Studies in Eschatology [1]

Apocalyptic Visions

I have been reading heavily on the subject of eschatological systems. My primary sources for research have been academic oriented journal articles and hard to find books I wouldn’t have access to unless it wasn’t for the fact I am blessed to attend a church with a state of the art seminary library which houses high end academic journals and hard to find books on this particular subject.

My research has been mostly for my personal edification because it is a subject I have often felt in the past inadequate to discuss at any meaningful length. Granted, I studied eschatology when I was in seminary, but even though I did read a few of the popular level books that had representatives from each position interact with each other in essay form, eschatology wasn’t an engrossing topic for me at the time. I was spending the good part of my seminary years shoring up my historical theology in the area of salvation, which in my opinion was more important.

Yet I did have a general overview to the various eschatological systems, so I wasn’t entirely ignorant. However, recently when I set myself to studying eschatology, I believed I needed to go below the surface level ideas I heard people heatedly discussing now and then when the subject came up on social media, so I set myself to plumb the depths of the theology and hermeneutics which shape those ideas.

Additionally, I wanted to engage many of my young and restless Calvinist friends I had met through Bible conferences and the blogging communities. It seemed as though many of them were like me: Raised in a non-Calvinistic, fundamentalist church whose leadership never really taught anything theological at all, let alone Calvinism. Those were doctrines I had to learn on my own from pastors I heard on the radio or read in books I had to obtain personally. At any rate, many of my restless young Calvinist friends came to embrace Calvinism because they, like myself, saw the doctrines clearly taught in Scripture.

But, with this embracing of Calvinism came a total overhaul of their entire theological worldview, including the complete abandonment of a dispensational perspective and premillennialism as an eschatological system.

I plan to comment more on that paradigm shift in a later post, but suffice it to say now, even though some of those dear folks say they are biblically convinced of a non-dispensational, non-premillennial point of view, from what I read on their blogs and at times discussed with them in person, I saw their change in eschatology as a final “rebellion” as it were against the non-Calvinistic churches where they were first saved and nurtured.

In other words, if those churches were wrong about the doctrines pertaining to salvation, they had to be equally mistaken about eschatology. Thus, it was believed a more Reformed view of eschatology had to be embraced in place of the errant dispensational premillennialism.

But more about this at a later time…

At any rate, I believe I was officially introduced to the subject of eschatology sometime when I was in either the 5th or 6th grade. My father was a self-employed electrician and during my summer break from school, I would often accompany him on his job.

This one particular summer a heat wave had hit our small town in Missouri and my dad was called out to a mobile home park to re-wire a fellow’s air conditioner that kept overloading his breaker box. My job when I was with my father was to stand around and fetch tools from the truck when he needed them. I tended to do more standing around than fetching of tools, so I had plenty of down time to poke around in people’s homes.

We were in the living room of this mobile home, and on the coffee table there was a Bible flipped opened to Matthew 24 and 25. I knew Jesus was supposed to be talking because all the words were in red. I read both chapters and I became extremely spooked by the descriptions of judgment, especially the sheep and goats section at the end of chapter 25.

Compounding the biblical images of apocalyptic judgment were the stack of Chick comics also on the table. Several of them were about the second coming of Jesus and all the terrors which were to come with Him.

The cover of one comic showed a nurse running out of a nursery ward screaming to a doctor, “ALL THE BABIES ARE MISSING!” In my mind, I am thinking, “why would Jesus want all the babies?” I was actively involved with an United Methodist youth group. I had never seen or read anything that scary in any of the literature in my Sunday school class. I sort of had a “Davey and Goliath” view of Jesus. This baby snatching view of Jesus was unnerving.

I would like to say I was driven to the cross of Christ and the saving Gospel message, but such did not happen. I did, however, become fixated with knowing the future. Yet, rather than being interested in a biblical view of future things, I was attracted to stuff like the documentary I saw on HBO about the predictions of Nostradamus convincingly narrated by Orson Welles.

Sometime later, maybe a year or two, I recall seeing the terribly made Thief in the Night movie. The film was an abominable depiction of the end-times that sensationalized the events of Revelation like a sci-fi short story. I do remember a Pentecostal gal at my grade school who often appealed to the movie as her source of authority as to why I needed to have Jesus in my heart so as not to be enslaved to the “annie christ” whoever that was.

