By Scott Tibbs, January 18, 2008
Michael Newton again attempts to use the Bible to "prove" conservative Christians wrong and/or hypocritical on Biblical doctrine. Let's examine a few of his points, where he asks if the writer of a previous letter to the editor:
- Eat the unclean foods listed in Lev. 11?
The problem with this argument is that the Bible itself removes the dietary restrictions on Acts 10:9-16, where an angel commands Peter to "rise, kill and eat". When Peter refuses to eat "unclean" food, the voice from Heaven says "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
- Consider women unclean after childbirth (Lev. 12)?
It is important to remember that this ceremonial law was temporary, and that the woman would be restored after a specific time. There are many commentaries and interpretations of this chapter, which one can peruse via Google. Again, like the dietary restrictions, this does not apply today. The same applies to his next point, regarding Lev. 15:19.
- Ban handicapped people from his church (Lev. 21:18-20)?
The prohibition on the "handicapped" in this chapter specifically relates to making an offering in the temple. He is allowed to "eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy." This is in no way a prohibition on "handicapped" people participating in worship. To claim otherwise is just not honest. Again, there are many commentaries on to why those with blemishes are prohibited from making an offering or doing things related to making an offering.
- Violate Lev. 19:27 by getting haircuts?
This is just silly. The Bible does not prohibit haircuts. The Apostle Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 11:14 "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" Now, how exactly are men not to have long hair if haircuts are forbidden? Furthermore, Samson was to be set apart by not cutting his hair or beard. (Judges 13) How exactly does this set Samson apart if this is a custom for all of the men of Israel? Context is critical here.
There are three kinds of law: civil law, ceremonial law and moral law. Civil and ceremonial laws were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul's discussion of circumcision in Galatians makes this clear. Furthermore, the Apostle Peter addresses attempts by some Jews to force the Gentiles to follow all of the ceremonial laws, pointing out in Acts 15 that God "put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" Moral laws, however, are eternal, which is made clear when James warns that the gentiles are to, among other things, abstain from fornication.
I would urge Christians who proclaim that we are no longer obligated to obey God's commandments to consider a few questions. Was the Holocaust a sin? If the Holocaust was a sin, then does that mean that the prohibition God placed on murder in the Old Testament is still in effect? The Holocaust could not be a sin unless it was a violation of some commandment; sin is by definition a violation of standards and laws that God places before us.
God's moral law is still in effect, has always been in effect, and will always be in effect. If someone wants to argue that a specific prohibition (or mandate, for that matter) has been fulfilled by Christ's death on the cross, then we can have a discussion about what parts of the law were moral, and which were civil and ceremonial. Claiming that the law does not apply any more, however, is tantamount to saying that there is no longer any sin in the world and that is an inherently un-Biblical position.
Does any of this mean that we are (or can be) saved by works? Absolutely not! We are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) It is because we are sinners by nature and by choice that we need Christ's substitutionary atonement to cover our sin. But if there is no longer any law to sin against, why does anyone need to accept Christ?
Finally, from a logical standpoint the Bible either is a reliable source or it isn't. There is no middle ground. You cannot (as some Leftists so often do) use the Bible to try to make your point and then dismiss the Bible as a myth when your interpretation (or intentional distortion) of Scripture is proven to be wrong. If the context of a discussion is theological, you cannot throw out theology just because you are losing the argument. To do that is the height of intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy.