“All Israel Will Be Saved” An Exegesis of Romans 11: 25-32

“All Israel Will Be Saved”

An Exegesis of Romans 11: 25-32

By Ronald M. Muetzel

On Christmas Day of 1978 I had the joy of baptizing a 13 year old Jewish girl. On Good Friday of 1979 I baptized her brother and mother. Another brother was baptized in early 1981. At present all four of these descendants of Abraham are believing, worshipping and communing members of our Christian congregation.

I recall the time when the mother described the process by which she became a Christian. It seems she was quite impressed to see that a Christian friend had a “sparkle” on her face when she talked about Jesus Christ. The Jewish woman wanted that “sparkle” for her life too. Now she has it through faith in Israel’s Christ. Now she is one of Paul’s own people “made envious by the Gentiles” (Romans 11:12-14) and “grafted into the olive tree” (Romans 11:23). Her children are also among the people of Israel “who have now received mercy” (Romans 11:31).

For me the experience with this family has served to remove Paul’s teaching concerning Israel, as found in Romans 9 – 11, from the realm of abstract theology and to incorporate it into the life and ministry of Christ’s Church. The things of which Paul wrote are taking place in the Church today.

We give our attention, then, to the eleventh chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, verses 25-32: 25 Οὐ γὰρ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο, ἵνα μὴ ἦτε [παρ’] ἑαυτοῖς φρόνιμοι, ὅτι πώρωσις ἀπὸ μέρους τῷ Ἰσραὴλ γέγονεν ἄχρις οὗ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰσέλθῃ 26 καὶ οὕτως πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ σωθήσεται, καθὼς γέγραπται, Ἥξει ἐκ Σιὼν ὁ ῥυόμενος, ἀποστρέψει ἀσεβείας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβ. 27 καὶ αὕτη αὐτοῖς ἡ παρ’ ἐμοῦ διαθήκη, ὅταν ἀφέλωμαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν. 28 κατὰ μὲν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐχθροὶ δι’ ὑμᾶς, κατὰ δὲ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας· 29 ἀμεταμέλητα γὰρ τὰ χαρίσματα καὶ ἡ κλῆσις τοῦ θεοῦ. 30 ὥσπερ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ποτε ἠπειθήσατε τῷ θεῷ, νῦν δὲ ἠλεήθητε τῇ τούτων ἀπειθείᾳ, 31 οὕτως καὶ οὗτοι νῦν ἠπείθησαν τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ [νῦν] ἐλεηθῶσιν. 32 συνέκλεισεν γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς πάντας εἰς ἀπείθειαν, ἵνα τοὺς πάντας ἐλεήσῃ.

The Greek text itself presents no particular difficulties. There are no strange forms or disputed word meanings, nothing that has any real effect on the translation. The variant readings are generally agreed to belong in the text.

The closest thing to a dispute over word meaning has to do with καὶ οὗτως in verse 26. The Living Bible paraphrase renders: “And then all Israel will be saved.” Legitimate translations don’t even attempt to introduce a time concept into the οὗτως. It is only the interpreters who expect a first stage conversion of Gentiles to be followed by a second stage, mass conversion of all Jews that would like to see a time concept in this word. The word itself does not permit it. οὗτως means “so” or “thus” in the sense of “in this manner.”

It is already apparent that the real issue in these verses is not the meaning of the Greek words; the issue is the interpretation of these words. For this reason, we will be content to use a very acceptable translation of the Greek from the New International Version of the Bible and the paper will concern itself primarily with the matters of interpretation.

Context

The verses under study appear near the end of Paul’s dissertation on the question of Israel’s place in the kingdom of God. After these verses all that remains to be said is a beautiful doxology to the “wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33).

The ninth through eleventh chapters of Romans, of course, provide the most complete and extensive treatment of the Jewish/Gentile issue as it faced and perplexed the early Christian Church. Verses 25-32 must be understood in the context of these chapters. This is not to say that chapters nine through eleven are the only part of Scripture to treat the Jewish/Gentile issue. The frequency with which this issue keeps popping up in all the New Testament literature is evidence of the extent to which this matter troubled the churches—especially the churches established by Jewish apostles in Gentile lands with a mixed fellowship of Jewish and Gentile believers. Already in chapters two and three of this letter to the Romans Paul made it clear that Jews and Gentiles are alike (no difference) both as to sin and as to justification. The letter to the Galatians rejected any imposition of old covenant Jewishness on either Jews or Gentiles. The entire first half of the letter to the Ephesians had as its purpose to demonstrate that there is no longer a “dividing wall” between Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14); all are “one in Christ” (Ephesians 3:6); all are fully “blessed” in Him (Ephesians 1:3). Even the book of Revelation, with its gates on which “were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel” (Revelation 21:12) and its foundation stones on which “were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14), adds its own peculiar comments to the Jewish/Gentile issue. The four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, as every reader quickly learns, are fraught with the conflict between Jew and Gentile, as well as the resolution of that conflict. Our study will attempt to shine the light of these and other scriptures on the assigned verses in order to make our understanding as clear as possible.

It will help to keep in mind a distinction between the Gospels (Acts) and the Epistles as they treat the Jewish/Gentile issue. During the ministry of Jesus Christ and the early mission thrust of the apostles there was a need to encourage Jewish disciples to make disciples of Gentiles from all nations. However, as more and more Gentiles entered the kingdom and saw people of the Jewish race despise their own Christ, these Gentile disciples had to be encouraged not to shut the doors of the kingdom on all Jews. Paul’s purpose in Romans nine through eleven was undoubtedly that all Christians imitate the example of his “unceasing anguish” for “those of his own race” (Romans 9: 2-3).

Though the assigned verses run only from 25-32, I am of the opinion that they form a unit with verses 17-24. Here Paul repeats himself three times with the result that the sections of 17-24, 25-27 and 28-32 are remarkably parallel. Each contains a warning against Gentile pride or exclusiveness. Each connects Israel’s failure to believe with the Gentile opportunity to believe. Each presents a seeming contradiction with regard to Israel—that Israel is both “cut off, hardened, disobedient” and at the same time “grafted in, saved, recipient of mercy.” Verses 25-32, then, are not a progression on from verse 24. They constitute, rather, a double repetition of the point Paul already made in verses 17-24.

verse 25 —“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”

Paul’s introductory remark about ignorance is one which he made at least three other times in his letters—First Corinthians 10:1; 12:1; First Thessalonians 4:13. When Paul said, “I do not want you to be ignorant,” it is evident that Paul was anxious to share some spiritual insight which would keep his readers from acting wrongly. In the other usages ignorance allowed to continue might have resulted in: “hearts set on evil things” (First Corinthians 10:6); misuse of “spiritual gifts” (First Corinthians 12:1) or grieving as though we “have no hope” (First Thessalonians 4:13). In this usage, too, Paul wanted to remove ignorance and thereby prevent wrongdoing.

