To faith there is no substitute, unless one is speaking of blind faith. One is of the opinion that blind faith has limited growth potential. However, reasonable faith—which Anselmof Canterbury called “fides quaerens intellectum” (faith seeking understanding)—encourages growth, and provides greater evangelistic tools. It is the Lord himself who says, “Come now, let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV).[1] It is the Lord who calls his followers to walk by faith, but not blind faith. Based on this conviction, it is proper to make use of philosophical and scientific venues in support of one’s closely held Biblical revelation.

The most foundational belief of Christianity is the existence of one God. A being that chose to create all things, and has chosen to reveal himself to mankind in nature, and through special revelation such as the Bible. In light of this belief, it is expected that as redeemed-men reflect upon natural revelation, God becomes apparent. The Cosmological Arguments are an example of such a posteriori reflections. That is, knowledge gained from empirical evidence, or experience. While there are many versions of the cosmological argument, one will present the most commonly recognize versions; the Al-Ghazali Cosmological Argument and the Thomistic Cosmological Argument. One proposes that, from these arguments, inferences can be made that points to a personal mind behind the first cause, or as some would call it, an uncaused-cause.

 Al-Ghazali Cosmological argument

 Al-Ghazali’s Cosmological argument was a response to Aristotle’s philosophical conclusion that the universe always existed[2]. His argument is widely recognized as the Kalam argument. The basic structure of the Kalam argument aims to prove that the universe has a cause, and it is best summarized in three premises;

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.[3]

While the Kalam argument does not explicitly argue for the existence of God, it does argue for a first cause to the universe. The argument is made complete when one analyzes the required characteristics of this first cause, but first the premises of the argument have to be engaged.

The first premise states that whatever began to exist has a cause for its coming into being. This premise, for the most part, is intuitively true. That is, human faculties affirm it, and it is constantly confirmed in human experience. People and things just don’t pop into existence without a cause. However, there are those who appose this first premise such as the empiricists who demand physical evidence for everything before they believe it. In response, one has to reiterate that the common sense belief of “every effect has a cause” is constantly rewarded. In fact, the burden of proof lies in the hands of the empiricists.

A more serious objection to this premise is based on quantum indeterminacy, which suggests that subatomic events have no cause. However, it also has to be recognized that physicists disagree about quantum indeterminacy. For indeed, a quantum event is set to be indeterminate in relation to a set of possible events, and within certain specific conditions. Thus, causation still holds within that set of possible events. Moreover, the field of quantum physics is still full questions, and there is not enough knowledge to make any claims with certainty.

Another thoughtful objection to this premise asks of the apologists, “doesn’t God fit into whatever begins to exist category since he ‘began to exist in time’ when time began to exist?” This objection finds its response in a gloss developed by Dr. William Lane Craig. He, just as all the proponents of the Kalam argument, understand the phrase, “begin to exist” in the following manner (where ‘x’ ranges over any entity and ‘t’ ranges over times, whether instants or moments).

  1. x begins to exist at t if x comes into being at t.
  2. x comes into being at t if:
  • i. x exists at t, and the actual world includes no state of affairs in which x exists timelessly,
  • ii.         t is either the first time at which x exists or is separated from any t’ < t at which x existed by an interval during which x does not exist, and
  • iii.         x’s existing at t is tensed fact.[4]

In other words, Craig’s gloss highlights that God does not fit as a being who began to exist because he finds his existence logically-prior to time. He is basically saying the we can easily conceive of a timeless being who comes to exist in time, but it is the uncaused cause of time. There is no reason to believe that if x began to exist in time than x must begin to exist as such.

The second premise of the Kalam argument declares that the universe began to exist. The evidence from this premise will come from the field of philosophy and science. However, before engaging into the philosophical arguments in favor of this premise, some definitions of terms are required. In order to understand the Al-Ghazali’s Kalam argument, the distinction must be made between a potential infinite and an actual infinite. He was not against the idea that a potential infinite exists, but he was against the ideal that an actual infinite exists. A potential infinite is perhaps the most familiar, it represents an ideal limit, which does not actually exist, and can be endlessly approached. For example, a measurement of length can potentially be divided by half an infinite number of times. However, you will never arrive at the final possible division. This is considered a potential infinite. Serving only as an ideal limit, but one will never actually get there. One may add that this is simply a mathematical tool.

Conversely, an actual infinite is not growing toward an infinite potential limit, but rather it is an infinite in itself. In other words, the actual infinite claims that a complete set or collection can be infinite. Al-Ghazali was against it because it creates a vast amount of absurdities. In his perspective, it is impossible to have an infinite number of table, an infinite number of books, and for that matter an infinite number of events.

Philosophical Evidence

Impossibility Of An Actual Infinite Set

The first philosophical evidence relies on the impossibility of an actual infinite set. The argument is set up as a reductio ad absurdum. The best example was developed by David Hilbert was one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century. He posed that one will imagine a hotel with a finite-number of rooms, which are all occupied. In the event a new guest arrives, the hotel manager simply says that there is no vacancy and turns-away the customer. He continues, suppose now that there is another hotel with an infinite-number of rooms, all which are occupied. In the event that the same guest presents himself to the manager of say hotel the response would be, “there is no vacancy, welcome to our hotel.” The manager will simply move guest in room one to room two and the guest in room two to room three, and so forth. Thus making room for the new guest. Furthermore, suppose that the guest is so happy that he comes back with hundreds of his friends while the hotel with an infinite number of rooms is still full. The hotel manager simply moves guest in room number one to room number two, the guest in room number two to room number four, the guest in room number three to room number six, and so forth until all the odd number rooms are empty. Now the manager simply allows his new guests to occupy any of the odd number rooms. A hotel like this will always maintain a sign that says, “no vacancy, guests are welcome.” It seems to me that Hilbert’s Hotel is absurd. Since nothing hangs on the illustration’s involving a hotel, you could substitute any sort of physical reality for it. In light of this absurdity of a hotel, David Hilbert was able to prove that an actual infinite set is impossible, and thus a universe, which is suppose to be a set of an infinite number of events, is impossible.

Impossibility of Traversing an Actual Infinite

The second philosophical argument in support to the second premise “the universe began to exist” is an argument on the impossibility of traversing an actual infinite in the spacio-temporal world. There are several examples of reductio ad absurdum has been brought forth. Imagine that it takes an infinite number of tasks to build a house; the house would never be completed. That is because there are an infinite number of steps in every task, even between a hammer and a nail. In other words, if one were to freeze-frame the hammer striking a nail, there would normally be a set number of frames. However, if there were an infinite number of frames, the hammer would never reach the nail.

Kreeft and Taccelli posed the argument in light of the theory of an infinite universe. If the universe never began then it is infinitely old, and if it is infinitely old and an infinite amount of time has elapsed before today. However, if it took an infinite sequence of history to reach the present day, then one must conclude that the present day would have never been reached. Nonetheless, the present day has been reached, and thus one is led to the deduction that the process of reaching it was not infinite and the universe had a beginning.[5]

Scientific Evidence

Big Bang Theory

 The first scientific evidence is based on Edwin Hubble’s observation of an expanding universe. He theorized that, at some point in the finite past, the universe was contracted down to an infinitesimal point, which marks its beginning. This theory is popularly recognized as the big bang theory. The theory is perhaps one of the strongest evidence against a self-existing infinite universe.

Recognizing the implications of the big bang theory, scientists have suggested alternative theories. In 1948 Hermann Bondi, Fred Hoyle, and Tom Gold proposed the continuous creation/steady state model.[6] The model suggests that as galaxies move away from each other, matter in the form of hydrogen is always being created from nothing, creating new galaxies. Dr. Robert Jastrow founder of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies explains that the opposite is true. The moment a star is born, it begins to consume some of the hydrogen in the universe, and there is a continual dilution of both hydrogen and the heavier metals in the universe today. He concludes that the theory of an eternal universe is untenable.[7]

The second explanation proposed by scientists is the oscillating model. This theory states that the universe is like a spring expanding and collapsing, and proposes that we are in the expanding stage and in the future will go into a collapsing stage. This phenomena, is suggested, has always occurred since the infinite past. The theory is based on the idea that the universe is closed with not energy being added to it. However, all evidence is pointing to the universe losing density with no evidence that it has ever repaired or will ever reverse this persistent expansion.[8] These alternative theories do not seem to fit the facts of observable cosmology, and hence the big bang theory stands as the best candidate.

Laws of Thermodynamics

The second scientific evidence for the premise “the universe began to exist” is based on the laws of thermodynamics, more specifically the second law of thermodynamics. The law states that processes taking place in a closed system always tends to a state of equilibrium. As an illustration one can imagine a hot cup of tea in a room. The cup will eventually cool down to room temperature. It will not get hotter, for no energy is being added to it. The second law of thermodynamics declares that, in the same manner, the universe is heading to a maximum state of disorder; and uniform energy distribution. An infinite universe would have already reached such a state.

At this point of the argument, some might suggest that if the universe cannot possibly be infinite, how can it be said that God is infinite. This objection would hold true if the statement, “God is infinite” means that he is a collection of actual infinite number of infinite things. However, when theologians refer to God as infinite, it is not a mathematical concept for God himself is not a collection of events. The use of the word infinite in this case is not a quantitative concept, but rather a qualitative concept. The infinity of Gods means that he is eternal, necessary, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. Indeed, he as all these incomparable attributes, but they are not a reference to a quantitative/mathematical infinity. So it does not fall under the category of an actual infinite number of things.

In light of this evidence, it can be concluded that the second premise, the universe began to exist, is valid. Being that the two premises are valid the conclusion is also valid, the universe has a cause. This conclusion leads to make inference in regards to this initial cause. The Kalam argument sets the stage for a transcendent, personal, timeless, powerful, and intelligent being as the first cause of the universe. One will make the argument that this first cause is indeed God. However, before going into the attributes and personhood of this cause, one must first develop the cosmological argument as developed by Thomas Aquinas.

 Thomas Aquinas Cosmological Argument

 The cosmological argument as presented by Thomas Aquinas is commonly known as the argument from contingency. His argument is based on the observations he made of the world. It focuses on individuals as contingent beings in a concurrent sequence of contingencies. His argument has three basic premises with a final conclusion.

  1. What we observe in the universe is contingent (dependent).
  2. A sequence of causally related contingent things cannot be infinite.
  3. The sequence of causally dependent contingent things must be finite.
  4. Thus, there must be a first cause in the sequence of contingent causes.

Each one of these premises must be briefly analyzed and explained. Keeping in mind that the distinguishing factor between the Thomistic cosmological argument and the Kalam cosmological argument is that Thomas focuses on the individual and his or her dependency to another individual for his or her existence.

The first premise states that what we observe in the universe is contingent. Things and people owe their existence to something or someone else. This premise is self attested by experience and common knowledge. Furthermore, it is observed that these causal relations are transferable, not initiating, that is A is caused by B, but only as B itself is caused by C. There has not been any observable data to the contrary, and thus there is nothing in this universe that by itself spontaneously initiates causal activity.

The second and third premise of this argument must be taken together, for the third follows logically from premise two. The second premise states that a sequence of causally related contingent things cannot be infinite. The premise proposes that regardless of the complexity of this sequence of casually related things, it can never be infinite. Dr. W. David Beck suggests the following illustration. If one were to imagine a train passing by, seeing that the one prior to it moves each boxcar, one would immediately assume that the motion of the boxcars could not be explained apart from the engine that initiates that motion. Furthermore, an infinite number of boxcars fail to explain the motion of the boxcars. Therefore, the number of boxcars has to be finite ending at a point of initiation. Some of the objections to this premise come in the form of modification of the aforementioned illustration.

This is the most hotly debated premise, and some of the objections ought to be mentioned. There are those who propose that the cosmos is a great circle of being, and suggest that the boxcars are simply connected into a circle. However, this still doesn’t account for the motion of the boxcars. Without an initiator, the boxcars will simply stand still in a circle. A second objection proposes that the cosmos evolved into an intricate ecosystem in which everything is casually related to everything else. Proponents of this view modify the illustration stating that the boxcars are part of an intricate network of railroads. Moreover, the network allow for every car to be in some way connected to, and at the same time pulling the first car. The problem with this view is the same as the first one; it does not explain the motion. Moreover, in light of existence of living beings a cosmos operating under this principal will open the question of why anything exists at all.

A final objection states that an infinite series is indeed possible, and thus the cosmological argument fails. The proponents of this objection highlight that the sequence of cardinal numbers is infinite, and thus and infinite series is possible. However, these critics overlook four characteristics of the sequence of cause in the cosmological argument. First it is a sequence of causes to effects. Second, each cause is itself contingent and needs a cause. Third, the cosmological argument discussed is concurrent not chronological, and it depends upon concurrent dependency relations of cause and effect. Fourth, the specific relation to which the generic cosmological argument refers is the causing of existence itself.[9] As mentioned before, the third premise follows logically from the evaluation of the second premise. If the series of contingent beings is not infinite, then it must be finite.

 The Biblical God as First Cause

 Given that the cosmological argument establishes a first cause to the universe and to all contingents, an analysis of this first cause ought to be considered. What are some of the necessary features of a fist cause, is a first cause in itself necessary being, or could it have ceased to exist? What evidence does one have, to draw the conclusion of a personal God? After all, even Christians have suggested that the cosmological argument only takes us as far as deism. Nonetheless, one would argue that a first efficient cause must be Personal, Unique, Simple, and Necessary being.


The only explanation to a first cause is either scientific or personal. Scientific justifications explain the phenomena in terms of natural laws, observable and measurable data, and/or specific initial conditions to create the phenomena. Conversely, a personal justification explains the phenomena by means of an agent with free will and volition. Case in point, If one where to walked into a certain lady’s kitchen, and find a pot of boiling water on the stove; one may ask Why is the water boiling? The lady may reply, the kinetic energy produced by the coils is transferred to the pot which in turn causes the water molecules to vibrate faster until it is thrown from the pot in the form of steam. This would be a scientific explanation to the phenomena. Equally, she could have answered, I put it there to make some pasta. This is a personal explanation for the same phenomena.

In light of these possible explanations, the scientific explanations are eliminated. As J. P. Moreland states it “Science cannot start explaining things without objects, space, and time already existing. The laws of nature govern changes in things that exist in space and time. Thus, science cannot explain the existence of the thing that exists before objects, space, and time.”[10] To this statement one will add that since the universe contains beings who are rationale, moral, social, and free the first cause has to have the same characteristics. In other words, it cannot be less than a person.

Some recognizing their dilemma concede that, although the universe is finite, the first cause is infinite scientific conditions from which the universe came about. However, this creates another set of problems. A finite effect cannot logically proceed from infinite conditions; that is, conditions that have always been there. Case in point, as it is well known water freezes at zero degree centigrade. Suppose that the infinite condition of the universe is below zero degrees, any water existing would immediately freeze. Thus, the effect would also be in the infinite past, for it would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze a finite time ago. In this scenario, the cause and the effect would both have to be infinite. In the same manner, a finite universe cannot proceed from infinite conditions. As William L. Craig stated in his interview with Lee Strobel, “So if the universe were just a mechanical consequence that would occur whenever sufficient conditions were met, and the sufficient conditions were met eternally, then it would exist from eternity past. The effect would be co-eternal with the cause.”[11]

At this junction one is left with only one explanation for the first cause, for only a personal explanation is capable of producing an effect without prescribed conditions. Furthermore, in light of the magnitude of the universe this personal cause must be fully transcendent from time, space, and matter. It must also be powerful enough to create. It is not far fetched to recognize that the characteristics of this first creating cause are the same as the ones described in scripture as God. They both point to an all powerful, volitional, rational, all-transcendent, creative being. R. Douglas Geivett adds, “The production of a physical universe out of nothing implies un-imaginable intelligence and power. It’s difficult to say whether a being that is not quite omnipotent and/or not quite omniscient could do such a thing.”[12]

Once established that a personal being known as God is the first cause of the universe, critics often post the question, “who caused God?” However, this question is simply an example of a category fallacy. First cause must be uncaused and self-existing. It is not necessary to make the assumption that God exists in order to recognize the fallacy, but simply and understanding of the category “God.” By way of example, suppose that someone asks, “What size are the unicorn scales?” One understands that a unicorn does not exist, but regardless of its existence the question is still a pointless categorical fallacy because one understands that a unicorn is a one-horn horse that (even if it existed) it is not the sort of animal that has scales. Fish have scale unicorns do not. The question, “who caused God?” is ascribing the wrong feature to the wrong category.


