Christians and the Old Testament Law pt. 2

Don’t eat eagles or geckos (Lev 11:13,30) If you marry a foreign slave woman, shave her head and wait a month to consummate the marriage (Deut 21:10-14)

Don’t cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk.  (Ex. 23:19) (That one is there 3 times.)

Build a fence around your roof (Deut 22:8)

These are just a few of the 613 laws of the Pentateuch.  New Testament believers have always had a precarious relationship with the law of the Old Testament.  There are many we keep and many more that we do not.  However for the vast majority of Christians, there is no reason why we keep some laws and not others.  They seem to us either random or culturally-driven.  Today I will attempt to show how Christians throughout the ages have viewed the Old Testament laws throughout time?

Most views of the law fall into these three categories:

1.         The Law-Gospel divide – This view says that the law of the OT is useful, (because it is scripture after all) but it does not help Christians make moral decisions.  NT believers live by the law of Christ not the law of Moses.  In other words, Christians are not bound at all by the law of the Old Testament.

What are some problems with this view?  Most significantly, it reduces the OT to a mere book of history.  If the law does not apply, how do we know the narrative passages are relevant to New Testament believers.   Secondly, Christ quoted much of the OT law. The majority of 10 commandments are explicitly repeated in NT.  If this is the case and Jesus thought it was important enough to reference, then maybe it should speak to His followers

2.         Theonomy – This view says that OT law is binding on the lives of Christians.  Ceremonial law (festivals, temple rules) was fulfilled in Christ so we are off the hook for that.  But the moral and civil law applies unless nullified by architecture or sanitation.    In other words, Christians need to keep as much of the Old Testament law as possible.  Most who hold this view would also say that it is the job of government to bring about adherence to this law as much as possible.

This view has a host of problems as well.  Most significantly, there is no longer a theocracy to implement these laws.  Also, the New Testament seems to clearly do away with OT civil law.

3.         Principlism – Among people who have thought about this question and know what view they hold, this view is the most common.  It divides the OT law into moral, civil, and ceremonial and says that Christians are only responsible for keeping the moral laws.  What exactly are these categories?

  • Ceremonial law, which was given to make the temple/sacrificial system function, was fulfilled in Christ. (Matt 5:17-18)  This was illustrated perfectly when the veil of the temple was torn. (Matt 27:51)
  • Civil law was given to order the Hebrew theocracy and it passed away with the theocracy.
  • Moral law is best summarized in the Ten Commandments is based on the character of God.  These laws are timeless.

These categories are generally pretty to see as we look at the law.  This view helps reconcile the reasons why we keep some but feel no need to keep others.

Tomorrow -  How these views function in real life situations.

Evangelism and Offense

This post is brought about by reading this.  This is not intended as an interaction with that post.  That post merely started the wheels turning in my mind. First, let me say that I believe the most important duty for a Christian is to evangelize, to make other Christians.  But this post is not even about that command or necessity.  This post is about answering the question, "What is the most loving thing to do?"  This answer would be the same whether you are a Christian or a Jehovah's Witness, or a Mormon or a Wiccan.

Now, to my point.

The fact is, if I deeply hold a belief that is so important as Christian faith, then I am obligated to share it with those whom I love.  I might add here that it is even more important than just life after death.  Faith in Christ and His sacrifice for my sins gives me peace and purpose in this life, as well as a certainty about my future in heaven.  If I knew where people could obtain a million dollars with no strings attached, I would certainly tell my loved ones how to do that.  Why?  Because I love them and it could make their lives better.

I don't really want to be the five millionth blog to post the Penn Jillette video, (click here to see it) but in fact Penn, an atheist, understands the necessity of evangelism better than many of the Christians I know.

Why is it that so many Christians don't share their faith?  I believe that it is a combination of things.  First, I think that many of us don't really think about the gift of salvation as we did when it was new.  Next, I think we don't live with urgency, understanding that life could be over for any of us very soon.  Finally, I think that many of us are so worldly that our thinking is warped.  Survey after survey shows that Christian church-goers deny the truths of the faith.  Not because they don't believe them, but because of the illogical notion that there is no such thing as religious truth.  This post is not about apologetics but I will say this.  If there is any such thing as truth at all, then there is religious truth.  (Everybody believes in truth and they certainly want a banker who believes in truth.)

