Jun 25, 2017

Be Ignorant Then!

"What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." (I Cor. 14:36-38)

The interpretation of these verses, especially the last, are not uniformly understood and interpreted by bible students and commentators. It has been my view for many years that when Paul says - "but if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant" - that he was being sarcastic and that he was rebuking and showing impatience with a stubborn obstinate attitude.

There is some debate whether God, or his spokesmen, ever used sarcasm. I have always believed that he did and thought that this was one example of it. I have also viewed it as revealing the frustration of a teacher against the bad attitude of a student, against a mind that refuses to be taught. Let us notice what some others have said about Paul's words.

Wrote expositor Ray Stedman in his commentary (emphasis mine):

"That is clearly satire. He is recognizing that there was a tendency among some in Corinth to think that they had unique revelation, special gifts that no one else had. Paul treats this in a rather sarcastic way with this kind of language, "Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones who received it?" It almost sounds like what dear old Job said to his three comforters, "No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you," (Job 12:2 RSV). People have a tendency sometimes to assume this."

Most commentators agree with Stedman that verses 36 and 37 are satire or sarcasm. They do not agree, however, on whether verse 38 is also sarcasm. Translations vary in regard to verse 38, as we will see.

Stedman also wrote:

"...truly spiritual people always recognize the authority of the Scripture. This is very important in these days when people are claiming to be led of the Spirit, and when you point out from a passage of Scripture that what they are saying is contrary to it, they still insist on their feeling or their experience or their understanding as superior to that of the Word of God. Paul says that is not true. The Spirit of God never operates contrary to the written Word. Never! Anyone who is truly Spirit-minded and Spirit-filled will recognize the authority of the Word of God. The third thing he says to them is in Verse 38:

If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized. (1 Corinthians 14:38 RSV)

"Literally, "If any one be ignorant, let him be ignored." In other words, do not pay attention to him; do not needlessly exalt him or her or even get engaged in a lengthy debate about it. If they will not listen to the authority of the Word, then do not give them a platform from which to speak; just ignore them."

Stedman gives two possible translations for verse 38. One is "if any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized." The other is "if any one be ignorant, let him be ignored." For the latter part of the verse (KJV "let him be ignorant") we have these other possible translations:

NASB "he is not recognized"
NKJV "let him be ignorant"
NRSV "is not to be recognized"
TEV "pay no attention to him"
NJB "that person is not recognized himself"

Vincent's Word Studies

Let him be ignorant (ἀγνοείτω)

Let him remain ignorant. The text is doubtful. Some read ἀγνοεῖται he is not known; i.e., he is one whom God knows not.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

38. ἀγνοείτω] implying both the hopelessness of reclaiming such an one, and the little concern which his opposition gave the Apostle. The other reading, ἀγνοεῖται, gives a passable sense—‘he is ignored,’ scil. by God: cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 8:2-3; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Galatians 4:9.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 14:38. But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant:—‘If he will persist in his ignorance and obstinacy, let him remain so.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(38) But if any man be ignorant.—There are here two readings in the Greek, for each of which there is strong evidence. The passage may run, either, as in the English, if any man does not know this, let him not know it: then the words would mean that a person who could not recognise such an evident and simple truth must be of a perverse mind—his opposition would give the Apostle no further concern. The other reading is, if any man knows not this, he is himself not known: this would signify that any man who knows not this truth is not known of God (as in 1 Corinthians 8:2-3; 1 Corinthians 13:12).

I believe that the evidence for the KJV reading is superior. Besides the manuscript evidence (Byzantine, for example), the syntax and flow of Paul's thought weighs in its favor. In the following citations from the article "Abandonment to Ignorance" by J.R. Thomson, a commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:38 (see here), the author keys in on what Paul's words denote and connote. Said Thomson:

"There is something of indignation and something of sarcasm in his reference to those who resisted his opinions and decisions. And there is wisdom as well as an admirable display of just impatience in his language: "If any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant."

Already Paul was sarcastic in verse 36 when he says - What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?"  So it seems he is continuing his sarcasm in verse 38.

Wrote Thomson:

OPINIONATEDNESS AND IGNORANCE OFTEN GO TOGETHER. A little experience convinces us that those who cling the most tenaciously to their own opinions, their own habits, are not always men of the soundest judgment. To resist evidence and authority is no sign of soundness of mind and power of intellect. Some are obstinate because they are blind to all testimony and evidence but that which is acceptable to their own prejudices.

