Hall of Silence

A quiet place to reflect on God, His Word, and His Church

Category: Theology

The Great Physician Is Not Jack Kevorkian

Would Jesus stone fags?  It’s an interesting hypothetical, and brethren will argue themselves blue in the face over whether Christ would have kept the Old Testament law in its entirety (per Matthew 5:17, of course) or whether he would be merciful and spared them their punishment.

Of course, the hypothetical itself misses the point of Christ’s ministry.  Christ was not here to kill people.  He wasn’t even here to condemn people (though that would be an inevitable consequence of his example).  Rather, Christ came to seek and save those who were lost.  He was the great physician, and he came to save lives, not take them.

Throughout Christ’s ministry, it is readily apparent that his actions are motivated by the overriding desire to save men’s souls.  And just as a physician’s treatment varies by pathology and the progression thereof, so too did Christ’s treatment of others vary by the pathology and progression of sin in their lives.

Christ was not harsh with the Pharisees because he hated them and wanted to see them rot in the bowels of Hell.  If that were indeed the case, he need only have called a couple of angels to escort the Pharisees to Satan’s bosom.  Rather, Christ’s harshness towards the Pharisees can be explained by his desire to save them.  These people were dying of spiritual cancer but were too stubborn or ignorant to recognize that they were ill.  It’s like an obese person thinking he’s fine because he hasn’t ever had a stroke.  Christ was trying to wake them up to their current state, not send them to hell.

Consequently, he was often gentler to those who already recognized their spiritual malady.  If you recognize that you have sinned, and you know where to go to find a cure, there is no need to lecture you about doing what’s best for your spiritual health.  Thus, Christ’s gentleness towards certain sinners can be explained by the fact that these sinners had already been diagnosed and were ready to receive a remedy.

No physician needs to lecture a patient who recognizes that he’s sick and is willing to take his medicine.  Lectures are reserved for the obstinate.  Jesus, like any wise doctor, discerned which patients wanted to take care of themselves and which patients were being obstinate.

The lesson to learn from this, to draw us back to the original question, is that Christ would not have stoned fags—or adulterers, or murderers, or even money-changers.  In fact, he wouldn’t even have entertained the question because, fundamentally, Christ was concerned with something more important:  the salvation of men’s souls.

Therefore, the lesson for us to draw from this is that our concern should not be with enforcing morality or punishing evil-doers.  It is enough for each of us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.   Rather, our concern should be with curing the spiritual sickness of sin, first in ourselves, then perhaps in others.  We shouldn’t worry about condemning others—God has that covered anyway—we should focus on helping them.

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Capitalist Morality

In modern America, there are many who complain about how corporate bosses tend to mistreat their employees.  Some take the opposite approach, and say that bosses should be able to do what they want and employees can accept the job or move on.  Here’s what the Bible has to say:

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

The general principle of this passage is that workers should offer their best to those for whom they work. Whether one is an employee, servant, or slave, one should do the best job one can do.  There is simply no excuse for offering less than one’s best, or for doing a job halfway.  Workers are to be industrious and honest, and give their best.

Consequently, bosses are to be fair and kind.  If one’s employees work honestly and diligently, there is no need to treat them harshly.  Consider also Malachi’s warning:  “And I will come near you for judgment…against those who exploit wage earners…”  This can also apply to employers, as a warning to be fair in their payment of wages.  If one’s employees give an honest day’s work, they should receive an honest day’s wages.

Note, though, the element of reciprocity in these commands:  neither employee or employer is to bear the brunt of the responsibility in these commands; both have responsibilities to the other.  Employees are to work hard and do their best; employers are to treat their employees kindly and pay them fairly.  Perhaps the real reason why there is such rancor between employers and employees nowadays is because neither side is willing to act in good faith.

If employees are lazy, why would they expect to be treated well?  It’s not fair to expect employers to pay someone wages they don’t deserve.  On the other hand, it shouldn’t be surprising that employees are lazy if employers don’t pay them fairly or treat them with kindness.  Thus, the current mutual distrust that employers and employees have towards each other has become a self-reinforcing feedback loop wherein employees are lazy and dishonest and employers are harsh and unfair.

The only way to break this is for Christians—both those that are employers and employees—to step up and model the work ethic and kindness that God demands.  Maybe then the whole world will follow suit.  One thing’s for sure:  we won’t know until we try.

Doctrine and Theology

Ever wonder where self-contradicting doctrine comes from?  It comes from not understanding God.

There is a general tendency for students of God’s word to spend time studying the finer, esoteric points of doctrine, usually in the guise of pursuing truth.  While it is true that one can find truth in the gritty details of Biblical doctrine, it is still easy to get sucked in to believing a self-contradictory doctrine if one does not see the big picture before delving into doctrinal details.

Studying the big picture is called theology.  Theology means the study of God, and refers to the process wherein one comes to a better understanding of God and his nature.  This is not always easy to do, as it requires prolonged rational abstract thought, as well as a broad Biblical perspective.  God is likely totally incomprehensible to man, although that does not mean that man cannot come to understand some aspects of God’s nature.

Anyhow, the theological approach to Biblical interpretation and doctrine, though difficult, provides a more consistent framework for doctrinal interpretation as it necessarily gives one a broad-based view of the Bible.  As such, one must always find balance in interpreting individual commands and tenets in order to avoid taking a position that contradicts another position.

But beyond this, all doctrine is derived from theology anyway.  People who take the approach that God will make an exception for them (say, because their heart is in the right place) are basically saying that God is a respecter of persons.  Those who spend much time trying to regulate how church treasury funds are used are basically saying that God is both materialistic and an accountant.  (It is amazing how some brethren spend more time talking about the Lord’s money than the Lord does.)  But, at any rate, doctrine and theology go hand in hand.  If your doctrine is self-contradicting than it is likely that your theology is wrong.

In sum, theology is the big picture and doctrine is simply the details of the aforementioned big picture.  There is thus no point in quibbling over details if we don’t understand the big picture.