Fear Of Whales

Archive for January, 2013

Expel The Immoral Brother

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I wrote earlier about profanity. I argued that the bible often finds profanity necessary to make it’s point. At the time I said that I wanted to make that point not just to defend profanity, but because there were other points that I felt were important to make, that rested on that point as a premise.

This is one of them

This article used language some may consider offensive, because it deals with topics the bible considers offensive. If you are not okay with that, go here instead.

1 Corinthians 5

English Standard Version (ESV)

1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

This passage is preached on occasionally by pastors who fancy themselves as bold, and willing to talk about what scripture says even if people don’t like it. It is used to justify the power of the governing body of whatever platform the speaker happens to be speaking from to decide whose in and whose out.

I think that interpretation is understandable. After all the plain reading of the text is that Paul is asking for somebody to be kicked out of the church and if Paul did it that means we can do it if we need to. It’s even paralleled in Matthew 18

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church,let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

With these two verses it is not hard to justify a biblical argument for excommunication. The occasional expulsion of a brother from the family of God (or at least from the local expression thereof).

But even though that interpretation is understandable, I think it’s wrong. I think it misunderstands both the role of the church and the church universal, and it has become default because of cultural factors in the 21st century and the desire of sinful men like me to get power.

I vehemently disagree and am considerably bothered by the implication that “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” should mean “Kick them out of your local church”

We love our gentiles and our tax collectors, we invite them to church. We may think twice before asking them to teach a class, but we certainty don’t sit them down with the elder board and tell them they don’t belong. That flies in the face of just about everything in the book of Acts.

1 Cor 5 However is less obvious. Let’s look at it again closely together, and see if it still seems to be about an example for First Church Main St. to follow.

1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

”A man has his father’s wife” You know something is up when a translation that was published in 2001 still uses the phrasing from the KJV. Paul’s actually quoting too

Deut: 23:30A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.

This comes at the end of a long argument about proper and improper practices in ancient Israel, and it arrives as a conclusion to a mounting list of sins that begins with divorce, then follows to adultery, then rape, and finally the most offensive of all: Having sex with your mom, creating a cultural understanding of an incredibly offensive act, and a horrible accusation in the ancient near east, that would be impossible to translate if not for the fact that the exact same offensive accusation exists in English.

”Mother Fucker” worse than a standard fucker, the mother fucker is among the most offensive phrases in the English language. That’s what was going on in Corinth

“There is sexual immorality among you, that is worse than all the orgys and pedophilia that the pagans approve of, this guy right here, Is a bonifide Mother Fucker”

2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?

Paul has written an earlier letter to the church in Corinth (0 Corinthians) That letter has been lost to time but from this verse we can gather some info about their response to his previous correspondence

”Well yeah we know he’s a mother fucker, Isn’t that awesome? but that’s okay we know how to handle this kind of thing, It’s not a problem”

Paul’s response comes from the opposite posture

Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
and later
deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh

In modern cultural parlance ”This Mother Fucker can go to hell!”

I love verses 9 and 10

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

Lol true that, Paul. Do you ever realize how funny the bible is? It really is if you take the time to think about what is being said. If you didn’t associate with sinful people there wouldn’t be anyone left to talk to. Good point

Then he goes on

11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Ouch. That’s pretty clear. Don’t associate with people who say they’re Christian, but continue to sin. Don’t even eat with them if they have problems with sex or alcohol or putting other things before God, or trying to accumulate money. Don’t just kick them out of your church, refuse to associate with them.

…That’s what it says.

And if we are going to take this passage literally we need to do that. we need to kick all of the sinners out of our church including Paul himself who will confess continuing to struggle in Romans 7. Paul no longer has any place in our church and we won’t listen to anything he says anymore and… wait I’m confused.

Maybe more context

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

I sure wish more sermons on this chapter would focus on this verse rather than the one before it. Pastors who teach on it want to be brave and conservative, but they pick a verse that nobody has the spine to interpret completely conservatively, meanwhile there is a perfectly good point to be made about not judging non Christians.

The end though brings it home. “Purge the evil from among you” (the word “person” is not actually there in the greek) what is he quoting there?

Why It’s Deuteronomy 22 again

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

oh.

OOOHHHH

Kill them

…Kill…Him…

Kill the motherfucker. Says Paul send him to Satan for… the destruction of.. the flesh…

He can go to hell… you mean literally… Oh dear

There is beauty here.

