God's Law and apologetics

Proven methods for offering a defense of our beliefs.

God's Law and apologetics

nikolai_42
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nikolai_42
Leading Member
Joined: October 4th, 2013, 5:12 pm

May 3rd, 2018, 9:17 pm #1

I work in a relatively small office - the majority of whom would call themselves Christians (and most of them seem to be at least genuine). There are a few who wouldn't call themselves Christians - and one of them is (I think) a former Roman Catholic - probably nominal (just a guess). He has asked some of what he calls "existential questions" which are really challenges to basic biblical issues. I suspect he  does it partly because he enjoys debate but I think there is more to it than that. He has recently asked if God has ever broken His own law and I tried to answer, but didn't do a great job (I don't think). In truth, I don't think well on my feet and I am not practiced in apologetics - I do much better writing about certain topics. But in this situation, what is the best way to approach the question with someone who isn't a believer but who might be open to honest investigation?

 My response was basically to say you can't make that comparison because - for example - the Law prohibits murder. And God can't be guilty of that simply because life is His to give and take. So the comparison (in my mind) is a problem to begin with. But how to properly address that and directly related questions? Any help is greatly appreciated.

EDIT : And so are your prayers...
If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale
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nikolai_42
Leading Member
nikolai_42
Leading Member
Joined: October 4th, 2013, 5:12 pm

May 10th, 2018, 8:22 pm #2

In the absence of any responses (and since this is a specific situation, I know it's not necessarily easy to know how to respond), I wanted to give a small update. The discussion is on hold while my co-worker is out of town, but my sense has always been that I need to establish the distinction between Lawgiver and Subject (God and man). Once that is done, murder becomes the only point of real contention - and it begs the question as to whether God can even murder. If life is His to give and take, then the whole question about Him breaking it Himself is gone. But upon reflection, it all comes down to what the Law is - a revelation of the character of God. The first commandment is what establishes the whole tone for it.

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:2-3

I remember doing an overview (several years ago) in preparation for a study I was going to undertake of the book of Zechariah. In doing so, I looked at the history of Israel before God. And one thing that really hit home more than anything else was that when it came down to it, Israel suffered most directly at the hand of God when they were punished for idolatry. The commandments that deal with man's relationship to man are not any less important, but in the end it seemed that God brought His judgments down in direct proportion to the failure of Israel to worship Him properly. Of course, that always results in gross moral failure at some point, but if I remember accurately, it was overwhelmingly Israel's departure from God and the proper worship of God that really was the source of all their ills. The tragedy of God's withdrawal from the temple in Ezekiel 7-9 (primarily the visions Ezekiel had of the temple in chapter 8) serves to summarize the many ways in which Israel was guilty of idolatry. So in citing the first commandment and framing the whole Law in the light of that commandment, it makes everything (basically) a question of which God one serves. The repetition of the phrase in Judges - everyone did what was right in his own eyes, the rich young ruler, Romans 1, the abomination of desolation, the mark of the beast - and even the "playtime" Israel had at the foot of Sinai while Moses was up getting the 10 Commandments from God. All of that stems from what one worships. 
 
And if Dr. Beale is correct - that we become (or at least directly reflect) what we worship, then it stands to reason that someone who worships the God of Scripture will reflect that character. The objection is often presented that the OT reflects a God of anger and justice while the NT a God of love and forgiveness. That overlooks all the years of Israel's often horrendous sinfulness that God put up with - forgiving over and over again - and rather reflects (I think) the picture of man learning what the justice of God is against a wicked people. As men are made into the image of Christ to reflect that goodness, we see more of Him and less of us. So the NT is a picture of what it looks like when God reaches down and changes the hearts of wicked men and causes them to walk in His ways. The darkness of idolatry is vanquished.

 So in fleshing that out, Israel was acting (at times) as God's rod of correction (His battleaxe - Isaiah 51:20), but there was no unjustified killing since the wages of sin is death and God commanded a whole people wiped out when their idolatry would infect His people.
If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale
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Ask Mr. Religion
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Joined: July 28th, 2008, 9:13 am

May 12th, 2018, 6:35 am #3

I do not take the usual anti-Reformed bait of the Arminians, Romanists, etc. It usually starts out with something like "God's will is an extension of his unchanging and perfect character." Then it moves to nonsense like "The will of God is an extension of God's nature." From these odd, unbiblical, notions man is now allowed to respond to God, "Why have you made me thus?" The anti-Reformed then begin to formulate doctrines based upon what God must do because, after all, He is loving and just. Sigh.

God is free. How God acts towards His creation is determined by the counsel of His own will. God's nature is not distinct from His will. God's nature is His will made known to us by a variety of actions and relations. It is only when this is understood that we can make sense of a positive command from God taking precedence over some moral command from God, as in the case of Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son.

From Thomas Manton (Works, vol. 14, page 353):

There is no injustice in these extraordinary commands; the lawgiver may make what exception to his own laws he pleaseth. We are bound to the law, but the lawgiver himself is not bound.

See: https://archive.org/stream/completework ... 2/mode/2up
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