The Biblical Hierarchy

In my model of the Trinity, God the Father is the head of Christ. I think there is Scripture to support it. 

And Christ is head of the Church. [Colossians 1:18]

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. [Ephesians 5:23]

The church is made of families. And the husband is the head of the wife in marriage, which is the foundation of a Christian household.

And the children are called to honor and obey their parents. [Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 6:1]

So you see, everyone has a place in the hierarchy: God the Father, Christ, man, woman, and children.

Deriving Good

Truth is simply existence in reality.
Lies are non-existence in reality.

Life is existence in reality.
Death is no longer existing in reality.

Love is imagining futures with.
Hate is imagining futures without.

What you’ll notice is there are essentially two groups of things. The question obviously is, how do we determine which is which? One group is clearly a presence. The other is an absence. One group is independent. One group is dependent.

We call the independent group ‘good.’ Not arbitrarily, the dependent group would not exist without the independent group. For instance, without truth there are no lies. Hate would not exist without love. Death would not exist without life. You would never know a bad apple without a good one to compare it to. There would be no darkness without light. Therefore,  the dependent group is called ‘bad.’

In Christianity, God is the maker of all things. God is love. God is true. God gives life. Therefore, God is good. 

Rethinking the Atonement

I was watching Capturing Christianity interview William Lane Craig about the atonement when I realized, this needed to be addressed in my theory. I just thought it was heresy to have any theory about how the atonement worked, but even Craig seemed to think that we accept it, but don’t fully understand it. Giving several different theories and his own. 

So here’s my theory.

The human heart was darkened after the fall. But to have communion with God, purity is required. Since we are all fruit of the poisonous tree, we cannot have pure hearts. There is no sin in heaven.

So that in being born pure, Jesus was born to die for our sins. His pure heart atoned ours, not just once, but every day. Every time we ask for our sins to be forgiven. With Jesus and his gift of the Holy Spirit, we are forgiven. Our hearts are washed clean of our sins. Replaced with a pure, sinless one.

Without this sacrifice, there was simply nothing to compare. There was nothing in the world without sin, so there was nothing that was acceptable to God. We needed a model of perfection of a pure heart to be acceptable to God to commune with him now and forever.

The Holy Spirit lives in the heart, and is how we are purified in Jesus. Without Jesus, we’d never have the Holy Spirit. And without the Holy Spirit, we’d never have pure hearts. And without pure hearts, we’d never have communion with God. 

“No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6


Critiquing Catholicism

Yesterday, I had a conversation on Youtube, mainly on Catholicism. I had done some brief reading of the basics, but I never really dove in. Here’s the debate for anyone who is interested. 

In Roman Catholicism, I think there is only one question you need to answer: it’s what is more important, scripture or tradition. If our walk with Jesus is personal, I don’t see how years of tradition could improve that relationship. I’m not saying that the traditions of the church are wrong; I am simply saying that they are not necessarily true. I accept scripture as being the Word of God. And while tradition may have given us scripture, there is tradition that followed scripture. And while there is dispute between Catholics and protestants over whether to accept the apocryphal writings, I think we all accept the validity of scripture itself. 

What I think Protestants and Catholics should certainly be able to agree on is the words of Jesus. That’s why I would take a careful look at Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mark 7. 

 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Jesus says plainly that we are to value the word of God over human tradition. The question is why?

The more people that play the game of telephone, the worse the final message is. I don’t see how we could expect thousands of years of church tradition not to stray from the truth. Let’s take this approach for the history of science. Imagine if everything accepted by science, you believed. This is obviously not possible, because there are too many contradictions to count. The earth cannot be flat and round at the same time. The earth is either the center of the universe, or it’s not.  

For that reason, I think that the catholic church could be taking us further away from the truth of Jesus. It’s as simple as this: we have one story, followed by thousands of years of tradition. If the story saved those that came after, why do those that follow need the tradition? 

If the Holy Spirit works in us through the word of God, what use is the tradition of the Catholic Church? 