The cosmological argument leads to the understanding that there can only be one first cause to the universe. In other words, there cannot be two gods fulfilling the characteristic of a first cause. In order to understand this conclusion, a sub-argument must be brought to light. This argument runs based on the logical principal that two things that do not differ in any way must be the same thing. With this in mind, suppose that there are two first causes (FC1 and FC2). The only way that FC1 could differ from FC2, or vice versa, is for one of them to have some characteristic that the other does not posses. However, this causes a limitation on one of them, for they do not have what is already available (since the other one has it). If it is limited then something caused it to become limited, but a first cause cannot be caused in any way; hence a logical contradiction. There are only two solutions to this contradiction:

a) recognizing that one of them (the one with limitations) is not a first cause, and that in fact, there is only one first cause or

b) accepting that FC1 and FC2 do not differ in any way and are identical in the strict sense of the word, and thus are the same.

Either solution leaves a unique singular first cause.


An understanding of the immaterial simplicity of God is crucial in both the Christian understanding of the biblical God and the philosophical understanding of God as the first cause. When Theologians refer to God as simple they are saying that, first God has no parts, and is therefore, not material in his essence. Second God does not change and therefore does not add or subtracts parts to his being. Third God is all one being (there are no parts of him distinguishable from other parts of him). These elements of simplicity of God serve as further evidence that only God fits the requirements for a first cause. All material things are part of the universe, so the first cause must be immaterial. Furthermore, first cause must be a singular being without parts to itself for a being with multiple parts will imply that these parts can be differentiated and distinguished from each other. The difference between these parts will imply a lack of something in some of these parts. As was developed in the uniqueness argument, a lack would be a limit due to some cause, but this is impossible on a first cause. Therefore, there is only one first cause without internal parts; which points to the biblical God.


Jordan Howard Sobel concluded his chapter against the cosmological argument that the number one objection to the cosmological argument is “the apparent possibility that first generating and moving causes should no longer exist.”[13] A challenging inference, after all it is plausible that such being does not longer exist; that God ceased to exist after he created the universe. One truth atheist and theist can agree on is that humanity has no use for a dead God. However, before mourning the demise of the almighty consider that the Kalam argument requires a personal being who transcends (physical) time and space, and is the cause of all the mass-energy in the universe. One is puzzled on how any created thing could bring about his untimely death, or how a timelessly self-existing being should—all of the sudden—expire of its own. At most Sobel’s concern should motivate believers to seek for evidence of the personal Creator’s further revelation of himself in the affairs of human history.

Finally, for those who accept that God only existed as a first cause, and maintain that now He is dead, theirs is the burden of proof. The Cosmological argument does not answer all questions that may arise in regards to the nature and existence of God; for two reasons. First, it is only a part of a cumulative case alongside the ontological, moral, teleological, and the information-theoretic design argument. Second, only special supernatural revelation can move the heart of the unbeliever, and only the experience of God’s grace can leave a human free of doubts in regards to his existence. A believer knows God intimately, not merely academically.


[1] All scripture verses are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.


[2]William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth And Apologetics. 3rd ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 80.


[3]. Douglas Geivett, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” In To everyone an answer: a case for the Christian worldview, 61-76 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 62.

[4]William L. Craig, “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36, no. 4 (2006): 582.

[5]Peter Kreeft, and Ronald K Tacelli, Handbook Of Christian Apologetics : Hundreds Of Answers To Crucial Questions, (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 59.


[6]Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 29.


[7] Rober Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: W.W. Norton, 1978), 12-14, 116.


[8]Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 30.

[9]W. David Beck, “A Thomistic Cosmological Argument,” In To Everyone An Answer: A Case For The Christian Worldview, 95-107, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 105.

[10]J. P. Moreland, The God Question, (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 64.

[11]Lee Strobel, The case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004), 136.


[12]R. Douglas Geivett, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” In To Everyone An Answer: A Case For The Christian Worldview, 61-76 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 75.

[13]Jordan Howard Sobel, Logic And Theism Arguments For And Against Beliefs In God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 200.

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May 5, 2014 · 2:21 am




Since the fall of man, war has been part and parcel of the human experience. From the moment two brothers, Cain and Abel, warred against each other the earth has been saturated with the blood of mankind. The fall had greater consequences than what Adam and Eve had gambled on that fateful day. Moreover, war not only brought death, but also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have often wondered if–from a theological perspective—PTSD is the result of a fallen/imperfect brain failing to be resilient at times when most needed, or were our brains simply not created to suffer trauma to such an extent. One would argue the former is more likely. Whatever the theological implications of PTSD, the fact is that it remains with us for the time being as part of the human reality, and current military chaplains would do well in understanding this phenomenon.

Military Chaplains are more likely to be approached by someone with trauma injury, than a military counselor or psychologist. In current military culture, anything that may resemble a “shrink” carries the stigma of “crazy people’s doctor”, and thus creates mistrust within the ranks; especially when the client is a senior leader. Unfortunately, chaplains are not well equipped to deal with men and women who experience symptoms of PTSD. Most can’t even recognized the signs and symptoms of PTSD. The few who are able to manage these clients with care have acquired these skills through trial and error, have a background in counseling and/or psychology, or they have simply sought the extra education necessary to help survivors of trauma. To this aim one will discuss PTSD from the perspective of an unapologetically Christian military chaplain with a laymen’s understanding of current works of PTSD. This work will discuss symptomology, differential diagnosis, latest research, etiology, and treatment.

Description of Symptomology—Physical, Emotional, Behavioral, Indicators

Dr. Glenn Schiraldi offered a great definition of PTSD in his book entitled The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook. He defined it as a “normal response by normal people to an abnormal situation.” However, during the course of one’s research few definitions of PTSD have surfaced. Most scholars are concerned mainly with defining PTSD in terms of signs and symptoms, than conceptualizing it into a broad definition; a practical approach which is beneficial to the discussion at hand.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder and diagnosis of PTSD must meet six criteria. First, there must be a stressor which is an exposure to a traumatic event with a serious threat to life or physical integrity to the victim or someone nearby. This criterion is easily met by all veterans of military conflicts. The question has been raised whether there should be a distinction between actual threat and perceived threat. However, in light of the DSM-IV lack of defining and distinction, “the US Department of Veterans Affairs has recently liberalized the evidentiary requirements of Criterion A to include a fear of hostile military or terrorist activity.”

The second criterion for PTSD is intrusive recollection. This condition is the one most often depicted in Hollywood and the most popularly associated with the condition. Intrusive recollection comes in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, dissociation, or severe distress on reminders. These intrusions occur due to triggers, which can be internal or external. These triggers lead to the third criterion for PTSD which is avoiding of stimuli associated with the trauma. This is when the victims begin to avoid people, places, and activities which may remind them in some form, of the trauma. This will also include avoiding certain feelings, thoughts, lack of interest in sexual activities, and avoidance of conversations which may have some loose connection to the trauma.

The fourth criterion is hyperarousal. Hyperarousal is the body’s continued response as if the threat of the trauma is present. In essence, the body continues to react as if in a fight or flight mode. The client may have increase pulse and blood pressure, accompanied by sweating and rapid-shallow breathing. A client with PTSD may have sleep disturbances, may be easily irritated, unable to concentrate, and may be impulsive. Furthermore, the client might demonstrate hyper vigilance, exaggerated hyper response, and outbursts of anger.

The last two criteria for PTSD are duration and functional significance. Proper identification of PTSD requires that symptoms of intrusive recollection, avoidance, and hyperarousal have lasted longer than one month.Moreover, clients with PTSD will have severe disruption in their social and occupational lives. In essence, they are unable to function in society as they once did. These last two criteria are often the culprit in the disruption of marital and family relationships.

By way of example, one can turn to Shakespeare’s famous play Henry IV’s iambic pentameter uttered by Lady Percy to her husband Hotspur. These lines are filled with symptoms of PTSD, which Lady Percy finds difficult to understand.

O, my good lord, why are you thus alone?

For what offence have I this fortnight been

A banish’d woman from my Harry’s bed? (lower sexual drive/interest)

Tell me, sweet lord, what is’t that takes from thee

Thy stomach, pleasure (lack of interest in pleasures) and thy golden sleep? (Trouble sleeping)[…]

[…]Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war

And thus hath so bestirr’d thee in thy sleep, (Nightmares)

That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow (Sweating)

Like bubbles in a late-disturbed stream;

And in thy face strange motions have appear’d,

Such as we see when men restrain their breath (Possible flashback expressed in his face)

On some great sudden hest. O, what portents are these?

Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,

And I must know it, else he loves me not. (Causing relationship problems)

Symptoms of PTSD affect all areas of the client’s life; emotional, behavioral, psychological, spiritual, relational or interpersonal effects, and physical effects. A military chaplain would do well to become familiarized with these signs and symptoms:

Significant Factors in Differential Diagnosis

Many disorders have similar signs and symptoms as PTSD, and as a result, many combat veterans who have PTSD are misdiagnosed. For this reason, it is essential to recognize the differentiating characteristics found among these conditions. A combat veteran may either be misdiagnosed, or may actually have a comorbid condition alongside PTSD. Knowledge of these differential diagnoses will benefit a military chaplain to approach a counselee appropriately, and effectively.

Antisocial Personality

Victims of combat PTSD often have difficulty adjusting, and reintegrating once again into society. Some who are married become serial divorcees, and some who never married have difficulty in keeping a stable relationship. In fact, according to a study done by George Mason University, “PTSD-related numbing/withdrawal is particularly associated with interpersonal problems in combat veterans and other trauma survivors…. and suggests that this pattern also extends to individual psychological distress in partners.”

Moreover, many upon discharge from the military are unable to maintain employment, and have long periods of unemployment. All of these features can be misconstrued as antisocial personality at face value. The differing factor between PTSD and antisocial personality lies in the onset of behavior. All personality disorders begin at childhood, and a proper interview on a client’s background may provide information on whether the pattern of behavior occurred prior to the trauma. Only when the behavior began after the trauma, can it be attributed to PTSD.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Survivors who struggle with PTSD at times display overt behaviors which may be attributed to borderline personality disorder (BPD). Uncontrolled anger, self-injury, suicide attempts, mood swings, and even regression to adolescent behavior can persuade a clinician to diagnose a client with BPD. However, an essential element of BPD is an inability to tolerate being alone. Those suffering from PTSD in the other hand prefer to be alone, and are often intolerant to interaction with others. Contrary to BPD, PTSD survivors do not have dependence on feedback from others. In fact, BPD patients appear to have a need to have their very existence verified by others.

Substance Use Disorders-Abuse, and Dependence (SUD)

Substance use disorders are co-morbid disorders to PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD website, 80% of people with PTSD have a co-occurring disorder which substance abuse is most prominent, and from a different perspective out of those people with substance abuse disorder, 60% of them have a co-occurring disorders of which PTSD is the most prominent. Due to this level of co-morbidity many veterans suffering from PTSD, often are diagnosed only with either substance abuse disorder or substance dependence disorder. It is important to gather enough history from the client during the exploration stage to avoid overlooking PTSD.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “The primary causes of TBI in Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are blasts, blast plus motor vehicle accidents (MVA’s), MVA’s alone, and gunshot wounds.” The close connection between TBI, PTSD, and SUD makes it difficult for a clinician to diagnose accurately. In fact, according to the National Center for PTSD, patients with TBI often meet criteria for PTSD on screening instruments for TBI and vice versa. Some of these positive screens may represent false positives, but many Iraq-war Veterans have experienced a mild traumatic brain injury and also have PTSD related to their combat experience.

Military chaplains who recognize these dynamics will be able to appropriately direct those who seek their help. These complex arenas of seemingly related disorders can be confusing, but a working knowledge of them allows the chaplain to raise flags when survivors have diagnosed conditions that can be confused with PTSD and vise versa. A caring chaplain always seeks to be an advocate to those whom he or she serves.

Latest Research on Disorder.

In the past years, many studies have come to the forefront in regards to PTSD on military personnel. However, since the military chaplain is a pastor to the whole family, one will look at studies done in regards to parenting and family relationship among veterans with PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD families with one spouse affected by PTSD are 1.6 times more likely to divorce than those with unaffected spouses.The University of Minnesota conducted a one-year study on 468 Army National Guard fathers returning from Iraq. The findings suggested that symptoms of PTSD influence family structure on multiple levels increasing the difficulty of adjustment. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that, “PTSD symptoms of emotional numbing/avoidance may manifest in detachment from family activities and reduced monitoring of, and involvement with children, and hyperarousal symptoms may spark volatile ore emotionally dysregulated parent-child interactions, particularly in stressful situations (such as those around discipline or conflict).”

Another research conducted by University of Utah on forty nine wives of the Utah Army National Guard revealed some interesting findings. The aim of the research was to identify the psychological vulnerability of spouses of military men suffering with PTSD. The study revealed that spouses were more likely to report having psychological symptoms of either depression or PTSD when they perceived their military partner to have PTSD symptoms, which the military partners did not acknowledge themselves. Furthermore, the study revealed that spouses who knew that their husbands have faced high levels of combat were more resilient. Conversely, those who perceived that their husbands had faced low levels of combat had an increased marital dissatisfaction. Perhaps they felt that they could not identify an understandable cause for their husbands PTSD.

One final note worthy study was conducted by Tel Aviv University in conjunction with Ariel University Center of Samaria. The study examined the correlation between PTSD and parental attachment. They were able to gather 504 participants with 286 of them being part of the control group. The participants were asked a series of inventories and questionnaires. The findings revealed, “veterans who suffered from PTSD…reported lower levels of both parental functioning and parental satisfaction, compared to veterans who did not suffer from PTSD.” The researchers suggest that when the family members witness the father’s difficulty readjusting to his former role in the family, they react with “resentment and destabilization of familial borders. This, in turn, may further undermine father’s perception of their parental functioning and the satisfaction from their role as a parent.”

In recent years, the military has begun to look into improving resiliency. The chaplaincy corp. is at the head of this campaign, and as such a good understanding of the latest research on PTSD and family relationship can only be beneficial. In a culture where divorce is already at an extremely high rate, the preservation of the integrity of the family ought to be a major goal of the chaplaincy ministry. A chaplain who understands the dynamics of PTSD and how it affects the family relationships is more capable of guiding a family into a healthier and more sympathetic environment.

Possible Etiological Factors and Assessment Issues.

The complexity of PTSD and the various areas in the client’s life, which are affected by it, leads to making a distinction between diagnosis and assessment. The diagnosis looks at the various signs and symptoms while assessment looks at the larger picture; that is behavioral history, relationships, and other areas of psychological function. In fact, some researchers will argue that a decision of PTSD on purely diagnosis gives an incomplete picture of the client. Three reasons are given for this position. First, a diagnosis of PTSD does not contribute much to choice of a treatment method. Second, the information gathered in the diagnostic does not say much about other areas of the patient’s life; areas which are more likely affected by PTSD. Third, the diagnosis for PTSD has changed so much since the inception of the DSM that it would be very easy to overlook some important characteristics of PTSD. In light of this rationale, it is important that a thorough history is taken in the exploration stage.

According to Alexander C. Mcfarlane, “the inclusion of PTSD in DSM-III arose from a consensus that the nature and intensity of the stressor was the primary etiologic factor determining the symptoms that people develop in the presence of extreme adversity.”These stressors, in the case of military personnel, are usually combat related, although according to recent studies sexual trauma has become more prevalent especially among female veterans. In fact, national surveys have suggested that 13%-30% of women veterans experienced rape during their military career. In the face of such disconcerting statistics, a military chaplain has to think in broader terms than just combat related PTSD.

Beyond the stressors there are other etiological factors that ought to be considered, such as family history and concurrent psychiatric disorders. A study conducted in 1985 found that 66% of the PTSD veterans had a family history of psychiatric disorders. Moreover, the study also found that 50% were suffering from another psychiatric disorder. Dr. McFarlane deduced, “these data suggested that PTSD probably shares common etiologic processes with both the anxiety disorders and depression and hence may share some of the same vulnerabilities.”

