Friday, December 30, 2016

How the Trinity Violates the Law of Noncontradiction

I came across a series of six interesting lectures by Dr. R.C. Sproul on the subject of the Trinity titled “The Mystery of Trinity,” in which he goes through the history of the development the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and ultimately attempts to explain in the final lecture how the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is logically self-consistent and does not violate the “law of noncontradiction”. My aim in this post is to refute this claim, and show how the doctrine of the Trinity does in fact violate the law of noncontradiction. But before I Continue, I should like to add that this is not a critique of Dr. Sproul himself, or of his particular theological exposition. The critique is of the doctrine of the Trinity itself, and the theology that underpins it. The reason why I am picking on him is because he is the best, not the worst. I have a lot of respect for him as a theologian, and I have learned a lot from his lectures. It is the doctrine of the Trinity itself that is inherently flawed so that no theologian can defend it, not even one as able as Dr. R.C. Sproul.

A word about the “law of noncontradiction” (also known as the “law of contradiction,” see here) is appropriate. The “law of noncontradiction” deals with the logical fallacy of saying that something is and is not something else at the same time, or is two contradictory things at the same time. If we said that A is B and not B at the same time, that is a logical fallacy, and violates the law of noncontradiction. If I said that the piece of chalk in my hand is a piece of chalk and not a piece of chalk at the same time, that violates the law of noncontradiction. R.C. Sproul has another interesting lecture which deals specifically with the law of noncontradiction which can be seen here, which is also worth watching.

So how does the doctrine of the Trinity fair with respect to the law of noncontradiction? The Trinity is defined by the theologians including R.C. Sproul as “three Persons in one God,” or “three Persons in one Essence”. The “Essence” (the God) is one, but the “Persons” are said to be three—hence they argue there is no violation, because we are dealing with two different things. Here is a quote from his first lecture (seen above):

“When we see our confession of faith in the Trinity, the Church confesses that God is one in essence and three in person. God is one in A, and three in B. And if we said he was one in essence and three in essence, that would be a contradiction. Or if we said that he was one in person and three in person, that also would be a contradiction. But as mysterious as the Trinity may be, and as it may be above our capacity to understand in its fulness, the historic formula is not contradictory.”

But if we examine the definition a bit more closely, we find that it is not exactly what it appears to be. Here is a question: Is the one true God (call him Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, or whatever you like), is that one God by himself a Person or not? Is “Jehovah” as portrayed in the scriptures a Person or not? The answer is unreservedly yes. The Bible portrays the One True God as a Person. No doubts about it. There is no way of getting round that. Even R.C. Sproul I am sure would agree that the One True God is a Person—in which case we now have four Persons in the Trinity and not three! We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is three, plus the One True God Himself, which brings it to four! What all of that amounts to is that the Trinity actually consists of Three Persons in one Person, which violates the law of noncontradiction. We are saying that the Godhead consists of one Person and three Persons at the same time, which is a violation.

Another way of looking at it is like this: the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the theologians teaches that each of the three Persons of the Trinity is by himself God, as well as the One True God that makes up all three, so that we are now dealing with four Gods in the Trinity, not three. We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is individually God; plus the combination of the whole (call him Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, or what you like), who is also God. So we now have four Gods in the Trinity, not three; or putting it another way, we have “three Gods in one God,” which is also a violation. That is in fact the traditional definition of the Trinity. That is how the Athanasian Creed defines the Trinity:

“So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords.” Link

That in essence is saying that the Trinity consists of three Gods in one God. The phrase “three Persons in one God” is a later invention, and is just a verbal trick to obscure the obvious logical inconsistency that is inherent in saying “three Gods in one God,” or “three Persons in one Person”. It is theological dishonesty, that is all it is. It is a verbal trick, and a cheap one, nothing more. But it gets worse than that. The doctrine of the Trinity is also unbiblical. It teaches that the individual members of the Trinity are coequal. They have equal status within the organization. The Bible, however, tells a different story. The Bible teaches that of the Three members of the Godhead, one of them is God over the other two—has always been, and always will be. Here are some references:

John 14:

28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

John 20:

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Romans 15:

6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

Ephesians 1:

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
• • •
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Ephesians 5:

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Colossians 1:

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

1 Peter 1:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

I am sure they will now say that these refer to Jesus in his humanity, not his divinity. But there is no logical, theological, or scriptural grounds for it. Embedded in the very idea of Father-Son is seniority-subordination. A son is always junior and subordinate​ to the a father. It is God the Father who sends the Son, the Son does not send the Father. The Son worships the Father, the Father does not worship the Son. In his final prayer to the Father Jesus says:

John 17:

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

This is no longer referring just to his humanity. The the “glory which I had with thee before the world was” was the glory of his divinity, not his humanity. So all is not well with the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity. It is a logical absurdity. It violates the law of noncontradiction; it is unscriptural; and it is inherently dishonest theology. Its aim is to bamboozle Christians with verbal trickery into believing a logical fallacy, as well as an unbiblical entity. It is false theology and false doctrine all the way through.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Was King Saul Regenerate?

More interesting videos! I came across the above, in which at 8:56 minutes into the video the following question is asked:

“Was King Saul regenerate, or was he simply empowered by the Holy Spirit as a tool for God’s glory without salvation?”

A couple of people joked that they had never met him! Steve replied that he thought the answer to that was No! But he didn’t specify “no” to what, to the first part of the question or to the second part? Finally Al Mohler pitches in to give it a longer reply, followed by R.C. Sproul. The story of Saul, however, presents a bigger challenge to Reformed theology than the question of whether he had been regenerate or unregenerate. The challenge is presented in the following passage of scripture:

1 Samuel 13:

11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

This presents two possible outcomes for Saul depending entirely on his own choices and decisions. His fate was not predetermined. The choice was his, not God’s. God gave him the opportunity. He could have chosen differently, and the outcome would have been different than it turned out to be, which negates predestination and predetermination of Calvinism as R.C. Sproul and others understand it to be. Saul could have chosen differently, and the outcome would have been different. Did God know ahead of time what choices Saul would make? He did! Was Saul predestined to make the choices that he made? The answer given in 1 Samuel 13:13–14 is emphatically NO!

In Reformed theology, as articulated by R.C. Sproul and others, man’s freewill is seen to be incompatible with God’s sovereignty. One cancels the other. If man was totally free, God would cease to be totally sovereign at the same time. In biblical terms, however, the two are not incompatible. Man can retain his total freedom, and God retains his total sovereignty at the same time. In biblical terms, while man is free in the choices he makes, he is not free to determine what the consequences of those choices will be. That is where the sovereignty of God kicks in. God has established a law, and man has the freedom to break that law, but God is in charge overall, and determines what the consequences will be.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Did God Die on the Cross?

I was looking around on the Internet and came across this interesting blog post by R.C. Sproul on the Ligonier website titled, “Did God Die on the Cross?” Here is a quote (emphasis added):

“We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate. We also believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross. If we say that God died on the cross, and if by that we mean that the divine nature perished, we have stepped over the edge into serious heresy. . . .

“Some say, “It was the second person of the Trinity Who died.” That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in one’s being.

“We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.” [R.C. Sproul Mar 23, 2016 Category: Articles]

I see some theological and linguistic errors in that statement. To say that somebody or something “died,” is not to say that they were annihilated, became extinct, or ceased to exist, or that their “essential nature changed”. Nobody dies in that sense of the term, including man. When man dies, he doesn’t cease to exist. His body may cease to exist as a living organism, but his spirit, the most important part of him, lives on. Jesus was no different. When he died, his spirit lived on, “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:19–20.) If Jesus was God at the time that he died, then it would be right to say that God had died; if he wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be. Since he was, then it is right to say that God died on the for our sins (or the Son of God did, which amounts to the same thing). It doesn’t mean that he ceased to exist, or his essential nature changed, or he ceased functioning as God.

