November 21, 2007

According to John Piper God must have Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome

Recently I've noticed that on several Christian blogs links to John Piper's "Desiring God" website. Now many of you who know me know that I pretty much loathe Calvinism. First, I think the doctrine is totally abhorrent and horrifically maligns the wonderful character of our loving and merciful God (as you will soon see - you figured there had to be a point to all this right??). So it comes somewhat as a shock to me when people think Piper is the next best thing to Wonder Bread within the ranks of Christianity. Now I realize that some who read this will say I am being judgmental and overly harsh, but when someone maligns the character of my Savior, this is no different if you were to call my wife or children a foul name - as a matter of fact I'll probably get more upset when you talk poorly about my God. As believers we are to always be aware of false teaching and "wolves" that come to devour and kill and for me Piper falls into this category.

Why you may ask do I have these feelings for Mr. Piper? Well it stems from several issues, which I won't address in this particular posting. But recently, I have discovered he has a sermon series on his website that greatly disturbed my soul. Back in the Fall of this year Piper started a multi-part sermon series entitled "Spectacular Sins". Immediately the title caught my eye as I just had to see why someone (especially a Christian) would ever call sin - spectacular. Well in true Calvinistic fashion Mr. Piper did not disappoint. Below is an excerpt from his initial overview explaining what he means by "Spectacular Sins":

clipped from www.desiringgod.org
  • To show that evil is real, horrible, and inescapable in this life, but not ultimate and not out of God’s control.

  • To show God as totally and always sovereign over all things including evil as a wise, holy, good God worthy of everyone’s trust and worship.
  • To drive home that evil is not an accident and that all the evil God permits is by design for the greater glory of his Son, Jesus Christ.
  • To show there is hope in the greatest evil, because evil has always been under God’s control and has never escaped his wise governance.

  • To show that Christ, crucified and risen, is the centerpiece of all reality and that everything flows toward him and from him. All evil exists so that his saving work will have the fullest glory and his person the most manifest worth.

  • To show that knowing and embracing all this truth is like ballast in the belly of our boats which gives us stability and strength to plow the waves of adversity without capsizing and without turning from the true north of God’s will.

  • blog it

    After reading this I literally had to pick my jaw off the floor! Realizing that John Piper has for one just blamed God for ALL evil that occurs in the universe and called it "wise and good" is beyond me! And why did God create evil you may ask? - so it would bring him glory! At first I even had to give John Piper the benefit of the doubt and thought to myself - clearly this guy can not be serious. So I decided to dig a little further into the pages of this sermon series to see if he really meant what he said and low and behold he made many more statements to support his position. Including the one below:

    clipped from www.desiringgod.org
    And all things were created for him. All that came into being exists for Christ—that is, it exists to display the greatness of Christ. Nothing—nothing!—in the universe exists for its own sake. Everything from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains, from smallest particle to the biggest star, from the most boring school subject to the most fascinating science, from the ugliest cockroach to the most beautiful human, from the greatest saint to the most wicked genocidal dictator—everything that exists, exists to make the greatness of Christ more fully known—including you, and the person you have the hardest time liking.

    blog it
    So literally what Piper is saying (and again this ALWAYS gets back to Absolute Foreknowledge) is due to God's Sovereignty, He predetermines everything so it will ultimately bring Him glory. Think about what Piper is saying here?! He is saying that the countless murders, mass genocide, rape, pornography, child abuse, pedophilia, homosexuality, abortion, was all foreordained by God so that it would ultimately bring Him glory in the end. I am sorry, call me simple minded, but this is by far the most hideous thing I have ever heard about the character of God. I mean does God really need to create sin to bring Him glory! Were not the angels glorifying God even before creation!?? So John Piper makes God out to be this god that somehow needs evil so that good (or glory in this case) may come of it??

