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August 05, 2014

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Since this verse doesn't appear to be an isolated teaching of Jesus, the first thing I would do is to see what teaching is this a part of. One would discover that this is part of the parable of the 10 Minas. So now we have to ask ourselves, "What is Jesus talking about here?". We get some clues on what is going on. Verse 11 tells us that Jesus told the crowd this parable as they had heard the previous things told to them. What they had just heard was Jesus saying that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost in response to Zacchaeus giving half of his stuff to the poor and the people he took advantage of. We also see that after this parable is taught, he goes on to Jerusalem for the triumphal entry, and then weeps for Jerusalem before cleansing the temple.

We also see that the people thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately, which is the reason for the parable. So Jesus is telling this story about what the kingdom of God is going to be like. The Lord, which represents God, will give us all responsibilities. What we do with that responsibility will show who we are faithful towards. The servants who multiplied the Minas are believers, while the wicked servant and the enemies are people who have disobeyed and disowned God. It is these people who God will "strike down", but it seems to be God who will do the striking, not the other believers in the parable.

And even if someone didn't want to accept this hermeneutical interpretation of the parable, some key issues need to be addressed. Do we find Jesus saying the same thing elsewhere? We don't actually. In fact, ask most non-believers to sum up Jesus' teachings and they will tell you that He was about peace and love, not violence. Another issue is whether we have any grounds to see this as a command for believers to punish non-believers today. Again, no where in Jesus' teachings does He condone this behavior, and the parable itself has the Lord doing the punishment, not the servants who were faithful with the Minas.

Overall, while we can't expect non-believers to take classes and read books over hermeneutical methods, we should at the very least expect that they want to look into why Jesus' says what he said. That means reading the whole of the story and any context surrounding it, as well as hearing out the believers they are objecting to answers.

This parable is eschatological. Jesus provides the servants with a number of responsibilities and expects numbers to be added to the kingdom. Matthew 25:14-20 is a similar passage and Mark 4:21-25 is similar in that talents are given and what the servant inclines himself to much more will be given. Likewise much will be taken if used carelessly. This is important when considering the perceived delay in the coming of the kingdom. Here we see God's nature in patience. However when the kingdom does come, then those who oppose God will experience a spiritual death. This will not be at the hands of God's servants but by God's own doing. It is important to remember that parables are earthly messages with heavenly meanings.

Two points to make to this challenge:

1) The more applicable parable to cite in this matter is the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat (Mt. 13: 24-30). Here the weeds are not to be uprooted until the day of harvest when those assign to that task is to separate the wheat and weeds. Until then, wheat and weeds coexist.

2) Let it be noted that the parables of Jesus towards the end of His ministry tends to be harsher and more judgmental. The similar Parable of the Minas (Lk. 19: 11-27) and Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25: 14-30) were taught in two different locales to two different audiences. The first one would be heard by Passover pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. The second one would be in Jerusalem during those Passover festivities and would likely be heard by Jesus' opponents. But the jist of both were to state that the Kingdom of God comes not by coup d'etat but by the faithful employment of talents in service to God. Beware the refusal to use such talents. Of the two parables of the Great Feast (Lk. 15: 11-24) and the King's Wedding Supper (Mt. 22: 1-14), the latter was given on/around the Tuesday leading up to the time of betrayal and death of Jesus. The first featured polite refusal to the invitation. The second featured vicious murder of the servants offering invitations and the king's sentence of death to those murderers. The Parable of the Wicked Farmers (Mt. 21: 33-46; Lk. 20: 9-19) was offered at the same time, where the audience was asked what must be done with those who killed the owner's Son as well as the owner's servants. Even Jesus' enemies had a feeling that parable was directed at them. The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Mt. 25: 1-13) refused admittance to the wedding party to five of those who failed to be prepared and feel asleep. All these "not so sweet" stories of Jesus expressed at a time when time was short for Jesus who had to wake up a people to the life or death situation of placing full confidence on God. The tone of such parables reveals an urgency.

So, a parable, which featured the political realities of Jesus' day (most like the assession of Archelaus or one of the other Herods or Herod-types trying to cement their hold on power) is offered as a backdrop to Jesus' parable emphasizing the seriousness of living a life of loving service to God. To focus on the blood and gore leads one to miss the point, which in essence, is just what this challenger does.

The first step to defeating this challenge is to remember the oft-quoted STR tip: "Never read a Bible verse." As other commenters have already noted, Luke 19:27 doesn't stand alone. The verse is part of a parable that describes God's judgement at the end of time. In other words, Jesus wasn't giving a command to His followers, but rather He was warning them of God's coming wrath.

Start with "Never read a Bible verse," and this challenge is a lot simpler than it might otherwise appear....

Atheist would save themselves a lot of time and trouble if they would just take the time to read a good book on hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. You would think that atheist would be embarrassed by being proven wrong so often when they try to diminish Christianity by taking verses out of context and attempting to make them say something they don't say. Which of course is a rule of hermeneutics; a verse cannot mean something it has never meant. In other words, if there is no historical or common interpretation of a verse meaning what you want it to mean, then the one in the wrong is not those who have never interpreted the verse in that way. Rather is you who is wrong for spinning the verse to mean something it has never meant.