Another symptom of this worldliness is that we are worried about offending people to whom we witness.  I understand their view, if there is no such thing as religious truth then how dare I hold my view as certain.  Again, I'll say this, if I'm not certain, then why bother?

After saying this let's look at my hypocrisy meter.  Do I get annoyed when the Mormons or Jehovah's witnesses come knocking at my door?  Sure, but I am not offended, and I always pray for them when they leave and I understand why they are there.  I believe that they have a message that is false and ultimately hopeless, but they believe it deeply and are right to share it.

Any religion worth having is worth sharing. Share Christ with someone this week.

Classic Blog Post - Still My Favorite Post Ever

One year ago today I was stricken with a very odd (but scary at the time) affliction.  I wrote a blog post about it on myspace (this was before I even considered this awesome wordpress blog), and I decided to repost it today on the anniversary of the event.  I only did a minimal amount of editing to correct the gross errors from before.  I was entertained as I reread it, and my regular readers probably will be too.  For many of you it will even be new.  Tomorrow I'll give an update on what It is like a full year later.

The Adventures of Jeremy in the Emergency Room: The world’s longest blog post

Prologue:  How I got to the ER

On Tuesday October 9th 2007 I developed a headache while crappie fishing with Jack Pate. It seemed like a sinus headache at the time. I took Advil cold & sinus like always, but it didn't go away. I also rode my exercise bike that night, because I've been doing that a lot lately, trying to drop a few lb's since I've never been fatter. The headache never went away. Wednesday I still had it.  I worked out like crazy hoping that would make the headache go away, it didn't help. Then on Wednesday night after church I helped this guy move, making for even more exercise. I made a comment about my head hurting and Jack said, "You were complaining about that yesterday." I told him that it is exactly the same headache. On Thursday, I was beginning to get concerned about having the exact same headache for 3 days. Plus, it was worse on Thursday. It is completely localized behind my right ear. Thursday I took a variety of medicines and drank a lot of Mello Yello for the caffeine and tried to sleep it away.  (Really I was just sleeping to try to hide from the hurting of my head.) The headache is not that severe, but it is relentless. It's there when I go to bed and when I wake up. Sometimes it throbs and sometimes it is dull. I made up my mind that if I woke up with it on Friday, I would go the doctor.

I don't have a regular doctor so on Friday morning I went to the express care of the Cape Fear Valley Hospital. It opens at noon I was there at 10 till, and was the second one to sign in. I thought I had a sinus infection and that he would give me antibiotics and help me feel better soon, but the PA who saw me said that there was nothing wrong with me, he gave me a shot of Tordol and a prescription for Fioricet and treated me as if I had migraines. He asked me if I was under stress I said no, he continued his course of migraine treatment anyway. He also scheduled me for a head CT on Thursday.

This is the first time I began to freak out a little. I truly considered every horrible possibility, from brain tumor to aneurysm. In case you wondered, I am still fully confident in my salvation in Christ. Even though I seriously considered death I was only reassured of my belief in Him and not the slightest bit afraid of my slightly less hypothetical impending death. Being hypothetically disabled was much more disconcerting.

