Symproto

Immediate Reward and Punishment

Oct
23

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:45)

 

“None of the righteous has obtained a reward quickly, but waits for it; for if God should pay the recompense of the righteous speedily, we should immediately be training ourselves in commerce and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous when we were pursuing not piety but gain.” (II Clement XX, 3, 4.)

Is it not true of the wicked also? Were the wicked to be immediately punished for their deeds, then they would learn to be righteous, not for the sake of righteousness itself; rather to avoid the immediate punishment, thus losing our free will.

“But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by obedience to God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 4.)

“God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured in immortality.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 15,2.)

“The commandments given to man may be viewed as questions because man is free. I obey not because I must but because I will. The Lord wants me, even me, to be his companion. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ (Amos 3:3.) As I hearken and obey, as I quickly respond, I show my desire to be in agreement with Him.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Question, 7.)

If God were to reward or punish immediately, there would be no room for development; and after all, is that not why were are here in the first place?

 

Was the Bible Written by Man?

Oct
10

“Scripture is the most important tradition that man can have, and yet how few people make use of it. Instead they read the news.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Questions, pg. 31.)

An acquaintance of mine recently went on a social media rant about how supportive he is of all people and how he does not judge anyone. Not seeing the irony, he then proceeded to wail against anything religious, how all religions judge, how foolish religion is and my favorite, how the Bible was “written by man.” To drive the point home he capitalized the word MAN followed by an obnoxious amount of exclamation points (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Practically speaking I do not disagree with the idea that the Bible was written by man. In fact, I defy anyone to produce a text of anything – scientific, religious, historical, or any subject matter that wasn’t written by man. However, I don’t really think that was his argument. What I think he was trying to articulate, albeit incredibly poorly, was that in his opinion the Bible is not inspired by God through man.

This argument is nothing new, and in my mind certainly didn’t require the abuse of the exclamation point. Was the Bible inspired by God, or was it invented by the minds of men? It’s an incredibly important question that all honest seekers of truth should take seriously. It is for that very reason that I am a student of the Bible. I read the Bible, study different translations from the Greek to the Hebrew and I test the teachings and promises made. I know the history, the changes made, what was left out – what was added in. This has been, and will continue to be a lifetime pursuit.

On the New Testament:

“Today the fact is evident, that there are many differences in the manuscripts, either through negligence of certain copyists, or the perverse audacity of some in correcting the text.” (Daniel-Rops, L’Eglise des Apotres et des Martyrs, p. 313.)

But does the fact that there are differences in the texts, suggest that we should not consider them at all? More importantly, should we discount the testimonies all together? 

“Though the New Testament books were written without plan for the whole, and as particular circumstances demanded, and do not contain the ‘fulness of the gospel,’ nevertheless, they cannot be explained by any other hypothesis other than that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that the apostles were true witnesses of His resurrection.” (Barker, James, Apostasy From the Divine Church, p. 15.)

I often wonder if opponents of the Bible put in as much work to know if it’s the word of God. What a difference it is to hear someone argue: “I have studied and read and tested, but it just isn’t for me,” vs. “I’ve never really read it because I don’t want to waste my time on nonsense.” I can respect the opinion of the first line of thinking, because an honest effort was made. Unfortunately, I think too many people dismiss the Bible without giving it a fair shake, without really studying it. In my opinion, it is one thing to say that you don’t have any interest in it, and another to condemn an entire group of people because you know better – even though you haven’t really studied it, because it was written by man and is not scientific!

“The testimonies of the prophets leave to others the task of teaching about the world of common experience. Man’s natural curiosity is sufficient for his science. The teachings of the prophets comes from beyond the world, and it appeal not to science but to conscience.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Questions, pg. 25.)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39.)