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About Tristen

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  1. Innuendo is another common fallacy
  2. Strictly speaking, the Scientific Method cannot be applied to generate confidence about what happened in the distant past. All conclusions about the past suffer the same logical weaknesses (namely, that we cannot make direct observations of the past, nor set up experiments with experimental controls in the past). So no argument about a past claim can logically compel (or obligate) a person to a particular conclusion. So "compelling" is a subjective standard. People tend to be compelled by arguments that reinforce their existing belief structures. So I prefer to think in terms of rational vs irrational arguments. If the facts (adding the "scientific" qualifier is redundant) can be logically reconciled to a claim, then the claim is rational. My claim is that all of the available facts can be logically reconciled with the Biblical young-earth creationist model of reality. As someone who considers the Bible to be God's Word, I find that personally very "compelling" (especially given the multiple human authors, cultures, copies and time-frames over which the Bible was compiled). Even if someone disagrees with me about how "compelling" the argument is, my argument qualifies as rational. Proponents of the secular models commonly claim that only their models are rational - and that young-earth creationists must therefore be anti-science, or ignore facts, or lack understanding, or in some other way be intellectually compromised. So I see my role as demonstrating the rational integrity of the young-earth model; usually by demonstrating a young-earth interpretation of the facts provided by proponents of secular models (in an attempt to justify their claim of exclusive validity). My goal is to demonstrate my claim; that there is no objective reason (from either logic or science) for a Christian to distrust the young-earth interpretation of Genesis. I don't see much point in presenting some random fact, along with its creationist interpretation. I already know there is a secular interpretation of the same fact. In most cases, the fact was originally reported in a secular journal (along with its secular interpretation). I am aware that no matter what argument I provide for a young-earth, as a past claim, no argument can ever obligate a change of mind in the audience. But by challenging confidence in secular models, I can potentially open eyes to the fact that the young-earth creationist position is, by any rationally objective measure, equally valid to the secular position. In that, I hope to convince Christians that they can trust the Bible for what it says, and non-believers that they can consider the reliability of scripture without any fear of intellectual compromise.
  3. Hi One, When speaking to Christians, the strongest argument I have for young-earth creationism is that it is the most straight-forward teaching of scripture. As someone who came to Christianity from a secular upbringing, I was/am unable to reconcile the Genesis account of history with what my secular education taught me about history - at least, not in a way that my conscience could tolerate. In order to conflate the secular model of history with Genesis, I would either have to; a) Find a natural communication gap in Genesis and squeeze billions of years of history into the narrative that doesn't exist, or b) Dismiss large portions of scriptural detail in order to adopt some broad impression of 'what God really means'. In both instances, I feel as though I am making myself an authority over scripture; making it say what I think it should say, rather than seeking the Author's intent. I consider that to be a very dangerous approach to Biblical interpretation. Upon examining the logic behind the secular claims I found, to my surprise, no objective reason to distrust the most straight forward reading of Genesis. The secular conclusions are all reached by assuming the absence of God's involvement in the progress of history (philosophical naturalism). But as a Christian, I am not obligated to that faith premise. I found (and have continued to find) that all of the available facts can be interpreted to be consistent with the young-earth interpretation of Genesis. I also find that it is very difficult to maintain a consistent Christian world-view when Genesis is conformed to the secular narratives. E.g. - In referencing Genesis, the rest of scripture (including both Jesus' words and lineage) interprets Genesis as history. But if Genesis doesn't mean what it seems to say, that would suggest that the authors of scripture were all unaware of the correct meaning of Genesis (which, by extension, cast doubt on the reliability of scripture in general). - Genesis provides the answer for how a corrupt world can stem from a good God (namely, with the corruption introduced by human sin; the misuse of our freewill). Whereas the secular account has corruption existing well before humans existed. In the secular account, life progressed through the amoral system of 'Survival of the Fittest'; whereby the strong dominate and survive at the expense of the weak (which is explicitly contrary to Godly morality). - On a matter of justice, humans are held to account for the corruption due our sin - which would be unjust if the corruption was inherited from a condition prior to our existence. Romans 5 tells us; "12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous." So Genesis also provides the rational foundation for the doctrine of salvation through Christ (the effect of one [historical] man's righteousness juxtaposed against the impact of one [historical] man's sin). - For those who dismiss the creation account as symbolic, I'm not sure where Genesis stops being symbolic and starts being history (and how such a change of interpretative approach is justified). So ultimately, since there is no rational obligation to distrust Genesis as history, we can, without any intellectual compromise, choose to believe the straight forward reading of Genesis - all-the-while maintaining a readily consistent, Biblical world-view. Alternatively, we can unnecessarily try to work secular ideas into Genesis - utilising an inherently dangerous hermeneutical approach, and requiring a largely convoluted world-view.