Preferred Therapeutic Interventions of Treatment

As a military chaplain endeavors to be a helper to those who are struggling with PTSD, a working knowledge of current treatment methods may be of help. The purpose is not to for chaplains to become counselors and clinicians themselves, for this falls outside of the scope of practice of a chaplain. However, knowledge never harmed anyone, only ignorance. The goal is to have enough knowledge to avoid saying or doing something that may trigger a counselee, or worse re-victimizing him or her.

The consensus among researchers that one has encountered in the course of this research seems to indicate that cognitive-behavior therapy is the preferred treatment for PTSD. This seems to be closely followed by psychopharmacology therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). A brief description of each one of these treatments should suffice to inform a military chaplain.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy embraces a variety of techniques that are at a therapist’s disposal. These techniques include exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, cognitive processing therapy, and cognitive therapy. Exposure therapy confronts the client with frightening but realistically safe stimuli continuing until the anxiety is diminished. Stress inoculation training educates and gives a client the tools necessary to manage his or her anxiety. These may include self-dialogue, role-playing, muscle relaxation training, and breathing retraining. In cognitive processing therapy, the client is challenged to deal with troubled cognitions acquired during trauma, to include self-blame and false beliefs. Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that an interpretation of an event, rather than the event itself, causes different emotional states. In regards to PTSD, counselors’ focus on the survivals appraisal of safety/danger, trust and views of themselves, which serve to maintain a continued sense of a current threat.


Psychopharmacotherapy recognizes that PTSD is involved with specific neurotransmitters, neurohormonal, and neuroendocrine systems. It also recognizes that a great number of PTSD clients have co-morbid psychiatric disorders; therefore, it is no surprise that some of the medications used to reduce PTSD symptoms are helpful in some of these co-morbid disorders. Based on current studies selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s and SNRI’s) are currently the best established drug treatments for PTSD, and they are often used as first line of treatment.

EMDR-Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Since trauma is stored in a set of related and unprocessed thoughts, images, and emotions, practitioners of EMDR theorize that the application of either eye movement or bilateral stimulation helps the client process and/or desensitize the traumatic thoughts or emotions. EMDR has become more popular in past years and its effectiveness cannot be denied. Often EMDR treatment is combined with other treatments, especially cognitive-behavior therapy.

Conclusion and Prognosis for Recovery

The prognosis for recovering from PTSD is very encouraging for those who seek and finish the treatments available to him or her. Unfortunately, recent studies have indicated that 68% of military personnel that seek help for PTSD abandon the process and never finish.  According to this study, the reason behind this trend is the stigma found among young military men in regards to seeking psychological or psychiatric help. Furthermore, Survivors of PTSD who are discharge from the military often lack the financial resources to seek treatment, and the Department of Veterans Affair does not have adequate resources to help them. A recent study found that the current cost for PTSD treatment in a five-year period (2003-2008) totaled $1,097,312,949, a drop in the bucket when the actual need according to current deployment is around $200 million annually. The study concludes that the main culprit behind this statistic is the inadequacy of Veterans Health administration and Department of Defense institutions in dealing with this crisis, and the scarcity of resources available to treat PTSD in these health care institutions.

Indeed the prognosis is encouraging, yet there a variety of dynamics that hinder the process to a healthy mind. The military chaplain can be a catalyst in the life of someone who is thinking about seeking help for his or her psychological wellbeing. The Chaplain can be harmful to a survivor of PTSD, and even re-victimize them by making ignorant statements. Conversely, the Chaplain can be a therapeutic person, and even encourage the survivor to seek help for the sake of their family and their sanity. The deciding factor on whether a chaplain harms or helps a survivor is knowledge. An inform chaplain, well acquainted with the dynamics of PTSD will change a survivor’s life for the better. An inform Chaplain Corp can change the military culture to be more open to psychological/counseling help. It is one’s hope that the Chaplaincy ministry becomes the leadership in targeting the current emergency, for the sake of Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and their families.

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Garcia, Hector A., Lance P. Kelley, Timothy O. Rentz, and Shuko Lee. “Pretreatment Predictors of Dropout From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans.” Psychological Services 8 (2011): 1-11.

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Jesus-heals-blind-manMany are the accounts of miraculous healing. They have filled innumerable pages of books encouraging others to seek after God for their own healing. Books like Craig Keener’s two volume work Miracles contain healings of every human ailment; mental and physical. From simple headaches, Downs-Syndrome, and to the very resurrection of the dead, God’s power to heal knows no boundaries. However, it seems that as many who are healed many more are not.

Believers are sometimes perplexed and confused when they recognize that God has the power to heal, and yet many go without receiving a miraculous healing. In the face of such seemingly contradicting realities, the church has divided itself into two camps. On one side, those who believe that divine healing is a first century phenomenon and thus today’s healings are fake. On the other side, those who believe divine healing is available today, but those who are not healed lack faith to receive it. One proposes that Christians do not need to accept either of these extremes. Truly, divine healing is available to all believers for God’s character has not changed. However, to say that the lack of faith is the only reason behind not being healed is naïve and discouraging to the body of believers.

It is one’s aim, in this short paper, to demonstrate alternative reasons behind why one might not be divinely healed. One divides this into three major categories, which are faith, relationship, and sovereignty. These major categories are not divided as such in scripture; they are simply tools that one is using to organize these Biblical truths. One hopes that this brings a balanced understanding of divine healing while preserving the integrity of God’s character and the testimony of modern day healings.

Biblical Proviso.

The doctrine of divine healing is properly established on the atoning work of Christ. The Apostle Matthew makes a strong connection between Christ’s ministry and Isaiah 53:4-5,

Surely he has borne our griefs good friday

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

(cf. Matthew 8:17)

Because of the connection between healing and the atonement, many proponents of divine healing have come to the conclusion that divine healing is parallel to salvation. As such, it is always God’s will to heal all (more on the validity of this later) faithful believers. Moreover, they argue that as Christ healed all, he continues to heal all. Hence, they must conclude that a lack of healing is indicative of some lack in the believer’s part. Some even contemplate whether they ought to be called believers at all.

There are two errors in this assumption. First, one must not conclude that all benefits of the atonement stands in par to one another. In fact, sanctification is also processed through the atoning work of Christ, yet it is an ongoing process. If sanctification stood parallel to salvation, then it would take effect immediately. Unlike salvation, which is a once and for all occurrence, sanctification is ongoing until the parousia, and healing is available until death is finally defeated at the second advent. Note, three benefits are drawn from the atonement, but the application of these benefits is distinct; one is immediate, one is ongoing, and one is available and recurrent.

Second, there is an assumption that Christ and the disciples always healed, and yet there is Biblical evidence to the contrary. Case in point, at the pool of Bethesda the text states, “In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed” (John 5:3), but Christ healed only one. It seems that He was selective in his healing ministry. One can even use circumstantial evidence from Acts 3:2, which states that as Peter and John approached the temple “a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.” Proponents of the “God is always willing” perspective may rejoice that this man receives a miraculous healing that day, but one also wonders why he had not been previously healed. Surely, being that he was laid there daily, he crossed paths with Jesus in one of his many visits to the temple complex. Therefore, the question remains to be answered; Why some are not healed?

Biblical Reasons


Faith is the first major category in response to this important question. Faith is also the most misunderstood element in divine healing. Countless times, one has heard the well-meaning sister or brother faulting fellow believers for not having faith or even for lacking enough faith to be healed. Often this misguided attempts to comfort causes more damage, and pain to the one who suffers. Therefore, a Biblical understanding of faith is crucial in preventing these mishaps. One must withdraw from the wealth of scripture a proper understanding of the relationship between faith and miracles; how much is needed, its importance, and whether it is a necessary element.

How Much is Needed?

Kathryn Kuhlman expressed in her book Never Too Late, “We know from God’s word that a faith that weighs no more than a grain of mustard seed will do more than a ton of will or a mind of determination.”

Truly, the scripture is very clear on the amount of faith one needs to be healed. The text suggested is found in Luke 17:6, “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (cf. Matthew 17:20). The mustard seed was the smallest seed known to Jesus’ contemporaries, and the mountain was a symbol of stability; immovable (cf. Psalm 46:2; Isaiah 54:10).

The point was clear “the reason why ‘mustard seed’ faith can be so effective has to do, not with the adequacy of faith, but with the adequacy of God and the reality of what he is now putting into effect with Jesus.”

In Luke 9, a father brings his demoniac son to Jesus’ disciples, and they were unable to help him. After all the commotion, Jesus gets involved and asks the father if he believed that his son could be healed. The father’s answer reveals to the reader the nature of faith: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (v. 24b). Whatever the father’s motivation at the beginning of this interchange—for some suggest he was actually plotting alongside the Pharisees to embarrass Jesus and his disciples—at this point he recognizes that Jesus can help him. He also recognizes that faith comes from God. Faith is not a condition of the mind; it is a divinely imparted grace through the Holy Spirit. It is not some special effort on our part, and thus even faith as powerful and small as a mustard seed comes from God. Hence why Paul, in the context of diversity in the body, could state “each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom 12:3).


Is it Important?

Regardless of how small the amount of faith, the Biblical text highlights the importance of faith to divine healing. Matthew 13:58 states that Christ was unable to perform miracles in Nazareth, because of their unbelief. This is a clear case where a community’s lack of faith hindered God’s work in their midst. Moreover, there are occasions where a lack of faith on the part of the miracle worker hinders the work of the Spirit and the life of the one who suffers. This was the case with the young demon-possessed man whom the disciples could not help. When they asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon, He replied, “Because of your little faith” (Matt 17:20b); a statement that seems to contradict the words that follow it in regards to having faith as small as a mustard seed. Hendriksen and Kistemaker explain, “They had not sufficiently taken to heart the comfort they should have derived from the assurances which their Lord had given them (7:7–10; 10:8), and had not persisted in prayer. When the demon did not immediately leave they should not have stopped praying.”

It seems that Christ was making a distinction between having faith and exercising faith. The disciples did not need more faith, they simply needed to uses that which they had.

It is clear that faith is an important element in divine healing. Countless times Christ spoke the words, “your faith has made you well,” which are not to be taken as faith enacting healing, but enabling healing. Faith is important not only from the perspective of the one who suffers, but also from the perspective of the community and from the perspective of the servant of God. To a certain extent, those who adhere to the “God is always willing” perspective, are correct in that lack of faith is a hindrance to healing. However, the point of disagreement lies in that one believes that lack of faith is not the only hindrance to divine healing.


Is it Necessary?

At this juncture, the scripture throws in the proverbial, “monkey wrench” into the whole equation. There is evidence that even though faith is an important element to divine healing, it is not always necessary for the one who suffers to have faith. In fact, Jesus healed both people who expressed faith and some who did not express faith whatsoever. Case in point, one of the clearest example of an unbeliever being healed is found in the narrative of Jesus’ arrest. While getting preoccupied by the zealous actions of Peter, who severs a servant’s ear, it is easy to overlook the fact that immediately after Jesus heals this unbeliever.

Other healing narratives, such as the paralytic by the pool of Bethesda, the ten lepers, and the man born blind, lack any evidence that the sufferers made a confession of faith. One gathers that God sometimes heals to forward His purposes even when the one who suffers lacks faith. This is just another act of grace from God, for the benefit of divine healing is reserved for His children alone. Moreover, it begins to open the door to understanding the place of God’s sovereignty in relation to divine healing. This brings comfort to those interceding for loved ones who are not saved.

Toxic Relationships


Based on what has been discussed so far, it should not be as surprising that a relationship with God is important to divine healing. Two points have been made clear, divine healing is provided through the atoning sacrifice through Christ, and this is made operative only on those who accept that sacrifice; His children. This is the foundation to a relationship with God. However, even His children hinder their own healing through unhealthy relationship with God.

One has found three detrimental attitudes toward God; namely, lack of submission, disregarding His Lordship, and an unyielding resolve. God the father is a loving father and does not want to humiliate His children, but He requires His children to humble themselves before Him. Peter reminds his readers, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:6). Moreover, Proverbs 16:5 states, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished” (cf. Proverbs 21:4). Clearly, a believer does well to practice humility; that is, to see himself or herself no more or less than how God sees him/her.

Disregarding His Lordship is another attitude detrimental to one’s relationship with the creator. Not giving God a rightful place in ones life, or neglecting Him by attempting to live without Him. Perhaps, this is the most common form of hindrance in this category found in American culture. Far too many Christians attempt to live life independent of God, and treat God as a cosmic “sugar-daddy” which can be accessed only when needed. If a believer wants to receive divine healing, he must allow God to be Lord of his or her life not just of his or her health. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthian church, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5), and then reminds them of Christ’s Lordship, “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Finally, an unyielding resolve is a toxic attitude in relating to God. Reminiscent of the account of Naaman coming to the prophet of God seeking to be healed, many desire healing on their own terms, and with their own purposes in mind. God is a loving father, but He should not be expected to serve man. Again, He is God, and not man that He should serve according to mankind’s whims.


Community (Church/family)

Not only is a toxic relationship posture with God a hindrance to healing, but also ones relationship with the community. The Bible constantly exhorts the faithful to be reconciled to those they have offended; even at the risk of not receiving forgiveness from God: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25) One has always maintained that Christ—when establishing His church—created a community, and not a group of individuals. As such there are certain responsibilities to one another. John goes as far as to remind his reader that it is God’s commandment, and that it has an effect on the reader’s relationship with God: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21)


The final subcategory on this larger grouping of “relationship” is toxic relationship with self. God designed our bodies, and gave us a stewardship over it. The Bible even calls it the temple of the Holy Spirit, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple”(1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Believers should not expect God to intervene on their behalf, when they are actively destroying their own bodies. It is absurd to ask God to heal one’s emphysema while smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Actions have consequences, and one should be aware of them. Truly God can heal these self-inflicted diseases, and he has, but He is not under any obligation to do so.

According to Cooper and Palmer Stress elicits “physical (e.g., headache, sleeplessness, breathlessness), physiological (e.g., increased heart rate, blood pressure, respiration), or psychosocial (e.g., mood swings, anxiety, depression) reactions.”

Is it any wonder, that Christ exhorts us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). God has provided the means to live a healthy life. Sabotaging ones body is against His will, and it creates health issues. Believers undergoing self-inflicted suffering should repent, change their lifestyle, and then pray for healing.

God’s Sovereignty

The final reason in answering the question of why some are not healed is that God as sovereign has chosen not to heal. Those who propose that God is always willing to heal, fail to recognize His sovereignty. No amount of faith, prayer, and good deeds can coerce God into action. One proposes that the many Biblical passages that indicate that it is God’s will to heal are being misunderstood, and interpreted as if it is God’s will to heal all today. The scripture also indicates that it is God’s will that all would be saved, but it is also clear that not all are going to be saved. It is important to recognize that at times, the scripture simply describes the motivation and desire of God’s heart. Ideally, God desires for all His people to be healed, realistically this is not the case today.

Furthermore, it should be noted that God’s ultimate purpose for His children is complete physical and spiritual healing. At the parousia believers will receive a new body incorruptible, and sickness and disease will become lost in the past. Nonetheless, God’s promise for today is that He will be present in one’s suffering. In fact, Paul glorified God in his suffering. This is not to say that God caused suffering, but simply that He is capable of using it for His purpose and the sufferer’s benefit. Therefore, when a believer is not healed one must resist the temptation of always placing fault at the feet of the victim. Moreover, never forget that God has seen fit that some of His children can be trusted with suffering like Job.


It is one’s hope that a cogent case has been made. Indeed, some are not miraculously healed not only because of a lack of faith, but because of toxic relationships and God’s sovereignty. The Biblical evidence compels the reader to hold all these truths in balance. This is not to say that God is fickle or arbitrary, but that one must resist the tendency to place God into a neatly packaged box. No one answer can serve as the universal response, for God relates to His children personally and differently. In fact, one would not dare to claim that all the reasons for a lack of healing have been exhausted in this short treatise. This is simply a human attempt to understand an infinite God. Nonetheless, the scriptures are clear, His thoughts are higher than ours, and his way higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). At the end of the day, perhaps the best answer is simply, “I don’t know.” Ultimately all believers will receive their healing when they’re clothed in white garments with a glorified body. This is not pie in the sky, but an affirmation of God’s ultimate purpose for His bride.


