.  These gods however are “worthless idols” according to Psalm 96:5, because “the Lord made the heavens.”  He is above all that we can conceive and above all the idols that men fear, love, and trust above God: careers, love, money, family, comfort, pleasures, entertainment, food, success, power, sex, and fame, and the list could go on and on.  God is Lord over all these so-called gods, because as Psalm 95:3 proclaims, “The Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods.

Coming to Judge

Fifth, God has a coming judgment over all.  Both Psalm 96:13 and Psalm 98:9 reveal that “he comes to judge the earth.”  As before his judgment upon all the earth and flesh came through the Flood, this coming judgment will descend through fire.  Psalm 97:3-5 depicts this judgment and its totality as follows: “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.  His lightenings light up the world; the earth sees and tremblesThe mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.”

righteous judgement

Sixth, God is righteous and just in his coming judgment.  Though to us it might seem as unjust for God to allow evil to persist in our day and age, and we likely even think that his coming judgment is too harsh when it does come – for God to scorch all his enemies and to cause even the mountains to melt seems a bit extreme – we should be reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah that parallel the language of these Royal Psalms of God’s kingship: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Above all is the Lord and his coming judgment will come “with equity,” “in righteousness,” and “in faithfulness” (Psalm 96:10,13).  This is the type of judgment we should expect from God, when we grasp the reality of Psalm 97:2 that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”  Psalm 99:4 tells us this nature of his coming judgment, as well, “The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.”

God's Enemies Get Smacked

Seventh, God’s enemies will face God’s wrath at his coming judgement.  In support of this description of what to expect from God’s kingship, I’ve already quoted Psalm 97:3 that declares, “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.”  This psalm gives insight into who these adversaries are; they are all of those who do not worship him as Lord of all.  Psalm 97:7 warns, “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!”

Peace

Eighth, God’s people will receive his peace, strength, blessing, and protection. Psalm 29:11 says, “May the Lord give strength to his people!  May the Lord bless his people with peace!”  Psalm 95:6-7 remind us of previous points of God’s kingship, that he is our maker and God, and as such, we are given the comforting image that “his people we are occupants of his pasture.”  Being the people of his pasture, we have the Lord’s blessing and protection, and in response Psalm 99:3 tells us the response of his people: “Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord.”

Cross_Chasm_300
“Chasm” by Danny Martinez – This image appears in my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.

Ninth, God has worked the salvation of his people.  Psalm 98:1-3 give the good news that the salvation of God’s people is not contingent upon themselves, their own personally earned merits of righteousness before the righteous king who is enthroned above all, but God himself has worked their salvation:

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.  The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.  He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

As God’s people sitting on the right-side of the timeline of Jesus of Nazareth’s death and resurrection, we understand that Jesus is the right hand of the Lord who has worked this salvation:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Praise

Tenth, the proper response to the royal reign of God is for all to praise him.  Psalm 47:1 gives the following exhortation: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”  The Psalm also exhorts, “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! (verses 6 and 7).  Psalm 95:7 gives the following invitation: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” Finally, Psalm 98:4 exclaims, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 

These Royal Psalms of God’s kingship make it abundantly clear that the Lord is over all things – all other gods are worthless!  God alone made everything that exists.  His creation is not able to be moved.  The proper response of creation is to worship the Creator.  Those who don’t will be judged – they will be moved (removed) by their Creator.

All glory and laud be to the Lord, our King, forever, and ever.  Amen.

Please visit my website, Contradict Movement, for more resources and products that can be used as evangelistic conversation starters. 

The Christian Account of Everything Compared to Naturalism’s Account of Everything

This blog post will compare two worldviews: the Christian account of everything and the account of everything according to naturalism.  These two worldviews will be compared in four categories: view of the Creator, view of creation and Creator-creature relations, view of salvation, and the ethical implications for creation from these previous viewpoints.

Transhumanism

View of the Creator

According to the Christian account of everything, God has always existed; he is eternal and exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All things that now exist came into existence out of nothing through the Father’s spoken word and are held together by his Son.  (Genesis 1-3, John 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-20, and Hebrews 1:1:-4)  The narrative of Creation in Genesis (as well as the rest of Scripture) indicates that God is a personal being who was very much involved in the creation of all things.  This is indicated by the design and plan of the days of creation, in which God created in a particular order of creating boundary markers within his creation with a progression of creating life within those boundaries for the care and safety of his creatures (Day 1 – Light and Darkness/Day 4 – Heavenly Bodies, Day 2 – Land, Sky, Water/Day 5 – Creatures of the Sky and Water, Day 3 – Vegetation on the Land/Day 6 – Creatures of the Land, including humanity).  He is still very active in his care for his creation.

