Tim LaHaye and the End of the World

This is my last Apologetics column for Christian Today  I think I have written 25!  Next week I am starting a new series on the book of Revelation!

Tim LaHaye and the end times: What should we believe about the end of the world?

Do we have the correct view of the End Times?

I knocked on the door which was ajar. My friend was not at home and yet a pan was boiling on the hob, the radio was on, and the house gave every appearance of being occupied. The lines from Larry Norman’s I wish we’d all been ready ‘the Son has come and you’ve been left behind’, went through my head. I had not been a Christian long but already the very popular apocalyptic Left Behind genre was part of my life. I even gave a lecture, at the request of my history teacher, on the end of the world – based entirely upon Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth.

All of this came back to mind this week when I heard of the death of Tim La Haye, aged 90. LaHaye, along with Jerry B Jenkins, authored the Left Behind series of books which have sold more than 65 million copies and been made into a successful film series. The ‘rapture’ theology is important, not just because of the impact it has upon Christians, but because of the potential impact it has upon the rest of the world. It directly impacts politics and key world questions such as the Middle East and Israel. It also taps into a very popular film and book genre – the apocalyptic, ‘it’s the end of the world as we know it’, scenarios.

 

It appears that everyone loves disaster movies. But is the Bible the ultimate disaster movie? Does the Book of Revelation provide a blueprint for the end times? Next month I hope to begin a new series for Christian Today on Revelation for Today, but meanwhile let’s consider what the Bible has to say about the end of the world. In particular let’s deal with the challenge that there are Christians who have a kind of armageddon, apocalyptic theology.

Armageddon is a reference to the belief (based on Revelation 16:16) that some Christians have about the last great battle on earth. I am always wary about beliefs based on one particular verse, even more so when it comes in a difficult to grasp book like Revelation. The Bible teaches that just as Christ ascended into heaven so he will return – not this time as a baby in a manager but as the King to judge the whole earth. Revelation chapter 20 speaks of the Millennium, the 1,000-year reign of Christ. There are three basic understandings of that (along with numerous variations); Post, Pre and A-Millennialism.

Post millenialists believe that the Gospel age began with Pentecost and will end when Christ returns, but before he does there will be a great period (not necessarily a literal 1,000 years) in which there will be Gospel prosperity, the Jews will be converted and many come into the Kingdom.

A-millienialists believe that the millennium began with Pentecost and that there will be no special end time blessing.

Pre-millenialists believe that Christ will return, and then establish his 1,000-year reign. It is from this latter group that we get a lot of millennial thinking in the Christian church associated with strong support for the nation state of Israel (the emergence of Israel in 1948 and the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 is seen as a fulfillment of prophecy). The emergence of the Christian Brethren founded by JN Darby towards the end of the 19th Century, and the Scofield Reference Bible had an enormous impact, especially in the US. End times theology remains incredibly influential (and lucrative). I grew up in that tradition and can testify that the imagery of the Rapture (when Christ returns and takes Christians up to heaven, leaving the rest of the world to get on with it) is very powerful. However I have since come to see that dispensational pre-millennialism is a 19th century creation and is only one particular interpretation of the Bible that is by no means clear on this. The literal and physical are not the same as the literal and figurative.

Whatever one’s view of the millennium (and personally I think as a Christian you could hold any one of the three – the one thing we can all agree on is that Christ is returning as both judge and saviour), it is surely not right to read the USA and the UK into the Bible, when they are not there. However this field does allow for all kinds of weird and wonderful speculations and all manner of eccentricities. At best they are harmless, at worst they can fuel fantasies which could do a great deal of harm. The doctor who told me that the British are the lost tribe of Israel (a rather bizarre heresy known as British Israelitism) is not quite on a par with those who think that Armageddon is coming, so it won’t do any harm to speed it up. Poor theology in the hands of twisted minds is always a dangerous combination.

Poor theology in the hands of twisted minds is always a dangerous combination

As Philip Jensen states “Christianity is a big story religion”. There are multiple facets to the cosmic story that it seeks to tell. Sometimes people get bogged down in the details. Sometimes they get things out of proportion. But what is obvious is that there is a clear Christian view of history. It is not directly linear, as some people believe; ie that the world is steadily getting better or steadily getting worse. The Christian view is that the world is moving from the first coming of Christ, to the second, but that it does so as history is moving in circular patterns towards that deliberate end.