Filed under Christianity, faith, healing, miracles, Theology

Meeting with a Marine

As I was looking through my undergrad papers, I found one describing an evangelistic encounter for my evangelism class. This event happened in 2007, before I had felt a strong call to the military Chaplaincy. Today I realize that God was working/preparing me all along.

November 25, 2007
Personal Evangelism Encounter
On a Friday night, I decided to go out with Campus Mission Fellowship Streets.  .  Today was my first time going out with them, and Michael Krysty was leading the group.  My expectations were high I just knew God had something plan this night.  It would not be long before this was true.  God indeed did something that night.
When we first arrived we did a prayer walk.  Our group leaders separated us into three smaller groups, and we were to circle the downtown area until we meet at the square.  As we walked we silently prayed for the local businesses that God would use them for His glory, and we prayed for the residents of the community.  We arrived to the Square and realized out of the three groups only one had returned.  They told us that the third group was at the Mud House, so my group decided to go and get some coffee, also.  I really did not feel like going, but because the ones wanting to go were all ladies and needed a male presence, I went along.
While we were in the Mud House waiting for drinks, we had several conversations with some Baptist Bible College student.  It was great having a conversation with them, but I was expecting to have the opportunity tonight to reach the lost.  Once we got our drinks we walked back to the Square.
I noticed that some from the other groups were speaking to an older man; actually, he was doing most of the talking.  As I joined them, I realized that he was drunk and had not bathed in some days.  He was telling a story from his past about a war.  I realized that he was a veteran like me.  I wondered what branch of the military he was in, so I asked Mike if he knew.  Mike answered that he was a Marine and proceeded to tell the old man that I was in the Army.
The man turned to me and asked, “You were in the Army?”
 “Yes,” I answered.
“Eighty second Airborne or one hundred and first” He asked quizzically.
I smiled and said, “Neither, 62nd Medical Brigade.”
Jokingly he retorted, “Uhh, you were an Army brat.”
The fact he was drunk became more evident to me since I could smell his breath, and because that statement did not make much sense; an Army brat would be somebody whose parents are in the Army.  In order to drive the conversation forward, I told him I was a medic.
He looked at me and said in a more serious tone, “I like medics. Those guys really helped me.”
“I’m still trying to help you, not your body this time but your soul.”
He looked down as if something struck him, and said, “What is my purpose?” Before I could answer he asked, “What is your purpose?”
“To honor God and do his will,” I responded.
He again laughed and said, “So, now you are a soldier for Christ.”
“You could say that,” I replied.
“Maybe that’s my purpose,” he said .
At that point everybody responded with either a “maybe” or a “yes.”
Then I asked him, “You remember basic training?”
“yeah,” he said.
“It was hard, wasn’t? Running, preparing yourself physically to be a marine?”
He smiled again and said, “Ohh yeah! I was in Parris Island.”
I said, “In the same manner you have to prepare your body and your spirit in order to be a soldier of Christ; it takes hard work.”
“I have done many evil things; I don’t think God can forgive me.  That it’s why I drink.” he said, showing the bottle of Vodka under his coat.
I gently replied, quoting scripture, “Is anything to hard for the Lord?” and continued “When we ran miles as a platoon and someone began to fall behind, what did we do?”
He stared at me looking for the answer.  I continued, “We go back and grab him, and we help our ‘Battle buddy’ keep up, and stay in the run.” He nodded in agreement and I continued, “In the same way we pray for each other to help us stay in the run.  Do you want us to pray for you?”
He looked down again and nodded.  We all surrounded him and began to pray out loud for him.  He knelt down as we continued to pray.  After this, we told him we would come back.  Other CBC students joined us, and we began to speak to other groups in the Square.
image from: https://yandyleyva.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/marinepraying.jpg?w=260
After this encounter I thought, “The Lord really used us.”  I would have never come up with the idea of using my Army experience for evangelism.  Come to think of it, Jesus did this when he spoke to the Samaritan woman by the well.  He used water as an illustration for what she really needed.  It was so easy that I knew it was God not me.  Many times I wonder how God can use me.  I have such a strong accent that many don’t have a clue about what I’m saying to them.  Surprisingly he understood every word I said.  Somewhere between me speaking and him hearing, God intervened.
I don’t believe that our conversations are over.  This is going to require more encounters, but at least he knows that God has a purpose for his life, and that in order to achieve this purpose it requires hard work.  I believe that someone else also told him that God loves him before I joined the conversation.  I should have made sure he knew this also.  I wish I would have been able to stay in the Square and be there from the beginning of the conversation.  I have such a bad memory that I cannot remember his name.  While there everyone called him “Gunny” after his rank in the Marines (Gunnery-sergeant).  Now when I pray to God on his behalf I call him “Gunny” or the “man in the Square.”  I have to write down his name next time I see him.  I pray that he will be there next Friday; it would be great if he is sober, too.
My only concern now is if he makes a decision for Christ where do I send him to get help and get out of his situation?  Maybe I should look into a local Teen Challenge program.  I have to be ready not only to answer his question, but also to encourage him to change and grow while being part of a local church.  I can’t help but to think that he would be a great Christian.  He was once a good marine; I know this because few make it to the rank of Gunnery-sergeant.  I know that if he puts the same passion and hard work into the service of the Lord, he will be a great soldier of Christ.  I’m excited about him joining the fold; God has done it before and He can do it again.  I just want to watch it happen.

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Filed under CBC, Central Bible College, Christianity, Evangelism



One of the most well-organized and well-funded movements in the United States is the homosexual movement. The effectiveness can be measured by the impact. Most North Americans consider the homosexual lifestyle an alternative lifestyle. Major denominations such as The United Methodist Church and Episcopalian Church have accepted homosexual behavior as sanctioned by scripture. The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in the armed forces has been repealed, and currently four states have legalized homosexual marriage. Christianity Today sheds light into a schism within the Presbyterian Church USA due to the homosexual issue.[1] The battle lines have been drawn, and the best hope for the world lies within the wall of the church. As such, the church must not linger in responding to the current crisis. The church must critically engage homosexual theology and learn to respond in a Biblical manner. The aim of this paper is to move the debate toward these two goals.

The Battleground Verses
Genesis 19:1-29
Homosexual theology theorizes the Genesis 19 story of Sodom and Gomorrah has no connection to homosexuality. Homosexual theologians have proposed three different interpretations of Genesis 19:1-29. The first, and perhaps the most meaningful, argument from a Biblical perspective is that the rest of scripture does not identify the sin of Sodom as homosexuality. When cross-referencing how other Biblical writers deal with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, it gives the sense other Biblical writers understood the sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah as being a general lack of moral and ethical behavior; more specifically, injustices such as failure to care for the poor and needy, gluttony, and pride.[2]When Jesus refers to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, he seems to address the lack of hospitality not homosexuality.[3]
The strongest verses used by homosexual theologians to identify the sin of Sodom as other than homosexuality are found in Ezekiel 16:48-49.

As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.[4]

According to Daniel Helminiak, in the case of Leviticus 19 the meaning of the text is quite obvious if cross-referenced to other portions of scripture. The book of Ezekiel identifies the sin of Sodom as a refusal to take in needy travelers.
A second interpretation is drawn from the use of the word ידע (to know ). They argue the word is used over 900 times in the Old Testament, and only 15 times does the word imply sexual connotation.[5]Therefore, it is very unlikely the request by the citizens of Sodom had anything to do with sexual intercourse. In this interpretation, it is suggested that the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to interrogate the angels to see if they were spies. They suggest this interrogation may include some form of torture, thus adding to their iniquity.
The third interpretation is that the sin of Sodom was a desire for gang-rape and violence. These men may not even be homosexual since Lot offered his own daughters as replacement. In essence, their sin was rape not homosexuality. These verses do not prohibit a loving and monogamous homosexual relationship between two consenting adults. Some may add that the event was aggravated by the fact that these guests were angels.[6]

Biblical Response
The liberal theologians are correct when they assess that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality; however, this is only part of the issue at hand. As it is often the case, sinful acts never happen in a vacuum, for they are usually accompanied by a host of other sinful acts. The fact that other Biblical writers, and Jesus, have highlighted the pride, gluttony, and lack of hospitality does not divert the verse from the sexual implications. Moreover, the liberal theologians seem selective in their choice of verses. Ezekiel 16:48-49 does not seem to mention homosexuality, yet verses 47 and 50 are ignored by liberal theologians. The larger context states:

Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations [emphasis mine]; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination[emphasis mine] before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.

The key word in the larger context is the word abomination. This is a translation of the Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה which is used in Leviticus to describe the sin of homosexuality.
When it comes to the use of the word  ידע liberal theologians are correct in that this word is mostly translated as knowledge. However, they fail to recognize that out of the ten times it is used to denote sexual intercourse, seven of them are in the book of Genesis. Skilled exegetes do not interpret verses based on statistical analysis, but on the immediate context. Another factor that must be taken into account regarding the use of the word  ידע in this passage is Judges 19:1-30. The author of Judges seems to purposely make parallels between his narrative and the narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah. This close connection between the two narratives helps identify what the Jewish community believed regarding the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative. It would be difficult to make a case that the use of the word ידע in this parallel narrative has no reference to sexual intercourse.
Making a case that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was a desire for rape and violence becomes two issues mutually exclusive of one another to liberal theologians. In essence, they seem to believe that homosexual acts and rape and violence cannot occur at the same time. What they fail to recognize is for these men to rape the male visitors homosexual tendencies have to be implied. Heterosexuals do not generally have an erection for other heterosexuals; a basic requirement for rape. Again, one must emphasize that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were more than just homosexuality, it was a multiplicity of sins which came together incurring God’s wrath. 

Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13
There are two lines of argument when it comes to interpreting the Leviticus passages on homosexuality. Even though they are closely related there is enough distinction to deal with each argument individually. The first argument is based on the application of Levitical laws to modern Christianity. During the debate in California over proposition eight, homosexual advocates broadcast several ads chiding Christians for their hypocrisy and selectiveness when it comes to Levitical laws. They accomplished this by equating the prohibitions of homosexual acts and prohibitions on eating pork and shrimp. Jack Rogers makes a case that these prohibitions were culturally conditioned, not applicable to Christians redeemed under the new covenant.[7]
The second argument states that the prohibitions against homosexuality in the Levitical laws were given to their connection to idolatry and cult prostitution.[8] This argument might add the idea that prohibition may have been given more directly to heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts with other heterosexual men. In other words, the prohibition is not against the homosexual men, but heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts. Those who propose this view are adamant that homosexual men were not prohibited in acting upon their own nature.[9]

Biblical Response
When dealing with Levitical laws, one must not make a blanket statement that all Levitical laws are obsolete and do not affect believers today. If that is the case, then why is the book of Leviticus still in the canon today? Liberal theologians fail to distinguish between ceremonial laws, which had a cultural element to them, and moral laws, which have been carried on and will remain truth to the end of times. It is helpful to notice that the ceremonial laws had the consequence of being declared unclean while the moral laws were often punishable by death. A responsible theologian will recognize the context of these commands, and realize that alongside the prohibition of homosexuality the prohibition of adultery, rape, bestiality and incest exists. Making a case that homosexuality does not apply today because it was part of the Levitical laws also provides a similar line of reasoning for all the other sexual perversions.[10]
When liberal theologians make the case that the condemnation for homosexual acts was for heterosexuals and not for those with homosexual tendencies, they are guilty of the special pleading fallacy. Special pleading fallacy is the addition of favorable details to support one’s argument. Nowhere in the Biblical text is special consideration given based on sexual orientation. In fact, the Bible consistently condemns homosexual acts and makes no mention of orientation. The Hebrew people had no concept of sexual orientation as articulated today.[11]

Genesis 9:18-27
The narrative depicted in Genesis 9 is important to this topic. A survey might find some believe the story of Ham peekingat his father’s naked body led to his own curse. At least this is how some remember it. However, a closer reading of the narrative reveals the Sunday school version is a diluted and inaccurate version of the Biblical text. The narrative has bewildered biblical scholars. Several issues come to light with this pericope. It is Ham’s son Canaan who receives the curse, the biblical text implies Ham was inside the tent, and the Hebrew text gives indication of a more serious crime.
Many commentators jump to the conclusion that Ham’s crime was, at minimum, culturally offensive, and at most voyeurism. However, as Wold concludes, “No narrative or legal source—in either the Bible or the ancient Near East—gives evidence that seeing a naked person was offensive or criminal.”[12]  Further difficulties arise when it is recognized that according to the text Ham was inside the tent—he had to go outside to tell his brother—thus Ham’s act was beyond just peeking.[13] The Septuagint is more explicit by using the word ἐξελθὼν, rendering the text as “went out and told.” Readers must ask the question “What was Ham doing inside the tent in the first place?” Further evidence that the crime was beyond voyeurism is found in verse 24, “When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done [emphasis mine] to him.” The use of the verb hDc¶Do (ʿāśâ) is unexpected if the crime was nothing more than voyeurism.
The severity of Canaan’s punishment for his father’s crime should also be considered. The severity is highlighted by the knowledge that in the Ancient Near East it is customary for the penalty to befall the person who commits a crime. Canaan was cursed into a life of servitude, and a punishment of this magnitude requires a crime that befits it. Voyeurism does not seem to warrant such an extreme penalty.
 Upon arriving at the conclusion that the crime was beyond voyeurism, in light of the Hebrew text the most likely crime was homosexual rape. The key to this exegesis is found in verse 21b to 22a, rendered as: “[Noah] became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father…” The Hebrew word l™A…gVtˆ¥yÅw is a hithpael imperfect which; “The passive uses of the Hithpaelmay express either (a) the notion that the subject is transformed into a state by an unexpressed agent or (b) the notion that the subject transforms itself into such a state.”[14]Most biblical translations choose option b. Nonetheless, further study of the context makes a compelling case for option (a). That is, Noah did not uncover himself, but rather he was uncovered. A better translation would be, he became drunk and was uncovered.
At this junction, the exegete should begin the task of trying to discover who uncovered Noah. The Hebrew text does not waste any time in making this evident. In the English translation, verse 22a begins with, “and Ham the father of Canaan,” this is not the case in the original language. In fact, the Hebrew begins with √rGÅ¥yÅw  (and he saw), which actually connects it with the previous verse; in this verse, the waw+imperfect (or wayyqtl) functions as a waw relative of succession. According to IBHS, “Situations described with wayyqtl are mostly temporally or logically succeeding.”[15] This is not an indication that the English translation is being deceitful, for a literal translation would seem awkward to an English audience. English is a language requiring specific word order, which often is not parallel to the Hebrew word order. The verse divisions, which came at a later time and are not original to the text, create further complications. The artificial division placed in this text has robbed it of its intent. When read together, it becomes clear Ham is the antecedent for both the “uncovering” and the “seeing.” It is not unusual in Hebrew to have the antecedent follow a compound predicate.
It may be said that even with these adjustments the text does not describe a homosexual act. At first glance it does not, but further study of Hebrew euphemisms shed light on the topic. The idea of uncovering and/or seeing the nakedness of someone is often used in scripture in reference to sexual acts. Leviticus uses the phrase to denote incest in chapter 18 verses 6-18 and chapter 20 verses 11 and 17-21. It is used in other passages of scripture in connection with prostitution, incest, and rape (Ezekiel. 16:36; 22:10; 23:18; Isaiah. 47:3; Ezekiel. 16:37; 23:10; 23:29). In other instances, seeing the nakedness of someone entails an opportunity for rape, literally or metaphorically (Lamentations. 1:8-10, Habakkuk. 2:15; Nahum. 3:5). It is quite evident that in the scriptural use of this phrase, whether literal or metaphorical (such as in the case of Jerusalem), the image being conveyed is not voyeurism, but illicit sexual acts such as rape, incest, and adultery.
This information should be enough to make a case that Ham raped his father while he was in a drunken stupor. Further proof can be found by focusing on to the response of Ham’s brothers, and the curse on Canaan. Shem and Japheth’s chose to enter the tent and not see their father’s nakedness, both in the sense of sexual intercourse and in the literal sense. The Hebrew writer purposefully makes a stark contrast between these deeds. Shem and Japheth would not dare see their father’s nakedness. Their noble and pious action is at the opposite extreme of Ham’s heinous deed.
In light of what has been discovered from the original text, the fact that Ham’s son is cursed is more logical. Since Ham used his own seed to bring shame and dishonor upon his father, it is his seed which is cursed; the punishment fits the crime. The timing of this writing  must be kept in mind. The people of Israel are about to embark on the conquest of the land occupied by Canaanites. The story has an etiological function alongside other stories, which serve as evidence against the Canaanites. In essence, the Canaanites have not changed their inheritance; they remained just as their father Ham, deserving of God’s wrath and punishment.
Romans 1:24-27
Engaging the New Testament perspective on homosexuality, Romans 1: 24-27 is perhaps the most hotly debated text. This passage presents difficulty for homosexual theologians, and a myriad of interpretations are proposed by liberal theologians. Some interpretations are simple attempts to explain away the texts, while others are thoughtful academics endeavors. This section will focus on those endeavors which are the most popularly accepted liberal interpretations.
There are three well-developed liberal perspectives worthy of engaging in discussion. John Boswell proposed the first interpretation. He makes a case that Paul is condemning heterosexuals who are engaging in homosexual behavior. It is an argument based on the use of the word “natural/fu/sin ” in Romans 1. The second argument proposes Paul was expressing a cultural bias not applicable for all people at all times. The third and final argument among liberal scholars is that Paul is only condemning pederasty, not true homosexuals in the form of inversion. This last line of argument goes as far as making a case that Paul does not identify homosexuality as sin.