According to naturalism’s account of everything, all things have arisen purely by blind chance.  Order has come out of chaos.  Life has come from non-life.  Minds have come from mindless matter.  Laws of nature have simply emerged (or have always been) and are assumed to be held in consistency by nature itself.  Nature is all that there has been, all that there is, and all that there ever will be, though this cannot be empirically observed, it is a position held on faith that nature when given enough time will impersonally bring about all that we currently experience through a process named natural selection.  In short there, is no Creator.

View of Creation and Creator-Creature Relations

One’s view of nature is directly tied to one’s view of the Creator.  In the Christian account of everything, nature is best understood as having been created with a proper distinction between it (creation) and the Creator.  The Christian view of creation comes from what God has divinely revealed in his Word about his creation, which is that his creation was originally created – very good!  God’s creation as it stands now is not as God intended it to be.  Through the free-agency of his creatures (first by Satan and his angelic followers and Adam and Eve and now us) who rebelled against God’s will for his creation (the boundary markers of the law that were set out of love for the safety and well-being of all God created), creation itself has been wrecked with sin, death, and evil and stands far from the very good origins of God’s creation.

According to naturalism’s account of everything, all is chaotic and in a state of constant change.  Naturalists who hold true to their account of everything must admit that there is no purpose or meaning in a world that is the product of mindless, random selection, and constant motion.  There is no Creator-creation distinction/relationship; all is nature; all is matter.

View of Salvation

The Christian account of everything has a view of salvation in which God enters into his creation through his Son who became a part of creation through his assumption of a human nature into his personhood.  It is through the Son that God has reconciled all of creation to himself and it is through his Son that one day all things will be restored to God’s original plan (theologian’s debate if this will be a recreation of creation or a new creation, something akin to a Creation 2.0, but it is clear in Scripture that all things will be made new at Christ’s return with a freedom from sin, death, and the devil forever for those who are God’s children through their faith in the Son and his saving work!). (Revelation 21-22)

It is in the view of salvation that naturalists take many divides.  Some naturalists are intellectually honest with their account of all things and recognize that death is the finality of one’s conscience existence; there is no salvation; there is no life after death.  Such naturalists may tend to find a form of salvation in living one’s best life now (YOLO – “You only live once.”).  Anton LaVey’s philosophy of Satanism is an example of this naturalistic view of the world and life and is the prescription for how to best live this life to one’s maximum pleasure.  LaVeyan Satanism is very much hedonistic materialism in which salvation is found in a freedom from social and religious constraints that hinder one from indulging in their carnal desires.

For other naturalists, salvation is found in evolution, an ever occurring progression of improvement (or that is the hoped-in product of nature’s constant state of change – improvement of life).  Some have taken up an active role in this evolutionary progress and have embraced transhumanism – a movement that actively seeks to speed evolution to a new humanity through the joining of human life with technology.  Transhumanism’s highest aim is the implantation of one’s mind into a machine so that one’s consciousness can “live on forever” beyond the limitations of one’s physical body of death.  This is a form of material salvation, though it betrays the fact that one is more than mere physical matter, because transhumanism’s salvation is ultimately found in the preservation of one’s immaterial consciousness.

Ethical Implications

In the Christian account of everything, God is the ultimate standard of morality.  He is good, and it is from God’s eternal state of immutability that we can appeal to an absolute standard of right and wrong for Creation.  For humanity’s ethical role in the grand scheme of all of creation, God has placed us here to be stewards of his creation.  We are to use our God given abilities, including our reasoning capabilities, to care for God’s creation and to cultivate it to its betterment out of love for God and for our neighbors and for our fellow creatures.

In the naturalism’s account of everything, there again is a divide that occurs depending on one’s view of salvation.  For the naturalist who recognizes that there is no salvation; ethics is boiled down to the four-word mantra of Allister Crowley (the Beast) and Anton LaVey, “Do What Thou Wilt.”  There is no God above, no hell below; eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we all die!  For the naturalist who sees salvation in evolution, ethics becomes utilitarian- what best serves survival.  This survival could be centered on the whole of humanity, within a particular collective of humanity, or within the individual.  There is no standard of absolute right and wrong, morality is subjective.

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The Increase of Mothers in the Workforce is Tied to a Misunderstanding of the Equality of the Sexes

In the book, Resident Aliens, by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Williamon, there is an account of a church that sought to serve its community through the creation of a preschool that would ultimately function as a daycare for families with both parents working full-time.  The book presented a woman who asked hard questions about how our cultural norms in American society can seep into our church community’s services.  Her thought was that parents should be raising their kids and not childcare facilitators/teachers who are overseeing all the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of multiple kids, often times starting as young as six weeks old, for 8 to 12-hour time periods.  if people are doing this anyways, it seems reasonable that the Church can provide the childcare and thus ensure a Christian environment, but the lady in Resident Aliens challenged her church to say to hell with reason – don’t encourage parents to pawn their kids off so they can have more material goods!

