Mathematical voting: Was the decision to not vote a vote for Obama?

The position of those on Reformed Inquisitor has been what we call “principled voting”. This is the view that we are to vote according to the admonitions of passages of Scripture like Exodus 18:21:

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, etc.

The really really evil guy

Our conclusion has also been that if there are no candidates who fulfill these qualifications, that to abstain from voting is more than advisable.

However, there has been some backlash against principled voters due the failure of the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to gain the electoral college and thus fail to become our new President for 2012. Seeing as there were approximately 3 million voters who did not show up to vote on Election Day in the Republican Party, my guess is that those who are perturbed at Romney’s failure need someone else to blame and so, alas! principled voters (among others) get the fallout.


The General Argument Against Principled Voting:


1. Your non-vote obviously doesn’t put forward any outcome of success since no perfect people exist (straw-man)

2. By not voting, you rob the less bad guy  (Mitt Romney) of your vote (false assumption)

3. Therefore, your non-vote was a vote for the evil guy (Barack Obama) and therefore evil (invalid inference)

If you simply replaced the information the abstaining from voting with information about voting for a third party, you can see that the argument is both against non-voters and third party voters.

The guy just right of the really really evil guy – at least in picture placement

There are at least three fronts that can combat this sort of argument,

Law of Identity:

First, a non-vote is a non-vote. Those who say a non-vote is a vote for someone else fail to recognize a fundamental law of logic, namely, the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity, simply put, says, “A is A”. Thus, a non-vote is a non-vote (which ought to be self-evident). To say a non-vote is a vote for Obama is to confuse matters. Does my name register on the ballot as a recorded vote for Obama? Clearly not.

False Assumption:

Second, there is an assumption that those who vote for the third party guy (or who do not vote) are potential voters for the less evil guy (Mitt Romney). Of course, this assumption is unwarranted. My personal voting record does not indicate that I am a voter who would support someone with the ideologies and record of a man like Mitt Romney. Thus, I should not be viewed as a potential voter for the lesser of two evils. Further, one could argue that a vote for Obama is the pragmatically better choice. After all, if the religious life, and not just the economic life, of America is put in balance, is not the popularization of of the cult Mormonism a destructive thing? Why should economics take precedence? Also, have Republicans been known to stop the tide of big government or do they not rather perpetuate it? Therefore, the assumption that those who vote third party or not at all are “stealing votes” away from Romney is based on a false premise.

Argumentum Ad Hominem (Devil’s Advocate)

Third, suppose we grant, for the sake of argument, their conclusion. We voted for Obama by not voting at all or by voting third party. So what? If one is not going to adopt a principled approach, on what basis is evil inferred on our part? That Barack Obama is evil? Well, so is Mitt Romney. That Obama will cause more damage? How do we quantify the potential destruction both candidates might bring without being able to know the future? And on what principle do we say that we ought to vote for the guy that is less evil? There is none. These are the questions that the voter of Mitt Romney need to answer, but is actually ill equipped to do so. The reason – which is also the motivation of his criticism of the non-voter and third party voter- is that he has rejected a principled approach. While he rejects the principled approach, he needs it to justify his condemnation of the non-voters and third party voters. Instead, what the Romney voter does is appeal to vague and general terms like “moral choice”. We ought to vote for Romney because it’s the “right thing to do”. Of course, all this is begging the question.

Now, this is not to say that non-votes and third party votes are always the good moral choices. Some third party candidates (Gary Johnson at least and maybe even Virgil Goode of the Constitution party) are aptly put in the category of “evil men” and a vote for them is no better than a vote for the other evil men. Furthermore, non-voting is not always virtuous. If there was, hypothetically, a piece of legislation put forward that would outlaw abortion, it would be immoral not to vote. In this case, silence is sin since we are obligated to support righteousness. But these things are actually all apparent from the premises of our view: we are not advocating third party votes or non-votes per se, but a principled approach which may entail a non-vote or third party vote in many circumstances. But “not voting” or voting third party is not good ipso facto (in and of itself), but rather the following of the admonition of Scripture that is good.

More Objections: Let’s look at the Math!