This is most often true of those who are in cults. They will not listen to reason or scripture that contradicts their notions, but stubbornly refuse to listen or seriously consider any counter evidence against their aberrant ideas.

Wrote Thomson:

THERE ARE THOSE WHOM NO EVIDENCE CAN CONVINCE AND NO AUTHORITY OVERAWE. If all men were candid and dispassionate, and habituated to follow the clear white light of reason, human life and human society would be very different from what they actually are. Our Lord Jesus was forbearing and patient with those who opposed themselves to him; but even he confessed that there were those who loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Young and sanguine ministers of religion often begin their work with an inward persuasion that they have only to place the truth fairly and fully before men, in order to their conviction and conversion. But experience teaches them that it is not so; that there is a moral obduracy which is proof against all efforts.

God help us not to be so "pig headed" that we will not listen to others. Let us not be "hard shells" in our thinking!

Wrote Thomson:

IT MAY BE WISE TO ABANDON TO THEIR LOVED IGNORANCE THOSE WHO WILL NOT BE ENLIGHTENED. An affectionate and benevolent mind will be very slow to adopt such a course. And it cannot be adopted without the hope and prayer that, when ordinary and human methods have failed, it may please God to employ some methods unknown to finite wisdom, to secure the wished for result. Even the Creator himself seems to act upon the principle here exemplified, at all events for a season and a purpose: "Ephraim is joined unto idols: let him alone."

What an awful state we are in when, in our willing ignorance, we are abandoned to our errors!

Thomson continued:

THERE IS BETTER EMPLOYMENT FOR THE TIME OF CHRISTIAN LABOURERS THAN THE ENDEAVOURS TO ENLIGHTEN THE INVINCIBLY IGNORANT. There are the young, the ardent inquirers for truth, the candid and open minded, the earnest and prayerful, all anxious for more light, for lessons of truth, counsels of wisdom, encouragement, and admonition. In such directions there is abundant scope for effort, with the confidence that labour will not be in vain. Why spend years in tilling the rock or sowing the iceberg, when virgin soil awaits the plough and promises to reward the toil of the spiritual husbandman?

THERE IS A PROBATION AND A JUDGMENT APPOINTED BY GOD, TO WHICH SUCH CHARACTERS MUST NEEDS BE LEFT.

I know first hand the sadness of having to "give up" in my efforts to correct the stubborn cultist and the Christian who is wedded to his own ideas and who will not listen to correction.

Now let us notice these good comments on Paul's words.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

38. if any man be ignorant—wilfully; not wishing to recognize these ordinances and my apostolic authority in enjoining them. let him be ignorant—I leave him to his ignorance: it will be at his own peril; I feel it a waste of words to speak anything further to convince him. An argument likely to have weight with the Corinthians, who admired "knowledge" so much.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 38. - Let him be ignorant. The formula seems to fall under the idiom which refuses to say anything more about a subject ("If I perish, I perish;" "What I have written, I have written;" "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still," etc.). The readings vary considerably ("He is ignored;" "He has been ignored;" "He shall be ignored;" "Let him be ignored"). These other readings would be a statement of retribution in kind - of God "sprinkling penal blindnesses on forbidden lusts." But the reading of our translation is on the whole the best supported, and means that to invincible bigotry and ignorant obstinacy St. Paul will have no more to say (Matthew 15:14; 1 Timothy 6:3-5).

In modern English, we might look at Paul's words to the stubborn as "okay, just be that way then!" Just as God is said, in regard to some stubborn souls, that he "gives them up" (Romans 1), so at times we are also forced to give up on some people and to leave them to themselves. It is a sad fact, but true nonetheless.

Apr 11, 2017

Is Calvinism The Pearl Of Great Price?

Years ago, I asked my dear friend, Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications, about his seeming softness on Calvinism. His reply to me has echoed in my ears many times over the years. He said, in so many words, that he just could not understand the enthusiasm of some who promote Calvinism (or "doctrines of grace"). He said some think that in finding Calvinism and grace theology they had found the "pearl of great price." Well, after all these years of thinking about this, I have to say "amen." I hope you know what I mean and do not need to explain it.

Mar 29, 2017

A Couple Things That Irk Me

One of those things is my leaving comments on a few web pages and have the blog author or administrator not post my comments. This is not because I say something that should be banned, but is due to some other reason. One such blog I quit following because of this. Why do brethren do this? This leads me to the second thing that irks me.

Some strict brethren just are too overly careful about not wanting to give the impression that they are the least bit associated with someone not in their particular circle of fellowship. One blog never cites another blog or web page without saying "this does not constitute an endorsement." Brethren, I am so glad I don't have to worry about such things! I am glad to truly be an independent. There are far too many cliques in the body of Christ. People are also far too touchy about things.