Women and Men Roles

In 1948, only 17% of all married mothers were in the workforce.[1]  By 1985, this percentage rose to 61% and by 1995, it was at 70%.  In 2011, 68% of all women with children under 6 in America were working or looking for work.[2]  Another way of viewing this rising trend in working mothers who is to look at the changes that have occurred in childcare practices.  Today less than one-third of all children have a full-time stay at home parent, but in 1975 over half of all children had a stay at home parent, who was usually the mother.[3]  Almost a quarter of all children under 5 in America are in some form of organized child-care system.[4]  The point in giving these statistics is demonstrate that in American history it is a relatively new societal norm to have both parents working with their children being raised and cared for outside of the home by people who are not relatives, and from experience I know that this is a very common work and childcare dynamic found among Christians.  In response to this working trend, many churches do have all-day preschools/daycares – and so the hard question raised in Resident Aliens deserves attention – are these churches encouraging and propagating an American societal norm that is against God’s design for families (families in any society that is)?

Acknowledging that there are many diverse reasons as to why many families have shifted away from a single-income for their family to have both the father and the mother working full-time, in this paper I seek to pinpoint one error that I am convinced is the underlying core reason for the trend of mothers with young children to enter the workforce along with their husband, and that error is a misunderstanding of what it means for men and women to be equal.  In their article, “The History of Womanhood That Feminists Don’t Want You to Know,” the Botkin Sisters debunk four common myths about the goodness of feminism for women, and the first myth is the notion, “Before feminism, women were not as valued and did not have as many rights.”  Their answer is rarely spoken, even among Christians, so it might seem startlingly to read:

Before feminism, the Bible declared men’s and women’s equal standing and value before God – and in fact teaches this more consistently than any other religious or secular doctrine. In Scripture, man’s work and woman’s work are equally valid – wifehood, motherhood, homemaking, and femininity are not belittled, and women are not guilt-manipulated into living and acting like men. On the contrary; woman’s distinctiveness from man is praised and honored, and her unique role is held vital. Women were to be protected and cherished, to “attain honor” (Prov. 11:16) and be “praised in the gates” (Prov. 31:31). It wasn’t until the advent of women’s “liberation” that women were told, “Your value as a woman is determined by how well you can perform as a man. Being a woman is no longer enough.[5]

They further counter this myth by pointing out that long before feminism, “the Bible also gave the world strict laws to protect women from abuse, rape, incest, abandonment, injustice, and more. Moreover, it gave women something our legal system doesn’t: a whole system of provisions for women who end up in hard circumstances.”[6]  And finally, they put a nail in the coffin of the myth that men and women are equal in value because of feminism by pointing out the reality that:

Speaking historically as well as theologically, Christianity is the only social, spiritual, and political force that gives women true value and rights. It is the anti-Christian religions (including Marxism, Islam, and feminism) that demean, undervalue, and exploit women; throughout history, it was the Christian societies that truly valued women, protected women, and honored women (insofar as those societies were faithful to the Bible’s actual teachings).[7]

Their list of anti-Christian religions was far from exhaustive, but I would like to add another anti-Christian religion to their list, Hinduism.  When someone from the West who is largely operating from a Judeo-Christian influenced morality, even if she is not Jewish or Christian, looks at the value and rights of women in Indian society influenced by Hinduism throughout history all the way to present day and sees the complete devaluing of women, and after doing that takes a good hard look at Islamic countries and the value of women – it should become pretty obvious that women around the whole world are indebted to the value and rights of women taught in the Bible.  Just as scientists practicing the scientific method must steal from the Christian worldview to justify the validity of their repeated experiments, feminists must steal from the Christian worldview to justify their claim that men and women are equal and that women have the same rights as men.  Rights, after all, if they are to be inherent in all humans in all places and in all times, must come from a higher source than humanity; they must come from God.  And it is in Christianity that we are clearly told that the first man and the first woman were both created in the image of God, both created in his likeness. (Genesis 1:27) It is from this creation narrative that we understand that men and women have equal value – both being created in the image of God.