Part One:  Why I went to the ER

The headache medicine that the PA gave me didn't help at all. It made me throw up, but didn't help with the headache. When I kept it down it made me extremely tired. But I was going to just tough it out until my CT on Thursday. Well things changed on Sunday morning. I got up early to make pancakes for the Baptist Men's Breakfast, and at breakfast I noticed that my mouth was weak. It felt like my eggs were going to fall right out as I chewed. By 1 pm I noticed that I couldn't smile fully. The right side of my mouth wouldn't raise all the way. I took a nap, went back to church and taught DT. The youth laughed at my inability to whistle. At the conclusion of church, the pastor named me as a prayer request, and a group of ladies prayed over me as soon as we dismissed. I truly felt loved and ministered to. That feeling was only beginning. After church I was watching TV and playing with my new X-box (an awesome gift I got for pastor appreciation month) and took a break to go to the bathroom. I smiled at myself in the mirror and noticed that my mouth was worse. This was the most nervous I'd been. So I took a picture of myself, sent it to Mom over yahoo messenger, and asked her should I go the the emergency room, cause I can only smile like this. (Just as a quick aside, can you imagine what this would have been like 10 years ago before digital cameras or instant messengers. The internet is awesome sometimes.) This is the pic I took. Mom said to call her, she said I should go the the ER because, "Your face shouldn't be drooping."

Part Two:  The Trip and the Waiting Room

I went through a mental list of who should take me to the ER, because I knew I shouldn't drive myself. I decided on Frank Acevedo. Frank is new to our church and will be here for about a year. He was the best candidate because he lives close and his family is back in Tennessee. He said he'd be here in 10 minutes. I got myself ready loaded my pockets with the prescriptions and my phone charger and stuff, and was just about ready when he arrived. On the way to the hospital I called Mom, Granny, Jarred, Pastor Weeks and Brent Highfil. Dad was in Mexico so I didn't even attempt to call him.

When I arrived at the hospital, I went to the check-in desk and told them, "I've have had a headache since Tuesday, and when I smile I look like this." They wrote down "facial drooping." Me and Frank took what seemed like the last 2 seats in the waiting room, and began the long wait. About 20 minutes later, the Pastor arrived and he stayed there nearly all night as well. I was called into the preliminary diagnosis room, and answered a bunch of questions. They took my blood pressure, weighed me, (I reeealy have to lose a lot of weight) <--update-->(I still really need to lose a lot of weight) <--update--> and asked me a bunch of questions. One of the questions they asked was rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10. All I could think of was this. (The line comes at the 2 minute mark) Which is so funny you have to watch it…now before you continue reading this. What are you waiting for, go ahead watch it. (I just didn't want to get attacked by the guys from the femur ward.) They sent me back to the chairs. We arrived at about 9:45, and slowly watched the room empty out. At 1:15 or so they called me back. Apparently 3½ hours is not all that long to wait at the emergency room. If it had been a stroke, who knows what would have happened.

Part Three: The Exam

They called me back and told me to put on the hospital gown. It was the first time in my life that I've worn one of those. I asked the nurse if I could go to the bathroom before I changed, and she told me to pee in a cup if I was going, "just in case." It's always awkward peeing in a cup, you don't know how much to put in the cup and you don't really have enough hands for the whole operation to go smoothly. But I came out of the bathroom with a cup of pee and changed into the gown with no back in it.

Then came the IV. The IV nurse stabbed the crap out of my left hand, then moved on to my right forearm. She was able to get one syringe of blood, then she moved to my left arm. The left arm hurt the most, but the right arm is much more bruised. She never did get an acceptable stab in, just as another nurse was about to give it a shot, I was moved. A girl was coming in and needed my room for an exam. She was writhing and crying in her bed, I was glad to give her the room. I didn't really want to walk down the hall with my backside hanging out, so they wrapped another gown around me like a cape and I walked down the hall following a nurse who had all my clothes in a yellow bag. They moved me to a trauma room and hooked me to all the machines.

Part Four:  My Diagnosis and Relief

A trauma room is exactly what you think of when you think of an emergency room. It is a large room with 3 "rooms" sort-of separated by a curtain. I was in trauma 2. First I'll talk about the diagnosis, then the fun part. Relatively quickly, remember I had been there for four hours already, the doctor came in and saw me. He looked in my ears and then asked me the same questions I'd already answered a hundred times, squeeze his fingers, when did it start, then he said smile, wrinkle your forehead. Then the words I was dying to hear. "You have Bell's Palsy. you haven't had a stroke or anything. We will get a CT to make sure everything is normal, but it will probably go away in a about two weeks. It is probably caused by the ear infection which seems to be pretty severe."