There is only one truth. And Jesus claimed to be it. I think the Gospel is as close as we can get to this truth. But the continued evolution of tradition seems to be a flawed way of getting closer to the truth. If we have the word of God and the Holy Spirit, both alive in this universe, why not just go directly to the source? Would you trust your information about something more if you watched a live video of it happening, or if you talked to someone who talked to a police officer who watched the video? 

That’s why I’m not a Catholic: Jesus said plainly that scripture was more important than human tradition. And if truth is the goal, and we consider Jesus the truth, you can see how centuries of tradition could take us away from that. 

Satan’s Fall

Prerequisites: Animals Don’t Kill themselves, Rethinking Eden

The Fall in Eden was not the first sin. It was the first human sin. 

Before humanity, there was a rebellion in heaven. And that was lead by Satan. Before the rebellion, all was well. The question is, what changed? In a perfect world, what could change? Where did Satan get his first desire for sin?

Here’s how I think it happened. 

First, in heaven there are some initial conditions. So let’s go through those first.

  • Time exists.
  • The angels in heaven are free in mind, body, heart, and soul. So while there is no sin, it is still possible.
  • Free beings have the ability to think for themselves using the concept of ‘if.’ I call it comparing future realities. To think about to possible outcomes and decide what do next based on that preferred future.

The problem is what Satan did with this ability. The preferred future reality was one where he was greater than God. Therefore, God was in the way of his preferred future reality. He wanted to be God, and thus hated God, and the current state of heaven. The hypothetical what if I was God, created a new possible universe where Satan ruled, and he preferred that universe.

You said in your heart,

I will ascend to heaven;

above the stars of God

I will set my throne on high;

Isaiah 14:13

Once this hypothetical world was preferred to heaven, Satan could begin to think about and act out a plan to overthrow God. But it all started with a hypothetical, and a desire to be better.

Think about adultery. A man has a perfect life with a perfect wife and family. He sees a woman and prefers her to his wife. He sees a reality with her as better than a reality with his own wife. So the standard changed. His perfect life is no longer perfect because his standard was no longer what he had, but this new unattained reality. He wanted.

Satan’s issue was similar. He had beauty, wisdom, and position in heaven,  but he imagined a reality where God was not in charge. Where he was king. And he preferred that reality to his current one. This created the want. The standard changed. And the rebellion was born.



Rethinking Eden

In Christianity, there is one story from which all other stories flow. One act that dooms all of mankind. It’s the story of Eden. It takes place in Genesis three. And it’s a familiar story: in Eden, life was presumably perfect. Adam and Eve, were in God’s presence, and had only one job: not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

But why was there a tree in the first place? For moral agents to love, there needs to be a choice. This was their choice, and their test.

Here’s God’s warning to Adam and Eve:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Here’s the temptation from the serpent:

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Notice that Eve says that ‘you must not touch it’ which was not included in her warning from God. I think this was Eve’s mechanism to protect her from eating from the fruit. If there is only one thing in your universe that you can’t eat, why not just not touch that thing. It seems like a smart boundary to make. 

But Eve touches the fruit and doesn’t die. Of course, in reading the story, we know that she wouldn’t die. But if she had convinced herself that touching the fruit would kill her, it didn’t. She had sinned in her own mind, but nothing happened. So why not eat the fruit?

Then Adam clearly sees that Eve is still alive after eating the fruit. Eve now knows good and evil, but he doesn’t. Eve is more like God than him. So if eating from the Tree didn’t kill her, and now she was more like God, wouldn’t it be wrong for him not to eat the fruit?

You see, under a more careful reading, the temptation was much more clever than I imagined. I always thought that the Fall was preventable. Maybe it wasn’t. 




There is no sin in heaven

That’s what you need to know. Perhaps you believe God doesn’t exist, or heaven isn’t real. But regardless, in this world, real or imaginary, there is no sin. 