I will leave it to Justin Martyr, the early Church apologist, to summarise Christian teaching about the end of the world.

“He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by his angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils.” (First Apology – p180).

Sensible thinking modern Western people of course regard all such talk of the end of the world as medieval, fanatical and depressing. And yet their alternative is, if anything, more apocalyptic. The world will be destroyed by nuclear weapons, climate change, a comet or a virus. Ultimately of course nothing matters because the universe is going to either explode or implode…and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s such a hopeless position. Bertrand Russell spoke of his ‘unyielding despair’ when he contemplated the inevitable death of the universe.

“No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought or feeling, can preserve a life beyond the grave…all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system; and the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.”

The Christian has a far greater hope. We believe that this universe is indeed time limited and bound for destruction. But we also believe that the heavens and earth will be renewed. Rather than a universe in ruins, we see a renewed universe. Meanwhile as Romans 8 tells us “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Why the Church has to Start Talking about Hell

Pie in the Sky when you Die? – Understanding Heaven


31 thoughts on “Tim LaHaye and the End of the World

  1. ‘it’s the end of the world as we know it’ yes there is somewhat of an element of poetic licence being taken with that for what one of use knows first that the world will end and second that we will have any knowledge of how it will if it does?

    So – there is a degree of conjecture in this.

    It’s a tricky book to interpret with two dangers, avoiding it entirely and reading things into it that aren’t there. I’d not heard of that British Israelitism one before! Isn’t it interesting how we can try to compartmentalise things into perceived realities sometimes with little or no evidence of the facts being that way?

    It’s important to remember the context – John exiled on the island of Patmos writing to a persecuted church with encouraging words and much symbolism that the early church could relate to. So yes – the thoughts of justice and truth prevailing sooner or later in difficult times is a universal message we can all take in order to get through life as a needed comfort.Not avoiding the realities of the harshness of life but neither being dragged down by them instead it engendering hope.

  2. Well said. I grew up in the same tradition as you. Like you I have rejected dispensationalism as a system though of course all agree there are different dispensations. dispensationalism does however offer an ingenious solution to Daniels seventieth week which I struggle with. Other systems tend to treat the first 69 as more or less literal but the 70th as figurative. I understand this but do find it perplexing. Darby’s solution provided consistency here. Be interesting to see your solution here.

    One of the best very short studies in Revelation I have read is Revelation Unwrapped by the late John Richardson.

  3. I’ve changed my position on this, though I do think it’s a topic wider than the book of Revelation.

    The change has been quite recent especially after reading two books in particular

    1 Starting with Greg Beale’s “The Temple and the Church’s Mission”

    2 Particularly, Sam Storms “Kingdom Come” which I found needs study – it’s not just a quick read, especially after coming at it from a different perspective. It also relates his move from a dispensationalist upbringing and theological training.

    But the default position for me is that I don’t think that overall scripture supports the return of Christ twice.

    And for me, the more I’ve read about “biblical theology” the more I’ve concluded along the lines of Storms, and many others. I wasn’t a Christian when it seems that “Left Behind” was at the peek of popularity, but the first critique of it I heard was a lecture by Tom Wright. (Will I now be banned from this site for mentioning his name?)

    I do think that the eschatalogical perspective affects how we are church.

    Look forward reading what you have to say. It could be a bumpy ride.

  4. The first big selling End Times novel is The Lord of the World by the Catholic priest Robert Hugh Benson. It has been recommended by both the Pope and the Pope Emeritus so it can be taken to be a fair insight into Catholic thinking on the subject.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_World

    Also of interest might be The End of the Present World a series of sermons by Fr Charles Arminjon a book that inspired St Therese of Lisieux
    https://www.sophiainstitute.com/products/item/End-of-the-Present-World-The

  5. Interesting – worth downloading some of Dr Steve’s Brady’s morning bible studies from Keswick the past week.Difficult subject but attempted to see past the different views to the Person about who the book is about. Not an easy subject to cover a whole book in a week, though!

    Personally dispensationalism seems to be a good explanation of scripture but it’s easy to lose the context of intense persecution that was ongoing when the book was written, and try to fit theories, including dispensationalism, to the book.