The error in understanding this equality is that equality has come to be understood as equal performance, or equal outcome, or the potential for equal performance and equal outcome in all facets of life.   Men and women are thought to be equal in every way.  This misunderstanding of equality is what has given rise to more and more women with young children in the workforce leaving their six week old infants into the hands of another woman[8] for the majority of their waking day. Equality has come to be understood as equal performance, or equal outcome.  This is why we hear the common mantras, “A woman can do anything a man can do” and “Whatever a man can do, a woman can also do.”  Then there is the truly woke mantra: “Whatever a man can do, a woman can do better.”

The 30-second sound bite to refuting this misunderstanding of equality as sameness is to point out that by God’s design a woman cannot impregnate herself or another woman, and that I as a man am horrible at giving birth and breastfeeding, as are all men.[9]

For a longer answer, I want to first offer a math equation as an explanation of how two things can be both equal and not the same at the same time, before giving a Biblical foundation for the uniquely God-given roles of men and women in society and within the family.

2 + 2 = 4.  This is an extremely simple equation.  Both sides have the same value, 4.  In value, they are equal.  However, if I added categorical values to each number, such as, 2 men + 2 women = 4 men, I have maintained an equal number of humans, but on each side there are now differences that make each side unequal in potential outcome and abilities.  If the goal was to win a 4 x 100m race, the side with 4 men has the vastly distinct advantage.  If the goal was to colonize a new planet, taking 2 married couples[10] would be of much greater value to the objective of procreation and building a society on a different planet than taking 4 men – due to obvious reasons of biological differences.  Both sides still have four humans created in the image of God and are equal in value in that sense, but due to the created differences between the sexes they are different in operational value depending on the role and expectations placed upon the two sides.

The appeal I’m making to different God-given roles for each of the sexes can be found in the curses God gave to the man and to the woman after the Fall into sin in Genesis 3.  The woman was cursed to have pain in childbearing – a role that was uniquely given to her and not to man.  The distinguishing glory of womanhood is now cursed.  She also was cursed to desire her husband’s headship over her.  By being created first, man was given the place of headship over the woman.  In addition to being created second in time, woman was created from man.  What was built and designed by God within his order of creation is now cursed… woman will now desire the place of headship (leadership, provision, protection, and the ultimate accountability and responsibility before God for the safety and well-being of families and societies).  The role built into creation for man is now also cursed… his work (care and stewardship over creation and within his family) shall be painful.

Paul is very clear about this created order in 1 Timothy 2:12-15.  The created order is why he does not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man within the church – even if she is capable of teaching better than all the men in the congregation.  By Adam being created first, he was by his created order put into the position of teacher.  He named the animals before Eve was created, and within the creation narrative of Genesis 2, God gives him the commands not to eat of the forbidden fruit, as well as the command to procreate, but God does not give these commands to Eve.  Adam was thus thrust into the position of teacher by God.  By the nature of his created order, Adam taught Eve the names of the animals and taught her God’s commands.[11]

What is quite ironic then is that now that women have ascended to manhood, by “holding any position a man can hold in society,” women are now doubly cursed.  They have taken man’s curse of labor in provision for the family upon themselves, while still holding to their curse of bearing children in painful births.  As women struggle in pain for the headship of man within their marriages and families, more and more pain comes upon both the man and woman as the headship of the man is constantly challenged by the wife who is intentionally and constantly going outside of her God-given and designed role within the family and society, often times under the blessing and encouragement of her husband.

As I stated at the outset, I understand that there is a plethora of reasons why many families have both parents working full-time with their young children being handed off into the entrusted care of someone else, but the desire for women to be like men and to get their worth through such endeavors of work is seriously hurting women, men, and their children.  Both men and women are immensely valuable in the eyes of God – both were created in his image.  In Christ there is no distinction made between male nor female in the economy of salvation – all are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Our work does not merit us any extra value before God… whether it is done in the home with children or in the fields of labor.   However, following God’s design and intended will for his creation is a sign of bearing fruit in keeping with repentance, and in our day and age to do such within the family is truly a sign of faith and love and holiness – and this true faith is attacked relentlessly by our own sinful desires, the world, and the devil.

I want to close with an example of the obvious pain and frustration that arises from going against God’s created design through the distortion of the God-given roles of men and women within the family order.   The following is a post that a Christian lady made when she first went back to working full-time after having her first child:

A couple of weeks ago, a well-meaning friend at church asked, “Do you have to go back to work, or are you able to stay home?” And in that moment, my immediate response was the truth, “I GET to go back to work.” I don’t take that for granted. I’m grateful that I have a husband who supports my drive and passion to work outside of the home. I’m grateful that we believe we have found the best solution for childcare for our family. It’s not that I HAVE to go back to work, but that I GET to go back to work. To do something that I care about. Something that I believe will make me a better mother.

