What is Biblical obedience? Abraham, Huck Finn, and Adolf Eichmann

What is Biblical obedience? Abraham, Huck Finn, and Adolf Eichmann March 4, 2014

There’s a movement within United Methodism called “Biblical Obedience” whose name itself is offensive to many Methodists because it advocates full inclusivity for LGBT people. I’ve already written about my understanding of what the Bible actually teaches on this issue, but what I really want to  contemplate today is the question of obedience itself, setting aside the LGBT issue for a moment. The most radical example of Biblical obedience I can think of (other than Jesus’ journey to the cross) is when God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah. This story raises difficult questions. Is obedience always a good thing? How do we know whether we’re obeying God or conforming to the world, particularly if our world happens to be saturated in church culture? How does Abraham’s radical example translate into our day? Does it look more like Huck Finn’s quest to free his friend Jim from slavery in rebellion against his cultural values or Adolf Eichmann’s willingness to follow orders and carry out the genocide of the Jewish people?

It’s very difficult to find anything admirable about Abraham’s willingness to murder his son just because God told him to. While in Genesis 18:23-33, Abraham had the boldness to debate with God over the fate of Sodom, he doesn’t say anything back to God when God tells him in Genesis 22 to sacrifice Isaac. What in the world was going through his head? The story has the terse, understated prose of an Ernest Hemingway novel. On the way up the mountain, there’s only one brief conversation. Isaac says to his father, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham replies, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

It must have been an awkward transition when Abraham said (or didn’t say), “Actually son, I want you to lie down on that piece of wood while I tie you up so that I can slit your throat and burn your body as a sacrifice.” Did Isaac struggle when his father tied him up or was he paralyzed with terror that this adult whom he trusted more than anyone else in the universe was preparing to kill him? What was their relationship like after God bailed out Abraham and gave him a ram? Did Isaac ever speak to his father again after he was untied?

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote a book called Fear and Trembling as a reflection on Abraham’s fateful journey up Mt. Moriah. Though he somewhat depersonalizes the story to turn it into an abstract question of existentialism, the way in which he sticks up for Abraham is important. Kierkegaard basically says that if God had not promised Abraham that he would make Isaac into a great nation, then Abraham’s obedience would be stupid and immoral. The only thing that makes Abraham’s deed admirable is its foundation in his radical trust of God. In this sense, Abraham’s obedience can be understood as a test of God rather than solely a test from God. Abraham is holding God’s feet to the fire by doing something that completely doesn’t make sense, all because he trusts in God’s promise. He’s playing chicken with God and assuming that God is going to be the one to flinch.

The only experience in my life that I can at all relate to Abraham’s story was the second time I tried to get my pilot’s license. I had failed my first check ride because I was scared of going into a tail spin, which the examiner asked me to do to see whether I could pull out of it. On the second check ride,  I passed the tail spin, but he wanted to test my crash-landing abilities, so he told me to set my flaps and get everything ready to land in a nearby cornfield. If I had hesitated at all, he wouldn’t have passed me. So I went through with it fully expecting to land and tear up my wings in the rows of corn, thinking if this guy told me to do it, then he has to pay for the damage. I was less than a hundred feet off the ground (a lot closer than it sounds) when he told me to pull out. I’ve decided to believe that Abraham never would have gone as far as he did if he didn’t know that God would provide an out and grab his hand before the knife could come down on his son.

So radical obedience in the Bible means a willingness to obey God even in contradiction to what makes ethical sense to you. I will say that if I ever hear a voice from God commanding me to kill my son, I will disobey that voice and go straight to a psychiatrist. But how in the world can we tell that God is really talking to us when his command to us seems to be contradicting our ethical beliefs? Here’s the problem. We can’t get out of this by saying that we just trust whatever we read in the Bible. Obviously it’s the most important resource we’ve got, but if Abraham had had a full Torah to look at, he could have said, “Na-ah, God. You’re contradicting your own law, which prohibits child sacrifice in Leviticus 18:21.” Though we can choose to profess that the Bible’s teachings are completely self-evident and never contradict each other, this is not so much an act of trust as an act taken to avoid the need for trust. The Bible has a long history of being used to argue both sides of many issues, which is not at all to render it meaningless, but just to say that declaring our fidelity to the Bible doesn’t protect us from facing legitimate quandaries.

