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Culture and Christianity XVII:

Humor, Self-Defense, Pacifism and War

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Ephesians 5:4 KJV

If I took this verse at its face value, I'm afraid I would never be able to joke or do anything non-serious.

Sincerely,

Response #1:

That's the problem with English translations (face value can often be deceiving). The Greek word in Ephesians 5:4 denotes humor of a questionable, "off-color" nature (NKJV's "course jesting" or ESV's "crude joking" are better). Here are some links on this:

What does the Bible say about humor?

Absence of humor in the Bible

Sanctified humor

Wrong to use humor at the expense of others

Did Jesus use humor?

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs"
(Col. 3:16-17)

There is a list of three commands:

(1) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

(2) Teach and admonish one another in all wisdom

(3) Sing

The first two commands are not optional, like giving. So why do we treat the third one optional? Should we say that all Christians who refuse to sing every day are in a state of sin?

Response #2:

I don't think one can parse this passage that way. After all, why limit it to "every day"? If this is a command to mandatory singing, then why are we not in violation whenever we are not singing? If that is absurd, then why would refraining from singing be a sin, especially if it is a matter of the foolishness which passes for Christian music these days?

The first thing to note here is that the "let" construction is an exhortation (third person imperative) rather than a direct command. Context has to decide as always to what degree "a command is a command", but in general these third person constructions are more permissive in nature – that is to say, they allow more flexibility in application than a second person form.

The second thing to note here is that the place of "singing" is in one's heart; the phrase "in your hearts" goes with the verb, not with the noun. My translation:

Let the Word of the Lord dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing your own selves [individually] in all wisdom, [and] with psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

The third thing to note here is, as the translation above reflects, "teaching and admonishing" are not imperatives but circumstantial participles which "color" the command "let the Word . . . dwell in you". If we are learning the truth, and if we are believing the truth, and if, as here, we actually do mediate on the Word and the truth we have believed, we will be able to drill things into our hearts and throw out the worldly residue which accumulates every day ("teaching and admonishing" ourselves to embrace the good and reject the bad). This should be a joyous process, and in so doing we will find ourselves veritably "singing to God" in our hearts as we walk with Jesus instead of being focused on the world we see.

The fourth thing to note here is that the "psalms, and hymns and songs" are all "spiritual" rather than tangible/physical/literal (the adjective applies to all three elements). So Paul is using "singing" here metaphorically to refer to the inner life of the mature believer who is focused on Christ and the wonders of the Word rather than being preoccupied with the noise and confusion of this world. It's a very important point, because no matter how much we learn about the truth of the Bible, even if we do accept and believe it, we also have to make a habit of applying it as we are encouraged to do here – and none of us is perfect in that respect. But we can see from this beautiful verse a glimmer of what the inner spiritual life of the greatest apostle must have been like as he truly did keep his eye set on "the things above" rather than the things of this world (Col.3:1-2, same chapter and just prior) – and that is what we should aspire to and strive for as well.

No doubt actual, literal music can be a part of the mature believer's application of this passage. Paul and Silas "sang praises to God" in prison (Acts 16:25), and the disciples "sang a hymn" as they went out to Gethsemane after the last supper (Matt.26:30). But music, as the last example shows given the disciples conduct soon thereafter, while it may buck up (or work up) our emotions, is no substitute for a solid faith in the truth. And if the words of the music are misleading or even outright wrong where the truth is concerned, then we are only providing emotional reinforcement to things that will end up be leading us astray. This is my main reason for my not being willing to endorse the Christian music movement of the contemporary church-visible – that, and the fact that music has to a large degree been substituted for any sort of Bible teaching. That is exactly the opposite of what Paul had in mind in this verse (obviously).

Finding "good songs" is difficult; the Psalms, however, are inspired.

Here is one of my favorite hymns:

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Refrain:

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Nota bene: only this part was written by Anna B. Warner in 1860; the other "verses" are not hers and I cannot recommend them.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

I've always wondered if a person asked me specific 'yes' or 'no' questions concerning my personal life (and its not like I'm giving information to the enemy either), would lying be appropriate? I feel a great weight on my shoulders by not telling anyone what its about, but I don't want just anyone to know my business. And yet I don't want to justify lying based upon how people will look at me, especially if telling people my struggles will give them comfort. I also feel like a hypocrite not telling anybody – even though no one's ever even asked me about what I'm referring too.

This email might confuse you, but I'd just rather not say what "it" is.

Response #3:

I can completely sympathize with not wanting to let other people in on absolutely everything. There is no biblical requirement that you do. I do understand what you mean. Sometimes not answering or being evasive in answering is very hard because other people make it hard. Still, it can be done. Also, there are many times when we are suffering and we aren't really interested in "sharing" that with other people. That is OK too. We are not required to "suffer in silence". We are not required to "spill our guts". It is no sin if we share and no sin if we don't. There is a time and a place for both approaches (Eccl.3:1ff.), and it is entirely up to us to decide which is which. Besides, the only one who can do anything about it is God.

I'm keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray all is well.

I was wondering if you would be able to help me figure out why the calendar was changed based on the birth of Jesus, i.e., B.C and A.D? Especially given the reality that most people are not followers of Jesus?

Thanks as always

Response #4:

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you!

The calendar we now use is not as ancient as some people think. Our Christo-centric calendar was established by Dionysius Exiguus ca. 525 A.D. at the behest of Pope John I. Dionysius did a pretty good job, but he was off on the birth of Christ by a year (the most likely date for our Savior's entrance into the world being 2 B.C.). There is no year "zero", of course, so 1 B.C. is directly followed by 1 A. D. During medieval times, most of Europe was of course Christian in terms of its government, and Christianity was the established state religion (going back to Constantine and the Roman Empire). So this calendar was developed not for the Muslim world, nor for the far east, nor for the as yet undiscovered areas of the globe. It was a Christian calendar for Christian states, all of whom owed some allegiance at this point to the growing power of the papacy.

