Non-Neutrality: A Personal Testimony [Pt. 8]

gardenGenesis 3, or A Failed Attempt at Deconstructing the Scriptures

After quitting my first job back since my return to Idaho, and getting fired from my second job, I landed another one that required me to be drug free. Since it was a regular job, I had to be sober, or at least relatively sober, to be able to do my job. This helped lower my alcohol intake, at least during the week, and forced me to reckon with reality. My atonement theory didn’t remove my guilt, it simply temporarily deceived me into thinking I had been absolved of my sins. When I thought about it, since I was also in a position to influence others, I was, or was going to be, someone’s scapegoat.

My only recourse, then, was to arbitrarily set myself over my accusers. I simply declared myself free from any guilt that had been or would be leveled against me. In truth, I knew I had many accusers, and this was, for the most part, what inspired my contemptuous, condescending self-righteousness. Whereas they were immoral individuals who had no right to identify me as immoral, I was justified in identifying them as immoral for the things they had done to me, thinking:

I wouldn’t have betrayed your trust if you would have not belittled me that one time.

I wouldn’t have faked affection for you, had you not failed to reciprocate true affection that one time.

I wouldn’t have abused your kindness, had you not once abused my kindness.

And so on and so on and so on and…

What I didn’t seem to grasp at that time was the trajectory my thinking had taken over the past year or so. I initially believed I had a rational system in place that would alleviate me of my guilt. By this time, however, I had abandoned the system, as I had seen its faults and wanted to nevertheless claim to be guiltless while condemning anyone and everyone whom I deemed unworthy of my praise.

The initial search for truth, apart from the Christian God, the only true God, revealed my true intentions: I wanted to create a metaphysics devoid of God, a logic devoid of his omniscience, a system devoid of knowledge that transcended my own experience and reasoning abilities, an atonement for my guilt that wasn’t the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each of these endeavors ended in failure, and they could only end in failure. So I went back to the postmodernists for inspiration. Their advice? Play with texts. Pull them apart. Show how they are all inconsistent.

Being obsessed with the question of how to determine appropriate levels of guilt in a given ethical situation, I decided to play with Genesis 3, the Fall Narrative. My goal was to demonstrate that the one-to-one correspondence theory of guilt, i.e. the idea that an individual is solely responsible for his own transgressions was the simplistic fruit of primitive minds that couldn’t grasp the complexity of human interaction.

pic-adam-and-eve-overdressedI sat down at my job, cracked open the Bible, and began reading the Fall Narrative of Genesis 3.
And I realized that God does not only condemn Adam, or even Adam and Eve, but Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. All three parties were held individually accountable for their sin. Was the woman deceived (i.e. influenced to sin) by the Serpent? Yes. But she was held accountable for what she actually did – she broke the law of God. Was Adam given the fruit by his wife? Yes. But he was held accountable for what he actually did – he broke the law of God. All three parties were held accountable for the role they played in the ethical event – yet they were still individually guilty before God.

This didn’t sit well with me.

It wasn’t just that the Scripture turned out to be more nuanced and clear in its ascription of guilt to the persons involved in the Fall Narrative, and that the persons received exactly what their deeds deserved, according to the law of God. What made me uncomfortable was that I was pleased with the perfect distribution of guilt and punishment given by God. There was no injustice with God. Rather, the unjust were those who broke God’s law and tried to impute their sins to one another. Adam tried to put the blame on God and Eve. Eve put the blame on the Serpent. I put the blame on people who had done wrong to me. I put the blame on people in general.

I put the blame on God, just as Adam did.

The cognitive dissonance returned again: I was in love with the justice God displayed, but hated it because it left me without excuse.

[Continued in Part 9]

War & Peace: The Apologetical Dialectic [Repost]

war-and-peace[The following excerpt is taken from the Biblical Trinitarian Facebook page’s “Notes.” You can read the whole article here.]

“THE LORD IS A [LOVING] MAN OF WAR” (EX. 15:3)

Scripturally, it is not only true that “God is love”(1st John 4:8), it is simultaneously true that “the LORD is a man of war” (Exodus 15:3). He even says that he alone possesses the ability to kill and make alive, a fact which demonstrates that he is the one true God and not an idol nice(see Deuteronomy 32:39). Surprised by this, many unbelieving biblical scholars have tried to argue that the Bible’s doctrine of God evolved from a war-mongering tribal deity in the Old Testament to the peace-loving, fatherly figure of the New Testament.

This is to be expected from a group of men and women who first presuppose that the Bible is not the unitary, unified self-disclosure of God to man, but the product of fallible individuals seeking to articulate, as best they could, their experiences of love, transcendence, and personal moral responsibility within the context of their various primitive cultures. If God is the community’s creation, then it follows that he will reflect the values of the community which created him.

CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT

The spiritual blindness of these scholars, however, should be evident to all who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Christians have been given eyes to see that the same Jesus Christ who is called the “lamb” of God is simultaneously called the “lion” of the tribe of Judah. He not only says “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Matt 9:22), he also says that he “will cut [the wicked] in pieces and put [them] with the hypocrites [in hell]” (Matt 24:51).

When speaking with the unrepentant, the Lord Jesus sharply rebuked his enemies. He made it clear to them that they were children of the devil (John 8:44), serpents (Matt 12:34 & 23:33) who would not “escape being sentenced to hell” (Matt 22:33). He was at war with his enemies, and those who listened to his conversations with them could tell. He was not at peace with these men.

When speaking with those who were desperate for the mercy and grace of God, who hungered and thirsted after righteousness, however, the Lord Jesus spoke gently and encouragingly, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matt 5:3-6)

-h.

Biblical Trinitarian: Proto-Trinitarianism in the Book of Judges

Last week, I posted a new article demonstrating the Proto-Trinitarianism contained in the Old Testament.

I examine the relations of the Lord, the Angel of the Lord, and the Spirit of the Lord as they appear in the book of Judges, and how they are in perfect alignment with the New Testament teaches about the persons of the Godhead. Check it out and pass it on!

In other news, Biblical Trinitarian now has a Facebook page you can like, comment on, email me from, and find complementary articles and videos. You can check out the page by clicking on the updated profile pic below.

update-profpic

Soli Deo Gloria

-h.

Source: Biblical Trinitarian: Proto-Trinitarianism in the Book of Judges

Non-Neutrality: A Personal Testimony [Pt. 7]

zerosCold Turkey, Kinda

The thrill of being away from the insanity of NYC distracted me from the creeping depression that would soon weigh down on me as I struggled to find work, gain my wife’s trust, love my son, and fight the urge to get my hands on coke or adderall. I found myself at the bottle again, drinking almost every night to alleviate the stress of everyday living. I was returning to my early days as a substance abuser, slowly.

My desire for hard drugs waned, but my isolation in guilt remained. My wife and I rebuilt what we had foolishly attempted to destroy, Ayden was happy to have us together again, and yet none of this muted the voice of God condemning me for my sins. Some sins were recent, others stretched way back into the past. On my way to thinking through the most mundane of tasks, I passed by the bodies of those I had slept with, the faces of those whose trust I had broken, my mother tearfully pleading with me to return to the Lord, my grandfather watching me waste my teenage years on drugs and alcohol and vagabondish wandering through the streets of the Bronx.

A Brief Exposition on the Subject of Guilt

Although I knew that my atheism logically required me to embrace moral nihilism, I always was aware of my guilt. I was also aware of how self-contradictory philosophers are, and decided to theorize about morality anyway.

Guilt is the recognition that I have harmed someone else. Thus, guilt is a social phenomenon. In any social context, there are at least two explicit moral agents (viz. the offended and the offendee). Because sociality implies personal influences on the explicit moral agents, every social context also involves implicit moral agents (i.e. influencers). Moreover, seeing as explicit moral agents will also have an influence on others, every social context involves future implicit moral agents.

As guilt is the recognition that I have harmed someone else, then it follows that to the degree I have acted out what I passively received from my influencers, I am correlatively not-guilty. On the other hand, to the degree I have acted as an influencer on the immoral behavior of another, I am correlatively guilty.  This applies to others as well, since guilt is acquired only in social contexts where two or more explicit moral agents are involved.

Logically, then, guilt for behaviors stemming from the influence of implicit moral agents is improper. Rather than bearing a sense of guilt for actions I was influenced to perform, therefore, I could legitimately ascribe that guilt to those implicit moral agents who made me behave in such a manner. I am responsible only for those behaviors that are in my control, i.e. my present actions not stemming from my influencer/s, and the effect that these actions have on influencees.

My guilt can be alleviated, therefore, via a rigorous instrospective analysis of my behaviors in which I ascribe degrees of guilt to (a.)implicit moral agents and (b.)myself. But what of the offendee? Simple: Unless one is irrational, he acts in a manner suitable to his given social context. Thus, if I am an offender it is, in part, due to some action taken by the offendee, an action he bears responsibility for, at least to the degree that he is not acting from the influences of some implicit moral agent/s. To this extent, then, he is an influencer on my own behavior, thus further relieving my guilt. I can, therefore, legitimately ascribe to the offended guilt for his having caused me to cause him harm.

The guilt I feel will be greatly diminished by this analysis of etiological degrees of responsibility in any given moral context.

I was constructing  a set of scapegoats onto which I could place my guilt. I was seeking to justify myself, liberate myself from the accusations of God’s Word of judgment against me – I was formulating my own atonement. My multiplication or moral agents who were responsible for that for which I was actually responsible was an attempt to completely remove from my conscience any sort of legitimate guilt. This was justice, I thought.

This was the way to find peace of mind.

[Continued in Pt. 8]