Well, that's my gripe for the day.

Mar 27, 2017

If God Gets The Credit, Does He Get The Blame Too?

I have been interested in the philosophical and theological question regarding giving God credit or praise for all the good. It is argued that if God gets all the credit, and man none, then God must also get the blame. This difficulty has led some to affirm that God does not get all the credit. Man deserves some credit also, it is argued. If that is not so, then the dilemma is to explain how giving God all the credit doesn't necessitate that we also give him the blame. In looking over some Internet articles on this subject, I submit these comments as an example of the kind of discussion that is prevalent on this important subject.

In "If God Gets the Glory, Does He Also Get the Blame?" by Mac McCann (SEE HERE) it is stated:

"The doctors who survived Ebola thanked God for their recovery. Whom do we blame for those who don’t recover?"

"...that God deserves “all the credit and all the glory for what’s happened” — deserves more scrutiny."

"If we truly believe that God deserves “all the glory” of saving a few individuals, why don’t we also hold God accountable for the thousands of infections and deaths?"

Well, those are good questions! And, though I do not have time to write upon the subject now, I will perhaps have time to do so later.

In another Internet article, "Giving God the Credit" (SEE HERE) it is asked: "How people and society give god credit for all the good but none of the blame for everything that is bad."

"Who would not like a system in which they got all the credit when things go right and none of the blame when things go wrong? Since nobody would think this is fair if applied to an individual, company or government, it seems odd that a being with infinite power to change everything would be given such a break."

Being a believer in predestination, and in the proposition that nothing occurs but what God willingly allows to occur, I immediately think of many scripture passages in addressing these questions and this topic. First notice these words of God to Moses.

"And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?" (Exodus 4: 11)

Here God plainly says that he gets the credit for a man having the ability to speak, hear, or see. Also, he does not shy away from taking the blame (if we can call it that) or responsibility for some not having those abilities. In another Internet article "How do you respond to Exodus 4:11?" by Gregory A. Boyd (SEE HERE) the author writes:

"According to some compatibilists, this passage teaches that all infirmities are willed by God. This interpretation is not required, however."

"Throughout his ministry Jesus came against all infirmities and diseases as things that God does not will. Never once did he ascribe these things to his Father’s will. Never once did he encourage people to find comfort in the notion that these things were part of God’s plan."

I must take issue with Boyd on his assertion. Notice this passage. It seems to overthrow his assertion.

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:1-3)

Further, here is another instance that should be considered in a discussion of this topic.

"But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." (Luke 4: 25-29)

As I said, I would love to deal with this in depth but do not have time to do so now. Perhaps in the future.

Mar 17, 2017

"Vast Array of Verbal Behavior" in Scripture

I agree with Douglas Wilson who wrote (emphasis mine):

"Instead of seeking to learn our paradigms of behavior from the Scriptures, we tend to bring our assumptions, learned elsewhere and from others, and view the Scriptures through those assumptions. This is not a superficial problem; it goes down to the bone. The prophets, the apostles and our Lord Jesus all exhibit a vast array of verbal behavior, including tenderness, love, insults, jokes, anger and more. What standard do we use to sort this material out?" (page 17 of "The Serrated Edge" by Douglas Wilson - SEE HERE)

Many Bible students and teachers often fail to properly interpret certain portions of Scripture because they have not fully discerned its genre, use of idioms and metaphors, and context.

Mar 11, 2017

Warning! Attending Church May Be Dangerous To Your Health

"ye come together not for the better but for the worse." (I Cor. 11:17)

Can people really be worse off for attending and supporting apostate churches? Paul thought so!

Mar 6, 2017

Advanced Composition

One of the hardest classes for me in college was my senior level "Advanced Composition" class. Perhaps it was due to a heavy load of other classes at the time, or to my topic (free will vs. determinism), or to my Roman Catholic professor (who was out of place in a Baptist/Presbyterian college, and who passionately opposed my belief in predestination and determinism), but whatever the reason, it is one of the classes where I learned much about writing professionally.

One of the lessons I learned in that class concerned the fact that most writings are not perfect upon "first draft" (unlike the inspired men who wrote perfectly on first draft). The best of writings, whether of poets, philosophers, or theologians, were not the products of a first draft, but generally the result of several revisions. Even when the writing (thesis, book, paper, etc.) is completed, most authors would admit that what was published or otherwise completed could still be improved, either by additional information, or by better rhetoric, or improved argumentation, etc.