A sinister reading of Abraham would see his model of obedience being carried out in Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat in charge of the logistics of the Holocaust. Eichmann was willing to go against his moral sensibilities for the sake of obedience, right? When Eichmann was put on trial in Jerusalem for his war crimes, Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt went to observe the trial. She wrote a book called Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil which described how Eichmann didn’t carry himself like much of a villain. He was a polite, boring person. He explained that he had simply been following orders, and he felt relieved and at peace with his conscience since other people had made the important decisions instead of him. There was nothing demonic or monstrous about his demeanor. And yet he did incredible evil because he was obedient. Surely that’s not what Biblical obedience looks like.

A very different analogy to Abraham’s obedience might not even look like obedience at all. It occurs in Mark Twain’s famous story of Huck Finn, a rebellious teenage boy who takes off with a runaway slave named Jim down the Mississippi River. In Huck’s eyes, what he’s doing by helping a runaway slave is immoral and the reason he’ll go to hell when he dies. So he resolves to write a letter to Jim’s owner and turn him in:

I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time; in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper. It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”– and tore it up.

In Huck’s case, God spoke to him through his encounters with Jim and called him to an obedience that contradicted not only the standards of morality in his society but how the Bible itself was being interpreted around him to support slavery. Huck was willing to go to hell in the eyes of his society rather than put his friend through hell. This to me is the more appropriate analogy to the Biblical obedience Abraham showed than Adolf Eichmann’s willingness to be an accomplice in genocide so that he could remain a polite, inoffensive bureaucrat.

The difference between Eichmann and Huck Finn is that Eichmann’s obedience wasn’t really obedience; it was conformity. Huck Finn actually obeyed his conscience even though he was disobedient to his society. That’s what makes obedience really hard. Every act of obedience to one master is always simultaneously an act of disobedience to another. The only way to avoid conflict is to be half-heartedly obedient to whoever is the most in charge of your social sphere at the time. If your church has a cult of personality built around your pastor and you do everything he says without questioning it, then you’re conforming to your church’s culture, not obeying God. It may be that you end up doing what God wants this way, but it’s not because of your obedience.

What counts as the radical Biblical obedience of Abraham is when our obedience to God’s call risks the ostracism of our community by contradicting its moral values. Now regarding the LGBT issue that we can’t stop talking about, it’s super-important to recognize that both sides of the issue are filled with Huck Finns and Adolf Eichmanns. In fact, I would say that we’ve all got a little bit of both in us. Rachel Held Evans’ recent post “The Cost” addresses this reality.

There is a real cost for the traditionalists who are determined to hold onto what they understand the Bible to teach regardless of how much they get ridiculed and demonized. It’s also true that there’s tremendous pressure on evangelicals like me (yes, I still consider myself one) not to come out as LGBT-affirming. It has been made into the one litmus test of whether or not you are Biblically faithful (as opposed to, say, whether you actually live your life according to the Bible’s teachings). On the flip side, marriage traditionalists who want to have any relationship with progressive people at all face tremendous pressure to keep their views on marriage in the closet and of course to play the “I’m a Christian but I’m not like those Christians” game to establish their credibility. I’ve definitely been guilty of firing off blog attacks against my fellow evangelicals on social issues in order to earn respect from the progressive community.

So how do I determine whether another person is really following God’s lead or only conforming to conservative or progressive groupthink? I can’t. Only you know whether your public stance on anything is a loyalty gesture or a genuine, God-fearing conviction. My cynicism has been wired in a certain direction because of the fact that I grew up among moderate evangelicals, and when I was first exposed to the homosexuality topic 20 years ago, it was being used primarily as a guilt-by-association tactic by which fundamentalists would seek to discredit moderates. Every issue of the North Carolina state Baptist newsletter would have scandalous headlines about moderate leaders who had been caught in meetings with other Christians (like those ghastly Episcopalians) who were supportive of the homosexual lifestyle. Because that was my first exposure to the issue, it’s been very difficult not to presume that it’s always been about power play and one-up-man-ship on the conservative side of things.

But I know that isn’t fair and that there are people on both sides who are trying their best to trust and obey God amid fear and trembling and self-doubt, like Abraham climbing up Mt. Moriah. I consider it my duty to the Bible’s living interpretive tradition to continue to testify in obedience to what God has revealed to me. But I also think it would be sinful for someone to cave on their convictions (even in response to something I write) and betray what God has been teaching them out of conformity to social pressure.