Biblical Response
John Boswell’s argument has become the most popularly accepted interpretation among liberal theologians. In his book Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality he writes,
On the other hand, it should be recognized that the point of the passage is not to stigmatize sexual behavior of any sort but to condemn the Gentiles for their general infidelity … The reference to homosexuality is simply a mundane analogy to this theological sin; it is patently not the crux of this argument …What is even more important, the persons Paul condemns are manifestly not homosexual: what he derogates are homosexual acts committed by apparently heterosexual persons. The whole point of Romans 1, in fact, is to stigmatize persons who have rejected their calling, gotten off the true path they were once on. It would completely undermine the thrust of the argument if the persons in question were not “naturally” inclined to the opposite sex in the same way they were “naturally” inclined to monotheism.[16]
There are several basic flaws in this line of argument. The most radical is the attempt to redefine the word natural/fu/sin outside of the context given by the passage. Beginning in verse 19, Paul expounds a series of stages faced by those who chose to continue in sin and not accept the truth revealed by God. Verses 19 and 20 make it clear God has revealed, in the creation of the world, His attributes and moral expectations. Paul makes it clear mankind is without excuse before natural revelation. In verse 21 Paul proposes that sinful humanity has chosen to foolishly exchange God for idols, which leads to God giving them over to their own self-destructive fates. Paul specifically mentions homosexual behavior as one of the fates God allows upon sinners. As renowned scholar Ben Witherington III states,
Vv. 26-27 are about as clear a condemnation of homosexual and lesbian behavior as exists in the NT. Paul speaks of actions, not inclinations, attitudes, or genetics … In Paul’s view homosexual behavior flows naturally from idolatry in that it is a rejection of the creation order that the Creator God set up in the first place.[17]
It is an obvious case of eisegesis  to assume that the behavior described in this text is not in reference to homosexuals simply because they chose to engage in homosexual acts. The underlying presumption is that a true homosexual would simply partake in this activity out of who they are, not as a choice. However, this assumption lacks any scientific evidence or theological support.
The second argument, that Paul was simply expressing Jewish cultural bias and it should not be used for modern Christians, becomes a double-edged sword for liberal theologians. Those who made that argument automatically agree the Jewish faith understood the Old Testament verses as condemning homosexuality. With that in mind, one must simply prove Paul did not view the law as useless and inapplicable to all people. As previously discussed, portions of the Levitical Law are still normative to all believers. Jewish prohibitions against bestiality, adultery, incest, and homosexuality were understood by the New Testament church as prescriptive. The context of this text reveals that Paul is speaking in universal terms. He speaks not of Jews alone, but of all created men who have chosen rebellion. Paul is not condemning just cultural Jews, but Gentiles and beyond who practice ritual or secular homosexuality.
The final interpretation was proposed by Robin Scroggs, who claimed that since the most dominant form of same sex relationship in the Greco-Roman was pederasty, and it was often exploitative, Paul only had in mind this form of same sex relationship. The argument is that Paul never condemns homosexuality—those who have a natural inclination toward those of the same gender. This argument has already been partially answered in response to previous arguments. However, the premise of pederasty must be engaged. While it is true that pederasty was a commonplace same sex relation in the Roman Empire, it was not the only known form of same sex relationship. Paul, who was a well-educated man, surely had knowledge of all of them. Yet he never makes an exception for any other form. He makes a blanket statement with no qualifications. There is evidence of Paul making exceptions in some of his other teachings, such as divorce and meat sacrifice to idols. If Paul had any exceptions in mind, he would have mentioned them at some point. No exception is made, and the text describes not only male homosexuality but also lesbianism, ensuring that the text is understood as all encompassing.

1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1Timothy 1:10
The two vice lists written by Paul in Corinthians and Timothy fall under scrutiny by liberal theologians due to the inclusion of the words aÓrsenokoi÷taiß and malakoi«, which the New American Standard Bible translates as homosexual and effeminate. Liberal theologians attempt to redefine the lexical meaning of these words. In the case of malakoi«, Scroggs gives it the narrow definition of effeminate callboys.[19] Conversely, Dale Martin gives it a broader definition of effeminate. He goes further by making the point that since the passage condemns any feminine trait by males, it should be discarded as misogynistic.[20]In the case of aÓrsenokoi√tai, Scrogg defines it as the active partner of the callboy (malakoi«), and Martin argues that it refers to those who exploit other males by means of sex.[21] 
All of these definitions are attempts by liberal theologians to narrow the meaning of the word, or expand it to the point that it becomes inapplicable and unfit for modern day audiences. Scroggs’ definitions are somewhat accurate to a certain extent. For this reason, liberal theologians engage these two passages of scriptures together. However, they should be separated and dealt with individually.
In the case of 1 Corinthians 6:9, the words malakoi« and aÓrsenokoi√tai are mutually dependent on one another, and they either rise or fall together. Indeed, malakoi« is a reference to “being passive in a same-sex relationship, an effeminate especially of catamites.”[22] In this context, aÓrsenokoi√tai is a reference to the active partner in the homosexual relationship. Scroggs is correct in his definitions and his understanding that this verse is a reference to pederasty relationship. However, to make a case that Paul does not oppose any other form of same sex relationship is an argument from silence. Other Biblical passages, such as Romans 1:26-27, provide clarification.
In the case of the list dictated by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:10, the word aÓrsenokoi√tai is without a qualifier such as malakoi«, and it should be translated as homosexual. The word is borrowed from the LXX version of the Old Testament’s Leviticus 20:13; 18:22. The word seems to be a fusion of the words a‡rsenoß (male) and koi÷thn (to have intercourse)[23]used in Leviticus 20:13, in reference to homosexual acts. Recognizing that Paul often used the LXX as a source in his letters, it is possible to conclude Paul is purposely making a connection to the prohibition on homosexuality in Leviticus 20:13.  

Cultural Redemption Perspective
Homosexual theologians propose that the same redemptive process applied to the place of women in our culture and the abolition of slavery can be applied to the place of homosexuals. They add that the church has learned from its mistakes and accepted the ultimate ethics towards laborers and women, but refuse to apply the same redemptive process to homosexuality. Indeed, for liberal theologians homosexuality is the last civil rights movement. The few churches which have adopted this redemptive process to homosexuality have come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin, but a gift from God.[24]
The cultural redemptive movement is one of the most common and well developed arguments for homosexuality. The idea is to look at how scripture deals with cultural issues such as the place of women and slavery, and how they progressively redeemed the culture from these social ills. This is done by taking the Biblical text and expanding it to its redemptive goal in our context. Using slavery as a case in point, one can demonstrate how scripture moves this issue from its inception in the original culture, through the biblical witness, and into the New Testament. In the original culture slavery was characterized by many abuses; a truth that the Israelites themselves experienced. With the introduction of the biblical text, slavery is regulated by providing better working conditions and fewer abuses. This influence necessarily leads to our current culture, where slavery is completely eliminated and the working conditions of a laborer are improved. When one takes all these elements—original culture, Bible, and current culture— the ultimate ethic expanded from scripture is the elimination of slavery, improvement of laborers working conditions, better wages, harmony, respect, and teamwork among all levels of an organization.[25]
When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, the same redemptive process cannot be applied; in fact, the reverse is true. William Webb, following the same process, recognized that the original culture was actually more accepting of homosexual activities prior to the biblical witness. The honest assessment of the biblical perspective of homosexuality arises at the conclusion that the Bible has a consistent negative view of homosexuality. In light of this, there is no evidence that the redemptive process should apply to homosexual activity.[26]
Biblical Outings
David & Jonathan
In support of the homosexual lifestyle, the homosexual community tends to address what it considers positive examples of homosexuality in scripture. The three often cited “homosexual couples” are David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and Ashpenaz. Liberal theologians propose that based on the use of the word soul in 1 Samuel 18:1 David and Jonathan loved each other both physically and emotionally. They recognize that the Hebrew text use of the word נֶפֶשׁ is a reference not only to the spirit, but also the body; thus, the implication of this verse is a homosexual union akin to today’s gay partnership. Based on Samuel 18:2-4, David’s intimate relationship is demonstrated when he moved to Saul’s house to be with Jonathan. Later Jonathan stripped naked before David, a conclusion based on the idea that men in the ancient near east did not wear underwear.[27]
The argument continues by highlighting that the appropriate translation of Samuel 18:21 should be properly translated as today you are a son-in-law with two of my children. Counter to the tradition translation “Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law. If there is any doubt left that this relationship is of a homosexual nature, liberal theologians quote 1 Samuel 20:41, where it notes that they kiss each other until David had an erection (based on the use of the word גדל).
Biblical Response
It is best to address each verse individually in response to the liberal theology. For the sake of space, only the many assumptions and misconception made by the Homosexual theology perspective will be addressed. The first issue brought to the forefront by those who hold to a liberal view is the use of the word נֶפֶשׁ. The word can be translated as soul or person, yet context is the best evidence for choice of translation. It is not always true that every time the word appears all its semantic range is implied. The expression made that the soul of Jonathan was bound with the soul of David is no more erotic than that described in Genesis 44:30-31, where Judah tells Joseph that Jacob’s (his father) soul is bound up with Benjamin’s soul.[28]
Most conservative theologians recognize that David moving into Saul’s house had nothing to do with being closer to Jonathan; in fact, it is more likely the move was a political decision made by Saul. When the text talks about Jonathan removing his outer garment it does not imply he was naked. While it is true ancient near eastern men did not wear underwear, it is well know that they wore many layers of robes. Therefore, it is conceivable that the removal of the outer garment will leave Jonathan wearing an inner garment.[29]
The Biblical description of David and Jonathan kissing each other cannot be filtered through a western lens; in fact, the practice of one male kissing another is still part of Middle Eastern culture. The use of the word גדל in this text has no sexual connotation to imply an erection. The semantic rage of this word has thirty-seven meanings, none of which has a sexual connotation. Moreover, according to Talmudic tradition, the penis is referred to as a small organ, and thus the assumption of an erection is unfounded.[30]
On a final note, the liberal theologians argument that 1 Samuel 18:21 implies Saul recognizes David as his son-in-law through Michal and Jonathan is also unfounded. Ancient Israel had no concept of homosexual marriage, nor did any surrounding culture. Saul was not excited about David’s friendship with Jonathan, and saw it as a threat to his throne. In light of this, the traditional translation is the most plausible.[31]

Ruth & Naomi
The homosexual relationship of Ruth and Naomi was highlighted in The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationshipsby Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. The authors’ state the relationship described in this verse is of a homosexual marriage covenant. The book sold millions of copies, and today many saints are being persuaded by this to be a more tolerant Christianity.
Miner and Connoley begin their exegesis with the question “Can two people of the same sex live in committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God?” The authors’ first premise begins with historical analysis of the life of a woman in the Ancient Near East. A woman in Israel had to rely on her father or her husband for sustenance; therefore, Naomi’s status as a widow was an assurance of poverty. They recognize that the command to take care of the widows and orphans stems from the fact that these were the most vulnerable members of society.[32]
The second premise is drawn from Ruth’s words in verse 17 “Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Proponents of this view hold that this level of commitment can only be characterize as love. Ruth willingness to die alongside Naomi is the same level of commitment found in marriage. Some add that the author already hinted at this fact in verse 14 “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung [emphasis mine] to her.”
The Hebrew word daveqah (דָּ֥בְקָה) translated as cling, cleave, stick to, and hold-fast in the English text, is the same root word used in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast [emphasis mine] to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” A verse understood as part of the marriage covenant to which the author is making an allusion.[33] They may add that Naomi and Ruth were lovers, and Ruth’s marriage to Boaz was a matter of convenience, since the text never mentions that Ruth loved Boaz. Furthermore, the book closes with emphasis on Naomi and her grandchild Obed; leaving Boaz completely out of the picture

Biblical Response
The best way to understand the argument posed by liberal theologians is by outlining it into the premises proposed by this exegesis. In essence Miner and Connoley state:  (1) If Ruth had a radical love for Naomi, and (2) the passage uses language of a marriage covenant, then (3) Ruth and Naomi were homosexual lovers. As persuasive as it may seem, there are several fallacies in this line of argument. First, this argument is a non-sequitur; the conclusion does not follow its premise. As it is true of most non-sequiturs it is missing a third premise, which should rewrite the line of argument as: (1) If Ruth had a radical love for Naomi, and (2) the passage uses language of a marriage covenant, and (3) if radical love is indicative of sexual intercourse, then (3) Ruth and Naomi were homosexual lovers.
Only by having this premise will the conclusion follow, but the line of argument enters into a new problem. Two of the premises are false, and thus the conclusion is false. Premise one is true; Ruth demonstrated a radical love for Naomi by putting her life in danger of starvation, and perhaps even assault, when she could have chosen to be comfortable in her father’s house. However, premise two is false. The assumption is made that the word daveqah can only be a reference to marriage, and the book itself invalidates this assumption. The word appears three more times in the text, “Boaz asks Ruth to stay’ [emphasis mine] with his servant girls while gleaning during the harvest (2:8). Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz asked her to stay’ [emphasis mine] with his workers until the harvest was finished (2:21), and Ruth followed Boaz’s advice and stayed close [emphasis mine] to the other women until the harvesting was finished (2:23).”[34]Peter Ould states that the verses in the second chapter of Ruth “are clearly not invitations for Ruth to form covenant unions with either the workers or the other women.”[35]
The last premise (the added premise) is also false. The omission of this premise stems from the homosexual community’s attempts to define homosexuality as an emotional attachment between two people of the same gender, which they define as love. A homosexual is actually defined as, “relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex;”[36]that sexual attraction/lust ought not to be confused with love. One can love his or her own child in a radical manner to the point of death, yet this does not imply sexual attraction to one’s children; the mere though is deviant. Therefore, the premise is necessary in this line of argument, and the text gives no evidence for this premise.

Daniel and Ashpenaz
The argument on the supposed relationship between Daniel and Ashpenaz is based on Daniel 1:9 that reads,and God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs [Ashpenaz].” Liberal theologian propose that The Hebrew phrase My¡ImSjårVlá…w dRs™RjVl, which is translated by the ESV as favor and compassion, describing the relationship between Daniel and Ashpena, is best translated as showed mercy and engaged in physical love. They argue that the most common translation of chesed (dRs™Rj) is “mercy”, and rachamim (My¡ImSjår) has multiple meanings: “mercy” and “physical love.” It is unreasonable that the original Hebrew would read that Ashpenaz “showed mercy and mercy.” A more reasonable translation would be Ashpenaz “showed mercy and engaged in physical love” with Daniel[37]
Furthermore, they propose that the lack of a romantic interest or sexual partner of Daniel elsewhere in the Bible lends credibility to this interpretation. They also add the plural form of MAjår in My¡ImSjår for emphasis, and thus it gives it more importance in the text. Liberal theologians believe that the translators who are unwilling to accept a prophet of God as homosexual have corrupted the text by opting for innocuous terms.

