Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Increase of Order in a Thermodynamic System

Creationists often posit that evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (the energy in any system tends toward being less usable over time; or, order becomes disorder over time; or, entropy increases over time).

Evolutionists counter that this is true only in a closed system, and that our Earth is an open system, with new energy arriving from the Sun, and thus the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics doesn't apply to evolution on Earth. (Never mind that the Universe as a whole is a closed system, and thus its evolution would violate the 2nd Law.)

But evolutionist err in their understanding.

In order to increase order from a disordered system, you don't need just an input of energy. You need three things:

1) An input of energy. The sun inputs energy into the Earth.

2) A machine that converts that energy into useful work. That machine might be a living cell containing chlorophyll, or a solar panel, or a heat-exchange device, etc.

3) A program that controls that machine. Oftentimes this program is "hard-coded" into the design of the machine, via length/size of gears, timing of levers, cranks, valves, etc.

Take for example a pile of metal laying in your front lawn. You can input energy into that pile of metal for millions of years, in the form of sunlight, or wind energy, or rain pressure, or ice-expansion, etc, and it'll never form into an ordered state, but will only get more disordered (e.g. rust) over time.

So, the input of energy is not sufficient to bring order from disorder.

So let's magically provide a machine to convert energy into order. Let's replace our hypothetical pile of metal with a very specific arrangement of metal, one that forms a lawn-mower. Surely if we add energy, we'll get useful order from this system, perhaps a nice orderly-trimmed lawn.

Again, we can put energy into that system, sunlight, wind, rain, ice, even gasoline poured on top of it, and maybe a lit match to boot, and you'll not get an increase of order. Instead, you'll again only get increased disorder.

So, it's not sufficient to input energy into a system, or to have both an input of energy and a machine capable of converting that energy into work.

We need the third requirement: a program that controls the machine. In the case of our lawn mower, that program is built-into the design of the mower, consisting of a specifically-designed combustion chamber and a spark plug that has a timing program tied to the stroke of the piston and valves programmed to open and close at the proper time, etc.

Now, with the input of energy (and not just any energy, but specifically in the case of our lawn mower, energy in the form of gasoline, input into the system in accordance with the machine's programming - the gas can't be poured on top of the mower, but must be put into its fuel tank), and a machine to convert that energy into useful work (the lawn mower itself), and a program to control that machine (the mechanical design of the mower, along with a a second control-program to steer the mower around the yard), we can get useful work, and order from disorder.

To sum up, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (entropy/disorder spontaneously increases) of a system (open or closed) can not be overcome simply with the input of energy into the system; it requires three things:

1) the input of energy (of a specific sort)
2) a machine to convert that energy into useful work or order
3) a program that controls that machine

Originally published at:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cleaving to A Wife

You remember the passage:
KJV Gen 2:22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Jesus clarifies in Matthew 19:4-5 that the words of verse 24 came from God, not from Adam.

So from God's own mouth we have a clear mandate that when a man is forced to choose between loyalty to his wife or to his parents, he is to choose his wife.

This is exactly what Adam did, when Eve presented him with the forbidden fruit.

Eve was deceived, not Adam (1 Tim 2:14), into eating the forbidden fruit. But having done so, she brought the fruit to Adam to eat (Gen 3:6). In that moment, Adam had a choice to make: Would he be loyal to his Parent who created him and told him not to eat this fruit, lest he die? Or would he be loyal to his wife, who was walking dead already?

Adam chose Death, in order to stand loyally with his wife.

I can't praise Adam for this choice, because he brought sin and death into what had been a "very good" (Gen 1:31) world, bringing misery and destruction to billions of people. But had it not affected the rest of us, had it only affected him, we would laud Adam for choosing to stand by his wife even though it meant death for himself.

In a like vein, while in a time of praise with a local congregation, I had the thought go through my mind that a man
needs to focus on making his wife happy, on meeting her needs. He doesn't need to focus on his job, or on his kids, or on his own interests; he doesn't even need to focus on Jesus. He needs to focus on making his wife happy.
I immediately balked at this idea of putting a man's wife above Jesus, but then this scripture came to mind:
HCSB 1 Cor 7:32 I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.
Notice that Paul does not castigate the married person for focusing on their spouse; he simply says that married people can't focus on Jesus because they're focusing on their spouses. There is no judgment for this situation, just a preference that if it can be avoided, it should be avoided.

And then another scripture comes to mind:
HCSB 1 Pet 3:7 Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
This verse is saying that if you don't have a proper relationship with your spouse, you won't have a proper relationship with God.

So I'm back to this strong "sensation" that a man needs to understand that his job is not to take his daughter to softball practice, or to keep the electricity on, or to get his son a car. All these things are important and need to be done. But his job is to make his wife happy. (And that doesn't mean by buying her stuff; it means by connecting with her heart.)

Originally published at:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Love Is Love

Some time back I saw the following image floating around the net:

Maybe this will help explain the difference, at least from a functional-design standpoint:

Friday, August 02, 2013

Wow! A Totally Different Read of Jesus on Divorce

All my life, I've thought that Jesus condemned divorce in Matthew 19:1ff. Here's an example of that passage from the Holman Christian Standard Bible:
When Jesus had finished this instruction, He departed from Galilee and went to the region of Judea across the Jordan. Large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there. Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?”
“Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and He also said:
For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
“Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?”
He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
 But I just read a viewpoint by Robert Waters who claims that the word for "divorce" in this passage, apoluó (ἀπολύω), doesn't mean "divorce", but means "put away, set free, release", as rendered in the King James:
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. [emphasis added]
Waters contends that Jesus and the Pharisees are distinguishing between a separation and a full legal divorce, and that Jesus is essentially saying that if you separate and marry another person, you're committing adultery, and that if you separate, and someone marries your separated-but-not-legally-divorced ex, that person commits adultery.

And I don't think any one of us would object to that claim.