This was an incredible relief. If you have actually been reading this massive article you remember me saying in the prologue that I had considered everything horrible. Now I knew that the headache was actually an earache, and not my brain leaking out. At this point I could relax and enjoy the rest of my experience in the trauma room of the Cape Fear Valley Hospital. They took me next door for a CT, I nearly fell asleep during this part, laying down in a quiet room. But it only lasted about 10 minutes, and was kind of jerky once the machine kicked in. Apparently my CT was fine. You can read about the last part in part 6. Shortly after the head CT the pastor got to go home. Frank stayed around and drove me home.

Part Five:  Now Things Get Entertaining

This is the part you have all been waiting for. The trauma room is much more like ER the show than I ever expected. My roommates in trauma 1 & 3 consisted of a lady who had stabbed herself…wait for it...twice, and a man who accidentally shot himself.

First lets talk about Ms. Stabsalot. She was moaning periodically from the time I arrived. Then she would holler for a nurse and ask, "When will I get my pain meds?" The nurse would tell her that the film had to come back. Then at one point she decided that she wasn't going to get satisfaction. So she unplugged all her cables, wrapped up in her bed sheets like a dress and walked out of the room. She was quickly herded in by a nurse and told she couldn't leave because she was a psych patient. She decided then to only go to the bathroom, and came back to her bed, and returned to periodic moaning.

Then in comes Shooter in a wheelchair in real true pain, and clearly in shock. As the doctors questioned him they asked him his name, which I will leave out, and then they asked him where he was when it happened, (less than a mile from my house btw) and how he got shot. He said he dropped his gun (a .22 by the way, does that even count as packing heat?) and it went off. He also said he got rid of the gun, but he gave up his boys that he was with real quick. He was shot in the forearm. The police unwrapped it, and then the nurse pulled the curtain so that I couldn't see what was happening. I could still tell what was happening though because you can hear right through a curtain. They had some difficulty getting him to stay in the bed, and he was repeatedly saying, "I just want this out of me." The nurses wanted him to hold still so that they could give him an IV, pain meds and get an x-ray. They needed to see how the bullet was placed in his arm. As soon as he got the medicine he was a whole different guy, calm and cooperative. The doctor took the bullet out right there in the room.

When Ms. Stabsalot heard this she moaned really loud a few times, hoping to outmoan the shooter. Then the doctor started ripping into her. She said, "I've been waiting hours to get some pain meds and he just rolls right in and gets it."

"He's been shot," said the Dr.

She replied, "But I've been stabbed"

"You stabbed yourself," is the reply.

"So what, I've still been stabbed! Maybe I should have stabbed myself 3 times."

"You are a psych patient and I can't give you pain meds because they might interfere with your other symptoms. We are taking you to a mental institution for a better diagnosis."

This part of the night was truly entertaining and since I was not longer freaking out I just enjoyed the show.

Part Six:  Checking Out and Going Home

The doctor said the CT looked fine, he referred me to a neurologist for an MRI "just in case" and gave me antibiotics, antivirals, a roll of tape, instructions on using eye cream and taping my eye shut for bed, and a vicodin, to ease the pain of the earache and help me sleep. Here is me all taped up and ready for bed.

Went to the 24 hour CVS there near the hospital and filled all the scrips. Just as I was walking in the door of the house my alarm was going off, because I had to get up early the morning before. I took the first round of all the pills, ate some peanut butter on toast, took a shower, (but the vicodin was working good by then and I was staggering) taped up my eye and went to bed. Esau spent the first night of his life in the house alone, and seemed to survive it fine. I slept till about 10:30.

Epilogue:  Thank You

First of all let me say, when you are single and live 600 or more miles from where your family is, things like this could be extra scary. Then let me say thank you to my church. A major purpose of the church should be fellowship, and fellowship is more than eating together. Fellowship is having genuine concern for others. My church was awesome. I received prayer, and ministry galore. People have volunteered to drive me while I can't see and feed me. For all of you I say. Thank You! You have made it clear that everyone who loves me is not 600 miles away.