The Biblical obedience modeled by Abraham means to be faithful to what God has revealed to each of us in our journeys of reading the Bible and walking through life, resisting the pressure to succumb to the unfair presumptions of our haters. This requires trusting that God is speaking to people with whom I completely disagree. A few years down the road, he may show them that they’re wrong or he may show me that I’m wrong. But there are a whole sequence of realizations that lie in between where I am now and the greater wisdom I hope to one day have. I can’t fast-forward other people through their walk of learning to trust and obey God any more than others can fast-forward me through mine.

Of course, it’s very easy for me to take this kind of posture on the LGBT  issue because I don’t have any personal skin in the game. What’s actually admirable is the grace with which Justin Lee, the founder of the Gay Christian Network, tries to build bridges between the LGBT community and the conservative evangelical community. I deeply admire the courage of the celibate Christian LGBT couple Lindsey and Sarah who wrote a guest-post on my blog a couple weeks ago and more recently shared testimony on their own blog of other Christian LGBT couples who had discerned that celibacy was not their calling.

Bottom line is if I’m to have any hope of learning what God has to teach me, then it’s not in my best interests to throw rocks at people who disagree with me until they cry uncle. Because I’m a sinner, I contradict this realization every day, which totally sucks. But regardless of what you believe about today’s big controversy or any other issue, I want you to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) like I hope that I’m doing, so that even if you never seem to win any arguments with me, God will use what he’s shown you to help me learn trust and obedience to him, independent of what the progressives and conservatives tell us we’re supposed to think.

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  • Morgan, an interesting read. You write: “but if Abraham had had a full Torah to look at, he could have said, “Na-ah, God. You’re contradicting your own law, which prohibits child sacrifice in Leviticus 18:21.”

    I believe that is probably the case, and thankfully we have God’s revealed will written down today to help guide us and tell us how we can please God through our obedience. But why can’t the same apply to homosexuality today? Even if Abraham had the Torah, if he was privy to progressive hermeneutics he might not say “na-ah” but rather, “Well, we can’t be sure God hates child sacrifice. He was only outlawing that so as to make Israel distinct from the pagan cultures around them who practiced child sacrifice.”

    • MorganGuyton

      That’s absolutely a fair point. And that’s why I have to be obedient to what God is revealing to me the best that I can and stop making presumptions about where others like you are coming from in your journey of obedience. Pray for my wisdom. I’m looking forward to a season of just listening.

      • JoFlemings

        We do all have individual journeys, but not that individual- that is universalism and ‘we know that can’t be right!’ Logically it does not follow anyway. Jesus is THE way to the Father- now my understanding of Jesus might need some development, refining etc. but that is a defect in me- not a journey or a pathway or a means of salvation. The Truth exists outside of our ability or willingness to hear it- it is independent of our assent, if you will. And staying a seeker for the sake of the search is tantamount to being like Robespierre, the Immaculate- of the French Revolution. Yes you get points for being true to yourself until that being true to yourself becomes and excuse to not commit to the Objective Truth, or takes His place as an idol. (At this point I need to now examine my own conscience, where tragically I see everywhere ‘hypocrite!’ emblazoned therein.) Even if I am a worthless messengers- I will still press my point because this is not a thing I have concocted, it does not come from me, it stands alone even when this ‘Balam’s ass’ is not a faithful spokesperson. And of course alongside that tenet of faith, is the promise for wisdom for those who ask- But you know if you get the sacrament of confirmation, the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit are immeasurably strengthened in your soul and wisdom is at the top of the list… ;O)

    • JoFlemings

      Chad- I think we can pretty much quote God who is quoted in Scripture as saying regarding child sacrifice,” I detest this practice, it never even entered my mind..” And all of Christian tradition from the time of the Didache condemns abortion- the new Molech. God is not utilitarian in His methods- His economy is always higher than ours and perfect in every dimension. If He detests something it is not because it is expedient in the moment to do so, it is because that thing is contrary to His nature, incompatible with Him or with fellowship or union with Him.

      • Jo, I agree. My point is that even if Abraham had Torah, which clearly states God detests the practice, if he were alive today, he may have found a way to circumvent it in the same way progressives find to circumvent homosexuality, even though God has clearly stated His position on the matter.

        • JoFlemings

          Sorry Chad- low blood sugar here and too little sleep impairing cognitive function but not slowing down compulsive internet commenting. 🙂 Re Abraham?- nah, I’m sure he was always the original kick ass adventurer type. Whatever God had up his sleeve, he was ready to try it. The Bear Grylls of the ancient world…Don’t you think it is cowardice that makes us contrary?