Of course it’s bittersweet. I’ve spent the past 11 weeks caring for my son day in and day out. And I believe that no one will be able to do that like I do. But here’s the thing: Matt and I are still raising our son. It doesn’t matter who takes care of him during the day – WE are his parents. And I have to trust that he will always know his mother’s love and I trust that God has a plan.

I also believe that my son will see me doing this, and will know: that women can do this – women are intelligent and are leaders in the workforce. Maybe someday, he’ll be an even better colleague and employee himself because he saw my example and what I am capable of. That’s my hope.

In the meantime, can I have it all? Can I be a Godly woman, a wife, a mother, and a boss? Time will tell. Look at Ps. 37:4. It does NOT mean that God gives me everything I want. I’m praying that I earnestly seek His will in this – and that if I truly am, He will make sure that everything else falls into place.

There are many points of concern in her post.  First, she says it doesn’t matter who is raising her son.  I’m sure that’s not how the nanny feels about her position and value – just anyone can do my job?  For real?  Second, she is leaving her 11-week old son in the hands of another woman, to not see her child for long periods of the day.  This cannot be good for her son in his most formative years.  Third, he does not see all that his mom is doing for him.  He just knows that she drops him off and picks him up, when he should be with her.  He does not know what she is capable of, but he does know what she is not capable of, and that is taking care of him during the day when he still has no words to speak, when he still is completely defenseless.  Finally, she acknowledges that she isn’t sure that she can have it all?  She isn’t sure that she can fulfill all the roles she has taken upon herself, and in her case this is purely by her choice; it’s what she wants and it is what she GETS to do.  If she can’t have it all, which of these roles will she drop?  If she doesn’t drop one of them, which of the roles will suffer?  Which of the roles are already suffering?  All of them?

The following is her most recent post, less than nine months from the one I just shared, accompanying a picture of her holding her infant son tight against her chest while he is sleeping:

I wish it was this way all the time.  Working motherhood is getting the best of me. “He likes the nanny more.” “I only get 3 waking hours a day with him.” …and on…and on. He’s a daddy’s boy right now, and my heart aches. I want to work. I love working. I also love my sweet baby boy and miss him constantly.

[1] “Trends in Labor Force of married mothers of infants” https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/02/art2full.pdf

[2] “More Mothers of Young Children in U.S. Workforce” https://www.prb.org/us-working-mothers-with-children/

[3] “Fact Sheet: Child Care” https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/08/16/11978/fact-sheet-child-care/

[4] Ibd.

[5] “The History of Womanhood that Feminists Do Not Want You to Know” by the Botkin Sisters https://botkinsisters.com/article/the-truth-about-women-that-feminists-dont-want-you-to-know?fbclid=IwAR3dsoO3-swCB0vt5n7UmFtLL_kgHUJtY3guB5_BHFOZGZS9UnK_EH88atw

[6] The system of provision that they list from Scripture includes: “the gleaning system, the kinsman redeemer system, the family provision system, the poor-tithe system, the handmaid system, and more. Biblical Law presupposed that there will be sin and irresponsibility in every society, and that the true victims must be protected.”

[7] “The History of Womanhood that Feminists Do Not Want You to Know” by the Botkin Sisters

[8] I know I just assumed the gender of a daycare worker, and I’ll also assume that in most situations she will be watching more than one infant.

[9] But now that men can be women and women can be men in woke culture, women do have penises and can impregnate other women, and men do have menstrual cycles.  But this leftist progressive absurdity is the telos of the eradication of the distinction between the sexes to the embrace of the sameness of men and women view of the equality of the sexes.

[10] Two traditionally married couples – husband and wife, man and woman.

[11] Some of this is assumed into the narrative, but it is likely what Paul is alluding to when writing to Timothy, directly stating that Adam was first formed, then Eve, as the reason for why men should teach in the church and not have authority held over their heads by women.  Also Paul directly points to the role given to women in this passage as being the role that women should stick to within the family and within the church as the continue in the faith and love and holiness.

If a Christian seeks a degree in science is that a compromise to his or her Christian faith?

The prompt: A high school student from my church where I am a pastor writes me a letter thanking me for the few years she has been in my church through catechism classes and high school Sunday school classes and such and her letter is expressing her concern that she might be compromising her Christian faith if she pursues a degree in biology, geology, or astronomy.  I am to write her a letter back. 

The following is my reply to this prompt.

Science_300
This image was drawn by Danny Martinez and appears in my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, as an image to accompany a section addressing Darwinian Evolution. 

Dear Eve,

The Lord be with you.