Among the Romans the possible ignorance on the part of the “brothers” related to a specific “mystery.” Paul’s “brothers” would seem to have been the Gentile believers in Rome. For one thing, Paul had singled them out in verse 13 of this chapter. Also, the Roman congregation had become predominantly Gentile. Finally, Paul was about to clarify a peculiarly Gentile ignorance by sharing this “mystery” with them. It should be said, however, that Jewish believers in Rome who would read this letter were not meant to be excluded from brotherhood with Paul. If anything, they were doubly Paul’s “brothers.”

The “mystery;” what was it? Not something beyond understanding. Not something to be kept secret or mysterious. Rather, it was a truth that had been revealed by God. Paul delighted to be used by God to reveal His mysteries. The Gospel itself was such a mystery (Ephesians 6:19). The Christ and Church marriage, the twinkling-of-an-eye-resurrection change, the supremacy of Christ were other mysteries. However, the “mystery” of which Paul spoke most often was this “that through the Gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise of Christ” (Ephesians 3:6). At times Paul revealed this mystery in such a way as to invite “near” the Gentiles who had once been “far away” (Ephesians 2:11-12; Romans 16:25-26). In our verse Paul revealed the same mystery with a somewhat different purpose: that the Gentile believers not “become conceited” and pridefully withhold the Gospel from Jewish people.

Martin Franzmann’s description of the ‘mystery” is worth repeating:

“Christ is the disclosure of the mystery of God, the revelation of His long counsels of salvation that worked in strange and secret ways for long ages, all through the dark and inconspicuous history of His little people Israel. In Christ that mystery has been disclosed; God’s plan now works on the stage of universal history, from Jerusalem to Rome, and will work . . . to the ends of the earth. All nations now shall know the God who hid Himself so long in Israel.1

Paul’s presentation of the mystery in verse 25 is nothing other than an expansion of and application of the Jewish/Gentile mystery. Paul says: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part…” πώρωσις is a term that has already been used in verse 7 of chapter 11. It indicates, to use Lenski’s terms, “judicial, punitive, final petrification, the result of self-hardening.”2 It was not and is not a hardening that could be softened or reversed. Caiaphas typified just this hardening so often evident among some of the people of Israel. Luther described those of Israel who set themselves against Christ as “stock-stein-eisen-teufel hart” (stock-stone-iron-devil hard).

While ἀπὸμέρους qualifies the πώρωσις, it does not limit the “hardening” as to degree as though the hardening wasn’t real hardening. Nor does it limit the hardening as to time as though the hardening was only temporary. It limits the hardening as to number. Not all the people of Israel are hardened. Paul himself is an exception. A number is not assigned to the “in part”. We don’t know the number of those who will constitute Israel’s hardening. Nor do we know how many in Israel will be stones softened by God and made into true “children of Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

How long will this hardening on the part of some in Israel continue? “Until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” Jesus provided all the commentary needed to understand this πλήρωμα of the Gentiles. He said, “This Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). The end will bring down the curtain on preaching of the Gospel as well as opportunity to believe the Gospel. Until then three things will continue to happen: 1) There will be

Footnotes

1 Martin H. Franzmann, Concordia Commentary – Romans, Concordia, St. Louis, 1968, page 282. 2 R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1936, page 719.

Gentiles coming into the kingdom of God; 2) Some in Israel will harden themselves against their Christ; 3) Others in Israel will embrace their Christ and say of Him, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39).

This mystery had to be revealed lest Gentiles withhold the Gospel from Jewish people on the false assumption that the Christ would be rejected. This mystery must be revealed (preached) among us for the same reason. C.F.W. Walther says well:

“True though it be that the Jews have crucified and rejected their own Messiah, still, according to the mystery unfolded by the Apostle, Jews shall be converted as long as Gentiles are converted. Not only will the door of grace remain open till the end, but there shall always be a number of both who actually enter the Kingdom of God.”3

Francis Pieper offers this encouragement:

“We are assured by Scripture that the door of grace stands open no less for the Jews than for the Gentiles and that God has dispersed the Jews among the Gentiles not to exclude them from salvation, but by the testimony and example of the believing Christians to incite them to believe that in Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah of the Jews and the Savior of the world has come. Only if this knowledge lives in us will we take the right attitude toward Israel.4

verse 26 —“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

In This We Believe our synod makes the confession: “We likewise reject as unscriptural any hopes that the Jews will all be converted in those final days, . . .”5

This represents as much a minority position as other of our statements on doctrine. I was amazed at the number of commentators who expect a general conversion of the Jewish people and base their expectations on this verse. Of course, I expected that Hal Lindsey and others who represent Dallas Theological Seminary would date and forecast a conversion of all Jews—dead and alive. I did not expect that they could appeal to Augustine for support. Why, Augustine even speculated that Elijah and Enoch would be the preachers scheduled to lead the Great Jewish Evangelism Crusade.

I expected to find that fundamentalists, literalists and fanaticists would be on the side of a mass conversion of the Jews. It was a mild surprise to discover that the more level-headed among them, who reject the hype, the date-setting, the daily-news-in-prophecy, still hold to the teaching of a special Jewish conversion. Samuel Allen Creed authored a “Christianity Today” article against “Hotline Prophecy;” yet he insists: “To be sure, we find in Romans 9 that God has not finished with the Jews and still has something in store for them.”6

Consider that John Calvin interpreted the “Israel” of verse 26 to be spiritual Israel and it’s surprising that Reformed commentators, with a few exceptions, teach a conversion of physical Israel. Charles Hodge asserts that Reformation era scholars resorted to the interpretation of a spiritual Israel in reaction against “the

Footnotes

3 C.F.W. Walther quoted by Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III, Concordia, St. Louis, 1953, page 533. 4 Ibid. 5 This We Believe, Northwestern Publishing House, Milwaukee, 1967, page 24. 6 Samuel Creed, “Hot-line Prophecy,” Christianity Today, December 11, 1981, page 28.

extravagancies of the Millenarians.”7 He defends his view that verse 26 predicts “a great and general conversion of the Jewish people” as the view “generally received in every age of the church.” Hodge may well be right that his is the “generally received” view.

When Martin Luther lectured on Romans in 1517, he indicated that the Jewish people would “return in their own time.”8 Later writings of Luther reveal a total rejection of the “general conversion” view. Since the Reformation any number of Lutheran commentators have reverted to Luther’s early understanding.

If the New Testament’s only teaching with regard to Israel were the statement that “all Israel will be saved,” we would gladly yield to the majority opinion. As it is, however, to insist that this verse teaches a general conversion of physical Israel can only be blatant disregard for the “scripture interprets scripture” principle.

