How well meaning Christians can love people into an eternal death!
Published: 4 July 2017 (GMT+10)
Originally featured in a CMI newsletter, July 2010
Unfortunately, many within the church unwittingly fall for an oft used tactic by atheists, because they are scared that the God of a Christian faith would be caricatured as an unloving, judgmental Creator. To portray God as irrelevant and out of touch in a politically correct world we hear statements like “If God is a God of love why doesn’t he love homosexuals?” Or pro-abortionists might say “If God is all-knowing He would understand why some need to have abortions.”
Of course these are straw man arguments—that is, they are fallacies presented in a way to divert from the core issue. And the core issue always goes back to Genesis because it really cuts to the chase. That is, if God is Creator, He has the perfect right to say what happens with His Creation. He made it; He owns it; He sets the rules! (And yes He does love us—see later). This highlights why the creation issue is the key cultural battleground today. The skeptics hope that the church will avoid dealing with the creation issue by getting them to see it as non-essential and divisive. They readily recognize that the weak underbelly of the church—the all embracing liberal sections of it—are so eager not to cause offence that they unwittingly actually buy into this antigod agenda (See Foxes crying foul in the henhouse! for some examples of this), or capitulate completely by embracing evolution.
Who is being divisive really?
For example, many leaders in the modern Emergent and Seeker Sensitive church phenomenon, if asked a straight forward question like “Is homosexuality wrong?”, will wriggle about and often proffer an explanation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 from the ‘New Standard, Non-Inspired, Double Speak’ translation of the Bible to avoid the plain obvious meaning of such passages (lest we cause offence). The motive might be well-meaning by trying to avoid being divisive. But I wonder how many realize, that those who do not accept the Scriptures in the plainest, straightforward way that the authors intended are actually the ones that are being divisive—particularly when it comes to the book of Genesis. If we retreat from a plain understanding of the foundational meaning for the entrance of sin, death and our need for salvation, then the Bible is up for grabs for any interpretation that one desires. After all, if the truth does not begin in the first book, where does is begin?
The liberal all-inclusive notion that God ‘loves’ all sinners (as in, will not judge gays and indeed all sinners who are outside of Christ) actually has the opposite effect of what those well-meaning churches and leaders desire. If God has no problems with sin then why even bother becoming a Christian? The evolutionary, humanistic worldview says evolution is ‘real’ science, therefore Genesis is wrong, there is no creator, so there is no need for a savior and thus, one can make up your own rules about life. For most, if evolution is true then what’s the point of going to church? The caricature is actually founded if the church does not believe what it is supposed to believe!
To find the origin of sin and define what it means one has to go back to Genesis—the New Testament points back there (Romans 5:12). Sin is rebellion from the Creator (the way that the majority of the world lives its life today—justified somewhat by evolution), and subsequent to the events in the Garden of Eden the law was given that we might realize our offences and more importantly who we are offending. If inclusivity is at the expense of not pointing out that sin offends the Creator, then how will people ever understand that they are sinners and that they need to be saved?
It’s not complicated
The Gospel is not hard to understand. We live in a sin-cursed, fallen world, we are all going to die and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Is God a God of love? Absolutely! “… God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And Christ is God’s own Son—the Creator of the universe. But it won’t make a lot of sense if we don’t refer people back to the foundational reason they need to be saved. If we don’t, then we risk ‘loving’ people into a Godless eternity. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Let’s similarly ‘love’ our neighbours by telling them the truth of creation.
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Gary, just want to agree with your replies to Anthony B. He says there are contradictions in the Bible. There are also contradictions in science. But if we look closely at both, those contradictions are only apparent. For instance it was found that in certain chemical reactions, mass was lost. But when you take into account E=MC2, you can see that the mass did not "disappear" but was converted into energy.
First Response to "H.C."
In Greek philosophy, the logos remains an impersonal force, a lifeless and abstract philosophical concept that is a necessary postulate for the cause of order and purpose in the universe. In Hebrew thought, the Logos is personal. He indeed has the power of unity, coherence, and purpose, but the distinctive point is that the biblical Logos is a He, not an it.All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John's Logos when he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions. God's Logos does include action. The Logos is the eternal Word in action. But it is no irrational action or sheer expression of feeling. It is the divine Actor, acting in creation and redemption in a coherent way, who is announced in John's Gospel. That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is the startling conclusion of John's prologue. The cosmic Christ enters our humanity. It is the supreme moment of visitation of the eternal with the temporal, the infinite with the finite, the unconditioned with the conditioned.