Biblical Response
There are several issues with this perspective making it the weakest case for homosexual outing in the Bible. While it is true that dRs™Rj is most often translated mercy it also carries a larger semantic range. It is considered an essence of the covenant relationship between God and His people. dRs™Rj is descriptive of an unbroken, faithful, and steady love. It is often a referent of God’s love for His people, and translated as faithfulness, mercy, goodness, and/or kindness. As Waltke stated, “a most important term for describing the nature of the covenant and its spiritual obligations.”[38]Additionally, My¡ImSjår has a wider sematic range that what liberal theologians admit. According to The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), in general it carries the meaning of “a feeling of love, loving sensation, mercy (originally designated the seat of this feeling, meaning bowels, inner parts of the body, the inner person).”[39]In the context of human relationships it means the inner self, inner being, referent of a mother’s love for her child as in 1 Kings 3:26, and of brotherly love among siblings as used in Genesis 43:30.[40]Moreover, this word has a special idiomatic function when connected with dRs™Rj, taking the meaning of grace, favor, and pity.  Thus, both words have slightly different definitions, and do not have to be taken as repeating the same emotion. This idiom is also use with YHWH as the antecedent in Psalms 25:6. Surely, the Hebrew text is not implying physical love in this text. The case posed by liberal theologians falls under the weight of the excluded middle fallacy (also known as false dichotomy)[41]. Note that none of the lexical definitions given have any implications of sex. The LXX, which predates the MT, uses the words εἰς ἔλεον καὶ εἰς οἰκτιρμὸν (mercy and Compassion) in translating this verse.
It is an established fact in biblical hermeneutics that context gives meaning, not the number of times it is translated. Exegetes understand that there are circles of context, which preserves the integrity of the text. The immediate context, the paragraph context, the major section of the book context, the full book context, the context in light of other books by the same author, genre context, Sitz im Leben context, the testament context, the larger biblical context. Keeping this in mind, there are several violations of context in the liberal view. The immediate context tells us that God gave (NAtÎn) these desires to Ashpenaz. The Sitz im Leben context tells us that the text is written to a people who lived in exiled for violating the laws of YHWH. Recognizing that these laws included harsh prohibitions against, it is counterintuitive for God to put desires He readily condemned in the heart of Ashpenaz.  On final note the idea that a lack of a romantic interest or sexual partner of Daniel in the Bible lends credibility to his homosexuality is an argument from silence. As any philosophy professor would chide, an argument from silence is never sound (pun intended). In one’s opinion Stephen miller offers the best explanation for this verse:

The writer again emphasized the fact that God was in control of the situation. He was able to direct the hearts of the captors to accomplish his sovereign will (cf. Prov 21:1). “Favor” (ḥesed) in this context suggests goodwill, and “sympathy” (raḥămîm) conveys compassion or a tender feeling. Ashpenaz had genuinely grown to admire and feel affection toward these Jewish captives. God’s common grace, which operates in the hearts of unbelievers, is exemplified here.[42]

Responses to the Homosexual Crisis
There are four different responses by Christians to the homosexual community. At first it seems a continuum, with hostility at one point of the spectrum and compromise at the other end, allowing for variation in between. However, the responses are based on the level of opposition to sin and the level of care for the sinner. The combination of these two factors creates a grid matrix of four different areas, each representing a different response. These areas are as hostility, compromise, apathy, and love (see Figure 1).
Fig. 1

When a Christian has a high opposition to homosexual acts and a low care for the sinner, the response is hostility. This response is greatly represented by groups such as the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. For the most part, this is nothing more than a misguided attempt to strong-arm someone into changing his or her views. It is widely recognized that this militant method is ineffective and counter to a Christian witness.

At the opposing end of the Hostile Response is the Compromising response. Compromise is chosen by those who have a low opposition to the sin of homosexuality and have a high level of care for homosexuals. The most representative group with this response is The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination whose members and clergy are mostly gay, lesbian, or bisexuals and the United Methodist Church who arrived at the conclusion that homosexuality is a gift from God. These denominations have opted to love homosexuals at the expense of their own eternal destiny; that is they love them to hell.

Those who have a low opposition to homosexual acts, and a low level of care for homosexuals, fall under the category of apathy. There are no denominations or groups representing this category, for they are found among both liberal and conservative denominations. These are the people who live by the slogan of, “live and let live, they are not hurting anybody.” This group of people has deluded themselves into believing that to confront the issue is to be judgmental. This group of individuals is a byproduct of the lack of discipleship in the churches. They have not yet realized that apathy is the opposite of love.

The final response to the homosexual community is based on a high opposition to the homosexual sin accompanied by a high level of care for those with homosexual tendencies. This is the most appropriate response for Christians. Those who fall under this category are found mostly within conservative, evangelical denominations. They confront homosexuality with a concern of the final destiny of those who act on their desires. These Christians do not glory in bashing homosexuals for their sinful acts, but care enough to lovingly confront them with biblical truth. Moreover, they do not treat homosexuals as second class citizens within the churches for they recognize that being homosexual is not the sin, the act itself is.

Three concluding truths should be recognized in response to the homosexual crisis. First, while the church should not affirm sinful activity such as homosexuality, adultery, idolatry, or greed, it should welcome anyone—gays included—to discover who God is and to find his forgiveness. Second, the Bible does not condemn homosexual inclinations, but rather sexual activity outside of a marriage relationship between husband and wife. In fact, no writers of antiquity, including biblical ones, ever spoke of “sexual orientation;” they talked only about sexual behavior. Third, specific Scriptures uniformly reject the legitimacy of homosexual relations in favor of a heterosexual union.[43]The church must stand guard that no form of “Christianized homosexuality” be adopted. There is no more a form of Christian homosexuality than there is Christian bestiality or Christian incest.  
   This paper encourages further debate and research on this issue. The principle of proper response can be applied not only to the homosexual community, but also to other deviant behaviors. Indeed the church must always respond in love and in accordance to biblical standards. In the near future the homosexual debate will become more heated. The church’s response will be the deciding factor on the outcome of this battle.

[1] LaTonya Taylor, “Talk of Presbyterian Split Grows.” Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday. com/ct/2001/december3/14.21.html ( August 12, 2012).
[2] Jacob M. Caldwell, “The Viability of Christian Same-Sex Unions: Why Scripturally Normed Faith Communities Must Support Homosexual Relationships.” Theology & Sexuality 16, no. 1 (2010): 62.
[3] James R. White, and Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message about Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002), 45.
[4] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the English Standard Version.
[5] Donald J. Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 80.
[6] James R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message about Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002), 50.
[7] Jack Rogers, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 73.
[8] Paul Copan, When God Goes to Starbucks a Guide to Everyday Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008), Kindle Edition location 1334.
[9] Canon DR Ron Cassidy, “The Clear Teaching of the Bible on Homosexual Practice,” The Expository Times 109, no. 15 (2004): 299.
[10] Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality, a Biblical View (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1978), 44-45.
[11] Willard M. Swartley, Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2003), 31.
[12] Wold, 65.
[14] Bruce K. Waltke and Michael Patrick O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 431.
[15] Ibid., 547.
[16] John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 108-109.
[17] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2004), 69.
[18] Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1983), 114-115.
[19] Ibid., 106.
[20] Dale B. Martin, “Arsenokoites and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences,” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality, ed. Robert L. Brawley (Louisville, KY.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 127.
[21] Ibid., 123.
[22] William Arndt , Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG). 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Loc cit.
[23] BDAG’ Loc cit.
[24] Randy Thomas, “Church Claims Homosexuality a Gift, Not a Sin–Jeff Buchanan Responds,” exodusinternational.org. exodusinternational.org/2011/05/church-claims-homosexuality-a-gift-not-a-sin-jeff-buchanan-responds/ (accessed April 20, 2012), 1.
[25] William J. Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001), kindle edition, location 332.
[26] Ibid, 366.
[27] Uri Wernik, “Will the Real Homosexual in the Bible Please Stand Up?” Theology & Sexuality 11, no. 3 (2005): 52.
[28] Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), 147.
[29] Wernik, 52.
[30] Ibid, 54.
[31] Ibid, 53.
[32] Jeff Miner, and John Tyler Connoley, The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships (Indianapolis: Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, 2002), 29.
[33] B. A. Robinson, “Same-Sex Relationships in the Bible: Conservative and Liberal Viewpoints,”Religious Tolerance .org, N.p., 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://www.religioustolerance. org/hom_bmar.htm>. (accessed September 2, 2012).
[34] Ronald G. Falconberry, “Does the Hebrew Word Dabaq Imply that Ruth and Naomi Were Gay?,” Ronald G Falconberry Writing Profile  Suite101.com http://ronald-g-falconberry.suite101.com/does-the-hebrew-word-dabaq-imply-that-ruth-and-naomi-were-gay-a297623(accessed April 22, 2012)..
[35] Peter Ould, “Ruth and Naomi—An exegesis: An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy.” An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy, 22 Apr. 2012. .22 (accessed Apr. 22, 2012.).
[36] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
[37]B. A. Robinson, “Same-Sex Relationships in the Bible: Conservative and Liberal Viewpoints,”Religious Tolerance .org, N.p., 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://www.religioustolerance. org/hom_bmar.htm>. (accessed September 5, 2012).
[38] Bruce Waltke. A commentary on Micah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 392.
[39]Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1218.
[40]Ibid, 1218.
[41]a type of logical fallacy  in which only two alternatives solutions are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.
[42] Stephen R. Miller, vol. 18, Daniel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 68.
[43]   Paul Copan, When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008), Kindle Edition location 1234-1318.

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A Far-off Father’s Love

A poem I wrote for my son Michael, almost a year ago while reflecting on the day he was borne prematurely. A day I was hundreds of miles away from my family, and news of his possible death reached me. A day can look back and glorify my God for grace and mercy upon our family.
To love someone; whom I’ve not known
To care for one; who was just born
It is so queer; I’m filled with fear
Of loosing him who is not near.
Oh! Could you have waited; ’til I was near?
You’ve come too soon, my dearest dear
I prayed and cried, I’ve spent my tears
My knees are sore, for you my dear
God heard my voice; provided healing
You heard my voice, at our first meeting
You grasped my hand and persevered
I praised the Lord; for you my dear
You are growing strong before my eyes
Oh! Cruel time that quickly flies
If prematurely, papa dies
Let truth be told, among us guys
I love you son; I’m always near 
I care for you, my dearest dear

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Dr. Philip Jenkins, a professor at Pennsylvania State University and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the institute for Studies of Religion in Baylor University, has spent some of the best years of his life researching and writing books on history, religion, and criminal justice. His book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity is my first encounter with any of his work. While observing contemporary religions trends, he has been capable to recognize and predict some of the possible future trends in Christianity. As Dr. Jenkins himself concludes, “The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes, and the day of the Southern churches is dawning. The fact of change itself is undeniable: it has happened, and will continue to happen.” (page 3) The future of Christianity looks starkly different than the modern experience  
The Authors Thesis
Dr. Jenkins’ thesis for his book is that Christianity is now rooted in the so-called third world, and there will be a global shift to the global south where the new seat of Christianity will be established. He arrives at his thesis by looking at several religious trends in the world and statistics. He states that,
 In the 1900, 83 percent of the world’s Christians live in Europe and North America. In 2050, 72 percent of Christians will lie in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and a sizable share of the remainder will have roots in one or more of those continents…If we imagine a typical Christian back in 1900, we might think of a German or an American; in 2050, we should rather turn to a Ugandan, a Brazilian, or a Filipino.” (preface)
 If the author’s thesis is correct, and one believes it is, one can expect a renewed conflict between religious groups especially among Muslims and Christians, possible conflict between northern and southern forms of Christianity, and finally a large number of political and social ramifications.
Major Points
The first half of Dr. Jenkins’ book gives us a quick glance at the history and the current state of affairs of the Christian world. He first describes the theological orientation of the growing Christianity of the sought. In his own words, he states “Generally, we can say that many global South Christians are more conservative in terms of both beliefs and moral teaching than are the mainstream churches of the global North; this is especially true of African churches.” (pg 8) This was a surprising statement considering that most renowned Hispanic theologians espouse a liberation theology point of view. In fact, according to the author, liberation theology is nothing more than a branch of western theology. The author also states that the global south is very characteristically charismatic and Pentecostal in nature with a great supernatural orientation, “and are by and large far more interested in personal salvation than in radical politics” (pg. 9)
Furthermore, the author makes the case that one of the reasons for their conservatism and supernatural emphasis has to do with the fact that, unlike the western church, the global south is not a stranger to persecution and martyrdom. They are constantly confronted with competing religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, but more importantly one would add that Christianity in the global south confront demonic powers found within the animist and many of the syncretistic sects such as Santeria, Candomble, and Obeah. Many of these competing religions are the reason behind the death of many Christians in the global south, such as Islam, leading them to a stronger reliance on the spirit of God and a stronger conviction upon the Biblical views. Nonetheless, the author gives us this caveat
“As Southern Christianities continue to expand and mature, they will assuredly develop a wider theological spectrum than at present, and stronger liberal or secularizing tendencies may well emerge. For the foreseeable future, though, the dominant theological tone of emerging world Christianity is traditionalist, orthodox, and supernatural.” (pg 11)
The author reminds us that Christianity, in fact, began in the global south with an eastern culture. One could very well say that Christianity is returning home. He recalls Christianity found in Ethiopia and Armenia. While most western historians suggest that western Christianity began with Constantine in 313 AD, they fail to recognize that early states that established Christianity as their official religion prior to the Edith of Milan. In fact, ”Almost certainly, Armenia was the first state anywhere to establish Christianity as an official faith, which it did around the year 300.” (pg 25) Even more astonishing is the fact that the Ethiopian church is equally ancient, “By the time the first Anglo-Saxons were converted, Ethiopian Christianity was already in its tenth generation.” (pg 25) Moreover, according to Dr. Jenkins the average Christian in 1200 AD would have been of Middle Eastern or Asian descent.
The second half of the book, the author introduces his view on what shape and form Christianity has taken in the global south. “About a third of the world’s Christians by 2050 will be African, and those African Christians will outnumber Europe’s by more than two to one. The Christian world will have turned upside down.” (pg 112) Furthermore, “By 2050 only about one-fifth of the world’s 3.2 billion Christians will be non- Hispanic whites. Soon, the phrase ‘a white Christian’ may sound like a curious oxymoron, as mildly surprising as ‘a Swedish Buddhist.’” (pg 3) As a result of this, it is predicted that conflict will arise between traditionally western Christianity and the global south. 
The new upcoming Christianity seems to have adopted many cultural practices, which appear to be suspect in the eyes of western Christians. It is not unusual to find churches in Africa who continue practices which appear more Jewish than Christian. African Christians find it difficult to understand why they should treat the Old Testament distinctly from the New Testament. Western culture must recognize that the Old Testament is more culturally familiar to them than the New Testament. Moreover, the practice of exorcism is very common in the global south. The author indicates that the Latin American congregations (even in churches who are not Pentecostal) practice healing, exorcism, and spiritual warfare. They do so recognizing that, “The Bible itself so readily supports a worldview based on spirits, healing, and exorcism.” (pg 160)
While to most western Christians these expressions of faith may seem syncretistic. The author refutes that view by citing a true example of a syncretistic movement:
Northern Mexico is home to a native people called the Tarahumara, who have adapted elements of Christianity to a traditional mythology. They believe in God and his wife, the Virgin Mary, who correspond to the Sun and Moon, together with their son Jesus. The divine family created all Indians, while non-Indians are the offspring of the Devil and his wife. (pg 164)
As it is evident, this example of true syncretism shows a faith that is so far from Biblical truth that it cannot be recognized as a authentic Christian faith. Same can not be said about Christians in the global south who merely practice that which they found within the worldview of the Biblical text.
The author believes that Christianity in the global south has not developed a view akin to western culture’s separation of church and state. In fact, such a view seems counterintuitive when many of the leaders of political activism are members of the clergy a fact that has its benefits and detriments. It is expected that clashes with Islamic politics will increase. According to the author,
Of the world’s twenty-five largest nations by 2050, at least nineteen will be predominantly or entirely either Christian or Muslim. If we imagine that the current religious balance will still continue at that point, then there should be a remarkably even balance between Muslim and Christian forces. Seven countries will be wholly or mainly Muslim, ten wholly or mainly Christian, and two deeply divided between the two faiths. (207)
Christianity in the global south is more community-oriented form of Christianity than its western sister. They are constantly responding to poverty, disease (such as HIV), and many other forms of social injustice. They have not developed a bifurcation between compassion ministry, and the proclamation of the Gospel. An aspect that one believes western culture ought to emulate. Fortunately, the next Christendom seems to have the right perspective on this issue.
Dr. Philip Jenkins book was an eye opening experience, which led me to consider investigating genuine Latin American theology. A theology completely divorced from western influence and developed within indigenous fellowships. It has become well known that the African community of believers has verbalized their theology, but the Latin American community has not taken this step. Dr. Jenkins book has become essential in exposing Western Christianity to the Christian faith that stands at the horizon. One area of concern is in regards to the author’s definition of Christian faith. He seems to have a very broad definition, which includes faith groups who are beyond the scope of Biblical truth, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It would be beneficial to draft a similar work within the boundaries of a conservative definition of Christian. In this manner, the word would not only be beneficial to the western church, but also to the endeavors of future missionaries.