Finally, if you have read this whole manifesto-length blog post you deserve congratulations. You should at least comment it so I know I didn't totally waste my time. Also thank you to all the people who prayed for me and ministered to me through this ordeal.

Just in case you are wondering, this post is 2651 words.

What happens when I link to a popular blog

Actually these are trackbacks, plus they were very popular topics.

The first is Bart Barber and the topic of the [then upcoming] Southern Baptist presidential election

The other is Jarrod Morris (on the same day he was linked by and the topic of christians and drinking.  Something everyone has an opinion about.

And the places where it bottoms out are Sundays.  Apparently no one reads blogs on Sundays.


Christians & Drinking

I left this comment in this blog earlier today.  So I'll ask my readers to answer it.

Here’s a question no one has ever answered satisfactorily for me. -Why does a Christian want to drink a beer?- If you know it’s wrong to get drunk and you don’t need a little alcohol to stay dysentery free, then why?

I do not want a discussion about legalism and christian freedom in my comments. I simply want an answer to this question, "What advantage do you get from drinking?"  Why do it?

I get the idea from all the people who argue that it's ok that the main reason that they want to drink socially is because they were taught that it is wrong.  It is pure rebellion.  In fact, the best reason I've ever gotten from anybody when I asked this question in person is that it is fun.  Also I'm probably not going to buy the argument that it is delicious.  Nobody lives the taste of beer the first time, and most of us are not in the habit of drinking stuff we think is nasty until it starts tasting good.

I am conceeding that the Bible doesn't say "thou shall not consume alcohol"  and that it does say "be not drunk with wine."  Let's not have a discussion of whether or not it is okay.  I want to know; why drink at all?  Especially since there's no clear line between sober and drunk.

My Life So Far

Today is my 33rd birthday. Birthdays have a way of making me take stock of my life, and even though I'm not freaking out today, I still like to look back. (BTW I really freaked out over turning 29.) I figure that, even with wishful thinking, at least a third of my life has passed. So, just for fun, I’ll break down my life so far into thirds and share some highlights.

Age birth – 11: I really accomplished a lot, relatively speaking. Mostly, like other kids, it’s learning stuff. Here’s a partial list that is in no particular order.

  • Successfully navigated the birth canalMe like 1 yo
  • Learned to walk
  • Learned to talk (possibly learned this one a little too well)
  • Inherited my brother and promptly, through regular beat-downs, established my dominance
  • Survived a bout with a life-threatening illness.
  • Learned how to use the toilet and clean up after myself (very important skill)
  • Learned to tie my shoes even though in the early 80s we all thought velcro would replace laces
  • Learned to ride a bike (this one took me a while)
  • Learned to read and write
  • Successfully passed Kindergarten through 5th grade (I turned 12 during the 6th grade)
  • Moved 10 times or so through 4 different cities (Franklin KY, Somerset KY, Bristol VA, Hopkinsville KY, Cerulean KY)
  • Became a Christian
  • Participated in a school play
  • Got pretty fat
  • Made it to the dice and bowtie (I can’t remember which is better) levels of Megamania

Age 12-22: Not so much about learning stuff, as accomplishing stuff or failing to accomplish stuff. This is obviously what I would refer to as my formative years. I am who I am mostly because of these 11 years. Again, here’s a list.

  • Managed to get through 6th-12th grade in one try (I won’t be saying that later on)
  • Survived the divorce of my parents
  • Saved the princess in Super Mario BrothersMy Sr. Picture
  • Saw my Dad become a Christian
  • Inherited a step family (which included 2 more brothers and a sister. Again I had to establish my dominance through regular beat-downs)
  • Actually went on a few dates
  • Played trombone in High School band
  • Totally graduated high school (again, it only took one try)
  • Lost a bunch of weight then got fat again
  • Moved away from home for college at UK
  • Spent a summer in Washington & Oregon as a NAMB summer missionary (This was life changing. If you are in college and want to be used by God, apply at
  • Spent a summer as youth director at the church I grew up in
  • Went to the 1997 final 4 and had great seats (Sadly, Kentucky lost)
  • Served as youth minister at Durbin Memorial Baptist Church
  • Flunked out of UK
  • Moved about 6 more times during this period
  • Worked for Universal Property & Casualty insurance company (I didn't live in Florida. It was operated by Kentucky National.)