Circus tricks are required to fit a last-days, general conversion of physical Israel in with Jesus’ assertion that “at that time… the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 25:10-12). How can all Israel experience salvation by a resurrection and conversion of dead Israelites, if “man is destined to die once, and after that to face the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27)? Why did the Holy Spirit bother to warn Israelites, “Do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8), if this was a hardening that would be entirely softened? Were the tears Jesus shed outside Jerusalem false tears like the crocodile tears of a child (Luke 19:41)? What was the point of His word to the daughters of Jerusalem, “Weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28)? No, so much of Scripture is violated by the general conversion view that one logically ends up with either Christless salvation, universalism or both.

When scripture is allowed to interpret “and so all Israel will be saved,” the only possible conclusion is that spiritual Israel is meant. In the New Testament, especially, Israel is a fluid term used sometimes in a physical sense, sometimes in a spiritual sense. It didn’t trouble Paul at all to set the two uses side by side: “For not all who are descended from Israel (physical) are Israel (spiritual)” (Romans 9:6). Other examples will be cited as the discussion continues. To follow this approach is to conclude that all those who are Israel in a spiritual sense will be saved. This agrees perfectly with Peter’s word to Jews: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Nor does this view require that any other scriptures be twisted or violated.

It would be nice if “the few” who understand Israel to be spiritual Israel would agree as to what constitutes spiritual Israel. There is no such agreement. Lenski, F. Pieper, Hendriksen and others interpret “all Israel” as all Jewish people who put their faith in Abraham’s Seed. The other possibility is that “all Israel” includes all Jews and Gentiles who believe that Jesus is the Christ. I am persuaded that the second interpretation is the correct one.

Recall the introductory remarks about Paul’s threefold repetition of his thesis concerning Israel! If we check the preceding paragraph for a parallel to “all Israel,” we find an olive tree with wild branches (Gentile) and natural branches (Jewish). If we check the paragraph that follows, we find a parallel to “all Israel” in this that “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” An earlier statement, “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (Romans 3:9), makes it clear that this parallel to “all Israel” also consists of Jews and Gentiles.

The immediate context supports the same view. “And so” introduces a conclusion with regard to “all Israel.” The conclusion flows out of the points which precede: 1) Physical Israel has experienced a partial hardening, partial because some still believe and are saved. 2) This will continue to be true until the end when all believing Gentiles will have come into the kingdom and been saved. Conclusion: The result of some Jewish people believing and some Gentiles believing is that “all Israel will be saved.”

It is also important to consider the teaching of the entire New Testament on the Jewish/Gentile issue. Jesus and His apostles worked hard to remove the distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians, that is, to identify both as the “chosen people” (First Peter 2:9), as “Abraham’s offspring” (Romans 9:8) or “all Israel.”

Footnotes

7 Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1950, page 371. 8 Luther’s Works, American Edition, Volume 25, page 429.

The One whose ancestry could be traced to Abraham, upon the confession of the Gentile centurion, said, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). At the family table of the patriarchs are set out place cards with the names of Gentiles printed on them so that “all Israel” can feast on salvation.

The One who had long been Israel’s Shepherd (Psalm 23) and called Himself the Good Shepherd said: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen (a reference to Israel). I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). As this promise of Jesus found its fulfillment in the adding of Gentiles to the flock, one would hardly expect to find a new division into two flocks. “All Israel” is one flock of Jewish sheep and Gentile sheep.

The prophet Amos looked ahead to the day when David’s tent would be “restored, repaired and rebuilt” (Amos 9: 11-12). James, when convinced by Peter, Paul and Barnabas that Gentiles had a rightful claim on the Gospel, quoted this prophecy of Amos (Acts 15:16-17). David’s tent would be in good repair once it sheltered both Jews and Gentiles, or, “all Israel.”

The city of Ephesus housed a Christian congregation with a mixed membership of Jews and Gentiles. To them Paul explained that there had been a legitimate distinction between Gentiles and Israel. Paul went on to say that Christ “has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” The consequence, Paul told the Gentiles: “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:12-19). To be counted among God’s people is to be included in “all Israel.”

Paul’s letter to the Galatians includes the familiar allegory employing Hagar and Sarah. In effect, Paul turned the facts of the matter upside down in order to include Gentiles in the family of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. The fact was that Jerusalem and its Israelitish citizens had descended from Sarah and Abraham. But Paul denied any kinship between Israel according to the flesh and the child of promise born to Sarah. Instead, Paul assured all the Jews and Gentiles who populated the churches of Galatia: “You, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise” (Galatians 4:28). Jews and Gentiles who have been “born of God… to be children of God” (John 1:13) are the spiritual kin of Abraham and Sarah, their son Isaac and all who are truly Israel.

The letter of Paul to the Romans deals with the Jewish/Gentile issue from its beginning. Perhaps the most familiar passage in the first three chapters begins: “There is no difference…” (Romans 3:22). No difference between whom? No difference between Jews and Gentiles as regards sin—“all have sinned” (Romans 3: 23)—and no difference between Jews and Gentiles as regards justification—“all are . . . justified by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). How strange it would have been for Paul, after he had spent chapters establishing the fact that there is no difference, now to introduce a difference among those who belong to “all Israel!”

Return to the verses under consideration, especially the quote of prophecy which Paul used to substantiate the contention that “all Israel will be saved!” These words are taken in part from Isaiah 59:20-21, and in part from the “new covenant” passage of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Together these passages speak of the Redeemer who would come to Jacob (Israel), turn Jacob to repentance, and take away their sins.” Paul and the other apostles knew well the Redeemer’s own word: “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). Once Jesus had broadened the prophecies to include all nations it would have been inappropriate for Paul to restrict them to a purely Jewish Israel.

Why limit “all Israel,” as Pieper does, to “the whole number of elect among the Jews?”9 Paul was generous enough to include those of us who are Gentiles with him in his Israel. Why should we be any more restrictive? Jews and Gentiles together constitute “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

This introduces an interesting question which is too extensive to be treated in this paper: By what right do the scriptures enlarge the term “Israel” to include Gentiles? What warrant is there for this approach? I would like to offer just a couple of suggestions:

Footnotes

9 Pieper, op.cit., page 528. 1)

1) At the time of Abram’s call, God promised to make him into a great nation (Genesis 12:2). This turned out to be the nation of Israel. Or, did it? The adjective “great” might well indicate something more than the relatively puny nation of Israel. Even at this initial call the LORD explained that Abram and his nation were to be an instrument of blessing for “all peoples on earth” (Genesis 12:2-3). Israel’s existence as a nation was not to be viewed as an end in itself; Israel was to be a means of blessing for all people.

