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Every Person Reflects His-Story:

A Criticism of Traditional Behavioral Genetics

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The Book of Genesis illuminates how humanity is created in the Image of God. However, as a result of temptation and in the use of our freewill external forces through the leading of peer pressure of The Serpent and in our intent and action eating of The Fruit of knowledge of Good and Evil, or use of Pride, Our perfected image, or genetic composition, became corrupted. As a result, all humanity becomes vulnerable to death, and the environment turns against mankind as a reaction sin. The result of this corruption is our initial perfected holistic or completely mental, essential and spiritual presence is separated from God and all creation.

Throughout the Bible, we see a progression of diffusion of growth and decay or various struggles and loss that correlate to this continual imperfect-perfection stage growth progress. However, we also see the sovereignty of God at work in the restoration of humanity and all humanity. First expressed in the Old Testament through the various lesser messiahs such as Abraham, Moses, Melchizedek, and Boaz and in the New Testament through the teachings life examples.  Finally, this process is illuminated in the prophesized death, resurrection and ascension of Christ in which the genetic curse of Adam, or all humanity, was removed to all whom come to live in obedience in and by faith in Christ in cooperation with God through the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Faith like any other form of belief begins with curiosity, then may transform into convincing, a wavering understanding or Probability, and finally evolves into conviction or the pursuit and living in and by the possibility-probability and assurance of truth.

The Bible is in part a book of history, part a scientific journal, part a philosophical dialogue, part legal guidelines for social living, but in truth is an illustration of both the never-ending process of creation.

This Eugenic process involving in various stages required for our transformation back into the Likeness of Christ was stolen from us as a result from our initial sin of pride and involves overcoming ones’ continual transgressions as well as acceptances of shortcomings and forgiveness. The reaction of sin often produces hostility within us and in all creation around us. Furthermore, over 2/3 of the Bible is written in story form using allegory, metaphors, contextual language and such to tell of mankind and God’s  interaction and relational aspects and expectations of morality and general wisdom.

The Bible is a qualitative or an active telling of God’s Love Story for Man and his continual involvement and efforts to redeem us throughout history. His-Story and that of all men is told in stages within scripture. Ecclesiastes 3 compares life to spring, summer, fall and winter.  Finally, the Gospel is told in stages from the Birth of Jesus, to his baptism and then his death. This progressions can be further broken down in a 3 day waiting period followed by his  resurrection and finally his ascension, (after 40 days) and the sending of “His Presence, or Holy Spirit” at Pentecost ( 50 days/ during Jewish Harvest Fest).

Quantification studies seek to identify and correlate variables that exist within a subject or between issues or factors within groups, the environment, or outside individuals (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). In contrast Qualitative Methods express traits in symbols, graphs, or other forms that focus on the perception and prospective of subjects and thus tend to tell a story (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).  The weakness of a traditional behavioral genetic study whether the basis is on an individual, family, or on adoption studies or even group dynamics is it only accounts for the genetic variables and underestimates the influence of environmental forces (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).  Forces of natural origin such as virus, disease, and natural disasters, and manmade conditions such as war, famine and other concerns need to be account for.

Additionally all external environmental elements include issues of nurture, such as the amount of encouragement and love present in the household and by peers, as well as social, political, economic, spiritual and as mentioned biological and environmental crisis, and other influences of individuals, society need to be accounted for.

Finally, We evolve and attempt to coexist in peace, hope, love and joy and endure graciously in suffering awaiting our finally restoration of all creation and our assurance of retransformation in to the exactness of Christ himself for those of us striving to live obediently in faith for his glory. Awaiting the return of our Savior King and serving not Principalities or the Ways of the World but living as Ambassadors of the Way and Stewards and Citizens and Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

In defense of the genetic view or Nature. All of us inherit recessive and dominate genes that determine certain bio-socio-cognitive-emotional traits and the potentiality or certain innate abilities and disabilities (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). Yet, there is merit to the oppositional view of those who support a view towards more of an extrinsic-environmental or nurture based approach.as many of these inborn traits must be activated by external forces whether of physical or of a metaphysical nature (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

The traditional methods of qualitative studies tend to focus on genetic traits and at times can overemphasis environment variables.  Whereas quantitative studies focus on thoughts, feelings and other reactions and often are obtained from self-reporting methods, simple observation, and as such are subject to a certain degree of bias by either the subject, the environment or the observer / tester or other forms of bias (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Thus, to gain full comprehension of people and culture one should use a combination of both types of research method.  This form of analysis, or critical thinking, involves abstraction, logic and reason. Additionally, a combination of theories and methods should form the basis of a systematic model and then become the foundation of an eclectic or holist method.