    This all reminds me of a disease or disorder that is called Münchhausen by Proxy Syndrome. Its a disorder found in parents, mostly mothers whereby the parent intentionally makes their child seriously ill. Here is the official medical description of this psychological disorder:

    clipped from allpsych.com

    The child is a victim of maltreatment in which an adult falsies or causes physical and/or physiological signs and/or symptoms in the child causing this child to be regarded as ill or impaired. The perpetrator who is usually a parent or caregiver intentionally falsifies history, signs, or symptoms in the child to meet their own self-serving psychological needs. Other member in the family may support and participate in the deception (n.d., p. 1).


    blog it

    Now here we have a mental disorder, whereby a parent causes a child to become ill (in most cases almost to near death) in order that the parent can meet their own self-serving psychological needs. Now folks, our society has deemed this type of behavior as psychotic and is considered unacceptable - even to the point of either imprisonment or a mental institution. What makes us think that the character of God being promoted by John Piper and his bunch, that demonstrates the same qualities as a person with Münchhausen by Proxy , is deemed to be acceptable behavior for a benevolent and just God?! If its deemed unacceptable in mankind, then it can not be OK for God. Remember when Jesus said "when you see me you also see the Father" this means Jesus had personally demonstrated to us here on earth the amazing character of God - in human form! Did we ever see such behavior as that being told by John Piper exhibited in Jesus? Was God the Father orchestrating people to become demon-possessed or blind or lame so that Jesus could "show-off" just how powerful he really is? Does God really need to do such things to prove he is glorious or worthy of praise? No! God is praise worthy because he chooses to be holy and righteous. We praise God because his character is pure and holy!

    Is it no wonder that people are not getting saved when they here a message as the one John Piper is preaching. Would this doctrine really speak to the hearts of men. Would this prick the hearts of men and see God as he truly is - who is merciful and loving and just! Is this at all the gospel spoken of by Jesus? A beloved pastor I know once said something that I think is very profound here: Ideas do have consequences. The idea that Mr. Piper and crew are promoting does have consequences. Sadly, many have fallen prey to this wolf and I would beseech you to rethink your doctrine and seek God's truths in his word.








    14 comments:

    Chris said...

    You have truly missed the point here. John Piper did not say anywhere in this series of sermons that God has caused the evil in the world; what he said is that God is sovereign over that evil, and that even the most spectacularly evil things the world has ever seen will ultimately bring glory to Jesus.

    You brought up the ministry of Jesus at the end of your post and said that God was not causing people to be blind so Jesus could show off how powerful he was, but in John 9 we read the account of the man who was born blind, and in this account the disciples ask Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" And Jesus answers them by saying, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so the work of God might be displayed in him."

    Clearly, the blindness this man was suffering was so Jesus could be glorified.

    Jesus will be glorified by everything that we do both in this life and throughout all eternity. The only reason we were created was to bring Him glory, and even if we choose to disobey Him and even if we ultimately reject Him and spend eternity in Hell we will still be bringing Him glory.

    I am not writing this to defend John Piper, although I believe that the sermon series you are blogging about was one of the best studies on the sovereignty of God I have ever heard. Did God create sin? Absolutely Not! Will every action ultimately glorify God, whether it is sinful or not? Again, absolutely!

    I challenge you to listen, really listen, to this entire series of messages and you will see that what John Piper is saying here is true, God is sovereign, and God will be glorified in everything, even in our sin.

    Preston N said...

    Chris

    First, let me address your first comment regarding Piper statements - he did in fact say that God did create evil for God's glory. I suggest you re-read the clipped in comments directly in my post. Furthermore here is what Piper says in his Aug 12, 2007 Sermon on the "ALL Things Were Created Through Him and For Him":

    PIPER SAYS: "Therefore, when Paul says, “the rulers and authorities” were created by Christ and for Christ, he means that God created them KNOWING what they would become and how, in that very evil role, they would glorify Christ. Knowing everything they would become, God created them for the glory of Christ."

    Now here we have God who supposedly foreknew that even before Satan was created he would become evil. Now Chris I am sorry you can dodge and weave and try to say all you can, but when I read this I interpret this straight forward that Piper is saying that God is indeed responsible for evil. Not to mention that this type of theology is found utterly no where in Scripture!

