Evangelical John Piper Says God Changed His Mind About Executing Homosexuals

god does not change

According to Fundamentalist Calvinist John Piper, Old Testament commands concerning the execution of homosexuals no longer apply. According to Leviticus 20:13, homosexuality is punishable by death. God’s inerrant, infallible, never-changing Bible says:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

I find no ambiguity in this verse. Have sexual relations with someone of the same gender and God commands that you be put to death (Though technically, this verse does not mention lesbians). So then, how does Piper, a staunch believer in inerrancy, get around Leviticus 20:13? Piper states that things have changed, that the way God views homosexuality now is different from how he viewed it in the Old Testament. While homosexuality is still a sin, says Piper, the punishment for it has changed. In other words, God changed his mind. Rather than stoning homosexuals to death, God is content to wait until they die. Then he can fit them with a body that will withstand untold pain and suffering. Once fitted with a God-approved fire suit, God will then spend the next billion or so years torturing homosexuals in the Lake of Fire. Ah yes, the kinder, gentler, nicer God of the New Testament.

I would love to ask Piper if he would approve of homosexuals being sentenced to death. If U.S. law, mimicking the commands of God’s inerrant Word, allowed for the execution of those convicted of sodomy, would he support such a law? I suspect he would. According to Calvinists such as John Piper and Al Mohler, God is perfect, righteous, and just in all his ways. If this is so, then when God commanded Israel to kill homosexuals (and non-Jews, fornicators, and adulterers), his command is perfect, righteous, and just. Since I know how Piper views God, I can say with great confidence that he would have no problem with the U.S. legal code using the Bible’s laws, commands, and precepts as a foundation for regulating human behavior. Surely God’s law is superior to man’s law, right?

What prompted Piper’s post was a question from a podcast listener:

Dear Pastor John, I want to first thank you for the Ask Pastor John podcast and for your obedience and love for the Lord. One thing I have always struggled to communicate is the difference between the Old Testament Law and the fulfilled Law after Christ. I have many atheist friends who press me here, specifically when it comes to homosexuality. Why do we as Christians not believe practicing homosexuals should be killed for their sin if that is exactly the prescription in our Bibles in Leviticus 20:13? How would you answer this objection?”

Ah, those pesky verse-quoting atheists, using the Bible against Christians. According to Piper, these atheists really don’t understand the Bible, nor do they know how to interpret it properly. Piper writes:

This is huge and absolutely crucial. And we need an answer for it to those who ask. It is such a common response for somebody that has a smattering of knowledge or has just read that there are these verses in the Bible like that. And it is not difficult to answer this problem. It just takes a little willingness on the part of people to listen for a few minutes as we describe the nature of the Christian Bible.

Besides, what these atheists really need is not answers about God commanding the execution of homosexuals. Oh no, what they really need is — drum roll please — Jesus. Piper concludes his post with this:

So our overall aim in dealing with our critics who don’t know their Bibles is to direct them to Jesus, who is the goal of everything in the Bible and to try to help them see that God has been moving through history in different ways at different times to bring us into a relationship with Jesus for the salvation of our souls.

In other words, ignore their questions and point them to Jesus. Once they are saved, atheists will understand how to properly explain away Leviticus 20:13 and dozens of other verses which clearly show that the Christian God is a narcissistic, bloodthirsty psychopath.

Piper appeals to Matthew 5:17 as proof for his contention that there is a new God, with a new law, in town. Matthew 5:17 states:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

According to Piper, who is supposedly a theologian:

We see the first pointer of how things have changed dramatically in Matthew 5:17, where Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So all the Old Testament finds its completion and fulfillment in Jesus—and that is a basic truth that a person needs to understand. Everything in the Old Testament was pointing toward Jesus as the Son of God incarnate, dying and rising to save His people. And, therefore, in His person, in His ministry, the whole Old Testament reaches a climax and is dramatically altered.

Seems pretty straight forward. Jesus, by his death on the cross for the elect, fulfilled (satisfied, completed) the Old Testament. Thus, its laws, commands, and precepts are no longer binding today. Once Jesus died and rose again from the dead everything changed. Or so says John Piper.

Taking Piper’s position at face value, this means that none of the Old Testament’s laws are in force, including the Ten Commandments. So, Bro. Piper. Are the Ten Commandments applicable to today?  Let the shuck and jive begin. In a post titled, Are Christians Under the Ten Commandments?, Piper wrote:

No. The Bible says we’re not under the law.
….
So, our approach towards ethics is different. We don’t ask the question, “Am I under the law?” We are under grace. The law is already fulfilled perfectly by Jesus. We are in Jesus and as far justification goes, God sees it as completed for you, one-hundred percent. He says, “You’ve trusted my Son. You’ve been grafted in him. You are in Christ Jesus and he fulfilled the law perfectly. He covered all your sins.” God sees you in and through Christ, therefore, as far as final judgment goes God is 100% for you. That is settled and nothing is going to change it.
….
Love God and do as you please is not bad advice, if you’re bent on holiness. If you’re bent on love the ten commandments are really important. You should hang them on your wall and you should measure your life by them, but in a very different way than when you were under them, because they have been kept for you.

No, the Christian is NOT under the law, says Piper, but if he really, really, really, I mean really loves the Evangelical God, he will keep the Ten Commandments. Sure sounds like the Ten Commandments are binding and in force.