  4. And I would have no problem with you addressing those arguments as you find them. Then you don't have to be presumptuous at all.
  5. “You think this is a rare argument, but I have read it literally dozens of times in various contexts” And you should, of course, correct the error where you find it – but you didn't find that argument here. The problem with your “preemptive” approach is that it is highly presumptuous; and therefore disrespectful. I know that was not your intent, but you are presuming to know and refute our arguments before we have had a chance to present them. You claim you don't want to see us “mocked”, “attacked” or “slandered” for using this poor argument, but we didn't bring this argument to the conversation. You are the one who brought attention to the silly argument, then presumptuously attributed it to us.
  6. I don't think it's "pointless". Communication is a two-way process. The point of my engagement in this thread is that I don't think you've considered how you might be coming across to those you are talking to. I'm not trying to mess with your mojo. I'm not sure why you'd assume that CMI addressing an issue on this web-page means it has to be "common". The appearance of arguments on this particular CMI page means that they are not representative of the informed creationist position. So my expectation is that the arguments on this page would tend to be obscure, rather than common. There is, for example, a "Moon-Dust" argument on this page - that was presented to me over two decades ago when I first became aware of creationism - but which I haven't come across (apart from this web-page) since that time. There are many arguments on this page that I have never heard from creationists - and would be completely unaware of the existence of such arguments if I hadn't read them on this page. The point of this CMI web-page is to correct error. Whether or not the error is common is irrelevant. I provided another possible motive in a previous post; that is, to correct misrepresentations of creationism by antagonists (i.e. to show explicitly that we don't actually believe what is falsely being claimed by some of our detractors).
  7. You are playing off the whole 'we are all “brothers and sisters”' angle, but in context, you are an old-earth creationist telling young-earth creationists that they should stop using an argument that makes them look silly to outsiders. I'm simply trying to explain that, from our YEC perspective, that is you denigrating our position - a perception amplified by the fact that we don't actually use the argument you are attributing to us. Whether that was your intent is beside the point. In the opening post of this thread you adopted the position of presuming to correct these ignorant "hicks" (@Abdicate's word) of their error. So what we have is someone from an antagonistic viewpoint misrepresenting young-earth creationists as commonly holding to a position that we don't actually believe, then telling us to stop using that argument because it makes us look silly. Surely you can understand why we might find your approach objectionable. But either way, I agree that young-earth creationists should not use the argument; “If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” - as does every other moderately informed young-earth creationist.
  8. “You are being overly sensitive.” I’m not being sensitive at all. That's you projecting. I'm just pointing out the fallacious nature of what you are doing in this thread. “The argument is often made, or CMI would not feel the need to address it.” How “often” is the argument made? There are several young-earth creationists participating on this forum who haven’t yet made this supposedly “common” argument you attribute to YEC. I can only ever remember hearing the argument from anti-creationists seeking an opportunity to mock YEC. Obviously, someone has made the argument in the past, and maybe some still do – so it is legitimate for CMI to address it. Another possibility is that CMI addressed this issue to answer a common mischaracterisation by their detractors – i.e. to show that we don’t believe what they often claim we believe. “Have you informed CMI of their disingenuous, strawman fallacy present in the link you provided?” You are failing to consider context. The CMI page is young-earth creationists educating young-earth creationists about which arguments should be avoided and why (i.e. in the event that we come across them through research or engagement with others). It is not a forum responding to a specific question, but a page providing a broad base of information to whoever visits. So on a page entitled "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use ", it is appropriate that they address every misrepresentation of YEC they can think of – regardless of how commonly it occurs in the public sphere. Here on Worthy, you have engaged in arguments against young-earth creationism. Given that context, YEC is the opposing position to your position. Therefore, you pulling a silly argument out of obscurity, labelling it as common to our position, then telling us how silly it makes us look – is a mischaracterisation. You are portraying an opposing position in a negative light – and in a manner that is not representative (at least not representative on this forum). By contrast, CMI is providing information to those sympathetic with their own position – in the off chance that someone has come to an incorrect understanding. CMI are providing information to their own client base. You are providing a Strawman misrepresentation of an opposing position.
