Sunday, September 20, 2015

Answers To A Few Biased Bible Questions Part 1

“Aggressive Atheism” (sometimes called "New Atheism") is rapidly growing in America today. To define what “Aggressive Atheism” is I would say that it means, opposing the belief in any deity (god) verbally, or otherwise. Basically it's another way of saying, “Anti-theism.” (By the way, “theism” means to believe in a god, “atheism” literally means “without god” (rejection of any belief in god), and “anti-theism” means to deliberately oppose theism with the intent to do away with it. So, when one is attacking your belief in God with atheistic thought then that is no longer atheism, but anti-theism.)

We as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are commanded to be prepared to give an answer to any questions concerning our faith (1 Peter 3:15). However as true as this is, we shouldn't rely solely on our knowledge. Apologetics, theology, and even logic isn't always the answer, though these are good, but we should always remember the greatest of all the spiritual gifts is love (1 Corinthians 13). If we don't love who we're talking to, or about, then our words are nothing. That being said, I'd like to answer just a few “Biased Bible Questions” that are more emotionally driven than logically.

1. The Bible supports slavery. Do you agree with and support it yourself?

The Biblical view of slavery, Old and New Testament, is not too difficult to understand, and to be honest I think the word, “Slavery” has been hijacked by today's society. There were slaves that because they were indebted to someone and could not pay off their debt they had no choice but to serve them. This is the definition of slavery that is generally thought of when the word arises. Some may think of slaves being forced into slavery without a single debt as well. The latter definition of slavery was only in effect when a people was to come into captivity (to include the Hebrews themselves as well); but there is another definition of slavery (also known as servantry) that is still active in today's American culture to.

Let me be clear that we are all slaves/servants, even those collecting money and doing nothing. A slave, or servant, was also a person who did not have a trade, but because they needed currency had to work for someone else to make a living. We all either get up and do something we don't like for work, or we have a trade that, even though we're working for ourselves, we're still slaves to it.

Do I agree with slavery? Can't say that I do, but for some people it actually brings them meaning in life. Even though I joke about disagreeing with slavery, even the Apostle Paul referred to himself as a “...slave of Christ Jesus...” and some translations say, “...servant...” . We all have a particular job to fulfill in our lives as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do I support it? Not the negative view of forced labor, cracking whips, etc. As far as the other ones already stated, yes. It is work that produces discipline, money, financial stability, and so on.

2. The Bible states that if a girl is raped then the rapist is to buy the girl and marry her. Since its in your Bible, do you agree with this?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

28 If a man encounters a young woman, a virgin who is not engaged, takes hold of her and rapes her, and they are discovered, 29 the man who raped her must give the young woman’s father 50 silver shekels, and she must become his wife because he violated her. He cannot divorce her as long as he lives.
When reading this passage of scripture you might think that this is either instructing men what to do if you want a certain wife for life and get away with it by paying a small amount of money, or that God just hates women that much that they are just so unvaluable in His eyes. Both are wrong. As I had stated in the past, “ThreeThings To Consider When Interpreting Scripture: Context, Context, and Context.”

One of the very first things that we should do when facing a difficult task as to answering such a sensitive subject would be to go to the passage and read the surrounding verses, or the entire chapter if time and circumstances permit. I say this because ANYONE can grab a scripture from the Bible that they don't like and easily demonize it by saying something like, “Look! It says it right here that the girl who has been preyed on can be legally raped, sold, then married to her predator. Why would you believe in a god who would allow such a thing?!"