This site and a lot of others always refer to the scriptures as the word of god. The scriptures themselves state that Jesus is the word of god. The scriptures that you refer to as anointed, are quite simply a compilation that was done by a group of people who you never even met, and whom you know almost nothing about.You constantly make ridiculous assumptions about those writings that do not stand close scrutiny.
You say " God has to stand against evil, " which seems to be found somewhere in the thoughts of anybody other then those who swallow all of your renderings. Adam appears to be a combined effort of the Godhead, and he is found wanting in many areas. If one is perfect, one does not make mistakes. If one is created imperfect, then why is he held responsible for his actions? The ten commandments are held up as the way to righteousness, but in actuality, they simply represent the ideal way for man to live on the planet. According to you, one must believe in Jesus as the son of God, and depend upon him for salvation. All one has to do is watch some of the nature series on tv, to see that there are a lot of people living, and dying, in the jungles of the world, who have never heard of Jesus. No one has ever had any choices about what country they are born in, what abilities they are born with, what race, or family they are born in, What they look like, what conditions they are born in. In fact you had no choice about anything at all. Yet you assume that all men are created equal when it comes to accepting your particular brand of religion, or belief system. You will demonize me and what I have stated, because it points to your many shortcomings as the self appointed authority on all things religious. Does the phrase whited wall mean anything to you?
The usual diatribe of ignorance I'm afraid. You hurl accusations as if you are an authority about the seeming lack of about the inerrancy of God's Word. Why do I use a strong term like ignorant? Well, that means to profess knowing about something when you don't. I'm not even going to waste my time answering your assertions because you obviously have not even bothered to spend anytime on this site that has over 12,500 articles, including many that will answer your questions. If it makes you feel good to hurl elephants in an apparent attempt to justify your own atheism, godlessness or perhaps, behavior, then go ahead, but it doesn't gain much traction to those who've actually done the research. So you really think Christians have a blind faith? What we believe is based upon actual historical events unlike evolution, which is a collation of apparent one-time events that no one has even witnessed. I think there is one finger pointing at us, and five back at you. If you have a specific seeming refutation of any evidence, we'd be happy to answer it. Or perhaps invest in $3.50 and grab a copy of How did we get our Bible? which is a lay person's introduction (something you obviously need) as to how and why we believe the Bible is God's Word.
When men in the early church questioned the teachings of Christ and his apostles and began to practice and teach contrary to the truth, the writers of the epistles did not continue to see them as "Christian brothers" with just a different opinion. Paul confronted such people wherever he found them in the churches. His message was the same as Christ's: there is only one way, only one truth, and all Christians were to speak the same thing. Those that brought divisive viewpoints into the church were rebuked and admonished. Paul said that after two admonitions, a heretic was rejected: they were practicing sin. The church remained united in their beliefs for a very long time as they followed the teaching of the apostles and Christ and how to deal with those who taught contrary messages. In the case of the Galatian church, Paul strongly condemns the false apostles who taught the necessity of circumcision and said they were "accursed." He told them how he even rebuked Peter publicly when he acted contrary to the truth of the gospel. Peter took the correction. But in today's churches, division is the norm and denominationalism has taken a strong foothold throughout the world, but instead of denouncing such evil divisions as sinful and a corruption in the church, the modern leaders cow-tow to any who call themselves leaders of the church, afraid to offend, afraid to be called "judgmental." One of the amazing and wonderful things about the Lord Jesus is his fearless attitude as he preached the gospel. In spite of great opposition, he continued to preach the truth even when his life was threatened and even through the judgment and trial and the cross. He commands all his followers to take up their cross, willing to suffer, but how few have done that today?
I think there is a difference between division along demoninational lines and divisions that are possibly salvation issues like saying same-sex marriage is ok, as it goes against the created order and design that God made. Or abortion, which is essentially murder. As an Australian (where we have relatively fewer churches) living in the US and I see so many varieties of denominations and evangelical churches here, and yet the church is stronger in the US than in any other country. Where some countries have been essentially represented by large single denominations, in almost every case you will see the church crumbling with reducing numbers because they have often succumbed and compromised, seemingly in an effort to be more inclusive and representative. But as I kinda wrote, if we try to be all things to all people, we end up being nothing to nobody. In the US when large denominations have compromised, there have been splits due to those wanting to be faithful to God's Word. This is not a bad thing, IMHO, it is a good thing. The diversity of churches here has been it's strength I believe.
