Category Archives: ethics

Jesus and Jihad (part two)

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Jesus and Jihad

I talked to a Muslim friend recently that said Islam and Christianity are ninety-six percent the same. I strongly disagree with him and believe most informed Muslims would as well. There is an irrevocable difference between Christianity and Islam. Some Christian missionaries go and die if need be, whereas some Muslim “missionaries” go and kill if need be. This is because Jesus died and said take up your crosses whereas Muhammad killed and said take up your swords. Jesus promises salvation through justification; Muhammad claims it comes through jihad. 

It is important to understand that Jesus (Isa in the Qur’an) is quite prominent in the Qur’an and is held to be a prophet. The Qur’an assumes that its readers will have a working knowledge of Jesus and His teaching (cf. Surah 2:136; 4:29; 5:46). Islam even teaches that Jesus will return and carry out justice and “break the cross.”[1] However, there is a very large contrast between what the Qur’an teaches about religious use of violence and what Jesus teaches on violence. So, let’s look at what Jesus has to say about violence.

Continue reading


13 Questions to Ask about Questionable Matters (from McQuilkin’s Biblical Ethics)

The below is taken from Robertson McQuilkin’s book Biblical Ethics (512-14). I have found these general principles helpful:

  1. Is it for the Lord? Does it bring praise to him? “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10:31). (See also Rom. 14:6-8)
  2. Can I do it in his name (on his authority, implicating him)? Can I thank him for it: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God for Father through him” (Col. 3:17)
  3. Can I take Jesus with me? Would Jesus do it? “Whiter shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Ps. 139:7). “Christ… lives in me” should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). (See also Matt 28:19-20, John 14:16-17, 23.)
  4. Does it belong in the home of the Holy Spirit? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify god in your body” (1 Cor. 6:29-20). (See also Eph. 4:30.)
  5. Is it of faith? Do I have misgivings? “But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21).
  6. Does it positively benefit, build up (not simply, “Is it harmless?”) “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). “Let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor. 14:26). (See also Rom. 15:2; 1 Cor. 10:8; Eph. 4:12-16)
  7. Does it spring from, or lead to, love of this world and its value system? “Do not love the world or the things in the world.   If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). (See also Mark 9:47; 11:14-15)
  8. Does it involve union with an unbeliever? “Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14)
  9. Does it come from or have the potential of leading to bondage? “All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (1 Cor. 10:23).
  10. Is the motive pride, or love? “We know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ ‘Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:1-2)
  11. Is a godly mind-set the context of my decision on the matter? “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). (See also Rom. 12:1-2)
  12. What does the church say about it? “He who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men” (Rom. 14:18). “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things” (Acts 15:28). (See also Rom. 14:16)
  13. Would I like to be doing this when Jesus comes? “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming…. We know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 2:28; 3:2-3). (See also Matt. 24:44-51; Luke 23:34-35; 1 Thess. 5:2-4)

The Dignity of Human Life


Slavery and its defeat

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At the time of the writing of the New Testament, in the Roman Empire, there were essentially three classes of people: The rich, the slaves (about half the population), and freemen. These “freemen” were free in that they were not owned by anyone, yet they often went hungry because of their “freedom.” Whereas, slaves sometimes had good masters and sometimes had bad masters.

Slavery in Rome was not what it was like in America 150 years ago.

“In Paul’s day, slavery was not based on race. Additionally, slaves had any number of duties and responsibilities, ranging from farming, mining, and milling to cooking, teaching, and managing. Furthermore, slaves were not infrequently freed from the shackles of slavery (a process known as manumission).

There is no mistaking the fact, however, that slavery in the Greco-Roman world was degrading, dehumanizing, and downright disgusting. Taken together, slaves were perceived and treated as property and were frequently subject to unimaginable punishments based on their maters’ malevolent whims. Indeed, Roman historian Cassius Dio tells of an especially cruel slave owner, Vedius Pollio, who had slaves who displeased him thrown into a pool of flesh-eating eels.”[1]

So, what was slavery’s defeat? Harriet Beecher Stowe said:

“The Christian master was directed to receive his Christianized slave, ‘NOT now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved [Philemon 16];’ and, as in all these other cases, nothing was said to him about the barbarous powers which the Roman law gave him, since it was perfectly understood that he could not at the same time treat him as a brother beloved and as a slave in the sense of [unconstitutional] Roman law.