The agitator-atheist who issues this challenge is obviously a theological master. He should be granted a PhD from a top seminary for discovering the correct interpretation -- what no serious theologian has ever thought that verse to mean -- and that Jesus actually commanded Christians to do the opposite of what Christians have been doing for the last 2000+ years!

And if slaying unbelievers is what we're supposed to do, I think it unwise for an unbeliever to point that out to a Christian...

The challenge is more insulting to the unbeliever than it is to the Christian as it's dishonest from the outset and plays upon the average person's ignorance of scripture.

Nevertheless, it's obvious that

1. It's part of a larger parable
2. The parable actually concerns Christians (or so called Christians)
3. Speaks of judgement at the end of all things.

Never Read a Bible verse strikes again!

The passage that the challenger cites is part of the version of the parable of the talents that Luke reports. Unlike the version that Matthew reports, the unfaithful servant isn't cast out here, and it is wrapped up in another story about the owner of the talents (or minas) becoming a king.

The very first thing to notice that this is part of a parable.

TIP #1 FOR UNDERSTANDING PARABLES: To find out what a parable means, it is worth remembering that, sometimes, sentences in parables are symbolic.
Just as Jesus is not necessarily saying that He's planning on giving his servants, whom the challenger equates with Christians, start-up capital for their Christian businesses, He might also not be suggesting that Christians murder unbelievers.

The challenge references only the final sentence of the full parable.

TIP #2 FOR UNDERSTANDING PARABLES: To find out what a parable means, reading the parable helps.
In the longer parable, which begins at Luke 19:12, we find that Jesus is telling the story of a nobleman who is going away to a far country where he will be elevated to the status of king and then return.

To get a handle on the politics involved here, think of Herod the Tetrarch, Herod Antipas, who was always trying to get Rome to elevate him to the status of King, the title his father Herod the Great held and that Herod Antipas always thought should have gone to him.

Now, I don't want to equate the nobleman to Herod Antipas. The nobleman's subjects hated him...he has that in common with Antipas. But for one thing, Herod Antipas never became King, he ended up getting himself killed over it in a conflict with his nephew Agrippa (son of Herodias, Antipas' sister-in-law/wife). But the closest he ever came to the title he desired was that his subjects may have taken to calling him Herod the King in mockery. The parable also doesn't say that the nobleman was incompetent or unjust, but Antipas was both.

Still, the political drama occurring at the time of Jesus teaching would have been clear to His immediate listeners. Equally clear would have been the fact that the nobleman in the story represented, not Herod, but the real King of the Jews...Jesus Himself.

In any case, we find that the nobleman's current subjects hate him so much that they sent a delegation saying that they don't want him to be a king over them. "We have no King but Caesar", he might as well have said.

These are the people who are ordered to be killed before him. So his enemies are people already subject to him. What's more, it seems that it is all of the people subject to him. The parable does not say "But certain of his citizens hated him..." It says simply "But his citizens hated him..."

So the parable ends with the shocking result that the nobleman-turned-king commands his servants to kill all of his subjects. The king places everyone except the king himself and, implicitly, the servants who carry out his orders, under the sentence of death.

It would be all too easy to turn this into anti-semitic claptrap. The King of the Jews, rejected by the Jews, then sentencing the Jews to death. But that's also not what the passage is about.

Because even though Jesus is the real King of the Jews, the King Herod desired to be. Jesus is King of so much more than the Jews. As the passage also makes clear. The kingdom Jesus rules over is broader than the Kingdom of the Jews, and his listeners understood that.

What kingdom is this, where every subject has the death penalty pronounced upon them?

TIP #3 FOR UNDERSTANDING PARABLES: To find out what a parable means, context matters.
The passage is introduced with these words:
And Jesus said to him (Zaccheus), "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.
So it is not just all the subjects of the Kingdom of the Jews that hate Jesus and don't want Him to rule over Him. It is everyone in the Kingdom of God (except God Himself and His angels, who is placed under the sentence of death). That is, it is all mankind.

It is also worth noticing that the story does not end telling us that the king had his enemies brought forward and killed before him. It ends with his pronouncing sentence.

Christianity is what happens after the sentence of death is passed.

Never read a bible verse...

In Luke 19:11, we read that Jesus told this parable because His followers thought that He would usher in the Kingdom of God on this trip to Jerusalem.

The parable is about Jesus, his servant-followers, non-believers, his time away from us and his return at the Second Coming. Jesus is going away for a short time. He has given his followers some work to accomplish. When Jesus returns, his followers will be rewarded - none will be cast out. The subjects (v.14), not those who are servants/followers but those who did not want King Jesus to rule over them will be granted their desire and thrown into the lake of fire. This is consistent with the rest of Scripture with regard to the Jesus' second coming.

An atheist who proof texts. Everyone, I suppose, has an inner fundamentalist.

The subjects (v.14), not those who are servants/followers but those who did not want King Jesus to rule over them will be granted their desire and thrown into the lake of fire.
Being in the Lake of Fire is, if I read you right, precisely the state of not being ruled by King Jesus. I'm with you on that...Hell is nothing more or less than the steadfast refusal to bend the knee to Christ. Those who complain that God is evil because He sends people to Hell are really complaining that God is evil because He allows some unbelievers to remain unbelievers, letting them have what they really want. (Thankfully, in the case of this unbeliever, He said "No, you're going to believe in Me!" I don't know why.)