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File:Ruth Naomi Obed.jpgThe book of Ruth is recognized by both Jewish and Christians alike as inspired, and canonical. In the Jewish community, it is read on the feast of Pentecost, and it is highly regarded by those who convert into Judaism. In the Christian tradition, it is grouped together with the historical books. In the Jewish tradition, it is grouped as part of the kethuvim or writings. Within the kethuvim, The Book of Ruth is part of Hamesh megillot (the five scrolls) alongside Song of Songs, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and the Book of Esther.
The book of Ruth is one of the only two books of scripture named after a woman,[1]and the only one named after a gentile woman. Tradition and conservative scholars agree that the book was most likely written by the prophet and Judge Samuel. It was written to introduce the family of the famous King David who was the great-grandson of Ruth. The story takes place during the time when Israel did not have a king; the time of judges. It tells an amazing story of loyalty, and of God’s providential guidance of events for those who accept His precepts. Ruth, a Moabite widow, chooses to stay with her mother-in-law and accepts a life of destitute by her side. However, the Lord’s providence, and the wisdom of Naomi guide her to her kinsman redeemer Boaz who becomes her savior out of dearth and ruin.
To Christian it has become a treasured text often preached as an analogy of Christ relationship to the church. As Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, so is Christ our kinsmen redeemer. Other Christians find a connection between Proverbs 31:10-31 with Ruth. The Book of Proverbs has a detailed description of an excellent wife, and amazingly Ruth the Moabite is the only one woman in the whole of scripture given this title. To Christian it is no small feat that a Gentile, and not a Jew was worthy of this title, and thus part of Christ’s genealogy. When it comes to sermons, it seems that often the focus is placed in the relationship between Boaz and Ruth, or on Ruth’s character of loyalty and faith. However, few have endeavor to develop an exegesis based on the relationship between Ruth and Naomi as expressed in Ruth 1:6-18. In this paper, one will briefly develop four distinct interpretations to this relationship; three from a western perspective and two from the majority word; more specifically Africa, and Latin America. The goal is to highlight how different communities contextualize their theology and to the distinction between Western exegesis and Majority world’s exegesis.
Conservative Western Exegesis
Western Evangelical View
The western evangelical community sees in this story a beautiful picture of loyalty portrayed by Ruth. Beginning from an understanding of cultures from the Ancient Near East they recognize that nations were divided by language and theology. Ruth’s statement to Naomi that the God of Naomi shall also become her God flows naturally from the previous statement that Naomi’s people shall become her people. In her context, it is more likely understood that to adopt the identity of Naomi’s people it is inseparable from adopting Naomi’s God. It is well known that the Moabites were considered the people Chemosh. However, Chemosh was not the only God that they worshiped, just the chief God. The Moabites were a henotheistic culture.[2]
The key verse, according to the western view, in this dialogue is verse seventeen where Ruth declares that even in death she will not be separated from Naomi. In her framework, this is Ruth’s way of making a commitment to be responsible for Naomi’s burial including whatever ritual may be necessary for the burial. The dialogue is a picture of loyalty and the merciful heart of Ruth. Everything that Ruth is willing to do draws out of the strong relationship with her mother-in-law, not from being convinced of a monotheistic faith in YHWH.[3]Furthermore, Mark S. Smith makes a case that the rhetoric in Ruth 1:16-17 is akin to a covenant made between two nations such as the one in 1 Kings 22:4 and 2 Kings 3:7. He adds that, with the death of Naomi’s son, the relationship between them has been severed. The covenant was meant to restore that relationship with the hope of overcoming struggles together.
The evangelical view applied this knowledge as an example of the ideal relationship between mother and daughter-in-law. The central character of Ruth becomes a hero of faith and an example of compassion for more modern audience. God honors Ruth’s radical love for her mother-in-law; who providentially guides Ruth through Naomi, and restores what they had lost.[4]
Messianic View
Messianic Jews have taken a different take when it comes to this relationship. While agreeing with the evangelical view, they go a step further in their assessment. Ruth, to Messianic Jews is not only a picture of the faithful church, but an example of how gentile Christians should relate to the Jewish people. They based their view on Ruth 1:16, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (NIV). [5] Messianic exegetes take each element from Ruth’s response as a sign of her heart.[6]
Messianic churches highlight that in the Hebrew text Ruth uses the personal name of God YHWH, and not the generic term elohim. They conclude that this was a conversion to Judaism and that she not only expressed her Love for the God of Israel, but she also loves the people hence why she stated “your people shall be my people.” Moreover, she expresses her love for the land of Israel evidence by her statement “Where you stay, I will stay.” This threefold love is what messianic Jews call the heart of Ruth, and every follower of Yeshuah Hamashiach, as they prefer to call Jesus the Christ, must have the same heart. Indeed, they agree with evangelicals that Ruth id a representation of the church, and as such the church must love God, the Jews, and the Land of Israel as Ruth herself illustrated.
Liberal Western Exegesis
The Liberal western exegesis has become a curiosity among many, and a serious interpretation among some denominations. In The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships, Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley make the case that the relationship described in this verse is of a homosexual nature. His book sold millions of copy and today many saint are being persuade to what they perceived to be a more-tolerant Christianity.
Miner and Connoley begin their exegesis with a question “ Can two people of the same sex live in committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God?” The authors’ first premise begins with some historical analysis about life of a woman in the Ancient Near East. Women in Israel had to rely on her father or her husband for sustenance, and therefore, Naomi’s status as a widow was an assurance of poverty. They recognize that the command to take care of the widows and orphans stems from the fact that these were the most vulnerable members of society.[7]The second premise is drawn from Ruth’s words in verse 17 “Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lorddo so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Proponents of this view hold that this level of commitment can only be characterize as “Love.” Ruth willingness to die alongside Naomi is the same level of commitment found in marriage. In fact, some add that the author already hinted at this fact in verse 14 “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.”[8]The Hebrew word daveqah (דָּ֥בְקָה) translated as cling, cleave, stick to, and hold-fast in the English text, is the same root word used in Genesis 2:24  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”[9] A verse understood as part of the marriage covenant to which the author is making an allusion.[10]It is quite obvious they may add that Naomi and Ruth were Lovers, and Ruth’s marriage to Boaz was a matter of convenience since the text never mentions that Ruth loved Boaz; furthermore, the book closes with emphasis on Naomi and her grandchild Obed; leaving Boaz completely out of the picture.
Majority World Exegesis
African view.
African theologians, when approaching Ruth 1:14-17, look for cultural similarities between Ruth context and their own. In fact, they have developed a theological approach, which has been termed as the Bosadi (Womanhood) perspective. Madipoane Masenya, a theologian with a Northern Sotho worldview, has written several compelling works based on the book of Ruth. She notes that the Ruth’s decision to stay with her mother-in-law is not shocking to a woman from Northern Sotho. In her culture, the death of a husband does not sever the relationship between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. In addition, Ruth’s decision to take of Naomi by gleaning from the fields later in the text would be the natural course of events for a Northern Sotho daughter-in-law. In South Africa, the daughter-in-law becomes part of her husband’s family, and as a daughter-in-law, she is expected to take care of her husband’s parents in their old age. However, Masenya admits that the largest distinction between her culture and the narrative of Ruth and Naomi lies in their deep and caring relationship. Indeed, Northern Sotho daughters-in-law tend to be subservient to their mothers-in-law. Masenya believes that those who read the narrative of Ruth can view her as having no choice in doing what her mother-in-law commands, or they can see a daughter–in-law who chooses to do what’s best for her mother-in-law. She strongly suggests that the relationship between Ruth and Naomi is essential in changing the cultural hostility in the Northern Sotho mothers and daughters-in-law.[11]
Masenya recognizes in a different article that, within a patriarchal driven culture, these women were capable of getting themselves out of poverty and emptiness. She sees this narrative as a tutorial for women in patriarchal societies to trust God, and to work in their context to get themselves out of their predicament. In fact, Masenya suggests that, at times, sacrifices ought to be made in order to gain better status. Her conclusion is drawn from what she believed was a sexual advance by Ruth upon Boaz. She reasons that feet were a euphemism for male genitalia, and when Ruth decided to uncover Boaz’s feet that she was risking what little status she had to gain greater status. She encourages African women, that even within the milieu of a patriarchal culture, women are capable of affecting change in their own families. She reminds her readers of the expression, “Mmago ngwana o swara thipa ka bogaleng translated as, ‘the mother of the child holds the sharp part of the knife…the proverb means that when crisis strikes a particular family, it is usually the woman in the family who will act as an agent to save the situation.’”[12]
Latin American
Much like their African brothers and sisters Latin American theologians approach the text looking for those elements that speak to their cultural and social dilemmas. Latin American theologians suggest that the book of Ruth is a political call to solidarity among humanity. In their analysis of the historical context, they believe that the text was written in the time of Ezra-Nehemiah and that the book of Ruth along side the book of Jonah was written to protest the social reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. They see a parallel between the return from Babylon and Naomi’s return to Bethlehem. In fact, they make a case that the main goals of the text are threefold. First, it aims to favor miscegenation as the norm to shape the social group. Second, it places women as an example of public virtue, which is social justice. Third, the book of Ruth demonstrates the transforming power of solidarity and compassion.[13]
In light of this when Latin American theologians approach Ruth 1:14-17 they see this dialogue as the moment in which the solidarity between Ruth and Naomi is forged. They become revolutionaries against the social norm and seek mutual help to improve one another’s future. In fact, Ruth becomes a revolutionary heroine as Agustin Fabra so candidly expresses that it is not easy to accompany one who is left alone and helpless, one who has nothing to offer because he/she needs everything. Therefore, Ruth’s act of deciding to stay with Naomi contains many more aspects than merely love with tender affection, for she is also willing to share her fate with all the consequences this may have. It is a decision not only emotional, but also ethical and of great moral courage.[14]Furthermore, Latin American theologians recognize the level of difficulty implied in the oath made by Ruth. Ruth had to look for a solution that would be beneficial for both her mother-in-law and herself. She could not marry someone who was not related to Naomi, for doing so would leave Naomi alone once again. In the context, she understood that no man would take in the mother of a former spouse.
The western-evangelical view is perhaps the most popular and widely accepted interpretation of this interchange. The careful research into the cultural and historical background is quite commendable; however, one is left with the feeling that there is more to this text than a mechanical often far off understanding. However, most western evangelicals fail to ask the reason behind Ruth and Orpah’s hesitation to leave Naomi. Indeed, Ruth’s willingness to cast her lot with Naomi cannot be left un-scrutinized. One proposes that Naomi’s character and her strong relationship with Ruth and Orpah, prior to her sons’ death, is a big factor in her daughters-in-law’s response. Perhaps the Biblical writer is making not only a case for a faithful character like Ruth, but also for a caring mother-in-law like Naomi.
The Messianic view is strong for the same reasons the evangelical view is strong. The Christology gleaned from the text is compelling and in ones opinion valid. However, the weakness in this view is found in the attempt to transform the political ideology of Zionism into a biblical doctrine. It is admirable that an attempt is made to contextualize the storyline to the current struggle of the Jewish people. The Jewish people today feel the constant throng of radical Islamist and suffer daily at the hands of suicide bombers or rockets across their border. Moreover, they are surrounded by their enemies who want nothing more than to drive them into to the, and consider them occupiers of a land that does not belong to them. When a minister of the Gospel tells them that faithful Christians should love them, their land, and by extension their rights to this lands, is sweet to their palates.
Nonetheless, as much sympathy one has for the struggle of Israel, the truth is that Ruth does not make any reference to the land of Israel, or whether one should love or hate this land. To one’s surprise, since messianic Jews tend to have a fairly good grasp of the Hebrew language, the fault lies on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew text. The line “Where you stay, I will stay” as rendered by the New International Version may be misunderstood. The Hebrew word translated as “Stay” in this verse is ’alin (אָלִין) is a Qal imperfect first common singular, and it is better translated as Lodge or Stay overnight.[15]The word is used in the story of the Levite and his concubine located in Judges 19:21, “And the old man said, ‘Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.’”[16]Simple cross-reference with a concordance should alert the student of God’s word to the fallacy in this view. Ruth was simply stating that she was not going to leave Noemi’s side. It could very well be true that Ruth loved the land of Israel, but this verse does not serve as evidence for it.
When it comes to the Western-liberal view, the best way to understand the argument is to outline it into the premises proposed by this exegesis. In essence Miner and Connoley state that:
Premise one: If Ruth had a radical love for Naomi
Premise two: and the passage uses language of a marriage covenant
Conclusion: then Ruth and Naomi were homosexual lovers.
As persuasive as it may seem, there are several fallacies in this line of argument.  First, this argument is a non-sequitur; the conclusion does not follow its premise. As it is true of most non-sequitur it is missing a third premise which should rewrite the line of argument as:
Premise one: If Ruth had a radical love for Naomi
Premise two: and the passage uses language of a marriage covenant
Premise three: and if radical love is indicative of sexual intercourse.
Conclusion: then Ruth and Naomi were homosexual lovers.
Only by having this premise will the conclusion follow, but the line of argument enters into a new problem. Two of its premises are false, and thus the conclusion is false. Premise one is true; Ruth demonstrated a radical love for Naomi by putting her life in danger of starvation, and perhaps even assault when she could have chosen to be confortable in her father’s house. However, premise two is false. The assumption is made that the word daveqah can only be a reference to marriage, and the book itself invalidates this assumption. The word three more times in the text, “Boaz asks Ruth to “stay” with his servant girls while gleaning during the harvest (2:8). Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz asked her to “stay”with his workers until the harvest was finished (2:21), and Ruth followed Boaz’s advice and “stayed close” to the other women until the harvesting was finished (2:23).”[17] Peter Ould states that the verses in the second chapter of Ruth “are clearly not invitations for Ruth to form covenant unions with either the workers or the other women.”[18]
The last premise (the added premise) is also false. The omission of this premise stems from the homosexual community attempts to define homosexuality as an emotional attachment between two people of the same gender, which they define as love. Unfortunately for them, a Homosexual is defined as, “relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex,”[19]and in addition one proposes that sexual attraction/lust ought not to be confused with love. One can love his or her own child in a radical manner to the point of death, yet this does not imply sexual attraction to one’s children; the mere though is deviant. Therefore, the premise is necessary in this line of argument, and the text gives no evidence for this premise.
The African worldview, as expressed by Masenya, in regards to this text is commendable in that it contextualizes the text. Counter to the western evangelical point of view, the dialogue becomes more dynamic and engaging with the audience. While westerners see the text as just an example of faith and loyalty, Africans find this book as a source of healing for a social ill. The narrative helps the process of bringing reconciliation within interpersonal relationships, more specifically mothers and daughters in law. However, one must disagree with Masenya’s interpretations in regards to Ruth’s uncovering of Boaz’s feet. An understanding of the Jewish culture and Jewish literature ought to weaken this perspective. It seems counterproductive that the Biblical writer will spend so much time demonstrating the level of integrity of Ruth, and then have her commit an act counter to her own character. Furthermore, whether this book was meant to elevate the family of King David, or as some propose, to counter the Ezra-Nehemiah forced-divorce ruling, this act would not argue against the attempted goal.
Finally, the Latin American view is admirable in that it seeks to deal with contemporary issues of Poverty, immigration, Nationalism, and enculturation. There are definitely elements in the book of Ruth that elevate social concern for those who are considered the untouchables of society. However, to advance this view as the main thrust of the text is misleading, and simply an attempt to turn the text into a  revolutionary script. Furthermore, One would propose that the narrative was written prior to the Babylonian conquest during the reign of David or Solomon. Evidence to the contrary is weak and based on flawed documentary hypothesis.

