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July 17, 2013

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Burden or Freedom

Freedom isn't the license to do whatever we want, it's the power to do what we ought.

Those who misapply it by exercising the former simply engage in idolatrous worship of self.

Melinda-

You are totally right. The Gospel is absent in her story.

I could be wrong of course, but I also suspect that this particular quote:



I ran away from home when I was 17 (due to reasons not pertinent to this post)
Is a massive 'tell'. I suspect that those reasons are central to the post.

I agree with WisdomLover. That comment jumped out at me as I was reading the post.

Melinda,

I am curious what yours or Greg's response would be to her question that supposedly was her undoing:

"If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and 'wrong' surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?"

It's a good reminder that as apologists, whether we're talking to skeptics or training our children, we return frequently and regularly to the core of the message – the Gospel of reconciliation with God through Jesus.

Thank you. This is a very good reminder.

I'm with everyone else with regard to the running away issue. The fact that she hasn't spoken to her father since that time (which came before her crisis of faith) is a bit telling.

Regarding the question that lead her to reject the truth of Christianity. Based solely on the way she states her question regarding morality and law seems to indicate a rather anemic training program her father provided.

statement 1: God is absolutely moral - God is not absolutely moral. God is objectively moral. That is, Morality is that which perfectly aligns with God's character.

statement 2: morality is absolute - from an orthodox Biblical perspective morality is objective, not absolute.

So right here the train is already headed off the tracks. Her understanding of morality appears to be about specific behaviors, and a dichotomous (i.e. absolute) way of judging if something is moral or immoral. So, to her way of thinking, God's OT regulation about not wearing clothing made of mixed fabrics means that mixing fabrics must be "absolutely" immoral. Rather than understanding the larger moral underpinnings and social/historical context of these types of regulations.

brianehunt,

I'm not sure how your response addresses the issue Rachael raised. You say that we need to understand the "social/historical context" of God's moral commands. But it was precisely Rachael's point that morality is not supposed to be context-dependent. Instead, she tells us, on her version of Christianity morality transcends space and time and such. Your response doesn't reconcile that contradiction. It just denies one of the contradicting elements by permitting morality to change over time.

Remember, one of the big selling points of objective morality is that it's supposed to satisfy out intuitions that certain behaviors are wrong no matter what. So for instance rape is thought to be immoral no matter what the time, place or context. If God's moral commands are not unchanging, then it undercuts the divine command theorist's argument that DCT explains those particular intuitions.

Moreover, if the DCT ties morality to God's nature (as opposed to merely his commands) then the changing of moral strictures means God's nature can change too. That in itself is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it may not jive with certain theologies.

I'm not sure her challenge (Gods morality changes as witnessed by OT sin versus NT sin) goes through.

Do others find this a compelling argument?

If so, why?

Melinda,

"It's a good reminder that as apologists, whether we're talking to skeptics or training our children, we return frequently and regularly to the core of the message – the Gospel of reconciliation with God through Jesus."

Yes! Yes! and again - Yes!

“I will never believe in Christianity simply because it feels right, otherwise I am no better than those in any other religion I debate. I must believe in Christianity because it is the Truth, and if it is ever proven otherwise, I must forsake it no matter how much it hurts.”

If Christianity didn't 'feel right', I can see how

return[ing] frequently and regularly to the core of the message – the Gospel of reconciliation with God through Jesus.
could make a difference.

I don't see how it's supposed to make a difference if one feels like she "must believe in Christianity because it is the Truth".

Fred,

Well it's not an argument against Christianity per se, but it is an argument against the conjunction of two very common Christian views. Namely, the following are logically inconsistent:

(1) At least some of OT laws which Christians believe are inapplicable today are identical to moral laws.
(2) No moral law changes over time.

"I'm not sure how your response addresses the issue Rachael raised. You say that we need to understand the "social/historical context" of God's moral commands. But it was precisely Rachael's point that morality is not supposed to be context-dependent."