Before the change, Europe had a notoriously "challenged" system of figuring dating. Every city had its own system in the ancient world before Rome came to dominate the entire Mediterranean littoral. For comparing dates between cities, mostly the Olympiad system was used, but there are many noted confusions here (ancient historians deal with these chronological difficulties all the time), not least of which is having to narrow things down within a four year period. With the ascendancy of Rome, the Roman system of A.U.C. became preferred, that is, dating from the traditional (mythical) year of the founding of Rome (753 B.C. in our system). The later change to a calendar based upon the birth of Christ was, I suppose, inevitable once Christianity became centralized and once the power of the established church at Rome became dominant after the fall of the Western portion of the empire. The one advantage this calendar does have is that with the dominance of western culture for so many centuries we now have a system which most of the world uses and understands. Given the great deal of confusion over these matters in the ancient world, that is perhaps not so terrible a development, even if the date is off – and even if the calendar is tagged to the birth of Christ when of course it is His death for us on the cross followed by the resurrection that is the truth pivotal date in God's "history of the world".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear prof Bob,

It seems very unlikely Christians have an option in responding negatively to the need of placing hands on Bible to pledge the truthfulness of their evidence in a courthouse.

Would this act amount to sin from the Biblical perspective?

Blessings

Response #5:

In my country we have the option to "affirm" rather than to swear, and also of using another "holy book" instead of the Bible. This practice is not biblical, so variations of it also have no biblical significance. Clearly, we want witnesses to tell the truth, but, after all, that is what they should do in any case. When we are giving evidence in court, we do so of course "before God", and in the Old Testament where such things are discussed there was no need to give an oath that what was said was true. I suppose that this practice arose from a desire to remind people that God is aware of the truthfulness of their report – or lack of it. In our system it is also a crime (perjury), and no doubt the oath on the Bible reminds people of the seriousness of false witness.

Nevertheless, I am reminded of what one lawyer of great skill said to me once: "In my experience, people lie". But even if people lie and to all appearances suffer no consequences for their lie (even if it adversely affects others), surely "God is not mocked". That is something to consider in everything we think and say and do – even if unbelievers care little for the opinion of the God of the universe whom they disdain.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Dr,

I hope all is well with you and your family. I am reading this week's email posting particularly question #18 as it relates to organ donation. It is an interesting conversation and while this is a case of 1 Cor 8:9-13; i.e causing immature believers to stumble, I do believe like you said we shouldn't be dogmatic about this is issue.

We all will get a resurrected body, whether it is someone with a healthy organ or not and my stance is what if it is the Lord's will that my healthy organ will be a blessing to someone who is afflicted currently, especially if I am deceased. If I am deceased, my organ is of no use. It is not connected to my body and a moot point.

If I am currently alive that is entirely a different issue. What happens in a scenario if a sibling or parent needed a transplant and you are the only match. Is it godly to say no because you value your body rather than the opportunity to be a vassal of blessing God uses for others? I agree, you can become too dogmatic about it and issues like this, I believe even mature Christian shouldn't publicly address.

In situations revolving these sensitive issues, it is best to not write a book and tell the believers to pray and ask the Lord for guidance. By publishing in my opinion, like both of you stated, it can give a wrong impression and I believe can minimize God's working of grace in this situation.

Just my own thoughts and granted I have not read the book so I might be completely off base.

In Christ our Lord and I hope your mother is doing well.

Response #6:

Yes, some things have to stay in each individual's own court. I'm not sure it's a bad thing to think about them, but like you I see a danger in getting too wrapped up in the "problem", especially since for most of us this won't even come up. If it ever does, as I like to say, "we'll blow up that bridge when we come to it".  Getting exercised over such things from a theoretical perspective leads to political action, attempting to make society conform with the "right answer" once you think you've found it, and that is always a spiritually dangerous course.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Problems with the global warming theory.

The time scale is just too perfect.

Now the warmists can't say that the effects of global warming are going to happen in ten years. That's way too soon and it'll blow their cover. It would be like a Ponzi schemer setting a return date for his investors that's right after he sent out the first round of payments; he needs to recruit new investors first.

But there's another constraint: the warmists can't say that global warming will happen 1000 years from now or manifest only on a geological time scale. At that time scale, even if it would be disastrous for human civilization, government action would be rendered effectively pointless. Who knows what kind of government humans will have at that time, if we're not living in a Heinlein-style anarcho-capitalist libertarian space federation by then?

So what's the golden mean? 60 to 100 years. It's just short enough to encourage humanity to be on the threshold of political action, and just long enough to cover their behind when none of their predictions materialize.

Response #7:

Ironically, things are going to get pretty "warm" here on planet earth in just about ten years. Once the Tribulation begins, the global level of CO2 will be the least thing unbelievers will be worrying about.

Question #8:

Racist creationists?

"The descendants of Ham were marked especially for secular service to mankind. Indeed they were to be 'servants of servants,' that is 'servants extraordinary!' Although only Canaan is mentioned specifically (possibly because the branch of Ham's family through Canaan would later come into most direct contact with Israel), the whole family of Ham is in view. The prophecy is worldwide in scope and, since Shem and Japheth are covered, all Ham's descendants must be also. These include all nations which are neither Semitic nor Japhetic. Thus, all of the earth's 'colored' races,--yellow, red, brown, and black--essentially the Afro-Asian group of peoples, including the American Indians--are possibly Hamitic in origin and included within the scope of the Canaanitic prophecy, as well as the Egyptians, Sumerians, Hittites, and Phoenicians of antiquity."

- Henry Morris's (founder of the Institute for Creation Research and one of the founders of the modern creationism movement) from: 'The Beginning Of the World', Second Edition (1991), pp. 147-148

So basically the South was only following God's will?

Response #8:

If a person has no regard for the truth, the Bible can easily become a "tool" for proving whatever a person wants to justify, whether words or deeds. All one has to do is to willfully misinterpret scripture. Of course I have just described almost all schools of theology to some extent. The right way to interpret scripture is inside out not outside in, that is, by letting the Bible set the agenda rather than dictating to it via a system of theology. Just as a person can only really change on the outside by transforming on the inside, so truth can only be explicated by adhering to the Spirit and the written Word first, and not by imposing one's own theories on the text in advance.  That is a recipe for getting the answer the person doing the "interpreting" wants, not the answer the Lord wants us to have.