There are a few objections raised to the principled approach other than the above argument. There have been some attempts to do the business of quantifying the evil of one candidate versus the other. The idea is that we ought to vote for the person that we can mathematically quantify, based on statistics, the evil one candidate might do and pit it against the other really evil guy and what he might do, again, all based on the records of these men and statistics. If, for example, both candidates are pro-abortion, this view would suggest that we ought to vote for the guy where fewer pre-born babies will die even though the candidate is actually perpetuating abortion. Suppose that under Obama 10 million babies are killed and 8 million babies will be killed under Romney. The difference is 2 million babies that you will “save” by your vote for Romney. Some might say, “It’s just math!”

The objection against the principled voter, ironically, is that we are responsible for the death of the 2 million babies because in our “purest theology” (something our ideas keep getting labeled) we voted for the guy that “didn’t have a chance”, or perhaps didn’t vote at all and thus “allowed” 2 million pre-born babies to be murdered.

Let me suggest that this objection and conclusion is based two detrimental ideologies, namely, pragmatism and relativism.

What is Responsibility?

First, there is the notion of blame. Who is to be blamed for the death of 2 million babies? Or, since I am highly questioning the assumptions behind the allegation, we might ask, “Who is responsible for the death of 10 million babies?” What I am asking is for the person who is alleging that we are to blame to give an account for his theological concept of responsibility. Let me give a brief definition of what responsibility is. Responsibility is you being held to account by a higher power. Thus, responsibility implies a law and a Sovereign to hold you to account to that law. One is blame worthy, then, when one has violated a principle of the law. It is incumbent upon those who rail against the non-voter to show how they can be held accountable for the death of 2 million babies, when, in the first place, the motivation of not voting was rooted in the fact that both candidates are pro-abortion!

Math and Situation Ethics:

Let’s look back in history and place ourselves in a concentration camp in Germany under Hitler. You are standing in front of ten Jews who are being lined up for execution. You are standing next to a German officer who is giving you a gun. He tells you that unless you shoot one of them, he will shoot all of them. What do you do? The principled approach would say that you don’t shoot any of them since responsibility and morality are based on God’s absolutes. If you shoot that person, you are a murderer and will be held accountable before God for your action. So also, in our view, if the German officer shoots all of them, he is the murderer, not you. (without getting into too much detail that if you were in such a scenario, you would be obligated to defend said people with your own life since this is the positive implication of the sixth commandment, namely, defense of a third person). But what must the mathematical ethicist say?  Well, surely if you shoot one and nine are spared, you should shoot the one! Actually, even if the math was that if you shot nine and only one would be spared, you should do it. Thus we have relativism and its offspring of situation ethics. Suffice it to say, the theory is antithetical to Christian morality. So let’s return to the “math” of the above objection. The person raising the allegation can only do so on the premises of pragmatism and relativism. Since both are theologically bankrupt and neither of them can supply a rule of morality that can withstand rigorous analysis nor even an imperative, we are better suited to follow the Wisdom of the Law-giver.

One minor note: we can only quantify what we know of the two candidates. Seeing as Romney was never president there is the difficulty of needing to quantify potential deaths. This is virtually impossible. All we know is that Romney was a status quo guy. He was and is pro-abortion.

Some Reasons To Vote Third Party (or not voting at all):

There are some tactical reasons for voting third party besides the moral reasons cited above. This is clearly seen in the 3 million who didn’t vote in this 2012 election and even the one percent that voted Libertarian. What does it tell to the establishment? What kind of message does it tell those who might run in the future? Often we think that compromise always means a compromise towards liberalism. Well, in the case of the 3 million who didn’t vote, the Republicans are going to need to start compromising towards the conservatives. The lack of turnout is a message to the establishment that says, “Hey! You can’t do this without us!” It means that those who run in the future are going to need to show some credentials of conservatism before they are going to be able to take those voters back. If no one ever voted third party and always voted for the moderate candidate that the Republican party puts forward, the message you send is that you are willing to eat whatever they feed you. However, once they are shown that there is a large body of people that they haven’t won over because the absentees are sick of the nonsense, there may very well be candidates who have conservative values who will run because they know they have a fighting chance.

So next time you’re confronted with the pottage of liberalism with the Republican front, vote third party or not at all! There are both moral and political reasons to do so.

Language and Dominion: Results of the Image of God (Part 3)

(2) Language and Creativity as the image of God:

The following two views are seen by their proponents as being the imago dei.  I would like to demonstrate that although these views come close to hitting the mark, they fail to see the difference between the the results of man being created in the image of God and man being the image of God.