If Rachael ended up with the belief that the OT's instructions on how to deal with mildew in your cellar were transcendent moral truths for all times and places then she had pretty poor theological training, all her protestations to the contrary. (Which, I think, was Brian's point.)

Either that, or something else is at play in her apostasy. Something other than the cool application of reason...perhaps pointed to by the running away episode.

Melinda, you might find some insight from these comments on Rachael's Tumblr page. They were written when she was only 16, several years before she renounced her faith, but you can see she already had her finger on something important:

"If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that head knowledge is useless when it comes to things that really matter. You can be the biggest genius in the world, have memorized the entire Bible front to back, and it won’t do one whit for you when it actually comes down to God."

"Dad loves theology and logic, but he never realized - still hasn’t - that it’s not what we needed the most. We need a relationship with God and a relationship with our father instead of distant, calculated thinking."

Very insightful (and sad), don't you think?

Pretty easy to see the root problem when you read Rachael's post.

Daddy issues.

Also, A Beka science curriculum. Awful. Incredibly poor.

From the "cheap seats",

Goat Head 5

Goat Head replies to Fred,

Not a compelling argument at all.

Goat Head 5

An audience member asks Dr. William Lane Craig the same question Rachael Slick says caused her unbelief in God (video is only 2 minutes):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUE4cwNuSZ4

Tony_arlington,

Is that really the same question Rachel asks?

RonH

From the article, Rachel said:

The Bible is not infallible, logic whispered from the depths, and I had no defense against it. If it’s not infallible, you’ve been basing your life’s beliefs on the oral traditions of a Middle Eastern tribe. The Bible lied to you.

Infallible in ways that change the truth of core Christianity? Where does Rachel talk about this? I see nothing in her blog post.

RonH,
It seems to be related. Perhaps Rachel was taught to think in terms of absolute morality rather than objective morality when it should not be.

What "sins" in the OT is she referring to compared with to NT?

She never said what sins she was referring to. But I think her comments are a red herring. She easily handled much tougher questions than that.

Read what she said back when she was 16, well before she rejected Christianity. This is from Tumblr:

"Dad loves theology and logic, but he never realized - still hasn't - that it’s not what we needed the most. We need a relationship with God and a relationship with our father instead of distant, calculated thinking."

RonH,

I think so yes. It seems to me that if she had taken the time to look for an answer she would have found one. It was a simple misunderstanding on her part between absolute and objective morality. There appears to be a deeper reason as to why she rejected Christianity and she's using her question to deflect the real issue it seems to me.

The difference between 'absolute' and 'objective' is not the same as the difference between OT and NT sin's.

By 'OT sins that at not NT sins', I think Rachel means those things normally harmonized by calling them OT 'ceremonial' law.

She is using 'absolute' to mean roughly what you mean by 'objective' and she's focusing on the idea contained there that what's right or wrong doesn't change.

I can put this in terms of question (or two): Where in the NT are the 'ceremonial' obligations specifically cancelled while the 'moral law' is not?

It goes without saying (Right?) that this is not the same thing as the NT's rewiring of the connection between works (or 'keeping the law') and salvation.

it seems that it is at the Jerusalem council in Acts where there is a ruling of what standards Gentiles should be held to.

Thanks Steve,

Does the letter sent to the gentiles cancel (all) the 'ceremonial' obligations while leaving the 'moral law' intact?

RonH

"It goes without saying (Right?) that this is not the same thing as the NT's rewiring of the connection between works (or 'keeping the law') and salvation."

I don't think that that really does go without saying.

For one thing, I don't think there was any rewiring. We have to look back to the promised Messiah just as surely as the OT church (Israel) had to look forward. There never was any other hope of salvation.

But the real answer to the question of where the ceremonial laws were cancelled is that they were cancelled on Calvary. That's when the perfect sacrifice was made that made the notion of ceremonial cleanliness obsolete.

WL, "Calvary" doesn't work as an answer because "Calvary" doesn't tell you which is which. RonH

The OT tells you which is which. Some laws declare you unclean for temple worship. Others say that you need to be penalized in some way.

Calvary is where the temple laws were rendered obsolete.

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