Like all Evangelicals who resort to playing the Bible gymnastics game, Piper uses Matthew 5:17 in a way that makes it say something other than what it actually says. Why didn’t Piper quote the relevant verses after verse 17? You know, to give a bit of context. Here is what Matthew 5:17-19 says:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

No wonder Piper didn’t quote verses 18 and 19. These verses undo and contradict the point he was trying to make. Well, let me, an atheist theologian, educate Piper and others of his ilk, about this passage of Scripture.

First, the gospel of Matthew was written 40 to 70 years after the death of Jesus. This means it was written at least four decades after Jesus, according to John Piper, established the New Covenant through his atoning death and resurrection from the dead. Why would the author of Matthew write about whether the Old Testament law had been fulfilled? Surely, two to four generations after Jesus died. Christians would by then KNOW the Old Testament was no longer in force?

Second, does this passage really say that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament and that it is no longer binding? Verse 17 says yes, but verses 18 and 19 say no. Verse 18 states unambiguously that the law of God (the Old Testament) is in force until “all be fulfilled.” The fulfillment here is not the Old Testament or even the death and resurrection of Jesus. The text states that the Old Testament is in force until heaven and earth pass away. This passing away is described in 2 Peter 3:10-12:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Go outside and look up. Are you standing on earth? Is heaven (the sky) still above you? Okay, maybe you didn’t have to go outside to know this. Evidently John Piper needs to spend more time outside. Matthew 5:17-19 is quite clear: until heaven and earth pass away, the law of God is still in force. In fact, the Bible says that every jot and tittle of God’s law is valid and binding. This means that every minute detail of God’s law applies to New Testament Christians: from the execution of homosexuals to not eating certain foods such as pork and shellfish.

I am sure someone will suggest, hoping to rescue Piper from the sea of contradiction, that the law that is now binding is the New Covenant (New Testament). Here’s the problem with this attempted end run around the text. At the time of the writing of this text, Christians had not yet completely collated the canon of Scripture. Thus, at best, all early Christians had was a partial book of God’s laws. It makes more sense, especially when considering that most early Christians were Jews and Christianity was considered a subset of Judaism, that the word law in Matthew 5:17-19 refers to some or all of the Old Testament.

Verse 19 is one of the most difficult verses in the Bible. Well, difficult for Fundamentalists such as John Piper. Believing the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God requires Evangelicals to harmonize the Biblical text. There are no mistakes, errors, misstatements, contradictions, or bad writing days.  According to a normative reading of verse 19, there are two classes of people who will enter the kingdom of God: those who break the laws of God and teach others to do the same and those who keep the law of God and instruct others to do the same. So then, there will be deliberate lawbreakers in Heaven, those who not only disobey God, but also teach others to follow in their footsteps?

The Apostle Paul, a man known to pen quite a few contradictions himself, disagrees with the writer of Matthew. According to Paul’s gospel (a gospel that is quite different from Jesus’),  breakers of God’s law will NOT enter the kingdom of heaven:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9,10)

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:19-21,24)

Of course, Paul, ever the jokester, writes in other epistles that no one will enter the kingdom of God by keeping the law of God. Paul, Paul, Paul, what are we going to do with you?

Don’t you just love playing the Dueling Bible Verses Game®? I have long believed that the Bible can be used to prove virtually any belief. The various Christian sects have fought internecine wars for centuries over whose interpretation of the Bible is correct. I have come to the conclusion that all of them are right.  The Arminian, Calvinist, cessationist, non-cessationist, and every other theological name Christians give to their one-hundred-percent-pure interpretations of the perfect Word of God, are all correct!

I have no doubt that an Evangelical or five will likely point out that my exegesis is wrong. They will quote verse after verse, massaging and shaping them to fit their peculiar theological system of belief. But, try as they might to make sense of an incoherent book, all their contortions will do is cause more inconsistencies and contradictions. It is, contrary to thousands of Evangelicals books that say otherwise, impossible to make the Bible internally consistent. The best that Evangelicals can do is obfuscate, explain away, or stutter when confronted with verses that do not fit their particular theological paradigm.

Note

Leviticus 20 also commands the execution of people for all sorts of sex crimes.

print

Subscribe to the Daily Post Digest!

Sign up now and receive an email every day containing the new posts for that day.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Powered by Optin Forms

79 Comments

  1. archaeopteryx

    You need to be really careful about picking up sticks on the Sabbath too, that’ll get you the same penalty!

    Reply
  2. Chris

    I am no biblical scholar so please be kind. Isn’t the message of the woman in adultery that there is no one righteous to judge & enforce God’s laws? In that account it wasn’t that the law was abolished or (yet)fulfilled but rather it was that there was not one who was without sin…?

    Also, I am not sure the Bible teaches that God’s plan is “static” throughout time. I read that he will never change, and His ‘mind’ will never change, but not that he will not bring change – much of what I read seems to teach he in fact is a God of change.

    When summer changes into winter I do not interpret that God has changed His mind – “I want it hot there… No, wait, I want it cold there.” but rather that the seasons have been planned.

    So when God instructs “kill that person” and later instructs (through Christ) “put down the stone”, I do not interpret that He has changed – nor has is mind or laws changed. It is all part of His plan for mankind, which hasn’t changed. But, again, I am not a scholar on any front so I really don’t have any credentials to back my interpretation.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Suppose a man has six children. When his three oldest children disobeyed he thrashed them with a belt. When his three youngest disobeyed he didn’t thrash them with a belt. Instead, he gave them a timeout and told them never to disobey again. Has the man changed his mind? Of course he has. So it is with the Bible’s God.