At a later repetition of the covenant promise the LORD said to Abraham, “You will be the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4). Israel’s father was destined to be father of many nations. When the Magi came; when the centurion confessed; when the Ethiopian was baptized; when the disciples made disciples of all nations; whenever Gentiles came to faith in Abraham’s Seed—then Gentiles were coming to their father in faith, Abraham; then Gentiles became Abraham’s Israel. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed” (Galatians 3:29).

2) Another “Israel-thread” is picked up and pulled through Scripture when a person sees Jesus Christ as a “representative Israel,” as a New and obedient Israel” or as an “Israel reduced to one.” His birth and life involved a tracing of Israel’s history—into Egypt, out of Egypt, through the water, in the wilderness, on a mountain, etc. He obeyed Israel’s law and yet was held guilty of Israel’s sins (Colossians 3:14) and punished with Israel’s punishments (Psalm 22:1). If true Israel is Jesus Christ, and we are “in Christ,” then we are Israel just as we are His body, the Church (Ephesians 2,5). Robert Brinsmead is one of those who says: “To be in Christ is to be in Israel.”10

Verses 28-29 “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as salvation is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

With these words Paul begins to repeat another time. To say that some Jewish people are enemies of the Gospel is not substantially different from the preceding comment on Israel’s hardening in part. To say that some respond to the love of God which surrounds them through their patriarchal heritage is not substantially different from saying that not all Jewish people are hardened.

“As far as the gospel… enemies.” The church in Smyrna was troubled by “the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9). So was the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:9). According to the flesh they were descendants of Abraham. Had they been true Jews, however, they never would have thought to oppose and slander the churches of Jesus Christ. Like so many other fleshly Jews in all of history and in the present, these were enemies of the Gospel.

“God’s gift and his call . . . irrevocable.” Concerning this Martin Franzmann has written: No simple scheme of wrath and retribution is sufficient to enclose the inexhaustible workings of the Word of God. That Word once said to Israel, “I have chosen you,” and swore fidelity to Abraham and his seed. The men of Israel are not only enemies but also beloved. Go is God and not a man. His gifts and His call have their cause and origin in Him alone; they are not generated by the goodness of man, and they do not evaporate before the badness of man. His gifts and call are “irrevocable,” so far as His will to give and to call are concerned. “God’s love,” Luther says, “does not find the object it can love; God’s love creates it.11

verses 30-32 “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Footnotes

10 Robert Brinsmead, Present Truth, Vol. 5, No. 7, page 51. 11 Martin Franzmann, op.cit., pages 208-209.

Here Paul draws together all that has been said in a final summation. The “you” are Gentiles who have been brought to faith. The “they” are Jews who will yet be saved. In either case it is divine mercy that covers human disobedience. To say that the Gentile believers “were at one time disobedient” is the equivalent of Paul’s “far away,” “foreigners,” and “aliens” in Ephesians. It is the same as Paul’s “all have sinned” in Romans 3. Yet, mercy has atoned for the disobedience. Mercy has worked repentance. Mercy has been received by a faith worked by mercy. All MERCY.

Among the Jews, too, are those who have “now become disobedient.” This is not to say there had been a time when Jews had not been disobedient. It has already been said, “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). These are Jews who will come to a knowledge of their disobedience as Paul had learned to know what sin was through the law (Romans 7:7). These are also Jews who will come to know mercy as Gentiles share with them the mercy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then for these Jews too it will be all MERCY.

On the human side the great equalizer is sin and disobedience. What the human population has in common are not necessarily arms, legs, eyes, ears, mouths. For some of us those features are missing. All of us, however, share in the disobedience of sin. It is our inherent sameness, whether we are Jews or Gentiles. “God has bound all men over to disobedience.” Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin… that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (Romans 3:9&19).

On the divine side is mercy, mercy that shows no favoritism (Acts 10:34), unexplainable mercy, precious mercy, mercy that robs all (Jews and Gentiles) of any ability to boast (Romans 3:27).

That being the case; how ought Gentiles regard Jews? How ought Jews regard Gentiles? When they are one in Christ they ought embrace each other and sing the praise of the mercy that brought them together. At all times Gentile recipients of mercy are to reflect that mercy back on the Jews; Jewish recipients of mercy are to open the riches of their heritage to Gentiles.

Whether we are Gentile pastors, Gentile Lutheran Christians or whether a Jewish mother who wanted the “sparkle” she saw in a Gentile, whether Jewish children who are baptized, instructed, confirmed, we rejoice that we are all “children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). “To Him be the glory forever: Amen” (Romans 11:36).

 

Picking a Tulip or a Lily?

Picking a Tulip or a Lily?

 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12

Many believers are unaware that some of their beliefs many be built on the thinking and theology of two men, John Calvin (1509 to 1564) and Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).  The systems of theology that these men created are logical and consistent with their suppositions. However, they are totally opposite of one another and therefore both cannot be true. Moreover, many believers have been cherry picked certain points from both systems to their liking.  Now this is not logical nor is it honest if done knowingly.  It also leads to inconsistent and muddled headed theology that creates doubts and division.

Let me begin with Calvinism.  Calvinism is a systematic theology where each point is built on a certain presupposition and the preceding point. In other words, if A is true, B must be true and if A is false, B must be false, if A and B are truth C must be true. Calvin himself admitted that if any point of his theology is wrong then the whole thing was wrong.  This alone might be a call for you sleepers to wake up and smell the flowers to see if you have a tulip in the garden of your mind.

In a nut shell Calvin taught God’s sovereignty is unconditional, unlimited, and absolute. All things are predetermined by God’s sovereign will before the creation. This includes the salvation of individuals. Calvin’s system has been abbreviated with the acrostic “Tulip” which stands for the five major points of his system – total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

What do I think of Calvinism?  Not much, it is a very flawed system.  Its presumptions about the nature of God are based as much on philosophy as the scriptures. His system seems to image a God that is so big that He smothers mans free will. For the radical Calvinist, it completely destroys free will. However, there are some cherry-picking  Calvinists who seem to believe you have free will until you become a Christian and then some how you lose it.  I think the truth is that it would be very difficult to work any free will into any of Calvin’s five points without twisting his system and the scriptures.

There is one thing in its favor. If a person could really and totally believe it, which I doubt a person could, they could live a carefree life as a happy imbecile blaming God for everything in the world and sitting back and doing nothing to correct or improving the world.  You also could believe that you are heaven bound simply by accepting Jesus as your person savior even though you live like the devil.  This seems to be the case every year with millions of Americans being preached into heaven by their friendly minister.  If God is going to predestine people to heaven He could at least pick better people.   The problem with this belief is like all abstract beliefs; people cannot carry them into the real world for very long.  They are simply over powered by reality. Thank God!