In Jesus Christ, the living Word of God,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

So yesterday I engaged in evangelism and on of the people I was evangelizing on Facebook was hostile. Of course, this isn't normally a problem, because hostility is to be expect. However, this person appeared to be homeless and suicidal. He sounded serious, as if he was going to end his life.

So I called the police.

Did I do the right thing? My conscience was agonizing me whether I should call the police or not. I don't want to hear a tragic story of a teenager killing themselves.

Response #9:

These things are always judgment calls, but I find no reason here to fault your judgment. In fact, it seems to me that you went over and above in trying to the right thing. There is of course a potential downside to getting involved like this regardless of circumstances, but it does occur to me that if everyone did as you did – including when someone was threatening violence to others – that a lot of suicides and violent acts might well be prevented.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

It really is a mess out there. So many young people are taking in lies hook and sinker. I've been praying for this person. I am so terrified that all my labor will be in vain.

Sincerely,

Response #10:

Whatever happens, your labor is not in vain. Even a cup of water offered in the Lord's Name will not fail to receive its due reward. So keep persevering in your spiritual growth, progress in applying the truth, and also in ministering – however it is that the Lord gives you to minister day by day.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1st Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Justification for tighter gun control:  here's how a person with extreme anger or severe emotional disturbance thinks things through:

(1) This person is making me angry.

(2) If I do something as simple and easy as pulling this trigger, my unbearable pain will go away.

(3) What consequences?

(4) Therefore I will pull this trigger.

Response #11:

If anger were the only problem, you'd have a point. However, take the example of a number of women I know of who have certifiably crazy exes for whom restraining orders mean nothing. The last thing they would want to do is drill their exes full of holes – the last thing, that is, except for having him kill them and their kids; legitimate protection from threats to life and limb has always been a biblical principle (e.g.: Lk.22:36).

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Could you explain Deuteronomy 19:10? Can this verse be used to teach that the innocent need to be protected?

Response #12:

That is the obvious basis of all systems of law and order whose essential structure (i.e., everything that stems from preventing and punishing acts which are malum in se) is designed to condemn the guilty and acquit the innocent (cf. Prov.17:15). This particular verse is given in the context of taking measures to protect the innocent from wrongful legal process (rather than from criminal or predatory behavior) by setting up cities of refuge to ensure that those involved in manslaughter can receive a fair hearing before being condemned – this measure was meant to preclude vendettas.

Question #13:

Dear Bob,

Sorry to bother you again, but a couple of questions have been bothering me. In Matthew 26:52 I read Jesus say, "all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Later, in Luke 22:36, he tells his disciples to sell their garment and buy a sword.

My understanding at this point is that the first was because he had not completed His work and was still on earth. The second, that he was that he would no be longer there to shield the disciples. Also the "take the sword" I assume refers to the likes of mercenaries, hit-men, murderers, etc., otherwise, why would he tell his disciples to buy a weapon?

I suspect there are translation issues with this, but do I understand correctly?

In Acts 23:5. Paul says "...for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Frankly, the rulers of all people seem corrupt to the core as they were in Nazi Germany. I can't find anyplace in the Bible that he's quoting. What is really meant here? Is stating the obvious "speaking evil of" or rebuking?

Finally, in Matthew 15:13, Jesus says, " Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." This like many other passages in the Bible has the obvious meaning from context (non-believers) but other levels of meaning as well. Should I assume that this could be literal in the millennium? There will be a large number of man monkeyed organisms (GMOs, modern wheat etc.,) that comes of men believing they can be gods.

I apologize for the questions; they aren't central to the message. They do, though, provoke curiosity.

Thanks

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #13:

Good to hear from you, my friend. As to your questions, it's no problem at all (this is one of the main things this ministry does):

Yes, Luke 22:36 is speaking of the need for self-defense after our Lord has ascended to heaven. However, Matthew 26:52 was said by our Lord after Peter had taken up a sword and had attacked one of the temple servants (Malchus) and had cut off his ear (barely missing killing him – by the grace of God). What the Jewish authorities were doing in arresting Jesus was illegal, it is true, but they were still the legal authorities. If a crooked city official presents us with an illegally concocted tax bill, we don't have the right to shoot him down. Christians are allowed to make use of deadly force to defend their lives and the lives of their families (and this also includes that use by Christians in the military or law enforcement), but we are also enjoined to follow the laws of the country/society in which we live, even when we are being very unfairly treated by them (that doesn't mean we can't use legal means to defend ourselves of course, in court, for example). As I often remark, the following commands given by Peter and Paul in the Spirit were made in the context of a Roman empire which had (itself of through its agents) very badly mistreated both of these apostles beyond the point most of us would be able to endure (and would eventually put them both to death) – yet they command obedience not violence where the state is concerned:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:1-8 NIV

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1st Peter 2:12-17

Here are some links on this:

Self-defense

Turn the other cheek

Christian Military service

The role of politics in Satan's world system

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

Politics a pitfall for Christians

Should Christians ever oppose state authority?

Christians should stay out of politics

The second question is not unrelated to the first. The quote is from Exodus 22:28, and is part of the Law – which assumes divinely constituted authority (as in Moses at that time), although of course the Law was never actually lived by in Israel after Moses' death (though Paul was in a situation when he said this where there was a Jewish authority, even though obviously corrupt). Even though our situation is different, not being under the Law, the comment is still at the very least good advice.

Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 NASB

Christians who are adamant about staying out of politics will seldom face a problem on this score. But if we are wrapped up in what is happening in our country, we will often be sore-tested when it comes to following this biblical guidance. The litmus test as to whether or not we have any leeway to resist evil authority is whether or not we are being prevented from doing what God wants us to do – and even then the "solution" is not violence (or slander) but, like Daniel and later the apostles, doing what God wants anyway and being willing to suffer whatever secular consequences may come.