Your participation and partnership in the catechism classes and throughout all of the many church events and services over the past few years have been a blessing for me.  Before becoming a pastor, I was a teacher, and one of the aspects that I found disappointing as a teacher was that after having students for a single year as a senior, I’d rarely see them or have any meaningful on-going relationship after high school graduation with them.   Being able to interact with dedicated students like you who are concerned with growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior and how that relates to daily living in holiness and godliness beyond high school into further stages of life was one of the huge draws for me in becoming a pastor.  So, I am so grateful that you are coming to me with this question and I look forward to being your pastor throughout your college years and maybe even beyond if you stay a member at Grace Lutheran Church, but even if you don’t, I’ll always be here for you to tend to such thoughtful questions that deserve the full attention of the Church’s care and counsel.

What you have presented is a typical concern, or area of contention, that is generally perceived to exist between the interaction between religion and science.  Often times, there is an unspoken assumption in our culture that if people are religious, they must be anti-scientific, and that if people are scientific, they must be anti-religious.  For Christianity in particular, this is a false dichotomy – this is not an either/or predicament – there is in fact a harmony that can be reached between being a Christian and being in full support and engagement of the scientific enterprise.  This harmony is properly held or destroyed depending on how a person defines science, or better put, how a person uses science, or if a person properly recognizes the limitations of science or not.

I noticed in your letter that you said you are drawn to pursuing a degree in science because you have been drawn to learning about the world through science.  When science is taken as a particular systematic method of understanding and getting around the world, it is a great means, or resource, for the Christian to serve his or her neighbor.  It is through such systematic exploration of God’s creation that many great advancements in technology, communication, travel, medicine, hygiene, ecology, food services, and so many other fields have been achieved that have made it easier for us to care for our neighbors as well as the rest of God’s creatures entrusted to us.  Many Christians have played major roles in such advancements and good applications of science, and many of them have vocally contributed their discoveries and work to the glory of God, giving thanks to him for their reasoning abilities and their specific opportunities afforded them in their particular fields of science.  I can gladly provide such names of scientists and their achievements to you if you need help finding them.

The compromise of your Christian faith would come if you choose to approach science not as a particular systematic method of understanding and getting around the world, but as the definitive systematic method of doing such, which would mean that science is taken up as being the ultimate means to account for all things.[1]  Such an approach to science has recently been coined as scientism.  It grants science the means to do which science does not have the means to do.  Let me explain.

Science as a particular systematic method of understanding and getting around the world, such as with the scientific method (observation, question, hypothesis, repeatable and observable experimentation, data analysis, and shared results), is limited to gaining knowledge through tests that can be observed and repeated.  Of course there is not a possible or conceivable, much less observable or repeatable experiment that can be conducted to test the existence of God.  In this way, God has been bracketed out of science.  Yet, at the same time adherents of scientism have allowed science to answer questions that too cannot have an observable and repeatable test for falsifiability and verification, such as the origins of the universe and life.  Such metaphysical inquiries are simply outside the bounds of the scientific method, as is the existence of God, but practitioners of scientism fail to see the error in their inconsistent application of science when they use science to account for the universe while denying the knowledge of the existence of God.

The error continues in that most of life’s most important realities can’t be classified as falsifiable through the scientific method, such as love and moral ethics, nor observed, such as the gravitational pull that keeps us safely planted on this earth’s surface.  Other methods of discerning scientia (the Latin word for knowledge) must be utilized to know such things.

The Christian knows that God has created all things visible and invisible.  The Christian has a story that accounts for everything, and within this story, humanity was created as God’s image-bearers (representatives of God) in God’s creation.  In this bestowed position of dominion and stewardship over God’s creation, we have been endowed with capabilities of reason, morality, and relational capabilities that the rest of God’s creatures simply do not and cannot possess.  God has tasked us to use our God-given reason to his glory in service to our neighbors.  As such, we should expect Christians to be excited about exploring and understanding God’s created world, and the Bible in fact exhorts us to such endeavors with the abilities and resources that have been given to us for the purpose of loving and serving our neighbor.

The Christian who is a scientist knows that reason and science are limited to a particular realm of knowledge, namely our physical sphere of life in God’s creation.  We understand that our reason and scientific explorations have their limitations, just as our faith in Christ has its limitations.  In our faith, our knowledge of the Lord and his will is limited to what he has directly revealed to us in the Bible.  We understand that our faith is a gift from the Lord that pertains to our subjective relationship to God in our right standing before him, whereas our reason is a gift from the Lord that pertains to our relationship with the world around us, and of course our reason serves us in understanding God’s revelation to us (his revelation that comes to us both through what he has created and through his direct revelation of himself in Christ and his Word).