    Let me give you a better example: Let's say I know that my next door neighbor in two weeks is going to murder his wife. And two weeks come and go and he murders his wife. When the authorities come to question me if I knew anything about this murder and I say "Yeah I knew this was going to happen two weeks ago" - would the police not consider me either grievously negligent or even an accessory to murder? Then how is it that under Calvinism that its OK with God getting a free pass here when He creates evil? I mean when God tells me He is Holy and blameless or He is the light and in Him there is NO DARKNESS - what part of this don't Calvinist seem to understand?

    As for the whole John 9:3 example you gave this can be easily explained. Many bible scholars will agree that in the original Greek New Testament, there was no punctuation present. So where the colon is placed in this sentence was not added until much later by the scribes who translated it. Many scholars would agree that the semicolon should be a period and thus the start of a new sentence, whereby it would read:

    John 9:3-4 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents. But that the works of God should be made manifest in him, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."

    Clearly this greatly changes the verse and shows that this man was not born with a birth defect so that God could be glorified - in a predetermined sense. I would recommend you do some more research here and see for yourself that none of the original manuscripts reflect this punctuation.

    Finally, I am greatly disturbed by your closing comments. You state:

    "I am not writing this to defend John Piper, although I believe that the sermon series you are blogging about was one of the best studies on the sovereignty of God I have ever heard. Did God create sin? Absolutely Not! Will every action ultimately glorify God, whether it is sinful or not? Again, absolutely!"

    Let me ask you this. When someone is sinning is God's will being done?? When someone is being raped or murder is this bringing joy to the heart of our Savior? (I would be careful in how you respond as you just said that it ALL brings him glory - so if it brings him glory then clearly this must be a good thing - yes??) When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray and says "Your kingdom come Your will be done,On earth as it is in heaven". Doesn't this imply that the will of God IS not being done here on earth?? I would be curious as how you would answer these questions.

    Chris said...

    Preston

    So what you are saying is that God is NOT omniscient? If there is anything that can happen anywhere in the universe that God did not know before hand then He is not God.

    In the third paragraph of your response you said,"Now here we have God who supposedly foreknew that even before Satan was created he would become evil." Yes, He had to know, or He doesn't know ALL things.

    Do you think that the plan of salvation was God's plan B? Does not the Bible teach us that Christ was crucified before the foundations of the world? God knew that Satan would sin, and God knew that Adam would sin, and He used those to bring glory to Himself. That is not the same thing as creating evil, or causing evil.

    God hates sin, and you are correct, in Him there is NO Darkness At All. But God is also sovereign and as such He knows every bit of evil that has ever, or will ever take place. And everything that has ever been done, or ever will be done, will ultimately bring glory to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Finally, let me answer your questions:

    "When someone is sinning is God's will being done??" No, and the person who is sining is responsible for their actions; if they do not repent and turn to Jesus they will one day be thrown into Hell where they will still bring glory to Jesus.

    "When someone is being raped or murder is this bringing joy to the heart of our Savior? (I would be careful in how you respond as you just said that it ALL brings him glory - so if it brings him glory then clearly this must be a good thing - yes??)"No, God hates sin! But you have to answer the question did He know that the rape or murder was going to happen? If He is Omniscient He did. Does rape and murder, or any sin for that matter, make Him happy? No, He is holy. But He is also Omniscient. He knew the sin would happen and He will be glorified by our actions, either as we recognize our sinfulness and bow to His Son, or as we harden our hearts against Him and spend eternity in Hell.

    "When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray and says "Your kingdom come Your will be done,On earth as it is in heaven". Doesn't this imply that the will of God IS not being done here on earth??" Obviously not everyone on earth is doing God's will, otherwise Jesus would not have said,"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven will enter." (Matthew 7:21)This verse implies that there are people who are not doing God's will and that the mark of a true Christian is that they ARE doing God's will.

    Looking forward to you rebuttal,
    Chris

    Preston N said...

