Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

Jitney Messiahs

Douglas Wilson
October 14, 2014
As the same-sex mirage juggernaut continues to roll through our pathetic little festival, crushing both devotees and opponents alike, a number of conservative Christians have begun to prepare themselves for life in a post-Christian America. Not only so, but they have been encouraging others to do the same. But this is radically unhelpful and unbecoming — nobody much likes seeing the team manager giving up in the fourth inning, and especially when the score is just 10 to 8. And particularly when we are the ones who have 10.

The reason all this is happening is that we are so distracted by the effrontery of the last lie that we are not able to see the current lie being told. We were being told — oh, about ten minutes ago — that there was no reason why individual states could not keep their restrictions on same-sex mirage, and that it was not necessary to have one monolithic approach to marriage within the republic. Anybody remember all that? Ah, good times. And then federal judges started striking down the laws of multiple states as unconstitutional, and you know the rest of the drill.

But that was the last lie.
And as exasperating as it is, perhaps making you want to dance in place a little bit, we really need to focus on what lies we are being told now. Our problem then was that we believed them then. Our problem now is that we are believing them now. The current lie is that all of this is inevitable, inexorable, remorseless, relentless, and hell bent. And except for that last one, none of it is even remotely true.

This is a lie that under-girds all progressive thought, all the time, but it has now come to the forefront again, and some out-maneuvered Christians are helping to propagate it. Progressives are the ones that progressives have been waiting for, but really, nobody else has been. Whenever their jitney messiah arrives — and they find a new one every generation or so — I really see no reason for bowing down.

Chesterton once said that the one taste of paradise on earth was to fight in a losing cause . . . and not to lose it.

So let me give three quick reasons, in ascending order of importance, why this myth of inevitability needs to be rejected, along with the horse it rode in on.

First, they really want me to believe it, and so I refuse to. Should I as the batter swing simply because I hear voices emanating from their dugout, telling me that I need to? Try explaining that to your coach. “But they said I had to . . . they seemed so urgent . . .”

Second, sodomy is fruitless, along with all the pale heterosexual imitations of sodomy. Denial of fruitfulness will result — follow me closely here — in lack of fruit. Sodomy can crash a civilization into a wall, but sodomy and its cousins can never build or maintain a civilization. In the long run, in other words, stupidity never works. You run out of money, you run out of children, you run out of ideas, and you run out of gas. You run out.

And third, the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. All of this is His doing, not theirs. He has brought our nation to this point in time for His good and perfect purposes. They think they are in control, and a number of us even think so. But if American history were that little joggity car outside the supermarkets that they used to have, where you put quarters in it so that your two-year-old could bounce for five minutes, grinning maniacally, turning the steering wheel back and forth, then all our circuit courts are that two-year-old.

The Lord Jesus rules all of history. This means that our folly is His righteous judgment on us, and not our successful revolt against Him. And His righteous judgment of us is being exercised so that His name would be glorified in the earth. Given the circumstances, His name will be glorified in one of two ways. Either our culture will go out in a flash fire of stupidity, and He will be glorified in that event, or we will go down to our knees in repentance, calling on Him by name, and He will be glorified in our cleansing and forgiveness. And just between us, the latter is what I believe is going to happen.

And when God grants reformation and revival, I have no doubt that more than one federal judge will declare it to be unconstitutional. But we won’t get the word because of all the singing.


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Daily Devotional

Plan for Prayer

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

John Piper

Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share his life with others.

And prayer pursues God’s glory by treating him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer, we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and his bounty, our misery and his mercy.
Therefore, prayer highly exalts and glorifies God precisely by pursuing everything we long for in him, and not in ourselves. “Ask, and you will receive . . . that the Father may be glorified in the Son and . . . that your joy may be full.” Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.

If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.  But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready.

We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut.  If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you.

Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need midcourse corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer — for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.

For more about John Piper’s ministry and writing, see
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Abiathar or Ahimelech

In Matthew we read how Jesus responded to Pharisees about his disciples eating grain.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8)

Luke tells us this story though leaves out the comment about the priests profaning the Sabbath.