"God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. He hated Esau, He now hates Esau and always will hate Esau. He laid Esau's mountains and heritage waste. He created and raised Pharaoh to power for the express purpose of destroying him. He hates all the vessels of His wrath. He creates some men as the brute beast of the field, to be taken and destroyed. Some men were ordained to this condemnation. Christ did not die for the pharisees who were clearly not of His sheep. He died only for His sheep. He refused to pray for the world in His prayer of salvation (John 17:9). When Paul said God demonstrated His love toward us, he was referring to the elect Romans (Rom 9:11-13). You are reading someone else's mail. For God so loved the world ... But like Nicodemus you remain completely ignorant of the sovereign birth from above. Ironically, YOU are guilty of inclusivity. Out of your own mouth will you be judged. For misrepresenting the particular love of God for His elect, and only His elect.
Wow Steve, what a loving comment! Where is the love of God in you? It is certainly not manifest in this comment. CMI does not take a particular view or side in the areas you are talking about and your particular brand of apparent 'God-hating Calvinism'. We have several folks in the ministry who are Calvinists who would totally disagree with your approach. And I also think you miss-apply the perspective here. God hates people eh? That's news to me for God so loved the world that He gave His only son, and the second part of that most famous passage in John 3 says He did not send His Son to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him. You have a problem in that you think that anyone who does not follow your own warped brand of theology is not saved. I think you need to be very careful, remembering that about half the church of our Lord Jesus Christ does not hold a hyper-Calvinist view like you. Then again, I suspect you think they are not saved. Sigh! Need I say more? Yes, you are right, I can recognize who are my brothers and sisters in Christ (unlike you), so I am guilty of inclusivity in that regard.
Many of the pleas for a 'loving God' are made, not with the God of the Bible in mind, but with the 'god' invented by the currently dominant 'religion of Me'. Of course abortion is wrong: it murders innocent people. If you don't want the child put it up for adoption. Grow up and be responsible for your sexual activity. However, in the 'religion of Me' it is OK, because that religion is about 'me' not anyone else.
Homosexuality is different. It represents a genetic dead end and obviously does unprocreative things with sex. Not that all sex has to be procreative, of course. Paul teaches this firmly. However, the dangers of sham-sex marriage are that it will be detrimental to the mental health and safety of children enmeshed in it, cutting children off from the enduring company of at least one parent, or, in the worst cases, turning them and their surrogate mothers into commodities for the cynical exploitation by the members of the 'religion of Me'.
God is not merely 'against' these things, but is 'against' them because they cut across the rights and nature of the other people intimately effected and are therefore inhuman.
Thank you Gary for this reminder once again of the importance of clearly relying on the right foundations, and therefore coming to the right conclusions. "For the wages of sin is death, and the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". Romans 6;23 The wages of sin is physical death, and eternal death - let us not shy away from what that actually is: Eternal death being everlasting torment and darkness for the unrepentant sinner. Yes hell is a real place, and like myself once I understood this, it turned me to God, belief and repentance, and joy in accepting His grace. The truth of hell does not always turn people away - some of us respect being told the truth straight.
People focus on the supremacy of love in Matt. 22:36-39 . “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ However, it must not be ripped out of the context of Matt. 22:40, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” The commands to not engage in homosexual relationships are based on love just as much as "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another" (Eph 4:32). It all comes down to love, but we must recognize that we are often bad at loving. We need to submit to our creator's instruction to overcome our bias toward pleasing ourselves rather than truly loving others.
Dear Gary Bates,
Thank you for your explanation which I understand.As a member of a fundamentalist organisation, you need to know that not everyone follows your viewpoint and find that the many inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible make belief difficult. For example can you run an article on Jesus' words in Matthew 10:34?
Thanks for your understanding Anthony. But respectfully to hear that you are a member of a Bible-believing denomination, but yet believe that the Bible has inconsistencies and contradictions is a loaded statement. Quite simply, if the Bible is God's Word, then it is an extension of God Himself. And if it full of errors then surely it cannot be God's Word, or if it is, then God is not the all-powerful, all knowing and loving God we think He is. Sadly, I gain the impression that you might be reading a listening to the skeptic's arguments about so called contradictions. BTW in my 25 years of ministry I have not found there to be a single case of this. Again, it is incumbent upon you to research these things, rather than looking for reasons not to believe, perhaps. With regard to Matt. 10:34 and the peace that Jesus brings. I could also cite passages where He said He would, essentially, cause family members to 'hate' one another. Trusting Jesus Words will cause division because there will always be those who do not want to take Him at His Word. As I wrote in the article, they are the ones actually causing division (or a lack of peace) in the church. Paul wrote that trusting in Jesus will provide true peace and one that will surpass all human understanding and reasoning (Philippians 4:7). I recommend that it's about time you believed in Jesus, and who He said He is, and what He wrote to us (His Word).