By the time I was in high school, we had moved to Arkansas and I was now attending a Free-will Baptist Church. Being a bit older I was now a tad more sober-minded about my quasi-theological thinking and by that time I genuinely had an interest in what the Bible said about the end-times.

My pastor lent me his great big copy of Clarence Larkin’s The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth in the World containing his elaborate, awe-inspiring schematics illustrating the events of the end times from a classic dispensational perspective. Also during that time I was exposed to Hal Lindsey’s books, who in a similar fashion as the Thief in the Night film, overly sensationalized the prophetic books of the Bible, especially Revelation.

It wasn’t until after I was truly saved and I reached seminary, however, that I became aware of various and sundry opinions which differed from what I learned as to how the events of the end-times were to play out. Up until then, I went blissfully through my Christian existence naively thinking every believer agreed upon the same things I believed about Jesus Christ’s second coming. That being, the dispensational views outlined by Clarence Larkin and Hal Lindsey.

I was a bit disappointed to learn that R.C. Sproul, one of my favorite Bible teachers, denied the millennium. Of course, over time I came to learn that he didn’t actually deny the millennium, he simply understood its dynamics differently than how I did as a premillennialist. In fact, the true heart of the differences between eschatological systems centered around hermeneutics – the principles used to study the Bible. It may sound simple, but how one reads the Old Testament prophetic books in light of the New Testament has a profound impact on how one understands eschatology.

Now, with that brief introduction in mind, I would like to proceed with some studies in the systems of eschatology. Just to provide something of a brief outline, I will begin my next post with a quick review of the hermeneutical issues involved, and then move onto examining the individual principles that shape those hermeneutics. As I explore the hermeneutics, I hope to weave my study interactively with the main eschatological systems, eventually culminating to a defense of premillennialism. My general goal is to lay down a basic, comprehensible laymen’s overview of eschatology, and perhaps along the way provide the readers with a few insights I have gleaned from my own personal research.

What is a Zionist?

owsjewsI once received a mass email from a politically conservative writer (who is a non-Christian as far as I know) asking for readers’ input answering the question: “What is a “Zionist.”

Typically I just glance over emails like those and delete them; but the subject matter is one I frequently encounter among both secular conservatives and evangelical Christians, so I thought I would respond to the writer’s inquiry.

What follows are my comments to him, slightly expanded and edited for my readership.

In our modern, politically correct world, “Zionist” has become something of a dirty word.  It’s like being called a “Nazi” or a “racist.”  The idea being that a “Zionist,” at least according to the university educated progressive leftist, “is any person who is unquestionably loyal to, and supports the Jewish state of Israel, in spite of the fact the Israeli government is cruel, bigoted, and openly persecutes the innocent non-Jews (usually defined as Palestinian Arabs) who live alongside of the Jews and under the thumb of the State.”

The more bizarre haters of “Zionism” accuse the “Zionists” (usually “Jews,” though “evangelicals” can be included) of conspiratorial dealings within governments, businesses, and banking, clandestinely shaping those entities to ultimately favor the Jewish State. 

The idea of “Zionism” reflects two facets. 

First is the secular idea of “Zionism.”  That simply being the idea that the state of Israel has the right to exist as a nation, as well as the right for their government and the people to defend themselves against murderous terrorists groups who seek their ultimate destruction. 

Now, does that necessarily mean that the modern state of Israel is without fault in all that they do in their defense of themselves?  Of course not.  Does that mean, then, that I must automatically and completely condemn them for the faults they have made defending themselves and fighting their enemies?  I would once more say no. 

I have heard people insist that Israel should be condemned for X,Y, or Z actions they did that resulted in innocent people getting killed or misguided hippie college students ran over by bulldozers.  Could one say that was a bad move on Israel’s part or it was a stupid, indefensible action?  Of course.  But condemned? 

Besides, what exactly does that mean, anyways, that they are to be “condemned?”  That I can agree they have acted stupidly and are not pure as snow when they have retaliated against the Palestinians?  I could probably say yes to that definition; but I would choose a different word other than “condemned.”  But if  by “condemned,” a person means the Jews need to renounce their 1948 statehood, pack up and leave Jerusalem, and hand over everything to the Muslims who hate them, well then no, I don’t “condemn” them. 

The modern state of Israel is certainly an unusual state in that its citizens share a close proximity to their mortal enemies.  But like any secular state in such a high pressure situation, they will make mistakes and act rashly and there will be innocent casualties in conflicts with those enemies.