And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” (Luke 6:3-5)

Mark is similar to Luke but includes a comment concerning Abiathar.

And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” (Mark 2:25-26)

Jesus is referring to a passage in Samuel when David is on the run from Saul.

Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David trembling and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. (1 Samuel 21:1-6)

This raises the question as to what Jesus means by the time of Abiathar, especially given that the priest mentioned in Samuel was Ahimelech.

In 1950 John Wenham wrote in the Journal of Theological Studies (doi:10.1093/jts/I.2.156-a)

έπι Άβιαθαρ άρχιερεως is usually translated, ‘When Abiathar was high priest’—historically an error. A number of early authorities, e.g. D, W, a, b, e, Sin. Syr. (representing three of the four pre-Byzantine families) and Matthew (12:4) and Luke (6:4), evidently recognize this and omit the phrase. The problem is how to account for the retention of the phrase for so long in the oral tradition when the error was so readily recognized, as the evidence above shows. Might not Mark 12:26 supply the answer? έπι του βατου means ‘at the passage of Scripture concerning (or, entitled) the Bush’. (So also Luke 20:37.) May not έπι Άβιαθαρ άρχιερεως mean ‘at the passage of Scripture concerning (or, entitled) Abiathar the High Priest’, for the passage referred to comes in the chapter (1 Sam. 21) which immediately precedes that recording the first exploits of Abiathar?

What Wenham is saying is that the phrase έπι του βατου appears in Mark

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, at the bush [έπι του βατου], how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:24-27)

And that this is translated

have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush

Similarly in the parallel passage in Luke

But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, at the bush [i.e. the passage of the bush], where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. (Luke 20:37)

If this unusual Greek construction is recognised to refer to a passage or section of Scripture in Mark 12 and Luke 20 when Jesus is referring to the passage in Exodus concerning the burning bush, then the same construction in Mark 2 may indicate a reference to the passage in Samuel that discusses Abiathar. It is referring to a named section of Scripture, it is not referring to the person David was talking to. It seems possible that in the time of Jesus (and earlier) Scripture was referred to (at times) by smaller units than books. Our modern system of chapters and verses was not in effect until centuries after the New Testament was completed.

Thus Mark would translate like this,

And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God—in the passage of Abiathar the high priest—and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” (Mark 2:25-26)

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The Execration of All Things

A Meditation Upon Suicide

The chattering classes have been animated in recent days over a young female cancer sufferer who has made plans to kill herself.  She has been, and continues to be a “Right to Death” advocate.  The media have lionised her, lauded her, and praised her to the skies as a great example for us all.  What courage!  What dedication! 

G.K. Chesterton wrote the following in his essay, “The Flag of the World”. It will help us reflect more closely upon such things:

. . . an argument arose whether it was not a very nice thing to murder one’s self.  Grave moderns told us that we must not even say “poor fellow,” of a man who has blown his brains out, since he was an enviable person, and had only blown them out because of their exceptional excellence.  Mr William Archer even suggested that in the golden age there would be penny-in-the-slot machines, by which a man could kill himself for a penny.  In all this I found myself utterly hostile to man who called themselves liberal and humane.

Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin.  It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life.  The man who kills a man, kills a man.  The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.  His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage.  For it destroys all buildings; it insults all women.  The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime.  He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. 

The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them.  But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it.  He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake.  There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer.  When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront.  Of course there may be pathetic emotional excuses for the act.  There often are for rape, and there almost always are for dynamite.  But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the crossroads and the stake driven through the body, than in Mr Archer’s suicidal automatic machines.  There is a a meaning in burying the suicide apart.  The man’s crime is different from other crimes–for it makes even crimes impossible. 

