This blog post was written by my friend and dear brother in Christ, Chris. You can visit his YouTube channel here. He’s got a lot of great stuff there.
Flipping on through Facebook a few days ago, something I have not done in some time, I came across an article written by the daughter of Matt Slick. Some of you may not know him by name but might know about his website/ministry, C.A.R.M (Christian Apologetics Research Ministry).
The article written by his daughter was one that, on some level, seemed to announce her apostasy from the faith. In this article she gave some details about her upbringing and ultimately got to the point where she explained why it is she is no longer one who professes faith in Christ.
I could relate to this story which is why it ‘struck home’ for me. I have an 18 year old son whom I raised entirely on my own. He was brought up in a Christian home, going to church, reading the bible, etc. He professed the faith, though I was never convinced. Shortly after turning 18, before graduation, he moved out of my home and moved in with his girlfriend. Now, he hasn’t verbally denied the faith, but he most certainly has by his actions. This is quite heartbreaking for a Christian parent to deal with. Sins of the father, I presume.
Reading through this article it was apparent that it was not one simple issue that led her to apostasy but rather it was something of a process. Nevertheless, she pointed to one particular “problem” that ‘sealed the deal’ for her. The following are her words:
“This changed one day during a conversation with my friend Alex. I had a habit of bouncing theological questions off him, and one particular day, I asked him this: If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?
Alex had no answer — and I realized I didn’t either. Everyone had always explained this problem away using the principle that Jesus’ sacrifice meant we wouldn’t have to follow those ancient laws.
But that wasn’t an answer. In fact, by the very nature of the problem, there was no possible answer that would align with Christianity.” (emphasis hers)
Allow me to quote again the specific portion I wish to address.
“If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?”
She carries a small suitcase but there is much to unpack.
In a sense, she is so vague in her statements that it’s almost a waste of time responding, simply for the reason that I can only respond by assuming I understand precisely what she means.
For instance, she says God is “absolutely moral” yet she fails to define morality. Is she operating from a Christian perspective when she speaks of morality or from an atheistic perspective? I assume a Christian perspective due to the “timing” of this question she asked her friend. Nevertheless, the implications abound.
What is moral? Is it an absolute moral to abstain from fornication? Is it an absolute moral to say “excuse me” after burping? Is it an absolute moral to keep the Sabbath? Is it immoral to kill a black widow? Is it immoral to use cuss words? I don’t know. She doesn’t define morality.
How does morality apply to God? Is stealing immoral? How can stealing apply to God when He owns everything? Is it an absolute moral to obey ones parents? Does God have parents who need to be obeyed?
Next, she seems to imply that morality, whatever this thing is, stands outside of God. Notice her words,
“If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute…”
God is moral BECAUSE morality is absolute? The next line seems to further establish my conclusion. She writes,
“if the nature of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ surpassed space, time, and existence…”
If morality surpasses each of these things, then it would seem that such a “thing” is eternal and self sufficient, especially since, according to her, this thing called morality doesn’t seem to find its source in God.
Where, then, does morality come from? Is it eternal and self sufficient? Does this make morality a God? If so, how can there be two Gods? If there are two Gods, how is it that one can rule over the other?
Does this God called morality know it exist? Since moral LAW implies a Lawgiver, can this God enforce its laws? If It cannot enforce its laws, how can its laws bind the other God? If Jehovah God can disregard Moral Gods laws, would this not make Jehovah God the absolute moral objectifier (I think I just made this word up), thus nullifying Moral Gods existence?
I believe I made my point clear. Rachael never really thought things through. Her main problem is that she assumed things she should never have assumed. Faulty assumptions lead to faulty reasoning which leads to faulty conclusions.
Why does she assume all laws are moral in nature? Why does she assume all laws are eternal and unchanging? Where did she get such an idea? Certainly not from the bible. As a matter of fact, NO WHERE in the bible will you find the phrase “moral law.”
For me, the fact that Gods laws clearly do change tells me that one should never assume that laws are necessarily eternal and unchanging; this would seem obvious. The fact that Gods laws do change proves that her understanding, that is, what she assumed to be true, was in error.