  • David Pitchford

    Wow, really good, introspective post. I could have written a lot of what you said, like “if I’m to have any hope of learning what God has to teach me, then it’s not in my best interests to throw rocks at people who disagree with me until they cry uncle. Because I’m a sinner, I contradict this realization every day, which totally sucks.” In your example on Abraham, I kept expecting you to bring up Hebrews 11:17-19 which talks about Abraham’s faith in offering Isaac. Verse 19 days, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

    So it’s not necessarily that Abraham knew God would stop him from killing Isaac; he believed that even if he did God would still make the situation right, raising Isaac from the dead if it came to that. This parallels nicely with your piloting example when you say that “if this guy told me to do it, then he has to pay for the damage.” Abraham was radically trusting God by obeying Him and expecting Him to work out the situation for good. Does this sound right?

    • MorganGuyton

      Wow. Thanks for the reference to Hebrews 11. I hadn’t noticed that before!

    • danewin

      it sounds stupid u must have a dumb god or u are created dumb according to your post.Are you ready for a Christian spanking

  • One other thought before I have to run and make pancakes…

    Abraham is heralded as being a great man of faith because of his radical obedience. He trusted God, even though it no doubt went against every instinct within him (how am I going to be a father of nations if I do this??!?). He had faith that God would somehow see him through though he could not imagine how.

    Why cannot the same be said for those who struggle against everything that makes natural sense to them as they choose to obey God’s design for marriage? Why cant you and other pastors help encourage the Abraham’s of today that though they are going against their natural instincts, God will bless them and provide a way? Instead, it seems, you offer them a ram of your own (and their own) making, thus circumventing God’s way, leaving them missing out on the blessing of obedience Abraham got to enjoy (and of which many other celibate gay Christians experience today as they walk in joyful obedience).

    • MorganGuyton

      Hope you enjoyed your pancakes. I’ve shared before that I get my understanding of how to interpret everything else that Paul says about sexuality from the three principles he lays out in 1 Corinthians 7 because that’s the one place where he’s not mentioning things in passing but really showing his cards. I think that if we could all be celibate monastics which both Paul and Jesus commended as the best life for *everyone* in their teaching, then we would experience the dizzying level of intimacy with God that Christian monks have throughout history. But if someone is not called to be a monk, I don’t want that to be a stumbling block in their relationship with God. I worry about the potential for believing that “God can change you” to become a modern-day Pelagianism. The reason why it’s providential that Augustine won the debate with Pelagius, even though Pelagius’ actual position was perfectly Biblically defensible, is that all but a few Christians would have despaired under the rigorous, ascetic definition of justifying “faith” that Pelagius set. There are so many LGBT people who have left the faith because they desperately wanted to believe that “God could change them.” I did share the testimony on this blog of one lesbian couple who have chosen to live together in celibacy. It does happen. Based on what I’ve learned from the Bible so far, I remain unconvinced that there is a “design” for Christian marriage that is abstracted from the interests of human flourishing on both a personal and communal level represented by avoiding idolatry and injustice. Have a great Lent.

      • JoFlemings

        I almost think we are singing the same song here- or at least I think I am tracking with you- Regardless of where your sexual inclinations or interests might be dragged off to in temptation, be chaste. Sorry, marriage is for one purpose which is like a coin with two sides- unitive and procreative. It can’t be done same-sex. Now, you can sin with someone of the same gender, or you can sin with someone you are not married to, or you can sin alone, you can even sin in married state by disordered intention or using contraceptives– all of these options are unchaste, and inauthentic for humans unto themselves. These are therefore behaviors we avoid with vigilance. Sex is not the end all it is sold to us to be by the media. Jesus, however, IS. This is not rocket science or even Scriptural debate.

      • GaryLyn

        Hi Morgan,
        I read your entries often, sharing thoughts from them with others, but rarely respond. And this is a tangent from the main topic, but it’s an unfair and wooden stereotype to say that monks have dizzying levels of intimacy with God because they are celibate. Ask any monk and they would smile and chuckle at the idea of their dizzying levels of intimacy with God. And the connection they do have with God comes from living honestly in community with a sense that it is in this community that God will help them flourish. Celibacy is one part of that, but not everything. Anyway, thanks for letting me share!!