When, therefore, the question is asked, why did not the apostles seek the abolition of slavery, we answer, they did seek it. They sought it by the safest, shortest, and most direct course which could possibly have been adopted.”[2]

Paul’s system founded on Jesus the Christ—Jesus who came to serve and not be served—subverts any form of human oppression.[3] So, we see Paul lays the necessary groundwork for the emancipation proclamation. The gospel has changed the basic structure of the way Paul looks at the world and it should change the way we see the world as well. Continue reading


Is my body for sex and sexiness?

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[[Warning!!!]] The conclusion I come to here may be offensive, radical, and seemingly insane to the majority of Americans. The culture we consume continuously yells: “Sex! Sex! SEX!!!” However, I ask you to consider my perspective on sex.

So, are our bodies for sex and sexiness? First, if you are above the age of 30 it is probably a daily empirical reality that no, our bodies are not (primarily) made for sex and sexiness.[1] Thus, virgins can (and do!) live fulfilled lives!

In my opinion, the sexual revolution is missing out on our bodies’ teleological (or ulitmate) function and so people are left vying for fulfillment. This is the case because “The body is not meant for sexual immorality [misunderstanding of the bodies telos], but for the Lord [correct telos], and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13). God does not say that sex is bad and that humans should not enjoy sex. Actually, we find that God wants us to enjoy sex and that when it is enjoyed as intended He calls it “very good” (see Designer Sex 1 and 2). 

God is not a cosmic killjoy. Truly, we find that God has our best in mind. He wants us to appropriately enjoy the many good things He made (e.g. the earth, other human beings, grapes and what can be created from grapes). However, as the supreme and glorious creator of the universe, He also knows, in the words of Augustine that “our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” Or as Blaise Pascal said, we have an infinite hole that can only be filled by the infinite; namely, only by God Himself. Continue reading


Can we have hope in the midst of Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s) “reign”?

donald-j-trump-1271634__480How can we as Christians have hope in the midst of the “reign” of political leaders that we dislike or disagree with? We can have hope when we…

understand who is the King
As Christians, the king or President is not our ultimate King, Jesus is. Peter and Paul both lived under Roman rule, which was not the best of situations. Actually, we are told they were both beheaded under Roman rule. There are many other things that we could look at that happened under Roman rule (e.g. slavery, infanticide, public crucifixion, pornography, bisexuality). However, those things were not Peter and Paul’s main concern. Their main concern was Jesus and His gospel and they could find joy in the midst of adversity in the eschatological hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.

Our hope is in no king here. Our hope is in the King that came and died. Our hope is in that King coming back and setting all things right. Until then, our job is to be faithful representatives of the King that came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Christ is ultimately King! Not Clinton. Not Trump. Continue reading


Not all “facts” are created equal (and other proverbs for today)

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A few important and relevant things I’ve found to be true through my short tenure on earth:

1. Statistics can be skewed (in all sorts of ways).

2. Money talks, and sometimes money makes people talk about facts that don’t actually exist.

3. “Sound bits” don’t equal sound knowledge.

4. Video doesn’t always equal validation.

Continue reading


“Whatever’s right for you”

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What is right? What is wrong? Is there right and wrong? Or is everything relative to the situation or the individual? Can we answer these questions?

These are complex, important, and very relevant questions. Especially because “Americans are both concerned about the nation’s moral condition and confused about morality itself.”[1] Actually, “A majority of American adults across age, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%).”[2] Continue reading


Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 5)

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Nietzsche’s Ideal Implodes
Salaquarda points out that “Historical criticism remained Nietzsche’s most important argument against religion up to the beginning of the 1880s.”[1] However, there are many persuasive arguments that have been made that support, for instance, the resurrection of the Jesus.[2] So, in my opinion, a convincing case can be made for why we can and should believe in the resurrection of Jesus and for the reliability of the Old and New Testaments. Thus, the bedrock of Nietzsche’s criticism is unfounded. In the end, it is his foundation that is shaky (Nietzsche does not even believe in true truth!). Nietzsche also claimed that God was dead and told people that they should live in light of that reality. However, good arguments can be made that conclude that God is alive and well.[3] Truly, even as we look at the world we live in it seems apparent that it is the fool that says there is no God (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).

