What is the Bible’s Response to Violence?

America has once again been stunned by outbursts of unthinkable violence. Mass shootings are happening far too frequently. Murder remains a regular feature on the evening news. Every time someone shoots up a school or unloads into a crowded restaurant, Christians need to address these tragedies with compassion and thoughtfulness.

Christian love demands we show genuine concern for all affected by these awful crimes. Whether the victims schoolchildren, gangmembers or police officers, the Christian must respond with heartfelt compassion for all who suffer at the hands of others. The wanton taking of a human life is always a horrible evil. Every person is created in the image of God. To harm a person is to attack the image of God. Every murder is a direct affront to the dignity and glory created in every person by God. Christians must clearly denounce any murderous act as a horrible evil without attempting to justify, excuse or mitigate the wickedness of the attack.

Horrendous deeds remind us the corruption of sin has filled this world with evil. The first person on the earth killed his brother. One of his descendants bragged about killing a man. Within a few generations the earth was filled with wickedness. God said, “The earth is filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:13) Murder is the inevitable result when men forsake God and pursue their own desires. Murder strikes down fellow human beings who bear the image of God. Murder destroys life and desecrates the image of God. Murder is a great evil which has been around since the earliest days of human history.

Even those who might be inclined to deny any moral absolutes acknowledge mass shootings are a terrible evil. The Christian need not argue about whether the problem is caused by guns, mental illness, religion, lack of religion or the shooter’s upbringing. The Biblically informed believer can say with confidence that whatever the immediate contributing factors to individual acts of violence, the tragedy occurred because everyone is corrupted by sin. The present excess of violence, hatred and destruction shows that sin is all too real.

The problem of evil drives us to seek a solution. The Christian knows the only hope for mankind is Jesus. Gun control, mental health solutions and better education may be worthwhile goals, but they are unable to solve the problem of sin. Those with murder in their hearts will find a way to execute their desires. The only solution is a heart transformed by Jesus. In Christ evil desires begin to be replaced with good. Only in Jesus does humanity find hope for genuine righteousness and an end to the evils of this world.

Above all else, the Christian must never forget that in the end God will overthrow man’s wickedness. Psalm 2 says, ” Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD . . . He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Wicked men will rage against God and man, but in the end Jesus will punish all evil and will establish His righteous kingdom.

Advertisement

What does the Bible say about global warming?

A regular feature in nature shows, reports of natural disasters and discussions of international affairs are dire warnings about climate change. Many conservative Christians are skeptical about the claims of global warming. Many others are terrified that humans are doing irreparable harm to our planet. Does the Bible say anything about global warming?

In fact, the Bible predicts global warming. The Bible tells of a sudden and catastrophic warming which will destroy the whole universe. The Bible describes all things melting in a “fervent heat.” (2 Peter 3:10-12) God will one day wipe out this existing universe to replace it with a new one that is undamaged by sin.

However, the actual question asks if the Bible says anything about gradual increases in global temperatures which will cause many species to become extinct and render huge portions of the earth uninhabitable? This article is not intended to examine the science of climate change. Sound evidence for a rise in the average temperature of earth may exist, but such evidence is not actually relevant to the Biblical discussion. Will winter become warmer and summer hotter? Will sea levels rise and some species go extinct? Possibly. The history of the world teaches us that man has a profound impact on his environment and that animal species regularly go extinct. The Bible reveals that man’s sin brought all the suffering and trouble that currently afflicts the earth. All that is wrong with this world is absolutely the fault of man. Man’s sinfulness can continue to mess up the planet.

Will sinful man render the earth uninhabitable by his wastefulness? Absolutely not. Though man has been given dominion on the earth and he wields great power in the world, man is not the ultimate ruler of the earth. God gave man the responsibility to care for the earth. (Psalm 8:6) Man’s failure to do so has brought great harm to the world and now the earth is groaning in pain. (Romans 8:22) God also promised that “while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22) God is the one who secures and maintains the seasons of the year. He promises that the world will continue through its seasonal cycles until the end.

The solution to the problem of global warming is not found in greener emissions, better recycling or sustainable fuel sources (though those are not bad things). The ultimate solution to the problem of man’s mistreatment of the world is found at the root of all problem’s. The solution is repentance of sin and obedience to God’s Word. Only then will men live selflessly instead of destructively.