The scriptures actually talk about another kind of death. It is referred to in the book of Revelation as the “second death” (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). This is a spiritual death, also known as damnation. It entails being cut off from the presence (and Spirit) of God. Jesus actually experienced both kinds of death on the cross. The Epistle to the Hebrews gives us a clue:

Hebrews 2:

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

In what sense did Jesus “taste death for every man?” We know that every man dies. If Jesus had “tasted death for every man,” that means that logically nobody else should die. But we know that they do. The answer is that he experienced spiritual death for us on the cross, as well as natural or physical death. We all die naturally (and get resurrected because of the Atonement), but we don’t all have to die spiritually, because Jesus has already paid that price for us—on condition of our faith and repentance.

So in a very real sense it is right to say that “God died” on the Cross for us. It doesn’t mean that he was annihilated, or ceased to exist, or that his essential nature changed. Nobody “dies” like that, including man. It means that he experienced the pains of physical as well as spiritual death on our behalf. And he experienced it as a Deity, not just as man. He experienced what it means to be damned—so that we might not be, on condition of faith and repentance. But he remained God all along. His divinity never changed in the process. He did not become less divine when he was having those painful experiences. In fact, only a divine being could have experienced such intense suffering and survive it. It was completely out of the power of mortal man to experience or accomplish it.

Mormons are lucky. They know all kinds of great stuff that Evangelicals theologians don’t. And guess where it all comes from. From the Book of Mormon of course—where else! 😇

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle!

I have just been watching the above video of a sermon that Ravi Zacharias preached at the Mormon Tabernacle a couple of years ago. He has made two big mistakes in his sermon. The first mistake he made was that he thought he could teach Mormons something without learning anything from them. The truth is that there is infinitely more that he could learn from them than he could ever teach them. If he had realized that, he would have been able to preach a more effective sermon. The second mistake he made was that he was more interested in winning the praises and approval of his fellow Evangelical friends and patrons than winning the praises of God. As Jesus repeatedly says in the New Testament, “they have their reward”—but it won’t be from God. For these reasons his sermon has been largely a failure. I can’t think of anything positive to say about it. I don’t intend to analyze his sermon in detail. I will just briefly comment on something that he said towards the end of his sermon. At 56:42 minutes into the video he says the following: 

“I close with two simple illustrations: One of the greatest books ever written is that written by John Bunyan called Pilgrim’s Progress. If you have never read it, you have picked your own pockets. Read it! I think it is accurate to say outside the Bible it has been translated into more languages than any other language [sic] in the world.… Bunyan gives a beautiful climactic moment when pilgrim arrives to the hill where his bag is going to fall off … the burden. You see, he was looking for the celestial city, but he got a shock, you will never get to the celestial city without going through Calvary; you will never get to the celestial city without going to the cross. So the burden falls off, and here is what he says: I saw three shining ones; the angel of dawn, the angel of daybreak, and the angel of dusk. It is allegory. The angel of dawn says, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”. The angel of daybreak takes the new robe and the sandals, and puts it on him; and the angel of dusk gives him a scroll and a mark on the forehead, to move on towards the celestial city. The first, the spiritual; the second, the physical; the third is the scroll, the intellectual to guide him all the way to the celestial city. God is complete in what he gives you and me; forgives you, robes you, guides you, and takes you to the celestial city. What a brilliant allegorical description; the angel of dawn, the angel of daybreak, and the angel of dusk to guide you, to give you the wisdom, to lead you into his eternal presence.”

Well, I have got a bit of advice for him too. There is a book that is of infinitely greater value than Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress. It is called the Book of Mormon. It is a book of scripture, revealed for out time. If he doesn’t take it seriously enough to read and study it very carefully indeed, and learn from it, he has more than “picked his own pocket”. He could rob himself of eternal salvation. If he wants to get to the “celestial city,” the Book of Mormon tells him how. Here is a quote (punctuation revised):

Moroni 8:

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins.
26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come when all the saints shall dwell with God.

This is how the Book of Mormon says you can get to the “celestial city,” as he (or Bunyan) calls it. There is no other way. My advice to him is to bin John Bunyan’s book, and start reading the Book of Mormon.

Friday, December 2, 2016

How was Abraham justified?

I am having a lot of fun with these videos, keep it coming! I just came across the above, in which at 19:33 minutes into the video R.C. Sproul asks one of the panellists the leading question: “What was the basis of Abraham’s salvation? How was Abraham justified?” To this the respondent (sheepishly) replies: “By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!” R.C. then retorts: “He is exhibit A!” And the respondent affirms: “Yea! And Paul says that. He is exhibit A!”.

