Tag Archives: Scripture

Does the Bible teach that all sins are equally bad?

Here’s a neat post by Bill Pratt over at Tough Questions Answered.

Excerpt:

But what about the Bible?  Is there support for the view that all sins are not equal in Holy Scripture?  Yes, actually there is.

Let’s look at the words of Jesus.  In Matt. 23:23, Jesus scolds the Pharisees for neglecting “the more important matters of the law.”  If there are more important matters of the law, than there are less important matters of the law, and thus a moral law hierarchy.

In Matt. 5:19 Jesus refers to breaking the  “least of these commandments,” again indicating a hierarchy.

In Matt. 22:34-40, an expert in the law asks Jesus about the greatest commandment.  Jesus’ response isn’t, “Silly man!  All of the laws are equal!”  No, he tells him that the greatest command is to love God and the second greatest command is to love your neighbor.  Clearly the man who loves his neighbor but does not love God is committing the greater sin.  God comes first.

In John 19:11, Jesus tells Pilate that “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”  If there is a greater sin, then there must be lesser sins.

What about the apostle Paul?  He says in 1 Cor. 13:13 that the greatest virtue is love.  If there is a greatest virtue, then there must be lesser virtues.  Paul also tells Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:15 that Paul is the worst sinner.  But if all sins are equal, then there can be no worst sinner.

In 1 John, the apostle John informs us that there is sin that leads to death, and other sins that do not lead to death.  Clearly some sins are worse than others.

Bill says that part 2 of this 2 part series comes out today!

My own view of this problem is that definitely any one sin will damn you to Hell for eternity, because the standard is perfection. And since no one can be perfect, we all need to have some means of avoiding the penalty for our own sins. Now the people who don’t accept this offer of redemption are going to be on the hook for all their own sins, but they are not all going to be punished with equal severity. The duration of the punishment is the same for all, but the intensity of the punishment will vary based on the specific sins that each person committed.

Related posts

What do the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us about how the Bible was transmitted?

Here is another good post from Neil at 4Simpsons.

Excerpt:

Many people – including some Christians – are quick to say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t know what the original writings said.  For example, I saw a video clip where Deepak Chopra (alleged religious expert) claims that the King James was the 13th iteration of the Bible.

But contrary to that myth, the books of the Bible have only been translated once and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable.

For example, Paul wrote in Greek, and we have Greek manuscripts to make translations from.  That is one translation.

Deepak Chopra!!! He knows less about religion than my keyboard!

Look:

But I digress. I wanted to say something about the reliability of the Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

When we discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, it contained some manuscripts that were 1000 years earlier than our previous copies. It provides an excellent test of written transmission, because you can compare the best copy we had with a copy that is 1000 years earlier, then see if there are any differences.

See here:
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/holy-post/archive/2009/06/26/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-dead-sea-scrolls.aspx

Excerpt:

You know the children’s game called “telephone”? Some kid whispers a message to the kid next to him and it moves down the line until it emerges a garbled version of the original. It turns out the Bible is not like that. Despite endless translations and editions over the centuries, the original message appears to have emerged relatively unscathed. The Dead Sea Scrolls provided Old Testament manuscripts 1,000 years older than the previous oldest manuscript in existence. What the scrolls show is that the texts used at about the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, about 70 years after the death of Jesus, are almost the same as what we read today. Expert Weston W. Fields wrote: “The differences are neither theologically nor historically important. In general the scrolls testify to the amazing accuracy and great care with which ancient scribes passed along the biblical text.”

Too bad people like Deepak Chopra are so ignorant of such evidence.

What the Bible tells us about the character of God

Here’s a post by Matthew who blogs at iPandora. He explains how the personality of God as presented in the Bible is very different from our human personalities.

Excerpt:

In the timeline of the Promise Land journey, this event occurred just two months after God’s parting of the Red Sea, and only about 2 weeks after God had led His people to an oasis with 12 springs and 70 palm trees. In other words, God’s provision in greater and lesser (though still great) ways was fresh on the minds of His people.

Or was it.

Exodus 16 opens with the people grumbling.

And not just the regular travel pains, this is specific whining and wanting for the comforts of Egypt. God had shown them the Egyptians low regard for their lives. He’d shown them His own supremacy over and above the greatest kings of this earth. He’d shown them his tender and remarkable hand in the smallest of details by leading them to a symbolically perfect place of provision.

And they were already complaining.

Ingratitude is a morally despicable attitude and an ingrate is an ugly person. Yet here was the entire congregation of Israel grumbling at their want in this wilderness and wishing for the meat pots of Egypt.