Age 23-33: I realize that I'm just beginning my 33rd year, but I can talk about the previous 10.

Making that list was kinda fun. Hope you enjoyed it

A time for War? A time for peace (part 2)

Yesterday I answered the question, “Is war ever justified?” My conclusion; only the state can carry out war, and it can be the morally correct thing to do in certain circumstances. The corollary question to that one is, “Can a Christian be a combatant?” These questions are not mere abstractions. In case you haven’t noticed, the United States is in an ongoing war. And to have a war, you need people to fight. There’s probably a dozen addresses in my address book. So this question matters. For a Christian interested in doing the will of God, who also happens to be in the military this question is of paramount importance. So lets get to the answer.

Can a Christian fight in a war? The answer to this one lies in yesterday’s conclusion. The state can carry out a war. So how is a state to do so? What is a state? Is the US the land that we inhabit? If so do we expect the land to begin drifting and swallow up the land of our enemies. That is ludicrous, of course. The US is the people that make up the country. Remember that whole We the People thing? The citizens are the body of the United States. If the people decide to do battle through their duly chosen government, we are to support this decision.

Since the state needs to do things and has no anatomy of its own, it needs agents to carry out those duties. So what is an agent of the state? We have police officers, who patrol the domestic streets in order to keep order, we have engineers who design the infrastructure, to keep us moving. We have sanitation workers who keep our streets clean, and we have teachers to educate our populace. All functions that the state has decided are good and necessary.

Sometimes it is possible or even likely that one of these agents will be required to do something that under other circumstances would be immoral. Of course since we are talking here about war, the obvious example is the taking of a human life. A soldier may have to do so, a police officer may have to do so, an executioner fulfilling the penal system requirements may have to do so. In these cases killing is not equal to murder. Remember that yesterday we said that the state has the right, and possibly the duty, to do these actions. Someone acting as an agent of the state is not morally responsible for murder.

This can definitely be taken too far. The Nuremburg criminals all said they were just following orders. No Christian should be expected to become torturers or be involved in the slaughter of innocents. (I would argue that innocents are not necessarily the same as non-combatants.)

So what about Jesus’ turn the other cheek talk? I’ll take this paragraph directly from JP Moreland because I couldn’t possibly say it any clearer or better:

Jesus' teachings about forgiveness, loving your enemies and turning the other cheek were not meant as social ethics for the state but as private ethics for the individual. Moreover, they were guides to becoming a certain sort of person — kind and compassionate, ready to forgive; but they did not offset the need for justice and protecting the innocent with force as a last resort. After all, it is not "living by the sword" for genteel folk to kill an intruder who tries to murder their children. Jesus accepted the reality of hell and judgment, and He is depicted as a warrior when He returns again.

On a few occasions there were soldiers in the Bible, how are they treated? Let’s first look at when some soldiers came to John the Baptist, wondering what they should do. They seem willing to change their job. Here are his directions in Luke 3:

14Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."

There was nothing in his answer to suggest the being a soldier is incompatible with the kingdom of God. In Acts 10 Peter goes to the Roman centurion, Cornelius, and leads his family to faith in Christ. He never suggests that he should cease being a soldier. Jesus in Luke 7 encounters a Roman soldier and says:

9b"I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."

Don’t forget Paul’s Words in Romans 13:

4he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Why all this scripture? To establish that the Bible is favorable to the soldier. There is no reason to believe that the Bible encourages the soldier to stop doing so. And certainly Jesus is pictured as a triumphant warrior upon his return.

At the end of this marathon 2-day post what is the conclusion?

  1. The state has the authority to conduct war
  2. The Christian may be a soldier

I hope that wasn’t overwhelming!