Well, I have got bad news for them. That is not the right answer to that question. The real answer to that question is, It depends on whom you ask! If you ask Paul, that might appear to be the right answer; but if you ask God in the Old Testament, or James in the New Testament, you get a different answer. God’s answer to that question in the Old Testament is as follows:

Genesis 22:

15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

Genesis 26:

4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

And James’ answer is as follows:

James 2:

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Here we have the testimony of two against one! God and James are saying one thing, and Paul another. If I have to choose between the two, I would rather chose James and God. This of course does not mean that faith is not important, or that we do not need to have faith. Nor does it mean that we are saved “by our own works”. Nobody is saying that. But there is something fundamentally wrong with the words “faith alone. It is not “faith alone. It is faith followed by repentance, baptism, and keeping God’s commandments (and endure to the end). “Faith alone is the doctrine of the devil. It is the antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It goes against the very essence of it. It negates the very words used in James 2:17. The “gospel” that the Reformed theologians teach is the gospel of damnation, not the gospel of salvation. It damns anybody who touches it with a barge pole.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims Worship the Same God?

I just came across the above video where Albert Mohler, R.C. Sproul, and others answer gospel questions. At time reference of 11:26 minutes into the video, someone asks the following question: “We hear from many sources that Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God. How should we respond to that assertion?” To this Albert Mohler proceeds to give the following answer (transcribed from the video, abridged).

You know this frustrates me because it comes back again and again and again, … and repeatedly we are being told you know you have got to somehow smooth out the theological rough places, so you hear people saying—obviously the controversy recently at the Wheaton College and elsewhere—where they say, Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Well, we don’t. And it is not a question of linguistics, it is not a question of Allah … but the Allah taught of Islam. That Allah … is incompatible with the God of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we have his testimony for this, Jesus Christ who just for one example in John chapter 9 says, “If you don’t know me you don’t know the Father; and he was speaking to Jewish leaders who came to rebuke him. … Here is the question: Can one reject Jesus Christ as the Son and truly know the Father? The answer to that fundamentally and logically has to be No. But biblically we have got Jesus saying it himself in John chapter 9. We don’t have to extrapolate this, all you have got to do is to read the Gospel, and Jesus makes that clear. And then I have people come back to me all the time and say, Well then, you are saying the Jews do not worship the same God? Simply, I don’t say anything. Jesus said that if you reject him, and you do not thereby know him, you do not know—and in another place says, never knew—the Father. I am with Jesus. I don’t know anything to say other than what Jesus said. I think that is abundantly clear.

Mohler’s problem is that he doesn’t appear to have a very good idea of what Jesus said. I will tell him what Jesus said:

John 8:

52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

Here Jesus is acknowledging that the wicked Jews who were calling him the devil, and wanting to kill him, worshiped the same God as Jesus did. The fact that they may have had the wrong theology does not mean that they were therefore worshiping the “wrong God,” or a “different God”. It simply means that they may have had some wrong ideas about him. It doesn’t make “their” God a “different” God. That is absurd logic. Here is another example:

John 4:

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what: we [Jews] know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Here again Jesus is acknowledging that the Jews (and Samaritans) were worshiping the same (right) God. The fact that one side or the other (or both) may have had some wrong ideas about him, doesn’t mean that they were worshiping the “wrong” God, or a “different” God. 

Mohler is basically saying that if two people have different theological ideas about God, then they are worshiping two different Gods, which is absurd logic. If two people assert that there is only one God, and they both claim to be worshiping that one God, then assuming that such a God does actually exist, the logical conclusion has to be that they are worshiping the same God. The fact that they may have different ideas (or even wrong ideas) about him does not alter that fact. It doesn’t mean that they must be worshiping “different Gods”. That is just absurd. To suggest that they are worshiping “different Gods” would negate the fundamental theological position of both, that there is only one God. They can argue about what kind of being that one God is; but they can’t argue about who is worshiping which God—if both agree that there is only one of them around. The only way that they could be worshiping “different Gods” would be either that the “one God” didn’t exist, and they were worshiping different imaginary gods; or else that there are in fact more than one God, and they were worshiping different ones without realizing it.