On Matthew 15:13, our Lord is directly responding to some disciples telling Him that He was offending the Pharisees – and after making this comment He adds in the verse that follows it "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch". So our Lord is very clearly speaking about the Pharisees as "plants". Our Lord preached the gospel to a largely agrarian society, so that such analogies were particularly strongly felt and understood (consider also the parable of the Sower, among many others). I am sure that there will many changes and much purification of all things in the Millennium under our Lord's perfect rule, but I don't think that is within the interpretation of this verse.

Feel free to write any time, my friend.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Bob,

Sorry it took so long to respond. Your links kicked off a whole new train of investigation. I should probably complain about that but I learn so much from it. Thank you.

I shudder to think of using deadly force and I'm not sure it's worth living with the repercussions at this point in my life. Luke 22:36 is cited by the backyard rambos trying to make a point. Nearly all of them have no real experience with deadly force. Many police officers don't either. I just wanted to make sure I understood the scripture.

A corollary question would be, is there any Biblical injunction against choosing to not use deadly force? (I can't remember any.)

Submitting to government authorities is difficult. Yes, I would submit but I pray that I would be as eloquent as Paul in Caesarea. I have to admit, Bob, my respect for the apparat has mostly died. Treat them with dignity – yes, as I would hope to be treated. Respect them is another matter. Your points are well raised, though, and I'll do my best.

Paul, faced with rulers that weren't nearly as corrupt (or so it seems,) appealed to Caesar (who was.) By example, I assume that lawsuits are acceptable. Truth told, I don't want to deal with any of it. A lawsuit may be a fools errand. Your links (thank you) raised a number of issues on which I must brood for a while. I'm sure more questions will follow.

Thanks. Sorry for the noise. I do appreciate your willingness to respond.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #14:

I think most people (with any serious life-experience, that is), would be very glad to get through this life without having to use deadly force. It's often not possible for law enforcement and those serving in the military, but for the rest of us at least as things stand now it's a rarity in civilian life. This is one of those "application" issues where no two people and no two situations are ever the same. As good Christians who are growing in the Word we do our best to do what the Lord would have us to do. I'm happy to do whatever I might reasonably be able to do to avoid such a situation, but it is not beyond that realm of the impossible that any of us might find ourselves in a situation where inaction in such a case might mean harm to innocents, even those we love.

I have to quibble a bit about Paul's situation. The Roman army comes out well in their dealings with Paul but not so the civil authorities. The only reason Paul had to appeal to Caesar in the first place was because he was wrongfully treated by two successive governors of Palestine, both of whom knew he was completely innocent but refused to release him for selfish political reasons. I would put this sort of thing into the category of "professional Christianity". That is, just as believers are supposed to love everyone – agape love wherein we treat everyone with consideration looking for their salvation knowing that Christ died for them – but we aren't expected to like them (we don't even know most other people well enough to like or dislike them), so in this case we don't have to like those in authority or the institutions they represent; we do have to treat them with a biblical measure of respect. This is actually conducive to our peace of mind. If we get upset about the politics of any situation, it is very unsettling to our peace, and, worse to tell, makes it very tempting to get involved somehow (always a mistake for a Christian who is trying to grow and please Christ; see the link: "Politics vs. Spiritual Growth").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Good tidings in Jesus name, Sir

It quite a long time. I desire to reach every time but what is going on over hear for us is not favourable.

I have two question for you sir.

(1) In Nigeria Southern Kaduna, there had been daily killing of Christians in large proportion and the Christian leaders and bodies are silence all this while but pursuing wealth while the Muslims are busy killing the believers. What do you think, should we defend ourselves or wait to be martyred.

(2) What's you take on Trump, Do you think he is the devil's man or will be preparing for the Ant-Christ?

Yours in the Lord.

Response #15:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I would most certainly not presume to tell you what to do in a situation like this.  I have been concerned for and have been praying for believers in that part of the world out of just these sorts of concerns.  As you no doubt know well, self-defense is absolutely legitimate for Christians (please see the link).  What should be done in a situation where things are not purely individual but require collective defense seems to me to fall under the right of any nation and its representatives to suppress and ward off all external threats and all internal criminal (or terrorist) threats (please see the link).  How an individual believer is supposed to negotiate a situation where there are such threats but where the government in question is not properly doing its job is an "in between" question.  On the one hand, believers are supposed to obey the law; on the other hand, they are entitled to defend themselves where the law is unable or unwilling to do so.  As with all other tests and trials, God always provides a "way through" such difficult straits for all believers who seek His counsel and deliverance (1Cor.10:13). 

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3b NKJV

Discerning that "right path" is the stuff of spiritual maturity: mature believers who apply correct principles of truth to the difficult situation at hand will be able to figure out with the help of the Spirit's guidance and after sufficient prayer what "the right thing to do" is.

(1) Therefore I entreat you by God's mercy, brothers, to dedicate your bodies as a living sacrifice, well-pleasing to God – [this is] your "priestly-service" spiritually performed. (2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by this renewal of your thinking, so that you may discern what God's will for you is, namely what it is good, well-pleasing, and correct [for you to do].
Romans 12:1-2 (cf. Rom.2:17-18)

(9) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in full-knowledge (epignosis: truth believed) and in all discernment, (10) so that you may be able to evaluate the things that are good and appropriate [for you to do] to be sincere and without offense in regard to the day of Christ (i.e., to gain a maximum reward at Christ's judgment seat), (11) full of the righteous production Jesus Christ [commends] to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

Solid [spiritual] food is for the [spiritually] mature, those who by [diligent] practice have trained their [moral] perceptive faculties to [properly] distinguish between good and evil.
Hebrews 5:14

As to my own country, whoever he is, antichrist will not be revealed until the Tribulation begins (2Thes.2:6-8). It's impossible not to know about major political developments, but prudent Christians stay as far away as possible from getting involved in them. Our desire – and the reason why we pray for those in power, whoever they are – is to live quiet lives . . . so that we may better serve our Savior Jesus Christ (1Tim.2:1-3; cf. Rom.13:1-8; 1Pet.2:13-17).