"HOLY WAR”. Violence underpinned by any theoretical view is objectionable be it religious or irreligious. No one is exempt and unfortunately every world view has been, at some point, used to buttress conquest and/or revenge. There is in all metaphysical constructs a certain inherent nuance which comments on the worth of human life or the lack thereof. If God is a God who sees Human Life as cheap, lacking Inherent Dignity, then we must ask ourselves if this sort of a God corresponds to Reality as we sense it to be. Our anger at the destruction of life echoes what we intuitively know; life is intrinsically valuable and that which violates that Dignity is somehow amiss.


We're told of a kind of 'WAR' we are to be fighting in the service of God. Jesus, and later his followers, would lay down their lives and, refusing to employ violence, fight what is called "the good fight" and therein the very antithesis of what all men were expecting of God manifested. For so long we've been given a naturalistic image of "fight" that we feel a sense of shame at the thought of God and Good "making war." And rightly so. "HOLY WAR" feels, as it should in naturalism’s light, life-cheapening. A radically different picture is painted for us in Scripture’s consummation of all vectors within Christ: we are shown a life – Love’s Corporeal - and we're told that he "wars" against something. He "conquers", "fights", "punishes", "does battle" and so on. And this "soldier" lifts not even one finger to strike those who strike him. He goes so far as to tell one of his followers to lay down his sword because his Kingdom (which He “fights for”) is not of this world. In the life of this Suffering Servant we see, not the aimless war of The Toughest Survive, but, enigmatically, God's Holy War. In fact, the Dying Servant depicts what war actually is. Throughout His stories we see two realities at work as His disciple in the midst of a betrayal is told to lay down a sword, as we're told that our Fight is not against flesh and blood, not against people. Christ tells us the Kingdom of God is being built, written, within us.


Earthly warfare is it is not real war but rather it is merely a reflection of our own bitter fragmentation within our imprisonment and such merely echoes to us of the only true war – God's (our Great Emancipator’s) Holy War for the abolition of Mankind’s slavery. Wars between people are but the tremors felt from the epicenter of our Fall light years away and the war of God takes place at that epicenter and is infinitely more consequential than our current world's twisted reflections of it. To go even a step further, God's true Holy War turns our most weighty questions into incomprehensible mumblings as the proposed "survival" in/of the survival of the fittest ends up being, in the end, an Oxymoron. Into that Oxymoron Light Himself speaks a Paradox - He tells us that if we lay down and die, life springs forth; He tell us that if we refuse to employ violence – at the cost of non-survival – we live. He tells us to do good to those who hate us. He tells us to Love our enemy that we may be like our Father. This Paradox from Nazareth mocks the laws of entropy even further as he tells us that we find our life as we lose it; He even tells us that if one dies for another, both live. He tells us that to surrender to Him – rather than self-preservation – is to overcome. The Oxymoron of Survival or the Paradox of His Immutable Love? To pick up our sword and lash out in Fear or put it down and discover a different sort of Life - a life outside of Time and Chance? A Life with the God Who loves His enemies and Who pours Himself out for such enemies (who He calls His beloved). A life with Word’s Corporeal as such is re-birthed out of Death, out of Time, out of Matter. God ever propositions us in His call to the Good Fight: Self or Other? Fear or Love? Nature or the Unknowable Abyss from Whom even Nature herself is birthed? The Great Emancipator makes of Himself Mankind’s Means and Ends as His All-Sufficient Ransom – which is Himself – satisfies in absolute terms all Justice and all Mercy. High on that Hill All-Sufficiency wins an Abolition which the Contingent, the In-Sufficient, could never achieve.


Failing to take life in the Holy War: Jesus of Nazareth, who never took a life, tells us there are no favorites here: His Holy War is waged for all men and His Kingdom is not of this world. Teresa of Calcutta, who never took a life, echoed His pattern and gave love to the unwanted, and changed our world. William Wilberforce, who never took a life, echoed His pattern and ended slavery in history's largest Empire, the British Empire, and changed our world. Pastor Martin Luther King Jr., who never took a life, echoed His pattern and brought Light where there was Darkness and changed our world. Gandhi, who refused violence in his own actions, said this of that Paradox from Nazareth: "Of all the things I have read what remained with me forever was that Jesus came almost to give a new law - not an eye for an eye but to receive two blows when only one was given, and to go two miles when they were asked to go one. I came to see that the Sermon on the Mount was the whole of Christianity for him who wanted to live a Christian life. It is that sermon that has endeared Jesus to me. The virtues of mercy, non-violence, love and truth in any man can be truly tested when they are pitted against ruthlessness, violence, hate and untruth... This is the true test of Ahimsa..... He who when being killed bears no anger against his murderer and even asks God to forgive him is truly non-violent. History relates this of Jesus Christ. With his dying breath on the Cross, he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what to do.""


The immutable love within the Necessary Being reveals the only genre on planet Earth wherein all metaphysical regressions find their hard stop amid and among that ceaseless reciprocity within relationality’s inescapably triune topography of all that just is Self-Other-Us. When scripture tells us that Absolute Reality is love it is that End of Regress Who it speaks of and such is a statement of Actuality’s ontological A and of Actuality’s ontological Z.