If two American citizens had radically different ideas about the character and personality of the President of the United States (and one of them was an Arab, and called him رئيس and the other one was Hebrew, and called him נָשִׂיא), does that mean that they literally and physically have two different Presidents of the United States? If they decided to write a letter to him, would they be addressing it to two different people, sending it to two different postal addresses, and getting their replies from two different Presidents of the United States? To suggest that Jews, Muslims, and Christians worship “different Gods” just because they have different ideas about him is about as stupid and idiotic as that. (I used Google Translate by the way, so don’t blame me if the Arabic and Hebrew words are wrong! 😁).

But the ultimate question is, does God hear and answer the sincere prayers of a Jew or a Muslim, even though they may have differing (or even incorrect) theological ideas about God? The answer is, Of course he does! If he answered the prayers of Cornelius who was a pagan, and did not even adhere to a monotheistic religion, he is more than willing to answer the sincere prayers of a Jew or a Muslim. God does not answer people’s prayers according to their “theological correctness”. If he did that, nobody’s prayers would be answered, because nobody has a perfect theological understanding of the nature of God. He answers them according to their faith, sincerity, and the righteous desires of their hearts (and actions), as Peter said of Cornelius:

Acts 10:

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation [including religion] he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

That is the basis on which God answers people’s prayers, not according to their “theological correctness”—according to Mohler and Sproul of coursewho else. These folks are teaching a whole bunch of false doctrines and leading people astray. Cornelius the pagan was obviously praying to and worshiping the same God as the Christian God, otherwise that God would not have told him to go and become a Christian. Which God were the pagan people of Nineveh praying to when they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and God spared them?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What is the Gospel?

There is a first and last to everything! In the above video, which I had linked to and discussed in my previous post in relation to the first question that was asked; the last question asked is also of some interest, and worth discussing. The last question asked was, “What is the gospel?” The complete question was as follows:

“What is the gospel? I have learned it is an event. I have heard, Live the gospel, pray the gospel, experience the gospel, the kingdom of God is the gospel, the Old Testament, New Testament is the gospel, the whole Bible is the gospel. I am confused!”

To this R.C. Sproul gives the following answer (extracted from the video as best I could, emphasis added):

“That person is not the only one that is confused. I mean I would teach in a Doctor of Ministry program at St. Clair, and had the same experience I am sure when we would have clergy in there, and I would ask them to define the gospel; and if I got 10% of them to give an adequate answer to it, I would be happy; because that word is thrown around so much that it has died the death of a thousand qualifications. In New Testament terms the gospel is the proclamation of the person and work of Jesus Christ, plus how the benefits of that work can be appropriated to us by faith and by faith alone. So the gospel has a narrow definition; it is the message about Jesus. Now there are other good tidings, the kingdom of God, all of that, but specifically if you look at what we call the kerygma in the New Testament, the Apostolic Proclamation of the gospel, it focuses on Christ—who he is, what he did, and how we receive his benefits.”

That statement is correct (for the most part) except for the highlighted bit. The Bible’s verdict is, “Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). The gospel of Jesus Christ is a doing gospel, not just for hearing or believing. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). The emphasis is all on doing, not believing only. There is no salvation without repentance and keeping God’s commandments:

Matthew 4:

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 6:

12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

Luke 5:

32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 24:

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Acts 2:

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The gospel is not just for preaching or believing, but also for obeying:

2 Thessalonians 1:

8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 4:

17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

The Reformed false theology of “faith alone” is the very antithesis of the gospel, and leads to damnation rather than salvation. It goes against the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ taught in the Bible. The Book of Mormon gives the most correct and complete definition of the word gospel that exists in any literature today (punctuation revised):

3 Nephi 27:

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you: that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me; that as I have been lifted up by men, even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given; and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
21 Verily, verily I say unto you, this is my gospel. And ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do, even that shall ye do.
22 Therefore if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

We all have something to learn from the Book of Mormon, including R.C. Sproul!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

If Adam was Born Free from Evil and Sin, Why did he Sin?