At the same time I read a solemn flippancy by some freethinker: he said that a suicide was only the same as a martyr.  The open fallacy of this helped to clear the question.  Obviously a suicide is the opposite of a martyr.  A martyr is a a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life.  A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that we wants to see the last of everything.  One wants something to begin; the other wants everything to end.  In other words, the martyr is noble, exactly because he confesses this ultimate link with life; he sets his heart outside of himself: he dies that something may live.  The suicide is ignoble because he has not this link with being: he is a mere destroyer; spiritually, he destroys the universe.  [G.K. Chesterton, "The Flag of the World", Collected Works (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), Volume 1, pp. 275ff.]

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Will the Real Islamic Stand Up

10 verses from the Koran essential to understanding the Islamic State

Oct. 14, 2014 
[The president of the United States, Barack Obama has publicly declared that the Islamic State is not islamic.  It's claim to be faithfully following the teachings of Islam and Muhammad is spurious.  Its very name is a lie, Obama alleges.  The piece below suggests that it is Obama who is ignorant, not the Islamic State.  Ed.]

Counterjihadist and Christian apologist blogger David Wood, proprietor of the site, Answering Muslims, published a video recently that has become particularly timely in the wake of the Obama administration’s disavowal of the relationship between Islam and the Islamic State, and the recent spat between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck.

In the video, Wood, who heads the Act 17 Apologetics Missionary and routinely debates Muslims on Islam based upon the Koran and Hadith, argues that the ideological basis for the Islamic State lies explicitly in the Koran.

To argue his point, Wood cites 10 verses in the Koran and provides some additional historical context.
You can find the video, as well as the verses that Wood cites below.

10. Koran 3:32 – “Say: Obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad); but if they turn away, then indeed, Allah does not love the disbelievers.”

9. Koran 48:29 – “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the unbelievers, and merciful among themselves.”

8. Koran 4:24 – “And (forbidden are) married women except those (captives and slaves) your right hands possess.”

[Note: Wood refers to Sunan Abu Dawud 2150 for the historical background of verse 4:24. The passage reads as follows:

"The Apostle of Allah sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: "And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period."]

7. Koran 5:33 – “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.”

6. Koran 9:5 – “When the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

5. Koran 9:29 – ”Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

4. Koran 9:73 – “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.”

3. Koran 9:111 – “Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain.”

2. Koran 47:35 – “Be not weary and fainthearted, crying for peace, when you should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds.”

1. Koran 2:106 – “Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?”

*Note that these verses are taken directly from Wood’s video, and may come from varying translations of the Koran. You can search a database of translations for yourself here.

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Salvation: An Allegory

There once was a king over a large country. An illegitimate slave laid claim to the kingdom and attempted to rule over it. The pretender to the throne deceived many into thinking his claim was legitimate and many followed him.

One day the king made a pronouncement that every man who believed he was the true king was to come to on a certain day to his castle garden. He was to pledge allegiance to the king then his son would give each man a crown and make him a ruler over a district in the kingdom. The invitation was to all and thereafter each man would live under the king’s laws and reject the false king.

The king is God, the pledge is faith, and the governorship is salvation.

Let us assume Calvinism. The Calvinist would claim that the king would stir the hearts of every man that the king intended to become a ruler. The desire of these men to receive the crown would ensure that they would come to the garden on the specified day. They would pledge allegiance and the prince would bestow on them a crown. They would not fail to attend nor to pledge because of the desire of their hearts which the king had placed there.

Now let us assume Arminianism. The king would stir the hearts of every man but not all of them would choose to come. Those who came on the wrong day or to the king’s gate may be denied entry. Those who came to the garden at the right time because they believed the king was the true king but did not wish to abide by his laws and refused to pledge allegiance are not given a crown. But those who come at the kings request and pledge allegiance are given crowns and a district to rule.

Now Calvinists may claim their interpretation is correct. Arminians claim that theirs is. If we assume the Calvinists are correct the crown is given by the king through the prince and no citizen can rule without the king granting them authority. But if we assume the Arminians are correct it remains the case that no citizen can rule without the king’s authority. We can argue whether or not the desire is irresistible but bestowing the crown remains the prince’s prerogative and the citizen cannot gain a governorship without it being given to him by the prince.
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Daily Devotional

The Jezebel of Our Unbelief

“And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.”
1 Samuel 27:1

Charles Spurgeon

The thought of David’s heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God’s anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted his servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him.