However, even as I write this, I realize that Jesus claims that Moses allowed a man to put away his wife, but that in so doing, Moses demanded a certificate of divorce. This means that Moses' and Jesus' definition of "put away" is equivalent to legal divorce, not a mere separation.

As interesting as Waters' view is, it seems to fail on this point. But I'll keep this view in mind as possibly true.

Originally published at:

Monday, June 03, 2013

Two Types of Sin in the Bible

HCSB Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. 13 In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression.
Sin was not in the world before Adam; it entered the world through Adam (Rom 5:12).

This sin that Adam brought into the world can exist apart from law-breaking, although this type of sin does not bring guilt (v. 13).

So in this passage we see two types of sin:
  1. a sin not like Adam's, which does not incur guilt as there is no law to be broken (condition)
  2. a sin like Adam's, a "transgression", which brings guilt for law-breaking (commission)
Both types bring death (v. 14)

Without a law to break, the sin is itself dead, powerless to bring guilt upon us.

The sin exists in our biology (by condition), and causes physical death, but until it exists in our spirit (by commission of law-breaking), it does not cause guilt, and therefore not spiritual death, until and unless there is a law broken.

HCSB Rom 7:8 And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. ... 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. ...  17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. ...  20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. ...  25... So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
Sin exists prior to the existence of the "coveting" ("concupiscence" in KJV), and is what produces the coveting once an anti-coveting law is established (v. 8). Paul is sold into sin's power simply by being in the flesh (v. 14). This sin operates separate and apart from his will (v. 17), and dwells in the parts of his body (vv 17, 20, 21, 23, 25).

Once again, we see that there are two types of sin:
  1. one that creates the desire to commit a sinful action, which dwells in the body (condition)
  2. one that results from the commission of a sinful action (commission)
"Sin lives in me" (7:17). When the commandment comes, sin works through the commandment that it might be recognized as sin (HCSB; "that it might appear sin" KJV - 7:13), becoming "exceeding sinful" (KJV). The breaking of the command "matures" the sin (as James mentions in 1:15), but the sin is already there, waiting to entice its victim into breaking the commandment.

HCSB James 1:13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
James says that God can not be tempted with evil, nor does he tempt any man, but that each man is tempted (with evil) from within (James 1:13-14). This indicates that "evil" exists in the human (just as Paul said in Romans 7:12 above), that it creates evil desires within the human, and that the end result of that desire is sin and death.

So in James we see:

1) evil exists in the human (condition)
2) evil within the human results in the evil action of failing to resist temptation (commission)


We have traditionally used 1 John 3:4 to define sin:
HCSB 1 John 3:4 Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.
And that's a valid definition. But I don't believe John was intending to give an exact, exclusive definition of the term. If that's not what John intended, then we shouldn't use his words as if that is what he intended.

If John is not giving an exclusive definition here, then the above-cited passages seem to indicate that Biblically, there are two types of sin:

  1. a sin which is a condition, which we have simply by being in the flesh, which dwells in our flesh, which is inheritable, which causes physical death, but does not incur guilt and does not cause spiritual death
  2. a sin which is a commission, resulting from action (the breaking of law), which is not inheritable, which incurs guilt, and which separates us from God causing death of both the spirit and the body
Jesus, having God as his biological father, did not inherit the first type of sin, that of a condition. He was sinless, free from both from the inheritable condition of sin, and from the uninheritable commission of sin. He "has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom 8:3b-4 KJV). (Again we see that the flesh itself is "sinful", and Jesus was in that likeness, yet without sin.) But he took on those sins of ours, of both types - "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Pet 2:24 HCSB). As a result, now we, along with the creation itself, are "eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption", not just of our spirits, but of our bodies, and to be freed, along with the creation itself, "from the bondage of corruption" to which we've been unwillingly subjected (Rom 8:19-23).

Originally published at:

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Elizabethan/KJV English

I was thinking the other day about the advantages of the King James Version. Here's what I came up with.

1. It is more precise than modern versions. Note I didn't say more accurate, but rather, more precise, as demonstrated by this tutorial. But, in order to take advantage of that precision, the reader must learn a new language (as demonstrated by that tutorial). You can get the gist of the KJV if you understand 21st Century English, but to take advantage of its precision, you have to do some language studies. At that point, you might as well just go all the way and learn the original underlying Greek and/or Hebrew.

2. It's Public Domain, which means you can quote/copy it freely, without fear of infringing some copyright. This is somewhat mitigated however by more modern versions that are also PD, such as the World English Bible (an updated version of the 1901 ASV).

3. Everyone has access to it, thus making it the Lowest Common Denominator for accessible versions of the Bible. It's likely the version most people are familiar with, and which most people associate as being "the Bible".

4. It's the basis for many of our historical/cultural references ("Yea, though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death..."; "For unto you is born this day..."; "Judge not, that ye be not judged."; etc).

In my view, these advantages are outweighed by its disadvantages, of which these two seem the biggest to me:

1) It's less accurate than more modern versions, due both to changes in the English language since then and to better understandings/findings of the ancient text/world in which the Bible was written.

2) It's less understandable than modern versions. Many KJV advocates would disagree, but I'm confident that if you put a KJV and an ESV or HCSB in front of a 10th grader and have him read random portions out of each version, the student will understand the modern version more readily.

It should also be noted that some KJV advocates believe that just as God inspired the original writing of the Bible's text, he inspired the translation of that text into the KJV. That's a whole 'nuther subject.

Originally published at:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Acts 20:7 - Meeting & Eating Daily

Acts 20:7 is often used as a proof-text that the early church met on the first day of the week to take the Lord's Supper. Here's another way to look at the text:
KJV Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart....
KJV Acts 5:12b [A]nd they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
KJV Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
KJV Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching....
KJV Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily....
KJV Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
So we see that the early church met every day, and ate their meals together every day, and distributed food every day, and were told to exhort one another every day in their assemblings.

When we get to Troas, we find that on the first day of the week, when they met together to eat, just like they've been doing every day for a long time, Paul preached to them all night, intending to leave the next day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why Can We Sit for Three Hours at a Football Game, But Only for Forty Minutes at Church?