Let's take a look at some surrounding verses, but before we do I'd like to add that honor in Old and New Testament times was a much bigger deal than it is today and if I could equate it to anything I think I would put it this way, “Million dollar deals were settled on a handshake.”
Lets look at Deuteronomy 22:22-27

Deuteronomy 22:22-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

22 If a man is discovered having sexual relations with another man’s wife, both the man who had sex with the woman and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. 23 If there is a young woman who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man encounters her in the city and has sex with her, 24 you must take the two of them out to the gate of that city and stone them to death—the young woman because she did not cry out in the city and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s fiancée. You must purge the evil from you. 25 But if the man encounters an engaged woman in the open country, and he seizes and rapes her, only the man who raped her must die. 26 Do nothing to the young woman, because she is not guilty of an offense deserving death. This case is just like one in which a man attacks his neighbor and murders him. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.
Now, you can see from the context that this is primarily focusing on engaged, married, and virgin women/young women. As anyone can see here this is talking about consensual, and nonconsensual sex with women who are in wedlock. We see that women who are in wedlock and consent to having sex with a man other than her husband leads to both the man and the woman's death. The nonconsensual sex leads only to the man who committed the crime's death.
Let's look at the original verse at hand:

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

28 If a man encounters a young woman, a virgin who is not engaged, takes hold of her and rapes her, and they are discovered, 29 the man who raped her must give the young woman’s father 50 silver shekels, and she must become his wife because he violated her. He cannot divorce her as long as he lives.
As you can see from this passage, as opposed to the previous ones, there is a bit of a difference. One difference being that it isn't dealing with a married, or engaged woman. Secondly, you will notice that when sex is being described in the previous verses the woman is either consenting, or not consenting. If she is consenting then they are both killed, and we know this because verse 24 states that she did not, “cry out” (resist); but if she does not consent shows it by verses 26 & 27 that states, “Do nothing to the young woman, because she is not guilty of an offense deserving death. This case is just like one in which a man attacks his neighbor and murders him. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.” then only the man is killed.

You might be wondering, where's the connection? The connection is that in verses 28 & 29 neither are killed. The virgin isn't resisting, the man isn't forcing himself on the her, and neither are being accused of breaking any law other than having sex outside of wedlock. From this we can gather than the man seduced the damsel into having sex with him promising good things for the future only to get caught in his schemes. He was taking advantage of her emotionally, and this can be equated to what is referred to today as statutory rape.

So, since she has lost her virginity, the sex was consensual, and they were caught they then are forced by Jewish law to be married and the man pays the marriage tax of 50 shekels which goes to the father of the bride.

3. The Bible states that a woman can be stoned to death on her wedding night if she is discovered not to be a virgin. Do you accept this? Remember, it's in YOUR Bible.

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Violations of Proper Sexual Conduct
13 If a man marries a woman, has sexual relations with her, and comes to hate her, 14 and accuses her of shameful conduct, and gives her a bad name, saying, ‘I married this woman and was intimate with her, but I didn’t find any evidence of her virginity,’ 15 the young woman’s father and mother will take the evidence of her virginity and bring it to the city elders at the gate. 16 The young woman’s father will say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as a wife, but he hates her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying: “I didn’t find any evidence of your daughter’s virginity,” but here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ They will spread out the cloth before the city elders. 18 Then the elders of that city will take the man and punish him. 19 They will also fine him 100 silver shekels and give them to the young woman’s father, because that man gave an Israelite virgin a bad name. She will remain his wife; he cannot divorce her as long as he lives. 20 But if this accusation is true and no evidence of the young woman’s virginity is found, 21 they will bring the woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city will stone her to death. For she has committed an outrage in Israel by being promiscuous in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from you.
A very important thing to think about when reading this would be that in Jewish culture, lying about anything in a covenant would be like someone tricking you into thinking that you giving them your bank account information would result in them depositing an unreal amount of money in your bank account. If you're smart you just don't do it. In this particular situation when a man and a woman come into marriage covenant it is agreed that everything is honest, and there is no deceit at all in the agreement (everything is what it is, both parties are truthful about who they are, and nothing else). Like I had stated before, “Million dollar deals were settled on a handshake.”  Honor was taken so much more to heart than it is today.

So, when it is discovered in one way or another that she was not a virgin before he has sex with her then it was his decision to either accept her deceit, or put her on trial where if found guilty her ultimate penalty would be death by stoning. However, the bigger question is whether or not the espoused woman and man were actually married, or betrothed (engaged). Betrothal was considered to be espousal so technically they were married. Fornication was not a sin punishable by death (as we read in Deuteronomy 22:28-29) so it can be determined that her execution wouldn't merely be because she was not a virgin. The sin committed was that the woman committed adultery, which was considered an offense worthy of death.