I was searching the Internet, and came across the above video on YouTube by Ligonier Ministries, published on February 25, 2015, in which the Evangelical theologians Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, Russell Moore, and R.C. Sproul answer questions on various theological issues. It is labelled: Questions and Answers #1. The first question asked by a questioner was, “If Adam was born free from evil and sin, why did he sin?” To this R.C. Sproul (who is possibly the foremost Evangelical theologian of our time) gives the following answer (transcribed from the video as best I could):

“I don’t know! That was easy! I am not kidding. I mean there are … I can give you twenty theories if you want to hear them, but none of them work. So that is I think the biggest mystery we have, … is how a creature made in the image of God without any predisposition to evil, without any inclination to evil, would ever choose to do evil. And that is where I put the mystery. Other people say that the only answer to that is that he was created with an evil inclination, and they have to deal with the problem of how that squares with the integrity of God’s judgment upon them. And they say, well that’s … they don’t believe that God is the author of evil, even though he created Adam already with an inclination to sin. And how that can be squared is a mystery for them. I don’t like their mystery. I choose mine. … 

“I have to tell you … I will tell you about this. I was asked that question once. This is 40 years ago in the presence of John Gerstner. And I said that ‘I don’t know, and I don’t know of anyone who does know, and I know that I don’t know, and I know that this side of heaven I will never know.’ And he really jumped on me. He said, ‘That was a very arrogant statement!’ I said, ‘Arrogant? I was trying to be humble! … I was trying to say, I am not going to untie this knot which nobody else has been able to do.’ And he says, ‘Well, do you think that you have already reached consummation of all knowledge that you could ever acquire in your lifetime?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, you might learn the answer tomorrow, so don’t be so arrogant today.’ But 47 years later, he knows now because he is in heaven, but I still don’t know.”

Well I have good news for him. I am going to give him the answer before he dies! And this is an answer that actually works. It is not like the other answers he has found that don’t work. Before answering that question, however, I would like to ask him (and other Evangelical theologians) a few questions first. Sometimes Jesus answered questions with another question. That is the best way of answering questions sometimes, so I am going to follow that methodology in answering this particular question. I have three questions I would like to ask before answering that question:

Question 1: Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place? What useful purpose did it serve—apart from killing people who eat from it? That would be like putting a bottle of poison in the fridge, and telling your kids not to drink it. Why would you want to do that? If the tree served no useful purpose than just killing people who eat from it, why would God want to put it there in the first place—and then tell Adam and Eve not to eat from it?

Question 2: What is wrong with knowing good and evil? Would you want to be deprived of your knowledge of good and evil? We all have some knowledge of good and evil. Our knowledge is not perfect. We make mistakes sometimes. We think something is good, when it turns out to be evil; or we think something is evil, when it turns out to be good. We learn by our mistakes. But in general, most of us have a pretty good idea of what is good and what is evil. Even God knows good and evil (Gen. 3:22). If God knows good and evil, it can’t be such a bad thing after all. So what is wrong with knowing good and evil?

Question 3: The whole purpose of scripture is to teach us to do good, and avoid evil. The primary purpose of scripture is to teach us about God. The second most important purpose of scripture is to tell us what God wants us to do—which is to do good, and avoid evil. He has even set aside a day of judgment to judge us according to our “works,” whether they be good or evil—and be rewarded accordingly. The whole of scripture in fact can be summarized in those two terms. Here are some typical examples:

Psalms 34:

14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Micah 6:

8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Matthew 5:

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Galatians 6:

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

1 Peter 3:

10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

James 4:

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

These verses summarize the whole teachings of the Bible. God wants us to do good, and eschew evil. How could man comply with that requirement without knowing good and evil?

In John’s first Epistle we are told the following:

1 John 3:

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

To be saved means to become like Jesus Christ; and Jesus is somebody who knows good and evil. It is impossible to become like him without knowing good and evil; which means that it is impossible to be saved without knowing good and evil. To purify himself means to do good, and abstain from evil—which would only be possible if one knew good and evil. So how could partaking of the forbidden fruit be such a bad thing, if having a knowledge of good and evil is actually necessary for our salvation?