It’s a very raw kind of beauty. But God had called the descendants of Abraham to be a nation set apart, where there would be no place for evil such as adultery. Here Paul is holding the church to that same glorious standard.

His methods may seem extreme, or harsh, but we must not forget that he pens the words of scripture. Inerrant truth, and we must be faithful stewards to believe what it says, not what it wants us to say.

It does not say kick someone out of church. It says kick them out of earth. Are you prepared to believe that since it’s what the bible says?

I think we need to be.

But we should also consider this

2 Corinthians 2

1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

5 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

“Maybe I was too harsh in my last letter” says Paul “You should forgive him… I will too”

Paul reveals his motives for writing. “To let you know the love I have for you” “to test you” and he reveals the real work of Satan, not as a last resort to evangelize sinners, but to outwit us if we do not forgive.

The passage has come full circle

So in review. 

-The general theme of scripture is one of grace,and adoption into an eternal family.

– Matthew appears to offer an exception in one verse, but upon further examination that turns out not to be the case

– In 1Cor 5 Paul does apparently suggest that sending someone to hell might be justifiable if they are habitually sleeping with their mother (a crime more offensive than serial rape)

-But in 2 Corinthians he seems to regret being so harsh. and calls us all back to forgiveness.

 

There is no biblical basis to be found in 1 Corinthians to say to a sinner “we love you and that’s why we are sending you away from us until you repent”. If you raise 1 Cor 5 to a christian sinner, what you are telling them is “I think you’re a Mother Fucker, get out!”

I don’t deny that that may be necessary in some circumstances.

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January 16th, 2013 at 5:29 am

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Han Shot First (A Meditation on Relativism, And Why It’s Dumb)

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Han Shot FIRSTI will not be the first Christian to write a blog that 6 people ever will read refuting relativism. I won’t be the last. I’m not the smartest, and despite my ambition for uniqueness, my article will not break any new barriers in the field of epistemology. It is, according to all formal logical tests, inferior to standing refutations of relativism that already exist. But maybe, possibly, it just might, be a little bit more fun. And hopefully more in keeping with a postmodern relativistic mindset.

Let’s Define Terms:
Relativism: The belief that everything is relative, nothing is absolute, and if you think something is true it’s true for you.
Moral Relativism: The belief that morality is subjective, but other things could be objective (like science, maybe)
Objectivism: The alternative to relativism. The belief that absolute truth exists whether or not we know it.
Modernism: A philosophical system of beliefs and practices characterized by enlightenment ideas esp. the search for truth through logic and reason
Postmodernism: A new set of loosely connected beliefs mostly characterized by a disappointment in modernism for failing to make good on what it promised

All of these terms are a bit wibbily wobbily. But for the sake of discussion, let’s suppose that these simple definitions are the end of it.

You can see how modernism goes hand in hand with objectivism. Postmodernism opposed modernism and it’s ilk and so tends to gravitate towards relativism, which drives modernists crazy as they are convinced it will lead straight to the denial of all sorts  of important things.

Considering this, it is typical for a objectivist to ask an obvious question such as “do you exist” or “are circles circular” about which virtually everyone agrees, and try tog et the relativist to admit that this is absolutely true not just true to them. It’s no fair and not any fun.

So instead I ask this question. in the movie Star Wars when Greedo attempted to capture Han Solo resulting in shots fired at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Who shot first? Was it Han or Greedo?

The answer depends. In the original theatrical release, Han shot first. But in the Special Edition and subsequent versions, Greedo shot first, and CG was used to make Han awkwardly “head dodge” and then fire back. Thus characterizing him as less a ruthless scoundrel, and more of a loveable friend for a young audience.

The relativist has some ground here. The answer you give will depend on when you were born, what version you saw first and what is and is not “cannon” in your personal opinion

The objectivist is on more shaky ground. It’s worth noting that an objectivist need not be an objectivist about everything, anyone who believes in any absolute truth is an objectivist. But if he is to be a MosEislian Objectivist he has an obligation now to find some absolute authority on which version is correct.

Often a dispute about a text will be settled by “authorial intent” but since the author of both versions is the same man (George Lucas) it does little to help us. We must determine whether 70s or 90s Lucas is the real authoritative Lucas.

…Or do we.

I mean must we be so modernist about this whole thing?