The second view has many things to commend to itself.(1) Language is definitely something unique to man, and we see the first thing God did in the beginning was create, and man likewise is a creative being. After all, a few contrasts can be given between man and the beasts in this regard. While humans construct beautiful architecture, communicate in propositions, build societies and make things for the purpose of beauty, beasts do not. They don’t speak an intelligent language or communicate in propositions.  However, I do not think we are totally left to speculation as to what the image of God in man is. We have already quoted thus far from Genesis and Job. The Job passage makes clear part of this image is understanding and Colossians mentions knowledge. That language is unique to man is clear, and that man has knowledge, indeed, innate knowledge is clear from such passages as Romans 1 and 2. But is there something more foundational to the image of God in man than language and creativity? The point is that we don’t have the biblical basis to say the image is language and creativity. We have conjectures once again. We will leave this view and come back to it later. We come now to the third view.

(3) Dominion in Righteousness as the image of God:

Some Scriptures seemingly show the third view to be correct:

Genesis 1:26-28:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

However, an aspect of the image of God should be noted which I think makes this view not as plausible as perhaps might be seen from a superficial reading of Genesis 1. It is this: before and after the fall, man is the image of God.(2) There are a few problems with asserting that dominion is the image of God. First, some men don’t take dominion. Most men are rebels against God and don’t think they need to take dominion. Secondly, whatever limited dominion some men may take in an analogous fashion, is not the dominion talked about in Genesis 1 which is dominion under God or in righteousness.. One could say the Socialist is taking dominion in terms of his Socialistic ideals, but to say dominion in general is what is referred to in Genesis 1 cannot be substantiated by the context. Even Christians are not as faithful as they ought to be in taking dominion for Christ the Lord. Does this mean in a Christian’s life he wavers from being the image of God and not being the image of God? Scripturally and Confessionally, this cannot be so. Man is the image of God; he is not, as some have put it “imaging God” as if the image of God in man is something man does.(2) It is who he is. As Dr. Robert Reymond writes,

“[I]t is because man is God’s image that God bestows dominion over the earth upon him”.

Gordon Clark says something along the same lines,

“The image of God is not something man has, somewhere inside of him, or somewhere on the surface, as if God had first created man and then stamped him with a signet ring. No, the image is not something man has, man is the image. First Corinthians 11:7 pointedly says “He [man] is the image and glory of God.” (4)

“[And since man is the image] the image must in some way or other be a permanent characteristic of personality.” (5)

One reason adduced in the Scripture for the immorality of killing an innocent person is man is the image of God (see Gen 9:6). This was stated after the fall.  Note too that this bears upon those who assert that the image of God is an activity of man (“imaging God”) rather than something man is. The full significance of all this will be elaborated on later. However, the conclusion from what has been presented is clear: Dominion in righteousness is not the image of God. Dominion is given to man as a result of his being the image of God, just like language, but it is not what constitutes that image. This does not alter the significance of dominion under God but this just means that this will not be discussed at this point. Dominion in righteousness is an application of the image of God in man, but is not the image. Next we shall come to the fourth view.

(1) See for an example of this view.

(2) See Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, page 449. The logical implication of Rushdoony’s position is that after the fall man ceases to be the image of God. The reformed view is that the image of God in man has been marred, not eradicated.

(3) See Stewart, The image of God in man: A Reformed Reassessment:

(4) Clark, The Biblical doctrine of man, pg. 9

(5) Ibid. pg. 8

Is Free-will the Image of God? (Part 2)

The blue M&M or the red M&M?

The introduction gave us the biblical foundation for the discussion of the image of God. Before going into the view that sees free-will as the image of God, I would like to stress one thing. When we speak on the “image of God”, we are not going to be emphasizing the creature-Creator distinction. This is not to say that this is disregarded, for it is, in truth, an essential doctrine. But the very nature of the discussion is drawing our attention to the creature-Creator connection. We are wanting to know in what sense man is created in the “likeness of God”.

Can free-will be the image of God? It is a common conception, especially of those in

Pelagians are adherrents to the basic view of Pelagius, a British monk who lived in the 4th century. He is infamously known for his denial of the doctrine of original sin and his assertions of the basic goodness of man.

the semi-Palagian and Palagian (1) camps, that the creature-Creator connection is the free-will of man. As God has free-will, so God has given to man this characteristic. It it free-will that makes man superior to the beast. It is free-will that is the key to man’s destiny; whether he will choose good and blessedness, or choose evil and the consequent judgments. This notion of free-will being the image of God in man, however, has a few internal difficulties as well as a lack of Biblical support. Those who are of a Pelagian bent tend to see the image of God as constituting free-will to support their already assumed theodicy. The argument seems to be more an assumption than something arrived at through investigation of Biblical texts. It is posed in this manner, “God has free-will and man has free-will. Therefore, free-will is the image of God”. But this simply begs the question.