I keep you and your family in my prayers daily.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Bob,

I know we've touched on this before, but I was wishing to ask if you had anything in detail concerning the idea of pacifism? I ask because I have been confused, unsure as to how far we are told to "turn the other cheek", so to speak. We are to forgive, but this doesn't mean we let wrongs to continue to happen to us, right? Turning the other cheek is what we're expected to do in matters of a personal nature, and personal insult, but when it comes to defending oneself from actual harm – or defending one's country from foreign invaders, for example, then we are called to defend what is good? I was just wanting to get a better idea of what we are allowed to do when it comes to, I guess, war? Violence?

So far, my mindset is that we're obviously not supposed to enjoy violence, not revel in it, but may find it necessary when it comes to protecting, and as long as we -similar to police use of 'equal force'- not go "too far" with it, and only do what is necessary for defense. Is this right so far? Because I think back to when Jesus ordered (or asked?) his disciples to buy a sword or two for their travels. I look forward to hearing your perspective on this. I saw an interesting comment from, I believe a Catholic priest, where he said (not an exact quote, I think, he "Fr. Rutler ") "as racism distorts race and sexism corrupts sex, so does pacifism affront peace", which I found interesting.

Response #16:

Seems to me you have this right, my friend. Ecclesiastes 3:8 tells us that there is "a time for war and a time for peace ". Matters of application are often situational in nature. We avoid violence, but we are not required to let ourselves be destroyed. An insult is one thing. An otherwise fatal assault on our persons is another. Here are some links at Ichthys where these matters are discussed:

The biblical view of self-defense

Turning the Other Cheek: Christian Freedom and Responsibility

Turn the other cheek

Christian Love, the Golden Rule, Christian Military Service and Self-Defense

Hope you are doing well!

In 0ur dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Yeah, I keep that in mind and pray that other people become more open-minded somehow. I admit I think I upset someone when the subject came up, when I said I did not think it was a thing, not intending for it to actually upset anyone. I naturally apologized, and normally avoid saying anything that could possibly hurt or offend anyone, but this did teach me/remind me of why I try avoid any kind of political discussion – it can be very polarizing, especially for those who do take it seriously. I guess it's the things you say that you don't fully think through that are the ones that catch you off-guard. It's also shown me I shouldn't say or talk about something I might not fully understand. I thought I had learned this lesson long ago, but I guess needed a reminder.

Response #17:

No matter how well you understand something, it's still possible to upset people. This example does show the pointlessness of political conversations.

Also, the fact that you are more concerned about the other person than about the point at issue shows you have a wonderful heart. You are entitled to your opinion, after all – especially if it's biblical.  But caring about the spiritual welfare of others over winning an argument is a mark of spiritual growth.

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

I didn't look at it that way until you mentioned it, actually...thank you. And I again thank you for providing links to what you have to say about pacifism, and am already reading the first one. Thank you again, and I do thank God that he arranged matters so that we would come into contact through email like this.

Response #18:

Thanks!

Question #19:

Dear Dr Luginbill,

I hope all is well,

Thank you for clarifying my question. I have only been through a few of the links you forwarded me but I feel as though I do understand the meaning of Communion now. I met up with my brother this weekend which was nice as he is the only relative and close friend I have who I can talk about things that really matter in person.

I am also very grateful to have people like yourself and Curtis Omo at Bible Academy who provide a large source of Spiritual knowledge, and who I can email any questions I have. This brings me to my next question, since being in the military I have not heard anyone say one good word about God, or in other words I have not yet come across another believer. I’ve learnt to keep to my own business when not in uniform and having my own room is a big help towards my Bible Study. Although I live and work in probably the most ‘unchristian’ environment, on the other hand my current job gives me a lot of hours I can dedicate to the Word. What does scripture say about Christians living/working with non-believers? Also from your previous experience in the military, is this something you are familiar with and a reason why you decided to leave?

My present billet is something completely different to what I am trained to do but more importantly it gives me more time and dedication to God. I run my own day so if nothing is happening then I can easily go back to my room and open the Bible or Ichthys.

I look forward to hearing from you again,

God Bless,

Response #19:

It's good to hear from you again, my friend, and I'm happy to learn that your spiritual life is flourishing.

In terms of my own experience in the military, that was a long time ago, but in talks with others I think it is fair to say that service life has similarities regardless of branch of service, country of service, or time of service. I have heard other Christians remark as to how the service was "terribly secular" – but what would one expect? The world is by definition a "secular" place since that is what the word means from Latin. Paul tells the Corinthians that when he had previously commanded them not to associate with the immoral he was actually talking about those who claimed they were believers but were not in fact behaving as Christians should; because "I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world" (1Cor.5:10 NKJV). In other words, the world is filled to capacity with immoral people – that is the way of the world. The service is somewhat different because 1) most members are young (the time of greatest immorality); 2) most members are single males (no need to say more); 3) all these single young males are crowded together in close proximity largely removed from normal cultural and moral restraints; and 4) service usually has a "warrior ethos" which often elevates the consumption of alcohol and engaging in sexual promiscuity to virtues (more or less depending on the particular branch, country, time we are talking about). Under those circumstances, even a dedicated Christian like yourself would be wise to hold their peace about many things (Amos 5:13; cf. Is.59:15).

That having been said, I can also say that, without the help of a very dedicated Christian Marine I met in the Corps, someone who is still a close friend today after all these years, I never would have ended up in this ministry nor engaged in the course of study though which the Lord brought me here. I did meet some men in the USMC who were Christians and very serious about it, as well as some who weren't that serious about it, and others who were responsive to the idea of the truth. And when in seminary, the four men and myself who formed our cadre of really serious Bible students all had a service connection (two other former Marines and two who ended up doing National Guard and Army stints). So I would imagine, in spite of the way things have looked so far, that it is far from impossible that the Lord will bring you into contact with others who are either dedicated to the Lord or have that latent potential. As far as those who are only nominally Christian, unless there is potential for them to catch fire, its not much of a help to have contact with that type. Perhaps the Lord has been waiting until you get to a certain point yourself so that you can be a positive force through the Word of God.