The word holistic is derived from whole or wholesome, which means “completeness”. This word has origins in Old English, Greek and Latin deriving from “Holy” or “without sin”.

The Bible states, all humanity entered perfected creation before the fall (Gen. 1: 26-27) and thus will return to perfection after Christ returns and establish his Eternal Reign. This reunion and restoring of  All Creation to Oneness with God and All Humanity whom so chose to live obediently in and by faith to his Image is a unity of mind-body, soul & Spirit (Rom 6, 8, 12; 2 Cor 4; Phil 1-6; Isa 11).

Thus, Our Blessed Assurance offered and repaid by the Gracious and Merciful Sacrificial Love Offering on the Tree of Life is a gift to everyone who chooses to accept the gift, repent from Sin, walk in Christ’s Steps, practicing and living in faith and love. For true freedom is not found in works or deed of man but In Christ alone.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Word Count # 1161

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References

Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

 

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On The Necessity of Virtues and Values

Of an Empowering & Inspired Leader

The term values is often confused with virtues although similar in meaning virtues are characteristics and attributes (qualities and aspects) associated with the nature of God whereas values are any principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile and desirable (Bredfeldt 2006). Furthermore, values are determined by one’s worldview and are based on personality, family dynamics, environmental factors, social factors, cultural aspects, political views and other views of social nature. One’s view on creation, God (or the lack of, and even economics shapes one’s values as well as how one perceives and pursues the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally one’s values are mutable and change as one’s perception and perspective changes. Our values can be influenced and manipulated by the views and teachings of others and form the basis of our morality where as our virtues are God given. The two combined form the basis for Ethics.

Ethics can be divided into three categories.  At the highest level is our Virtue our concept of God and Evil or theodicy.  Western social concepts of virtues is credited first to the Greek Philosopher Plato who views justice as the highest virtue.  Justice forms the bond that holds all the other four virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance (Self-control) and continence (abstinence from immorality especially sexually desire) in unity and congruency. Additionally, only through the exercise of knowledge and the power given within our soul can ultimate good be achieved for the form is an imperfect copy and our senses are inferior matter or existence is imperfect while essence (soul, God, spirit, knowledge) is perfect and unchanging and is the basis for all things (anonymous 2016).  The second level is one’s personal and family conception of what is right & wrong (general morality) and at the base is secular law or social and corporate structure.

Virtue, Values & Vices

Aristotle built upon Plato’s concepts but came to a different conclusion. For him matter and essence are inseparable and both are derived from God. The lower form matter thereby originated from the deity and all action originates from the potentiality of motion (anonymous 2016).   For Aristotle virtues are God given but must be developed in training and discipline in what he called means. If we for example wish exemplify High-Mindedness (Wisdom) but the over development of it this will lead to the excessive vice of pride (boastfulness, vanity). In Contrast a lack of development will lead to the vice of deficiency of foolishness ( humble-mindedness) Thus for Aristotle, virtues fail as a result of two categories’ of vices one of deficiency and one of excess as a result of a lack of discipline and training.

Aristotle’s list of virtues and vices are listed on the following chart (anonymous 2016).

VICE OF DEFICIENCY VIRTUOUS MEAN VICE OF EXCESS
Cowardice Courage Rashness
Insensibility Temperance Intemperance
Illiberality Liberality Prodigality
Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity
Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vaingloriness
Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition
Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility
Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness
Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness
Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness
Callousness Just Resentment Spitefulness

 

Finally, one is to practice self-love and friendship or love of others, which is a communal relation, and peaceful and beautiful state of existence with the world in general (anonymous 2016). Furthermore, justice is both general and special in that it applies to the observance of both secular and moral law in occasional circumstance such as judicial and economic matters and is abstract in some instance for absolute justice, which is corrective, and often retaliatory is necessary in moral conduct and common decency.

God cannot be comprehended by practicing normal human moral insight; rather one finds God in happiness in being (anonymous 2016). For Aristotle, pain and pleasure of the mind and soul is the motivation behind the virtues and thus desire for higher pleasure one strives for the highest virtue of high-mindedness through the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and the disciplines of means or pursuit of the other Godly virtues.