This is a parable which illustrates one or major truths. As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, Jesus tells this parable to point out that there two responses to His presentation of the Kingdom (the rule of God). The Nobleman's citizens and the Nobleman's servants. The Nobleman tells them that the Kingdom will not come immediately so he tells his servants to be faithful with the use of His property. The Nobleman also realizes that the citizens are in open rebellion to Him and he foretells that they will be destroyed when he comes in His Kingdom. The lesson from the parable is that Jesus is the Nobleman/King but he will not establish the fullness of His rule for a period of time — a time for His follower to do business with the citizens in order to expand His influence and His Kingdom. However, those who continue to rebel and oppose Him and His rule will be judged. In the context, as we see Jesus approaching Jerusalem, He weeps over it and says if they "had only known this day the things which make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your salvation", (Luke 19:41-44). This passage unpacks Luke 19:27. This took place in 66-70 AD through Romans siege of Jerusalem. And this is why Jesus wept. God does not delight in the death of the wicked but He would have them turn from their rebellion, (Ezekiel 33:11). But if they don't, they will enter into His righteous judgment will, (Acts 17: 31).

I don't see that that the parable has any "clear" lesson or interpretation. So, although I disagree with some of the defenses, I also disagree with the challenge itself. In other words, there is nothing here that needs defending by Christians.

As far as I can tell, the New Testament isn't too bad when it comes to religious intolerance. Of course, it teaches that unbelievers will be tormented for eternity, but it doesn't instruct believers to go out and do violence against unbelievers.

If only the Old Testament was as progressive :(

Ben wrote:
"If only the Old Testament was as progressive :("

You might be surprised by what you find if you read some of the Old Testament with an eye toward finding grace. For example, God promised to bless all people through His call to Abram (Genesis 12). The blessing wasn't only for God's chosen people (AKA the Jews), but for all of mankind. And that blessing has been delivered in Christ.

Other examples include the prophets -- especially Isaiah -- who promised blessings upon the Gentiles. To be sure, the Jews always take center stage in the Old Testament, but God shows His love for all people.

Even when the Jews were commanded to kill unbelievers, it was a focused and specific command. God never told the Jews to kill all Gentiles. Instead, He specifically told them to kill a particular group of people. Such commands were part of His judgement for sin.

The pre-conquest inhabitants of the Holy Land were all terribly, terribly sinful societies. No, they didn't worship the Lord, but that wasn't the full extent of their sin. In fact, it seems unlikely that these societies were under sentence of death simply because they didn't worship the Lord. Plenty of other Gentile societies (the Egyptians and Arabians, to name two) didn't worship the Lord, and yet God never commanded the Israelites to destroy them. Therefore, the death sentence must have come from another cause.

One such cause was the despicable and cruel character of their pagan worship, including ritualized child sacrifice:
http://biblehub.com/topical/m/molech.htm

As far as I can tell from Scripture, God never commanded His people to kill all unbelievers. In contrast, He promised to bless unbelievers through the seed of Abraham, a promise that was ultimately fulfilled through Jesus. Even those instances when God commanded His people to kill specific groups of unbelievers were targeted punishment for horrific sin, not a generic command to kill everyone. God is loving and just, and those two facets of His character are indivisible.

Rob-

Good comment.

I think it's usually the case that God commanded Israel to attack other nations, not unbelievers per se. That is, God typically commanded the Israelites to make war. So the question is whether a bunch of OT wars are justified or not. That question does not admit of any offhand answer. And, in justifying such wars, you might not have to look any farther than the hostility of Israel's neighbors. You might not need always to refer to the wicked internal practices of the enemy nation.

Rob and WL,

I do think that the military conquests present a general theme of religious intolerance. For example, in Psalm 79 the military dispute is distinctly religious in nature. However, I admit this general theme is not given to clear interpretation.

We do have some other instructions, though, which are more difficult to explain away. For example, in a long list of laws in Exodus, we have the following:

He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed. (Ex 22:20)

Or, again, in Deuteronomy 13, God commands that any person who proselytizes for other gods must be put to death. The reason is given quite explicitly: he is to be killed "because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God" (Dt 13:5). It's a chilling passage, where God warns that even if the person is your brother, son, daughter, wife, or whoever else, "Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him" (Dt 13:8).

This instruction to bludgeon to death anyone who worships a different god is repeated later, in Deuteronomy 17.

You can find some other interesting passages here.

My conclusions are the same as most of the above, but I still have questions. Does it make any difference that God has not commanded killing since the virgin birth? Or am I wrong about that fact. My second point of confusion is the argument that the overlord did not command his subjects to do the killing. It seems quite clear to me that that final sentence is in the imperative: bring them to me and kill them in front of me. He didn't say, "Bring them & I will slay them." So it seems to me that God is not saying He will kill His enemies Himself. The only alternative I see is that I must be mistaken about God not ordering men to slay men in the NT. Can anyone show me?

So it seems to me that God is not saying He will kill His enemies Himself. The only alternative I see is that I must be mistaken about God not ordering men to slay men in the NT.
You seem to be assuming that the overlord represents Christ, and that the overlord's servants who are commanded to kill all his subjects before him represent Christians.

I agree with the first part. The overlord does represent Christ.

But I disagree with the second part, I think the servants represent the angels.

Also, the killing isn't killing of the body but condemnation of the soul to eternal separation from God.