  9. “I've not heard this particular argument here, but I have heard worse arguments 😛 There are multiple posters here that believe in a flat earth, for example. It would be silly to pretend that just because I haven't read this argument presented, that no one here could possibly find that argument persuasive.” But ultimately, you are criticising an argument that no one here has presented to you. You are telling us that we shouldn’t use an argument that we already don’t use – because you think that argument makes us look silly to outsiders (even though we don’t actually use that argument). Implying that we look silly because of an argument we don’t actually use is a classic Strawman strategy. “Your opinion on how I should address arguments is noted. However, I will continue to post as I see fit.” Obviously, you can do as you “see fit”. But I didn’t just state my opinion, I provided an argument as to why your strategy is fallacious. You have taken an example of the silliest arguments from an opposing position (which no one here has actually provided), labelled the silly argument as “very common”, and then suggested we stop using that argument (which we are not using) because it’s making the rest of you look bad. If someone actually provided that argument, I would join you in attempting to inform their position. But without such legitimate provocation, raising this issue is a not-so-subtle dig at those who disagree with you. It is a Strawman fallacy. “I think you are missing the point of why I've started addressing these arguments. Those that accept a YEC viewpoint are my brothers and sisters in Christ (with exceptions for those of different faiths) and when poor arguments are made against evolution, it paints ALL Christians in a bad light. For the sake of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I think it is important that Christians avoid arguments that are easy targets for derision. You have the impression that I am speaking against the YEC viewpoint, but I assure you that is not my intent with these threads. My intention is to help individuals that do accept the YEC viewpoint do so in a way that exhibits a maturity of thought and consideration. Tristen, you and many others represent the YEC viewpoint well, but you are outnumbered by those that do not.” I understand your perceived intention, but ultimately, in this context, you are employing a Strawman strategy to claim that an opposing position (YEC) is making Christians look bad.
  10. Hi One, How many times have you heard this argument from young-earth creationists on this forum? With respect, I think you should address arguments as you encounter them. It seems disingenuous that you would find the silliest arguments of an opposing position, label them "common" (as though they are typical), then discourage their use. You are essentially presenting a polite Strawman argument. All philosophies have uninformed people making silly arguments that incorrectly reflect the informed position. All reasonable people have had the experience of wishing someone wasn't on our side - because of the ridiculous, easily refuted arguments they have presented on behalf of our position. Objective people understand that silly arguments from an opposing position are not necessarily representative of everyone holding that position. I would rather young-earth creationists not use silly, uninformed arguments. But anyone believing such arguments to be typical of the opposing position are not objectively participating in the conversation. That's their problem, not mine. Creation Ministries International has a web page devoted to "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use" (https://creation.com/arguments-we-think-creationists-should-not-use). Informed creationists would be familiar with most of these (being that they have informed themselves about their own position), but others are happy to settle for anecdotal or 'grape-vine' arguments - perhaps focussing their study efforts elsewhere (hopefully). The relevant section of the CMI webpage reads; "“If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes today?” In response to this statement, some evolutionists point out that they don’t believe that we descended from apes, but that apes and humans share a common ancestor. However, the evolutionary paleontologist G.G. Simpson had no time for this “pussyfooting”, as he called it. He said, “In fact, that earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise.” However, the main point against this statement is that many evolutionists believe that a small group of creatures split off from the main group and became reproductively isolated from the main large population, and that most change happened in the small group which can lead to allopatric speciation (a geographically isolated population forming a new species). So there’s nothing in evolutionary theory that requires the main group to become extinct. It’s important to note that allopatric speciation is not the sole property of evolutionists—creationists believe that most human variation occurred after small groups became isolated (but not speciated) at Babel, while Adam and Eve probably had mid-brown skin color. The quoted erroneous statement is analogous to saying ‘If all people groups came from Adam and Eve, then why are mid-brown people still alive today?’ "
  11. Tristen


    Unfortunately, the term "evolution" is an highly equivocal term. It can be used to describe a number of different concepts. I am a young-earth, Biblical creationists. I have no issue with Natural Selection, speciation, mutations, adaptations, changes occurring in allele frequencies of populations - or many other concepts which tend to find themselves under the "evolution" banner. None of these concepts conflict logically with the young earth creation position. However, I do contest Common Ancestry (which also finds itself under the "evolution" banner). Common Ancestry directly contradicts that God created different kinds of creatures separately, and at different times. I further contest the time frames required to make Common Ancestry plausible. So it's difficult for me to answer your question. My answer depends on how you are defining "evolution".