  6. Why is Satan not afforded the opportunity to repent? Even though he seems to be the most ill informed and foolish being in all creation, it is clear that his final course of action is set and he cannot change it.

    Despite being one of the angelic host who received God’s beatific vision, he still seems to be of the opinion he can do things better, thus contributing to his own downfall. Notwithstanding this mind-numbingly stupid act on his part, once cast out, he has dominion over a host of demons. From whence did they originate?

    Even a cursory reading of Revelations 20 makes it clear that it all ends badly for him yet he continues regardless with his devilish plans and schemes, why? Why do the demons not realise they are backing a losing horse and repent also?

    Finally, why does there need to be a titanic confrontation as described in Revelations? God could dismiss Satan and all his ways in a heartbeat, yet no.

    1. Demons are fallen angels who appear to have followed Satan when he rebelled. Read Jude. The grace to repent is not given to fallen angels but only humanity. Why, we are not told, However, that repenting grace is given to humanity ought to magnify our gratefulness.

      The war in Revelation is a vision. We are not to treat it literally. It is a picture of human opposition to Christ and his final victory over it. Notice the rider has a sword coming out of his mouth (hardly literal). The point is he destroys his enemies by a word. In a heartbeat, as you say.

  7. Had to smile Jon,

    All these questions. Never heard it expressed in quite the same way – the stupidity of satan, (the god of this world) who clearly can’t see things as clearly as you can! Although he knows the scriptures, he obviously is not as omniscient as you.

    From Genesis to Revelation his character comes through, as the deceiver, imposter, defamer of the character and intention of God, who comes to kill, steal and destroy.

    God’s adversary, who seeks to usurp God, in pride and envy , blinding pride and since the fall continues his work in all of humanity, in pride seeking to usurp God, continuing to be sustained by knowledge of good and evil and the “pride of life” rather than sharing in the life of God. Blinding pride, bought into by humanity,since the “fall,” the blind leading the blind, by satan the god of this world, who seeks to replace God, wanting to “be like God.”

    I’ve heard it expressed in stark terms that humanity are passengers, unknowingly, blind, on a bus driven by satan to hell and need be on the bus driven by Christ Jesus to eternal life with Him.

    You have so many questions it reminds me of the book of Job.

    The book of revelation is a vision described in writing, put into words. Have you ever tried to describe a dream in detail? But it doesn’t take place in isolation, as John was clearly soaked to old testament scriptures.

    You may enjoy the book by CS Lewis, the “Screwtape Letters.”

    1. Once more, on close scrutiny, the unintelligible nature of religious dogma is revealed. Man’s sinful actions are a consequence of his free will. This is not an option afforded Satan and his demonic hordes but why then is he allowed dominion? What purpose does Satan serve an omnibenevolent God? His powers to deceive, defame, kill, steal and destroy are all granted him by God and for what reason. You admit he is not able to repent, even if he chooses to.

      1. Jon

        We did not ‘admit he is unable to repent , even if he chooses to’. This is an impossible scenario. To ‘choose to repent’ apart from God’s grace is not possible for sinful creatures; their nature will never incline them to do so. Sinful creatures by definition hate God and love rebellion. Satan never regrets sinning. He never has second thoughts. He never wishes for his unfallen state.

        Why did God allow Satan to fall? We don’t know. There is much that we don’t know because God has not told us. But the very desire to have all our questions answered is another indication of our sinfulness. We want to be God and know as God. This was the primal sin. But we are not God, we are creatures. We have no right to nor are we privy to knowing all we desire to know. God sets the bounds of what we know. He reveals to us enough to satisfy our intellectual integrity but he will not pander to our intellectual conceit.

  8. Jon,

    Jon,

    I can not recall in any of your posts on this site any consideration by you of “justice.”

    Satan is the personification of everything that is evil, so why do you seem to be so concerned about his repentance, when you should be concerned about your own.

    Satan, the adversary, is the Anti – Christ , the source of all hostility, objection to and rejection of Christ Jesus. Remind you of anyone, any self awareness here?

    Free will and evil . This is a typical “fall back” position of the atheist. It’s easy to bandy -about these words without definitions, but this is not the place to discuss it at any length. I’d refer you Tim Keller’s “Walking with God through pain and suffering” But of course you wont, because you are not really interested as you seem to still be feeding from the tree of Knowledge of good and evil,

    How free are our wills? We always do what we desire the most, and since the “fall” as you clearly demonstrate, have evidenced , you do not desire Christ Jesus, you are steadfastly anti- Christ, so how can you complain if God gives you what you desire and the consequences. And that brings us back to David’s quotation of CS Lewis in his article.