Nietzsche said, “atheism and a sort of second innocence belong together.”[4] If God is dead there is not only no morality, there is innocence. No one is guilty. No one should feel guilty. Each person can freely do what they see as right in their own eyes. However, human experience tells us otherwise. Nietzsche seems to paint hell as heaven. If we apply his logic he seems to hold up the carnage of Auschwitz as a return to Eden.[5] As William Lane Craig has said, “If God does not exist, then in a sense, our world is Auschwitz: there is no right and wrong; all things are permitted.”[6]

The world will eventually burn up in the death of the sun. There is no meaning. We are decaying matter that will soon be planted. If we are merely matter in motion then we have no morals. We cannot say man descended from apes and thus has no final importance and also say that we must love one another. That reasoning does not follow. Continue reading


Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 4)

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Nietzsche’s Ideal
I want to look at the functionality of Nietzsche’s philosophy. What kind of world does Nietzsche’s philosophy create? Nietzsche’s philosophy creates a world in its own image, one in which people bite and devour each other.

Nietzsche’s philosophy creates all sorts of problems. For example, Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite; he disagreed with his sister and brother-in-law who were. But, it is hard to say upon what grounds. When there is no morality, when “god is dead,” it is hard to criticize morality in other people. Yet, we see him do this time and time again. When we say there is no God, when we say there is no morality, if we are to be consistent we must realize there is no morality and we must come to terms with the world that it creates. So, I am not necessarily pointing out that Nietzsche was wrong, though I think he was, but I want to point out that he and many who have come after him are inconsistent. We cannot hold up Nietzsche’s ideas in the many forms they take and not expect a torrent of injustices to overwhelm us that harken back to Auschwitz.

Nietzsche hated Christianity’s morality that was based, in his opinion, on “pie in the sky.” However, Nietzsche’s morality, or lack thereof, leads to hell here. Nietzsche very likely would not have supported Nazism, and it seems as if he was not anti-Semitic, but many of his writings support the atrocities of the holocaust.

If Nietzsche is right that God is dead then his morality is right as well. That is, there is no right, there is no wrong, there is in sum, no morality. As Ivan Karamazov said in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book The Brothers Karamazov, “If God is dead, everything is permitted.” In fact, morality is unhelpful. Nietzsche basically says that morality is nihilistic. He says, “Morality is a way of turning one’s back on the will to existence.”[1]

However, we cannot really live in a world like that, we, at least, would loathe that world. But, that’s the bitter truth if God is dead. If God is dead there is no killing a billion devils. Hell may not then be literal, but hell on earth is. If God is dead, humanity is “free;” free to wallow in its own mire. Free to oppress, free to enslave, free to hate, free to do whatever it is we feel to do, so long as we are more powerful than the powers that be…

So, Nietzsche’s atheistic “morality” might be freeing, if you’re at the top of the food chain. But if you’re a minority or a small off-shoot fringe group that’s not accepted by the powers that be, you are likely to be stubble for the Übermensch’s flame. Freedom it seems only would come to the “god” of this world, the “god” that is strong enough to enslave others (of course you might say, that even that “god” is then enslaved to continually fight for his so-called “godhood”). And so, we see that Nietzsche provides no freedom, he just provides a different master, one that (Romans 6 reminds us) brings a litany of death, debauchery, chaos, and everlasting curse. Nietzsche and his morality—and Darwin and Dawkins[2]—do not finally bring freedom and fun or hope of heaven on earth, they bring a very real type of hell to life on earth; they, when their philosophy is lived out to its logical conclusion, nearly have the power to give demons flesh.[3] They, short of incarnating evil, do image their master the devil. They carry out his deeds by their acts; acts of rape, acts of mutilation, acts of vile debauchery and calculated cruelty, they glory in their shame and they praise and promote those who do the same. They do this because they did not see fit to honor God, they thus become futile in their thinking, and do the works of their father the devil.

My goal is not so much to prove Nietzsche wrong, in my opinion, he has done that himself. My goal is to prove that if “God is dead” it follows that there is no morality and that makes for a terrible world. This is immediately relevant to our current culture. We desire Eden—healthy people and planet, peace, and prosperity—all the while saying there is no God and we can do as we like.[4]

It seems then that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was influenced by Nietzsche’s work. It seems to me that a seed was planted in Nietzsche’s work that Hitler would later cultivate to very destructive ends.[5] Nietzsche may not have foreseen or intended all the Nazi party carried out but it seems that what they did is in line with his thought So, although Nietzsche himself may not have supported the Nazi party, his thought when taken to its logical conclusion, does seem to lead to many of the things that the Nazi party did. Nietzsche, from my reading of him, would certainly have no grounds to criticize anything that they did.