        • MorganGuyton

          Thanks very much for taking exception to that, Gary. I think in my little amateur mystic mind I fantasize about what a monk’s life might be like because of the fleeting glimpses of ascetic joy I have tasted.

  • JoFlemings

    Morgan, homosexual acts are a grave sin. This is not just Biblical teaching, it is also Judeo-Christian tradition. You don’t get to reinvent the wheel here and neither does anyone else- this is a non-negotiable. It is contrary to the created order- I can go on and on, but JohnPaul II is way more eloquent, so see Theology of the Body.
    Now, you want to know about obedience, then let’s get our issues straight- no pun intended. Obedience to God is one thing, obedience to men can be another. The latter should flow out of the first, but there can be dividing lines and you find them correctly when you call into question the motivation of vanity or social conformity contrary to conscience. Again let’s make sure we are clear- it is possible to form one’s conscience according to the mind of Christ- this is in the happy cache of divine revelation clearly defined since the time of Christ by the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Some of the hand- and heart- wringing you are doing, Dude, is a self-inflicted wound.
    We would all maybe do much better to spend more time experiencing the freedom of a General Confession, in the context of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, wherein we come to know our root sin and its primary manifestations and how best to build up the virtues in our own souls that counter those manifestations— than to retread ground much better men have already covered. By better men, I mean guys like Antony of the Desert, Athanasius, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine (a reformed sex addict who makes some very clear statements about homosexuality in his Confessions), Benedict of Nursia, and Bernard of Clairvaux, to name a few…I can throw in some girls too- Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein, Faustina Kowalska. These people lived heroic lives of love and OBEDIENCE to God and His authorities appointed over them, and they left their commentary on such in writing for us spanning the centuries. Not much changes in human nature- and God is as He has always been- go figure.
    My point is- why is this bugging you exactly? I will tell you that Abraham’s test makes a lot more sense the older you get and the more mileage you have under your belt in the life of prayer and in dealing with human nature- wisdom sometimes has to do with ‘time in grade’- sometimes life experience; but it is always a work of grace. By grace, I mean God does it, His timing, His will, His way-
    My professor said tonight in our lecture that God acts according to principles of the virtue of chastity- He is after all it’s author and it’s perfect expression.
    Chastity is the virtue of perfect integrity- integration with oneself and therefore when a chaste person is in relationship with another person, the chaste one reveals himself or herself with a finesse and delicacy most ordered toward charity to each in the relationship, and to the relationship itself. God reveals Himself to us with perfect chastity- He is spotlessness, purity itself, perfect integration of God and man, body soul and spirit, Father; Son; and Holy Ghost. One could spend a lifetime contemplating this Truth, being formed in faith and conscience by this reality; and changed by the grace of sacramental union with Him.
    There is so much more to say about this- obedience is ordered to the intellect which is perfected by faith- we do what we do because we believe what God has revealed about Himself and us, through His Church. If you get this basic building block of Christianity, then the cornerstone is well-placed, and the edifice has the potential for stability. If not, you have not only a cornerstone that will likely crumble, but also one laid crooked- and it makes it hard to move beyond certain spots in the wall that seem to be easily breached regularly by the enemy of our souls. I know this from experience.
    I appreciate more than I am capable of expressing at 1:34 am the issues and the depth to which you grapple with them, and your adroit skill in explaining and communicating about them- but if you mine the wisdom of the Church on some of this you I think you could take it to the next level for yourself and your readers and really get somewhere. Some of this continual conversation among Christians is just so much vain, verbal self-stimulation, and it is not serving any real purpose. We know what sin is, God has made it clear, let’s move forward with overcoming it by discussing how to grow in knowing Him, loving Him, receiving His love for us, making peace with ourselves in true humility, and creating honest hospitality in our hearts to house Him and the world.
    (For the record, I’ve been married 30 years and I have 13 children. My son, my second child, is studying to be a priest in the religious life. He left home and entered the minor seminary when he was 14. I know what it feels like to place your child on an altar in sacrifice to God.)

    • JoFlemings

      And I’m a convert to the Catholic Church- about 17 years now. Half my kids are converts and half of them are cradle Catholics. The Tiber is cold and the current is treacherous, but the swim is invigorating and gets easier with every stroke…. just sayin’.