The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many–yet in every case he who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, “Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me,” for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse.

He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God’s help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father’s goodness? Have not his lovingkindnesses been marvellous? Has he once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time.

We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head he has held aloft the shield of our defence. We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that he who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that he will keep us to the end.

Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.
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Crime and Punishment

Three Strikes About to Bite Hard

David Garrett, former ACT MP
Republished from Kiwiblog

When the three strikes (3S) bill was making its way through parliament I told Clayton Cosgrove – in response to an interjection – that it might be ten to fifteen years before 3S would really start to bite. Although Cosgrove immediately tried to make capital from my answer, I was not  unhappy with that prediction – in fact I thought it a little optimistic. In my view we have taken a generation to get into the mess we are in with violent offending, and it might take a generation to reverse it. It seems I was unduly pessimistic.

Unless there are extremely good reasons which would preclude such a result, we are about to get our first  “strike” offender sentenced to Life Without Parole (“LWOP”) for murder as a second strike.  Justin Vance Turner, aged 28, has pleaded guilty to murder. It is his second “strike” offence, and accordingly, he should be sentenced to LWOP in accordance with s.86E (2) of the Sentencing Act. That section requires that a stage two offender guilty of murder should serve a sentence of LWOP “unless the court is satisfied that given the circumstances of the offence and the offender, it would be manifestly unjust to do so.”

The “manifestly unjust” provision was one of the conditions the National Party required in order for them to support the 3S Bill beyond first reading.
It did not take long for ACT to agree to the amendment. The words “unless…manifestly unjust” have already been defined in case law. It is a very high hurdle to surmount. If for nothing else, Justice Graham Lang’s sentence notes will be pored over by everyone interested in 3S to see what he says about that phrase in the 3S context.

So what  “circumstances of the offence and the offender”  could cause Justice Lang to sentence to life imprisonment with a finite minimum Non Parole Period (NPP) instead of LWOP? As for the offence, in my respectful view there is absolutely nothing which would justify giving Turner the benefit of the “manifestly unjust” proviso. If the news report is accurate, the hapless victim – a homeless man – was kicked and punched until unconscious, and then Turner “continued stomping on him with enough force that  his head bounced off the floor.”

Given that Turner told police his intent was to kill, it would seem he had little choice but to plead guilty – although I suspect the motivation for the plea at an early stage (the trial was to begin on 1 December) was to try to avoid LWOP on the basis of an early guilty plea. Again in my respectful view, that is no reason to depart from the presumption created by s. 86E (2). Nothing in the 3S provisions of the Sentencing Act suggest early guilty pleas should be a factor in sentence.

What about the “circumstances of the offender”? Because of privacy laws we know little about him other than he has a first strike to his name  for serious  violent offending. There is a suggestion from the terms of the remand that his fitness to plead may have been an issue, but clearly that is no longer the case.

Again in my respectful view, if the court was to find that because of some psychological condition falling short of a “disease of the mind” which would be a reason for an acquittal (Turner was prone to episodes of extreme violence), this ought to be even more reason to lock him up for the rest of his life. It is clear from his actions that he is a menace to society, and given his age, he will be for a long time.

One option the Judge has is to decline to impose LWOP, but to give a very lengthy NPP – say thirty or even forty years. If the Judge chose to go down that route the sentence would almost certainly be appealed. That is no bad thing, as it would give the Court of Appeal the chance to make some observation on the decision to apply the “manifestly unjust” proviso, and on the length of minimum NPP that ought to be imposed if the proviso was applied.

Finally it should be noted that LWOP as a possible sentence for murder was not  part of the original 3S Bill, although it was passed into law at the same time. At the 2008 election both ACT and the Nats campaigned on making LWOP available for our worst murderers.  From the aftermath of the  2014 election it appears both ACT and the Nats have lost the appetite  for law and order measures. In time, 2008 -10 may come to be regarded as a brief “window”  which opened and allowed our justice system to start dispensing real justice to killers – and their victims.