Do I agree with this? Well, I'll put it this way: I do believe that this was the law of the land brought about to separate the sheep from the goats. I don't personally think it should be implemented today, but that is also based on my perspective. If someone says something like, "I don't like this, and that about the Bible therefore it is not the Word of God," then that is their perspective, and no one can argue otherwise because they are arguing their perspective over yours. Which is better? Well, better is an opinionated word, not necessarily factual so arguing one "better" perspective over another is actually kind of pointless. So, to answer the question: No, I don't like it, nor do I think it should be viable for today.

In summation I say to the reader of this article that just because you don't have answers doesn't mean that there isn't any. Do your best to give an answer, but if you don't have a good answer then it's okay to say, "I don't know." Seek God on the issue, and seek the counsel of someone who might know. May God bless you and don't give up.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What is Apologetics; a Primer

As the About Us page quite simply defines Apologetics (from Merriam-Webster online), it is systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine), or a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.  That's what apologetics is, so let's talk about what apologetics is not ...

Apologetics is NOT an apology.

This is a common question among those not initiated into the cool-kid-apologetics-club.  It is a feature of the English language of adopting from multiple languages--in this case, Greek--that we have the English word "apology" that has the same basic root word.  The Greek term used in the New Testament is ἀπολογία--apologia, which is defined as "a verbal defense (particularly in a law court)."  The interlinear Bible and concordance says that the word is used eight times in the NT: Acts 22:1; 25:16, 1 Cor 9:3, 2 Cor 7:11, Phil 1:7; 1:16, 2 Tim 4:16, and 1 Peter 3:15.  Though apologetics is, at its core, defensive, the axiom holds true that "the best offense is a good defense."  As such, apologetics can actually be used (in limited terms) as a tactic in evangelism.  But, in general apologetics is not about changing what somebody else believes--it's about giving a reason (a defense) for why we believe what we believe.

Apologetics is NOT merely arguing.

Unfortunately, so many people seem to stop reading on that 1 Peter 3:15 text.  They read about how we always need to be ready to give a defense, but what they often overlook is how we need to do so "with gentleness and reverence."  Sure, famous and big-name apologists often engage in debates, but that's just one aspect of apologetics.  Many critics of apologetics from within the Christian community often say things like "you can't argue someone into the Kingdom."  In a sense this is true.  We, as Christians, need to be careful how we approach apologetics when it comes to sharing the faith.  Arguing with unbelievers is often counterproductive and drives the seeker away from Christ.

Apologetics is NOT super geeky.

Okay, well it's a little geeky, but really you don't have to have a B.A., M.A., PhD., and ThD. or any other combination of letters after your name to get the basics.  In fact, this blog is written by people who are not at the super philosopher/genius-level intellect--for people at the ordinary layman level.  (I was hesitant to include the reference to Greek above because I know people's eyes often gloss over when they hear pastors say, "in the original Greek ....")  If you want to get good at apologetics it's recommended that you study both philosophy and theology, but really it's not absolutely necessary to understand the basics.  For an introduction to apologetics I recommend the book On Guard by William Lane Craig (who has all those letters after his name by the way).  Also, the video series The Truth Project put out by Focus on the Family is a great introduction to apologetics.  Those two resources are really good, especially when combined with a study group.  Check with your church and see if they have a group or have had a group in the past that has studied apologetics.  If they don't, check out Ratio Christi for college campus apologetics ministry or Reasonable Faith to see if there's a chapter in your area or the Christian Apologetics Alliance which has a vibrant Facebook page and local chapters as well.  If you're feeling particularly enthusiastic, nothing ensures you learn something better than you teaching it to others, so consider starting one of those kind of groups.

You aren't alone in this!  We here at Chicken Fried Apologetics are just one of many many resources to learn about apologetics.  We pray that this site will be a stepping stone for newbie apologists to get into other resources to learn to share the Christian faith, as the On Guard subtitle reads, "... with reason and precision."

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