There is also no desire to sin. If people desired sin, there would be want in heaven. But we know that there is no want in heaven. Because it is a perfect place.

Let’s just say that there is no pizza in heaven. But it’s not a problem because no one in heaven wants pizza. So there is no shortage of pizza there either. 

Those that prefer sin go somewhere else. Let’s just say that heaven is preferable to this other place.

God’s will be done. God’s will is the opposite of sin. Thus in heaven, there is only God’s will. If you prefer your own will over God’s, heaven would be hell, anyways. And we can’t have people in heaven that think it’s hell. 

So the question becomes, if there is no sin in heaven, and we are born sinners, how do we get into heaven? 

Jesus is the only way. Remember, we cannot be good without God. So if we cannot be good without God, we need God to be good. And Jesus is the method that God comes to us. And if this goodness is the opposite of sin and comes from God, Jesus is not only the way to God, but also the only way to heaven. 

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except by me. John 14:6



The Fourfold States of Man

I stumbled across the Fourfold States of Man a couple days ago, and I felt compelled to share. As you may expect, there are four different states of man relating to man’s ability to sin and not sin. 

If you’re curious, Saint Augustine of Hippo developed this concept in the fifth century AD in a book titled Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Love. 

  1. Man has the ability to sin and the ability not to sin.  This is the pre-Fall state. In the garden, man has the ability to sin and not to sin. 
  2. Man has the ability to sin and not the ability not to sin. Post fall, man does not have the ability to not sin. 
  3. Man has the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. With the gift of salvation, we are given the ability to not sin. 
  4. Man has not the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. This is the glorification state, given in heaven. 

These states seem to briefly describe the theme of the Bible itself. It answers the questions of how things got this way, how they were before, why we should fix them, and how we should fix them. 

Bad Theology: Aaron Hernandez

My wife and I just finished watching the Aaron Hernandez documentary on Netflix last night. It was very well done, and I recommend it to anyone who loves a good documentary. 

If you don’t know how this story ends, stop reading. Aaron was a troubled man, who obviously had his problems. But his final act was an act of self-murder. He was found with a Bible and John 3:16 scrawled on his forehead. It was a truly grisly scene.

We all know the verse:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I just want to talk for the Aaron’s theology  for a minute. Aaron seemed to think that he was saved and his final act would send him to eternal life. I actually agree that it would be eternal. But if you accept the Bible as true, why would you introduce yourself to God in a final act of sin. But the question is that if he truly believed in Jesus, why would he have committed suicide?

Belief, according to most, is not just knowing God exists, but trusting him with your life. For Aaron to have committed this act, actually showed that he didn’t trust in Jesus. Not with his life anyways. 

Because if the consequences of sin are death, he actually just made the decision not to trust Jesus, but to sin and die at the same time.

Because I live, you also will live. John 14:19

So while I certainly don’t know where Aaron ended up, I think it’s important to know that whatever he thought he knew had no backing in the Bible. Aaron simply wanted to stop living and go to heaven. And that’s not how salvation works. 




You can’t be good without God

If free will doesn’t exist, and we live in a deterministic world, our choices are arbitrary. If they are choices at all. Any decision considered ‘good’ is simply what was going to happen anyways.

If free will does exist, we have the ability to make meaningful decisions. But for there to be good or bad, there needs to be a standard. If there is no standard, the morality of the decisions is subjective. And therefore, is arbitrary.

If free will does exist, and there is an objective moral standard outside of God, we still need a reason to act a certain way. Why is someone who acts with the well-being of others in mind better than someone who prefers that others suffer?

If you only do good things to be perceived as good, are the things good? The intent matters. So to do it because it feels good is no better position. It’s like telling your kids that they shouldn’t do something because you said so.

Essentially, in morality 2+2=4. Some people say there are no numbers. Some people say that it can equal whatever you want. Some people say that it does equal four. But those people cannot reproduce the method. It’s right because it’s right. And you should do it because it is right.

So if intent matters in an act, and if objective good needs a standard, you can’t be good without God.