  12. Tristen

    Harmonizing Paul and the Twelve

    Apologies for the belated response. You said, “I know there are portions which refer to a law of sin and death, and portions, like this one, which refer to the whole of the law of Moses. I still am unsure how this harmonizes with Jesus' command in Matt 23:1 to obey the literal Torah but ignore the religious leaders' other words. Why would Jesus say to obey it, where here, Paul tells us it's a tutor?” A tutor leads and guides us. If the purpose of the Law is to lead Jews to a different covenant, then they are explicitly obeying the Law by entering into that New Covenant. But then once faith has come, choosing to remain in subjection to Law is actually contrary to Law. The Law's job is to lead those under Law to something better than the Law – i.e. to a covenant of grace which can save us (unlike the Law which condemns). “What then actually defines sin?” Sin is, and always has been, defined against God's holiness. In Christianity, morality is an absolute, unchanging standard. Adam sinned thousands of years before the Law – so it is logically anachronistic to define sin by the Law. “Furthermore, if the WHOLE of the law is "a tutor", then any tendency we have to discard "ceremonial" laws ought to apply to "moral" ones as well, as they're all included in "the law, which was four hundred and thirty years". Obviously we're not to disregard some laws. Which ones? Why?” Christians are free from the "WHOLE" Law. All of it. Even the moral ones. That is not the same as claiming Christians are free to be immoral. It means that our sense of morality comes from a source that supersedes what is written in one particular covenant. We get our sense of morality from the Holy Spirit of God, confirmed by His whole Word - not by focussing on a list of rules designed for a specific time and context. Obviously the Law agrees with God in regards to morality. So on issues of morality, a Christian can legitimately use the Law to support claims about morality. But the Law also contains many rules which have nothing to do with morality – but are specific to Israel's relationship with God. So in practice, a Christian can use moral laws to support and confirm the witness of our spirit regarding a moral claim (since we know the Law agrees with God's Holy Spirit). But the Law is only a part of God's Word; a portion of God's revelation to humanity – but as with all scripture, the Law has to be understood within it the broader context of God's whole Word. The Law is scripture, and therefore provides knowledge and guidance pertaining to reality and nature of God (including, but not limited to, His morality), but the Law itself only has authority over those for whom it was intended. “I get that circumcision is specifically mentioned throughout the NT as no longer required, as it is specifically mentioned. I'm fuzzy on what else is/isn't required.” I think you may have missed the context of my provided argument. As discussed, circumcision is specifically mentioned in Galatians 5:2-3. But I also demonstrated that the short letter of Galatians is essentially a thesis about freedom from the whole Law (explicitly, the Law given at Mt Sinai). In that context, circumcision merely serves as an example for the whole Law. See verse 7; “A little leaven leavens the whole lump”. Even the smallest amount of Law undermines the integrity of grace. Early Christian converts were being pressured by Jews to be circumcised (as they tried to compel Titus: Gal 2, see also Gal 6:12, Acts 15) – so it was an example relevant to their circumstances. According to Paul, the claim that new gentile Christians must 'at least be circumcised' is akin to preaching a false gospel (Gal 1:6-9). Throughout Galatians, Paul applies that logic to the whole Law; not just circumcision. “I thought Acts 15:28 was such a distinction for a while ("It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.")...but, later, it was pointed out to me that James tacked on his reason for such a short list: "For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”"...which seems to imply that the Gentiles would learn the rest of it in synagogue which they'd be attending” I think you have found a way to interpret this verse in a way that is the exact opposite of the clear intent of the context. I don't think it could be more obvious that the gentile converts were NOT to be burdened with the Law. There is no provision in the Law for partial compliance. If we are obligated to any of the Law, we are obligated to all of the Law. Deuteronomy 27:25 Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you Galatians 5:3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. The interpretation you suggest doesn't exist in the words of the verse. It doesn't say, or suggest that the gentiles will learn the rest of Moses from the synagogues. The statement about Moses is in past-tense – which I think suggests a more likely interpretation; that the letter be specifically addressed to gentile Christians (who lack the benefit of Moses' teaching), since the Jewish Christians already knew not to emulate pagan rituals or practice sexual immorality (reinforced by generations of moral teaching from Moses). “Jesus tells us to avoid sin even at extreme costs (through the analogies of cutting out one's own eye, etc.)” I read this differently. Jesus first tells us that He has come to fulfil the Law. And so now there are two options available to Jews; 1) accept His offer of salvation by faith, or 2) remain subject to Law. But Jesus then reminds us that the Law is zero tolerance – so if anyone chooses to remain under Law, they'd better be prepared to take extreme measures to avoid sin – since even one sin condemns us under Law. “Sure, we're covered if we mess up, but it would be extremely ignorant of us to insist that because we're covered, we shouldn't even try.” No one is suggesting that we should have a lax attitude to sin. If sin wasn't important, our redemption wouldn't have cost so much. Repentance (turning to God and away from sin) is integral to a sincere faith confession. “The OT still is used to define what sin IS, though. ... It seems fitting that we ought to be extremely aware of what sin is, and sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4)” The Law (contained within the OT) articulates certain sins, but the sins were sins before the Law said anything about them (i.e. before the Law existed). I also think it is spiritually unhealthy to be so sin-focussed. Our sin was dealt with on the cross. Jesus gives rest, and liberty from condemnation and bondage (Matthew 11:28, Luke 4:18, 2 Corinthians 3:17). He freed our focus from sin-avoidance (as mandated by Law) to life and sanctification (under grace). We are taught that repentance stems from “the goodness of God” (Romans 2:4). If we are focussed on were God is taking us, we'll be less inclined to be distracted by sin. Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Christians should not be living under a cloud of condemnation; in constant fear of sin. God has given us a life to live; a destiny to fulfil. That should be our focus. “I am not sure, though, why some OT laws are then considered to to define sin and others aren't (at least by most Christians, who disregard those that they classify as "ceremonial")” The Law does not define sin. The Law enshrines some sins into a written covenant between God and Israel – but they were already sins before they were written down. Furthermore, the Law is much more than a list of sins. It is a covenant defining the terms of how God and the nation of Israel are to relate to each other. So it contains edicts that are specific to that relationship. For example, many rituals in the covenant are designed to point Israel to the Messiah – such as, the animal sacrifices pointing to the fact that a blood sacrifice is required to atone for sin. Matthew 26:28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins Hebrews 9:22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission So ritual laws are not about what is morally right or wrong. They have a different purpose. “Sin is defined as...? All OT laws? Some OT laws? The 9 commandments + love God / love neighbor (only bc you guys don't seem to like the one about the Sabbath)? Why/why not BTW?” Firstly, it has nothing to do with what we “like”. Our Lord paid a very high price to purchase our freedom from bondage. So we consider that choosing to return to bondage disrespects that sacrifice. We have no emotional attachment either for or against a particular day. We have been freed from any such obligation – so we choose to embrace and glorify God in that freedom. Sin is a breach of God's Holy standards. As such, sin is an act of treason against the highest Authority in all of reality. The Law sets down certain sins in writing – but they are not sins because they are written in the Law, they were written in the Law because they are sins. The Law simply agreed with what was already mandated by God. So whilst the Law contains sins, sin itself exists apart from the Law. “Why is it also said, then, that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4)?” You are anchoring much your argument on a very specific interpretation of this one verse. There is no direct reference to “the law” in the Greek of this verse. In the version you are using, the phrase “transgression of the law” is translated from a single Greek word, anomia, which is a general term meaning iniquity, unrighteousness, evil, sin etc. Many translations use the word lawlessness – which I think is fine; except when a reader is inclined to interpret every mention of "law" as the Law of Moses (except, of course, when Paul explicitly references the Law of Moses ;)). So reading the Law of Moses into this verse is a significant stretch of credulity. Verse 3 tells us that those with the hope of Christ purify themselves because, as verse 4 explains, we understand that even though we are saved from sin, sin is still evil. “It's sort of why we have the Bible in the first place, to guide us.” Absolutely. The Bible is our highest authoritative communication from God. But in establishing the intent of the Author, we have to consider issues of context. The origin of sin is in Adam (roughly 2500 years before the Law). The Bible is overtly clear that the covenant of Law was mediated specifically to the nation of Israel through Moses. Subsequent prophets under the Law (most notably Jeremiah) prophesied that there would be a New Covenant that would replace the covenant of Law. And now the New Testament (namely Paul) teaches explicit freedom from the Law. So the Bible guides me into freedom from the Law. “I'm not seeing a logical way to tie all this together. Sin is the transgression of the law, but it's also "walking in the spirit", but also some OT moral laws apply, but several "ceremonial" ones don't??? I just don't see the biblical support for this, and yet this weird and contradictory view is held by the majority of Christians I know, and none of them can explain it logically.” Given the way you are characterising the issue, I agree that it's not “logical”. I can't speak to the views “held by the majority of Christians [you] know”. But I have made statements in every response to this thread to the effect that Christians are free from all of the Law – without exception. So I can't answer for those who think “some OT moral laws apply” to Christians. I agree that it doesn't make sense to suggest a partial adherence to Law. But that 'partial adherence' to Law is the exact position of everyone advocating continued subjection to Law. How many obligate adherence to circumcision or animal sacrifices, or dietary restrictions etc.? Even orthodox Jews in Israel can't fully keep the Law – since there is no temple or ark to perform the necessary rituals of the covenant. And again, I don't accept you restrictively defining sin by the Law. I don't think that makes sense either; given that sin existed long before the Law. “on what basis do you justify labeling anyone else's behavior as sin? Or, your own behavior?” You are conflating issues. Of course God communicates His morality to us through scripture. But we are specifically discussing the issue of whether Christians are obligated to the Law of Moses (i.e. the covenant between God and Israel). Sincere Christians seek to do right because we have a heart for God, not because an ancient covenant codified certain morals in a list of rules. We want to do right because we understand the spirit of God's morality, whereas the Law doesn't require understanding – just obedience; blind obedience. Under Law, comprehending the morality