The question was asked in the adult class the other night by a 30-ish woman:
Why can we sit for three hours at a football game, but only for forty minutes at church?
I didn't speak up then, for fear my answer might be offensive to those in the class, but here's my answer.

Football Game
You're focused mostly on visuals. You're focused almost exclusively on audio.
You're talking to those around you. You don't interact with others.
You can move around, stand, jump, nap. You're expected to sit quietly, but without napping.
You wear what you're wearing, comfortable clothes. You're expected to be in your "Sunday clothes”.
You can eat, drink, talk/play on your phone. You're not allowed to snack or play during church.
You don't know what the next play will be, or what will be the outcome of the game. You've heard the same message all your life; you know it so well you could preach it.
Although there's lots of down-time, it's punctuated with exciting action. The presentation is generally monotonous.

In short, a football game encourages involvement, whereas a church assembly encourages passivity.

Of course, a church assembly is not a football game, so we shouldn't expect the two venues to have the same "flavor". But much of what makes three hours at a football game pass quickly could be implemented in our assemblies, without harming the purpose of those assemblies.

But it takes a lot of work to add visual aids to a lecture, or better, to convert that lecture into a more interactive learning experience.

It takes wisdom to know what can be discarded as mere tradition and replaced with a more attractive method.

And some saints will be unable to imagine any possible distinction between our traditions and God's ordinances. For such people, any sort of change (good or bad), must be bad, and must be resisted; expect to hear the term "change agent" as a condemnatory charge. These saints are immature, not realizing that we are called to be transformed ("changed") by the renewing of our minds, to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2), and to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18). We are not to hold tightly to man-made traditions, but to test ourselves, to examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5), and if we are not, then change is required. We are to accommodate people where they're at, becoming all things to all people, so that we may by every possible means save some (1 Cor 9:19-22).

If we don't learn to make our assemblies more attractive, what will be the result?

Look at our assemblies; they are dying. This is not because people don't love the Lord, but because they don't love the boredom of our assemblies, because our assemblies are not attractive.

The people of Jesus' day weren't really any different to the people of today; they didn't follow Jesus because he was boring; they followed him because he was exciting. He was teaching new things; he was doing amazing works; he was challenging the authorities; he was moving as he taught, eating as he taught, touching as he taught.

And even the people of sixty, eighty, 200 years ago, who had little escape from the daily trudge and little interaction with others or with fresh ideas, likely thought so highly of church-attendance because it was entertaining to them.

Today we have lots of distractions that are much more fun than sitting passively in a lecture hall, especially if we have to take the time and trouble to change our clothes first, and possibly ruining our only morning to sleep in. We can't do away with those distractions. But we can make our assemblies more attractive by relying less on lectures and passiveness, and more on involvement and interaction and visuals and movement.

Make the assembly more attractive, and our assemblies will grow, and we may find that time at church passes just as quickly as time at a football game.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Encounter God Retreat

I was recently privileged to attend an Encounter God Retreat (EGR) conducted by the Fountain Gate Fellowship (FGF) in Abilene, TX.

I didn't really know what to expect when I signed up for it. I was encouraged to go by someone who had gone last year, and who was participating this year as a "coach" at the event. I knew I had seen some significant life-changes in this person as a result of her attendance last year.

Going into it, I expected to gain some new perspectives, that something good would come out of it, but I did not expect any great life-changing value for myself. And even after the three-day event (Fri evening, 7am-5pm Saturday &; Sunday), I felt the same way, that I had experienced some things that were good for me to experience, that might color me in some ways in the future, but nothing that could be considered "life changing" in the way I had heard it described from several attendees/testifiers at the event.

But looking back now, a few weeks later, I'm really rather surprised at what was accomplished. In my "normal" church life, there has been little excitement, little motivation to move beyond the ritualistic same ol', same ol', punch-your-'I've been to church this week'-ticket mentality.

Friday night and Saturday were mostly focused on getting free from the shackles of sin, guilt, shame, fears, anything that's weighing us down and keeping us from experiencing God more fully. Sunday was more focused on re-filling after the emptying, but this time with the Spirit-things of God rather than the spirit-things of this world.

Judging by what I've witnessed in several people, including a friend I took, who was at least as skeptical of EGR's value as myself, if not more so, and definitely more weighed down by life-scars, Friday and Saturday were successful. In myself, I was surprised to find that I wasn't weighed down by most of the shackles which the event focused on: I'm not feeling particularly guilty about things I've done, I don't have any major addictions (laziness, junk food, overeating, and soft drinks are my biggies, all of which are unhealthy but not debilitating), I'm not involved in most of the "big" sins, I don't have crippling fears, etc. (This is not to say I'm perfect; I do have a couple of issues which needed to be addressed, toward which EGR provided a step that I wasn't otherwise taking, but it is to say that I perceived myself as more of an observer of EGR than a beneficiary at this time.) But my friend found some significant healing in these days, which has been needed her entire life, and which she had never gotten anywhere else, regardless of the amount of professional counseling (she's had much) and other church influences she's had.

On that aspect alone, remembering the words of Jesus that we will know them by their fruits, EGR is a very valuable offering to the community. I've seen the fruits of EGR, in the person who recommended the experience to me, in the person whom I encouraged to go, and in many attendees and speakers thereat. And judging by that fruit, EGR is a very good thing.

The filling-up with God's Spirit on Sunday was less fruitful for me and my friend, but like I say, we're both intuitively resistant to such "holy-roller"-ness, and I'm reminded that Jesus did not do many miracles in one place because of the unbelief there. I recognize that my resistance to "being led by the Spirit" could be a blockage caused by me, that my failure to be "moved" could be on me as much as anything, if not more.

But now, weeks later, I look back, and I realize I did get filled up with God's Spirit. It just wasn't a "gee-whiz bang!" filling like what seemed to be the norm among the "more emotional" attendees. I intentionally tried to be open to whatever God wanted to do with me, but I refused to allow myself to be emotionally manipulated into "being struck by the Spirit", or whatever the terminology is.