Obviously their enemies, and the useful idiots in Europe and America who support them, focus the world’s attention on those disastrous actions that happen when the Israeli government is forced to defend themselves and press their rights to exist.  While at the same time they ignore the larger picture that Israel’s enemies want them erased from the earth and driven into the sea at all costs. That tends to put the conflict into sharper perspective.

Yet there is a second facet to the concept of “Zionism.”  It is a facet that cannot be exclusively defined along secular, political lines. There is much more to Zionism than a political disagreement between pollyannish, pacifist lefties and red state evangelical right-wingers.  There is a spiritual and theological component to Zionism that cannot be overlooked.  That is because “Israel,” as a nation, represents a unique people in history. 

Israel is a people who are identified with God almighty, who were especially chosen to enter into a covenant with God, a people from whom the savior of the entire world would come.  As a Bible believing Christian, I am a “Zionist” because I believe God has made specific, covenant promises with the Jews that He will be certain to fulfill, and that fulfillment is tied directly to the land on which the state of Israel currently exists. 

It is mistakenly believed “Zionism” is a 20th century phenomena, because Israel wasn’t really recognized as a national state until 1948.  But the fact of the matter is that before “Zionism” was called what it is, there were many individuals supportive of Israel’s restoration to their land. 

The idea of supporting a restoration of the Jews to Israel began with the post-Reformation Puritans.  Though most Reformers believed (and still believe) the promises given to the Jews were fulfilled in Christ and the Christian Church, the recovery of the biblical text in the myriad of language translations that were published in the 16th and 17th centuries, coupled with a renewal of biblical exegesis – or the principles of proper Bible study – began to stir up in the hearts of Christians that God has not “fulfilled” His promise to Israel only in the Church.  Rather, those promises are yet to be fulfilled in the future with a restoration of the Jews in a physical land identified in Scripture as Israel.  This is clearly taught in such places as Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 31:35ff., Ezekiel 37, Micah 4:1ff., Zechariah 14, and Romans 9-11. 

In the secular context, I consider myself a “Zionist” in that I believe Israel has a right to exist in their land and I believe they have the right to defend themselves against groups and nations who seek their demise as does any nation whose citizens would be in the same situation.

In the theological context, I am a “Zionist” in that I believe the presence of the Jews in the current land of Israel has future, prophetic significance, even though the Jews are currently in a state of divinely induced blindness as Paul notes in Romans 11:25. 

Apologetic Methodology in Dialogue

A few years ago, over at the old Blogspot version of my blog, I posted an article outlining in bullet point fashion the basics of presuppositional apologetics. In that post, I mentioned Ratio Christi, a national parachurch ministry on a number of university campuses across the United States who seek to train young Christians to defend their faith.

My comment about Ratio Christi was contrasting their doctrinal statement about the nature of man with what the Bible teaches regarding the nature of man. They teach that though mankind is fallen, he still retains his ability to reason about reality and theology. Which means according to the Ratio Christi way of doing apologetics, Christians can be trained to have a reasoned discussion with hostile unbelievers about the Christian faith.  On the other hand, what the Scriptures teach about men is that their reasoning ability is severely broken, and no amount of reasoned discussion with them will change that. Instead, the primary focus of apologetics is to train Christians to challenge the corrupted foundations of the unbelievers’ anti-God worldview and proclaim the Gospel to them.

After I posted that article, Adam Tucker, the Ratio Christi chapter director at UNC Greensboro, came by and left some excellent comments challenging my assertions. Over the course of a few weeks, we had a long, extended discussion about our apologetic theology and methodology. I wrote up a few follow up posts from that discussion that can be found on my articles page under apologetics and evangelism.

When I moved my blog from Blogspot to WordPress, I lost the formatting of a number of my better articles, including even the comments under them which now appeared run together in a long, unreadable paragraph. As I began the process of reformatting and reposting a number of those blog articles, I also recognized the great comments under them, including the one with Adam. So I cut and pasted them to save.

The conversation with Adam, the classic apologist, I thought was useful, so I have edited our comments in to one document for others to study. I found it useful, because Tucker does a fairly good job outlining his reason for his apologetic methodology and challenging mine. In fact, he did a presentation for an apologetics conference on many of the same themes we tackled in our discussion. I wrote up a two-part response to his presentation that can be found HERE and HERE.

The conversation between us was like 10,000 words or more. I put together a PDF that folks can download if they want. It is not a thrilling read by any means, but I post it for individuals who want to go a little deeper in the study and theory of apologetic methodology. Especially seeing the two primary positions laid out and debated.