is unnecessary; just 'do what you're told'. A higher standard is required of Christians. We tend towards what is morally right because our heart is in the process of renewal; being transformed to come back in line with God's own heart. We don't just know what to do (according to some list), but we understand the reasons behind the morality. The Spirit of God teaches us to walk in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). These are the selfless motives of God, which His Spirit encourages us to emulate. We don't, for example, need a rule specifying not to commit adultery, or worship false Gods, or murder etc. Such a list is obsolete to someone who understands the moral reasons behind the actions. “On what basis do you claim that being gay is wrong?” Firstly, from a Biblical perspective, there is no such thing as “being gay”. We all have ungodly desires (i.e. we are all corrupted by sin and need a Saviour), but God doesn't define us by our ungodly desires (sexual or otherwise). Homosexuality defines a behaviour; i.e. something people do – not who they are. Before the Law: According to Jesus, God set the designed order for sexual relations in place with Adam and Eve – i.e. before the Law. The righteous Noah, who “walked with God”, continued this example for himself and his sons. Also before the Law, the moral depravity of Sodom was exemplified by the men of the city presuming to force homosexual relations on God's messengers. Abraham had sexual relations outside of marriage – resulting in an antagonism that continues to this day (and there are many other examples of deviations from God's design leading to dysfunction). Under Law: The Law specifically reaffirmed that any sexual relationship outside of Godly marriage is immoral – including, but not limited to, homosexual practice. The New Covenant: The same moral standard is explicitly continued through the New Covenant – with Jesus tying God's morality on this issue back to Adam and Eve. Homosexual practice is specifically addressed in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. I therefore determine homosexual practice to be immoral based on this consistent pattern throughout scripture pertaining to God's designed order for sexual relations. “my thinking is that there's enough consistency among early apostolic writers and others who were close to them to establish that Paul is probably credible, and my questions at present mainly circle around HOW he harmonizes with what Jesus actually said” Paul couldn't be more explicit regarding our freedom from Law. He is, in my opinion, unequivocal and overwhelming on this issue – including the first half of Romans, and almost all of Hebrews and Galatians. I don't think Paul can be harmonised with adherence to Law. When you talk about “what Jesus actually said”, you are referring to a handful of verses (none of which were penned by Jesus) that are not specifically addressing this debate, and which are ambiguous enough to permit a reading that agrees with Paul. It's important to note that Jesus didn't pen scripture - because if we accept Paul as scripture, we are not harmonising Paul with Jesus, but Paul with Matthew (for example). If we say Paul with Jesus, then there may be an errant tendency to attribute more weight to some scriptures than others. “Because of the 10 commandments and because of the 7th day being blessed long before the Torah was given and because according to Isaiah we'll mark Sabbaths again in the future...and because God doesn't change” We are not talking about God changing. We are talking about understanding morality within the broader context of scripture. No one was ever obligated to keep Sabbaths before the Law (i.e. for the ~2500 years before Moses). By contrast, Abraham was circumcised 400-or-so years before the Law (but no-one before that). Yet, as previously discussed, circumcision is explicitly not a requirement of the Christian covenant. “[Regarding Romans 14] Why would you assume that, though? You haven't said why you think it's Sabbaths and not fasting days” You have been arguing that Christians are obligated to observe the Sabbath. I presented Romans 14 as evidence that Christians are not obligated to consider any day to be more or less important than any other. Then you tried to argue that Paul was only referring to “fasting days” in that passage. I demonstrated, by examination of the context, that Paul's comments were not specific to “fasting days”. The passage is referring to just what it says; i.e. “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.” (verse 5). That is, the passage is not specific to any particular kind of devotional day. “We need more proof to be able to establish what you are claiming here.” I think you are requiring an unreasonable standard. Someone with too much time on their hands has determined that there are 613 laws in the Old covenant. By your standard, you need Paul to go through them one by one and state that Christians are no longer obligated to them. Instead, Paul generalises about Christians being “dead to the law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4); being “delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6, see also Galatians 2:9); Jesus having “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us” (Colossians 2:14), “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:15). Likewise, rather than address every holy day in the Jewish calendar, he speaks in broader terms; e.g. that Christians are not obligated to esteem “one day above another” (Romans 14:5). “So [according to Paul] let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17). Paul speaks in generalisations because the principle is universal; Christians are free from all of the Law – no exceptions or exclusions – including all of the holy days (Sabbaths, fasting days, and the rest). “ Read carefully. He's talking about those sitting in the Moses seat specifically--the place you sit when you're reading the Torah literally and not making commentary: … Jesus is telling people to listen to the people in the Moses seat--the ones reading the Torah verbatim.” You have developed a very specific idea about what “Moses' seat” means. I can't find any justification for your confidence in that idea. It is a rarely used phrase whose meaning has been long debated. Nevertheless, Matthew 23 does