I for one believe Han shot first because it is right and good and true for Han to shoot first. It makes him cooler, it makes his character arc more profound, and it furnishes in us the appropriate doubt at the climax about whether or not he will do the right thing.

The Firstitude of Han’s shot outranks Lucas, it transcends authorial intent. Before Star Wars was even filmed, Han was shooting first. Because it is an objective moral reality that he should.

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January 10th, 2013 at 5:10 am

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Buddhist Fisherman

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fishI am aware of some ministries that have become so focused on the the importance of evangelism that they talk about “The parable of the fishless fisherman”. I won’t link you said parable (as it’s copyrighted) but the gist is that just as a person who claims to be a fisherman but never catches fish is not really a fisherman, so a person who claims to be a Christian but never wins converts is not really a Christian.

I have problems with this thinking. I get where it comes from, but I object to equating effectiveness at evangelism with salvation, and I further object to equating the winning of converts with evangelism as if he with the most notches on his coux stick is the best.

It brings to mind the Buddist fisherman who have a saying for what they do day to day. Their religion prevents them from saying that they kill living beings on a regular basis, so they say that instead of “fishing” they “save fish from drowning” and unfortunately this causes them to die.

I feel this concept is worth our consideration when we hypothesize that Jesus related evangelism to catching fish. I wonder if sometimes we might be kidding ourselves about what that accomplishes, doing the same thing, saving fish from drowning. Most secular people have little to no felt need for something to change in their lives. We come along and introduce them to that need. We tell them they are helpless worthless sinners and need Jesus. Then, like Peter we bring them up onto the shore and leave them there to die.

Jesus offered salvation from much more than being a non-Christian. He proclaimed freedom of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. If we don’t intend to do anything with out catch then we are not christian evangelists, we are Buddhist fisherman

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January 8th, 2013 at 2:41 am

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The Trinity is not like an Egg

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TrinityI was just an an outreach for international students where the speaker was a local church pastor. One of the students was bothered by the concept of the trinity, so the pastor tried to explain it.

“It’s like your family” he said “You and your parents and your siblings are all different people, but you are united together as one family. In the same way the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different people, but they are all together. “God” isn’t one person, it’s just his nature, like how your nature is human”

Luckily the student did not understand, because that is exactly wrong.

That is a heresy called tri-theism. The same heresy that is central to Mormon theology. There is not so much 1 God as 3 gods all of whom are on the same team.

I came up and talked to him afterwards, expecting that he would realize he miscommunicated in the difficult cross cultural setting, but no, That actually is his theology. God is like a family.

Obviously the trinity as very unique, and explaining it adequately is difficult. But this is getting out of hand. People are actually believing that their bad analogies are the truth, and teaching others. While we might not have a great idea of how to explain what the truth is, but we do have a good idea about what is false. Tri-thiesm is false. Christians are monotheistic.

Modalism is also false. Modalism denies the “threeness” where tri-theism denies the “oneness”. it says there is only 1 god with 3 different modes, or 3 different aspects. The father is the son, and the holy spirit is the father, They are all just different parts, or different aspects of one god.

Do you believe that God is like an egg, with a shell and a white and a yolk? You are a modalist

Do you think it’s like water (solid, liquid, gas) or a Pastor (Father, Husband, Pastor) or a person with DID or Mitt Romney? Then you are not a Christian! You are denying the trinity!

————————–

“Okay Ryan” You’ll say “what’s your solution then?” I always say I won’t complain about something without offering an alternative. “If all of these are bad, what analogy for the trinity can we use?”

Well I still say that no analogy is perfect and I’d rather teach it the way the church fathers did (by actually explaining what it is and what it isn’t without any analogy as I did above) But if you are pressing me for an analogy here is the best one I have: The trinity is like Darth Vader

Darth_VaderVader was most famously played by James Earl Jones, But JEJ never played Vader in person, he just provided the characteristic voice. Vader was actually played by David Prowse, who wore the suit. If you met him in the Vader suit you would be looking at the real Vader from the movies Or was he? We never saw his face. Anakin was played by Sebastian Shaw. Anakin is Vader, so Sebastian Shaw is also the real Vader.

3 actors, one character. co-equal co-eternal for all time each individually is Vader himself, not just “one of the Vaders” but one does not truly know Vader unless one knows all 3

In nomine patri et fili et spiritus sancti

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January 5th, 2013 at 9:16 am

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