After thinking a while (overnight) I realized that there is a group of people who really-really believe in absolute individual predestination.  In fact they not only believe it, they live it out, which is a sign of a true believer.  They’re called suicide bombers and they are Muslim, which believe in fate or absolute predestination.  In fact, some believe that John Calvin was influenced in his thinking by this extreme group.

I know some of you are thinking does the Bible teach that God predestined Christians to be saved? Right, He does. God predestined a lot of things.  First, he predestined all Christians to be free from the power of sin.  How are you doing in that area of salvation?  Then he predestined us to be free from death which would include the precursors of death, sickness and aging.  How are you doing on that one?  Now here is what the Bible teaches.  God has predestined everyone who is in Christ to be saved and conform to the image of His Son. What about conforming to the image of His Son, how are you doing on that one? The good news is that salvation has started in Christ and will be finalized in the resurrection when our adoption as sons is completed (Rom 8:23). In the resurrection, faith becomes reality. So, if you are not doing 100% in the above-mentioned  areas do not despair God is not done with you. The important question is, are you in Christ?

I know by now some of you are probably confused, so let me say a few more words about predestination. There is a lot of confusion in people’s minds on this subject, mainly for a very simple reason. The reason is that they look at it individualistic instead of corporately.  Much of the confusion disappears when a person begins to see election and predestination as God electing and predestinating  groups.  One way we could explain it is that God predestinated everyone who is in His Son[1] to go to heaven and for all those outside His Son to be lost (Rom 8:29-30). The elect are those that hear the gospel of His Son and are called out of the world into His Son (Eph 1:13).  We (those in Christ) who are predestined before the foundations of earth were laid in His Son. You see it was his Son, who was predestined; the question is, are you in him?  You see Gods grace is in His Son (2 Tim 1:9), salvation is in His Son (2 Tim 2:10), forgiveness of sin is in His Son, eternal life is in His Son; fullness is in Christ (Col 2:10).  In fact, all spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph 1:3).  The question is not where you predestine, but rather are you in the Son.  If you are in the Son, you are going to heaven.  In fact, you are already there because you were raised with Christ (Eph 2:6).  That is if you believe in Christ, for everyone who trusts in Christ is put into Christ by their faith and baptism into Him (Rom 6:1-4, Gal 3:26, 27).

What does it mean to be in Christ?  It simply means everything; it means that Christ is all, and in all. Being in Christ is equivalent to being in the kingdom of Christ and being in his body, the church. It means to be in the family of God with Jesus being your big brother.  It means to be hidden in Christ from the principalities and powers.  It means to be protected by Gods divine power.  It means to be in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In Christ means; to be in the place where all of God’s spiritual blessings are found.

Sounds like a great place to be, right?  Well, it is, You could say it is the place where the action is, that is God’s action.  How do you get into Christ?  You get into Christ through faiths-baptism (Rom 6: 1-5, Gal 3:26, 27)and by trusting in the God that raised him from the dead, and you abide in Him by that same saving faith.  But doesn’t the Bible say that when we were powerless, Christ died for us?  That is right; there was nothing we could do to save ourselves, which is why we had to simply trust God to do it.  Trusting God is not trusting ourselves, even our faith.  Faith itself would be a work of righteousness if you were to trust that it was through your great faith that you were saved.  Great faith is a gift of God’s grace and is different than saving faith that simply puts its trust in God’s grace and his word. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph 2:8a).

If you abide in Christ, you will be saved and you will naturally grow and bear fruit. (John 15:1-8) How does one abide in Christ? The same way that you get in him, by grace, through faith. Grace comes to us through faith in two ways. Grace given for forgiveness and grace given as power to be set free from the dominance of sin.  In Scripture, salvation is salvation from sin and death.  No one can be saved and be a slave to sin.  How can anyone be saved from something and still have sin as their master (Rom 6:15-18)?  Paul said that we are not under the law therefore we do not sin, but he also said that we are not under sin.  I know some Christians that say they are not under the law, but they are still a slave to sin.  What is that all about?  God’s grace has freed us from both, not just one. So, if you abuse God’s grace, look out for the wrath of God that is to come upon the sons[2] of disobedience. (Eph 5:6-7).

Let me suggest that you get rid of the Tulip in your mind and replace it with the Lily of the Valley “Jesus.”  Fall in love with Jesus and you will not have to worry about growing in the Lord, losing your salvation or anything else. In fact, you will not need to believe in Tulip to know and have assurance that you are saved, (1 John 5:13)  You will know that you are saved because you are in Christ by grace, through faith, because your faith is being lived out in loving your brothers, which you were saved to do. (Read 1John)

[1] The expression “in Christ” is used in scriptures to denote his corporate body, i.e. all those who in his church by faith.

[2] Some versions read Children or on those that are disobedient, but the Greek text reads Sons. This misinterpretation shows the vast influence of Calvinistic teaching which would deny that any believer could be lost and under the wrath of God. The new international version of the Bible is very Calvinistic and distorts many passages of Scripture to make them support Calvinism.

The Roots of The New Atheist Movement

The Roots of The New Atheist Movement

Where did the new atheist movement originate?  I may not have all the answers to this question but one thing I do know is that you cannot start and organize a movement around a non-belief as some of the new atheists would have people believe. To create a movement, you must have specific beliefs and the emotions that will fuel the movement. The energy of any movement comes from the emotions that drive it. Likewise, every movement is a bearer of particular beliefs and the emotions that are generated by the beliefs as they are put forth by forceful leaders of that movement. So, whatever is driving the new atheist movement is also spreading it. But what is it?

The belief that is driving the new movement is naturalism[1]. Naturalism is a belief system that believes nature is the whole show, and  there is nothing outside of it. Therefore atheists believe that everything must be explained by natural causes. In pure naturalism[2], there is no room for faith in a God or even the belief there might be something more than nature. The truthfulness of naturalism is not a question that science can answer. Therefore it falls into the area of metaphysics and is a question for philosophers and theologians[3].

What about the emotions driving this new movement? This writer believes that much of the new atheist movement has come out of a well of anger and hatred. It reflects the nihilism of the French and Russian Revolution. The movement exists for the main purpose of organizing atheists’ hatred of religion, good or bad. Of course, to the new atheist there is no such thing as good religion; there is only religion and it is bad. One of the marked differences between the new atheists and those of the French and Russian Revolutions comes in understanding the real reason for their anger. During the period that these Revolutions took place, the Catholic and orthodox churches had sided with the rich and were oppressing the poor, i.e., the poor had a reason to be angry. However, the new atheist seems to be made up of white, middle-class, college educated males who are part of the system that suppresses the poor. So, what are they angry about? Could it be that they are angry about a meaningless existence, which they have inherited from their secular education? An education that promised them utopia and that is failing.