How did I get filled?

I think it was accomplished because FGF/EGR designed their assembly to feed the entire person, and not just the intellect. My home church is very staid, very focused on the mind. We study our Bibles; we discuss what the text means; we find book/chapter/verse; we present three-point lectures as sermons, and make sure our prayers are "Biblical".

EGR was a very multi-media event. Loud music, soft music, dancing, standing, sitting, quiet times, group prayers, one-to-one prayers, praying for each other, hands-on praying for each other, Bible reading, video lessons, testimonies, projector presentations, skits, singing, confessing, intimate opening-up to one another, hands-on worksheets, eating together, lights, sounds, movement, humor, sombering stories - the works. The entire person was encouraged, swept along, to be involved.

And even for someone as logical, unemotional, resistant as myself, the effect was a seeping into my deepest parts a light from God, a filling, a craving for the deepness of God calling out from the deepness of my soul, a connection, an Encounter with God.

During the weekend, a song that was played a couple of times by the band (yes, I know many people, particularly from my normal fellowship, have a HUGE problem with this, but again, look at the fruit (and at my arguments elsewhere on this blog about our approach to music)) struck me at first as non-sensical, and although fun to listen/dance/sing to, had no real value, as it wasn't valuable to my intellect, which is pretty much how I determine the value of anything at a foundational level. Parts of the song go:
We're stirring up deep, deep wells/water
We're going to dance/jump in the river
We're falling/walking into deeper waters
Deep cries out to, Deep cries out to
We cry out to, We cry out to, you Jesus
Those words didn't mean much to my intellect; they didn't make sense.

But the song has been reverberating in my head ever since that weekend, to the point where I had to look it up on YouTube ( I've since listened to it 7 or 10 times.

One of the images lingering in my brain from the weekend was a good-looking 20-ish young man at the front of the "sanctuary" (I'm told they don't call it an "auditorium", because they are not spectators in worship to God, but participants), along with a crowd of 50 others or so, "line-dancing" (sort of) first to the left then to the right, to the part of the song that says "If he goes to the left then we'll go to the left; if he goes to the right, then we'll go to the right". I'm also reminded of the "Pastor" urging the participants to come down and join in this crowd at the "altar" area, which he likened to a "river", and that imagery clicked somewhat with me: this crowd at the front formed a flowing river, involved in the flowing of God's spirit amongst his people, and in this part of the song, the river flowed left, then right, as Jesus led them.

And as I listened to this song via YouTube in the weeks since, it's begun to make sense to me. As you may have noticed in what I wrote above, there's a craving deep within me that cries to/for the deepness that is God. This song sings about that. The lyrics start to make sense to my intellect, but long before they made sense to my intellect, they were speaking to my spirit, and in language my intellect could not comprehend. As Paul writes in 1 Cor 14:15, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with my understanding." There's a way to worship God which is done without understanding. A verse earlier Paul wrote, "For if I pray in another language, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful." This is a God-inspired approach to worship, brain not required.

And then amazingly, one of the YouTube videos opened with this quotation from Psalm 42:7:
Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.
Wow. now the song makes even more sense! It's Biblical!

This EGR did change my life. Granted, it's not a huge visible change. But to realize that the brain is not required when worshiping God is pretty big for me. Paul goes on to say that using your brain is better in a corporate environment, so that the others around you benefit (vv 4-5, 17-19, 26) but when it's just you and God, go for it (vv 2, 4, 17). This freedom has been in front of me my entire life, but it took EGR for me to see it.

And additionally, I realize that not everyone has the same gift of "intellection" which I have; some people are touchy-feely; some are artsy; some are musical. My friend loves songs, and communicates through music. She gets frustrated with me for not "getting" what she's trying to say when she shares a song with me; I don't speak that language, which is native to her. She doesn't speak the language of intellectual Bible study, which comes naturally to me and which is almost exclusively the language used at the church of which we're members. That church which we attend does not speak to her; the FGF music normally wouldn't speak to me.

But this one song, after a couple of weeks, spoke to me. She's thrilled that I "get" it. And it's clear to me that a one-size-fits-all approach at church simply doesn't fit all. EGR showed me that there's another way than the way we do things at my home church.

It wasn't a huge life change, but the speakers/attendees were right: EGR changed my life.

Huh. Go figure. (And praise God while figuring.)

Originally posted at:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unity in Diversity

It seems to me that the Holy Spirit was pleased in Acts 15 with the dividing up of the church into two groups with two different doctrines/practices, not because it carved up the body of Christ, but because it provided a way for the two groups, Jew and Gentile, to maintain an overall unity while respecting their differences.

I don't believe anyone who speaks of "unity in diversity" is arguing for carving up the body. Not at all. But the old 1950's Church of Christ doctrine that we must all think and believe and look exactly alike before we accept each other is simply not Biblical.

HCSB 1 Cor 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 So the body is not one part but many.
There is only one body. But in Acts 15, the Torah-keeping Jews and the non-Torah-keeping Gentiles, who made up that one body, were different, to such a degree that if we were to see these two groups today in buildings across the street from each other, we would refer to at least one of them as a "denomination" and condemn them as sectarians, whereas the Scriptures record the Holy Spirit as seeing such an arrangement as "good" (Acts 15:28).

Should we call evil that which the Holy Spirit calls good?

I believe we do this because we still think we're supposed to look exactly alike, and believe exactly alike, and sport the exact same name. But the Scriptures show that's not the case. T
he body is not one part but many (1 Cor 12:14). This is true on an individual level (1 Cor 12:27), on a race level (v. 13), on a social-status level (v. 13), on an ability/giftedness level (Rom 12:3ff), on learning-styles level (1 Pet 3:1 word vs demo; Acts 21:10-11 skit vs words only), and on a different doctrines/practices level (Acts 15 & Rom 14).