No matter what man does, God is the one who sustains the earth. His promises do not fail, therefore the earth will not fail until it is time for God to replace it. This is not permission to live wastefully. Humanity must steward the earth, but no one needs to save it. God has it all under control.

What does the Bible say about Russia?

Russia has blasted it’s way back into the front of everyone’s mind. The world is intent on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The sudden invasion of Ukraine has caused some to wonder what the Bible says about Russia and if this war is anything to do with Biblical prophecy.

One thing the Bible does not say about Russia is its name. The word Russia does not appear any where in Scripture. Instead, the Bible mentions a political power named Magog that attacks Israel from the north. Magog is believed to be the region north of the Caspian Sea. Russia is the largest, most powerful nation in that section of the world. As a result, most Bible students connect Magog with modern day Russia. The connection with Magog leads students of Biblical prophecy to believe Russia is going to be a major player during the end times.

The Bible says in Ezekiel 38 and 39 that Magog will lead a coalition of nations against Israel. God will direct Magog to attack Israel so, “that the heathen may know me.” (Ezekiel 38:16) When Magog attacks Israel, God will rise up in great anger against them. He will destroy the majority of Magog’s army with only one-sixth surviving God’s wrath. Israel will be saved from it’s enemies. Magog’s attack of Israel will probably take place during the Tribulation, before the return of Jesus, but the Biblical information does not allow a precise identification of when the events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will happen.

In Genesis 10:2 and 1 Chronicles 1:5 the Bible also briefly mentions that Magog is the name of one of Noah’s grandson’s. The only other significant mention of Magog in Scripture is in Revelation 20. The events of Revelation 20 take place after the one thousand year reign of Jesus. Satan is released from prison and immediately begins to con the nations of the world to rise up against God. Revelation 20:8 mentions only one nation by name, Magog. This could be because of the importance of Magog in Biblical prophecy or as an indication of how Satan brings even distant nations to battle against God. People will travel from Magog to assault the city of Jerusalem where they will be destroyed by God.

The Bible says little about Magog except that it will suffer the wrath of God when it attempts to destroy God’s chosen nation, Israel. Magog will play a significant role in end times events, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not the fulfillment of any Biblical prophecy. The future Magog may not even be Russia as we know it today.

Should Christian’s Call God “Father”?

Mark Silk authored a recent essay in which he declared that the terms for God are metaphorical and can be easily replaced. Mr. Silk suggested calling God “they” to avoid patriarchal language. “A phrase such as ‘God the Father’ should be treated as a metaphor- and for those concerned about the embedded misogyny of the tradition, to say nothing of post-binary folks– a deeply problematic one.”

This is not a new suggestion. For many years some preachers and teachers have been using feminine pronouns to speak of God. For example, some have rewritten the Lord’s prayer to begin, “Our Mother which art in Heaven.” Is this an acceptable change? Given the many abuses that have been perpetrated by male church leaders, should Christian’s avoid masculine and fatherly terminology to describe God?

Mark Silk is accurate when he says the references to God as Father are metaphorical. God is not male in any biological sense. God is not a Father in any reproductive sense. God did not sire any children. Jesus is God the Son but that title speaks only to how members of the Trinity relate to one another. The name God the Son does not indicate that the second person of the Trinity is somehow the offspring or product of God the Father. God the Father and God the Son are equally eternal. Neither owe their existence to the other. Likewise, the description of the Christian as the child of God is a reference to a relationship that exists by adoption, not to any physical procreation on God’s part.

Since much of the Biblical language used of God is metaphorical, can we therefore replace problematic terms with ones less troublesome? No, Christian’s cannot call God by any extra-Biblical title or description they find most Biblical. God has revealed Himself in certain terms. Man dare not devise new descriptions of God. Biblical terminology about God is not literal, but it’s non-literalness does not imply inaccuracy. Rather, the metaphorical nature of many descriptions of God suggests truths greater than any one can understand.