From a Biblical the character of the leader should be developed out of disciple and training from the study of God’s word, meditation, prayer, a life of obedience of faith ( reliance, dependence and trust on Christ and the Holy Spirit).   One must additionally die to flesh – born to Spirit (Rom. 12) and be without boastful pride and in loving humble servitude and in a unity of heart and mind that imitates the likeness of Christ (Phil 1-6). Through the transformation of one’s mind through various spiritual disciplines and the resistance of temptations and living by Christian Ethics, one is granted Spiritual Gifts for the glory of God and service (Rom 12-15).

Additionally, one is to be follow the guidelines of Christian character and conducts as outlined in 1 Tim: 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. This ethical code is similar to the classical code of the Greeks and summarized lists certain desirable traits of conduct for leaders and elders of the church. However, this code should become the basis for all believers conduct, as it is list some basics guidelines for virtues besides those in Romans 12-15. The Fruit of the Spirit, which results from discipline practice and training, is the highest virtues (Gal 5-16-26, Col 3:1-17) and is only given by the leading and granting of the Holy Spirit. Both lists also contain some of the more common sins or depravities of Humanity.  One should recall from Romans 1-8 Paul reminds us all though the Law illustrates us the nature of our sin and we may have all intentions to do good deeds, works actions or even obey out of obligation of the Law. Because of our sin even after being justified or declared citizens of distinction worth and righteous (elect, saints). Will fall short. Thus only by the atoning cross can any of us be truly forgiven, and it is by Christ grace and mercy that all faith is based not by anything we can accomplish. WE however must with the aid of the Holy Spirit striving to become transformed dying from the temptations of sin, forgiving others as well as our self, empowering others and spreading the Gospel to the fallen world serving as Christ like teachers in faith, hope and love.

Courage

Courage is essential and is the result of Endurance, perseverance, and often times suffering.  Courage is the ability to face one’s fears, standing firm in strength in one’s convictions and is a discipline virtue that arises from faith and relying on the practice of truth in times of crisis, adversity or suffering. Courage as a virtue is the assurance of the interdependence working of God in total trust and reliance in any situation or occasion of danger (whether perceived or actual).

Thus, with that aid of the Holy Spirit and the Authority given to the believer by Christ the sovereignty will insure the outcome is in the best interest of the Trinity of God and for his divine creation and Eternal- kingdom.  Additionally courage sparks the passion and not always the sensibility of the individual leading to actions in a situation. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, virtues, and vales in a manner that practical and is thus sensible and heartfelt or appropriate in any given situation.

Truth

Truth can be absolute or relative based on assumptions, feelings, false input of one’s senses or misguided views or actions. The Bible in inerrant when God, Christ or “The Angel of the Lord says or the Holy Spirit gives direct directives. However, the Bible is also infallible meaning it is the means and ends of achieving Faith. Both doctrines of the church are human perspectives and can be supported by the Biblical Evidence.

However, the Bible is not fully inerrant or infallible in itself and never makes an exclusive claim for one or the other. Rather truth and faith (Spirit) matched with authenticity should be seen as the Biblical doctrine  Biblical intake and teaching requires the ability to differentiate, evaluate and incorporate  historical, occasional, cultural, situational, universal, personal and finally current relevancy (Duvall and Hays 2012, 235-246).

To make a claim that either truth of faith or works or goodwill (deeds) are to be separated or combined in any a+ +b or b+ d or any other combination to achieve salvation is missing the mark. The truth is all are inseparable and holistic parts lived and in of obedience of faith for the suffering Bondservant of Christ. One style of leadership or church will not be fitting or reach and meet the needs for all people and doctrines of man will divide. Each view has strengths and weakness as every man has strength and weaknesses (Bredfeldt 2006).

The Key of Wisdom

The key is discernment with biblical guidance and application of general revelation, assessment and our experience. This enables one as an individual, the Body of Believers or universal communal church, and all who are willing to hear, see and receive the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ and the Good-News in a manner that leads to a profession of faith and the empowering and ongoing transformation to the Eikōn. This New Adam – New Kingdom fulfillment, will be granted  when final salvation and full restoration is completed upon Christ return which is only possible with the aid of others and the Holy Spirit brought forth in humble, and accepting discerning teachings of love grace and mercy.