The goal is not division, or branding; the goal is unity, despite division and/or branding. We don't want to carve up the body into different brands. But in order to follow the Biblical example, in converting or interacting with members of another group, we must be willing to allow that group to retain its pre-existing distinctiveness, allowing them to differ from us, significantly.

We've typically interpreted this "many parts" passage as having very limited range: you can be an elder, while I'm a deacon, while sister Sheri is the Joy Bus driver, but we still must believe the same thing about Pre-destination and the nature of Hell/Hades/Paradise/Heaven and when the Lord's Supper is to be observed and by whom. But the Scriptures say this range is broader than that: you can meticulously observe the Torah of Moses (Acts 15, esp v. 5), observing holy days and dietary restrictions such as avoiding ocean scavengers as food, while I could care less about some day of the week being more special than another and consider everything as clean, including shrimp and wine (Rom 14).

Just look at those particular differences: what if you belonged to a group that insisted on meeting every Sunday morning, and total avoidance of alcohol, and total avoidance of pork products, and your group met in the old Safeway store on 3rd street, and you had a sign out front that said "church of Christ", whereas I belonged to a group that met every Saturday night after sundown (believing the Jewish time-keeping system is more Biblical), and we had a meal together that was often composed of BLT sandwiches, and that after midnight (as per Paul's example in Acts 20, which, btw, puts his Lord's Supper observance on Monday for you Gentile time-keepers), we had some unleavened bread and alcoholic wine in remembrance of the Lord's death, and we met in the old Baptist assembly building on 4th street, having painted over the word "baptist" and left the sign just saying "4th Street ...... church"? To many in the brotherhood, one of our groups (probably mine) would be a "denomination". But as long as your group and mine got along as part of a united one-body, it seems that the Holy Spirit would be pleased that you don't force your scruples on me and I don't force mine on you and that despite our differences, we are brethren.

What matters is not whether we have the same function (1 Cor 12:27ff), or have the same doctrines on unclear issues (Rom 14), or look/dress the same (James 2:1ff), or even agree on what we're going to call ourselves when we gather together ("the Way", "the church of Christ", the "church of God", the "Circumcision", etc); what matters is "that the members would have the same concern for each other" (1 Cor 12:25), so that "there would be no division in the body" (v. 25).

In other words, Unity is not based on having the same "brand", or even the same practices/thinking, but on getting along as a unified group; this is the greatest, "better way" -- Love (1 Cor 12:31--> chapter 13), regardless of our differences.

2 Corinthians as a Fund-Raising Letter

At the beginning of the second letter to the Corinthians we have a hint that it's a fund-raising letter: "help us by your prayers" - 1:11, and "help us to go on to Macedonia; give us a start" - v. 15.

He then spends the next few chapters focusing on spiritual matters, pointing out that we do not focus on the seen but on the unseen (4:18), that we walk by faith and not by sight (5:7).

He then more fully leads into the fund-raising in chapter 8, saying that they need to finish the task of donations to the ministry which they had started a year earlier (8:10-11; cf 1 Cor 16:1-2), and that the Have's should give to the Have-Not's (8:13-15), assuring them that the donated money will be safe-guarded to its intended destination (8:19-21).

Chapter 9 is, as a whole, a fund-raising appeal, starting from the first line ("Now concerning the ministry to the saints"), going through the middle ("The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly"), all the way to the end ("They (the needy saints) will glorify God ... for your generosity in sharing with them.").

Chapter 10 is a defense of the methodology of Paul and his companions ("Just as [you] belong to Christ, so do we." - v 7 ; "We don't dare classify or compare ourselves with [others]." - v 12 ; "we" - v 13 ; "we" - v 14 ; "we", "we", "our", "we" - vv 15, 16). Paul essentially says, "Don't accuse us of being unspiritual; for indeed, our warfare is not fought with force, but with persuasion. Nevertheless, we live in the body, which has unspiritual needs".

Chapter 11 continues the defense, as well as the fund-raising effort. "I am in no way inferior to the 'super-apostles'" - v 5. "I preached to you free of charge." - v. 7. "Other churches were 'robbed' to provide that service to you." - v 8. "I've sacrificed a lot - I'm not seeking a material reward; I'm not unspiritual like many." - v 22-33.

He continues that line of thought in Chapter 12 - "I've had visions; Christ speaks to me personally; I've shown you the signs of an apostle."  He then adds in verse 14, "Now I'm ready to come to you a third time; in the meanwhile I urged Titus to come, and the brother with him", which we see in 8:16-24 was for the purpose of collecting their donations.

Yes, there's an emphasis on being spiritual in this letter, on not being focused on the material. Paul warns that when he comes, he's afraid they won't be what he wants, that they'll be caught up in material, fleshly issues like quarreling and promiscuity (12:20ff). But what he wants is for them to be focused on spiritual matters, which includes letting go of their money for the sake of others and for the sake of funding Paul's ministerial travels. This does not make Paul unspiritual; indeed, his focus is on fighting spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. But that statement has nothing to do with fighting physical battles as we go about living in our bodies, needs which can not be ignored, else the Corinthians would be justified in ignoring his plea for donations to take care of such needs. Paul makes it clear that although our battle is not worldly, we live in the world, and need to take care of worldly issues. Even in Romans 15:26-27, Paul makes it clear that the Corinthian donation is for wordly needs ("For if the [Corinthians] have been made partakers of [the Jews'] spiritual things, their duty is also to [pay them back] in carnal things").

We tend to think of Paul's writings as being focused on spiritual things, but it seems to me that the core purpose of 2 Corinthians is to be a fund-raising letter.


He Was Counted Among the Outlaws

From Luke 22 (HCSB):
36 Then He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesn’t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one. 37 For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted among the outlaws. Yes, what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.”
Jesus did not tell his disciples to carry swords to cause him to be numbered with the transgressors. It's the other way around. He told them to carry swords (and other provisions) because he would be numbered with the transgressors.

Else, carrying those other provisions (money-bags and suitcases) is also part of what makes Jesus a rebel.