    Chris

    First, let me say thank you for your post. It is my hope that we can have meaningful conversation regarding this subject here. As I stated in my original post, this subject does indeed always get us back to the issue of God's Foreknowledge. Now you stated the following in your reply:

    Chris Said:

    So what you are saying is that God is NOT omniscient?

    Preston: Not at all! However, I define omniscience as God knowing, that which is knowable. The future is not yet knowable, as it does not yet exist – its contingent. This is like saying God can make a married bachelor or a round triangle - its a logical contradiction. I suggest you read my previous post entitled "What is there to Know".

    Chris said:

    If there is anything that can happen anywhere in the universe that God did not know before hand then He is not God.

    Preston: Where do you ever get from the bible that God knows the absolute future? Who are you to say that God has to know the future absolutely in order for God to be God?? Who is limiting God here? Again, your approaching this subject with the presupposition that God knows the absolute future and thus the future is already existent and is fixed. In other words mankind has no free will and all things are predetermined by God – as a result of his foreknowledge. I on the other, as the scriptures as a whole, clearly show God does not know the absolute future. As directed by scripture there are countless events in the bible where God says he did not know the actions of free-will moral agents.

    For Example: Gen 18:20-21

    20 And the LORD said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. "I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know."

    Gen 22:12 The Lord said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

    Again, these verses are then contingent upon the Calvinist to explain these verses as they show God not knowing something. I can very well harmonize these within my worldview, but for Calvinist they seem to be more of thorn.

    These verses, among others I could reference, show that God did not fully know the free will decisions of either Sodom & Gomorrah or Abraham. Just because God does not know the future does not make him limited in any capacity. Again, as I addressed in a previous comment here on my blog, we should seriously question an assumption that a God that exhaustively knows what is definitely going to happen is somehow "wiser" than a God who does not. Think for a moment on how unimaginably intelligent a God who faces a partly open future would have to be? Consider the vast number of possibilities you personally face everyday in your life. The God who faces a partly open future would have to know every one of these possibilities from all eternity (as possibilities, unlike actualities are eternal!)!! Whereas the God portrayed by Calvinist is really a God whose intelligence is limited because its based upon actualities. Calvinist exhibits a God whose knowledge is really fixed and is not at all fluid. This then makes God have a machine like knowledge. Therefore I would argue that the God portrayed by Calvinist is actual limited in knowledge.

    Chris said:

    Do you think that the plan of salvation was God's plan B?

    Preston: YES! Do you think this world is really the best possible outcome? According to Calvinist this IS the best God could do! WOW! I would think God needs to apologize to the billions of people who have had countless evil atrocities enacted upon them so that God could could get "glorified! For me this does not even pass the giggle test. I mean how is your theology any different than that of the Muslims. They hold to the same theology as you do – all things including mass suicide bombings, all evil is for the “Will (glory) of Allah”! How is your theology any different than theirs?

    My explanation here would be God is a loving God, valuing the free will of moral agents (angels and man) and thus when creating them gave them the ability to chose evil or righteousness. However, God in his infinite wisdom also knew the possibility always existed for man and angels to rebel. Thus salvation was indeed Plan B (read Eph 1:4-6). It was God’s original purpose for man to be holy and blameless and in direct communion with God in the Garden of Eden, but because we rebelled (Willfully), God enacted the plan of salvation through his son.

    Chris said:
    Does not the Bible teach us that Christ was crucified before the foundations of the world?

    Preston: I assume your speaking of Eph 1:4 & Rev 13 & 17. This goes back to my point. It was God’s original plan for us to be in Christ (holy & blameless) from the beginning of Creation. Thus Plan A, but again God knowing “possibilities” rather than actualities knew the potential that man could rebel given he had free will, and thus already had a rescue plan in place just in case this should happen – thus the atonement of Christ. I would also suggest you read the following paper that explains further the correct use of the Greek word katabole (foundation) in all of these verses: http://www.biblical-theology.com/
    omniscience/katabole.htm. I hope after reading this you may come with a clearer understanding of this passage.

