This is the second part of my YouTube series entitled “A Defense of Living Biblically”. In this next part I take on an statement by Rachel Oates that is a very common attack by atheists and sadly even some Christians asserting that we cannot really follow the Bible. These attacks have even been used in some television shows over the years including the new television series “Living Biblically”. This video is also available as an mp3 audio download in my audio section here.
After watching this video I suggest reading these articles that I have previously written on methods for properly interpreting the Bible:
How to Correctly Interpret the Bible
What is the distinction between the Moral, Ceremonial and Civil laws of the Old Testament?
What are the Moral Laws of God in the Old Testament?
Also on the controversial topic of slavery that I covered in this video please see the article below that I previously wrote on that subject:
5 thoughts on “Shellfish, Mixed Fabrics And Slavery – Oh My!”
The problem is, as you say, most Christians don’t even understand how to properly understand their bibles. They believe that ANYTHING that is considered a “law” can be ignored! Then they consider anything in the old testament to be law, so they ignore it unless its “reaffirmed in the new testament”, and even then if it really offends their wordly beliefs that will ignore that too!
I would agree that, though we don’t observe the civil laws of ancient Israel the application of those laws are not outside of Gods moral law. Slavery, the death penalty for certain activities such as homosexuality or adultery: Not something we observe here in the United States, but if they were implemented they would not offend God, as He commanded them to Israel! God would not command something sinful!
So many milk drinkers amongst the ranks of the church when so many should be eating meat. The meat, however, can sometimes be a bitter food, as it requires us to understand and accept things that are outside of our understanding. Let us pray that more will work on giving up the bottle and enjoying the bbq!
Continuing in my thinking, it seems like even the majority of pastors don’t know how to correctly understand the bible. In my posts about dealing with the pastors of my old church, both pastors L and B questioned whether or not I was going to give up shellfish and start wearing tassels on my coat if I was going to forbid my wife from teaching a Sunday service. Now, I suppose its possible that they were merely asking me these questions because they were offended and irritated with me, but the alternative, that they would honestly believe that if I took the words of the bible to mean what they said, that women should not be teaching the congregation, then I also needed to not wear mixed linens, avoid shaving my beard and give up a particular type of food, that is particularly frightening.
The whole shellfish, mixed fabrics and wearing tassels argument is merely a diversionary tactic. And that is why I believe it is so utterly important to educate Christians on this false argument that tries to tell us we cannot take the Bible literally or attempt to live by it. As I said on the video none of us can perfectly live by the Bible while in these sinful bodies. We sin every day, we fail to meet God’s righteous standard each and every day.
But God wants us to lean on his strength and not our own to follow him.
In the theological world that I came from, debates about theonomy have been raging for over 50 years. I my self was a student of Greg Bahnsen, IMO one of the best minds on the subject. Over the years I have come to see the law from three perspectives. The division of moral, ceremonial and civil. (A particular law may reside not just in one category exclusivly, but may reside in all three.) The second perspective is jurisdictional governance, ie family, church and state. The third perspective is its use: to demonstrate a desperate need for the gospel, to order and restrain society and to reveal a path of sanctification for the children of God. All three perspectives have a bearing on a particular law. Much like John Frame’s triperspectival approach the application of God’s law (moral, civil, cermonial) in situations (need of justification, restraint of evil, sanctification) to persons (family, church, state). While there is still ambiguity on the application of some case law the post-assention church can embrace the principles while viewing the specifics as temporary scaffolding used during construction. It is not that the case law applications have been repealed, they have been satisfied or completed.
There are a collection of answers to these gotcha objections. One common example that many throw out is the prohibition on the trimming of the edges of the beard. It seems like a cultural colloquialism, but upon closer examination the following can be observed. 1 there is no word distinction in Hebrew between side burn and beard like in English. 2 there are several other places in scripture where men looking like women is forbidden. Hence the law against trimming the edges of beard was a prohibition against shaving the entire face and sideburns in order to appear effeminate (transvestite). So while I would not tell a man to not trim his side burns, I would encourage him to look like a man and in this way embrace the principle of the law. The principle endures even when the application passes into disuse. Separation laws no longer are in force, but have been abrogated. The principles of Holiness that they taught still apply. Slavery is a much deeper topic but suffice it say, practiced God’s way it was a blessing to all. There are many big books on the topic and I am not ashamed or afraid to defend the holy law of God from any sceptic or mocker, but then again I was and am a minority of such testamental continuity.
This is a long winded way of saying that the principle of progressive revelation is very different than the repeal of a Constitutional amendment. God doesn’t change His mind, He changes the situation.
I fully recognize that obviously the Constitution is not the inspired Word of God and while the laws contained in the Constitution can be changed by men(the representatives of the people of the United States) only God can change his laws. And I agree that God’s morality never changes and that he changed the law because he changed the situation with the coming of Christ. He had always planned on changing the law when Christ came. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
The way I look at it is like this. I had different rules for my children when they were younger, and then when they were young adults and got into their late teens I had a different set of rules for them. It was not because my morality changed, it was because the situation changed and they were older now. I believe this is the similar not that man became better before Christ came. Man is just as sinful as he ever was. But it was because as you say – the situation changed – Christ came and did what God had planned since the foundation of the world.
So while there are these differences – I still maintain there is in fact a similarity to a repeal of a Constitutional amendment. There was a law that was to be followed, then the law maker changed his law(based on the situation) and that law no longer is required to be followed. So I maintain the analogy is still good even if there are some differences. The Constitutional law is man-made and directed by changes of the wills and mind of the representatives of the people. Biblical law is divine and can only be altered or abrogated by God and God never changes in his moral character but he changes the situation thus necessitating a change of his law.