not say to only listen to what the scribes and Pharisees tell you when they read the Torah from Moses' seat. It says, a) “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat”, and b) “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do”. So there are two ways to consistently interpret this passage; 1) We can be super-pedantic – interpreting Jesus' words to mean obey everything the scribes and Pharisees tell us (including both human traditions and the Law), or, 2) we can take Jesus' words more generally, as an edict to respect the “governing authorities” as representatives of God (as Paul also teaches in Romans 13:1-2). Given the actual words used in the passage, I don't see a way to consistently interpret Jesus' statement here as only referring to obeying the Law. Regarding Mark 10:17-22 you said, “You've cherry picked that the point of the story of the rich young ruler was that being a disciple is the qualifier to eternal life, and I'd really like o understand why. Reading the story, we see other specifics. Why not them? What is the ACTUAL reason it's not them? What is the actual reason you believe it's 'being a disciple'?” Basically, there are two general hermeneutics I've applied; Context Principle and Scripture Interprets Scripture Principle. Briefly, Jesus does not explicitly tell the rich young ruler to follow the Law. He points to the Law as part of a broader argument; leading the rich young ruler to a larger revelation. The passage does explicitly teach that any supposed adherence to Law is insufficient to “inherit eternal life”. Nowhere else does God's word teach the necessity of selling all one's possessions to “inherit eternal life”. The clear teaching lesson of the passage is that it is hard for rich people to transfer their faith from their riches to Christ (verses 23-25). So my interpretation is consistent with what other scriptures teach about salvation – for example Paul teaches; “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The rich young ruler boasted of his adherence to Law. Good works will be the natural outcome of a sincere salvation, but faith (“apart from works” - Romans 4:5-6) is the fundamental requirement of Christian salvation. But the “the law is not of faith” (Galatians 3:12).
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    Harmonizing Paul and the Twelve

    “Paul's letters ... can indeed be interpreted as opposition to the traditions of MAN rather than opposition to any of the laws God gave to Moses. My main objection to this approach is that Paul nowhere makes this very important distinction. Why would he need to make a distinction?” When Paul uses the term “Law”, there are almost always qualifiers in the context that specify that he means “the laws God gave to Moses”. For example, when Paul said, “the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25), he was explicitly referring to “the law, which was four hundred and thirty years” after the covenant God made with Abraham (verse 17); an unequivocal reference to the Law given to Moses. When Paul said, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son” (Galatians 4:30), he was explicitly referring to the covenant “from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage” (verses 21-25); i.e. Sinai - where Moses received the Law from God. And in continuing that thought, Paul compels Christians to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1); that is, having been set free, don't enslave yourself to the bondage of the Sinai covenant (aka the Law given to Moses). And if there was still any doubt, he uses circumcision (a requirement of the Law) as a more specific example (verses 2-3). And that's all just from one short letter. So if Paul ever uses “the Law” to mean “the traditions of MAN”, it would be incumbent upon him to make that equally obvious – since in the majority of contexts he qualifies his usage as “the laws God gave to Moses”. “If there are no rules, then why do you adhere to rules such as insisting that being gay is wrong (I'm not convinced of the same, for the record, but you did voice that you feel it's wrong)? Why do you even bother to avoid any sin at all?” I think you are confusing the issue by conflating a system of “rules” (i.e. law) with the basic concept of morality. That somewhat misses the point. The Law is system by which ancient Israel related to God; i.e. an explicit list of rules through which blessing or cursing were determined by obedience or disobedience. However, God knows we are too corrupted to be able to measure up to His standards. Therefore, if we are to be saved, a new system is required – a system that doesn't rely on us obeying a list of rules. So the New Covenant is a different system altogether; one that doesn't require our perfection. It is a covenant of grace – meaning unmerited favour; That is, our personal morality has no bearing on God's favour towards us. We are considered by God to be righteous because the penalty for our sin has been paid. So when we who are in this covenant do commit sins, we have an advocate standing between us and God's justice. Justice has no legal right to condemn or curse us because the punishment has already been inflicted on our Saviour. The main purpose of the Old Covenant of Law (i.e. the list of rules) was to guide us to the New Covenant. But then its job is done (Galatians 3:24-25). So grace actually reinforces the concept of sin – i.e. that there are, in fact, actions that are morally wrong? Without the concept of sin, grace would be meaningless. Nevertheless, the system of grace renders lists of rules logically “obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13). Christians avoid sin because we understand that sin both offends God and destroys us. Sin is bad for us. “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin enslaves us (Romans 6:16-17) and is something we need to be saved from. In choosing morality over immorality, we are not obeying a written rule, but deciding to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than succumbing to temptation and the lusts of our flesh. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). “And since sin is the transgression of the law, how are you picking and choosing which ones are ok to transgress?” Sin is only a “transgression of the law” to those who are under Law; i.e. to those who are subject to its tenets. Sin existed long before the Law – and so cannot be defined exclusively by the Law. Christians are not obligated to any rule listed in the Law – none whatsoever – no exceptions!!! Christians are not under Law, and therefore cannot transgress the Law. The Law has no authority whatsoever over Christian thought or behaviour. Nevertheless, Christians are obligated to our own conscience towards God; to our sincere love for God; and to the knowledge that sin destroys, enslaves and kills whereas righteousness brings health, freedom and life. “ Maybe we ourselves can't break the new covenant, but would you agree that we can leave it? Especially considering such verses as: Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” This is a topic all on its own. I tend to approach this issue from the perspective of, if someone's faith doesn't “endure unto the end”, then they likely never had a saving faith to begin with – i.e. they weren't really in the covenant. As Mark 4:13-20 suggests, there are a variety of reasons why some people have a seemingly temporary faith. So their eventual falling-away from the faith calls into question the ultimate sincerity of their initial faith confession. But I would definitely claim that we can reject the offer to enter into the covenant. That is a matter of free-will. “those verses aren't in reference to that act. That act I cited was one of Paul's last before he was killed. We see his actions (Jewish sacrifices/purifications) and his motive (proving he still kept Old Testament law). Unrelated passages that seem to generically say something else are irrelevant since Paul's actions and motives are already recorded here together. My objection remains. ” You cited an example of Paul deciding to keep the Law as evidence that Paul considered himself doctrinally obligated to keep the Law. I cited quotes from Paul's own words stating explicitly that he sometimes keeps the Law for the specific purpose of gaining an opportunity to win over those who are under Law. If that's not directly relevant to your “objection”, then we are from different planets. “If we accept Paul as scripture, then what he teaches is a clarification of the information provided in the gospels (and visa versa).  That's your opinion of how Paul harmonizes. You assume I share this position, and I'm not sure I do.” I did not assume you “share this position”. It was clearly stated as a conditional proposition. Nevertheless, this continues to highlight the importance of choosing a standard (or canon) for scripture before considering how or whether Paul harmonises. If you decide that Paul is not scripture, then we have different faiths. My faith considers Paul to be scripture. As a prolific author of the New Testament, Paul's writings heavily influence how I understand my faith. If you decide that Paul is scripture, then there is no question that Paul does harmonise. The only question is how. But trying to discuss both issues at once is self-defeating. There is little point to discussing Paul's doctrine until you decide whether or not Paul is scripture. “I can see how he's accepted and corroborated by the real apostles, which at least gives his writings a bit of credibility. That doesn't convince me he's infallible” So by what standards do you accept other scriptures as scripture? Why is Exodus and Matthew scripture? What are the standards you'll accept? Either Paul meets your chosen standards, or he doesn't. That's the first logical step in this process. We've been approaching this conversation from the wrong direction. “especially on any points which he makes which appear nowhere else in the Bible” This is irrelevant. If Paul is scripture, then these “points” are scripture. “ Here's the verse: "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." ^ Why do you think that's about Sabbaths?” Why do you think Sabbaths are excluded? It's a general statement that some people think some days are more important to God than others, whilst others believe that every day is equally important. Sabbaths clearly fall under the purview of this statement. “If we read the verse in context, we learn why many understand this verse to be simply saying that it doesn't matter which fasting days a person takes:” I don't think anyone truly examining the context could sincerely come to this conclusion. In Romans 14, verse 2, Paul introduces an example distinguishing between those who eat “only vegetables”, and those who eat “all things”. In verse 5 Paul introduces another example distinguishing between the one who “esteems one day above another” and the one who “esteems every day alike”. Verse 6 is a summary of the point of those two examples. Nothing to do with “fasting days”. Regarding Matthew 23 you said, “Jesus isn't telling them to respect the authorities. He's saying, "Obey these specific commands they give you from the old testament" and "don't obey any of these man-made teachings".” But Jesus doesn't make that distinction. He said, “whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do” (verse 3) – which would include the “man-made teachings”. It's a general statement to respect the office of those in authority, but without being tempted to emulate their poor example of hypocrisy. Regarding Mark 10:17-22 you said, “he also told him to sell everything he owned. We're not all required to do that, are we? So how can you assert that the item which you cherry picked (becoming a disciple) is the qualifier to eternal life?” You are being persnickety. Jesus described the whole process as “One thing”. For this man, selling his possessions was first step in following Jesus – which was clearly the outcome Jesus was referring to.
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    The Domino Theory of Scripture

    I've never heard the term "Domino Theory" before, but I would ask; If I can't trust that God has preserved all scripture, how do I know which verses and passages I can trust? What's to stop me from using the possibility of untrustworthy scriptures to reject any doctrine I'm uncomfortable with? Suddenly, I feel as though I am an authority over God's Word - rather than His Word being my authority.
  15. Biblical Christianity is not a relic-based belief. The shroud is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant (whether legitimate or not).