    And the bible doesn’t see sin as freedom of will, but slavery to sin.

    You ask what purpose does Satan serve an omnibenevolent God assumes a hidden premise premise that God does not have good reasons to allow evil to exist.

    God might have reasons for allowing evil to exist that outweigh the desirability of the non-existence of evil.

    At the cross of Christ, God allowed the cosmic evil in the death of His Son to defeat evil through the resurrection – the victory of Christ and at the final judgment the Glory of His Son will be demonstrated and displayed for all to see. It is all for the glory of Christ.

    As Blocher writes:

    “At the cross evil is conquered as evil… because God turns evil back on itself. He makes the supreme crime, the murder of the only righteous person, the very operation that abolishes sin. The manoeuvre is utterly unprecedented. No more complete victory could be imagined… God entraps the deceiver in his own wiles.”

    Here evil is defeated by love in the fulfilment of justice,

    As Calvin put it – on the cross destruction was destroyed, ” torment was tormented, damnation damned…death dead, mortality made immortal.”

  9. John

    Just read what you are saying. Your Satan is even more poorly defined than your God; you just make up what you want whilst describing the dumbest being in the cosmos! Do you know how completely irrational that paragraph is? As you admit, you don’t know why such a manifestly incoherent state can occur. The obvious answer is that it doesn’t.

    Graham

    I haven’t rejected Christ, he’s simply not there to reject. What I object to is the theists’ intellectual dishonesty when faced with the obvious contradictions of his theology. Does it not strike you that all the tough questions evoke the same ominous silence from God or is that just a coincidence

  10. Hello Jon,

    I think you are being predictably disingenuous and avoid tough questions when you are put on the spot.

    I think that anyone taking all your posts together would reasonably conclude that you are anti- Christ, despite your word games. Even on your own terms you are wasting your time on this site .

    I have answered the question you posed, but again you avoid the hard questions by trying to speak in the abstract, because Christ does get personal and asks down the centuries, “Who do you say I am? You are saying he is nothing, never even existed.

    As for playing games, I for one appreciate your posts as they strengthen my faith. And the bottom line is , is that there is spiritual discernment, for “God is Spirit and you must worship Him in Spirit and truth.” In love you have been warned about satan and hell. I pray that God does not give you over to your desires, but I fear that your heart and mind are hardened in pride.

  11. And Jesus said “Whoever is not with/for me is against me…” Mat 12:30. You are indeed anti-Christ, Jon, no matter what you think, particulary as you are in effect saying that He is a non-entity. You need be “born from above” by Holy Spirit before the “eyes of your understanding/heart” can be opened and can see/understand spiritual reality.

    But again I fear you have a closed and limited mind.

  12. Jon,

    I wrote my 11:59am comment before seeing your 11:58 comment.

    I am personally interested in your world view but do not think this site or any other is the place and is likely to be completely different from a face to face , one to one meeting. But it would include your personal life story and how you’ve arrived at your views as they can not be separated from you as a person.

    But I do wonder why you even seek to “engage” on this site.

    This is the only place on the net that I make any comment (other than one question seeking advice on a cycling site) and I’m not on fb or twitter, as overall there seems to a dearth of reliable sources and balanced discussion and a lack of interest or openess, in doubting our doubts, being skeptical about our skepticism, even being challenged in our beliefs. In sum the believe the net engenders adversarial positions that almost demand instant responses. That is why I prefer books and refer to them as they say all I’d like to if I had but the ability.

    In all my life ’till now I’ve not communicated in this way in working life and at times it brings out the worst in me. Perhaps, like the old Chris Farlowe song, “I’m out of time ”

    So why do you come onto this site?

  13. Graham

    I started to write a back story but you’re right, this really isn’t a suitable forum and it became a dull ramble! I visit this site because I heard David on the Unbelievable podcast and just thought how wrong he was. I generally only reply to his apologetics posts. I don’t expect to change people who subscribe but at least they may see there is another opinion rather than traditional dogma.