Besides begging the question, this view has some internal inconsistencies. The most obvious internal inconsistency is if God has free-will, man cannot also have free-will given the meaning of “freedom” to begin with. Those who hold that God, in His freedom, made a being who in turn thwarts the free-will of God, is, to say the least, problematic. Does God give up His freedom to give man free-will? To suppose He does, for the sake of argument, only demonstrates this cannot possibly be the image of God since God Himself ends up losing the attribute of free-will. And how, then, could man be said to be created in the likeness of God? As theologian and philosopher Gordon Clark says in relation to this, “[I]f man were free, God could not confront him imperiously, from which Feuerbach had already deduced atheism, and modernism had deified man.” (2)

The point is simple: If man has free-will to frustrate God in His purposes, man’s will- not God’s will –  is established. Man’s will, then, is ultimate, not God’s. And from this proposition atheism has flourished, and from it likewise man has been seen as his own god determining for himself good and evil.

The second problem is the ambiguity of the word “free-will”. If it means the ability to choose between two incompatible courses of action then the above refutation stands. If it means freedom to act outside of one’s nature then not even God has that freedom. God cannot lie, cannot become weak, and cannot speak in contradictory propositions. Man, by his constitution after the fall cannot will to do something that is outside if his natural bent. Man before and after the fall was determined by his nature. The difference now is that since the fall, man has become corrupted in all his faculties so he is free only to do that which is evil. Man is said to be “born in sin” (Ps. 51:5) and speaking lies as soon as he is born (Ps. 58:3)

The above establishes this conclusion: Free-will is not the image of God in man. It must be sought elsewhere. The next one that shall be examined is “Language and Creativity”: Is it the image of God?

(1) The works of Gordon Clark, vol. IV, page 309

The Biblical doctrine of the Image of God (part 1.)

Introduction: Scriptural legwork for the doctrine

The doctrine of the imago dei, or the image of God in man, has many Scripture texts to give a sound foundation as a

It is tempting to compare the doctrine of the image of God to a mirror. That is, that we mirror God, as it were. But we must be careful to be sure that we understand the doctrine according to Scriptural usage, not preconceived notions

matter doctrine  and application. We first hear of God creating man in His image in Genesis 1:27,

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”.

And in chapter 2 and v.7,

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Another passage in the book of Job touches upon this subject when it says,

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8).

From the New Testament we have Colossians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 11a and James 3:9:

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God.”

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”

That man was created in the image of God is not much disputed, at least not among Christians. The question we must ask is what is the image of God? And was the image of God in man lost? It might be prudent to start with a few different views that have been espoused by various theologians to narrow down what the image of God in man is. The five views we will consider are:

1. Free-will is the image of God in man

2. Language and creativity are the image of God in man

3. Dominion in righteousness are the image of God in man

4. The persons in the Godhead and the three part nature of man constitute the image of God.

5. Knowledge and rationality are the image of God.

Not all of these views put a hard fast rule as to what the image of God in man is. Some extend their list to many different things. There is also a view holding man in body and in soul is the image of God (Monalism). Nevertheless, that even some of these can be the part of the image of God in man, I think quite untenable. It is the purpose of this author to delineate what the image of God is and what the implications of that image are. In the next post, I will seek to answer the first view, namely, is free-will the image of God in man?

Christian Exceptionalism

Does President Obama believe in “American exceptionalism?” This has been a subject of debate between liberals and conservatives for months and will no doubt continue until he is out of office. Conservative pundits on the one hand claim that because the president made a particular statement, and because his policies represent a desire on his part for the country to be socialized like many of our European neighbors,  he cannot possibly believe in American exceptionalism. Liberals on the other hand (yes, the left hand) claim the President does believe in American exceptionalism and has, in fact, employed the phrase in affirmation more than George Bush or even Ronald Reagan [1].