If any of us were in God’s position, we’d consider ourselves quite justified in being incensed at the complaints of this recalcitrant and backward people. We’d rail at the ingrates and give the whole nation a dressing down they wouldn’t soon forget.

But God doesn’t.

And that’s where it is most true that this lion is no tame lion.

This rest is here, in which he explains what he means by that last line. But now I’m going to make a few points of my own.

Why do Christians today read the Bible when it is so old? Well, God wanted Biblical writers to record propositional statements about him so that we could all read about it and learn about what God is like. And what do we find in the Bible? Well, one of the most compelling reasons for people to consider the claims of Christianity is that when you read the Bible, you find out that God is not just a bigger version of man.

We can see this clearly when we look at Jesus the Messiah dying on the cross to atone for the sins of we, his rebellious murderers, or God the Father feeding the rebellious children of Israel when they are ungrateful for being delivered from slavery. God is not like us – he is different. He has his own character. And our job is to get to know him as he is, and then try to freely choose to act in ways that honor him as he is.

Tough Questions Answered wrote a recent series of posts on how NOT to read the Bible. Here’s part 1 and part 2.

My series on sin and Hell

This series explains why humans do with respect to God that gets us in trouble, how God has made a way for us to make it right, and how Christians can explain all of this to others without feeling ashamed to speak about it.

Share

Why do conservative Catholics support Obama so strongly?

Let’s see what the story is, from Hot Air:

I know I’ve said this before on the site, and I know many devout Catholics’ experiences are different, but having grown up in the Church, there’s nothing here that surprises me. Most Catholics I know treat the Church’s commands as essentially hortatory, to be politely ignored when need be — as in the case of torture — which is why I can’t quite fathom the outrage over a pro-choicer as adamant as The One speaking at Notre Dame. His job approval this month among Catholics is 70 percent, and 65 percent among those who attend church weekly. They’re fighting a losing battle here.

Allahpundit then goes on to quote the findings here:

Even Catholics who consider themselves “conservative” politically are more likely to approve than disapprove of Obama’s job performance [49/40]…

In fact, 53% of Catholics voted for Obama for president in November, almost identical to the 52.9% of the popular vote Obama won in the 2008 election. Catholics’ 67% approval of Obama in his first 100 days is slightly higher than his overall 63% average approval rating for the same period. Thus, relative to the population, Catholics have become a bit more supportive of Obama as president than they were in the election.

This news makes the Wintery Knight sad… so sad, that he is tempted to cry tiny icicle tears.

I am an evangelical Protestant Christian who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible (in the autographs). I think that one of the reasons why evangelical Protestants are more politically conservative than Catholics (and some mainline Protestants) is because there is more emphasis on free market capitalism in evangelical Protestantism.

Evangelical Protestants are also more conservative on the exclusivity of salvation than Catholics are. We believe that salvation is based on knowing God, not on doing good works. I think some Catholic voters are being swayed by Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor, even by government redistribution of wealth. This is also true for mainline Protestants, who seem to be increasingly concerned with social justice instead of economic liberty, and they are also soft on exclusive salvation.

UPDATE: Commenter ECM says that I should not make too much of this poll, because it is done by Gallup and their polls lately have been way off.

UPDATE: And now I’m going to rebut my own post: Pastor Joel Hunter says Obama Displaying “Wisdom and Balance” During First 100 Days. (H/T The Pugnacious Irishman)

Excerpt:

As someone who is completely pro-life (concerned about the vulnerable outside the womb as well as inside the womb), I am encouraged by the vision (and budget) President Obama has cast for empowering those marginalized with the resources they need to become responsible citizens.

…By supporting sex education and contraception, we reduce the number of unexpected pregnancies and thus reduce the likelihood of abortion. Also, by supporting expectant mothers who are feeling pressure to have an abortion because of financial concerns, education interruptions, or the baby having development problems, we again decrease the likelihood and therefore the incidence of abortion.

…Even the overturning of the Mexico City Policy had a pro-life side to it, in that sex education, contraception and family planning almost certainly will decrease the number of abortions performed.”

It’s the social justice that does them in, and I should write something about how social justice suddenly became the main job of the church instead of spreading the Gospel and answering speculations against it. What do you expect when people abandon truth? If religion is about meeting people’s needs, then everybody goes to Heaven and we should all focus on making people feel good about their sins in the here and now.

EVERYBODY: Say it with me: when you subsidize something, you get more of it. When you tax something, you get less of it. Subsidizing pre-marital sex gives you more pre-marital sex, and more accidental pregnancies, and more abortions. Reduce government subsidies and support for risky sex, and you lower the number of abortions.

UPDATE: Maritime Sentry has a much more reliable Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Catholics are more serious about their faith than the flawed Galup poll indicated.