AdamTuckerDialogues

Inerrancy Summit Sessions and Seminars

All of the main sessions and breakout seminars from the Shepherd’s Conference 2015 summit on biblical inerrancy  are now available online.

All of them can be found at the Master’s Seminary media hub located HERE.

The Domain of Truth blog has done us a favor and have linked each audio download at one place,

Inerrancy Summit Main Sessions

Inerrancy Summit Breakout Seminars

By the way, the main session linked at the Domain of Truth blog go immediately to the Vimeo videos of the sessions. If you want the MP3 audio, find the download at the TMS media hub.

I hope to be blogging a little bit on the doctrine of inerrancy here soon when I get caught up on other important and immediate chores. In the meantime, check out Michael Vlach’s message on presuppositionalism and inerrancy and Steve Lawson’s biographical sermon on the life of Tyndale. His message was absolutely enthralling for me.

And then David Farnell’s presentation on the dangers within evangelicalism against the doctrine of inerrancy is prophetic, as lobs hand grenades against well-known Christian apologists that we all respect who have severely compromised on these key doctrines to save face among academics. The audio of William Lane Craig denying key portions of Matthew’s account of the Resurrection narrative is staggering.

David gave the same presentation at a different apologetic conference in 2014, and the youtube version of that presentation is found HERE if you wish to see the pictures and quotes he mentioned.

Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [13]

Does Christianity Sanction Slavery?

It has been a while since I have visited with Chaz Bufe and his 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. I am coming down to the final handful, and with this post I take a look at Chaz’s attempt to charge Christianity with the horrors of slavery that has been prominent throughout the history of humanity.

15. Christianity sanctions slavery. The African slave trade was almost entirely conducted by Christians. They transported their victims to the New World in slave ships with names such as “Mercy” and “Jesus,” where they were bought by Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. Organized Christianity was not silent on this horror: it actively encouraged it and engaged in it. From the friars who enslaved Native Americans in the Southwest and Mexico to the Protestant preachers who defended slavery from the pulpit in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, the record of Christianity as regards slavery is quite shameful. While many abolitionists were Christians, they were a very small group, well hated by most of their fellow Christians.

The Christians who supported and engaged in slavery were amply supported by the Bible, in which slavery is accepted as a given, as simply a part of the social landscape. There are numerous biblical passages that implicitly or explicitly endorse slavery, such as Exodus 21:20–21: “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.” Other passages that support slavery include Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9–10, Exodus 21:2–6, Leviticus 25:44–46, 1 Peter 2:18, and 1 Timothy 6:1. Christian slave owners in colonial America were well acquainted with these passages.

Christianity sanctioning slavery is a common objection in atheistic literature; but it is fundamentally flawed.

First, the charge is extremely narrow in its scope by only aiming to condemn Christianity for its participation in slavery even though slavery has been practiced through out all of history, across all people groups, both religious and non-religious.

Secondly, the objection is generally limited to slavery as it was practiced in the pre-Civil War era of the United States. That is important to note, because the voluntary servitude permitted by the Old Testament Torah for the purposes of securing financial stability in Israel’s society is a far cry from the slavery the western world engaged during 18th and 19th centuries when primitive peoples were kidnapped from their homes and families and replanted to other hemispheres of the earth.

Now, it is certainly true that Christians were involved with the sin of slavery, and many Christians, as Chaz points out, attempted to justify their involvement with slavery by appealing to Scripture. But the wrong-headed use of the biblical descriptions of slavery in both the Old and New Testaments by Christians, who should had been repenting of such attitudes rather than erroneously defending them, does not mean the Bible endorses the practice of human chattel slavery.

Those biblical passages listed by Chaz that he claims endorses slavery have an historical and theological context all their own, and it is beyond the bounds of simple literary linguistics to read back upon those texts a foreign context that is a couple of thousand years removed.

Putting aside a detailed exegesis of each of those passages, what needs to be noted is that Scripture records directives not only for slaves to be faithful to their masters, but also for masters who are to be respectful and merciful to their slaves, something unprecedented during the NT writing. Paul certainly did not encourage slave rebellions, for such an action would be foolish; but by laying down divine principles for living out a Christian life by addressing both slaves and masters as equals before God in Christ (Galatians 3:28), the Bible embeds within its pages the seeds of eliminating slavery all together which is what we see happen over time in societies where Christ is held high.