I bring this up because I’m not sure why she didn’t simply question her assumptions rather than question Gods existence. In other words, it never crossed her mind that she might be wrong in her understanding; it HAD to be the bibles fault.
At this point I could simply stop because her entire premise was faulty to begin with, thus, her conclusions are without foundation. She assumed things that simply are not taught in scripture. Scripture was not her problem, her own ignorance was.
I’m not finished, however. I would still like to address the question which flowed from her faulty premises. Lets look at that once more: “…why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?”
I’m going to attempt to keep this as short and as simple as I can. Keep in mind, “short and simple” are relative terms. There is so much that can be included in this discussion but I simply do not have the time nor do you have the patience.
(I was asked to keep this very simple. Dumbed down, if you will)
Before presenting my argument it must be pointed out that various theologians and various schools of thought will differ with me on some points. This will not hinder the thrust or strength of the argument because there is nevertheless a general consensus on this issue. It’s only some relatively minor points or variations that separate us.
How can something be a sin ‘here’ but not ‘there?’ How can Gods laws change?
The first thing we must do, or not do, is, we cannot begin with assumptions. We must allow the scriptures to form our understanding. This goes for the Christian and atheist alike. If we are to be fair with the words of anyone we must let them say what they say and mean what they mean. This seems obvious but is rarely done.
I’m going to give a very brief and simplistic sketch of history. Be sure to read as this is a necessary outline that will help us understand this issue.
In the beginning, God created man. He gave them one simple law, “don’t eat from that tree.” Adam disobeyed. Man began making babies. These children grew up and eventually we get to Noah. God saw that mans wickedness (wickedness implies broken laws) was great and decided to flood the world. Noah and his family were spared and they were the ones who repopulated the earth.
Up until this point, God did not have “a people;” that is, a specific people in a special relationship with Him, until He called Abram (Abraham). It is with Abraham that God decided to make a people. However, God would create two different peoples from this one man Abraham. One would be his physical descendants who would eventually consist of the physical nation of Israel, the other peoples would consists of his spiritual descendants (anyone who shared the same faith in God as Abraham) who would make up the spiritual kingdom (the Church).
God made a covenant with Abraham and gave him a law…. “circumcise your offspring.” God then made a different covenant with Abraham’s physical descendants through Moses. God gave Moses and the Israelites a whole bunch of laws, over 600. This may seem excessive but they were given for the purpose of running an entire nation (keep this in mind). Finally God created a new covenant established by Christ. Christ and the apostles then gave new laws pertaining to that new covenant.
Why this brief history lesson? Different time periods, different, people, different covenants, different laws. In other words, the reason the laws changed is because the circumstances changed. Obviously laws given to the nation of Israel for the purpose of running a nation have no value under the new covenant with the Church which is not a physical nation. Nor would laws concerning the nation of Israel have any value or purpose before that nation existed.
To be sure, not every law given to Israel was “civil” in nature. For instance, there were laws regarding animal sacrifices (though this is nevertheless a “national thing” Leviticus 16). Why have those laws changed? Why don’t Christians sacrifice animals?
These types of laws (animal sacrifices) were given for a few reasons. The most important one is that they typified or foreshadowed the sacrifice of Christ. They were forward looking and were awaiting fulfillment. When Christ gave His life as a ransom He fulfilled what those animal sacrifices pointed to. Why does this matter? Because, once fulfillment has taken place there is no longer any need for those things which foreshadowed the fulfillment. Hence, the word “fulfilled” (Matthew 5). Thus, laws pertaining to animal sacrifices are no longer binding or in force. As a matter of fact, it would be blasphemous for Christians to sacrifice animals now that Christ has come.
Two different covenants. Two different peoples. Two different sets of laws.
These are just a few examples.
So where does the idea of unchanging moral law come from? All Christians agree, there are laws given by God that seem to reflect His unchanging nature and character. However, such laws are not always easy to discern. The reason for this, as stated above, is that the bible never calls any law “moral.”