Furthermore, it is not beyond belief to see the hand of the Communist Party of America behind a lot of the funding of the new atheist movement. The hard-core socialists still see religion, especially the Christian religion, as their chief enemy and would like to eradicate it around the world. You really need atheists in order to have communism and socialism because you need a people who believe in so-called scientific planning and who have the state as their ultimate concern. That is their benefactor and Savior. Of course, planning by the few, spells non-freedom for the many, for in the end there can only be one planner.

Another reason for this movement and many other deconstructionist movements[4] is rooted deep in our culture, a mega culture in which men have lost their identity and meaning. The old atheist types were not organized, because they had an identity and a strong belief in Western ideology and values. However, in recent decades Western academia has emptied these ideologies and values of any meaning. This has led to an increasing number of people in our culture empty of meaning and purpose. These people are easily attracted to movements, which give their existence meaning and structure. Hollowed out people are easy prey for any ideology and cultic belief. These movements are the devil’s workshop and the people who get involved are, as Lenin called them, “useful idiots” for cult leaders and dictators.

The only practical reason I can see for the new atheist movement is that it has afforded a number of shrewd men the opportunity to get wealthy and gain status in the eyes of their followers, which strangely is one of the things they charge religion with. Of course, when there is money and power to be had, there will always be men willing to spread hate to obtain it, men like Karl Marx and Stalin. Some new atheists will respond that they are not spreading hate or hurting anyone. I will grant you that if you steal a man’s faith that he doesn’t  value or have a need for; you have done little harm or hurt. However, if you destroy a person’s faith that has a weak faith, but needs it, you have done harm. Even some of the new atheists who have told their story of losing their faith, talk about the hurt and the negative emotions they experienced. Like many atheists, the new atheists have hardened their hearts to the pain of others and begin to think of their movement as a bitter pill that will cure people of the disease that is hurting them. That is, faith in God. Like all mass movements of true believers, they believe the end justifies the means.

However, are the new atheists really Angels of light as they claim, delivering a bitter pill or are they really Angels of darkness? I will let one of the old atheist types answer that question. An honest unbeliever, Dr. E. Wengraf, once confessed, “Every piece of anti-religious propaganda seems to me a crime.  I surely do not wish it to be prosecuted as a crime, but I consider it immoral and loathsome.  This is not because of zeal for my convictions, but because of the simple knowledge acquired through long experience, that, given the same circumstances, a religious man is happier than the irreligious.  In my indifference and skeptical attitude toward all positive faith, I have often envied other men to whom deep religiosity has given a strong support in all the storms of life.  To uproot the souls of such men is an abject deed.  I abhor any proselytizing.  But, still, I can understand why one who believes firmly in a saving faith tries to convert others.  But I cannot understand propaganda of unbelief.  We do not have the right to take away from a person his protecting shelter, be it even a shabby hut, if we are not sure, we can offer him a better, more beautiful house.  But to lure men from the inherited home of their souls, to make them err afterward in the wilderness of hypotheses and philosophical question marks, is either criminal fatalisms or criminal mindlessness.” Need I say more?

[1] Atheism in itself is not a belief. However, the naturalistic and the materialistic philosophy that support it are ideologies and represent worldviews. The minute an atheist starts arguing for his non-belief he has embraced a belief system of naturalism and materialism and the burden of proof shifts to them.

[2] In naturalist world view one could believe in a god, which existed inside nature and had evolved with the universe.

[3]  Werner Heisenberg physicist and Nobel prize winner for physics confirms  this, “If anyone wants to argue from the indubitable fact that the world exists to a cause of this existence, then this assumption does not contradict our scientific knowledge at a single point.  Scientists do not have a single argument or fact with which they would contradict such an assumption, even if it was about a cause which–how could it be otherwise– would evidently have to be sought outside our three-dimensional world” Wermer Heisenberg quoted by Hans Kung Pages 79-80 in “The beginning of All Things: Science and Religion”.

[4] Deconstructionist movements would include the radical gay rights movement, radical feminists, and radical socialism. All of these movements question the traditional moral and family structure of Western culture.

Spaghetti monsters, Unicorns, and God?

Spaghetti monsters, Unicorns, and God?

Spaghetti monsters, unicorns, and hobgoblins. If you have ever talked to an atheist I’m sure you’re familiar with some of these fictional creatures that they compare belief in, to a belief in God. They say a belief is just a belief and cannot be proven or disproven unless you have tangible proof. But is this true or is it just some mumble jumble from someone wishing to win an argument?

Atheists say they do not believe in beliefs, but is that true? The truth is they believe in some beliefs and not in others. For example, they cannot see, touch, smell or hear their great, great, great, great grandparents however; they believe that they existed based on the fact that they themselves exist. This is  an inference based on causality; the existence of something that is seen now; can prove that something else (which cannot be seen) did or does exist. The causal inference is based on the law of cause and effect; we can infer some things by experiencing the existence of other things.

If we observe an effect, we know that there must be something equal to or greater than the effect and that cause cannot be just a belief, for beliefs without a corresponding reality can do nothing. The idea of a gun cannot shoot you, nor can an idea of a dog bite you. Yet there is something, so there had to be something to create it, not just an idea or belief. God is not just a belief. Therefore, the law of causality places the belief in God in a completely different order of beliefs than spaghetti monsters and unicorns which have no causality factor. Unless you give spaghetti monsters and unicorns causality power; i.e. the characteristics of God that is, all powerful, all knowing and eternal. Of course, if you did that you would simply be changing the name of God.

Atheists say they don’t believe in beliefs however they themselves believe the most unbelievable things that can be imagined, i.e. they believe that something came from nothing. People who believe that something could come from nothing; could also possibly believe in spaghetti monsters and unicorns. Those who believe in the law of cause and effect cannot believe such nonsense.  Do you know why they believe that something came from nothing? Because one atheistic scientist wrote a book claiming it happened.[1] If this is the kind of faith and gullibility required to be an atheist, then I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

Subsequently, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands or tens of thousands of atheistic scientists and atheists who believe in a multi-verse of 11 dimensions without having one bit of objective evidence to support it. Are these people irrational? What about the atheist that believes in alien life forms? The truth is those atheists believe in all kinds of things that they’re not allergic to. I bet some of them believed in Santa Claus until someone told them that his real name was Saint Nick

I wonder if they believe that in one of those fairytale universes, that there might be flying spaghetti monsters and unicorns. If you can believe in fairytale universes, couldn’t you also believe in the magical creatures that populate those universes?