With this in mind I thought I would announce that I plan to spend most of my time in the future to revise many of my works and publish them. In other words, I will be involved in "advanced composition." This will take a tremendous amount of time and will leave little time to post extended works in my blogs. I will only be able to make short posts from time to time.

If you are led to do so, please remember me in your prayers.

Mar 5, 2017

"Ancient Astronaut Theory" is Neo Paganism

Over the years I have spent much time researching "ancient history" in addition to other areas of historical studies. I have always love history. I love the social sciences in general. In those years I have increasingly come to see that there is much "fake science," or as the apostle Paul said, "science falsely so called." (I Tim. 6: 20) "Darwinism" is one such "fake science," and is in fact a religion in disguise.

Each day there are numerous archaeological discoveries that overthrow it; And it is becoming harder for those "scientists" who are wedded to Darwinism's theory (as to man's origin and history) to cover up that evidence (as they have since Darwin first published his "origin of the species"). Each day there is more and more evidence that proves that a civilization once existed on this earth that was more technologically advanced than at present. This fact destroys "evolution" with its "ascent of man" and strictly linear view of history.

Of course, the existence of such an advanced civilization, though destroying evolution theory, does not prove that such an advanced civilization was the result of alien interference. Nor does it prove that man was the creation of aliens, rather than of God.

When I was a young Christian I became aware of "New Age" doctrine and teaching. It did not take long to see how its quasi religious/metaphysical teachings were evidence that it was basically polytheistic. It was a way to believe in many gods and goddesses, in spirits of various kinds, "ascended masters," etc., and a way to communicate with them. Well, the same thing can be said about the "ancient astronaut theory" where the "aliens" become the "gods" of the bible and other ancient texts.

Jason Colavito wrote:

"I would like to seriously propose that the “ancient astronaut theory” as presented on Ancient Aliens has become a revised Theosophy, a neo-pagan religion—a type of polytheism where every religion is right because all gods are real...the ancient astronaut theory collapses in on itself, and the old stories become literally true as reports of actual gods! Polytheism!" ("Review of Ancient Aliens S05E07 "Prophets and Prophecy" - SEE HERE)

Well, amen to that!

He wrote also:

"David Childress (an archaeologist who is often seen on the history channel, and is a leading proponent of ancient aliens having visited earth from another world - SG) agrees that the aliens warned ancient people of natural disasters by pretending to be gods."

Both New Age and Ancient Alien ideas are nothing but polytheism arrayed in better attire.

Feb 12, 2017

For Me To Live

I don't know how many years I have left to live. I can say, however, like David - "I once was young but now am old." Likewise, I can speak, as he did, about what I have "seen" and "not seen" in life. (Psalm 37:25) Also, like him, I have often queried this question in my mind and to the Lord - "How many are the days of thy servant?" (119:84) As I have become somewhat elderly and weak, no longer having the strength and vigor of youth and middle age, I have asked this question even more in my mind.

If God grant me either a very short or extra long time, from this point forward, to what purpose? Simply to exist and do little other than struggle to stay alive? Or, to "enjoy" retirement years in the sense of indulging the flesh? To watch TV? To play games? To eat, drink, and be merry? Or, to find a way to more deeply draw near to the Lord and walk with him? To enjoy his peace and presence? To find a way to do more to serve the Lord with the additional free time that comes with old age and retirement?

If I live one more week or twenty more years, let

1. the inward man in me be renewed day by day as the body deteriorates and weakens

2. me finish the apologetic works I have spent my life constructing and be of use to others

3. me more fully work out my own salvation with fear and trembling

In a word, to keep the resolve of the Apostle Paul when he said:

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21)

Feb 2, 2017

Fake News

There is much talk today about "fake news." Though some try to define "fake news" in unusual ways, it is generally conceded that "fake" news is simply "false" or incorrect news. Something is put out as fact which in fact (pun intended) is not fact. I would just like to add these thoughts to the subject.

Can we agree that there is "fake gospel"? Gospel is news, good news, factual news. But, have not many perverted the Gospel and turned it into fake Gospel?

Can we agree that "Evolution" is "fake science" or "science falsely so called"? (I Tim. 6: 20 kjv) Does the Bible not teach Devolution rather than Evolution? Are archaeologists not uncovering new evidences today, in addition to megalithic structures like the Great Pyramid, that show that the world in the distant past had as great, or greater, scientific and technical knowledge as it does today?

Can we agree that history books are filled with "fake history"? "Revisionist histories"?