    • MorganGuyton

      You might not be able to understand this, but I really do believe it’s obedience that causes me to contradict the church on this issue. I’m trying to be faithful to what I think I’m being shown by God in scripture and in my direct encounters with LGBT people. I trust that God will show me whatever he has to show me according to the timeline that he has. I appreciate your thoughts. What you say about chastity makes a lot of sense. I just think that gay people, like straight people, can be called either to celibacy or marriage. And that anguishing about their identity can be a bigger distraction to their ability to worship God than finding a chaste expression of their identity. There are things about the world that have been known since the beginning; there are also things that continue to be discovered. Galileo was being obedient to God.

      • JoFlemings

        I totally understand why you take this position, and I don’t have the time or talent to really communicate well the respect I have for the points you are making here, but I do respect you, and above all I admire your desire to live in an authentic Christian charity. However, I want to try to challenge you on the way you are approaching this because I think it is novel- and by that I mean there is an error of modernism in it. I am saying this because this is something I have been struggling with in myself- so I hope I am not just projecting here but I am interested in your opinion. I think we 21st century Americans, tend to approach reality as if we have the ability to arbitrate Truth from some innate faculty as we distil it from empirical data, if you will. Truth is revealed and the custodians of the ages- preserved by supernatural decree keep that deposit of faith untarnished for the sake of posterity. We receive it from without and are transformed by it, we do not determine it. I do not decide what is true- it is factually and objectively true and that changes me as I encounter it- I do not have the right or the freedom to say or think it could be otherwise than it is. That would be like saying the sky is grass green, or blood red- not blue. To assert this would indicate that I am disordered rather than the idea that the sky might actually be something other than blue. My point is that while I can and do appreciate what you are saying, I take issue with the fact that you think you have the right in Christ to say it, as opposed to God’s right to assert what He has already revealed. If that makes sense-
        Galileo and his deal was a whole lot more complicated than that, too. Traditional Christian spirituality, east and west- really calls us to always doubt ourselves in our ability to be the sole receptor/ascertainer of our truth.

    • danewin

      God did not ask anyone to kill their children. God created gays not humans check the Chomosomes

      • JoFlemings

        Danewin, convenient modern concepts, but not at all compelling arguments. Not in light of Divine Revelation, history, philosophy, anthropology, or biology. God commanded Abraham to offer Issac as a sacrifice- I am not 100% sure what that means but I can tell you for sure what Abraham thought it meant at the time, and I can tell you that He (God) then offered His own only Son as a sacrifice and He was murdered in a gruesome and cowardly unjust act of political expediency.

        As far as chromosomes go- well that just goes to show you how far sin can reach when compounded generation after generation- but the good news is that God raised Himself from the dead and He can raise us, our chromosomes and our confused concepts about Truth from the twisted and confused and mortally wounded misery we call this life- Chad can testify to that- I want that in my life. I don’t want excuses for my sins, I don’t want a rubber stamp of societal approval or approbation- I want freedom, resurrection and some hope that even though I DAILY make a mess I can never repair- somehow God can help me first of all STOP, and then over time, by grace He can repair the damage I have done- yeah, me personally- and that somehow He will make something good and beautiful out of this mess of ashes. WHY? Because He said it pleases Him to do so- not because I am anything worth saving or fixing or repairing- because I am oh so not- BUT because He is God- all good, all holy, all perfect.

        And frankly, as crass as it is in print- works of God, or reflections of His perfection -that does NOT include mixing semen ( an essential component of imparting the gift of life- an eternal creature)- with fecal matter – that is in no way according to nature as a reflection of perfection derived from the heart of one we might call all Love- so Danewin- sorry. I don’t accept whatever lies you are repeating here. I reject those ideas.

  • jwlung

    Morgan: The “Biblical Obedience” movement? Never heard of such a “movement.” Yet another strawman. Biblical obedience is obeying every command Jesus gave us.
    Danewin: “God created gays not humans check the genes” There is absolutely no evidence that the desire for same sex sex is a genetically determined compulsion (disordered drive). You are on to something though. “Homosexuals” are not human. This is the latest discovery of queer theory. There is no such thing as a human being whose essence is the need for same sex genital stimulation. “Homosexuals” are men and women created in God’s image.
    JoFlemings: Started RCIA once. When Rome and the East bury the hatchet, we’ll all be going home. Thank you for your comments.

    • MorganGuyton

      You’re using the word straw man an awful lot. Not sure I understand what it means to you.

      • jwlung

        On second thought, “straw man” doesn’t apply to this post. I mis-read the first paragraph. Re-reading your post, I caught the reference to the NC Southern Baptist Convention. I am beginning to see where you are coming from.