But this is not Christ's final verdict. He spoke His final verdict from the cross.

Ben,

I did jump to the religious tolerance website you offered. I can't determine whether this was a cheapening of the argument, or a rather ingenious revelation of the mindset that fuels the confusion behind the point of the post. The Ontario Consultants listing of religious intolerance in Hebrew Scriptures tries to prove a tendency for God to be a jealous God without reference to historical context, the reason for the perceived intolerance for pseudo-deities in competition with Yahweh. It assumes a sameness between Yahweh and Baal and Moloch and Chemosh and ....

The core of the problem is dealing with the post-modern mindset that doesn't care for careful distinctions. To the humanist mind, all manifestations of religious systems are holdings to the imaginative, all based on transcendent qualities that get fleshed out in divine persons. Innocuous at best, offering moral codes that benefit society in its greatest ideals, but worthy to be opposed in special cases (e.g. the Jehovah Witness proscription against transfusions). All systems bogus in foundation.

This doesn't square with theistic thought, which recognizes that all theistic systems are not equal. There is false religion and true religion. Now, the issue is to be how vitally important is it to recognize this distinction?

It is much along the same lines as a member of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet being a supporter of Jefferson Davis. Both are in effect presidents, but placement in a cabinet demands a degree of loyalty. Being a J. Davis proponent would be treasonous.

Not understanding this makes one like a fellow who would purchase a zirconia at diamond prices.

A theme of the Old Testament is a history of the worship of the true God versus the deities of human innovation. Isaiah mocks the idol maker as a worshiper of a wooden block. Oddly, this reference was not placed by the Ontario Consultants. It probably would have given rationale for the supposed intolerance. Why pursue the bogus when there is the Real?

This is the tension in the system, the transcendent real. It is up to God to dispose of the frauds, and much of the cited verses in religioustolerance.org speak to that issue. Man proposes; God disposes. And when humanity proposes a god to its liking, it is the right of the true God to dispense with this silliness in search of the sublime.

The wars of the OT can be understood, by and large, as wars of national defense.

For similar reasons, laws against individual idolatry can be viewed, by and large, as laws against treason and sedition. Such laws typically do, and should, carry severe penalty.

Most of the objections against the 'Evil God of the OT' (as if there were a different God in the NT) dissolve given that understanding.

At the very least, the objector has to get down to specifics to spell out exactly what he thinks is wrong in each case rather than simply being shocked from the standpoint of a self-satisfied member of a 21st century pluralist democracy...'Beyond War' peacenicks would have lasted about 3 minutes in the days of Abraham and David.

WL,

You can classify an action however you like, but it doesn't change what that action is. In the end, these people were being bludgeoned to death because they worshiped other gods, not because they had threatened the state.

Imagine if I said, "well, failing to cry out when you are being sexually assaulted can be viewed as an expression of consent to have sex." Clearly, this is not going to wash. Failing to cry out is not an expression of consent, regardless of how some might want to view/classify it.

I'm with you on that...Hell is nothing more or less than the steadfast refusal to bend the knee to Christ. Those who complain that God is evil because He sends people to Hell are really complaining that God is evil because He allows some unbelievers to remain unbelievers, letting them have what they really want.

Yes, WL, we agree.

OT critics, that is to say, criticizers of ontology’s Necessary Being Whose immutable love houses relationality’s necessarily triune landscape of Self-Other-Us, seem to be those who refuse to wrestle with the ontology of Mankind and the ontology of Scripture in and by Scripture’s Singular A To Z, that is to say, in and by Scripture’s Singular Descriptive-Prescriptive.

Being so misguided, they often find themselves looking at the OT and criticizing some non-Christian god and arguing about some non-Christian ontology. As if God, by making laws about divorce, does not hate divorce. As if it is something less than Good to speak to addicts not of homeownership but of needles and of syringes. And so with everything found in Scripture’s own (self-defined) ontological regressions of what it is – exactly – that we find in the necessary vectors between Genesis 3:15-17 and John 3:15-17 (as well as Pre/Post, etc.). The Critic’s metaphysics, not being of those of Scripture and thus not those of the Christian, lead the Critic into all sorts of absurd descriptives of Scripture.

All possible worlds – at least for Man – are housed in the Image of the Necessary Being’s immutable love – those volitional motions of ceaseless reciprocity among and amid the triune landscape of Self-Other-Us as Genesis opens with the ontological Singular-Us and, therein, all definitions begin and end.

Any definition by the Critic which fails to satisfy such geography is merely the Critic’s own non-Christian god housed within his own non-Christian ontology of the Critic’s own making and, as such, the Christian need not take such non-Christian descriptions of scripture seriously.

The OT and the Means/Ends to Moral Excellence is a useful, and very basic, example:

Divorce is hated by God (Malachi 2:16), as such a fragmentation of “the whole” (the inescapable I-You forever begetting the ceaseless Us) is defined by God in Genesis as the Dark Outside, as a kind of Hell on Earth – again by definition and such of course regresses back to the Necessary Being’s Own Image. Malachi confirms God’s hatred of divorce, as does Christ. In the same way, Man’s Wholeness with God is shattered, and Man in his Privation (post fall) finds himself before God now in Juxtaposition to God, rather than in Amalgamation with God. Such a state of affairs is the Dark Outside and the singular descriptive-prescriptive whereby Man-In-God / God-In-Man is to be fashioned is by a Means/Ends wholly absent from Man inside of that privation. The OT itself affirms that the Law is not the means to Moral Excellence, but is in fact Death Restrained – on ontological necessity – as the Ceiling and Floor of Deuteronomy 28 just cannot rise to the level of the New Creation – again on ontological necessity.