It’s also reassuring to know that the modern scientific enterprise emerged within the matrix of Christian civilization in Europe in the high middle ages, and that the founding fathers of modern science were Christians.  The Christian account of everything offered the necessary presuppositions for the scientific method to emerge in that particular time and place – such as viewing the world as a distinct, objective reality that is intelligible and held together by the uniform laws held in place by its immutable Creator!  Such a view of everything flew in the face of the belief systems that dominated other great civilizations that were incapable of birthing the scientific method due to their presuppositions of the world that actively resist a scientific engagement of the physical world, such as pantheism (who is going to experiment on creation – that’d be cutting up and manipulating God – that’s bad karma), reincarnation (time is cyclical – which offers no grounds for exploring cause and effect relationships that exist in a purely linear view of time), unpredictable gods whose emotions and whims impacted the world in drastic ways (this destroys consistent laws of nature that justify the consistent results of repeatable testing), astronomy (when the stars determine all things – who is motivated to understand the world?), and an overall rejection of nature ( as found in Platonic dualism, Gnosticism, and Hinduism’s illusionary view of the world).  And don’t let anyone tell you that an atheistic worldview offers the necessary presuppositions about the world for the scientific method to work – a chaotic, random world of chance that is only matter and void of meaning does not spur one on to conduct the scientific method.  Atheists must borrow – no steal! – from the Christian worldview to assume a world of order, regularity, purpose, and a proper view of mankind’s faculties to justify the scientific method as being a worthy endeavor (thus they are being inconsistent in their confessed view of reality and their scientific endeavors).[2]

In short, Eve, you can be a Christian and a scientist without compromising your Christian faith.  The challenge will be maintaining the proper harmony between reason and faith, as well keeping a right recognition of the tension between the two and their limitations.

I hope this answer is helpful to you.
Peace in Christ,
Andy


[1] I’m drawing this distinction and these definitions straight out of Dr. Joel Okamoto’s article, “God, the Gospel, and Modern Science: Reflections on the Church’s Witness and Message in a Scientific Age,” published in Lutheran Mission Matters, Volume XXIV, No. 3 (Issue 49) November 2016.

[2] This entire paragraph is my summary of Kenneth Samples’ Chapter 14 of Without Doubt, which is entitled “Aren’t Christianity and Science Enemies?”


Contradict Movement (Stickers, Tract, and Books): www.contradictmovement.org
Andy Wrasman’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/razwrasman
Reconnect Podcast: https://andywrasman.com/category/reconnect-podcast/

God’s Answer to the Problem of Evil

The following is a sermon based on the Old Testament text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4.

Habakkuk is crying out to God with the complaint that God’s people have struggled with through every age – and this is a struggle that won’t go away until Jesus returns and makes all things new – and that complaint is the problem of evil.  Why, oh why, does an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God allow evil?  Why does he let his people suffer?

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In our day and age, even those who reject the existence of God – ask this question.  In fact, many people who do not believe in God reject his existence, because of this very problem of evil.  They think if God is all-powerful and all-good and all-loving, he’d stop evil.  Since evil still exists, they conclude that an all-powerful God must not exist; he must be impotent.  Or, maybe he’s all-powerful, but he isn’t all good, maybe he is actually evil.  They conclude that an all-powerful, all-loving God does not exist.

The text does not tell us what the exact sins are that Habakkuk is witnessing.  We are told that there is violence.  That there is destruction.  That there is constant strife and contention.  We are told that the law can’t do anything to stop this evil – that there is no justice for the righteous who are surrounded by the wicked.

Not knowing the exact details of the evil deeds in Judah at the time of Habakkuk works to make the text more relatable to us today, because we all can turn on the news, or read our social media feeds, and witness the evil and injustices that occur daily in our society.

Many of us have experienced evil and injustice against us and against our family, friends, and neighbors.

Many of us have also experienced suffering and pain that can’t be directly linked to specific sinful acts– such as a loved one dying of cancer or suffering from mental depression that can’t simply be stopped.

Do we usually get the answer we want from God when we ask why such evil and suffering is happening to us, to our people, and in our nation?  Probably not.

Habakkuk didn’t get the answer he wanted either.  In chapter 1 verses 5-11, he is told that the evil in Judah that he wanted the Lord to stop would be stopped, but that it would happen through God raising up the Chaldeans, a fierce, strong nation that marched through nations taking whatever they desired – their strength was their god.

Habakkuk can’t believe this answer – not at all.  Is God really going to stop the evil in Judah by having a more evil nation conquer his people?

In verse 13 of Chapter 1, Habakkuk wants to know why God sits around and looks at the traitors and remains silent when the wicked swallow up the man more righteous than he.  So he raises a second complaint to God – Habakkuk asks if God plans to just let nations continue to eat each other up forever?