I would also want to say that in spite of the negative aspects of service life from the standpoint especially of legalistic church-people, it needs to be pointed out that the military is a very honorable profession in the Lord's eyes. After all, He is "the Lord of Armies" Himself (Josh.5:13-15; cf. 2Ki.19:35), Abraham, the first of His special people, was a warrior (Gen.14:14-15), and David, the "man after the Lord's own heart" was famous first and foremost for His courage and success in battle (cf. "Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle"; Ps.144:1 NKJV). And we who have trusted in Him for salvation constitute "the heavenly hosts (armies)" who will, in concert with the elect angels, do battle by His side in resurrection at Armageddon (see the link: "The Final Disposition of Satan and His Angels").

It should also be said that military men make nothing but a positive impression in scripture. Naaman the Syrian general is singled out by our Lord for His faith. Nehemiah, responsible for rebuilding Jerusalem's walls and saving the people on numerous occasions was likewise a military man. The centurion who asked the Lord to heal his servant but knew that Jesus did not have to enter the house to accomplish this is said by our Lord to have greater faith than anyone in Israel. The chiliarch (military tribune) who saves Paul from the mob is the only one in the entire affair who acts with courage, consistency, and professionalism. It was a Roman officer, Cornelius, through whom the Lord determined to first bring the gift of the Spirit to the gentiles – because of his godliness (Acts 10:1ff.). And the centurion who brings Paul to Rome likewise acts in an honorable and professional manner at all times – saving Paul's life in the bargain. So regardless of being somewhat loose in morals and somewhat free with alcohol (things which after all are not exactly unique or uncommon in the culture today more broadly), servicemen have always seemed to be a cut above the society at large, willing to risk their lives for others, and carrying on with honor and dignity even after the rest of the society and culture has spun into corruption and dissolution. That may not always be a guarantee of potential responsiveness to the truth – but it is an excellent place to start.

So please do not despair about this. The Lord knows your need for spiritual comradeship and He is more than capable of bringing that to pass. Only keep moving forward spiritually yourself so that you will be in a position to benefit those you do meet in future with a "word fitly spoken" (Prov.25:11).

Here are some links where related matters are discussed:

Christian Love: The Golden Rule, Christian Military Service and Self-Defense

Christian Military Service

Christians in the military during the Tribulation

Turning the Other Cheek: Christian Freedom and Responsibility

War, History, and Politics

Culture and Christianity X

Finally, why did I leave the USMC? I would have been happy to stay at the least the full twenty years and had a regular commission so that I would doubtless have been able to do so. But as I said in my letter of resignation, I was leaving to pursue a career in Christian ministry. The way I ended up doing this was not what I had originally anticipated, but God worked it out for good in every way – as He is in the process of doing for you as well!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Bob,

Appreciate the heads up. I will check it out at the earliest convenience. Also, just as an FYI, I have recently been focusing on presentations with respect to the following, which serves as a basic introduction to potential speaking engagements. Certainly, if you feel it is something worthwhile, please do pass it along to any you think might have an interest.

Thanks and best regards,

-----------------------------------------------

Major Theme: The Holocaust: Where Was the Church and What Will be Required of the Church in the Future with Respect to the Jew?

I am a Jewish believer in Jesus and the son of a Holocaust survivor, whose nearly entire family perished in the Auschwitz death camp. Although, I have written, taught and spoken on a variety of Biblical themes over the years, most recently, my burden and sense of urgency has been related to the sensitive and, at times, controversial issue of The Holocaust from a Biblical perspective and as it relates to the Church and Israel, past, present and future. As a matter of conscience, I neither ask for, nor require, any monetary compensation, with the exception of transportation assistance and a simple place to lay my head. The opportunity to share my burden and overall message is ample reward for me. It is sobering to note that individuals such as myself are the last direct link to The Holocaust, with the vast majority already in their 50's, 60's, and even 70's. This reality, along with the times in which we live, have influenced my sense of urgency. I can speak at a church service, conference, Sunday school, youth group (primarily high school and college age), a variety of adult groups, TV and radio interviews. If you feel I can contribute something of value to your ministry, please contact me. All questions are welcome. References gladly provided upon request. Thank you, in advance, for your kind consideration. In His service,

Response #20:

This is indeed very interesting! With your permission, next time I do anything relevant on Jewish issues I'd like to post with an offer to share your email address with interested parties.

I grew up in Rogers Park in Chicago in the late 50's and 60's, and in Kindergarten had a number of playmates whose parents were also concentration camp survivors. Also went to Scout camp with a troop that met in a local temple wherein two of the Scoutmasters had the tattoos on their arms. It's a scary thing to think that the present generation growing up doesn't know much at all about this very important part of history . . . especially in light of what's coming.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Bob,

By all means, you have my grateful permission to make my basic theme (message) and contact information known in whatever way you see fit. It is a blessing to me to have as much exposure and as many opportunities as possible as God may open doors to share this message and burden with others. I could do an entire seminar or conference to cover the extent of my full message, but am grateful for any amount of time given me and will adapt, accordingly.

I am not getting any younger, and along with the times in which we live, my sense of urgency is stronger than ever. I especially welcome opportunities to speak to college-age students and young adults, Christian colleges, chapels, history (Social Sciences) and theology classes.

Thank you so much for your interest and assistance!

Best regards,

Response #21:

Thank you. I'll definitely put this in the queue [contact email for our friend: fglondon@charter.net].

Best wishes for the success of your good work, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

I was studying atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II, and I noticed something very interesting that the Wikipedia article said about the International Military Tribunal for the Far East:

The main problems arose from how the IMTFE used a method of information collection called "Best Evidence Rule" that allowed simple hearsay with no secondary support to be entered against the accused.

Even though the Japanese did commit atrocious war crimes, that doesn't necessarily mean that justice was served in the end. I don't understand why such a bogus method of evidence collection was employed, but the usage of it does discredit the entire tribunal as an abortion of justice.