      If God is morally perfect, then his commanded methods of punishment are moral and just. If God changes the methods of punishment, then he has changed his mind. We might discuss why he changed his mind, but any objective reading of the text will lead to the conclusion that God thought one way, and then another.

      While you dismiss the textual issue raised by another commenter, in doing so you are ignoring the fact that the reason the Bible shows God changing his mind is because it is written by humans, not God. God would never add an addendum to a passage of Scripture because the book was perfect the first time. However, since humans wrote the Bible, it becomes quite easy to understand God changing his mind. Humans change their minds, and since the Christian God is a human construct, a deity shaped by mortal hands, it should come as no surprise that the Bible presents to us a malleable, changeable God.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        Suppose a 19 year boy old gets caught drinking whiskey and gets arrested. Two years later (at 21) he is again found drinking whiskey but nothing happens. Has the law changed? Did the government change its mind? No, the boy has fulfilled the requirements of the law.

        This is how I read it anyhow. God’s law didn’t change, the requirements had been fulfilled by Jesus.

        The point of disagreement I suppose is that I do not read that God has changed nor that his ‘mind’ changed but that His plan was not static.

        I am a programmer and as a programmer when I complete a program, it itself doesn’t change (that release). The code of the program is the same. However based on the install scenario, user input, and other factors it responds in different ways. So if on my computer the program operates one way and on your it operates another… Did it change? No. It is doing exactly what it was developed to do.

        So, if God’s plan appears to operate one way at one time or in one place and another way at another time does that mean God has changed his plan? No. Possibly His plan is doing exactly what He created it to do.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I think you are missing my exegesis of the text. This is not my opinion. It is what the text says. Evangelicals are forced to change its meaning so it will fit their peculiar theological system.

          The text is clear. The law of God is in force until all things have been fulfilled. Since all things have not yet been fulfilled, the law of God is still valid and binding. The natural reading of this text suggests that the word law refers to the Old Testament law. Since Christianity was likely considered a subset of Judaism, the law referenced in the text was likely the commands Jews believed were the laws of God.

          Theology, particularly systematic theology, complicates things. It forces readers to make the text fit their beliefs. I am under no compulsion to do so. While I have a sound understanding of Christian theology, I try to view and explain the text as the common man would read and understand the text.

          Reply
    2. Brian

      “So when God instructs “kill that person” and later instructs (through Christ) “put down the stone”, I do not interpret that He has changed – nor has is mind or laws changed. It is all part of His plan for mankind, which hasn’t changed. But, again, I am not a scholar on any front so I really don’t have any credentials to back my interpretation.”
      Interesting that you seem to be suggesting God would consider his son’s opinion and even redirect his own orders regarding the ending of someone’s life. I wonder if you ever see Christians letting their children lead like this? Or is that not the point? God being God can do whatever it likes, after all…. is that it? So it does not matter that this God decides whether somebody lives or dies because God is the boss?
      I have no credentials to mash you with but I find it curious that you seem to reach to give God leeway to do this or that and not be challenged…. when God wipes out whole populations in judgement, I say fuck it. Fuck him or her or it…. I say the same to parents who abuse their children with rods and belts because God is God. Human beings are worthy of respect and decency. God, especially Jesus’ dad was a fucking creep without respect, the bully of bullies. I say this without credentials, whatever the fuck credentials are!?
      If you say it can all be part of God’s plan, well of course, nothing matters but whatever…. God did it.
      (Please understand that I am an atheist who does not believe God exists or ever did. I see endless examples of people who believe in God because they feel God exists. They shout and pray and cry out. The silence answers. God is the ultimate empty vessel we breathe life into because we need the God. We invented the idea.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        I, as perhaps Bruce once did, believe Jesus himself to be fully God.

        Have you ever created anything? Art, a poem, etc? I create computer programs… Do I have the authority to wipe out the computer program should I choose? Yes.

        So, am I saying human beings and computer programs have the same value? No, of course not! Human beings have infinitely more value in my eyes! A mere man created the computer program and it has no life in it.

        God created human beings which is why I have no right to kill or even hurt them. I do have a right to destroy (or do whatever I will with) the programs I have developed.

        If God created us it does give God every right to do with human beings as He wishes. After all, you and I did not earn the right to live it was a gift (or an accident). And we all know it is a loan, it is a gift that will some day change. So, does God have the right to decide when? Of course. Why wouldn’t he? Does this make Him a jerk? It might in your eyes. But, if God DID create us then it might make sense that He knows more than we do and His ways are greater than our ways… It actually might make sense that the programmer knows better than the program so to speak.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Your problem here, of course, is that most of the readers of this blog do not think Jesus was God, nor do they believe in the existence of gods. While your analogies make sense to you, given your presuppositions, they make no sense to those who reject the claims Christians make for God, Jesus, and the Bible. You can argue until you are blue in the face, but you will not win atheists like me over to your cause. Having examined Christianity from a skeptical, rational, and intellectual viewpoint, I find its claims without merit. I came to this conclusion, not out of ignorance, but out of a diligent and exhaustive study of the Bible, Christian theology, and church history.

          Reply
          1. Chris

            The point of the post was not to win people to God. Sorry if it came across that way Bruce. It was on the simple thought that IF there is a God and IF He did create us THEN he would have the right to destroy us.

            I understand that you and (many of) the other atheists here made an educated decision.

            My point was that if we DO look at it as truth that God created the universe and everything in it THEN it does make sense that He would have the right to destroy it and it would be quite reasonable to accept that His judgement is superior to ours.