Well, what about the Law of Moses and Divorce? God hates divorce, yet, post fall, He gives laws regulating divorce. Just as, per Genesis 3, God hates domination, lording-over, inequality of worth, of value, within human relationality, yet, post fall, He gives laws regulating all sorts of fragmented motioning within those vectors. It is Good to tell the drug addict to take the needle out of his arm, but, the language of “cocaine” and “needle” and “injection” are – while Good inside of the addict’s world – simply void of the World out of which – or into which – the addict is to find his actual/true life. The Contingent Self in Privation just is the bedrock of all that lies between Genesis 3:15-17 and John 3:15-17. Contingency void of Amalgamation with the Immutable brings in all sorts of ontological lines – necessary lines.

The Singular-Us in Genesis Who ends all metaphysical regression just is an uncanny triune milieu motioning within Self-Other-Us, that is to say, He is both Power and Relational Goodness, that is to say, He is both Power and Love. He is God. And so on. Man – in that arena – is found – once having volitionally motioned outside of such amalgamation – necessarily void of such amalgamation and is instead found in mere juxtaposition to that Power, that Love. Now, Love void of Amalgamation, void of Oneness, just is the condition of lovelessness. All that remains between God/Man is the reach of, the affairs of, Power, on necessary contingency in the thing we call existence.

Power void of Love has only a few options at this point, there in what must on necessity follow Genesis 3:16 within Time and Physicality:

1) Power can utterly forsake Man in his Privation there inside his chosen world that just is love-less-ness. Now, the technical term for that condition would be “hell”. Such would be the end, perhaps, of Man, or, perhaps not of Man, but, most certainly, of Man’s hope for immutable goodness.
2) Power can approach in utter proximity into that love-less-ness and, all physicality, should such occur, will simply be annihilated for In-Sufficiency wrapped up inside of All-Sufficiency cannot go on existing, for, it cannot be said of God, of All-Sufficiency, “Look, there in God, there is that in-sufficiency”, and that on necessity.
3) Power can do what He did and, in proximity, void of intimacy, necessarily aggravate and hasten, by proximity, death, though, by void of intimacy, spare Man his end. Here we see all the business of Jesus reference to Marriage’s Intimacy as it was prior to Genesis 3:16 and Power’s necessary restraint prior to John 3:16. Scripture calls the Law of Moses the Ministry of Death for a reason. Such is death restrained, not life fashioned.

None of those motions redeems, or, changes, or saves Man from his privation, from the condition of juxtaposition to The-Good. Only one of those motions prepares Man for such. The only option for Power which can undo, redeem, Genesis 3:16 is John 3:16. Nothing else re-creates, births, begets, amalgamates Man-In-God, God-In-Man. Man must be able to motion inward and find, not his own In-Sufficiency, but, the Uncreated’s All-Sufficiency in every direction – beneath his feet, above his head, and within his chest. As Juxtaposition can only bring death on ontological necessity (and it did just that), Amalgamation is the only hope for Man in his Privation.

Note that in Genesis 3:15-17 the Dark Outside is described by God as that which is now going to actualize within Time and Physicality, and, also, the solution to such will be all the business of Seed’s Seed, of Incarnation, of Amalgamation, that fateful Protoevangelium found manifesting within Time and Physicality within John 3:15-17. Part of the Dark Outside, or, on definition, of a kind of Hell on Earth, is that geography of Domination, of Lording Over, of Violence. Within Genesis’ set of definitions of all that is about to follow within Time, within Physicality (Contingency in Privation can taste no other) we find God, Who is love, also saying this, from Malachi 2:16,

“For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce I and him who covers his wife with violence.”

Here we find God’s own nature of E Pluribus Unum as that which is the Excellent, the Good, the Lovely, and, we find that which is the fragmentation thereof, and such actualizes through all sorts of vectors here within Time, within Physicality, as we see the business of Divorce, of Violence, and of Domination spiral ever outward. Contrary to the Critic’s thinking, God does not do, cannot do, Magic. He cannot make round squares, and as He has decreed in Man those volitional motions amid/among relationality’s necessarily triune geography of Self-Other-Us, His Own Image, such ontological arenas just cannot be annihilated – not if Man is to be Man. Critics seem to like magic. Christians of course know better.

The solution to this Dark Outside, we are told by Scripture from the start, will be the affair of Amalgamation, not of Human with Human, but of Human with God, and therein we find God coming with the Law of Moses and aiming His Love at that which is Man’s Hope, which is Man’s Redemption, and therein we find all the Laws of Sacrifice, of Covenant, of Redemption alongside of those other vectors powerless to Redeem, powerless to Save, such as Divorce, such as Violence, such as Domination.