In reality atheists just want us to accept their opinion (beliefs) as concrete fact, even if they are nonsense. They have no facts; all they have is suppositions and assertions. They fail to see that their belief in materialism and naturalism is no different in kind from other people’s belief in God; the different is their opinions (beliefs) have not fulfilled the law of cause and effect[2]. Therefore, their beliefs in materialism and naturalism are equal to believing in spaghetti monsters and unicorns[3]. Moreover, if they are consistent with their world view (none are) their beliefs are nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain, which are determined by the law of cause and effect; a principle that they only believe in when it’s convenient and advantageous for their own arguments.

Consider for example, the beliefs of love and reason. You cannot see, touch, hear or taste love. Yet, most normal people and some atheists believe it is real, however, it is a belief that you cannot put under a microscope, so does that make it just an illusion or just a belief?  What about reason itself.  Is it real or just a belief?  There are some atheistic scientists like Sam Harris[4] who do not believe that love, reason or free will, really exist. He believes that they’re just beliefs or allusions. He says that we are just “biochemical puppets”. Yet, reason has taken him and others to the place that they can deny reason.

How do they know they’re right if they can’t trust reason? If atheists believe that we are biochemical puppets or soft machines why do they spend so much time arguing about their beliefs or lack of them? Are they simply programmed to be contentious and contrary? No, the truth is that their ideologies of materialism and naturalism have taken them into fallacious thinking, which has led them into denying the simplest truths of reality. This reminds me of the words of Aristotle. “For as bats’ eyes are to daylight so is our intellectual eye to those truths which are, in their own nature, the most obvious of all.”

 

[1] These atheistic scientists are brilliant men and they know that the law of cause and effect is devastating to their atheism. The idea that something came from nothing was created for the sole reason to skirt the law of cause and effect. Since the time of the big bang theory which basically says that the earth and the universe had a beginning some atheistic scientists have been trying to explain away the law of cause and effect and that the universe had a beginning. Their efforts have led to the nonsense of some claiming that there are multiverse’s and that something can come from nothing.

[2] Materialism and naturalism both have to believe that everything is eternal without begin or end and void of first cause or a prime mover. The only other explanation is that some came out of nothing spontaneously, again no first cause. Both of these ideas seem to contradict the consensus of science that the universe began in what is known as the big bang and deny the law of cause and effect.

[3] Believers have no problem meeting the demands of the law of cause and effect because they start with an uncreated consciousness which is the cause of all things. Spaghetti monsters and unicorns fit in the category of beliefs like, something coming from nothing, which s the spaghetti monster of atheism.

[4] Sam Harris is one of the guru’s of the new atheists’ movement.

Out of the Box Thinking

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Out of the Box Thinking

 Before you do what some call “out of box the thinking”, You might want to know something about box thinking and boxes. First, you must know what the box is that you are in and you must admit you are in it, and then you must be able to find or create a different or new box. For all thinking is done in one box or another. There are linguistic boxes, cultural boxes, ideology boxes and paradigm boxes. However, no thinking is done outside of all boxes. In other words, there is no such thing as a free thinker or out of the box thinker.  To think otherwise is to think in the worst box of all ” the stupid box.”

Now there are some huge problems to overcome for those who fancy themselves out of the box thinkers. One is that there are few, if any human beings, who are able to create a completely new box. The limitations of box building seemed to be understood just a few decades ago, when people seemed to sense that only intellectuals of the highest degree could think about box building. However, because of are fantastic education system and our love for pure knowledge, we can now all build boxes. Maybe, each of us can have our own box? The truth is, that very few are able to know the box that they are in much less create a new one. Box makers are few and far between; they are men like Moses, Plato and Jesus. In fact, most boxes are not made by individual, but by complete cultures over a long period of time with a lot of hard work.

What most people mean by “out of the box thinking” is thinking without a foundation of any authority, which in the end simply means giving your own option on a subject with no appeal to an authority outside and other than yourself. One thing that could be said for out of the box thinkers is that in appealing to themselves as the only authority needed, they have saved themselves a lot of laborious study, which is usually required for box building.

I should be careful, for if I say too much, some in the educated class might get the idea to hire these out of the box thinkers to teach everyone to build these easy self created boxes. We could even standardize the boxes, We Westerners are good at that, and then our university could mass-produce out of the box thinkers. We could have the loony bin box, the chaos box and the confused box and in this, we could all be different and the same, at the same time. The America dream comes true, everyone in their own box.

Searching For God

Searching For God

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, We are his offspring.’  “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Acts 17:24-30

In mans search for God, one of the big questions is, where do we start? Traditionally we start with God and our discussion would center on God or religion. But is God really where we should begin? Wouldn’t it  be more logical to look at the material which we know best? And is not that material, humanity?

If we start with God, we end up judging God by human standards and man’s reasoning, as though we ourselves were gods or as though we believe we have enough knowledge to make a sound judgment of Him. In this, we are saying that God’s existence depends on him  yielding to our criteria. Therefore, the biggest problem by starting with God is that as soon as we put him on trial, we have implied a number of  assumptions. We have assumed that we have the right to judge the creator, which infers that we have the authority, power and knowledge to do so.  We also assume that our reasoning is accurate enough to make a judgment on God. However, when human reason is put on trial, we will likely find her to be a sick lady; sick with finiteness and sin. So, what does she have to say of God that cannot be questioned?

Then again, if we start with man, there are two hypotheses that we can begin with. The first one is;  man is a creature that is purely an accident and the result of natural causes. Who over time has evolved into the creature that we know today. Then there is the theistic hypothesis; that man was somehow created by a deity, then something happened to the experiment and it went awry.

In this article, we are going to assume that the Christian or God hypothesis is correct, which would mean that man was created by a deity and something went awry. In tradition theology this is referred to as the fall of man. If this hypothesis is true, our attention should turn away from judging God, to cross-examining and judging mankind. In this view, humanity should be put on trial and be held accountable for its beliefs and its unbelief.

Now, if the Christian hypothesis is true, what should we expect to see? To begin with we should expect to see a creation (beginning) of all things, including man.  It also seems logical to think that we should see in a humanity created by God, an  intimate awareness of God, which would include a universal knowledge to some degree of good and evil.  It would mean that man as the image bearer of God would have a consciousness that was capable of choosing good or evil. It would also entail God creating a universe that is orderly and predictable based on laws, which a finite being like man could trust, in conducting and ordering his life.

Let us start with the latter quality, the habitat of man must be orderly, predictable and based on law in order for man to survive. When we look at the earth and universe that is exactly what we find. Now, if there were no God and the earth was an accident would we expect to find order or would we expect to find chaos?  However, when we look at the universe we do not find chaos or disorder. We find the laws of nature, which are immutable, giving man a perfect habitat to live in. These laws infer a law giver. The law and order of the universe is exactly what one would expect to find if a consciousness had created the universe.  It is this law and order in the universe that allows us to do science or philosophy. Without the consistency of the laws of nature reason would not work.