            But thank you for responding to my posts Bruce. From what I have read there is appears are times when you will choose to limit yourself to one reply someone like myself. So thank you for taking the time to respond.

        2. Angiep

          In a sense, I did “create” my child. But I don’t have the right or even the slightest desire to destroy him. How absurd to assert that God has the right to do with his creation as he likes simply because he created it. Then I say, he never cared about it. And that means he is not the loving, caring God Christians paint him to be. I will say again, the main reason I left the “faith” is because of the presence of suffering. It just does not gel with the concept of a caring higher power. There is a big lie in the formula. As Bruce said, if you accept the Bible as a creation of humans, all of the stories make sense. If you believe them to be truth, you will spend all your time trying to justify God’s ways.

          Reply
          1. Chris

            Reproducing and creating are not the same. But, as Bruce brought abortion into the conversation — at what ‘moment’ is your child “created”? No need to debate on this issue, I am just interested in your thoughts on this…

            I am having trouble thinking of an example where the creator wouldn’t have the right to do what the creator wishes with the creation… Let’s leave God out of it since (I am assuming) you don’t believe in Him and since we (or at least I) have clear biases there.

            Can you share a real-world example of where a creator creates something for the creator’s own purpose and the creator does not have the right to do with the creation as it wishes?

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You are using the word create in a religious sense. None of us create things from nothing. We take available materials and craft them into new things. In procreation, the man gives his sperm the woman her egg, and the result is potential life. Is this new potential life a creation? Not in the sense you are using the word create/creation. It is the product of its mother and father. It also bears in its DNA the mark of countless humans.

          3. Chris

            Bruce, I am not using the word create in a religious sense; or I should say I am not meaning to…

            We are in agreement that a procreated child is not a creation. I do appreciate what you add in that perhaps the best example we can make is a creation using (in part) things already existing. So, if it were (or is) true that God created the universe, His level of authority/ownership over the creation is in fact even greater supposing He did not “borrow” or use a thing.

            The question at hand is (here I go again) IF God created you THEN does He have the right to do what He wishes with you…? If the answer is no, it would help me to understand why by it being explained with equal example/principal. No, why not?

            If the answer is yes, He has the right then the question can be become “just because He has the right, IS IT RIGHT that He does what He does?”.

            But again, if we’re suggesting the creator would have no such right over the creation it would seem to me something which would require an explanation.

          4. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            If you want to argue that you God can do whatever he wants, and that he is beyond accountability and culpability for what he does go ahead. In doing so, you lose any claim that God is the source of morality. At best he is a capricious being who demands humans live certain ways simply because he tells them to. You have, in effect, turned God into a do as I say, not as I do father.

          5. Chris

            Can the question be answered Bruce? Does a creator have the right to do as the creator will do with “their” creation?

          6. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I think I have said all I can say on the matter. You seem unable or unwilling to understand the implications of your arguments. Since I think your creator God is a myth, your arguments are nonsense to me. It is left to you to defend a God acting immorally. Good luck with that.

            By the way, I know who you are, so the “I’m dumb” shtick is a bit disingenuous.

            Bruce

          7. Chris

            Bruce, I am simply asking the question – does a creator have the right to do with as they wish with their creation. How about does an artist have the right to do what he/she desires with their (art) creation?

            “By the way, I know who you are, so the “I’m dumb” shtick is a bit disingenuous. ” – ?? Not sure what you mean by this?

          8. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            As I said, there is nothing more I can say on this matter. You are unwilling to face the implications of your belief in an immoral, moral God. Repeating the same question over and over gets us nowhere, Chris.

            You live near me and were once a pastor, yes? You are still actively involved in the ministry, yes? Knowing this, I find your “I’m dumb” shtick bit disingenuous.

          9. Chris

            Bruce, I am not sure how living near you, being an ex-pastor, having a public profile on Facebook, or being in active ministry would qualify me as “not-dumb”? I, in fact, have always considered myself to be ‘simple minded’ and anyone who does know me knows well this is truly my opinion.

            If you do not consider me “dumb” I will gladly accept that as a compliment. However it does not change the fact that I may have to ask for a rewording or an explanation of a question or a statement made here (or elsewhere) because it is beyond my level of education or understanding.

            I repeat the question because I believe both you and I (implying all of us here) do in general know what it means to create something (humans creating something). And we both are capable of addressing the simple question starting with a simple yes or no answer – God aside – and going from there…

            The purpose of the question is to get to the first point of our disagreement. Do I understand the overarching conflict? As best I can, I think I do. However, I find it helpful to find the most precise point at which the disagreement first occurs.

            You find the God (you believe) I believe in to be immoral… Yes, I understand you actually find Him to be non-existent. I do not believe He is immoral. Ok, we understand this difference. I find it helpful for both parties to find the most precise point where the disagreement begins.

            We may agree (or not) on the general principal that a creator has authoritative rights over the creation. If we agree there, then this is not the point of discussion – we must dig deeper. If we disagree, there it is a good starting point for discussion and then examples can be provided and each position explained.

            However, you and others are of course welcome to the position of “I don’t care”, “this is childish”, etc.

            But, I will stop pressing the question as this is your blog.

          10. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You want to argue that God, as creator, can do what he wants, including acting in ways, that humans consider immoral. So, if you are arguing that God can act immorally because he is the creator God, go for it. But be prepared to explain why anyone would want to worship this God of yours. Your God’s behavior is that of a narcissistic, violent, petty, vindictive, capricious, murderous psychopath.

            The good news is that your God does not exist.

            Your resume is relevant to the degree that as a pastor you should have a handle on the things you say are beyond you. I also think you should have told me who you were. Why? Our past history, Chris. I would have cut this discussion off had I known who you were, I have been down this path with you before.

            Perhaps other commenters might have interest in chasing your rabbits, but I do not. As I have stated several times before, I have said all I can say on this subject. Repeating your question will not elicit a different response from me.

          11. Chris

            “Your resume is relevant to the degree that as a pastor you should have a handle on the things you say are beyond you.” – Perhaps, and yet I don’t.

            Our past history is a limited and friendly one from my recollection; I was a commenter on your previous blog.

            If you prefer I can avoid commenting on your blog.

          12. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You are certainly welcome to comment.

  3. archaeopteryx

    Chris, as you say, you are no biblical scholar, so I can accept that you did not know that the story of ‘the woman taken in adultery‘ wasn’t added to the Bible until sometime in the 4th century AD. First it was placed in the Gospel of the anonymous author who wrote “Luke,” then someone decided it sounded more like something the anonymous author who wrote the Gospel of “John” might say, and so it was moved. Like much of the Bible, it was a made-up story.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    I actually did know this (it is addressed on GotQuestions.org)… Many Christians believe it is an accurate account. But saying “it (the Bible) is made up” doesn’t really add to the conversation anymore than me simply quoting some scripture to you and saying “believe it because it is true”.

    So, please, no need to add any “it isn’t true and here is why” comments as this is not really the core of the discussion — I understand you do not believe the Bible to be true. The core was “did God change his mind” and, since I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that you do not believe in the God of the Bible it makes no difference to you.

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      Chris, regarding your quote asking for an equivalent to god creating humans, so as to assess whether he may do as he wishes with them.

      I don’t think there is an obvious equivalent because we don’t really know what was involved in the creation; and I’d include Christians in that statement. However, let’s assume that we were able to create something similar, a sentient robot perhaps, then by giving the robot some sort of independence of consciousness we lose the right to treat it as we wish. That is a statement that derives from simple evolved morality; allowing totally free rein by one sentient being over another would be wrong.

      Reply
  5. archaeopteryx

    Many Christians believe it is an accurate account.

    Christianity is its own evidence that many Christians will believe anything.

    You were the one who brought up the verse, implying that it was an accurate representation and thus had some degree of significance to the topic, I merely corrected your false assumption.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Ok, thanks for the clarification I understand you believe the Bible is false and that Christians will believe anything.

      Reply
      1. archaeopteryx

        I understand you believe the Bible is false

        Not at all, I believe that there is some history in there, though in many instances, highly exaggerated.

        …and that Christians will believe anything

        Well, from what I can determine from observation, most seem to believe that gospels written by unknown authors, 4 to 8 decades after the events they describe, are accurate accounts and that a man can rise from the dead and levitate into the clouds, so it would certainly seem so.

        Reply
      2. Geoff

        Chris, you said

        “If God created us it does give God every right to do with human beings as He wishes.”

        I totally disagree; I’ll assume for a moment that God does exist and created us. He wasn’t creating an inanimate computer programme, nor even some kind of robot, rather a complex life form with a highly developed nervous system, and the whole range of human emotions and feelings. In the same way that parents procreate their children but do not, thereby, have inalienable rights over that child, once actually born, so God has no absolute right to treat human beings as he wishes.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          Parents procreating their children and God creating people are not the same. Parents are themselves creations of God along with the children. They are not “supreme” over them. Remember, the suggestion is not that God simply created a new FORM of life. The suggestion is that God created life itself… Or perhaps even that God is life itself.

          In your thought, assuming for a moment that God created us – He then created our “highly developed nervous system, and the whole range of human emotions and feelings”.

          The question isn’t “it is kind (from a human perspective) for God to kill human beings” the question is does He have the right? The creation doesn’t dictate rights to the creator.

          You hit the nail on the head when you said “He wasn’t creating an inanimate computer programme, nor even some kind of robot”… Right! He created something much more complex and much more beautiful – that is the very core of Biblical humanity – that we’re not robots and therefore can decide to disagree with God. Which you are demonstrating wonderfully. But our disagreement doesn’t change God’s authority nor His ability.

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            So, humans are autonomous?

            I hope you know there are millions of Christians who would disagree with what you have written here.

          2. Chris

            Not sure where I suggest they are autonomous…?

          3. Angiep

            So if one life form is “supreme” over another, it has absolute authority to kill it, even for no reason? That is your reasoning where God is concerned. This argument has become inane.

  6. John Arthur

    Hi Chris,

    You claim that God has the right to do what he wants with his creation. Does this mean that God can act immorally by commanding the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites, men,defenseless women, little children and babies? Joshua and his mob put some of these cities to the sword then, to make sure they did a proper job, they burnt these cities to the ground.

    The so-called judgment of God is said to have occurred because the Canaanites were very wicked, Yet I find it astounding that little babies can be that wicked. Isn’t the text really a justification of the actions of Israel’s power elite for their barbaric actions rather than having anything to do with a God inspired text? Any nation that barbarically commits genocide under the pretext that God commanded it is plainly acting immorally and any text that supports this is immoral. The bible has immorality committed and commanded by God in it. It is simply there, embedded in the very text that Evangelicals claim is God-breathed.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Sorry, John your question is beyond my level of intelligence/education and you may have to dumb-it-down if I am going to answer. Are you asking if God can (has the right to) act immorally?