He then takes his stand at the watchtower, and he waits for the Lord to answer this second complaint.

The answer, again, is likely not what Habakkuk wanted to hear, but he is told to write down the answer and to make it easy to read on tablets.  He was to make it so big that a person running could read it.  Habakkuk might have even written the answer he received from the Lord on something very big like a giant billboard – that the person running by couldn’t miss even if he wanted to not see.

The answer God gives is simple, and it is two-fold – First, God says, “Be patient.”  God’s word is true – the world as it is now is not as God intended it to be; God is setting everything right, though his coming salvation and end to all evil seems very, very slow to us.

We struggle in understanding why he is delaying his salvation.  But… the second part of the answer is given to Habakkuk – “The righteous shall live by his faith.”

The person who lives by his faith in God and God’s Word is righteous before God.  The righteous are those who trust in God and his promises, patiently waiting for the Lord to bring about his salvation – in his chosen time and in his chosen way.

Unlike Habakkuk who lived before the coming of God’s promised savior, the Christ, we living in the New Testament era of the Church know our promised savior, Jesus of Nazareth.  We know how Jesus came to save us from evil – how he saved each and every one of us from evil.  He saved us from our own evil.

He saved us from our own sins.  Our sins deserve God’s eternal punishment.  Jesus saved us from the punishment we so rightly deserved by taking our sins upon himself, paying the penalty that we deserve through his death on the cross.

Jesus brought us from being enemies of God into being the children of God.

And through his resurrection from the dead, he has given us the assurance that our sins truly are forgiven and that he has all power over sin, death, and the devil, that at his promised return, he will put a final end to all evil in this world, in our lives – forever.  The wicked will no longer devour the righteous.  Nations will no longer continually eat each other up over and over and over again.

Jesus will restore all of creation and he will make all things new again.  He will make all things as he intended them to be.

So we ask, like Habakkuk, when are you going to do this oh Lord?  When will Jesus return to do as he promised?

And the answer we get from the Lord is the same that Habakkuk received – “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Peter at the end of his second letter tells us a very similar message to what Habakkuk received from the Lord.  In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

He continues in verses 10 to 13, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

God is not slow in keeping his promises to free us from all evil and suffering.  He is patient with us.  He desires for all to come to repentance.

Let me ask you, what would happen if Christ were to return today?  To return right now?

All who are not repentant, all who are not living by faith in Christ, will be lost to death forever along with everything else of this world that is destined for fire.

Who do you know that would be lost forever?  Do you really want God to put an end to all evil, right now, when you think of the ones you love who are not yet repentant of their sins?  Even those who have caused you evil would you really want that to be their fate?

What we perceive to be God’s lack of action in the problem of evil is actually patience that comes from his love for us – for you – for all people who are still outside of faith in Christ.  He does not want them to perish, though it is what they deserve, and that is what you deserve.

As he is patient with the wicked, he calls us, we who are righteous, not by any righteousness of our own, but by the righteousness we receive from Christ, through the faith by which we live, to be patient too.

So the problem of evil there is an answer – the answer is Jesus.

What is the greatest act of evil in the history of the world?  Many people typically will point to the acts of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao Zedeng that led to the deaths of millions upon millions of people.

I’d point people however to the cross of Jesus.  The greatest act of evil that ever occurred in history has to be when Jesus, God in the flesh, innocent of any wrongdoing, was viciously beaten, whipped, and crucified at the hands of his sinful creation. Can anything more evil possibly happen than man killing God?

But what we see from the greatest act of evil is that the greatest good was produced: the forgiveness of all of our sins, the salvation of mankind. When Jesus allowed the greatest evil to be done to him and when God the Father offered his one and only son for us that we see the greatest love ever – God’s love.  And we see that God loves us.

When you face evil, remember Jesus and his love for you.

When you face evil, be patient and trust in the promises of God.  Pray and stand watch like Habakkuk.  Look for the return of Christ as Peter tells you to do.

Depending on what evil you have experienced or are experiencing, depending on what suffering you are enduring, such an answer may fail to cut the mustard.  If you attend the Sunday English Bible Study for Light of Christ, you’ll recognize that phrase “cut the mustard” from a couple of weeks ago.  It means that to be told to wait and trust in God when you are under attack by evil or when you are suffering in sorrow or pain will probably fail to satisfy your troubled heart and mind.

But nevertheless, when you stare evil in the face, remember the righteous shall live by his faith.  And it is through this faith that we live in holiness and godliness – as we wait for and speed the coming of the Day of the Lord.

And it is in that promised day of Christ’s return that Jesus will destroy sin, death, and the devil forever.

Amen.