●   ●   ●

If this was a normal conversation with R.C. Sproul et al, at this point I would wait for them to give me a response before proceeding. Since in a blog that is not possible, I will proceed with the answer anyway, and let them join the conversation afterwards if they want to (I am not holding my breath that they will).

So the basic questions that need to be answered are, (1) If knowing good and evil does not appear to be such a bad thing after all, why was partaking of the fruit forbidden? (2) Why was the penalty of death imposed on partaking of the fruit? (3) Why was it a sin to partake of the fruit? The correct answer to those questions (not given in the same order) are as follows:

Partaking of the fruit was a sin because God had forbidden it. If you do something that God has told you not to do, that is a sin. So why did God tell them not to eat of the fruit, when knowing good and evil doesn’t appear to be such a bad thing after all? The answer is that there was a cost associated with it—a cost for God as well as for man. The cost for man was that he would be exposed to death, sufferings and pain of various kinds—as well as to temptation and sin. Death was not a penalty for partaking of the fruit, but a necessary condition. It was not a punishment, but a requirement. The Book of Mormon provides the explanation:

Alma 42:

5 For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.

God did not tell Adam and Eve, “If you eat of the fruit, I am going to punish you by killing you.” He said, “You shall surely die.” Death had been assigned to partaking of the fruit as a necessary precondition, not as a punishment. Adam had to die (for his own good) after partaking of the fruit, partly so he could experience good and evil; and partly so he could have an opportunity to repent of his sins, and be redeemed from them:

Alma 12:

18 Then [after the resurrection], I say unto you, they [the wicked] shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.

Repentance, forgiveness, remission of sins, and redemption is only possible within the allotted time between birth and resurrection. Without that intervening period assigned, redemption will not, nor would have ever been made possiblehence the need for death as a necessary prerequisite for partaking of the fruit.

“Evil,” in the context of Genesis 2:9, 17, has a broader meaning than just wickedness or sin. The word “evil,” in the biblical narrative, also means adversity, hardship, suffering, pain, punishment—as well as wickedness or sin. Here are some examples:

Isaiah 45:

7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

Jeremiah  19:

15 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.

In these verses “evil” means adversity, suffering, pain, hardshipusually as a punishment for sin. It means something that is unpleasant and undesirable to have, as opposed to what is desirable and good. The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was not meant to just give them a theoretical knowledge of “right and wrong,” but an experiential knowledge of good and evil—in its widest sense of the term—meaning being exposed to adversity and hardship—as well as to temptation and sin. That is something that needed to be experienced; and they couldn’t do that while they were living happily ever after in the Garden of Eden. So God placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden (assigning death as a necessary prerequisite for partaking of it), and permitted man to partake of it if he chose to, because knowing good and evil is not in and of itself a bad thing. He was forbidden to partake of it because it entailed a heavy cost—for God as well as for man. For man it involved a cost of experiencing death, pain, and sufferings of various kinds, as well as being exposed to temptation and sin. It also entailed another cost: some of Adam’s descendants would not be saved, because by their own volition they would choose evil rather than good, and fail to comply with the requirements of the gospel to be redeemed. For God it entailed a very heavy cost of atoning for man’s sins, which is what Jesus had to accomplish.

The Book of Mormon tells us that there has to be an “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Everything is known by its oppositelight with darkness, good with evil, truth with falsehood, happiness with unhappiness. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were surrounded with, and experiencing only that which was good. They had no experience of evilusing that word in the widest sense of the term, meaning adversity, hardship, and unhappiness; not just wickedness or sin. That means that they could not really appreciate the good that they had because they had no experience of its opposite. They could not appreciate happiness, because they had not been exposed to unhappiness. They could not appreciate the virtue of righteousness and holiness, because they had not been exposed to the consequences of unrighteousness, unholiness, and wickedness. The purpose of them partaking of the forbidden fruit was to give them that opposite experience.