    It would be genuinely nice to sit down and discuss some of the issues at length and with decorum but I suspect even if I visited Dundee (and I have an old friend there who has been imploring me to do so for years), David is much too much of a media personality to spare the time for a lost soul such as I.

    By the way, your reference to the “being born from above” story in John, only makes sense if Jesus and Nicodemus were conversing in Greek!

  14. Hello Jon,

    You’re wrong – it wouldn’t be a dull ramble.

    I don’t personally know David, but know that Jesus left the 99 for the one. He’s just a bloke, a family man, even though you describe him as a media personality. I can’t speak for him, but there would be obvious practicalities – like his busyness, and sometimes itinerant ministry and his present illness – though he still keeps going. It’s clear from the St Peter’s site he’s not always there or speaking. It sounds like your old friend is being a friend indeed. I don’t want to put David in a difficult place. Well yes I do, he started it. But an offer of a coffee or a wee dram may swing it. (But your parents may have taken the Methodist pledge against alcohol, as had my wife’s mother.)

    You are clearly searching for meaning – listening to Unbelievable. I wouldn’t have known of its existence without being a Christian.

    I got to a point , after reading Frances Schaeffer and CS Lewis , that I knew that becoming a Christian was not a renunciation of intellect. In fact it was the opposite, and more, and deeply satisfying, fulfilling and more than an opinion, which is after all a statement of belief that something is true and astonishingly as David has mentioned in his Scotsman letter post today that the truth is a person, Christ Jesus. “I am.. the truth.”

    Had to smile again. Doubt that Jesus and Nicodemus spoke in Greek, even though it was recorded in a common language of the day. But the point was the imperative , necessity for and the reality behind the words of being “born from above/again”. YBH – (yes, but, how) how does that become reality. It starts with a desire/longing/need or a want to want.

    Astonishingly God offers Himself to you, a union with Him, not an opinion, not an idea, not a philosophy.

  15. Graham

    As I began to lose my faith (which was always theologically a little shaky as I never believed in biblical inerrancy), I just tried to find the most authoritative arguments for both sides. I have a job that involves commuting at unsociable hours so podcasts were a good way to get different viewpoints and avoid late night radio!

    I soon realised there were ill informed people on both sides of the debate as well as some brilliant scholars and deeply committed intellectuals. In the end, there were just too many logical arguments that theism couldn’t answer and too much reliance on scripture that was clearly the work of fallible humanity. I read extensively on theological history and form criticism.

    All I could see was the hand of mankind at every turn, nowhere was God apparent. Humanity was equally inspired to bestial cruelty in his name, as it was in glorious reflection, either way he was always immutably silent. Theists always seem sure they know his will; yet the histories of all religions share a common thread of continuous internal conflict.

    David’s claim that he “hasn’t enough faith to be an atheist” goes to the root of my objection. The foundations of ethics, and science, are not absolutely rock solid – but that’s okay. They’re solid enough to make progress. There is a place for intellectual hand wringing about foundations, but that doesn’t mean that anything goes and that we may as well give up. I don’t believe that as a species, Homo sapiens have any more of a purpose than any other and whilst our self-awareness sets us apart, it isn’t diminished simply because I can’t pinpoint its genetic origins.

    We can make subjective decisions about meaning, purpose and morality. When theism provides such contradictory guidance, what use it anyway? The project of moral philosophy is to make sense of our preferences, to try to make them logically consistent, to reconcile them with the preferences of others and the realities of our environments, and to discover how to fulfil them most efficiently.

    1. Jon,

      1) There are too many logical arguments that atheism can’t answer.
      2) Scripture is clearly NOT the work of fallible humanity.
      3) God is apparent everywhere. The fact that you don’t see that is only indicative of what you don’t see.
      4) The history of humanity shows continuous internal conflict – Scripture explains that by human sinfulness.
      5) If foundations are not rock solid – they are useless. Any man who builds his house on a foundation that is not rock solid is mad!
      6) In your philosophy human beings have no more purpose than rats?!
      7) By definition subjective decisions about meaning, purpose and morality, ultimately have no meaning, no purpose and a very confused morality.