 

Uniqueness & Diversity: The Character of a Leader

What defines ethics and sound character will vary from subculture to culture and will differ even by some degree with in the individual heart and mind of each person. A worldview is simply how an individual perceives the world and his place in creation. It is influenced by family dynamics, cultural customs, ethnicity, nationality, religious views ( doctrines and dogma & beliefs), peer pressure, inspiration, philosophical ideology, political perception,  economics, innate vales & talents , God given virtues ( often unrealized or undeveloped), knowledge, and wisdom. This list is far from complete.

Sin is the adversary of character and is like a genetic curse inherit in all humanity. Sin leads to opposition to the guidelines of the Law that is Holy and the basis of our virtuous morality. Only through Christ atoning sacrifice are we worthy and significant free from blind obligation to obedience of the Law.  In correlation by the leading of the Spirit sanctified and ethics is thus written on the heart of all who live obediently in and by faith (Rom 6-8).

Our strengths and weakness need to be assessment and evaluation and at times God uses not our strengths but our weakness ( Gen 50:20)  for the benefit his divine purpose ( Matt 28: 18-20 must be done in conjunction Matt 22:33-39). Finally, Philippians 1-11, Titus 1:6-8, 1 Timothy 3:2-7, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, Romans 12-16 as well as Matt 5-7, Eph 5, Col 3:5, and Rom 1:18-32, Rom 2-6). The Good News is since all are declared righteous and redeemed by Christ and love writes the Law on one’s heart in transformation, obedience and willing service of love.

The individual and community is being transformed and restored as long as we keep trudging running, persevering, suffering thru the race of life and praising and glorify God in all things. Thus, doing our part to advance the completion of God promise of salvation and inclusion of all who are willing into the New Adam ( Man)- Perfected reconstructed Eternal kingdom of God when Christ returns to reign in the Eschatological Age (Moo 2000).

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

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Bibliography

anonymous. Ancient Greek Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser, Bradley Dowden, & Kirby Jeremy. 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/greekphi/ (accessed May 01, 2016).

 

Bredfeldt, Gary J. Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006.

Duvall, Scott J., and Daniel J. Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

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THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS

The Believer & “The Law”

Help Wanted:

Seeking the lost, subjugated, addicted, wretched, and most sinful people of society. Prostitutes, illegal immigrants, and all people rejected welcome. Must be willing to suffer humiliation and disgrace by mainstream society affluent socialites, hypocrites, elitist, bigots, and the lovers of money need not apply. For one cannot serve two masters –Jesus!

 

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Yet, it is evident that he indeed did change The Law by is teaching as we are no longer obligated to live as slaves of wrath of sin under the penalty of death. Paul states, “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Rom. 7: 4-6 NIV).” Moo states Paul intent of these verses are, “The era of the law has come to an end with the redemptive work of Christ. To be “under the law” then, means to be in that old era and to deny that Christ has come.  This is the purpose for which we are freed from the law and joined to Christ is so that we may “bear fruit to God.” Practical works of service should flow from our new relationship[1].”

Furthermore, Jesus in his Greatest Commandment states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt. 22: 36-40 NIV).

A final consideration what Jesus said on matters of exclusion, hypocrisy and lack of humility and false ambition to the Pharisees “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean (Matt. 23:23-25).”  This is Jesus warning that one cannot earn the favor of God by work or deed alone. Additionally, one must practice a life of obedience of faith and in a manner of living, which glorifies God in all things. Paul uses the same argument for Christian living and the need for transformation in Romans 12-15:3 and builds the need for justification by faith alone for righteousness by the grace and mercy of the Atonement of Christ in Romans 1-8. While for Paul transformation of the mind can only result after one has the indwelling and aid of the Holy Spirit,  For many second century Jews and even some Christians today and even non believers God instills certain moral characteristics within all humanity and one can argue even all creation ( Psalms 148,150)[2].