Chaz, like most atheist critics of Christianity, is conveniently dismissive of two important facets on the history of slavery: The impact of Christianity on ending slavery and the atheistic driven racism that followed after the development of Darwinian evolution.

First, Christians over the centuries have recognized the biblical teaching that men are created in the image of God. So even though there were Christians who attempted to justify their sinful practice of keeping slaves, there were many more who saw slavery for what it was, a defacing of the image of God in a person. Chaz is quick to ignore the work of such men as George Whitfield, Samuel Davies, John Newton, John Elliot, William Wilberforce, who campaigned nearly 16 years to have the slave trade ended, and the Moravians who sent missionaries to the Caribbean to evangelize the slaves and their owners. Many in the Church were active in confronting slavery and rebuking society for its sinfulness so as to have the practice eradicated in western society which was prominently Christian.

Then second, the atheism experiment with racism went far beyond the owning of slaves to the deliberate killing of ethnic groups. Atheistic scientists, fueled by Darwinian ideas, hunted the more backward, primitive societies in our world to locate “missing links” to be examined in their university laboratories. The Australian Aboriginals, for instance, bore the brunt of a lot of the evolutionary thinking that tribal peoples were less evolved.

Regardless of which group is the perpetrator, slavery is a demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man. However, to say Christianity “sanctions” slavery is preposterous. On the contrary, Christianity has always been on the forefront leading societies to confront the evils of human slavery. That is something the atheist, like Chaz, should be thankful.

Shepherd’s Conference 2015 Recap

kalavinThis years Shepherd’s Conference was called the Inerrancy Summit, and it centered around the theme of reaffirming the doctrines of Scripture’s inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy. Sixteen keynote speakers and several breakout sessions presented messages and lectures confirming those timeless truths.

All of the session audio/video will be online at the TMS website. The Vimeo versions of the keynote speaker addresses are available now.

All of the key sessions were good, but a few did stand out to me. Steve Lawson’s breakout lecture which was a biographical sketch of William Tyndale was truly moving, and Carl Trueman’s talk on the historical doctrine of inerrancy was a fine debunking to those who claim “inerrancy” is a modern concept and was never believed by the Christian church. Others to consider would be Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever reading the entire 119th Psalm; and the Q&A on the background to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was also insightful.

The real highlight for me was meeting up with dear saints I know chiefly from social media and spending time with them in real person. I made a special effort to shake Carl Trueman’s hand, which he recounted at his blog. Many of The #15 were there, including Squirrel, Matt Rollings, and JD Hall himself, who made the trip driving down from Montana to LA with his family.

I also had the blessed privilege to spend extended time with No Compromise radio host, Mike Abendroth, and his faithful side kick, Steve “Tuesday Guy” Cooley. I also talked with David Wheaton and his brother, and I met up with Jimmy Li who runs the Domain for Truth blog. We ate lunch with Robert McCabe, who teaches Hebrew and OT studies at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

There were some young pastors who encouraged me, including Nate Pickowicz who pastors Harvest Bible Church in Gilmanton, NH, and Rick Cowan, who pastors Calvary Baptist in Windsor, Canada. His story is truly amazing as he recounted how he and his church are leaving wild-eyed, barking at the moon independent fundamentalism to sound, biblical orthodoxy and practice. I was truly blessed by his story.

We had our first “protester” in a long, long time. He was an angry anti-Kalvanist. Kalvan, according to this guy, was is a heritic from Jeneva. And apparently, I was also embroiled in seething internet controversy with the theonomy folks for my article last week on the debate between JD Hall and Joel McDurmon and with Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend fame and his ridiculous faux-outrage at Todd Friel. However, the crushing number of attendees overwhelmed the network system to the point I couldn’t follow any of it, so I remained blissfully unaware of any trouble I was stirring up.

The thing with Brannon Howse insisting the number of people who died during the Inquisitions was 50 million almost seemed to be manufactured for the sole purpose of getting Todd Friel. The few individuals I spoke with during the conference who were aware of his multiple broadcasts addressing the subject, couldn’t understand why he wasn’t backing down after several corrections of factual error. No one spoke of it in positive terms and believed it only served to besmirch his reputation. But oh well.