All of these exegetical works have weaknesses, and strengths. Taken them together helps inform one another’s work creating a more holistic exegetical work. The tools of Western Christianity, and the perception of the majority world can create an effective method of biblical interpretation. Further dialog among both camps will only benefit, and strengthen the missionary work among those who are yet to have an effective Gospel witness in their midst.

[1] The other book is Esther, neither the Protestant nor the Jewish tradition consider The Book of Judith canonical; thus it is not included as an option in this assessment.
[2] Daniel Isaac Block, Vol. 6, Judges, Ruth, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), Loc. cit.
[3]Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Loc. cit.
[4] Mark S. Smith, “‘Your People Shall Be my People’: Family and Covenant in Ruth 1:16-17,” The Catholic Biblical Quaterly 69 (2007): 256-258.
[5] Emphasis added;
[6] Eric D. Lakatos, “FAQ Tikvat Yisrael: What is the “heart of Ruth?”.” Tikvat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue of Cleveland Ohio. http://tikvatcleveland.org/faq.html#ruth (accessed April 21, 2012).
[7]Jeff Miner, and John Tyler Connoley, The children are free: reexamining the biblical evidence on same-sex relationships(Indianapolis, Ind.: Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, 2002), 29.
[8] Emphasis added. All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Versionunless otherwise noted.
[9] Emphasis added.
[10] B. A. Robinson, “Same-Sex Relationships In The Bible: Conservative And Liberal Viewpoints,” Religious Tolerance .org, N.p., 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. .
[11] Madipoane J. Masenya (ngwan’a Mphahlele). “Struggling with Poverty/ Emptiness: Rereading The Naomi-Ruth Story in African-South Africa.” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 120 (2004): 46-59.
[12] Madipoane J. Masenya, “NGWETSI (BRIDE) The Naomi-Ruth Story from an African-South African Woman’s Perspective,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 14, no. 2 (1998): 51.
[13] Carmen B. Ubieta, “Ruth y Noemi,” Canal Comunidad iVoox. MP3 audio file. http://www.ivoo x.com/ruth-noemi-carmen-bernabe-ubieta-audios-mp3_rf_574218_1.html.
[14] Personal Translation from: Agustine Fara, “Ruth, La Humilde Heroina,” Monografias.com. http://www.monografias.com/trabajos88/ruth-humilde-heroina/ruth-humilde-heroina.shtml (accessed April 21, 2012).
[15] Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), Loc cit.
[16]Emphasis added
[17] Ronald G. Falconberry, “Does the Hebrew Word Dabaq Imply that Ruth and Naomi Were Gay? | Suite101.com.” Ronald G Falconberry Writing Profile | Suite101.com. N.p., 22 Jan. 2001. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. .
[18] Peter Ould, “Ruth and Naomi – An exegesis | An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy.” An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy, N.p., 17 Mar. 2009. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. .
[19] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

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Self-actualize Christian.



 “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization,” with these words humanist psychologist Abraham H. Maslow launched the concept of self-actualization. Dr. Maslow posed in his article to the Psychological Review journal that a human has a hierarchy of prepotency in which the lower level prepotent needs overtake the consciousness of an individual until it is met, and the next prepotent need monopolizes his/her consciousness. Maslow organized this needs as physiological, safety, love, ‘esteem, and self-actualization. The physiological need, is a reference to a person’s basic needs for food and water. The safety need is a person necessity to feel free from threat to his or her life in the form of wild animals, criminal acts, and tyranny. The love need, is in reference to a person’s need to feel affection and a sense of belonging. The ‘esteem need, as Maslow describes it is, “need or desire for a stable, firmly based, (usually) high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others.” Finally, the focus of this paper, the need for self-actualization, which Maslow describes as, “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”

The term self-actualization 

While Maslow may have started a third wave in humanist psychology, the term Self-actualization was not his original idea. The German-Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist who was a pioneer in modern neuropsychology, Kurt Goldstein, coined the term self-actualization. Admittedly Dr. Goldstein had a more general definition as posed in his book The Organism: A Holistic Approach to Biology Derived from Pathological Data in Man:

 This tendency to actualize its nature, to actualize “itself,” is the basic drive, the only drive by which the life of the organism is determined …Normal behavior corresponds to a continual change of tension of such a kind that over and again that state of tension is reached that enables and impels the organism to actualize itself in further activities, according to its nature. Thus, experiences with patients teach us that we have to assume only one drive, the drive of self-actualization, and that the goal of the drive is not a discharge of tension 

 The point of disagreement between Maslow and Goldstein is the timing of the self-actualization. Maslow proposes that self-actualization occurs only upon all the previous prepotencies being met, thus sometime in the future. Conversely Goldstein believes that the potential to use all the capacities in self-actualization is available and present at the moment the organism requires it; thus no future development of this is implied.

Who is self-actualized? 

 For Goldstein self-actualization was a driving force, a motive, but for Maslow the highest level to be achieved in psychological development. Nonetheless, they both had relatively similar ideas in describing a self-actualized person. Maslow stated that self-actualized people have “an unusual ability to detect the spurious, the fake, and the dishonest in personality, and in general to judge the people correctly and efficiently.” One can summarized that the self-actualize person possesses unique characteristics such as, a realistic orientation to life; acceptance of self, others, and nature; spontaneity; problem-centeredness instead of self-centeredness; and an air of detachment. Furthermore, Self-actualizers need periodic privacy, show autonomy and independence, have a fresh appreciation of people and things. It is not overwhelmingly surprising that another developmental psychologist Jane Loevinger in describing her final stage of ego development, the integrated stage (a key element of this stage is being self-actualized) states that only a small portion of individuals are self-actualize. In fact, Maslow himself concludes, “Though in principle self-actualization is easy, in practice it rarely happens (by my criteria, certainly in less than 1% of the adult population). Maslow came to label this insight as psychopathology of normality.

Self-actualization and Self-denial 

 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Formally defined as “The willingness to deny oneself possessions or status, in order to grow in holiness and commitment to God. This practice is commended and illustrated by Jesus Christ himself, and underlies Christian fellowship within the church.” This Teaching of scripture is well attested by scripture. In essence, a life of service is the prescribed life for the believer, a life of self-denial, not of self-elevation. As imitators of Christ, Philippians 2:5-11 becomes the most clear verse on this theology, for he denied himself all the divine accolades to become human and serve; going as far as dying upon the cross. Christ is the model of a Christian life, characterized by self-denial, self-sacrifice, and service. Christ has called us to take up our own cross, and lead a sacrificial life. Furthermore he ensures us that, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

 At this juncture most would assume that the biblical theology of self-denial runs counter to the psychological concept of self-actualization, and thus it is irreconcilable to the Christian faith. Nonetheless, careful examination demonstrates a surprisingly high level of compatibility between self-actualization, and biblical teachings. First and foremost one must to the fact that Maslow made a point of caution in regards to self-actualization. He clarifies that, “the unrestrained expression of any whim, the direct seeking for “kicks” and for non-social and purely private pleasures…is often mislabeled self-actualization.” In his own words self-actualization is not to be equated to selfish ambitions.

There must also be a clarification in regards to the biblical theology of self-denial, for a distinction must be made between self–denial and self-rejecting. Self-rejecting adults suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and codependency. Jesus was not self-rejecting, but he chose to practice self-denial to seek and accomplish the will of the father. Christ knew who he was, and believers must also know who they are in Christ. We have value, and worth before Him, and we have been endowed with gifts and talents that must develop as we walk with Him. In fact, Biblical self-denial is the cultivation of these gifts and talents to be effective tools for the kingdom contribute to God’s work, and more importantly to become more like Christ. A person with low self-esteem and who feels worthless cannot be an effective servant of Christ. One learns to have self-denial by submitting to the will of the father, recognizing their value in the kingdom, and acting upon the gifts He bestows on him/her.

Furthermore Self-denial must be expressed in total submission to the will of God. Believers who seek to become fully effective servants, and who seek to be self-actualized will do well in seeking first the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence in tongue. Empowerment for the work of the kingdom makes a believer a more effective servant, and taps into his full potential according to the gifts given to him/her. Correctly Maslow said, “What a man can be, he must be” One would modify this to say: what a man has been called to be; he must be empowered to actually be. Musicians must make music, but only spirit filled musician can create an atmosphere of worship.


Thus self-actualization fits well with self-denial, for in the process of becoming more like Christ, one becomes self-actualized. With profound insight Bremer and Hill state, “Some individuals point out similarities between the psychological concept of self-actualization and the theological doctrine of sanctification. Sanctification generally suggests the transformation of the person toward being more Christlike, becoming more the human God intends. If God is the author of the actualizing tendency, it may well be that sanctification and self-actualization are essentially the same experience expressed in different terms. It is hard to disagree with this assessment, for the best example one can fathom of a truly self-actualized person is Christ. In essence to be like Christ is to be self-actualized, and to become self-actualized one must live a Spirit filled life of Self-denial; that is service. Abraham H. Maslow may have merely discovered a truth that scripture has taught for over two thousand years.

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How Should Christians Approach the Levitical Laws? [A quick note]

Christ said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt 5:17 [ESV][1]), but the author of Hebrews stated in speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away (Heb 8:13). Statements such as these found in the New Testament can send mixed signals to the readers, but an in-depth study of the biblical text reveals that what may seems as contradictory its simply a lack of understanding.
This lack of understanding has placed many into two extreme views towards the Mosaic laws. Some have gone the way of the Judaizers, and have called for full adherence to the levitical laws; such as the Ebionites, and some modern independent messianic churches. Others have fully rejected anything that is found in the Mosaic Law, rendering the Pentateuch useless for the teaching of biblical principles and effectively turning these books into uninspired text; such as Marcion. Still others whimsically pick and choose which laws to follow and which ones to reject. These extremes are unnecessary, harmful to the church, and its effectiveness. The body of believers is best served by seriously engaging the text, and exegete the biblical teaching on the law. One proposes that the Mosaic laws are beneficial to the body of believers, if properly understood, as the early church was able to discerned. In essence the New Testament believers identified universal principals found in the Pentateuch apart from those laws, which were culturally bound.
Continuity and Discontinuity
Paul described the role of the Old Testament law as a tutor that guided, protected, and preserved the nation of Israel to fulfill their purpose as the nation through which the Messiah would come[2]. In Paul’s understanding once the Messiah had come there was no longer a need for this tutor, and the law of Christ fulfills the intent of the Mosaic laws[3]. One can surmise from Paul’s writing that he understood that there were some universal principals, which established continuity among the old and new covenant. This continuity is mainly based on the desire of God to have a relationship with a people. This desire began to express itself from the moment that He chose Abraham and by faith, through grace established a covenant relationship with him. Embedded in that covenant relationship is God’s plan of providing a redemptive path by which the nations can have a relationship with Him [4]. Additionally this relationship, as all relationships comes with it’s own set of responsibilities and expectations.
The most evident expectation that comes across both covenants is the requirement for holiness and reverent fear of the Lord. Holiness in the Old Testament is a description of God as the omnipotent, transcendent, wondrous being, perfect in morality and flawless in ethics. Holiness is the totality of God’s attributes, the same quality that separates humanity from him. Also, by Old Testament standards things and people are holy by their association to a holy God. The scriptures make a clear distinction between the holy and the common, and the common is subdivides as the clean and the unclean. A clean person, being the norm, can either become polluted by sinful behaviors or association to unclean things, or it can be purified and become holy through a blood sacrifice; often a lamb. Anyone associated to a holy God must live a lifestyle of holiness; separate unto God in complete submission and fidelity.
The distinction between clean and unclean at first glance seems to do more with healthy practices than with moral, ethical principles. Nonetheless the book of Leviticus is more concerned with spiritual health than physical health [5]about clean spiritual lesson being taught although nothing unclean can become holy, they could become clean. Sickness and death are contrary to the character of a living God, for they came as a result of the fall of Adam and eve. Therefore, anything that led to these ends was to be separate to God. They were an object lesson to the character of God; the God of Life.
The New Testament continues theses universal principles of holiness as a gift of God through the perfect blood sacrifice. All who call on the name of Jesus, and accept his sacrifice purified themselves, and are separate unto God; a separation from the common that brings them into a close relationship with a Holy God. As a result He expects them to continue living a life of holiness. Thus Peter himself rightly proclaims the levitical theme “as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”[6] The principle of holiness is an example of continuity between Old and New Testament.
Conversely, there are elements of discontinuity from the Old to the New Testament. Many of the Mosaic Laws are in the context of Israel as a theocratic nation. There had to be provisions to allow Israel to thrive as a nation in the Ancient Near East, such as capital punishment, and holy war. These laws are no longer in effect since the new covenant is with believers who are not a nation. Furthermore there seems to be an understanding in the Old Testament that Israel’s mission was to be the landing strip for the coming Messiah, and many of the laws served as object lessons, analogies, and symbols to prepare Israel and the world for the Messiah and His teachings. Examples of some of these laws are the sacrificial system, the Sabbath, and the priesthood. All of these laws are fulfilled in Christ who became our once and for all time sacrifice, our eternally interceding High Priest and our present and future rest. As the writer of Hebrews ever so eloquently states
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (Heb 7:11-14 emphasis added)
The biblical student would do well in knowing how to recognize the biblical principles in the Pentateuch, and the laws that are not applicable to believers under the new covenant.
How to sift through the law?
As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Paul was more likely making a reference to the Old Testament to the inclusion of the Pentateuch. Leaders of the church must endeavor to understand the universal principals found in the Pentateuch. The levitical law carries much relevance to the church, for they inform the believers of God’s character, and how to approach Him.
In order to decide whether a particular law presents a universal truth or a temporary cultural law, there are four questions that must be asked. First, one must ask if a particular law was a direct expression of a principal regarding God, the way He made humanity, or how to relate to Him. If the passage falls under these categories then they are universal truth; the Ten Commandments are a good example. Second, was the law a concrete application of a universal truth designed to prepare Israel and the world for the coming Messiah? If the passage falls under this category the church recognizes that the Messiah has come and that the intended object lesson of these laws have been fulfilled; Sabbath, circumcision, priesthood, and sacrifices are some of the laws that fall under this category. Third, was the law a necessity in order to allow Israel to function as a nation? If the law falls under this category it has to be understood that the people of God is no longer a nation in a physical land, and do not need to function as one; thus rendering this law obsolete. Good examples of these categories of laws are capital punishment laws, and holy war. Finally, one must ask was the law an example of God accommodating and applying the principal of good relationships, and Godly living in their cultural context. These laws were designed only to accommodate humans and not to serve as object lessons pointing toward Christ. Examples of these laws are style of clothing laws, mourning behaviors, business transaction, and expression of worship; all of these were closely connected to Ancient Near Eastern culture[7].

[1] All scripture references are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.
[2] cf. Gal 3:24
[3] cf. Gal 6:2; 1 Cor 9:21
[4] cf. Gen 22:18; Acts 3:25, Gal 3:16
[5] Roger Cotton. “Biblical Holiness.” Old Testament theology Handbook (Springfield, MO: AGTS. 2011), 80A.
[6] cf. Lev 11:44
[7] Roger Cotton. “Prescribing Old Testament Law: A Proposal.” Old Testament theology Handbook (Springfield, MO: AGTS. 2011), 115-116.

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