    In conclusion, my point here Chris is that most Calvinist say God’s knowledge trumps love at all times as part of his character. Somehow they assume God cannot be all-powerful if he does not know something (Again, who comes up with this definition that God has to know ALL Things including all future events to be all-powerful. God is still more powerful than you or me, so therefore he is still all-powerful – as it relates to mankind) Does this “knowing” include logical absurdities too?? Thus this is my point with absolutely knowing all future events. Please understand my definition of omniscience is that God knows possibilities and works with mankind using this knowledge. Yes, God may know how we may react in a particular situation as he knows our personalities and mind better than we do. However, there is always the possibility that we may surprise him and make a decision he had not expected. I mean here we have a God described by Calvinist who cannot handle a little surprise made by mankind? Who is truly limiting God here?? For me a surprise or an unexpected action by a freewill being does not limit God in anyway, but rather shows God is very capable of handling these types of decisions made by man.

    However, the God described by Calvinist like that of John Piper, Bruce Ware, & John MacArthur, is a God who is held captive by his foreknowledge. The Calvinist God cannot create, because again this would require change – something your God cannot do because he again is held captive by his foreknowledge. Your God cannot express emotion – as again this would require a change & duration something the God of John Calvin is impossible to do (i.e. – for example, if God was grieved there was at some point when He wasn’t grieved and one moment when he was, this requires duration). Because the God I read in the bible is not the God described by John Calvin. He is a God who is alive and able to change (I am not speaking of his character here, but actions).

    Again, I tried to address your questions without writing an entire book, but I want to make sure you clearly understand my position. Again, may God bless you and thanks again for taking the time to read my blog!

    PS – Since you apparently do believe in predestination, understand this then that God then would have created the concept of Open Theism and so somehow this must also give him glory. So why then are you denying my position if this was already “willed” by God and it gives Him so type of glory? Just a thought....

    Chris said...

    Preston,

    In response to your last post; you said:

    "I define omniscience as God knowing, that which is knowable. The future is not yet knowable, as it does not yet exist – its contingent."

    How then could we read in Revelation chapter 4

    After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (Rev 4:1)

    John was taken to Heaven and shown the future; he was not given a vision, he was not shown what might happen if things play out a certain way, he was shown what WILL happen and HOW it WILL happen.

    God could show John the future because God is outside of, and above time. He is not limited by it. Isaiah 46:10 makes this clear when God says He declares the end from the beginning, and that He will establish His purpose and will accomplish His good pleasure. God can say this because He is not limited (as we are) by time and space. He already knows the end because He has already been there(Read Revelation).

    You also sited Genesis 18:20-21 to show that God does not know the future, but if you go back just three verses in that chapter you see God saying, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" He already knew the sin of the cities and the conversation with Abraham was God showing Abraham, in terms that Abraham could understand. In other words that He is just and His judgment against these cities is justified.

    And in Genesis 22:12, do you really believe that God didn't know what Abraham was going to do; that he was suprised ? This was not a test to prove to God what Abraham would do, this was a test to show us what it means to believe God (see James 2:14-24).

    You also referenced the Greek word Katobole in your response indicating that the usage and translation of this word are incorrect in the NT. I did a little research and found the following definitions for this word:

    "The foundation of the world stands for the definite time when this present universe was originated."
    Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G2602). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

    "Before the foundation of the world,” John 17:24; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20. looks back to the past eternity."
    Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (2:254). Nashville: T. Nelson.

    "The word 'foundation' is katabolē (καταβολη), from ballō (βαλλω), 'to throw,' and kata (κατα), 'down,' the word meaning 'a throwing or laying down.' It describes the act of the transcendent God throwing down a universe into space, speaking a material universe into existence which had no existence before."
    Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Eph 1:3). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

    Therefore, I am confident that the correct meaning of this Greek word is exactly as it has been translated in the NT, and that the meaning of Ephesians chapter 1 is exactly what as it has been written; God chose us in Christ before He created the world, and He predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ Jesus.

    This is enough for now, I will address some of your other points at a later time.