That was the Shepherd’s Conference to end all conferences, so I’ll be surprised to see what will be tackled next. Of course, I am holding out for a Strange Flesh conference that reaffirms biblical sexuality and marriage, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

 

Beyond Fabrication: Putting the Vision into Revision

Most of the folks in my orbit of friends, acquaintances, and blog readers, are quite aware of the debate on theonomy that pastor JD Hall had with Joel McDurmon of American Revision, I mean Vision, ministries. Lots of drama swirled around in the lead up to the debate and certainly afterward.

Much has already been said on podcasts, written in blog articles, and posted on social media regarding who it was that won the debate. It isn’t my desire to add my analysis on top of the already growing pile of opinions. The debate and the Q&A are online so people can watch both and draw their own conclusions. All I will say is that I think the theonomists crowd, who typically like to pride themselves as being big, bad debaters, were unprepared for JD’s presentation and how their champion advocate stumbled over it.

While I will leave the more detailed postmortems to other more capable commenters, I wanted to address one thing Joel mentioned at the finality of his presentation that caused me to do a double-take. He concluded by citing a handful of gotcha quotes from non-theonomists he claims ultimately agree with his views regarding the death penalty set forth in the Mosaic civil law.

He begins this one final citation starting at the 2 hour and 22 minute mark. He states how two men, when discussing homosexuality, say that if the American judicial system were to apply God’s punishment for homosexuals, they would be executed. One of the men, Joel’s explains, continues to say how the punishment would equally apply to adulterers and rebellious children. And then comes the big reveal when Joel says how John MacArthur and Phil Johnson agree with the theonomist’s view of civil punishment, not JD Hall and the non-theonomists.

Dunn, Dunn, Duuuuuunnnn!

trollLeaving aside Joel mistakenly identifying Phil and John as “Reformed Baptists,” the problem with those scare quotes is that Joel conveniently left off telling his audience where he found them, because if anyone would read the transcript, he will see that John’s comments were surgically revised. He was not promoting some form of inconsistent or even stealth theonomy on the part of Phil and John.

Those quotes came from a couple of interviews Phil Johnson did with John MacArthur on homosexuality called, Answering Key Questions About Homosexuality originally released in 2004.

Immediately before Joel’s particular citations, John talks about the three fold division of the Mosaic law into moral, civil, and ceremonial. He makes a clear distinction between the three and explains how the moral law, which reflects God’s eternal, moral character, transcends the civil and ceremonial divisions of the law in both the OT and the NT.

He then states,

…[R]emember, Israel was a theocratic kingdom, it wasn’t a democracy, it wasn’t a dictatorship, it was theocratic … The structure of the Kingdom, that is the law of the Kingdom, the constitution of theocratic kingdom was the Law of God. And so naturally whoever it was that enforced the Law of God would be the government, the authority. And it would be the priests who knew the Law of God and represented the Law of God who therefore were the officers of the theocratic kingdom … So in this theocratic kingdom, God established penalties for violations of His moral law. And this was a model of a perfect environment, a theocratic kingdom … Thirty-five different moral violations were punishable by death. One of them was homosexuality. Just to spread that a little bit, another one was disobeying your parents.

Following that paragraph comes the comment Joel cites from Phil about how execution for disobeying our parents would certainly cut down on the number of delinquents. But then Joel cites John as saying that if we were to do what was right in America, we would execute homosexuals, and he turns that comment into John unwittingly agreeing with his theonomic visions.

John, however, specified his comment. He states,

The tragedy is, however, the theocratic kingdom which God originally established began to disintegrate very early, didn’t it? I mean, it didn’t take very long. When God established His law, it wasn’t long until the people began to fall into sin, they made all kinds of promises that they didn’t keep. They disobeyed the Ten Commandments all over the place … And what you had then was an unwillingness on the part of those who were responsible for the theocratic kingdom to enact the civil punishments. And because there were no punishments for these kinds of sins, they flourished everywhere, adultery, fornication, immorality, homosexuality, baby sacrifice, offering your children to Molech, etc., etc., etc.

And since God then removed Himself from the nation Israel, there has never been another theocratic kingdom. Okay? And that’s why today the kingdoms of this world, and Jesus said the kingdoms of this world are different than My kingdom, do not punish sin the way God prescribed it. And so the question might be asked, “If we did what was right in America, what would happen to homosexuals?” And the answer is, they would be executed. But before you rush to make that law, that would also happen to adulterers and juvenile delinquents, those who disobeyed their parents. And if that had been the case for the last 50 years, this room would be a lot emptier than it is now. But that doesn’t change God’s standard. And in the end, folks, God gives a reprieve here and God doesn’t give every sinner what he deserves when he deserves it…

Note my emphasis. John wasn’t saying the punishment of death was unjust. Not even JD was saying that in the debate. The punishment meted out by civil magistrates, however, is applicable in a theocratic kingdom ruled by God. And seeing that a physical, national, theocratic kingdom currently does not exist yet because Christ has yet to come to establish it for a 1,000 years, we don’t execute people for the sin of homosexuality. At this time and place, during this *GASP* dispensation, there is a reprieve that God grants. But every person who violates God’s moral law will eventually get what he deserves in the end. That’s the key.