The brutality that Hitler and his regime carried out was necessary as Nietzsche described: “man’s sacrifice en bloc [all together] to the prosperity of one single stronger species of man—that would be progress.”[6] Thus the brutality and sacrifice would be worth it in Nietzsche’s mind because it would bring about a new and better age. Nietzsche, I am sure, could concur with these words from Hitler: “Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.”[7]

Nietzsche said this in Beyond Good and Evil:

The crucial thing about a good and healthy aristocracy… is that it does not feel that it is a function… but rather its essence and highest justification—and that therefore it has not misgivings in condoning the sacrifice of a vast number of people who must for its sake be oppressed and diminished into incomplete people, slaves, tools. Its fundamental belief must simply be that society can not exist for its own sake, but rather only as a foundation and scaffolding to enable a select kind of creature to ascend to its higher task and in general to its higher existence.[8]

As we have said, we can extrapolate, especially with hindsight, that Nietzsche’s philosophy had an impact (though to what degree we cannot say) on Nazism. If there is no right and no wrong, only what is desirable and undesirable for the particular individual, then we allow, even give precedence, for all sorts of moral degradation (because, after all, moral degradation does not actually exist, only the will to power). Thus, we see Nietzsche’s ideal, his philosophy, ultimately promotes violence and all sorts of vile practices. 

________________

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, par. 11.

[2] Richard Dawkins follows Nietzsche in saying that “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life [New York: Basic Books, 1995], 133).

[3] If morality was just a “misfiring” or a “Darwinian mistake,” even a “blessed, precious mistake” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion [New York: Mariner Books, 2008], 253) it would not be grounds for living a moral life. Yes, one certainly could still live a moral life, as apparently, Dawkins claims to. He even makes fun of the consideration that people would need a judge in the sky to make us moral. However, Dawkins does not take into account various atheists that attest to the truth that we need a judge in the sky to keep humanity from caring out acts of atrocity on others (cf. e.g. Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ). If there is no evil, no true transtemporal truth, then there really are no real acts of atrocity. If God is dead, all things are permissible. They may not always be efficient or wise but they are permissible. Efficiency itself becomes the criteria of right and wrong (cite eugenics, euthanasia, Trump’s taxes, etc.). Efficiency becomes a parallel to Nietzsche’s “will to power.” The person that rises above the system (e.g. moral, political), uses the system, or beats the system is the “over-self” that bends the world to its own ends. This is the new “morality,” striving and thriving to subdue life and life’s systems to whatever end is desirable. The true “over-self” may not call themselves a disciple of Nietzsche, it may even be unwise of them to make that claim, but if they live in the ways mentioned above then they are a disciple of Nietzsche even if they don’t know it. They may claim they’re not, they may claim to be pragmatists but they seem to be Nietzsche’s disciples nonetheless.

[4] It reminds me quite a bit of the first sin: forgetting God and doing as we desire. Here we see the danger of autonomous reasoning. From the beginning, even before the Fall, we have been dependent upon God for everything, revelation directing us to know what we should desire. In fact, I think Nietzsche would be happy in that it seems like the only morality today seems to be to do whatever suits the particular individual (unless it infringes upon what someone else wants to do or is really nasty). So, there seems to be no rules, except do not make rules for others or do “really bad things” (like pollution, Christian hypocrisy, and pedophilia).

[5] The Stanford Encyclopedia says “during the 1930s, aspects of Nietzsche’s thought were espoused by the Nazis and Italian Fascists, partly due to the encouragement of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche through her associations with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. It was possible for the Nazi interpreters to assemble, quite selectively, various passages from Nietzsche’s writings whose juxtaposition appeared to justify war, aggression and domination for the sake of nationalistic and racial self-glorification” (Wicks, “Friedrich Nietzsche” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

[6] Par. 12 of the Second Essay in On the Genealogy of Morality.

[7] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 289.

[8] Nietzsche, Beyond God and Evil, par. 258. Cf. Darwin’s thoughts on the queen bee. He said, “we ought to admire the savage instinctive hatred of the queen-bee, which urges her instantly to destroy the young queens her daughters as soon as born, or to perish herself in the combat; for undoubtedly this is for the good of the community; and maternal love and maternal hatred, though the latter fortunately is most rare, is all the same to the inexorable principle of natural selection” (Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species [London: Penguin, 1968], 230).


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