Although the Epistle of Romans depicts all humanity under a generational curse and a wretched state of sin and despite our best intentions unable to live up to acts of God will or fulfill the Law. The book of acts and even Jesus allude to the power of God and the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of non believers before a profession of faith in Christ or repentance of sin. Additionally, there are few absolute truths or laws in the universe. However on certainty is there is only one God and God often first reveals himself via creation and general revelation. However, a more profound truth one cannot enter Heaven and restored to the Eikōn of Christ that was robbed from us by the first sin unless one accepts that Jesus paid the price of the sins of all creation and justified all creation. We all with the aid of the Holy Spirit must practice the disciplines of Christian Living that lead to the Fruit of the Spirit[3] during the process of sanctification in the race of live and  gracious and suffering living until all creations rejoices in the Eternal Kingdom under the reign of our Savior King Jesus Christ.

What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law and secular law to a believer and follower of Christ? This question has been a troubling debate since the dawn of Christianity and has led to the collapse of empires, the foundation of nations, wars, the separation of church and states and even the schism with in the body of Christ itself. While Jesus himself did not give us but seven basic commands during his earthly ministry, George Patterson outlines theses as follows:

  1. Repent and Belief ( Mark 1:15)
  2. Baptism and Sanctification, Continuity of New Life, ( Matt. 28: 18-20; act 2:38; Rom. 6:11)
  3. Love of God & Others ( Matt. 22: 37:40)
  4. Communion ( Luke 22: 17-20)
  5. Pray ( Matt. 6: 5-15)
  6. Give ( Matt. 6: 19-21; Luke 6:38)
  7. Evangelize (Matt. 28: 18-20).[4]

Jesus did state during the Sermon on the Mount of Olivet “That he did not come to change that Law or any of the words of the prophets rather all will be fulfilled in him Matt. 5).”   As Moo states throughout his commentary obligation to live by the Law was ended by Christ dying as an atoning sacrifice and is replaced with The Law serving as a guide and awareness of our sins. This is also, what Paul has in mind in Romans when speaking of the Law being written to the heart of the believer as well. Moo views this mainly as 10 Commandments and some of the religious guidelines in the Mosaic Law.[5]

However, I conclude this applies to secular law as well. Peter calls Aliens and Strangers in 1 Peter 11-12 NASB “Who should keep are conduct in a manner that glorifies God, thus we should walk and imitate Christ in all areas as this serves as one of the main functions of evangelism for us as ambassadors and champions of the faith.” Peter continues by providing insight that we must never allow the ways of foreign customs compromise our righteousness or our belief of obedience to live by faith.

Paul reminds us In Romans 12 to pursue peace in all arguments under most circumstances and in Romans 13 we are told God appoints every government and every official and thus we are told to pay are taxes, debts and show kindness, love and respect to every citizen in the land where we live under most circumstances.

Exceptions may occur and are documented in the Bible and history under and in such cases; the need for advocacy, activism or even rebellion may be needed. Such a circumstance in Jerusalem around 40-50 A.D. Gamaliel’s defense on the persecution of the Apostles for inciting a rebellion as recorded in The Book of Acts by Luke (Acts 5:33-36) may be paraphrased as “if this is for the benefit of God it will succeed.  But if these actions or any actions performed are in the interest or intent of men they will fail (Acts 5:39).” I myself believe peace is always best and words should sought before any form of violence However am fully willing to stand up and fight any war against forces whether spiritual or physical or Spiritual in the name of Christ. The question always is what one is willing to sacrifice and die for.

 

In God, Christ & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Bibliography

McFarland, Orrey. “Philo of Alexandria and Romans 9:1-29: Grace, Mercy, and Reason.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston, 115-120. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

 

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

Patterson, George. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winer, & Hawthorne Steven C., 639. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

 

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.

 

 

[1]  Douglas J. Moo, Romans, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[2] Orrey McFarland, “Philo of Alexandria and Romans 9:1-29: Grace, Mercy, and Reason.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 115-120.

 

[3]Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014).

 

[4] George, Patterson. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorne Steven C, (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 639.

 

[5]  Douglas J. Moo, Romans, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000)

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“As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deed’ (1 Sam. 24:13 [NIV])”.

Short Essay on Hamartiology: The Problem of Evil (Theodicy)

Recently as I was leaving church a friend confronted me with an argument he would like to discuss. With all the wars, disease, decadence and such If God exists how can these atrocities happen? Does not an All- love God prove a contradiction to evil? Why would God if he does exist allow such things to happen?  Although the above situation is a hypothetical scenario it is a conversation many of us of may engage in.

The problem of Evil

To understand the nature of evil one must first define what evil is. Evil can be broken down into two subsets: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil (sin) can be best explained in the as an active or passive action of negative (evil) intent by a person or entity.