There are many who would argue that a sentence for the rest of one’s natural life to prison for murder is cruel and unusual.  How could a Christian contemplate such a sentence, let alone support it?  Whilst it does not justify the sentence, or any sentence in itself, a lifetime in prison does not necessarily mean the end of meaningful human life. 

As evidence for that contention, consider the the following video.

Don’t Waste Your Life Sentence

June 6, 2012

The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA, is the largest and historically one of the bloodiest maximum-security prisons in the USA. In 2009, Desiring God and John Piper were invited to Angola to learn about prison life, hear from men who have been radically changed by the gospel, and minister to many of the 5,000 inmates.

Don’t Waste Your Life Sentence confronts you with the realities of inmates who, though their lives appear to have been wasted, often have a greater grasp on eternity than those on the outside.

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“Do as I say, not as I do.” Is God a cosmic hypocrite?

In, my article “Tooley Plantinga and the Deontological Argument from Evil”, I argued that Tooley’s specifically deontological version of the argument from evil fails. To summarise very briefly, Tooley’s version of the argument assumes that God has moral obligations. However, according to a fairly mainstream theistic position on the relationship between God and morality, the wrongness of an action consists in its being forbidden by God. Given that God does not issue commands to himself, it follows that he has no obligations. Tooley’s argument, therefore, contrary to his own protestation, relies on controversial substantive moral assumptions, which many theists reject.

hypocrisyIn this post I want to respond to two objections to this line of argument. The first contends my position is contradictory or incoherent; one cannot coherently deny that God is subject to the commands he issues to human beings. The second contends my argument makes God a cosmic hypocrite. Human morality consists of God saying to us, “do as I say not as I do”.

Let us look first at the accusation of incoherence.  Central to theism is the notion that God is essentially good. In my paper I set this out in terms of God possessing certain character traits: God is loving, just, impartial, omniscient, and so on. God’s possession of these traits, however, limits the kind of commands one can coherently attribute to God. Specifically, his commands must express these traits in some sense, or in the very least not contradict them. To say God is just, for example, and impartial and loving but then attribute to him commands that are unjust, hateful and partial would be incoherent.

So far so good, here is the alleged problem. If God’s commands express (or are consistent with) his essential character, then how can it be consistent with his character to not act in accord with those same commands? If God commands us to refrain from performing some action then it would be a contradiction of his character if he himself does not refrain from that action.

This objection contains a false premise. It assumes that if one person’s commands to another person reflects certain character traits then consistency with those character traits means the first person must, themselves, follow that command. This is false. Consider an example. A loving parent sets their 9 year old daughter a bedtime of 8:30 pm. This parent’s command reflects their loving character, it does not follow, however, that being loving requires that the parent herself must go to bed at 8:30 pm. Or consider an experienced surgeon. Out of concern for his patients he prohibits inexperienced junior surgeons from performing certain operations without supervision. This does not mean his concern leads him to refrain from doing this surgery himself.

This also provides an answer to the second objection that human morality consists of God saying “do as I say, not as I do”. While the sarcastic slogan may have an effective use in certain contexts to show up a person’s hypocrisy, the idea that you cannot legitimately counsel or command another to not do something that you, yourself, do is false. Parents tell children to go to bed at 9:00 pm without themselves being morally required to go to bed at 9:00 pm. Governments prohibit private citizens from punishing people for crimes yet that does not entail governments cannot punish crime. Stunt-men warn those who watch their stunts to “not try this at home”. Husbands object to other men attempting to make love to their wives, it does not follow they themselves do not make love to their wives, and so on. The point is that in many contexts the difference between people’s knowledge, character, abilities, relationship, and authority mean it is perfectly appropriate for one to tell the other to do something that she herself would not do.

It does not follow, therefore, from the fact that a God commands us to refrain from a certain action, that that God himself could never do that action.

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Slogans, We Love Thee

The Leftist’s Dictionary

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