      Reply
  7. archaeopteryx

    So who/what created your god, and does he/she/it have a right to kill him?

    Reply
    1. Chris

      I don’t believe in a created God but rather an eternal one. But sure, if God is a mere construct of man then man has every right to destroy the construct.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        We know you don’t. There is no need for you to keep reminding us that you are a Christian.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          This was a response to the question Bruce “So who/what created your god, and does he/she/it have a right to kill him?”… Couldn’t the response have as easily been to archaeopteryx – “We know he is Christian, no need to ask him who created God”?

          Reply
  8. archaeopteryx

    You might want to pepper your question, John, with an ample supply of “if…then”, as those phrases in computerese, with which I noticed he loaded his own earlier comment, seems to be the one language that he appears to understand.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      “seems to be the one language that he appears to understand”… Thanks for the underhanded insult…? But yes, my apologies, I do tend to think in those terms. Not sure if it is the only language I understand — hopefully not. My poor wife!

      Reply
  9. archaeopteryx

    If only beliefs were facts, you’d be on firm ground, but if the universe had a beginning, it is only logical that your god did as well. Theists placed their god in the clouds until Humankind learned to fly, and so he was moved beyond the earth, into space, but then we learned to leave the planet. Now theists have found the ultimate hiding place for their deity, a place they needn’t fear that anyone could ever go, only to find that no one was home – beyond time and space.

    Reply
  10. Chris

    “if the universe had a beginning, it is only logical that your god did as well”… Why? Can you explain this logic?

    Reply
  11. archaeopteryx

    IF everything had a beginning, THEN it is only logical that your god did as well.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Do you believe that everything had a beginning? You said if the UNIVERSE had a beginning… But I do not believe God is IN the universe but rather that he created it.

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        We have no idea if the word ‘beginning’ has any meaning, rather in the same way that there is no evidence to suggest that there is such a thing as ‘nothing’. Everything we see and refer to as having been created is simply a rearrangement of already existing atoms. There may never have been creation ‘ex nihilo.

        God has only ever been a device whereby we’ve tried to deal with these weighty issues, a form of very naive explanation. The problem is that it is perfectly reasonable to ask ‘who created god?’, and all theological attempts to answer the question amount simply to special pleading; somehow God can always have existed, outside space, time, and the universe, whatever this means, but this isn’t allowed for the universe itself.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          It is allowed for the universe itself (to have always existed) but it seems in conflict with the scientific evidence that the universe itself did have a beginning.

          Reply
          1. Geoff

            No, not at all. The present state of the universe seemingly had a beginning with the Big Bang, but that isn’t the same as saying that is when ‘everything’ came into being.

  12. archaeopteryx

    That is unknown, and may never be known.

    We know that the Universe began at what has been termed, ‘The Big Bang,’ at which time all time and space began, but there may have been something BEFORE the Big Bang, but since all information about what may have come before is beyond our reach, it is impossible to recover.

    Chris, it is not my intention to demean you, nor your choice of belief systems, but if you are going to choose a belief system and follow it the rest of your life, doesn’t it behoove you to learn all you can about its origins, rather than simply accept it at face value?

    According to biblical scholars, the Torah – the first five books of the Bible – were not written by Moses, but rather by four distinctly different sources over the period of 400 years, beginning with what is now Gen 2, written by what is now known as ‘the Yahwist (J) Source,’ a group of Levite priests writing in c. 950 BCE in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, in Jerusalem. Another group of priests, now known as the “Elohist (E) Source,” writing in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, about 850 BCE, wrote their own version, and fearing its loss to a Syrian invasion (which did come to pass, destroying and dispersing the Northern Kingdom forever), carried their work to the more strongly-fortified city of Jerusalem for safekeeping around 850 BCE – this was later combined with the ‘J’ Source material, to form ‘J/E’, around 800 BCE, which is why we have two distinct ‘Noah’ stories, involving in one, animals in two’s, and in the other, in seven’s and two’s, because they come from different sources. Many theists consider the scriptures to be ‘god-breathed’ – ask yourself if a god would breathe two conflicting versions of the same story.

    The Book of Deuteronomy was written about 750 BCE, under the reign of King Josiah, possibly by Josiah himself, as it perfectly agreed with reforms that Josiah was attempting to institute in his newly-acquired kingdom.

    The rest was written around 550 BCE by a group of Aaronid priests, known as the Priestly (P) Source, in captivity in Babylon, on the belief that Israel had fallen because it had moved too far away from their god (the real reason was that Israel had refused to pay tribute to the Babylonians), and so tried re-writing much of J/E, and in some cases, in an Orwellian fashion, discarded whole parts entirely and rewrote others, hence Gen 1, in which their god is much more regal, declining to come to Earth and walk in a garden ‘in the cool of the day’ or to carry on personal conversations with his pet people. Unfortunately, the redactor in 400 BCE, who combined the J, E, and P sources, weaving them together ingeniously like a patchwork quilt, didn’t realize, 150 years later, that he was supposed to discard Gen 2, and so included both.