    2. Jon

      Your last comment was a very honest and thoughtful one. In my view, way more helpful than earlier ones. Clearly, I agree with David’s points above. However, all the (secondary) ‘intellectual/philosophical’ arguments, on both sides leave us (if we are honest) with doubts; they are just too clever and abstruse. The question always boils down to a fairly simple one: what do you think of Jesus, who is he? This was the question everyone (clever and not so clever) was asked to decide in Jesus day. It is what we are asked to decide today. Does Jesus, as presented in the gospels, compel belief or does he not?

      To me he does. I find Jesus a compelling character and one I don’t think the early Christians could ever have invented. I find myself with Peter, the other disciples, and countless others, when confronted with the phenomenon who is Jesus compelled to confess ‘you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ and with Thomas post cross and resurrection, ‘My Lord and my God’.

      Your belief or unbelief will stand or fall on that evaluation. I would urge you to avoid more abstract, ultimately distracting questions, and focus on this central issue. The others are smoke screens. The really fundamental issue is our response to Christ. It is our response to what we see in him for which God will hold us responsible.

  16. David

    Just to address the specifics that avoid pointless argumentation:

    Science cannot be rock solid, that is the definition of a theory, but the success achieved on the assumptions we make provide grounds for believing that our theories do reflect an actual truth and can be a basis for our epistemology.

    Individuals can assign purpose that makes life rewarding and valued. On an objective level, no we have no more purpose that rats but I don’t believe in objective values. Neither do you, what you call objective are values that derive from God. I think I have shown that these are internally inconsistent.

    Your view of subjective values is the greatest failing of your entire philosophy. If there is no God, your life is meaningless. I can choose to be moral, have a purpose and assign meaning. That I don’t have your imaginary yardstick does not matter one jot. Others will make subjectively different choices that I disagree with. Our responsibility as a society is to balance these views where they lead to conflict. Humanity has historically been pretty poor at this but that isn’t a reason not to keep on trying.

    1. Fascinating!” On an objective level we have no more purpose than rats’! Wow! that is where our world views differ considerably. I believe that the value of human beings is not dependent on how I feel, but is objectively true. You have not shown at all that the objective values that derive from God are internally inconsistent. In fact all you have shown is that you feel that they are internally inconsistent!

      You can choose to be moral, have a purpose and assign meaning. However because you do so in a subjective manner that is all ultimately meaningless, purposeless and amoral. You assign responsibility – purpose to society which seems to be to act as a referee between different human feelings. The trouble is that society is not defined. Society is just an amalgamation of human beings and by your criteria that in effect means that the rich and the powerful get to determine what is right and wrong. The biblical worldview is much more coherent, humane and compassionate. Your view leads to hell on earth.

      1. David

        God commands us that killing is wrong, and then commands the killing of children. You can give no reason why, yet maintain he is morally consistent. How should we objectively value human life based on this reasoning?

        If my actions give my life meaning and purpose as I perceive them, then I am as fulfilled as anybody who believes purpose and meaning are assigned by scripture. I accept that the rules that govern my actions, are designed for the well being of the majority and it is this that gives meaning to a notion of human rights. Certainly, those who could impose rule by force dominated early societies, but societies have evolved and continue to do so. In the best examples, power is devolved via free elections and overseen by an independent judiciary. Strangely, religious authorities have historically proved just as corrupt and oppressive as the worst tyrants.

      2. Jon,

        Thank you for this although it contains a number of significant errors.

        1) God says that murder is wrong, not killing. Sometimes it may be necessary to kill in order to do good or as the lesser evil. For example if someone comes in to a school and is about to shoot everybody.

        2) You presuppose that there is an objective moral values by which you can judge God. I think it’s the other way round.

        3) If purpose and meaning are dependent entirely upon your perception, then that is purposeless and meaningless- as far as anyone else or indeed the universe is concerned! It also means that the person who thinks that their purpose is fulfilled by killing others, has as valid a purpose and meaning as you!

        4) you do not define well-being. Because you cannot define well-being. human rights are not just for the majority but also for the minority.

        5) no judiciary is independent.

        6) And of course religious authorities have historically proved just as corrupt and oppressive as the worst tyrants. Sometimes they are even worse.

  17. Thank you Jon,

    It reminds me a bit of myself but in reverse.

    And I don’t start from the same position as David did in his walk with Jesus.

    I studied some aspects of philosophy as an undergraduate in the subject of jurisprudence as part of a law degree. My conclusion was that non in isolation or in combination could provide a peg which would carry the weight of my life.