For me, and many like me, I look for two main things in scripture to guide my understanding on this.
- Are there any laws/sins that appear to transcend time, people, and covenant?
- Are there any laws that appear to flow directly from aspects of Gods nature or character?
What do I mean “transcend time, people, and covenant?” Remember the history lesson. God had no people. Then God called Abraham. God then had a people called Israel. Lastly, God now has a people called the church. Are there any laws that existed prior to God having a people (Adam to Abraham), while God had a people (the Israelites), and when God changed His people (the Church)? In other words, are there any laws which always were and still remain?
This is important because when God makes a covenant with specific people, the laws which govern that covenant are only given to that specific people (there is a qualification here), they are not binding on anyone else. However (here’s the qualification), if certain laws existed PRIOR to God having “a people,” and we also find these same laws in every covenant, then these laws would transcend time, people, and covenants. These would be the “moral” and unchanging laws. Here are a list of sins given prior to God having “a people.”
Covetousness (Gen. 3:6); false worship (Gen. 4:5); murder (4:8-11); adultery/sexual profligacy (Gen. 6:1-7 19:4); evil thinking (Gen. 6:5); dishonor to parents (Gen. 9:22-25); pride and selfishness (Gen. 11:4); lying deceit (Gen. 27) false gods and idolatry (Exodus 12:12, Romans 1:25
(Thanks to Fred Zaspel for the list above)
Here is another way to see if any laws/sins are specifically connected to something about the nature of God. Two examples should suffice. 1) God cannot lie. Lying is something that is ‘against His nature.’ Since we are also commanded not to lie, this command seems to flow from Gods nature and would therefore be an eternal, unchanging, “moral” law. 2) Murder. Scripture tells us that murder is wrong because man is created in the “image of God.” It seems obvious that such a law against murder is somehow tied to the very nature of God; thus making it an eternal, unchanging, “moral” law.
It’s no coincidence that both lying and murder are at least 2 of the laws that transcend time, people, and covenant. Murder was condemned before Moses, during Moses, and after Moses. Further evidence of their unchanging nature.
Allow me to explain this another way. I will utilize Dr. Robert Morey’s argument given in his 4 part lecture entitled “How The Old and New Testaments Relate To Each Other.”
Dr. Morey speaks about “directives” and “directions.” The directives are the eternal, unchanging, “moral” laws of God. The directions are are the specific applications of HOW various people, at various times, under various covenants are to follow the directives. The directives remain the same (unchanging) while the directions change. Let me provide an example.
“Worship God.” This is a directive. All people of all time, regardless of covenantal status, are obligated to worship God. Now this is a wonderful law, however, it doesn’t provide us with anything useful. How do I worship God? Where do I worship God? When do I worship God? This is where the directions come into play.
The worship of God is something that both covenant Israel had to obey and it is likewise a law the Church must obey. However, the directions are different. The Church does not worship God in precisely the same way Israel did. Israel offered animal sacrifices as part of their worship; the Church does not; we offer spiritual sacrifices. Israel was commanded to give a tithe; the Church is not. The Church goes through Christ in order to worship the Father (Christ is the mediator); Israel went through Moses and the various priest (they were the mediators).
Please keep in mind, contrary to Rachael’s understanding, there are no laws outside of God. In other words, laws do not exist independent of God. God is not bound by some external standard of right and wrong. God IS the standard. Any laws which have an eternal and unchanging nature do so only because they are rooted in God Himself.
Rachael’s apostasy took place because she failed to understand some very basic theological issues. This failure did not result from some error, whether theological or philosophical, in scripture. This error of hers was the result of biblical ignorance.
Lets keep our brother Matt Slick and his family in our prayers and ask Gods mercy and grace upon Rachael. We all have loved ones, even children, who are on the fast track to eternal conscience torment.
Christ was born, lived, died, and was raised that we might me justified. To trust in Him and His atoning sacrifice is the only means by which we can be saved from breaking Gods laws; whatever time period or covenant one comes from.
Now bow your heads and repeat this prayer….