    I could go on and on, Chris, as to the fact that all four Gospel authors wrote anonymously, from 4 to 8 decades after the time, the events of which they described, and never met Yeshua nor knew anything about what he may or may not have said, except for what they heard by word of mouth over those many decades, but my point, Chris, is not to give you Bible lessons, and certainly not to convert you to atheism, that’s not what I do, but to advise you to thoroughly study the source of your belief system before you adopt it.

    pax vobiscum

    Reply
    1. archaeopteryx

      William G. Dever, Chris, was born to an Evangelical Preacher, raised in a Christian family, spent his youth in theological institutions, and as an archaeologist, went to the Levant with a Bible in one hand and a spade in the other, intent on proving the Bible was true. Thirty-five years later, he walked out a confirmed atheist.

      In his book, “What Did the Bible Writers Know and When Did They Know It?“, he writes:

      “After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible ‘historical figures.'”

      Of the historicity of Moses, he writes:

      “…the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness. A Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in southern Transjordan in the mid-late13th century B.C., where many scholars think the biblical traditions concerning the god Yahweh arose. But archaeology can do nothing to confirm such a figure as a historical personage, much less prove that he was the founder of later Israelite region.”

      About Leviticus and Numbers he writes that these are “clearly additions to the ‘pre-history’ by very late Priestly editorial hands, preoccupied with notions of ritual purity, themes of the ‘promised land,’ and other literary motifs that most modern readers will scarcely find edifying much less historical.

      And concludes: “the whole ‘Exodus-Conquest’ cycle of stories must now be set aside as largely mythical, but in the proper sense of the term ‘myth’: perhaps ‘historical fiction,’ but tales told primarily to validate religious beliefs.

      Study, Chris, before believing – that’s all I ask.

      Reply
    2. Chris

      I have indeed studied it to my satisfaction, I did not come to faith blindly. I am a skeptic.

      It is unlikely that either you or I could present some astounding new information that would cause the other to change their worldview and I understand that is not your goal. However, it is engaging to come together on a forum (or blog) such as this and share out thoughts, ideas, knowledge, and experiences.

      I appreciate your suggestion to study before I believe and I do believe I have studied and do continue to do so — thank you. “Study” is always a good suggestion.

      Reply
  13. John Arthur

    Hi Chris,

    Do you believe that murdering little children and babies is immoral? Do you believe that a command to murder little children and babies is immoral?

    If you were Joshua in Israel’s army and an apparition appeared to you and told you to exterminate a whole people including children and little babies, would you think it moral to go ahead and obey ?

    If this apparition claimed to be God, would you believe it or would you have compassion on these little children and babies and refuse to obey such a barbaric act?

    Come down to the first century CE now. Let us say you heard Jesus say to you to love your enemies and let us say you were able to project yourself back to the time of Joshua, how would you now act and what would you think of the command given by the apparition?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Thanks John, this helps.

      Do you believe that murdering little children and babies is immoral? I believe that the senseless murder of anyone of any age is immoral.

      Do you believe that a command to murder little children and babies is immoral? I believe that a senseless command to murder another human of any age is immoral.

      If you were Joshua in Israel’s army and an apparition appeared to you and told you to exterminate a whole people including children and little babies, would you think it moral to go ahead and obey? If this apparition claimed to be God, would you believe it or would you have compassion on these little children and babies and refuse to obey such a barbaric act? Honestly, have to answer this one with I do not know. I would be very difficult for me to kill anyone.

      Again to the third question (Jesus) I would answer I do not know.

      Predicting my response in extreme situations has been difficult in the past. I am very thankful I have never had any orders, supernatural or otherwise, to kill and am physically passive to the core. But, knowing my passive nature, my I believe my default would be on the side of not killing anyone.

      Thanks again John. Sorry for needing the question to be adjusted for “dummies”.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        I suspect John’s point is that if you believe it is morally wrong to kill innocent people, children, and the unborn, then, according to the Bible, God is immoral.

        I assume you are pro-life. I assume you believe abortion, the killing of the unborn, is murder. If you believe these things then God, who certainly killed the unborn in the flood, is a murderer.

        Surely God should be as moral as those who worship him, right? Yet, time after time God behaves in ways that most people would immoral.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          Yes, I believe it is morally wrong to kill innocent people. I believe God’s view of “innocent” (or guilty/wicked/whatever) is superior to my view.

          I am not explicitly pro-life (if referring to the political anti-abortion term).

          Should God be subjected to His creation’s view of morality? Or is it possible His justice is perfect and mine is flawed?

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            If you believe the Bible is literally the Words of God and it teaches objective morality, then God’s behavior should conform to the laws, commands, and precepts of HIS book.

            This is the point in the discussion where the Evangelical says God’s ways are not our ways. So, don’t. Suggesting that God is exempt from his moral laws is indefensible and inconsistent. Now. If this God is a human construct, then I totally understand its contradictory nature.

          2. Chris

            I am not suggesting that God killed innocent people. I am suggesting He did what was right because He, being God, knew what was right.

            I am not saying “God’s ways are not our ways” but are you stating it is nonsense for an Evangelical to suggest that God might be superior in knowledge, wisdom, justice, etc vs His creation?

            I am also NOT suggesting that God is exempt from His moral laws. But I am curious as to why you would believe He couldn’t make laws for humanity that He himself was not bound to? Would this binding only apply to moral laws or is He also subject to physical laws? Again with the assumption that He authored these laws.

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            So unborn children are not innocent?