The phrase from the president that has the conservative pundits so outraged (as if they weren’t glad to hear it) comes from the April 4, 2009 press conference in Strasbourg, France when the President was asked if he subscribed “to the school of American exceptionalism that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world”. His answer, in part, was as follows:

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I am enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world…. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality that, though imperfect, are exceptional.[2]”

What is American exceptionalism? Fundamentally it is the view that America is qualitatively different than other political states. America, because of it’s jurisprudence, moral superiority, economic power, and overall love and defense of liberty (I snicker slightly as I type this),  has the right, and even the duty to dispense this superiority across the globe.

President Obama no doubt equivocated somewhat in answering the question about American exceptionalism, regarding it as some sort of pride or esteem of one’s country and its history, not as a right and duty of America to lead the world.

My goal in writing on this subject, however, is not to take sides on whether President Obama believes in American exceptionalism, and whether he is Satan if he disbelieves it. Rather, as usual, I will use this debate as an occasion to advance my exclusively Christian philosophical agenda.

Though I don’t think this was the President’s intent, he did stumble upon some truth: Every worldview believes in its own superiority. So, indeed, the British believe in British exceptionalism (to the degree they are truly British), likewise the Greeks and the Americans. Even the “love everybody equally, except for  Christians, ’cause they’re haters” crowd, with all of their guise of humility (“I’m not better than you, nor you me”) believe in the superiority of thinking as they do (which is self-refuting on its face, nevertheless, it is their confession).

To the degree that one doubts the superiority or exceptional nature of his own beliefs, to that degree he doubts his own beliefs. If I believe 2+2=4 as truth, I believe it is superior to 2+2=39. If I begin to say 2+2=39 is also true, I am not only denying the superiority of 2+2=4, but denying 2+2=4 altogether because they cannot both be true.

Scripture claims exclusivity to it’s truths. As Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Christ claims to be truth, so that his words are truth:  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” His “words” are not only the audible words he spoke to the Pharisees that day and during his time on earth, but all of Scripture, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) All Christ’s words, all Scripture is truth. In logical form: all a is b. Now, if we combine this truth with Christ’s words, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad,” (Matthew 12:30) we may add to our formula no c is b — c representing anything that is not Christ’s truth — anything that is not Christ‘s truth is not truth at all, but opposed to it. All a is b and no c is b. All Christ’s words are truth, and nothing else is.

Allow me to point out the obvious: this makes Christianity exceptional.  Therefore, America is only exceptional to the degree it practices Christianity in it’s jurisprudence, moral acceptance or rejection of certain practices, in its economics, and in its overall system of liberty. Conversely, to the degree America rejects Christian principles, it becomes not just non-exceptional, but polluted,  poisoned, corrupt and destitute of any goodness. This may be said of any state, any philosophy, and of every person individually.

The wisdom we have must be the wisdom of God — wisdom as God defines it. The knowledge that we have must be the knowledge from God — knowledge as God defines it, or else it is not truly wisdom or knowledge. We are to “cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The wisdom and knowledge we have from Scripture that we receive by the grace of God alone through regeneration of the Sprit, the propitiation of Christ, according to the calling and election of God, is superior to the wisdom and knowledge of the rest of the world which Scripture describes as “foolish.”

So there is no cause to accept in any form the dribbling irrationality of the wicked. Rather we should hate it: “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalms 119:104).  We have the best knowledge, the best wisdom, the only truth; a nation built on these will be exceptional. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” Let‘s act like this is true. May we as Christians proclaim with confidence God’s truth to a people who view it as foolishness.

-Ben Murch

[1] Robert Schlesinger wrote an editorial for U.S.News with the catchy title “Obama Has Mentioned ‘American Exceptionalism’ More Than Bush” in which he makes this case.

[2] Full transcript here.

Forgetting How to Blush?

” Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 6:15

One must wonder how the people of Israel came to this point and we could speculate forever about it with little progress. What we can conjecture is that it did not happen overnight. Additionally, it is certain that this can be applied to our culture, as both an American and a “Christian” culture, though the way it has come about today differs from the Old Testament time period. It comes, not in blatant blows that will strike our conscience, but in subtle workings that gradually numb the conscience.