What about the hypothesis that mankind has an innate awareness of God? To begin with the Christian hypothesis proclaims beyond question that mankind as a whole has been given an awareness of the uncreated God. The apostle Paul says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles” (Rom 1:19-23). The text infers that when men rejected this revelation of God’s existence that their reasoning and behavior become corrupted. The scripture does not reveal how their reasoning was corrupted, nor to what extent, it simply says that it happens when men reject God. However, it does seem that the text is pointing more to a corporate occurrence, rather than an individual one.

Is there secular evidence to support a universal revelation or consciousness of a higher power or cosmic order?  In actuality there is, however without any evidence it seems to be a self-evident truth that mankind in general is homo-religious, i.e. by his very nature he seems to be religious[1].  Religion is simply an outward symbol of a belief or an awareness of something that transcends this dimension[2]. The universal presence of religion is  strong evidence that God has revealed himself to all men, and that mankind has often neglected, rejected it or corrupted it. The scripture says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt. They do abominable deeds, there is none that does good.” (Psalms 14:1) In this passage the writer put everyone who does wicked deeds in the category of being an atheist.

In biblical times being an atheist had more to do with behavior than beliefs. Very few would have denied the existence of God or the gods in the ancient world. Modern atheism arose out of modern mans rebellion against the catholic Church and it misuse of power. It took its organized form in humanism and later in liberalism. Both philosophies are centered in rejecting any authority of man or God. The roots go deep into anarchy and rebellion against authority.

In addition, there is also a study done by Oxford University Psychologist Dr. Olivera Petrovich,  who demonstrates that children around the world are hardwired to believe in God as creator.  One of her conclusions is that “Atheism is definitely an acquired position.” Petrovich research is keeping with Steven Pinker’s study of human nature, in which he confirms that human beings are not born as a blank slate, but rather are hard wired in a number of ways[3].

Closely connected with an innate awareness of God, we should expect an innate sense of right and wrong if God created everything. What’s more, when we turn to the world that is exactly what we find. We find a sense of right and wrong everywhere. Of course, the naturalist will argue that morality is a creation of human reason and evolved over time.  However, in saying this they cannot produce one bit of evidence to prove their hypothesis, for they were not there to witness it.

What we have to work with today is our own experience that morality is universal and does not depend on reason alone.  Remember that Germany under the Nazis was the most intellectual culture of its day and yet it was the most barbaric.  Reason in itself does not lead to morality.   Reason needs a cornerstone from which it may lay its foundation on, to be able to reason from.

Our hypothesis infers that we should be able to pin point a beginning, or a creation where God made all things, including man in his image[4]. Well, when we turn to science it tells us that the universe had a beginning.  Scientists referred to this beginning as the ‘big bang’. The big-bang theory actually postulates that the universe came into existence out of nothing and this is exactly what you would expect if God created the heavens and earth as Genesis 1:1 teaches.  Prior to the Big-Bang theory, science taught us that the universe was steady and fixed i.e. eternal without beginning or end.

I admit that the above does not prove the existence of God, but it does show that the world in which we live is the kind of world, which we would expect to find if there was a God.

 

[1] Talcott Parsons, served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973. says “The view that belief in the supernatural is universal has been completely confirmed by modern anthropology. Religion is as much a human universal as language or an incest taboo, which is to say a kinship system. Any conception of ‘natural man’ who is not encumbered by such ‘cultural baggage’ belongs to fictional picture of prehistory, for which there is no solid evidence for the human, socially organized stage. The view that such ‘baggage’ ought to be dispensed with and that rational man should ‘face reality’ without any ‘superstition’ is a product of sophisticated culture, in no way true of the original human condition. Quoted in “An Interpretation of Religion by John Hick, page 21.

[2] William James speaks of this experience in his book “Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature”.

[3] The Blank Slate, The Modern Denial of Human Nature, by Steven Pinker.

[4] Here for are study, it does not matter how he did it, fast or slow.

Letter to a Young Atheist, a Leap of Faith

 Letter to a Young Atheist, a Leap of Faith

 You can doubt everything and everyone. You can even make a scientific augment that we do not existence and everything is an illusion (The Matrix). Sometimes, to believe in God we must first believe in people or at least a person. In some matters, we must trust the word and the experience of others. We all need to remember that our knowledge and experiences are finite; we personally cannot know and experience everything. Because we have not found or experienced something does not mean that, it does not exist; it simply means that I have not experienced it. I personally believe in many things that I have not experienced. I believe in them because I trust that someone else has experienced them and I trust that person’s word or testimony. The big question is whom can we trust and who should we listen to. After surveying a huge number of men living now and throughout history, I believe that Jesus can be trusted. In fact, I have trusted him with my life and eternity. However, it is not just Jesus; the greatest and most loving men I know are followers of Jesus Christ or had great respect for him and his teachings.

The following is a short article I wrote about faith, in the story Jesus is the old man. “In many cases, faith is the most reasonable thing you can embrace.  Let’s say that you were climbing a large mountain and it grew dark.  Now suppose that because of the difficulty of the climb, it would be impossible to retreat off the peak at night.  The problem worsens when you learn from your radio that a storm is coming, which would make the conditions hopeless to survive the night.  As you huddle on the mountain waiting for death, you remember a story told by an old man in the camp the week before.  He had mentioned that there was a hidden outcropping of rocks, which forms a small ledge just below the summit and off the ledge was a small cave that one could go into to escape the weather.  He said it was marked by a small pile of rocks just a short distance below the summit.  However, to reach it you must jump down about ten feet to the outcropping below, which is a large first step.  Now here is the problem.  It is pitch dark, and you have found the marker, but you cannot see the ledge below because it is so dark.  The jump requires a leap of faith-based upon the testimony of the old man.”

In view of the conditions, is the leap reasonable or is more rational to be pessimistic and doubtful, and do nothing?  Would it be logical not to make a choice?  It seems that to both the pessimist (atheist) and the indecisive (agnostic), a leap of faith is not the reasonable thing to do.  Both would have to choose to die on the mountain.  In this case, not to choose is to choose.  It is to choose death over the possibility of life.  What I am saying is that in some circumstances, the reasonable thing to do is to act on faith.  Sometimes reason tells us that it is not time to use reason.  In some cases, moving forward in faith is the most reasonable thing you can do.

Once the disciples of Jesus were listening to the Master, and when they turned around the crowd was walking away murmuring that they just could not believe what the Teacher was saying.  When the Teacher saw the despair on the faces of the disciples, He asked them, “Are you going to leave too?”

Their answer was their leap of faith in the midst of despair.  “Where shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”