One must - ontologically - write, "God hates this" next to all the Laws comments on divorce, on violence, on domination, on lording-over, and so on, as within God’s Image in Man there is no Domination, no Male/Female, no Slave/Free, for the Slave is on ontological par with Christ Himself, and as such we find the New Man being guided to follow Love’s Footprints and treat his slave as he would Christ, and therein we find the Slave owner getting down on his knees, taking of the shoes of his former slave, and washing his feet, and serving him, for he, that former slave, is on ontological par with Christ. The language of such amalgamation found Pre-Genesis 3:15-17 is found again leaking through, drip by drip, Post-John 3:15-17. The Law being powerless to change us merely restrains us, whereas, God Himself being the very Means and Ends brings what can only be called a New Creation, a New Man, a New Adam, and therein – a New World. The OT speaks of itself as the lesser one day to give way to the greater wherein all men, all nations, all tongues find themselves ushered into those flavors of Amalgamation. We must allow Scripture to define itself and Scripture, unlike Critics, denies “magic”.

One must write “God hates this” next to all of those “regulating restraints” of those things which God hates in the Timeless, those things which He merely regulates – yet hates - in Time, and ultimately does away with again in the Timeless. God hates A and B and C though God tells Man, “When doing A, do so thusly” and yet, all the while, God hates not only the “thusly” part, but, even more, He hates the very A which the Law regulates. One could so write “God hates this” next to all the Ministry of Death's comments on ANY landscape of Man’s Fragmentations, whether slavery, or, well, and so on. Malachi 2:16 with God’s hate of divorce, His hate of Domination, His hate of Violence, coupled with Jesus’ treatment of “Divorce vs. Law of Moses” is proof that the OT and the NT house the Law within the confines of God’s necessary Restraint within the Dark Outside rather than within His Prescriptive of Amalgamation/Rescue from such misery. The very first Command speaks of love's wholeness, just as such is, was, Man's first, and will be Man's last. Such motions of amalgamation in the Vertical and in the Horizontal are the very core.

God’s Ontology, and thus Man’s, begins with God’s Image, that fully singular, that fully triune of E Pluribus Unum, of Self-Other-Us, as that which is The Really Real, as God’s Nature, Will, and Delight. Within Genesis 3:15-17 we find the Ontology of all that is outside of this to be on definition the Dark Outside, or, on definition, a kind of Hell on Earth. All the business of Domination and of Death and of Sin and of living by our sweat and of pain, and of…… and so on……. is all, every bit of it, to the Nth degree, the Outside, that is to say, Love-less-ness as per Genesis’ grounding definitions necessitated by the contours of the triune Singular-Us where all definitions end. When God comes into Man’s Hell to save him, He does not use (how can He, magic being nonsense?) Man’s means nor Hell’s means to save Man from Man’s Privation, Man’s Hell, and the Law is therein but Death in Restraint – as both the OT and the NT affirm - for God uses God’s Means, which is Himself, to achieve God’s Ends, which is Himself, for Man, for His beloved. Thus we find God not giving Man the million page book of Rules in an “effort to get Man to moral excellence”, for – on ontological necessity – God cannot do “magic”, but, rather, we find God, Power, in Restraint, meeting Man where Man is, in his Hell, and then, layering over atop that, all the business of Sabbath and Rest and Sacrifice and Slavery to Sin and Jubilee and so on. This is “why” the Law, that Ministry of Death, is what it is, aims at what it aims at, rather than being some other something aiming at some other goal. God aims – from A to Z – at the Really Real. Not at magic.

The criticizer of the OT/NT must wrestle with God’s hate of divorce, of violence, of domination, of lording-over, written next to the Law of Moses’ rules on those very same motions, written next to Jesus description of divorce in the nuance of Pre-Genesis 3:15-17 and Post-John 3:15-17.

The Critic of the OT/NT must be willing to face Male/Female as Co-Rulers, as One-Person, and then, as Love falls into fragmentation, God Himself describes Domination of Person A over Person B as but the Dark Outside, mere hell on earth, as the strong lords over the weak, for such is the Cosmos void of God (and thus void of immutable love), and thus we find that God’s Critic must be willing to write “God hates domination” and “God hates Right sourcing to Might” next to all of the Law’s Ministry of Death wherein we find such rules of that actualized hell being, not done away with by Law, but rather, being restrained by Law, to yet be done away with by God’s Own Means, which is Himself, to thereby bring Man into God’s Own Ends for Man, which is Himself. Man just does not have the Capacity to be the Means and End, and therein Law is hopeless, whereas, the immutable love of the Necessary Being does have the Means to bring such Ends – those Means/Ends being nothing less than Himself.

We find in Christ’s landscape the return of the Language of Pre-Fragmentation ever louder as Husbands are to lose all that is Self for their Wives, as Slaves are to be placed on ontological par with Christ Himself, for all are sacred amid and among Self-Other-Us. That is the core, and that is what God aims at, from A to Z.

Until the Critic is willing to deal with the Ontology of the Necessary Being and His immutable love’s necessarily triune Image of Self-Other-Us as the A to Z, then the Critic’s entire descriptive of what is found there inside of Man’s Outside/Privation between Genesis 3:15-17 and John 3:15-17 will be the Critic’s own pretend straw-man which he invents in order to appease his own cognitive dissonance amid Love vs. Non-Love which he finds staring him in the face there within Scripture’s [A to Z].