I will put forth areas where we are assaulted on this front, the effects that this numbing has, and some solutions to the problem, particularly how to avoid the quandary of a dull conscience to the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

These gradual assaults upon us as Christians come on six fronts that I can think of:

  • Books
  • Movies and TV shows
  • Music
  • The Media
  • The expectations of our unbelieving neighbors
  • The lack of sanctions against evil in our law-system

Let’s start applying what is meant in general. Suppose you know someone who is an adulterer.  Adultery is, according to biblical law both a capital punishment and a gross iniquity that undermines the societal order, disgraces individuals and destroys families. Now, the usual response to this is that capital punishment for adultery is too severe, antiquated and bigoted. Now, this might be expected from unbelievers (although there were times in history when they didn’t), but the fact is that this is the predominate reaction from those in the Christian community who should know better. This happens because there is no sense of loathing of sin coupled with an apathy to God’s commands and holy character. But this didn’t come about over night. It happened because Christians are getting a steady diet of humanistic pottage, though not so much at a time that they will choke on it and recognize it for what it is. It is gradual, subtle and satanic.

I could elaborate on each of the six areas of assault that we are bombarded with, but perhaps a general look at the effects of these things will be sufficient. The books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the things the media chooses to report upon, the pressure of the expectations of our neighbors in our behavior and the law-system we operate in are all advocating a certain worldview and it is humanistic. Do not kid yourself that they are passive in this endeavor either; they are rabid in making sure every fabric of your life is influenced with their ideology. So what are they in general and how do we avoid them?

First, it can come implicitly through all of the above by making feelings as “love” ultimate. You will hear this especially in music and in movies. Nothing matters but that we perpetuate love with no connection to laws or morality. Think of your favorite pop songs. What do they advocate? Think of your favorite movie: what was glorified in it?

Second, it can come explicitly by openly advocating godless ideas. This is seen, as in movies where the “good guy” is an adulterating, murdering, thieving individual. Or, as in the case of music, where sexual promiscuity is glorified or seen in a casual light. It can also be seen in what the media chooses on to report upon. If orthodox Christianity is consistently represented as loony, and sexual perversions such as sodomy as “normal”, you have it there as well.

Third, it can come by personal sins. Pornography would be a good example. If a man or woman indulges in heart adultery, they will hardly view the physical act as something outrageous. This is also the reason why there is so much protest against the biblical sanctions against adultery; we are a nation full of people who are adulterers at heart.

Now, many more examples could be produced, but it would be superfluous. The simple fact is that wickedness is daily presented to you as fine, normal, and wonderful and you absorb it whether you realize it or not. I am not speaking as one who is above this, but someone who has experienced this. How do you know if you’ve been infected? Ask yourself if you can blush any more about the things that the Bible says is a shame to speak about. If not, it’s because you’ve be inoculated with humanism. The constant representation of sin as “the thing to do” has seared your sensitivity to the horror of it. Can you say with David, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law”? Are you grieved by it so that “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law”?

So, that is the problem. What are some solutions that will help us keep a sensitive heart towards God and to see sin as it really is, which is exceeding sinful?

  1. Memorization of Scripture so that we are meditating on the law of God, hiding it in our heart that we might not sin against God. (Ps 119:11)
  2. Daily reading of Scripture for man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Mt. 4:4)
  3. Provoking one another unto good works, specifically with sobriety in godliness and praying for one another. (Heb. 10:24)
  4. Being conscious of the wickedness in your culture and either battling it or avoiding it. (1Pet.5:8-9)There is a fine line here. While we should avoid the blatantly sinful things in things we watch and listen to and read, it will always be there in some form, whether blatant or disguised. You can’t avoid it so long as we live in a godless culture. The step to take against it, therefore, is to identify the specific godless worldview presented and to refute it. This can actually be quite an exercise with some movies. But if you walk away from some hedonistic film and think, “Wow! That was a GREAT movie!” you can be sure you’ve been infected with humanism. The remedy is a steady dose of the opposite: God-centered books starting with the Bible, the revelation of the mind of God. If we are careful to study God’s Word and to obey it, then we can expect to start hating the things that God hates, and loving the things that God love. Only then will we learn again to blush.