So many people, including pastors and preachers, focus on the love of God and his mercy and kindness, and well they should, for that part of his character is absolutely true and should be spoken about as often as possible. But there is another side of the character of God, his holiness, righteousness and justice, that seems to be consistently avoided or ignored by most people, yet this should be spoken about as equally as his love.Note Jeremiah 9:23 and 24 : Thus says the LORD, " Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, nor let the rich man boast in his riches; but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight," declares the LORD. Notice that God says he is both a loving AND righteous God.In John 3:16 we read: " For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life." Note that it doesn't say " For God so loved the world that he saved everybody." Why not, since God is a kind, loving and merciful God? The reason it doesn't say that is because God is also a holy, righteous and just God and he must punish sin. Since God is infinite and eternal, all the attributes of God co-exist to infinity and into eternity. He cannot deny himself. At the cross we see the holiness of God (Christ dying for the sins of the whole world) and also the love of God (Christ taking the sins of all mankind upon himself) manifested at one and the same time. Because of this, God remained consistent with himself by satisfying his holiness and love at one and the same time. Now does this sound like a God of myth, fairy tale and make believe?
Thanks for this article! Always accurate to what people actually say! Two more things I one hear atheists say are, "Your God is cruel since He created sin, why would He do that?" And "I don't need God to feel fully satisfied and have meaning." Unfortunately, another line I hear far too often from Christians is that to talk about and teach young Earth creationism, "turns people away" from the Gospel. However, as you correctly point out, once Christians start changing the message of scripture to fit within a materialistic and humanistic framework, that's when people truly get "turned away" because there is no reason to believe that message at all!
Even as an atheist studying paleontology, radioisotope dating, and Old World “prehistory”, I realized the scientific and philosophical problems in these areas. A well-meaning Christian pointed me to the books of Hugh Ross, hoping I would “see the light”, but they just made me laugh. I could only think that anyone who claimed to believe in the God of the Bible, but then butchered His revelation to fit it into the twisted ideology of evolutionism, didn’t have a god worth believing in. When my Christian friend pressed me to put my faith in Christ, I could only say, as Gary Bates does here, “What’s the point?” I don’t need the warm fuzzies of an easy religion, presided over by a sycophant of a “Saviour”. That’s all we have, or worse, when our doctrine is founded on fluffernutter “love” rather than on the bedrock of Genesis. Reading this article brought to mind a line in the film Chariots of Fire: “What we need now is a muscular Christian.” What the Church in the West needs is a muscular Christianity. We’ll only get there by tackling the big issues, and no Christian should be afraid of true science, or of challenges to biblical creation: the deeper we dig, the closer we get to the truth. God used the writings of the world’s leading misotheist, Richard Dawkins, to expose the inconsistencies and intellectual corruption that are rampant in an evolutionary Weltanschauung, and to lead me to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Truly “He who sits in the heavens laughs” (Psalm 2:4). Thank you, Mr. Bates, for your incisive words. I’m looking forward to being refreshed, equipped, and challenged at the Creation Super Conference in August.
Thanks Meg. Your own analysis is very insightful too. Similarly, I can recall, as a non-believer myself, how poor my Christian friends argumentation was (i.e. poor apologetics), when I challenged them over scientific issues. It's so sad that too many Christians and leaders fall for the very poor apologetics of Hugh Ross who often changes his tune when the 'world's science' also changes. I wrote the following strong article to about the likes of Ross and also Biologos, called its-not-christianity to hopefully spark a wake-up call to those taken in by those who place their authority in secular scientific ideas instead of the Bible. BTW just typing Hugh Ross into our search engine will reveal a wealth of articles on his ideas.
Enjoy your time at the SuperConference in Canada. You'll have a blast!
Most translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9 state that sex between men is banned. So is lesbianism permitted?
Anthony, it's interesting how you repeatedly send in such comments—seemingly challenging the Bible's authority in such areas. I wonder? Are you are Christian genuinely looking for answers. or a Bible doubter or even a skeptic trying to find loopholes etc? This is important because clearly with a little effort you can answers such comments yourself, so one wonders why you go to the trouble. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:9 talks about men, so maybe you think there is a loophole by omission and therefore lesbianism is ok. One can clearly make logical deductions from Scripture and 'blind freddy' could understand that anything other than male to female relationships are forbidden as they would go against God's created order in Genesis. In addition, in Romans 1:25-27 says:
" because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."
So, it is pretty easy to specifically see a condemnation of female to female relationships. However, if you don't accept God as Creator and that his Word to us is absolute, then we are talking past each other anyway. As such, I would respectfully suggest you consider your own position before God Himself before questioning and continuing to send us such questions and comments.
1 Corinthians 6:9 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, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. - The Gospel is *inclusive* of all who repent, turning to God.
Indeed. Note I said 'those who are outside of God' which is everyone who does not acknowledge Christ as Saviour.