Jesus was contrasting the two sendings: the first time, he told them not to take provisions. This time, he tells them to take provisions, because he will be counted among the outlaws.

There's an ancient Hebraic practice of interpreting scripture called remez. This method uses an allusion to a deeper meaning than what is plainly said, found in the context of what's being quoted. For example, when Jesus has a meal with sinners, and the Pharisees challenge him on that, he says, "Go and find out what this means - '
I desire mercy and not sacrifice.'" (Matt 9:9ff). In doing this, he's using the technique of remez to allude to the entire context around that quotation from Hosea 6:6. He expects the Pharisees to know the text well enough to know that he's telling the Pharisees that they are the ones Hosea is talking about, they they are the sinners, and that the people with whom Jesus is eating are the ones being healed. His message is not in his own words, but in the words surrounding the quote which he is citing. This is remez.

I believe that's what he's doing in Luke 22:37; he's using remez to allude to something deeper from the prophecy he cites about being counted among the outlaws. To see what that is, we need to look at the prophetic text. It's from Isa 53:12.

This is the chapter in which the Messiah is despised, rejected, carries our sicknesses and pains, is struck down by God, pierced for our transgressions, heals us by his wounds, is oppressed and afflicted, led like a silent lamb to slaughter, cut off from the land of the living, crushed for YHWH's pleasure, to make a restitution offering, submits to death, counted among the rebels, yet intercedes for the rebels.

The passage is NOT saying that Jesus will be considered a rebel because he's hanging around people who are considered rebels because they're carrying swords. It's saying that Jesus will be treated as just another rebel, suitable for execution. Jesus is not telling the disciples to get a sword so that he can be considered a rebel because of his association with them while they're armed. He's telling them that as the disciples of "a rebel", they will themselves be considered rebels against the government, and thus will now be on the fringes of society, no longer able to expect the Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome, to apply to them. They will henceforth be on their own, no longer protected by a government with whom they will be at odds, no longer able to run to the police for protection (Acts 18:17 testifies to this, where Sosthenes is beaten without trial in full view of the legal system).

The context of Luke 22:35-37 is that previously Jesus sent the disciples out on a mission trip without provisions, and they lacked nothing, but now he's telling them to take provisions, because they, like their leader, will be considered rebels. Those provisions include money-bags, suitcases, and self-defense weapons. They need these provisions because they will have to go "underground", no longer relying on the protections afforded by the legal societal system.

Someone might object that Jesus couldn't possibly be telling his disciples to prep themselves for violent self-defense, because just a few hours later he tells Peter to put away his sword, and that they who live by the sword will die by the sword.

But notice that Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its place (on the sword-bearer's person), not surrender it to the authorities (Matt 26:52) -- he told Peter to keep his sword.

The reason he gives for not using the sword in this case is two-fold:

1) a readiness to live by the sword is deadly (Matt 26:52)


2) arrest & execution must occur, according to the prophecies, so stop resisting it (Matt 26:53-54). John (18:11 HCSB) makes this point even more clear:
At that, Jesus said to Peter, “Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given Me?”
He then tells when swords and clubs are to be used --> against criminals (Matt 26:55).

Shortly thereafter Jesus says that if his issues were of this world, he would approve of his followers fighting; it's just that his concerns are not of this world. (John 18:35-38). In other words, he's saying that physical fighting has its place, just not in this situation.

Simply put, Jesus told his disciples to arm themselves, to carry a weapon, but to use it with discretion, and not to thwart his intention to get arrested. He's not telling his disciples to carry swords to force the fulfillment of prophecy that he would be considered an outlaw. He's saying that he (and his followers, by association) will be considered outlaws, as prophecy foretells, so they need to prepare to take care of themselves, and that having a self-defense weapon takes priority over even having a jacket to keep them warm on cool nights.

The Weapons of Our Warfare are not Wordly

It's been argued that Christians are not to serve as military soldiers, policemen, etc, based on 2 Corinthians 10:4, which reads (in the KJV):
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
But I'd like to look at this verse in its broader context (from the HCSB).

1 Now I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent. 2 I beg you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are behaving in an unspiritual way. 3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience has been confirmed. 
7 Look at what is obvious. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should remind himself of this: Just as he belongs to Christ, so do we. 8 For if I boast some more about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I am not ashamed. 9 I don’t want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters. 10 For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak, and his public speaking is despicable.” 11 Such a person should consider this: What we are in the words of our letters when absent, we will be in actions when present.
The preceding chapter/context, which Paul thought might cause some to "think we are behaving in an unspiritual way", was focused on the material ("non-spiritual") aspects of fund-raising for poverty-stricken saints in another part of the world.

In other words, Paul was conducting a fund-raiser, and after making his presentation, said, "I beg that I won't need to scold those who think we're being unspiritual. For even though we're living in material bodies, with material needs, our focus is not on waging war in material ways - the weapons of our warfare are not worldly. Rather, we use our words to convince people to obey Christ. But once you belong to "us" (vs 6), to "Christ (v. 7), we're ready to use our authority as needed (v 6, 8ff)."

To press Paul's statements in this context to mean that we are never to take up arms for worldly warfare is to move Paul's statements into a context which is foreign to the context at-hand. It would be like pressing Jesus' statement, "Judge not, lest ye be judged" (Matt 7:1), to mean that we should never make judgment calls, even though within the same paragraph Jesus is telling us to not cast our pearls before swine, which requires just that, a judgment call.

Context matters.

Paul is speaking of the church's "Mission Statement"; he's not making a prohibition. The mission of the church is to persuade people, not to convert them at the point of a sword. The business of the church is to change minds, not to subjugate them by force.

That's what the context of this passage says. The context does not address being a soldier, or policeman, etc.

However, the context of other passages does address the issue.

Acts 10 strongly indicates that being a soldier is consistent with being a Christian, as the Roman Centurion Cornelius converts to Christianity.

Also, when the soldiers came to John the Immerser and asked what they must do, John did not tell them to quit the army; he told them to not use force for selfish purposes (Luke 3:14).