In fact, John goes on to say,

So it’s not a pretty sight when men try to turn an earthly government into some kind of reflection of the divine kingdom. There will be that kingdom and when will that come? When Jesus returns and establishes His earthly kingdom. And that is promised in the Bible. The kingdom will come and the Lord will rule with what kind of rod? A rod of iron, He says, and at that point sin will be punished the way God has always deemed that it should be punished, swiftly and on the spot. And those sins which are worthy of that kind of punishment will receive it, no matter what the sin is, whether it’s homosexuality, or anything else, from the very outset God has provided forgiveness, salvation and the hope of eternal life to those who repent and embrace the gospel.

And he closes out by saying,

I just want to say that 1 Corinthians 6 says, “Such were some of you.” You were homosexuals, you were effeminate, you were adulterers, you were liars, it goes on and on, but you were washed and you were cleansed. And that’s what the Lord Jesus offers. We’re not trying to bring damnation on the head of homosexuals, we’re trying to bring conviction so that they can turn from that sin and embrace the only hope of forgiveness and salvation for all of us sinners, and that’s through faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus, contrary to McDurmon’s assertion that John and Phil inadvertently support his theonomic view of the civil, judicial punishments prescribed in the Mosaic law, He does no such thing. Though he affirms the death penalty for sinners violating God’s moral law, John recognizes that the civil magistrates executing someone for violating that law isn’t the norm for human governments at this time. That is a radical departure from theonomy.

Responding to Non-Inerrancy Challenges

settingitstraightI noted in a previous post that when I began blogging back 2005, one of the first blog duels I had was with a Unitarian heretic who was challenging the doctrine of inerrancy.

Come to find out the fellow had some friends who rushed to his side during our debate, I mean, dialog. I took a number of their challenges and responded to them in a couple of follow up posts for my blog.

I thought I would re-edit and remaster the material and combine them into this one post.

If God had so desired the Bible to be inerrant, there would be no flaws in the copies. Why would there be?

My detractor apparently does not understand the nature of the “errors” in question. He is making the assumption copyist errors have a detrimental impact on the message of Scripture. That they either cause God’s revelation to be clouded or lost altogether. That has never been the case. Copying errors happen in all handwritten documents. That includes extra-biblical ones as well. However, the vast amount of textual evidence we have for Scripture testifies to the consistency and continuity of God’s written revelation.

For example, after the Babylonian exile, three independent textual families grew from the Hebrew Scriptures: One in Babylon, another in Egypt (remember, a group of Jews left by the Babylonians migrated to Egypt – Jeremiah 41-43), and still another in Palestine. After the return from exile some 70 years later, all of the available copies of the Hebrew Bible were gathered up and compiled into a standard text. Even between three separate textual streams, after diligent comparison, the OT text was found to be still intact and God’s Word had not been lost.

We see the same thing with the NT documents, too. Textual scholars speak of the tenacity of those copying errors. In other words, once a copying error comes into the text, it never drops out. A copyist will note the discrepancies in the margin of his copy, and it becomes part of the transmission process. But, like I wrote, careful textual criticism can weed out those slight discrepancy to almost pure accuracy. Though we don’t have the original autograph, we have a close enough facsimile of it that we can be confident in God’s preservation.

You cannot prove that the Bible is inerrant by quoting the Bible itself!

My challenger raises the circularity fallacy. That if anyone appeals to the Bible as an authority to demonstrate the Bible’s authority, he is arguing in a circle. But what other source of authority would he recommend I quote? If God’s Word is what it claims to be, a divine revelation from God Himself, and it testifies to God’s nature, which He has established as trustworthy during His dealings with His redeemed people, why then can I not quote the Bible to demonstrate inerrancy?

