As Abraham Lincoln pointed out, you anarchists depend upon stable …

Comment on Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools by Sean Pitman.

As Abraham Lincoln pointed out, you anarchists depend upon stable governments for your very existence and way of life. Without a military or police force, what you would have is anarchy and chaos – which is clearly opposed to the support of the Bible for civil order and government maintained by the threat of civil force. You claim that Peter and Paul wouldn’t hurt a fly for any reason. How do you explain the story of Ananias and Sapphira who died at the word of Peter by the power of the Holy Spirit? – and how “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:1-11)?

God most definitely has, as described throughout the Bible, placed limits on the action of evil people and governments with the use of civil force – and He expects modern governments to do the same when evil threatens innocent lives. These governments, where they exist, “have been established by God.” Paul does not at all support your extreme view of pacifism. Paul affirms the government’s right to use force in two ways. First, he says that it “does not bear the sword for nothing.” Second, he states that government is a “minister of God” when it executes civil penalties against evildoers (Romans 13:1-4).

You, on the other hand, are an anarchist – opposed to all governmental control or restriction of evil actions against the innocent. In my opinion, although I do sympathize and used to be a pacifist myself, yours is an untenable position.

Even Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a famous pacifist and someone whom you clearly respect and admire, seemed to have changed his mind about opposing Hitler with pacifism alone. Eberhard Bethge, a good friend of Honhoeffer’s remembered that Bonhoefer said, “that if it fell to him [Bonhoeffer] to carry out the deed [to kill Hitler], he was prepared to do so, but that he must first resign, formally and officially from his church. The church could not shield him, and he had no wish to claim its protection. It was a theoretical statement, of course, since Bonhoeffer knew nothing about guns or explosives.” Bethge also claims that, “Bonhoeffer… was already pleading the need for assassination” when talking to others involved in the resistance. This is specifically in contrast to resistance leader Helmuth von Moltke of the “Kreisau Circle” who urged non-violent resistance to Hitler. Of course, Bethge clearly thought, from personal conversations with Bonhoeffer, that Bonhoeffer thought the Krisau Circle, von Moltke, and non-violent resistance to Hitler was useless.

This is also in line with the biblical concept of a need to maintain civil order for any viable government. It is significant that John the Baptist did not tell the soldiers to leave the military when they asked him what it meant to repent: “And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages'” (Luke 3:14). Jesus also never asked any soldier to leave the military nor did He in any way condemn military service – nor did any of His disciples or any of the biblical writers in the Old or New Testaments.

I’m not the only one to interpret these passages in this way. Thomas Aquinas, writing on Christian charity, cites Augustine, who in a sermon also cites the passage where John the Baptist gave ethical direction to soldiers (Luke 3:14). Augustine concludes, “If he [John the Baptist] commanded them [the soldiers] to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering.” Aquinas goes on to argue: “Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace, which Our Lord ‘came not to send upon earth’ (Matthew 10:34).” His view harmonizes with St Paul (Romans 13:3-5). Aquinas again cites Augustine: “We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace.” (Aquinas, St. Thomas. The Summa Theologica. [Ep. ad Marcel. cxxxviii])

Also, C.S. Lewis, writing in the same vein, understands Christ’s teaching to turn the other cheek in a very literal and practical manner that does not do away with and and all forms of violence, but simply the right of personal retaliation. He interprets this command to turn the other cheek as an uncomplicated command without a secondary conclusion or effect. What is relevant is the personal injury and the Christian’s response. The believer must submit individual desire for retribution to God (Deuteronomy 32:35). Lewis maintains that when we read into this command any other conditions than the interaction between two individuals we have moved beyond the command. “Does anyone suppose that Our Lord’s hearers understood Him to mean that if a homicidal maniac, attempting to murder a third party, tried to knock me out of the way, I must stand aside and let him get his victim?” He denies this is contained in Jesus‘ words. Lewis sees consistency with this viewpoint in the whole of Jesus teaching and the entirety of scripture. He cites Jesus praise of the Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:6-10) ‘without reservation’; the Apostle Paul‘s teaching on the right of the sword (Rom. 13:4ff) and St. Peter‘s confirmation of governmental authority (1 Pet. 2:14). Lewis does not find a universal principle of non-resistance that applies in all circumstances, but one that Christ‘s hearers would plainly understand as a personal ethic and not more. (Lewis, C.S. The Weight of Glory: (Why I Am Not A Pacifist), (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1980); p.85-87)

Now, it is true that a church organization should not be involved with controlling civil government (John 18:36). There should be a distinct and uncrossable “separation between church and state.” However, the state government may use civil force to enforce civil laws (John 18:36; Romans 13:3-4; etc.). So, a Christian who joins the military may fight, not as an agent of the church, but as an agent of the government of his country to maintain civil order and to protect the citizens of that country from evil that may strike from within or without. Both church and state are ultimately under the authority of God, but each has a distinct role to play.