This does not mean that people have to sin in order to appreciate the virtue of righteousness and holiness. It means to be exposed to the consequences of those things. Jesus never committed any sins; but he was exposed to the consequences of those things as a result of our sins. He had to “learn obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). He was made “perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted [i.e. tried, tested], he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). We all have to go through those experiences, but on a lower scale than Jesus didand learn good and evil in the process. Jesus had to learn good and evil (meaning to experience them), and so do we. That is how he “learned obedience by the things which he suffered,” and was “made perfect through sufferings”and so do we. That is one of the purposes of mortality, and it was made possible by the Fall. 

We also have this interesting scripture from the New Testament:

1 Timothy 2:

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Adam strictly speaking didn’t sin. He was presented with a fait accompli. After Eve had partaken of the fruit, Adam was faced with a choice, to either abandon Eve to death and destruction—alone; or else to accompany her, to fulfill God’s commandment to multiply and replenish the earth; and endure the pains and hardship associated with the Fall and mortality for a higher purpose. He violated a law which carried certain unpleasant consequences; but it was the lesser of the two evils he was faced with. It was also a violation which entailed certain blessings in the long run, which could not have been obtained in any other way. Paul thinks that he made the right choice. That is the implication of 1 Tim. 2:14. And I agree with Paul. That is the correct answer to R.C. Sproul’s question.

Another mistake that R.C. Sproul (and others) make is that they assume that sinning necessarily implies some kind of innate predisposition to sin. That need not always be the case. One can also be deceived. In the case of Eve, it is evident that she was deceived. When God created Adam and Eve, he did not immunize them against all possible kinds of deception. Only God knows everything and cannot be deceived. Man can be; and all of us have been at one time or another.

Another thing that can cause people to sin, without necessarily having an innate predisposition to sin, is pride. They want to do what they want to do, rather than what somebody else wants them to do, including God. Why did Satan (and the angels who followed him) sin? (2 Peter 2:4.) Were they created with an innate predisposition to sin? If so, why didn’t they all sin? Why did some angels sin, and some didn’t? Did God create some angels with a predisposition to sin, and others without? If so, how does that square with the integrity of God in punishing them for sinning? Satan (and the spirits that followed him) fell through pride. Isaiah 14:12–16 explains how that happened. He became proud and rebelled against God. He wanted to dethrone God and take over. God didn’t manufacture him that way. He had the innate freedom to make that choice for himself, and he did. Calvinistic false doctrine of predestination and predetermination causes huge theological problems which Reformed theologians can’t solve and don’t even want to look at. God made man (and angels) “free, to choose liberty and eternal life, … or to choose captivity and death, …” (2 Nephi 2:27). If they decide to choose the latter course, that is their decision, not God’s.

Here are some interesting theological perspectives on the subject from modern LDS scripture (punctuation revised):

Moses 5:

4 And Adam and Eve his wife called upon the name of the Lord; and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden speaking unto them; and they saw him not, for they were shut out from his presence.
5 And he gave unto them commandments that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks for an offering unto the Lord; and Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam saying, Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him, I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
7 And then the angel spake saying, This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
8 Wherefore thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son; and thou shalt repent, and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son saying, I am the Only Begotten of the Father, from the beginning, henceforth and forever; that as thou hast fallen, thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth saying, Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
11 And Eve his wife heard all these things and was glad saying, Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.
13 And Satan came among them saying, I am also a son of God. And he commanded them saying, Believe it not, and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God; and men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.
14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere, and commanded them that they should repent;
15 And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins should be saved; and as many as believed not, and repented not should be damned. And the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.

2 Nephi 2:

11 For it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore if it should be one body, it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

12 Wherefore it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes; and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness, there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness, there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not, there is no God. And if there is no God, we are not, neither the earth, for there could have been no creation of things—neither to act, nor to be acted upon. Wherefore all things must have vanished away.
14 And now my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are—both things to act, and things to be acted upon.
15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet, and the other bitter.
16 Wherefore the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
17 And I Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.
18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore he said unto Eve, yea even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies; wherefore he said, Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, they were driven out of the garden of Eden to till the earth.
20 And they have brought forth children, yea even the family of all the earth.
21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore their state became a state of probation; and their time was lengthened according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost because of the transgression of their parents.
22 And now behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence; having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall, they have become free forever, knowing good from evil, to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
27 Wherefore men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men; or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.