    Chris

    P.S. I too hope we can continue to have a meaningful conversation on this subject. As Christians we should be able to vigorously debate an issue like this without personal attacks, and I think that so far we have been able to do that. Keep the questions coming, because if nothing else, it is causing me to examine my own beliefs. Have a great day.

    Preston N said...

    Chris

    Thanks again for your response. First let me address the issue regarding katabole. Again, we need to be consistent with our definitions here. It is not the definition at all that I disagree with (I hope you at least read the link I referenced as this was not what it I was addressing). I totally agree that katabole means to “throw down”. The issue I take with the use of this word especially its translation in the NT. Throughout the entire Greek Septuagint not once is the word katabole used for as foundation. Themelios is the word most consistently used for the word foundation – not katabole. Again, we need to maintain consistency in our definitions as words have meaning. Let me again reference the article I included in my previous reply:

    “Themelios is also the most frequent word for foundation in the Bible. It is ironic that this word is used as the primary word for foundation, either figuratively or literally, and yet not once is it used in any of these ten phrases. Furthermore, outside of these ten phrases katabole is not once used for foundation in the Old Testament Septuagint or in the Greek New Testament. The following is a list of verses in the Old Testament Septuagint where foundation is found. In each of these cases the Greek word is themelios, and not once is katabole found. If katabole means foundation, why is it not used at least once where it is obvious? (O.T.: Joshua 6:26, Ezra 3:6, 10, 11, 12, Job 22:16, Ps. 87:1, Is. 28:16, 16, 44:28, 48:13, Ezek. 13:14. N.T.: Luke 6:48, 14:29, Acts 16:26, Ro. 15:20, I Cor. 3:10, 11, 12, Eph. 2:20, I Tim. 6:19, II Tim. 2:19, Heb. 1:10, 6:1, Rev. 21:14, 21:19). (There are couple of other words for foundation; however, their usage is quite limited.) In Hebrews 6:1 we find both katabole and themelios in the same sentence. It is important to note that katabole is not translated foundation: rather, themelios is. Katabole is given the concept of disintegration or going backwards.”

    Again, let our definitions be clear. Therefore we can logically conclude that katabole does not mean foundation, but rather cast down, overthrow, destroy (BTW – this is where we get the word for catabolic as in catabolic reaction). Webster’s defines catabolic as follows:

    Etymology:
    Greek katabol_ throwing down, from kataballein to throw down, from kata- + ballein to throw — more at devil; degradative metabolism involving the release of energy and resulting in the breakdown of complex materials (as proteins or lipids) within the organism — compare

    Nowhere do I get the sense of the definition of “foundation” here but rather quite the opposite – more of a degradation or breakdown. I even find it peculiar that even Websters seems to have a reference here – “more at devil”??

    I did note however you used a Vines Dictionary to define these words, and I have no problem with that, but I would request that we stick purely to the Greek definitions and not the commentaries – as these can often exhibit presuppositions or bias towards one position or another.

    That being said, based upon the definitions and references I stated above do you still hold to your position that katabole means – foundation or that themelios is the correct and proper Greek definition for this word??

    Waiting for your rebuttal

    Blessings!
    Preston

    Chris said...

    Preston,

    I have read the link several times, and while I agree that Dr. Elseth makes a good point I find it interesting that every dictionary and lexicon that I have access to defines this word as "foundation."

    Additionally, The Complete Word Study Dictionary actually lists katabolé̄ as a synonym for themélios where is defines the word again as "foundation."

    Here is a list of some of the dictionary's and lexicons in my library that define katabolé̄ as "foundation."

    Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament)

    Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains

    An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon

    The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

    The Complete Word Study Dictionary

    New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries

    A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition

    While a recognize that we are not going to agree on the definition of this word I do find it odd that Howard Elseth is the only source I can find that deviates at all from the traditional definition of katabolé̄ as "foundation."

    On a totally different subject, I thought you post "Lack of Power" was right on the money; we may disagree on this issue, but you hit the nail on the head with that post.

    Chris

    Preston N said...