Response #22:

The whole idea of international tribunals for war crimes should be troubling for Christians (as with any "international law"). Soon enough there will be a one world government for sure, and we will get to experience first hand the terrors of it. As to IMTFE, it's probably safe to say that as with the Nuremberg proceedings, while some of the most notorious were caught and punished, some of the worst got away and some of more questionable guilt were punished as scapegoats. That doesn't cover the victors with glory; it also doesn't absolve individuals who did horrible things of their sins (even if they were never brought into the dock for them).

This world is filled with horrible things. Blessedly, we are not of this world, and rejoice in its passing away, along with all of its sin, evil and suffering.

In Jesus Christ for whose return we long,

Bob L.

Question #23:

There are only inevitable wars. Peace requires two participants, so the question is always whether war is inevitable, not whether war is ever just.

"But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’ "
(I Chronicles 28:3)

This is one of the most shocking verses in the entire Bible, because God said this to David after he participated in wars God ordered him to participate in! And even though God ordered him to participate in those words, God says that the wars were unjust!

Response #23:

Peace is clearly better than war. It's not, however, always possible (Eccl.3:8). And as you correctly note, there were operations ordered by God Himself, and not just to David (cf. 1Sam.15:3). I'm not sure, however, that justice has anything to do with any of this one way or another. As far as I know, scripture never defines things in these terms – certainly not in the way modern people argue about this subject in a philosophical vein.

Invoking God in one's cause has always struck me as not only incongruous but also somewhat dangerous. This will be antichrist's major ploy in coming to power, namely, his crusade against the unified Islamic state of the Tribulation. Identifying others as bad and dangerous, even if true, does not make one's own side automatically righteous and just. And in the eschatological case just mentioned, buying into that false dichotomy will be an inducement to many lukewarm Christians to accept antichrist's claim that he is in fact the true Christ.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello Professor,

I would appreciate if you could read through my reply to friend's question who asked me if the use of force and war can be justified. Please point anything that needs correcting or adding in this response. One could easily devote tens of pages to some of the issues discussed, so it will be very helpful to get your opinion as to the balance I got.

And this has also been influenced by the fact that he is a Roman Catholic, even if one displaying openness of heart. Nevertheless, I decided to devote some space to an explanation of dispensations, given that even a part of his question is about the differences between the Old and the New Testament on this subject. This reminds me of the time when I was asking similar questions. It seems that emphasising the veracity and coherence of scripture is useful whenever one is dealing with a member of an organisation far removed from the Bible.

Response #24:

On war, one thing I wonder about is the entire "just or not just" argument itself. That is, not so much "is this war or that war just or not" but Christians actually asking the question. I'm not king (not even in line for the throne). Were I king, I suppose that might be a pertinent question. As it is, whether or not country X makes war on country Y (or takes military action against it which amounts to the same thing) is not something the leaders of country X are likely to run by me – or any of our brothers and sisters. We know that there will be "wars and rumors of wars" until the Lord returns. Whether they are just or not really doesn't matter to us, except in the abstract. What might matter is if we allow ourselves to get drawn into a discussion about this regarding not history (which is innocent enough and even potentially helpful as in your very informative and insightful analysis of the crusades), but regarding present policy. Once I start asking that question about Iran or Syria or China or, or, or, I have allowed myself to be pulled into political thinking, often followed by political discourse, and if so then inevitably by political action. Whether it is for or against, pacifism or interventionism, in any case I am distracted from my true job as a Christian – and you did a very nice job of refocusing the discussion on what really counts at many places in this terrific piece. I'd like permission to post your answer the next time the subject comes up in the weekly queue [posted at the link: "Can we justify war"].

Your friend and fellow teacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hello Professor,

I just received this question. I haven't written a full response to it yet, but I have here included my short plan for it. When you get an opportunity, you can just take a look and let me know if you'd make other points beyond what I have listed.

Question:

I hope all is well my friend. Whilst doing some Bible reading this morning I came across the following passage;

[Rom 13:1-7 NIV] 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honour.

This made me think about our present government, governments in war torn countries and also governments known to be corrupt. If Christians who are under control of a corrupt government (authority) and they do come to realise it through a matter of conscience, they will at some point rebel against the authority? Will they also be rebelling against God?

Could you help me find the truth to this question? If my question isn’t clear enough please let me know.

Look forward to hearing from you my friend,

God Bless.

Response:

We should submit to secular authority (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2:13-21).

All authority, as Romans passage teaches, came through the will of God. That doesn’t mean that they are all godly – far from it. But they do play their role in maintaining basic law and order without which normal life, including following Jesus, would be impossible.

Corruption is everywhere and all governments are corrupt, to one degree or another. In fact, corruption is only progressing as we are approaching the end times.

Firstly, we cannot fix things – we cannot change the world.

Secondly, one of the key criteria is whether the government prevents us or persecutes us for the truth, since our allegiance is ultimately to the Lord Jesus Christ. Bearing in mind that we cannot make the world a better place, we could then consider influencing the situation in that particular state or find a different place to live. Given that the former plan will get us involved in politics, I would be extremely careful with its implementation.

Taken together:

We need to respect authorities and they are all corrupt to one degree or another.

We cannot change the world – this world cannot be changed. We are not of this world (John 17:16), our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Our allegiance always is to the Lord and if being in a particular state conflicts with this, then we need to consider what to do, but open rebellion is a solution highly unlikely to bring the desired outcome.

Finally, we are approaching a time when corruption will reach its unprecedented peak in the Tribulation, under the reign of the Antichrist. Not only will there be absolutely no option to achieve anything through rebellion, but it will be hard to find a place to run, as things will continue to deteriorate, Christians are martyred and only our Lord’s Second Coming will bring deliverance.

Response #25:

It's a tough question (answered to some degree at the link: "Would you have supported the American Revolution?"); citizens of the US, UK and France (just to mention a few) will of course have to consider that their Christian forefathers did on occasion at least resort to arms for the redress of grievances (the question of whether or not that is the decision we would have made or should have made put aside).

Some passages to perhaps include:

On corruption:

And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
Ecclesiastes 3:16 NIV

If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 NIV

On authority:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1st Timothy 2:1-2 NIV

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1st Peter 2:12-17

I like your outline!