When it comes to Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, which is often cited by Christian pacifists, remember that Jesus was speaking primarily to individuals. He was not addressing governments. This text, then, shows that an individual’s primary response to evil should be to “turn the other cheek” (more accurately the “left check” so as to at least force a full slap – as compared to a demeaning “back-handed” slap to the right cheek) while the other texts (e.g., Romans 13:3-4) show that the government’s God-given responsibility is to defend its citizens, with the use of lethal force if necessary, against those who commit civil crimes (murder, terrorism, acts of war, etc.). While it is sometimes appropriate even for individuals to use self-defense, it is never appropriate for individuals to seek to punish others. But it is right, however, for state governments both to take measures of self-defense and to execute civil penalties for various types of civil crimes against its citizens.

After all, what did Abraham do when his nephew Lot was taken prisoner? He went after them and attacked and killed them – all to rescue one family from the evil that had overtaken them (Genesis 14:14). He didn’t just leave Lot and his family to die or be sold into slavery because of some requirement of God to be passive against evil in all situations.

God Himself is not always passive either when evil presents itself in apparently overwhelming force. God acts, on occasion, to destroy the wicked – and will make a final end of the those who choose to be evil at the “End of Time”.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools
As I’ve pointed out before, there are a lot of books claiming to be “The Word of God”. How do you know that the Bible’s claim, among so many competing options, is true? – based on a feeling? That’s how you know? Did an angel show up and tell you that the Bible’s claims are true? – or how to interpret it? Were you born with this knowledge? or did you have to learn it? If you had to learn that the Bible’s claims are true, upon what did you base your learning? – and how did this basis of your learning help you distinguish the true from the false?

At first approximation, the Bible is just a book making a bunch of claims. How can you tell the difference between the origin of the Bible and the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? In order to determine that God had anything to do with its creation, you have to read it and make judgments about it. If you base your judgments on some kind of deep feeling or gestalt sensation of truth, I say that this isn’t a reliable basis for a leap of faith. However, if you base your acceptance of the claims of the Bible on rational arguments that make sense given what you already think you know to be true, then you have yourself a much more useful and helpful basis for faith… as the Bible itself recommends.

God does not expect us to believe or have faith without sufficient evidence to establish a rational and logical faith in the claims of the Bible. Have you not read where the Bible challenges the honest seeker for truth to “test” even the claims of God? (Judges 6:39; Malachi 3:10; John 14:11; etc…). We are not called to blindly accept anything as true, not even the Bible. The claims of the Bible must be tested to see if they truly are what they claim to be – i.e., the Words of God.


Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools
I haven’t changed my mind. I still see atheism as the most logical alternative to Christianity and any other view of God if such views of God are only based on a wishful-thinking type of fideistic faith. Why should one be a Christian or believe that the Bible is anything more than a good moral fable? – or believe that God exists any more than Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists? For me, it’s because I see real empirical evidence for God’s existence as well as His Signature within the pages of the Bible and within the universe and the world in which I find myself.

You see, we are called to have an “intelligent trust” in God’s Word – a trust that is based on something more than a deep feeling or internal gestalt. Otherwise, you’re really in the same boat as my LDS friends with their “burning in the bosom” argument for faith in what is or isn’t true.

Now, it is possible to doubt the Divine origin of the Bible while still recognizing the Divine origin of the universe – based on the weight of empirical evidence. This is where quite a number of modern physicists are in their view of God. And, it is a reasonable position given the honest conviction that life and its diversity can evolve via the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selection over long periods of time to produce what we have today on this planet.

So, there are different “levels” of recognition when it comes to seeing God’s hand behind various phenomena. And, once His Signature is recognized at a different level, the implications and responsibilities change for us. It’s a “first step” toward God to recognize a Divine Signature behind the origin of the universe and the natural laws that govern it. However, once one recognizes the Divine Hand behind the origin of the Bible and the credibility of the Bible’s empirical claims, one is called to experience different responsibilities and privileges in a higher level walk with God – “in Spirit and in truth”.


Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools
Again, there are somethings that, if seen in vision, cannot be easily misinterpreted. If you see that “there was light” then “there was darkness” and that this pattern of was used to mark off a series of seven days, that’s pretty hard to get wrong or misinterpret. Mrs. White also confirms these biblical claims by arguing that God specifically showed her that the creation week was a literal week “like any other”.

So, what needs to happen now is see which claims among competing claims are most likely true. Where does the “weight of evidence lie”? If the claims of neo-Darwinism are true, then the claims of the Bible aren’t just a matter of honest misinterpretations – they are either completely made up fabrications or they are outright lies – from God.

I will say, however, the Darwins observations did help to shed light on the Bible. For example, there were those who believed in the absolute fixity of the species – that nothing could change and that no new species of any kind could be produced by natural mechanisms. Darwin showed, quite clearly, that this interpretation of the Bible was false. So, Darwin’s discoveries did shed light on the Bible’s comments about reproduction “after their kind”. However, the Bible sheds light on Darwin’s claims by showing the clear limitations of Darwinian-type evolution – to very low levels of functional complexity over a short period of time (i.e., not hundreds of millions of years of evolution).

Again, we have science and Scripture shedding light on each other…


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


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?