Comment on Adventist Review: Pastors Who Don’t Believe by Sean Pitman.
Did you say, â€œAnyoneâ€™s bookâ€, Sean? Are you aware there are millions of people who see nothing wrong with adultery? You assume some aspects of the law are obvious, and others are not. In this you make a great mistake. Some cultures see no wrong in killing other people, stealing, lying, and/or adultery.
That’s not true. Everybody knows, as a God-given gift, that it is wrong to break the Golden Rule – to do to somebody else contrary to the way you would like to be treated. Of course, one can suppress the natural God-given conscience. However, in order to do this, in order to harden the heart and remove the conscience that is given to all by God, great effort has to be expended to “grieve away the Holy Spirit” to the point where it no longer speaks to the heart. While it is possible to burn the conscience into oblivion, eventually, this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t given to all and will not be used as a basis for moral judgment by God when He asks only one question, “Did you love your neighbor as yourself?” and notes, “As you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
There will be no one in the judgment who is condemned by God who will say, “But I didn’t know.” All know, inherently from very early childhood, that it is wrong to take something that isn’t yours – to treat another contrary to how you would like to be treated. This is a natural born knowledge. Because of this natural “enmity” against sin that was given to all, all will know exactly where their feet where deliberately diverted, by their own conscious and deliberate action, from the path of known truth.
I’m not saying that there is no natural attraction to sin at the same time. There most certainly is – from birth. However, we have been given a counteracting nature at the same time. We have two waring natures inside of us – from birth. We have the sinful nature that is naturally at war with God; and we have the gifted nature that God has given to us all that is naturally at war, or at “enmity”, with our sinful nature.
This is why we have internal conflict – a conflict which all are born with. If God had not put into our hearts this “enmity” against sin, we would have no internal conflict because we would have no conscience. We would not be free moral agents. It is only because we have a choice in the conflict that we can be judged as free moral agents…
In short, no one will be truly tricked or honestly deceived out of Heaven. At the end, all who are not there will know full well why they are not there – – because they deliberately chose to rebel against the truth that they did in fact recognize as the truth when it was presented to them. The lost will all be in open rebellion against known truth. They will not be truly deceived. They will have chosen to believe a lie – deliberately chosen the lie over what they knew to be true…
There is no â€œnatural law righteousnessâ€ automatically communicated into all children born of the flesh. All must be â€œborn again.â€ Faith is not automatic. Unbelief is. Sean, your position is not defensible from the bible or EGW.
It is simply not true that the ability to listen and be attracted to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit is not inherited from birth. Even very small children inherently know what is right and wrong and can actually choose to follow the right – to express love and kindness even without the training of good parents. And, when it comes to the rebirth, “Everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.” 1 John 4:7 NIV
This rebirth into the Kingdom does not require knowledge of the Bible or of Christianity. This is an inherent God-given ability that can be chosen of one’s own self if one chooses to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit speaking to the heart.
Given your arguments it would impossible for those who have never seen or heard of the written Word, who never knew of the life or death of Jesus, and who never knew of the personal love God for them, to be saved…
Both the Bible and Mrs. White speak very clearly against your notions here claiming that such can be saved and will be saved. You need to re-read Romans 2:14-15 and Desire of Ages, p. 637-638
You call these “exceptions to the rule”, but these so-called “exceptions” clearly prove that you’re views on morality and your claims to be able to perfectly judge the motives and morality of others, with regard to doctrinal truths that are not inherently knowable, are fundamentally mistaken…
Do we judge motive? Of course. Evil is mingled in every decision and we must â€œjudgeâ€ how we will deal with each situation and make a moral value decision as to what course we should persue.
You honestly think you can accurately and consistently, 100%, judge the motive of another when it comes to why they do not believe in something like a literal 6-day creation week? You can’t be serious!
The Bible, and Mrs. White, say that it is impossible for humans to accurately judge motive – especially when it comes to why a person doesn’t accept a doctrine like the literal 6-day creation week, the state of the dead, or even the superiority of the Bible as the Word of God. Consider again, in case you missed it the first time, where Mrs. White says that we humans cannot accurately judge motive:
Since you cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another… â€“ Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 314
Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive. He knows our nature too well to entrust this work to us… Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we to deal with these souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting. Many will be in heaven who their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God judges the heart.
– Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 71-72
Mrs. White also points out that morality is not based on knowledge or the lack thereof, but on motive – upon what one does with the little knowledge that one has:
But Naaman, a heathen nobleman, had been faithful to his convictions of right, and had felt his great need of help. He was in a condition to receive the gifts of God’s grace. He was not only cleansed from his leprosy, but blessed with a knowledge of the true God.
Our standing before God [our morality] depends, not upon the amount of light we have received, but upon the use we make of what we have [motive]. Thus even the heathen who choose the right as far as they can distinguish it are in a more favorable condition than are those who have had great light, and profess to serve God, but who disregard the light, and by their daily life contradict their profession.
– Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 239
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Adventist Review: Pastors Who Don’t Believe
In any case, any further comments concerning the morality or lack thereof of those involved with the LSU situation will no longer be posted here on Educate Truth. However, You are free to send me a personal E-mail if you wish (my E-mail can be obtained by visiting my website listed below).
Well, Sean, atheists have written books explaining what, why, and how they have rejected Godâ€™s Truth. Those at LSU have explained what they believe and why they have accepted Manâ€™s word and rejected Godâ€™s Truth. You say we can never know anything about this, and they must not really â€œunderstandâ€ what they are doing.
I don’t know if they do or do not really understand what they are doing; and neither do you. Only God knows for sure…
Not only would I and others here disagree with you, but I believe the atheists would disagree. The idea that church members cannot be â€œjudgedâ€ by their words and actions is simply not biblical.
And the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross would have claimed at the time that they knew exactly what they were doing too… but did they really? Jesus prayed for them saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34 NIV
It is quite possible that even if a person is very adamant that he/she knows exactly what he/she is doing, that this person may not really know. This is a possibility that only God knows for sure. You simply cannot make this particular type of moral judgment with complete accuracy. You and I can judge the rightness or wrongness of the word or act (specifically regarding a doctrine like the literal 6-day creation week), but we cannot judge the rightness or wrongness of the heart; the motive.
There is a difference between being mistaken and sinning. Sinning requires a deliberate rebellion against known truth – something that you cannot tell for sure in cases of doctrinal disagreements on such things as the literal creation week or the true origin of the Sabbath or any other such commandment that deals specifically with man’s relationship with his or her God and God alone.
Sean says Moses and the Prophets are â€œempiricalâ€ evidence then says they are not!
Moses and the prophets are only “empirical evidence” in support of the Bible’s credibility if they actually say something true regarding the real world in which we all live (which I think they clearly do).
However, if Moses and the prophets did in fact clearly contradicted the real world (i.e., real history), the hypothesis that the Bible’s credibility is supported by them would be effectively falsified (as is the case for the Book of Mormon, for example) in such a situation.
It is in this sense that things like biblical prophecy must be held up for testing before biblical prophecy can be rationally accepted as credible (at least any more credible than the Book of Mormon).
In other words, biblical credibility is dependent upon the empirical evidence. Without the empirical evidence, there would simply be no greater rational reason to believe the Bible as any more credible than some moral fable that someone simply made up as a “cleverly invented story”. – 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.
Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).
As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.
I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Then you have several different questions to explain. 1) How can a 6 month developed (but dead?), non-human being (from a human mother and father?) , being carried in it’s human mother’s womb, leap for joy because he (it?) recognized the mother of the World’s Savior? ”The dead know nothing, neither have they any more knowledge under the sun.” 2) How can anything dead even move? The opposite of alive is dead. Everything alive has life from God. Dead things don’t grow and they don’t move. Every SDA should know this. The Laws of God are not altered in order to justify killing unborn human beings that He has given life to.
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
That’s just it. You say that, “The unborn think and feel”. However, an embryo in the earliest stages of development is just a single cell or an unformed ball of cells – with no apparent functional difference than a cluster of cells in my appendix. Such an embryo cannot think or feel or understand anything. There is no mind or intelligence at this point. If it isn’t murder to take out someone’s appendix, how then call it be truly “murder” to end a pregnancy at this point in time? How can you be so sure of yourself here? Based on what moral principle?
Also, people who are clearly “brain dead” need not be maintained indefinitely on life support. They’re just a shell of a body at this point and it is not “murder” to simply take them off the mechanical support of the empty shell of their body. This happens all the time in hospitals – and it is not considered to be “murder” at all… by most medical professionals (even most Christian ones).