Natural evil is as an unintentional occurrence of evil.  The distinction between natural and moral evil are often intermingled and the lines the two forms of perils often are intermingled. Walter A. Elwell explains: “According to the Bible, natural evil is the consequence of moral evil. At first, while still sinless, man is placed in an idyllic garden where he lives in a happy relationship with his Creator, his wife, and the animals. Eternal life is a possibility. The “day” that he obeys God, i.e., commits moral evil, he was covered with shame, confusion, and anxiety: and rejected from the Garden. The man must bring forth the fruit of the earth, the woman the fruit of the womb in agony (Gen. 3) (Elwell 1984, 2001, 412).” A few examples of sin would be murder, adultery, slavery, drunkenness and the like. Natural evil could be defined as anything from an earthquake to a seemingly random event such as a death of a child.

The problem that arises in the mind of humankind is that desire to proof the nonexistence of God to proof the validity of evil. Many skeptics towards theology would argue that an omnibenevolent – omnipotent God should have eradicated evil or would have not allowed evil to be created in the first place.  Evil therefore must be a contradiction to God thus God must not exist. Another argument is that malicious events happen because of an evil entity or force in opposition to God, which acts as a balancing agent to the universe. Yet another is that evil is the result of man’s deviation of social standards. Many other concepts of Theodicy and morality exist and are beyond the scope of this essay.

In regards to why sin is among mankind and why atrocities happen in the universe, the Bible provides a great starting point for revelation to these two questions. Sin is the result of the Fall as illustrated in the book of Genesis Chapter three and is passed down to man from generation to generation. The result of the original sin (Sin of Adam and Eve) is a separation from God and the loss of eternal life, man being required to work long hard hours and women to have to endure pain at childbirth and became infatuated with her husband and ultimately a separation from God or spiritual death. Anxiety, shame, guilt, and other forms of mental and physical afflictions were introduced once man ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The desire to serve self and do evil entered the heart and minds of man and from selfishness, all sin stems. Some Theologian will debate this claiming pride was the first sin. Pride caused Lucifer to rebel against God. The transformation of Lucifer from Angel of light to Satan (advisory) may be regarded as the actual first sin.  Extreme followers of Calvinistic doctrine and predestination hold all men to a fatal state and only a few (the elect) worthy of Salvation. Most theologians hold a more systematic approach embracing theories and doctrines from numerous sources.  A more extensive study on sin is beyond the scope of the present argument.

The main reference to the seemingly random events of evil and pernicious acts in nature can also be found in the Book of Romans Chapter 8: 21-22. Elmer L. Towns States in Theology for Today: “The earth also became the recipient of divine Judgment. Prior to the fall harmony existed in the animal kingdom. The earth never experienced upheavals of earthquakes and volcanoes, nor did man experience the seasonal changes that bring adverse conditions.  The utopia enjoyed in the garden could be experienced on the entire earth. Since the Fall, Earth’s turmoil has increased dramatically, and animals have become carnivorous rather than vegetarians. Paul notes these conditions: ‘Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groanrth and travaileth in pain until now’ (Towns 2008, 2002).”

God is incapable of looking upon sin and detests evil. This is illuminated in the last words of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross “‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani’ (“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matt. 27:46 [NKJV])?” God in his holiness hates evil and wickedness, (Ps. 5:4, Hab. 1:13), is compassionate (Matt. 15:32, Luke 10:23, Lam 3:22), is slow to anger (Ps. 86:15), most importantly God is love and this is expressed in his deliverance of us from the penalty of death and the promise of our return to grace by salvation to all who accept his son. (John 3:16) (Elwell 1984, 2001, 492-498) What father would sacrifice his only son as a sacrifice for the crimes of another?  Could such a God create evil. God is a man and respects our cognitive and reasoning ability and all beings free will equally. YHWH does not discriminate. We are not puppets.

Theodicy

Like any philosophical or theological concept, Theodicy must be consistent. If a contradiction can be found in the system then the existence of God himself can be disproved. All sound arguments should be without contradiction, true, and take the   middleman out approach.

The following six principles will be included in all sound systems that justify the holiness of God and the coexistence of evil:

1.         Omnipotence: God is omnipotent. In his expression of Agape love and is the divine relational center of the universe. This must be expressed without prejudice.