    Chris

    Please understand I am not at all opposed to the use of supportive materials such as Lexicons or Dictionaries. But as hermeneutics dictates, one needs to start with the original language(s) here - Greek. Dr. Elseth is not redefining or giving a commentary regarding the use and definition of these words. Rather he is merely showing factual information of how this word historically was used in the Greek OT & NT text.

    One needs to use caution anytime we use something other than the original text, as these material can often be written using a presupposition or bias to a particular theology. We should always approach God's Word without any preconceived notions or presupposition.

    Again, using solid hermeneutics one needs to go back and use words in the context the original authors used them. Since we know that the New Testament writers were deeply influenced by the Septuagint version, we may reasonably assume that the word katabole conveyed to them what the verbal form conveyed to the authors of the Septuagint. Its meaning is clearly one of destruction.

    The challenge you have is do we ignore the context by which this word was originally used or do you go with what the Lexicons or Dictionaries tell you? On this particular point I have shown a logical and clear definition of how the word katabole was originally used by the original authors.

    Again, I hope this is being productive and you not confuse my passion with frustration or anger. Also, thanks for the kind comment regarding my other post. I agree we are seeing some sad days here lately and I am sadden how this must break the Lords heart.

    God Bless
    Preston

    Chris said...

    Preston,

    I completely agree with what you are saying, that using proper hermeneutics requires us to revert to the original language, however; when you look at the original language and you have one source that translates a word that is in opposition to all of the other sources it causes one to question the reliability of that one source.

    In addition to the research that I have done, I have discussed this word with two friends who have studied NT Greek (one of whom has actually translated the book of Ephesians from the original Greek) and they both agreed that the use of katabole in the NT expresses the idea of casting down as in the process of laying a foundation; that it is always used in a positive (to create) not a negative (to destroy) way.

    Let me ask you another question, Does God have the ability to stop evil in the world? If He does, and there is no purpose in allowing it to continue, then God would be evil Himself. BUT, if God has the ability to stop evil, and He allows it to continue there must be a purpose in His allowing it. If you say that God cannot stop evil that makes evil more powerful than God, and Hi is not Omnipotent.

    Let's take the fall of Satan for example; when God created Satan (as the angel Lucifer) He created him with free will - the ability to choose. Lucifer chose to make himself god and evil was born. Why, if God is all powerful did He not just eliminate Satan right then and there? You only have two choices: either God was not powerful enough to eliminate him, or He had a purpose in allowing his sin to continue.

    I contend that God is All Powerful, that He is All Knowing, that He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and that His allowing evil to continue will in some way (which we may not be able to understand) is for our good. But even more importantly, His allowing evil to continue will ultimately bring more glory to Christ than if it had been eliminated the second Satan rebelled.

    Looking forward to Your reply.

    In Christ,
    Chris

    Preston N said...

    Chris
    Thanks again for the dialog.

    Hermeneutics states we look at the context of the original language and how the authors defined words they used. If you truly agree with what I am saying then why are you still defending your position? I have clearly shown that katabole is used in neither the Septuagint nor the NT Greek as the term for foundation. My sincere question to you is are you seeking truth or just until you find someone who will agree with your positions?
    If we see that God is saying things that disagree with our theology, then we must not try and reinterpret the words to get a meaning that agrees with our theology, instead we need to adjust our doctrines. This is truth revealed.

    As for your question regarding evil let me try to address these as best I can. I apologize for this being so long, but sometimes these matters are better explained more thoroughly. I can best explain my position by using Dr Greg Boyd’s 6 Principles of Free Will. This has been taken from his book “Satan and the Problem of Evil”. Because it is fairly longer than I would normally put in a comment section I will post this as a new post on my blog.

    Chris said...

    Preston,

    Due to the length of this comment section I will move any further comments to the new post. But I do want to respond to your last rebuttal here before I move on just so it can stay in context.

    You said, "I have clearly shown that katabole is used in neither the Septuagint nor the NT Greek as the term for foundation. My sincere question to you is are you seeking truth or just until you find someone who will agree with your positions?"

