Comment on Adventist Review: Pastors Who Don’t Believe by Sean Pitman.
Well, we will continue to disagree on what we think the bible teaches on this point. You stated â€œAll know, inherently from very early childhood, that it is wrong to take something that isnâ€™t yoursâ€¦..â€
This is false. Unless they are taught bible morality, they are totally selfish. And I said that society has been influenced by Christanity and so even the heathen have some knowledge of truth. Not because it is an inherent knowledge, but because it has been communicated down through history by way of a Christian influence.
There have been heathen societies in history that never did have exposure to Christianity whatsoever – like various people of the North and South Americas before the Americas were discovered by “Christian” Europeans. Many times these peoples acted much more kindly and generously than did the Europeans – even to risking their own lives to save the European strangers. While there were waring tribes no doubt it wasn’t the Christian influence that gave those groups and individuals who acted kindly their moral consciences.
The very same thing can be seen in very small children who do not have to be taught how to love unselfishly. There is a gifted component of “enmity” against evil and for love from birth. If there were not, heathen peoples who were not “taught” by the Christian influence would have absolutely basis upon which to find Christianity attractive or upon which to express any kind of love or empathy with their fellowman.
There have also been those who grew up in environments or cultures that had a very twisted concept of God. Yet, even in these cultures people could be found who lived a life of love and concern for their fellowman.
In short, you cannot morally judge a person, any person, based on if they do or do not understand something like the literal 6-day creation week. You say you are not judging eternal destiny, but given your claim to be able to make current moral judgments you would be able to judge the eternal destiny of those who have died in a state of doctrinal error – such as was Wallenberg’s condition when he died not believing in the existence of God; yet having saved over 100,000 lives. This is something that you clearly cannot do. Only God knows the true moral state of Wallenber’s soul – not you.
So, the bible says, â€œThe wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray speaking lies as soon as they are born.â€ Ps. 58
This scripture alone shows your misunderstanding of sin and how it has affected the human family. I am quite sure you donâ€™t believe in the doctrine of original sin. And because of this, you have a limited and superficial understanding of sin and how it has affected humanity.
You’re quite mistaken. It just goes to show how easy it is to misjudge another person based on limited information and limited subject reasoning ability. The fact is that I think it is quite clear that all are sinful from birth, born into rebellion. However, it is also quite clear to me that we have been given an ability by God to know what is right and to actually choose to follow the right – without being “taught” by any other human being what is and isn’t morally right.
If our moral sensibilities depended upon being taught the right thing, no one could be held morally accountable who wasn’t taught the right thing. Since everyone is in fact a free moral agent, according to the Bible and Mrs. White, everyone must be able to be held morally accountable to something – to some universal moral standard of right and wrong to which everyone is naturally aware.
Babies are born selfish. Do you have any children, Sean? If so, how can you not see and know the reality of this truth?
I do have a son. He, like the rest of us, was born selfish, but not entirely so. Again, there is a component of knowledge regarding right and wrong – recognizable from a few months of age. There is a moral conflict from infancy within us all – between what we know to be right and what we know to be wrong. Otherwise, we would not be free moral agents.
And finally, I never said or suggested anyone could know 100% the motive of anyone else. You build a straw man. I said we have adequate knowledge to make a moral judgment on the motive of others and act accordingly.
If you cannot know, 100%, the motives of another, you cannot be 100% certain that your “judgment on motive” is actually correct. There is some doubt that remains. You should give the benefit of this doubt to the other person and limit your judgment to a statement of error without adding that you consider them to be morally corrupt at the same time.
We judge motive and the attitude of others continually on a limited basis. And this Christians do in the church and in the world.
We should not do this when it comes to doctrinal differences on issues like the literal 6-day creation week. We can say that such a person is mistaken, but we cannot say, for sure, if such a person is in deliberate rebellion against what they clearly know in their own heart is the truth.
When we understand that sin is both rebellion and ignorance, we take both of these factors into account and judge situations as we consider both factors.
Sin is not based on ignorance at all. That’s my whole point. If this were true we would all be living in a constant state of sin because we are all ignorant of something. Even the angels in Heaven do not know everything. Are they therefore in a state of sin? – just because of their ignorance? Only God is all-knowing you know. You simply cannot rebel against that which you do no know or conscientiously understand. And, since you do not know what a person really does comprehend, you cannot know for sure if your moral judgment of that person is indeed accurate.
In some cases, we see that rebellion is the main issue and we act accordingly. Even if we know there is some ignorance present in any given situation. Eve represents deception and ignorance. Adam represents rebellion and wilful disobedience. None the less, there was some rebellion in Eve and some ignorance in Adam.
If Eve had been completely ignorant, she would not have been guilty of sin. It doesn’t matter how little she rebelled against what little she knew of the truth. It is the fact that she deliberately rebelled against known truth that she sinned. It was not because of her ignorance that she was charged with sin – not at all. If anything, her ignorance mitigated, somewhat, the magnitude of her sin, and allowed her, along with Adam, the oppertunity to come back to God, given greater light.
Compare this with the rebellion of Satan in the full light of knowledge of God and His character. No additional knowledge could be given to Satan that would bring him back. He is beyond all help because there was no component of ignorance at all in his rebellion.
To what degree there is wilful rebellion in the LSU fiasco, we canâ€™t say precisely. But we are not so uninformed that we can not discern some wilful rebellion in the situation. Is some of it ignorance? Of course. But we donâ€™t simply excuse the whole scenario as ignorance and dismiss it as an unfortunate situation.
You can’t say this with absolute certainty – at least not when it comes to if a professor does or does not honestly believe in the mainstream evolutionary perspective. You just don’t know for sure.
Now, when it comes to taking money while doing contrary to what you’re being paid to do, that’s a whole different story. There is a clear moral problem in this particular situation.
And we demand moral accountability to what ever extent we have a right to. And we â€œjudgeâ€ that some have wilfully abandon their responsibility in the matter and call them to account for their action or lack of it.
I agree with you on this point. It is quite clear that there has been and is ongoing rebellion against the very clear wishes of one’s employer going on here – on the employer’s dime. For this, there is no valid excuse before God as far as I can tell. One simply cannot honestly claim ignorance of the right path here.
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).