2.         Relevancy to the problem: The theorem must explain the relation to God to both natural and moral evil without contradiction.

3.         Relevancy to a specific theology system and not universal: The belief must be consistent with the theological system it associated.

4.         Logical Consistency: The equation should explain God’s omnipotence in a logical fashion.

5.         Axiom of the removal of Guilt: A sound defense will remove blame from God & man for the origin of Sin and Calamities. This is not exclusive to all theological doctrines or theodicy however.

6.         Test of the system by absence of contradiction: A sound test against God’s character and omnipotence shall be conducted by proofing that in spite of his power God is incapable of removing the transgressions of the world and of humankind. It is a contradiction to who and what God is.

Theodicy Doctrines

Numerous doctrines of theodicy and ethics exist in the world today outlined below are a few of the more common systems:

1.         Leibniz: In his system, Leibniz observes God only knows why he does the things he does (reasons).  God’s reasons are necessary and unaided by revelation. Only God matters we are insignificant. God created an infinite number of finite worlds but only one best world exists. Metaphysical evil is the lack of being and good is plenty. Good therefore is the sum of God’s best. If God had created less than the best possible world, he would not be good. God always reasons. God always creates and chooses what is best.

Although consistent and without contradiction, the main problem with this view is God is shown only as omnipotent but not All- loving.

2.         Augustine: God had no need or obligation to create a world but it was fitting him to do so. This is based on his own decision and not on any universal laws. There are an infinite number of finite worlds he created, as he deemed relevant. Augustine believed sin originated from Adam and passed from generation to generation.

Opponent of this tradition claim Augustine did not account free – will.

3.         Rationalist An offshoot of the Augustine tradition amends the weakness of the Augustine tradition. Rationalist theologians explain simply this is one of the many possible good worlds. Rationalist may use a free- will defense to state that good and evil are of no consequence of God. An outside force introduced evil.

4.         Soul-building: theorist claim that this has no significance as it is part of our predetermined plan. God will ultimately use evil to bring good.

5.         Other: Other free-will agents point to the abuse of the will of man as the cause of evil. God should not be guilty of giving man free will as man exercise his will independently of God.

Although the free will system has it merits an excessive view can lead some to underestimate the power effects of Sin and but an overly dependence on man. Soul -build agents can be accused of a near contradiction. How can God build souls and remove Evil at the same time? What about those who choose to resist the will or deny God and salvation all together? The Bible states clearly some will be judged and perish in the Lake of fire during the eschatological times (Elwell 1984, 2001, 1184-1187).

Personal Thoughts & Conclusion

Personally, I hold to the rationalist approach but can see some merit in the view of the soul-building agent theory. Pauline doctrine in the book of Romans details a clear path of Salvation. The Epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians and Ephesians account sin and the destructive nature in detail. James warns of sin particular of the tongue. The beatitude teaches us how to live a more loving and righteous lifestyle. I also, hold strongly to the Augustine tradition of theology stating original sin is passes from generation to generation. I however, acknowledge a more free-will approach and recognize that moral sin is the result of our actions. I do not discredit the role that society, family and our environment plays on our belief nor do I chastise the theologian who follows the Calvinist theory of the predestination. I believe Salvation is available to all who come to Christ but belief in the Doctrine of Works for the sake of Sanctification. Thus, it is by sin God teaches us and draws us closer to him.

In regards to the world, sometimes things just happen. Why God allows them to do so is a mystery. God has only revealed part of himself in his Word and will continue to reveal himself to those who seek by illumination, meditation, study, and, prayer. As a Christian, student of philosophy, one must be teachable and willing and open to new idea (without contradiction or embracing false teachings). In accepting truth may be found anywhere and  as God is the source of all knowledge and truth knowledge may be derived from unlikely sources I try to keep an open mind and not just consult the Bible for revelation. God is either everything or nothing or else evil would either completely exit or not exist at all.

A negative experience or a lack of knowledge may lead one away from religion and into the realm of confusion. Wisdom by prayer, reading the word and observation and by attempting to live by the guidelines of morality, and brotherly love as outlined in the Bible are one’s only true hope to overcoming death.  One can never be Holy just better.

In God, Christ, and the Spirit,

Trenton Clark Rindoks

Word count: # 2011

Bibliography

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1984, 2001.

Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today . Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008,2002.

 

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