    This is not to ridicule or devalue what you have written but it seems that you have filleted your life leaving a skeleton and I’d look to probe deeper .

    1 Faith
    In what or in whom did you place your faith. Who or what were the influences? How did it come about and what were it’s constituent parts. Your age and what else was going on in your life’

    2 Form criticism. How and why on earth did you come to study this. I started to study it as a believer in Christ, after conversion, and as part of a trainee local preacher’s course material in the Methodist church. Immediately, it didn’t ring true, and had the appearance of a product of scholastic unbelief. It was wholesale accepted by the writers of the material so I looked for rebuttals and found answers in “The New Evidence that demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. I was annoyed that this non of the answers were the course, though they in my essays. The book is yours if you want it, all 780 pages. But I believe this is not the starting place.

    3 Inerrancy. You do not define this. Again, I probably come at this differently from David. It was not as a result of dogma or indoctrination that I accept this. But first as a believer in Jesus Christ I do. I would not start with Don Carson’s 1248 page tome “The Enduring Authority of Christian Scriptures”. I don’t see the personal need. Most believers may not either. nor most ordinary unbelievers.
    Even as a thought experiment, wouldn’t an infallible the triune God of Christianity, be able to infallibly reveal Himself to and through fallible humans. Christians assert, certainly, yes. And He has.

    4 The starting position and end point, A-Z, alpha and omega is Jesus Christ. As John and I have said and David has written about Jesus, “Magnificent Obsession”, it’s all about Jesus. Christ is Christianity.

    5 I’m sure with all your reading you’ll have come across this from CS Lewis.

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    6 I’d ask you to consider/ponder David’s retweet of Sam Allberry’s tweet with the You tube link and watch it, at the foot of this blog; and copied here (if it works) :
    Meet David: anti-Christian gay rights campaigner, now an advocate for Christianity.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yehENU4s_Y&sns=tw

    YouTube ‎@YouTube

  18. David

    1. That may be true for limited human beings, but not so for omnipotent Gods.

    2. As I stated, your definition of objective is simply God’s subjective values. You have no objective values at all and we discussed previously how it renders notions of goodness meaningless if it is only defined by God’s nature.

    3. On your first point, I agree but so what? With regards to your second, that person may believe that their purpose is to kill others but this is where a civil society restricts the freedom of action of its citizens. This is the basis for human rights.

    4. Clearly, well being is a very subjective notion, but there is also broad agreement within a utilitarian framework.

    5. Systems may vary but most in the Judiciary would aspire to independence, as would those subject to its undertakings.

    6. As ever, the question is why would God permit this to be so. Many of those believed absolutely that they were following God’s wishes, even as they slaughtered their fellow Christians. That’s what happens when your theology regards killing as acceptable as a lesser evil.

    1. 1. You do realise that the definition of omnipotent is not the ability to do anything? For example God cannot create a square circle, or do anything inconsistent with his own character and goodness.

      2. Simply stating something doesn’t make it true. the whole point about objective values is that they are based upon an absolute. That absolute is God. Why you’re having such difficulty in grasping this is beyond me!

      3. I’m glad that you agree with me that your initial statement about purpose and meaning leads to meaninglessness! I find it interesting that you believe that the basis for human rights is the action of society in restricting its citizens! the trouble is on what basis does that society make its decisions? And who is society? Your criteria means that the rich and powerful get to make the rules according to their own whims. And if they decide that it’s for the good of society to get rid of the handicapped, the child in the womb, or the Jews, then according to your criteria that’s fine!

      4. Again I’m glad that you admit that well-being is a very subjective notion. It’s just dependent on who happens to be in power at any particular time. all that you’re doing with your statements is showing how ultimately useless they are. They are not utilitarian. They are authoritarian.

      5. You miss the point about an independent judiciary. Its not just that judges can be bought or can be corrupt. It’s that no human being, in and of themselves, is neutral.

      6. Once again you neatly change the subject! the question is whether there are religious people who have been corrupt and oppressive. Not why does God permit it? You also presume to be able to judge motivation, when you’re clearly not in a position to do so. And you contradict yourself. Because your utilitarianism recognises that in some cases it is the lesser evil to kill.

      But thanks for your very interesting interaction. You’re basically demonstrated the weakness of your position and the illogicality and impracticality of morality based upon what the rich and powerful in society want.

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