Having said these things, we find that we may, and we should, fully empathize with that feeling of, “But it’s all so ugly” felt by those on the Outside looking into the OT, for, we find that in fact God agrees with them, Love agrees with them, for Love Himself hates the very same things His criticizer’s do. And thus we must lead them, those misguided critics, by the hand into the Really Real, into Scripture’s [A to Z] where they can discover that in fact their moral outrage is in agreement with Scripture’s singular Descriptive-Prescriptive housed in the beauty of Love’s Ontology. We can empathize with their distaste for the Dark Outside, with their distaste for Hell on Earth, for, Love Himself so defines all such things. Their love, fragmented as it is, is leading them ever closer to the Truth of all things, and they are – almost – unaware that they are being thus led right into the Truth of all things. The only Genre on planet Earth wherein all these lines of our experiential / existential reality seamlessly converge with our intellectual and metaphysical regressions just is that of ontology’s Necessary Being in Whom we find His immutable love housed within the triune topography of all that is Self-Other-Us. Such is Delight’s ceaseless reciprocity as the Eternally Sacrificed Self unendingly pours and the Beloved Other perpetually fills. Such Living Water has no first, no last, and never can run dry.


"In the end, these people were being bludgeoned to death because they worshiped other gods, not because they had threatened the state."

Hi Ben, I think your statement errs on several points, one being that OT Israel was a Theocracy. I will try to succinctly elaborate. National Israel was established by God to be a place, [not just a place, a holy place] where He dwelt with His people.

In a very real way, national Israel was a recapitulation of the Garden with Adam. Adam was a prophet, priest, and king...Israel with its prophet, priest, and king was to lead the people in all righteousness so that the Holy could dwell with them. Obedience was again a condition of both communion with God and habitation in the land given to them by God.

Laws were strict...in Israel...if one wanted to worship another god, they were free to leave, go outside the holy land, God's dwelling place, and worship all they want. It was more than simply leaving the land though, it was denouncing God, and this was a 1 way ticket. The land given to Israel by God had standards attached, all one had to do to worship freely was leave--forever. By staying, they threatened the state by disobeying its laws since open disobedience would encourage more disobedience. The protection of the obedient was in view.

Now, when Moses went before the people and laid out the terms of the covenant, the people with unified voice answered,[quote from Exodus 24],

"Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!
This is several chapters of law after the 10 commandments began this portion of scripture. The people were not having arms twisted, there was no threat...later on, Joshua would utter the words "choose this day who you wil serve"...no one was forced to live in Israel.

This is ample enough reason that you cannot charge OT Isreal with evangelism by the sword, simply because it never was so.

Hi scblhrm, that was some post. In mostly agreement, I would point out that the theme of your post restated would be that the Law of God is an act of Grace.

Brad B,

A) As always your analysis was helpful, is helpful, here. That the insider could leave (and the outsider enter), and so on, brings insightful context to the issue at hand. The critic must be forced to slice up his non-Christian invention into ever thinner slices, until, finally, he is left offering a kind of air void of coherent regressions, void of anything the Christian recognizes.

B) The Necessary Being’s immutable love houses that peculiar topography of the fully singular, fully triune Self-Other-Us and such must ever be forced upon the critic. The Christian description of the OT must account for a full and final metaphysical ontological regression and must press the critic to be coherent therein both as he (the critic) states assumptions about the Christian God (rather than some non-Christian god of the critic’s own invention) and in his (the critic’s) own moral presuppositions. Power alone, Right alone (God’s Authority/Right) is not the Whole of what is taking place there in the OT, just as it is not the Whole of what is taking place there in the NT, and, so long as the Christian falls back to Power alone, void of Trinity, he presents at best a half-true account of this world and of all possible worlds.

C) I must admit that I thoroughly embraced your comment that the Law of God is an act of Grace. I would probably qualify that with something like this: Given that Power – on necessity – had only the afore mentioned three options within which to interact with the contingent Self (Man) in his (man’s) privation, his fragmentation, all our language of such perceptions, such interactions, necessarily becomes a language of Grace and also necessarily becomes a language of All-Sufficiency stepping into and motioning within Fragmentation. The sum and substance of what Life is cannot be found there in the OT as such is – necessarily – something short of Christ – something short of His All Sufficiency – and therein we find that Moral Excellence, Life, Immutability, and so on, are all inexplicable, unfathomable, unreachable, inside of that “Outside”. And let us be clear: Genesis defines all that lies between Genesis 3:15-17 and John 3:15-17 as the Outside. That God at all enters – in the OT – into our Isolation, into our Privation, into the Outside is that act of Grace of which we speak. The Law itself is not Grace itself but is rather a part of, fragment of, that which is His Grace, that which is His love for us. The Whole that is Grace is that God Himself motions into our hell in Genesis 3 and prepares Time and Physicality for John 3. Within Him the Eternally Sacrificed Self ceaselessly pours, empties, is debased, just as is the state of affairs in all possible worlds. Within Him the Beloved Other perpetually fills, is glorified, just as is the state of affairs in all possible worlds. That He steps into our hell there in the OT just is that state of affairs called Grace within which He steps into our hell there in the NT. While our perception of the Necessary Being’s immutable love shifts within Time, His Immutable Nature never changes, and therein our language of that singular descriptive-prescriptive ever widens, ever comfortably subsumes all that was prior, ever prepares for all that awaits distally.

Jesus wasn't a christian so he wanted no christian to do nothing because Christianity didn't exsist

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