If being in the army was unacceptable as a follower of Christ, it seems to me that the one paving the way for that Christ would have at least hinted that such a change was coming, and it seems to me that Luke would have made it clear that Cornelius had to quit his commission to become a Christian.

So how do I understand 2 Cor 10:4? I understand it to be a mission statement for how the church is to grow: via persuasion, not by force. But that does not address the mission statement for how human government is to punish evildoers, which, by God's decree (Gen 9:5-6; Rom 13:4), uses force. These are two different contexts, and this passage only addresses one of them.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Paul the Artist?

The following info is from a single person on a random forum, so I would not put a lot of stock into it, but it raises an interesting concept.

According to Yancy Smith (and yes, it seems like it might be that Yancy Smith, the scholar):

1) "Further, Paul’s day job is like connected to graphic arts. See the BDAG article on tent-maker and you will find that the word is never used of tentmaking in Hellenistic Greek, only for scene or wall painting. There is ample evidence of Jews working in theater arts in the first century."

2) "In 1st century domestic spaces of nearly every socio-economic level, living areas were decorated with wall paintings. One can confirm this abundantly by looking at the wall art in Pompley, Herculaneaum, and the terrace houses in Ephesus. Floors were also decorated in mosaics and Christian worship spaces continued the use of converted pagan artistic themes in the early worship spaces that survive from Dura Europos and the many mosaics of Christian spaces in Jordan." ... "If you look at BDAG carefully you will [sic] that Paul’s use of this verb is closely associated with the artistic connection of this word. The theme of suffering was ubiquitous on the wall art and, indeed the theme of vicarious suffering was quite common. Such portraiture as Iphigenia (of Euripides fame) would have provided ample points of contact with the gospel story of Jesus who redeemed believers at the cost of his own blood."

3) "The verb γράφειν is quite often used to mean 'paint' (Lucian, Essays in Portraiture, 4, 8, 17, 18, 19, 23; Essays in Portraiture Defended 23 etc, etc)."

A relative of the word γράφειν (in #3 above) is what's found in Gal 3:1. Now notice how the HCSB renders this word in that verse (see underlined):

You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified?
(Originally posted at:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hey! Yeah, You, You One-Percenters!

1 Tim 6:17-19

1) Instructions specifically for those who have money. Don't trust money, but God:
Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God....
2) Surprise! God wants us to enjoy life:
[Focus on] God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.
3) Sharing your wealth is the way to an even richer, better life to come; make it part of your retirement plan:
Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve; for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ooh, ooh, Look at me!

The 140Bible Project ( has as its goal to tweet a chapter of the Bible per day for 1189 days. It's tough to squeeze the essence of a Bible chapter down into 140 characters, but I think we've done amazingly well over the past 2 and a half years.

Most recently we've gotten into 1 Corinthians, and I'm stunned by what I see in chapter four after tweeting the first three chapters. Here it is, for your examination:
1Co1-Paul, Sosthenes, to Corinth christians. Don't split; be one. Follow Jesus, not men. God chooses foolish, weak, to shame wise, strong.
1Co2-Paul's words weren't persuasive, but God confirmed them. Now God's Spirit reveals a Wisdom to the mature, who have the mind of Christ.
1Co3-Self-ID'ing w/ church leaders (mere servants, each doing their job, 1 in purpose, not function) rather than Christ is immature/worldly.
1Co4-Think of us leaders as just servants of Christ. So don't favor any human leaders. Except me; I have power they don't.
I've tweaked chapter four's tweet a bit to make it more palatable to the masses, to say:
1Co4-Think of us leaders as just servants of Christ. So don't favor any human leaders. Still, imitate me, not them; I have power they don't.
I don't really think that's what Paul intended to say, but it seems to be what he's saying.

What about you? If you were condensing these four chapters down into 140 characters (including the chapter reference), how would you phrase it?

[Originally posted at:]

Friday, February 01, 2013

Requirements for Church Assemblies?

It is often taught that we have certain requirements to perform in our Christian assemblies. I recently responded to someone who suggested that among these requirements are these:

* Lord's Supper
* Pray
* Sing
* Study Bible
* Preaching
* Giving

He went on to say that "While an assembly might be for one purpose only we have certain responsibilities to perform at the 'first day of the week' assembly."

But I'm having trouble even finding a command to assemble on the first day of the week. I find the early disciples doing so in Acts 20 (but is it our Saturday night, the Jewish first day, or our Sunday, the Gentile first day?) I find a number of the core group of disciples doing so on Resurrection Sunday, and on the next Sunday, but it seems to be less a God-commanded assembly than a spontaneous assembly of commiserating losers the first time, and a convenient follow-up assembly the second. I see a reference in Revelation to "the Lord's Day". But I also see the early disciples meeting daily to break bread, not just on the first day (Acts 2:46).

Is the phrase "to break bread" in Acts 20 a reference to the Lord's Supper? To a going-away party for Paul (since "he was about to depart the next day")? To the second Passover, for those who missed the first (the timing is pretty close)? A normal regular meal assembly that perhaps they did every day, but with this day's break-bread-assembly deserving special mention because of the events surrounding it? Should we intend our break-bread-assembly to be on Saturday night, as seems apparent from the text if they were following Jewish time-keeping, or should we intend our break-bread-assembly to be on Sunday if they were following Gentile time-keeping, in which case we should not actually eat until after the second day of the week starts, after midnight, following Paul's example?

There are too many questions that are unanswered to dogmatically claim that this is a command/example for us to observe the Lord's Supper every first day of the week.

We find a weekly Sunday observance to be the habit in at least one early assembly when we look to the most ancient materials outside of the Bible (and more broadly the later in time we go), but since when do we take extra-Biblical sources as our guide in religious matters? If we do that, we're also going to have to honor the instructions in the Didache, which most likely dates from the end of the first century or early second, which means prescribed prayers for the Lord's Supper (among other issues, such as first confessing your transgressions prior to observing the Lord's Supper); are we really going to go that route?