        Your approach to obedience is too subjective for me. Example: Many years ago in obedience to Jesus I joined in leading the formation of a crisis pregnancy center. At the same time, leaders of the General Board of Church and Society were doing all they could, along with NARAL and RCAR, to shut up and shut down such centers. Church and Society claimed to be acting in obedience to what they perceived as the will of God.

        One side or the other missed something. I was acting in accord with what the Church has always taught about the evil of abortion and our duty to aid widows orphans. Church and Society was motivated by a desire to impose the ‘benefits’ of the sexual revolution and radical feminism on the church and the culture, whatever the religious and biblical language they employed in their quest.

        • MorganGuyton

          Well that’s just the issue. We don’t know if others are obeying God or not when they disagree with us. There are plenty of ways in which two people can read the same Bible and come to opposite conclusions theologically. What I need to do a better job of doing is assuming that people who disagree with me are trying their best to be faithful even if I’m convinced that they’re flawed instead of cynically assuming that there’s some sleazy self-interested motive behind everything. I think having crisis pregnancy centers are great if they’re a genuine resource for the women who find themselves in crisis and not a cover for bullying them. What you’ll notice is that younger generations really aren’t picking up the pro-choice banner. I think the culture wars will end up being a 50-50 split. Gay marriage will end up going through everywhere and abortion if not outright illegal will be more and more restricted over time. Of course if abortion is ever taken off the table as a political issue, the Republicans will have a real crisis on their hands because that single issue has done more for their fundraising and elections than anything else over the last thirty years.

          • jwlung

            You wrote: “There are plenty of ways in which two people can read the same Bible and come to opposite conclusions theologically.” I agree, but with a caveat. The opposite conclusions should be biblically based and should be found in the tradition. Just war v. pacifism is the best example I am aware of. In this debate, both sides are firmly grounded in both scripture and tradition.

            In the case of the homosexual debate, the arguments from the Reconciling side are hollow and contrived. Same thing with the abortion issue. The pro-abort side doesn’t even cite scripture.

            I’m not accusing those on the other sides of these issues of bad faith. They may very well be doing their best to be faithful. They are sincerely wrong, mostly because they are operating from a non-Christian worldview, and also partly because of a committment to the “gains” of the sexual revolution.

            As you mentioned politics, the only consistent policy thread uniting democrats is unrestricted abortion and sexual license. While you may be correct in the direction the culture is taking, you may be jumping the gun in your glee over the perceived Republican conundrum. We have not yet begun to reap the whirlwind of death and destruction we face as the culture crashes, and the image of God recedes even further from the scene. The Dems will have more and more blood on their hands.

          • MorganGuyton

            Gotta move on from this one. Be blessed!

  • Stephen Whitt

    An interesting post. You come so close. Why not come the rest of the way?

    Huck Finn was written by an atheist, Mr. Mark Twain, the finest writer America has ever produced. Huck’s moment of triumph was in realizing that right and wrong is something people can figure out for themselves. As Steven Pinker pointed out in Better Angels of Our Nature, literature actually played a huge role in helping us to this realization. As people read more, they got to see the world through the eyes of others. This led to the breakthrough realization from which all morality springs. You=I. I don’t want you to do bad things to me. You=I. Therefore, and inescapably, I shouldn’t do bad things to you. It’s really that simple. Huck realizes this not through reading, of course, but by living with Jim on the raft, seeing Jim’s pain and joy, learning that Jim is a human being, not a plaything.

    No matter how you try to apologize for the religious society in which Huck was immersed, the facts of the text speak for themselves. Huck really thought his choice would cause him to go to hell. He didn’t care. His immediate friendship and (yes) love for Jim was more important. He’d tell God that God was wrong. How could such a thing be possible if there isn’t a morality that goes beyond God? There is. You=I.

    Abraham, on the other hand, fails where Huck succeeds. You see the point of the Abraham story so clearly – why not come the rest of the way? If Abraham had killed Isaac, that would have been tragic. But to almost kill him is tragic, too. As you say, Isaac now knows where he stands with the old man. To Abraham, there is no right and wrong outside of God’s commandments. You doesn’t equal I in Abraham’s world, because God trumps all. This is wrong. You know it and I know it. You say you wouldn’t kill your children if God ordered it. You also wouldn’t let a friend be property, even if God ordained it. I agree with you there, and I hope and know we’re not alone. You=I. You and I can be good without God. Come the rest of the way.