    Ephesians 5:11-12: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

    – Jesse Murch

Assurance And Doubt, Love And Fear And It’s Correlation to Lust And Holy Living

“It is not God’s design that men should obtain assurance in any other way than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and obtaining lively exercises of it. Although self-examination be a duty of great importance, and by no means to be neglected, yet it is not the principle means by which saints do get satisfaction of their good estate. Assurance is not obtained so much by self-examination as by action“1

Jonathan Edwards wrote this in one of his works (reference given at the end of the quotation). I think it is a good point especially in the context in which he gives it. I think he does a most excellent job in expounding it, thus I will be providing no commentary. The following is the context:

“Indeed, persons’ doubting of their good state may in several respects arise from unbelief. It may be from unbelief, or because they have so little faith that they have so little evidence of their good estate: if they had more experience of the actings of faith, and so more experience of the exercise of grace, they would have clearer evidence that their state is good; and so their doubts [about their salvation] would be removed. And then their doubting of their state may be from unbelief thus, when, though there be many that are good evidences of a work of grace in them, yet they doubt very much whether they are in a state of favour with God, because it is they, those that are so unworthy, and  have done so much to provoke God to anger against them. Their doubts in such a case arise from unbelief, as they arise from want of a sufficient sense of, and reliance on, the infinite riches of God’s grace, and the sufficiency of Christ for the chief of sinners. They may also be from unbelief, when they doubt of their state, because of the mystery of God’s dealings with them; they are not able to reconcile  such dispensations with God’s favour to them; or when they doubt whether they have any interest [ that is, part in] in the promises, because they promises from the aspect of Providence appear so unlikely to be fulfilled; the difficulties that are in the way are so many and great. Such doubting arises from want of dependence upon God’s almighty power, and His knowledge and wisdom, as infinitely above theirs.

But yet, in such persons, their unbelief, and their doubting of their state, are not the same, though one arises from the other. Persons may be greatly to blame for doubting of their state on such grounds as these last mentioned; and they may be to blame that they have no more grace, and no more present exercises and experiences of it, to be an evidence to them of the goodness of their state: men are doubtless to blame for being in a dead, carnal frame; but when they are in such a frame, and have no sensible experience of the exercise of grace, but on the contrary, are much under the prevalence  of their lusts and an unchristian spirit, they are not to blame for doubting of their state. It is impossible in the nature of things, that a holy and Christian hope should be kept alive in its clearness and strength in such circumstances, as it is to keep the light in the room when the candle is put out; or to maintain the brightness of the sunshine in the air when the sun is gone down. Distant experiences, when darkened by present prevailing lust and corruption, will never keep alive a gracious confidence and assurance, but one that sickens and decays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on the head with a hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented that persons doubt of their state in such circumstances: on the contrary, it is desirable and every way best that they should. It is agreeable to that wise and merciful constitution of things, which God hath established, that it should be so. For so hath God contrived and constituted things, in His dispensations towards His own people, that when their love decays, and the exercises of it fail or become weak, fear should arise; for then they need it to restrain them from sin, and to excite them to care for the good of their souls, and so to stir them up up to watchfulness and diligence in religion. But God hath so ordered, that when love rises and in vigorous exercise, then should fear vanish and be driven away; for they need it not, having a higher and more excellent principle in exercise, to restrain them from sin and stir them up to duty. There are no other principles which human nature is under the influence of, that will ever make men conscientious , but one of these two, fear or love; and therefore , if one of these should not prevail as the other decays, God’s people, when fallen into dead and carnal frames when love is asleep. would be lamentably exposed indeed: and therefore God has wisely ordained, that these two opposite principles of love and fear should arise and fall, like the two opposite scales of a balance; when one rises the other sinks. Light and darkness necessarily and unavoidably succeed each other; if light prevails, so much does darkness cease, and no more; and if light decays, so much does darkness prevail. So it is in the heart of a child of God: if divine love decays and falls asleep, and lust prevails, the light and joy of hope go out, and dark fear and doubting arises; and if, on the contrary, divine love prevails and come into lively exercise, this brings in the brightness of hope, and drives away black lust and fear with it. Love is the spirit of adoption, or the childlike principle; if that slumbers, men fall under fear, which is the spirit of bondage or the servile principle; and so the contrary. And if it be so, that love, or the spirit of adoption, be carried to a great height, it quite drives away all fear and gives full assurance; agreeable to that of the apostle, I John iv. 18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” These two opposite principles of lust and holy love bring hope and fear into the hearts of God’s children in the proportion  as they prevail…

…Fear is cast out by the Spirit of God no other way than by the prevailing of love; nor is fear ever maintained but when love is asleep. At such time, in vain is all the saint’s self-examinations, and poring on past experience, in order to establish his peace and assurance. For it is contrary to the nature of things, as God hath constituted them”2

Jonathan Edwards, “Religious Affections”, pg. 123

Ibid. pg.107-109


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