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

It's been a while since we last spoke. I've been busy with my family and trying to get them back together as certain members of my family aren't speaking to each other. Please keep them in your prayers as I know you do, and I thank you for your prayers for me.

My sister in-law thinks that the bible is sexist because it uses masculine nouns like he, instead of she. I don't know how to explain to her that the bible is not sexist. Is there a reason why the bible uses mainly "he" when describing people, instead of she? I know that there are passages in the bible where feminine nouns are specifically used. What is the reason behind this? Thanks in advance!

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #26:

I haven't forgotten these concerns, and I have been keeping your family (along with you) in my prayers every day. I will continue to do so. I understand this is weighing on your heart. The Lord certainly knows that too. And He is absolutely faithful. So please don't despair. Rather, keep praying, in the faith that the Lord has already heard your prayers and will accomplish deliverance for you in due time and in just the right way.

As to the Bible, language is language. Of all the civilizations in the history of the world, it is only some segments of some parts of western culture in the past couple of decades which have adopted this bizarre idea that using "he" as a generic pronoun is "sexist". This is to completely misunderstand what language is and how it works, to politicize it instead of using it to communicate. That is problematic enough in contemporary speech. But to project these notions backward three thousand years to a completely different time and culture is nonsensical in the extreme. It is also incorrect in its assumptions. For example, in Hebrew, the word "man" is the word for human being generically; the word woman is taken from that word just as Eve was taken from Adam. And in fact, Adam invented the word "woman" not as a term of subjugation but of appreciation for the gift of the woman (see the link). Also, "men" can be a mixed group since the word means, essentially, "people". But "women" have to be all women without any impurity. So man/men is generic; woman/women is special.

This complaint you report is a misguided way to look at things which has unfortunately gained a degree of political correctness to the extent that many newer versions of the Bible are trying to "de-sex" the Bible (the new NIV, for example). The result is a twofold negative: on the one hand since this is not the way language works many mistakes or inaccuracies of translation have resulted; on the other hand even where the true sense is not damaged the readability of the translation suffers dramatically (as translators go to extremes to make things "work" when they really won't if not translated correctly).

On a more practical note, I would hope none of us is in favor of any degradation or minimizing of women. The ancient cultures in which the Bible was written do not have our modern sensibilities about such things, and we may be very glad, men and women both, that we don't live in such times (for many reasons). But the Bible is still the truth, the Word of God. If it had related things differently than what they really were that would be of no use to anyone. So this issue is really a red-herring. If a person wants the truth, they will understand that it is only to be found in the Bible (so one has to read the Bible) and in the principles the Bible contains (so one has to find a good Bible-teaching ministry to truly grow spiritually). But if someone is not really interested in the truth, one excuse is as good as another for neglecting both.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Thanks you again for your quick reply. I thought about this question after reading your reply to my email about the bible using masculine nouns. God decided to make women for man to have a companion. Did God model this after the animals having mates? Because I know that animals were created before humans, and that animals already had a female counterpart prior to the creation of man. This also seems to be the case with almost every other living thing on Earth. This may sound like an odd question, but I don't know why I decided to ask you this. I am always looking for answers to every question that the bible can give.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #27:

It's important to remember that Jesus Christ became a man (as well as God) at the incarnation, and that the cross is the foundation of the plan of God. So while we think and see things in a chronological order, we need to remember that God has no such limitations. The most important person in this world is Jesus Christ, so everything starts with Him. Because He would become a man there would be human beings, and therefore angels, and therefore animals. It's all part of the perfect creation. But God does not react to things or mold them as they develop. Nothing that has ever happened could have happened without being decreed by God before He initiated creation in the first place.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Good morning Bob,

Your letter was so good to get. By the end of it I had big tears rolling down my face. I was reading your recent posting on Bible vs some sensitive social and political issues regarding polygamy. [details omitted]

Response #28:

Thanks for the email. It certainly confirms what we can see about polygamy in the Bible. I think of Jacob and the constant trouble he had at home with his four wives. No wonder he spent so much time out with his flocks! With two sin natures in the mix, marriage is difficult enough already without turning into something completely unworkable by adding another one (or even more). From your report, yours is a wonderful marriage and a unique one, so praise to the Lord for that!

The Lord is our mighty fortress, an ever-present help in trouble, and He gives us what we need to get through whatever it is we have to get through. Our part is to do what you have done and "hold on" to those insights of truth which remind us that there is more here than we can see with our mortal eyes, fixing our gaze on Jesus Christ and setting our goal all the way to the other side where we are confident of a good reward for running the race He would have us to run. Once we are there, we will see and realize what every good Christian really ought to know now, namely, that all the things we are terribly concerned about here on earth – because we have to scramble for them – are nothing but dust, that the Lord has already made provision for us in the plan of God in eternity past, and that no one and nothing can separate us from Him and His love if we are but willing to walk with Him. These are truths most Christians know but there is a often difference between understanding and deeply believing. The latter takes growth and the courage of humility which comes from that growth along with spiritual progress based on testing.

I'm sure that the Lord has something in mind for you and your family, and no doubt all this upheaval is merely part of the preparation phase. I can't speak for you, but I know for a fact when I look back at many of the troubles I have had to negotiate during the past years that they have brought be closer to the Lord and farther from the world . . . in other words, more to where I ought to be spiritually (even if these trials were difficult at the time).

You are a good witness and a great encouragement, and I'm sure that this is not lost on those with whom you interact, even if you have not yet manifested the responses you would like to see.

I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers (and have added an Ichthys prayer request for you as well).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Did ancient people have a better sense of aesthetics in general?

http://i.imgur.com/zbFNf09.jpg

This photo of a 3,000 year old dagger got me thinking about how well-designed and ornamental it is. I don't think people produce stuff like this anymore.

Response #29:

From my biblical perspective and as an ancient historian, it seems to me that humanity is devolving on almost every level. The only thing which has remained constant over time is our ego. We are individually stupider, but because we (i.e., our phones) possessive a collective knowledge that has accumulated over millennia, we imagine that we are individually smarter as well. You have to be pretty stupid (or uninformed) to think that (more evidence for the thesis).

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