Now don't get me wrong; I think that very early on, the disciples dropped their daily assemblies in favor of weekly first-day assemblies, in which the Lord's Supper was observed. I think we see hints of that in the New Testament. But I don't see a command from God to do this. Nor do I see an example that is indisputably binding.

I'm reminded of Jesus scolding the Pharisees (Matt 15:1ff) because they had used examples and human logic to find "binding" commands. He said that in so doing, they were "teaching as doctrines the commands of men" (v. 9). Jesus had no qualms with their traditions (Matt 23:2-3) (as long as they weren't used to set aside actual commands from God - 15:3); he had severe qualms with binding those traditions as commands, and teaching them as doctrines.

In following this example of Jesus, I'm on-guard against binding examples as commands, and then teaching them as doctrine. In light of this, let me say with emphasis: There is no command from God to observe the Lord's Supper every first day of the week. Hints? Clues? Possible, and even probable, examples? Yes, absolutely. But no command. Therefore I'm not going to make it a doctrine that it is a command, because then I would be teaching as doctrine a commandment of men.

The truth is that what is often put forward as "requirements" in our "required" assemblies, simply aren't. They are commands derived by human logic, applied to good, Biblical examples and inferences, backed up by extra-Biblical material. But such human-derived commands, taught as doctrine, are vain worship (Matt 15:9).

Originally posted at:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Law of Sin and Death - Not a Moral Issue?

Many of us have been taught to think that Paul's phrase, "the law of sin and death", refers to spiritual separation from God as a result of an action or inaction on our part, in other words, that it's a moral issue.

(Right-click on this sentence to open the relevant passage in another tab/window so you can read the text for yourself.)

I would encourage you to rethink that. As I understand it, the term "law of sin and death" is not a "moral" law at all, but a physical law, like the law of gravity or the law of conservation of momentum. I base this on the context of the phrase as found in Romans 8:2.

In chapter seven of Romans, starting about verse 14,  Paul is speaking of his struggle to do right; although his desire is to do right, there's something in his physical body which overrides his desire, and causes him to do wrong (v. 15-19). He even goes so far as to say that it's not him that's doing the wrong, but the sin that dwells within him that causes him to do wrong (v. 20), and that he himself is powerless to do right (v. 18).

He discusses the "law of God" in his inner being (v. 22), in which he delights with the "law of his mind" (vv 22-23), and contrasts that with the "law of sin" which dwells in his members (v. 23). He says he's wretched because he's trapped in this "body of death" (v. 24), but he rejoices that God, through Jesus, allows him to serve God with the mind, even while his body obeys the "law of sin" (v 25).

Immediately after that usage of the phrase "law of sin" while referring to that something in his physical body which causes him to do what his moral mind chooses against, he uses the phrase "law of sin and death", saying that in Jesus Christ we are now free from that law (8:2).

A couple of chapters earlier, Paul distinguished between the guilt of sin, and the inheritance of sin.

Many of us have been well-trained to dispute the notion of inherited sin, but I believe that's a result of a misunderstanding of what sin is. We think that sin is only the transgression of law, and quote 1 John 3:4 as proof. Whereas that is true, that's not the only way the Bible refers to sin. As indicated above, sin is also something that physically dwells in our flesh.

Sin is both a moral action (as we've understood it), and a physical condition (which is inherent in our fallen bodies). As a moral action, sin is not inherited. As a physical condition, it is.

In Romans 5, Paul talks about how sin came into the world via Adam (v. 12). Adam's trespass was a choice to perform an action. He morally sinned. However, his action introduced into the world a physical curse. This curse included changes to the soil leading to much harder work for feeding one's self, the evolution of thorns & thistles, the devolution of the serpent, increased pain in childbirth, the loss of equality between the sexes, and eventual physical death. This curse spread to all humans (v. 12), because all sinned (v. 12).

Well, it's obvious that babies don't perform sinful actions, and yet they sometimes die. Why do they die? It's because they inherit the curse of death, which according to Paul spreads to all because all sin. Even if the person doesn't sin in the same manner as Adam (v. 14), if they don't choose to perform a sinful action like did Adam, although the guilt of sin is not imputed to them because no law has been broken (v. 13), nevertheless, they still die, because this curse reigns in our broken world, even before the arrival of Moses' law (v. 14).

So we have two definitions of sin here: 1) the condition of sin, which occurs regardless of law-breaking, and which results in death, and 2) the action of sin, which results in guilt.

The first type of sin is inherited; the second type of sin is not inherited. The first type of sin is what I believe Paul refers to when he uses the term "law of sin and death".

It is this first type of sin which Paul says is in his members, which causes him to perform the second type of sin, and which leads to death. He praises God through Jesus because he knows he will one day be set free from this law of sin and death, and not just us, in our physical bodies (8:23), but indeed, the entire cosmos (8:18-25). The cosmos was cursed when Adam sinned, but the second Adam has re-purchased the cosmos so that it may be set free from its bondage to corruption (8:21), and now we're just waiting on the delivery of the renewed creation. (Note, the creation was once "very good"; then it became cursed with death and disease and thorns and hard work and inequality; and some day it will again be restored to its original condition; this is a far cry from the evolutionary story that is often force-fitted into the Bible to accommodate modern "science".)

We're all under the "law of sin and death", not just those who are separated from God by sin. "Sin and death" is not a moral issue, but a physical issue. The "law of sin and death" does not refer to the principle that says, "If you sin, you die"; it refers to the principle of having a tangible condition within the corpuscles of our bodies which causes us to die.

At least, that's how I understand these relevant portions of Romans.

Originally posted at:

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


It was in the closing comments of the Aflred Hitchcock episode, "Vicious Circle" (Season 2, Episode 29 - you can watch it on Netflix, maybe YouTube). I believe the word he used was "divertismal". I can't find the word online, except on one site that uses it in a similar fashion. I take it to be roughly synonymous with "diversion".

Anyone can help me find the word?