    I would suggest that I am not the one who is misusing this word; I have clearly shown that every other Greek dictionary and lexicon define this word as foundation, and that the only source that defines this word any differently is Dr. Elseth. So who is the one that is seeking someone to agree with them?

    Thanks again for the great debate, I'm looking forward to continuing this on your next post.

    God Bless,
    Chris

    Preston N said...

    Chris

    You seem to miss my point here. Hermeneutics dictate that when interpreting a verse one should use the original language (Koine Greek in this case) and the common definition of those words during the time the authors wrote them. I am simply reading the Greek in its original text and based upon how this words were used in other biblical texts to determine the definition of the word. No Lexicon or Commentary needed. If you know and can read Koine Greek you will be able to make this determination - this is the position of Dr. Elseth.

    Let me put it another way. Imagine your living during the time when Koine Greek was the common language of the people and the apostles. How would the word katabole and themelios be commonly used? Clearly we have seen from the Septuagint the word katabole was never used to express "foundation". Instead themelios was used to express foundation. Secondly, remember this is the divine word of God. Therefore, God is the best linguist. Therefore, He purposely used katabole here and not themelios - this shows us that we must use the common definition of these words according to how the authors would define them in their everyday language.

    Again, it seems your hermeneutics are off key here as your only basing your interpretation off of what other men say, not allowing what the original text has provided us. Again, I am in no way saying these tools are to be discounted, but they should never be the end all of biblical interpretation. As I have stated before these text are not God inspired and can often show bias towards one doctrine or the other - this is why we always start with the original text and language and the context of how they would be used.

    Chris said...

    Preston,

    You are not understanding what I a saying here; one of the men I spoke with about this word reads Koine Greek and has actually translated the letter to the Ephesians from Greek to English. We spoke extensively about the use of Katabole on the NT and he read the paper by Dr. Elseth. His opinion, along with every other source I checked, was that Dr. Elseth is wrong in his translation of this word.

    Also, while I do not personally know Dr. Zodhaites I do know someone who does. I know from this person that Dr. Zodhaites is fluent in Koine Greek and in his dictionary he defines Katabole as "To cast down, a casting or laying down, a laying down, founding, foundation." And as I said earlier, he also lists Katabole as a synonym of Themelios.

    I am confident that my understanding of this word, and my hermeneutics not "off key."

    Chris

    Preston N said...

    Chris

    So let me see if I understand your hermeneutics. The one who can obtain the most “experts” is the one who discerns truth or has a valid claim? So does this mean if I can go out and get 4-5 “experts” I have a real shot here of convincing you I have a vaild point or claim? Since when do we use this as a method of hermeneutics?

    Let me ask you this, is it possible your friends could be biased towards one particular system of theology (Calvinism, etc)? If so, more than likely they are translating or interpreting through a theological filter. I know for a fact Dr. Zodhaites is a Calvinist and I would expect him to use a theological filter when making his definitions – this would be like asking a tiger to turn his strips into spots. I even have a NASB Hebrew/Greek Key Study Bible that he translated and from this I know he has extreme leanings towards Calvinism.

    Put yourself in the following situation. Let’s say you’re a scholar 800 years ago and you were tasked with translating the bible from Koine Greek to English. Your first rule of translating is for you not to stray from the original context of the manuscript. So in order not to taint the translation you have to translate without any presupposition – you must maintain the original writer’s context. Since you don’t have your friends or Dr. Zodhaites available to help – how do you go about translating the text? Would it not be a good idea to go to a similar text such as the Septuagint and see how words were defined by its authors who were using the same language in the same time period? Again, we must be consistent in our definitions. To further my point I too have consulted another friend of mine who also wrote a detailed thesis on this subject matter. I’ve posted this on my blog under articles and is available to download. It is entitled: “On The Meaning of kataballw and Cognate Forms”. This is a much more thorough examination of this issue than that of Elseth and I would hope you and your friends would read it. Again, thank you for the spirited dialogue and I hope to hear more from you soon regarding the topic of evil and free will.

    God Bless!
    Preston