  14. archaeopteryx

    Let’s go back further in time than that, John – if you were a 3rd millennium nomadic sheep- and goat-herder, and thought you heard a voice telling you to take your only son to a mountaintop, slit his throat and burn him on an altar – what would you have to lose (in an era before the concept of ‘Hell’ ever appeared in any folklore) by saying, “No!”?

    http://i887.photobucket.com/albums/ac73/archaeopteryx1/AbeIsaac.jpg

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Dad: “Would you believe EuroDisney…”

      Son: “Ugh. I’d rather die”

      Reply
      1. archaeopteryx

        GOD: As you wish —

        Reply
  15. archaeopteryx

    Chris, you’re no dummy, I don’t believe anyone here thinks that.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      The IQ test I took as a child, my high school gpa and class rank, and my “drop out” status all disagree with you but I appreciate the kind words.

      Reply
  16. John Arthur

    Hi Chris,

    Can a religious text that claims to be God breathed contain commands to commit genocide? If so, how and why? Can a religious text that supports slavery be God breathed? If so, how and why? is genocide a moral act if God is said to command it?

    You don’t believe that the Koran is inspired of God. Why? Is the violence commanded by God in the Koran moral or immoral? How does it differ from the violence commanded by God in the bible?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  17. archaeopteryx

    I assume you are pro-life. I assume you believe abortion, the killing of the unborn, is murder. If you believe these things then God, who certainly killed the unborn in the flood, is a murderer.

    Bruce, Bruce, Bruce – don’t tell me you’ve forgotten all of the abortions performed on the Canaanite women, when their bellies were ripped open and the embryo slaughtered! You don’t have to go NEARLY so far back as the flood, which everyone knows was plagiarized from the Sumerian poem in Mesopotamia, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” which itself was a fictional account of an actual Mesopotamian flood in 2900 BCE (pre-Noah 300 years), when the Euphrates River overflowed its banks to a depth of 15 cubits (22.5 feet), flooding an area the size of three modern counties during the reign of King Ziusudra (an actual, historical king), who escaped the flood by boarding a trading barge loaded with cotton, cattle and beer (oh my!) and floated on down to the Persian Gulf.

    Reply
  18. archaeopteryx

    Hey, I call ’em like I see ’em —

    Reply
  19. archaeopteryx

    Sounds like we have a case of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do –‘

    Reply
  20. archaeopteryx

    Here’s a thought, Chris – and think it through – the Jews wanted the land occupied by the Canaanites, so their leaders said, “God wills it!” and it was on – ask yourself, knowing humanity as you must by now, including Nazi Germany, if that was possible.

    Let me get ahead of you – do you believe the Bible is inerrant, or do you see the hand of Man in there? That said, are you of the belief, as many Christians are, that man is forever flawed? Then realize that those flawed men wrote the Bible.

    Reply
  21. archaeopteryx

    The story I’ve gotten to that question from theists, Bruce (same with the children drowned in the ‘flood’), was that their god, being omniscient and all (but having to ‘come down’ to see the Tower of Babel), KNEW what the children were going to grow up to be, and so spared them that. What a Sweetheart!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      As you know, making excuses for God is an apologetical duty. 🙂

      Reply
  22. archaeopteryx

    It’s called ‘confirmation bias‘.

    Reply
  23. archaeopteryx

    In that vein, if Yeshua actually WERE the son of a god, he would have been an exact clone of his – actually, HER – mother, having only her DNA, as having DNA would make a real god divisible and therefore ‘human’. Just a thought —

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Interesting statement (the part I think I understand) but waaaayyyy over my head. Could you dumb-it-down for me?

      Reply
  24. archaeopteryx

    A hypothetical question about a mythical creature really doesn’t sound like anything with which you should be wasting any adult’s time. What’s next, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    Reply
  25. John Arthur

    Hi Chris,

    Does the biblical claim that God’s ways are higher than our ways mean that God can act in ways that are inconsistent with his so-called revelation? Now according to the bible God commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites including little children and babies. Yet according to the same bible, Jesus is said to tell his disciples to love their enemies and he also is said to have treated little children in ways that are incompatible with killing them.

    As a Christian, do you think that the OT God that commanded genocide is the real God or do you think that Jesus is the express image of the invisible God? How can you reconcile these two Gods? One is immoral on many occasions but the Jesus of the sermon on the Plain rejects murdering little children and babies in the name of God. Maybe you hold to the Jihadi Jesus of the book of Revelation? I wonder which (if any) is the real God and the real Jesus?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  26. John Arthur

    Hi Chris,

    Are the ways of the Jihadi Jesus of the book of revelation higher than the ways of Jesus of the sermon on the Mount and the sermon on the Plain? Or are the ways of the latter higher than those of the former?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  27. Brian

    Chris feeeeeels god and so God. That is fine by me. It makes no sense but GOD. Chris feeeeels GOD. I do not feel God. If GOD then anything….
    Woo-woo wins.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      I see you went to the dispensary tonight Brian.

      Reply
      1. Brian

        Well, no, but I can easily summon a whoop and high by staring at a tree for instance or even Whitman’s blade of grass. I think this is a human bent, this tickle or holler of feeling that we carry in us. One might suggest that we your skeptical belief is very similar to my atheism in that they both rely heavily on how we feel as individuals about the ‘facts’. The difference for me is that my feeling there is no God is confirmed by my being honest with myself and saying each day, confirming my faith, “Nope, no God today…. I honestly would say Hi if the large and abusive prick ever did come around my place but he doesn’t, because, he isn’t. You on the other hand prefer to say that because we cannot see everything, we might indeed be missing something, therefore God exists.
        We do attend our dispensaries one way or the other. Is yours Pentecostal or a personal flavor of belief that stands outside the branding?

        Reply

Leave a Comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.