The Bible is not the product of the mind of deeply religious men. The Bible is the product of God. Scripture was given directly by God the Holy Spirit through holy men of God. The human authors of the Bible wrote exactly what God intended. Every Word of God is true and accurate. Because the Bible is the Word of God it is the Christian’s authority. Because every Word of God is pure the Biblical language used to describe God must be submitted to. While God is not male in the physical human sense, He is undoubtedly masculine with a masculinity that transcends biological maleness. God is the Father of all creation and the Father of all saints in a way that transcends siring children. These terms are descriptions of God that accommodate the limitations of the human mind and they are also the only authoritative guides to understanding God.

Consider, not one time in the thousands of references to God does the Bible speak of God as “she.” Even in situations where mothering analogies are used, like the image of a mother hen sheltering her young under her wings, the pronouns for God remain masculine. “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.” (Psalm 91:4) Past experiences may cause some to be uncomfortable with fatherly terminology, but the corrective is not a change of the way we describe God. The corrective is to develop a right understanding of God that we may think rightly about God our Father.

Does the greater good justify using aborted fetal cells to develop vaccines?

Andrea Gambotto, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said about the controversy over the use of aborted fetal cells in the development of the coronavirus vaccines, “It’d be a crime to ban the use of these cells.” He added. “It never harmed anybody — it was a dead embryo so the cells back then, instead of being discarded, they were used for research.” Is this argument valid? Can the use of aborted fetal cells in medical development be justified by the good it accomplishes?

Before answering this question, a few disclaimers need to be given. This article is not about the morality of the use of aborted fetal cells in the use of vaccines or any other medication. This article is not about if people should get vaccinated or about the various vaccine mandates in America. The question at hand is narrow and regards the perception that the greater good justifies wrong behavior.

Another repsonse, similar to Mr. Gambotto’s, protests that if it is immoral to use products developed wth aborted fetal cells, then say good bye to modern medicine. Is this a valid argument? Does the great good accomplished by vaccines or other modern pharmacology outweigh any harm that may have been caused in the origin of the fetals cells?

A simple illustration may make the question more clear. Doctor’s discover that a young man has a an enzyme in his blood which immediately stops the spread of any cancerous cells in his body. Even more amazing, this enzyme is reproducible and can quickly be made available at low cost to cancer patients around the world. This one man’s blood could end cancer for everyone. This hypothetical scenario has two difficulties. First, to get enough of the enzyme to assure success doctor’s will have to drain his body of blood, killing him. Second, he does not want to die and will not consent to the procedure. Is it ethical or moral to take that man’s life so cancer can be completely cured?

Of greater importance than our feelings about the justification of certain ethical and moral decisions is the Bible’s evaluation. What does the Bible say about judging immoral actions by the good they produce. Two examples from the Old Testament should be sufficient to show God’s perspective. The first example involved King Saul. In 1 Samuel 13 King Saul was preparing to lead the army of Israel against the Philistines. Before the battle they waited for the prophet and priest Samuel to offer a sacrifice to God. But Samuel did not show up at the appointed time, and the army of Israel began to drift away. The Philistine army approached and it seemed the army of Israel would be routed. So King Saul called for sacrificial animals to be brought to him and he offered sacrifices to God. The problem is, Saul had no right to offer sacrifices. Only the priests could do that. Saul did wrong in order to maintain the army of Israel and gain the victory in battle against the Philistines. Considering that God had commanded the Israelites to defeat the Philistines, this is a good result. However, God was not pleased. Through Samuel God told Saul, “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: Now thy kingdom shall not continue.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)

On a later occasion, during the reign of King David, God shows again His view about doing wrong to accomplish a greater good. The Ark of the Covenant had been stolen by the Philistines, but was returned to Israel. Because the Ark of the Covenant was the center of Jewish worship and the place where God’s glory rested in the Tabernacle, King David went out to bring the ark to the capital city of Jerusalem. However, David made a serious error. He had the ark hauled on an ox cart instead of carried by priests as God had commanded. At one point in the journey the cart shook and the ark began to fall off. Uzzah reached up and held the ark on the cart. God had specifically commanded no one was to touch the Ark of the Covenant and warned that whoever touched it would die. (Numbers 4:15) God struck Uzzah dead. Uzzah’s action accomplished great good, keeping the ark from falling to harm. But God requires obedience, not pragmatism. He punished Uzzah for disobedience.

God is not impressed with human justificaitons and rationalizations. He requires obedience to Him above all else. Any good that may come from doing wrong never justifies the wrong done.