The charge of circularity is misapplied. I would have been engaged in circularity if I had stated something like: The Bible is God’s Word, because The Bible says it is God’s Word; but, I didn’t do that. I specifically wrote that God’s Word is bound to God’s character and nature which He has personally revealed in space and time to eye witnesses. The Bible contains the testimony of those eye witnesses who saw God reveal Himself. For instance in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.

Furthermore, God has also consistently proven His faithfulness to His people. Psalm 78, for example, is a Psalm calling Israel back to remembering what God had done. God has proven His character by witnessing Himself to His own character – a character He has put on display by the acts He has performed. Thus, I can rightly conclude the Bible is God’s Word, because God has personally stated that it is. That is what 2 Timothy 3:16 means.

But, if my Unitarian challenger still insists I am arguing in a circle, then I would also call upon Jesus Himself who testified to the authenticity of God’s Word in His various sermons and discussions during His teaching ministry, as well as the testimony of God’s prophets and apostles, both of which bore the marks of being God’s messengers, see for example Paul’s own testimony concerning himself in 2 Corinthians 12:12.

I have no doubt that large portions of the Bible were edited by the Catholic Church for obvious reasons. Kings have kingdoms to protect, and only when you begin to view Scripture in the light of the politics of the day do the facts begin to speak for themselves.

Ah yes, the old conspiracy theory angle. How does one even justify such a conspiracy theory? Here in fact is a genuine example of exaggerated circularity. What proof exists to affirm his conviction that the Catholic Church intentionally altered the biblical texts? Who was involved with it? When did it take place? I am only guessing he means the ROMAN Catholic Church and not the little “c” catholic Church. If that is the case, the text of Scripture was affirmed and in circulation among God’s people several hundred years before the ROMAN Catholic Church named their first pope.

Additionally, here is another example where the KJV Only apologists and liberals merge in their philosophy of Scripture: both groups adhere to speculative conspiracy theories about how the Bible came into being. The KJV onlyist believes a cabal of nefarious heretics snuck false doctrine into the text. The liberals believe powerful political figures manipulated the text. But, the tinfoil hat view of textual criticism just does not stand up under the crushing weight of the historical evidence.

The want of original autographs is only one factor that invalidates the inerrantist position. The most damaging factor is the phenomena of the text itself, which is inconsistent with the high claims made on its behalf. (Note the thickness of Haley’s “Alleged Discrepancies.”)

First off, Haley’s work has been reprinted, and the newer edition is not nearly as thick as the commenter would have us believe. Also, Haley deals more with discrepancies between two historical accounts as recorded in the Bible, like harmonizing the four Gospel narratives or the similar accounts between the books of Samuel and Chronicles.

Critics of Scripture insist that differing historical records of the same event must all read the same, even if they are written by – as in the case of the Gospels – four different individuals. Hence, any apparent conflict between the narratives is automatically assumed to represent contradictory information, rather than complementary information. I have never understood that viewpoint. Do those individuals assume, let’s say, four different historians writing about the life of President Truman, must all read the same? It is a ridiculous criticism.

The Unitarian critic is doing what many non-inerrantists do and that is to confuse the inerrancy of the autographic text (the words of the document) with the inerrancy of the autographic codex (the physical document). The loss of the latter does not entail loss of the former. In other words, just because a document wears out, becomes soiled, damaged, and unreadable, does not mean the message of that document has been lost. If it has been faithfully copied, the autographic words still remain with us. There are very few of Geoffery Chaucer’s original, autographic writings available; but is there anyone who does not believe the printed edition I can purchase off Amazon represents what he originally wrote?

Both the OT and NT have been faithfully copied. Textual criticism has restored the original autographic words to near pristine fullness. Scholars may vigorously debate the authenticity of some of the key textual variants, but nothing has been lost because the full text, even with variants, is still in our possession, and the variants do nothing to harm or corrupt the true word of God. Propositional revelation still exists for God’s people to hear the voice of God.

It is possible to quote a source (such as the Bible) as authoritative without requiring that it be infallible. 

Non-inerrantists like to say how we quote from authoritative sources like an encyclopedia or even Wikipedia without them necessarily being “inerrant” or “infallible.”  But an encyclopedia never claims infallibility. Wikipedia even lets people change it in real time.

The Bible, however, is bound to the character of God. The comment suggests God could either be negligent in revealing correctly and truthfully what He wanted revealed, or his spirit-anointed people were mistaken in their reception of revelation, or God intentionally deceived, or God doesn’t care about the accuracy and truthfulness of his revelation. Moreover, if the Bible is like an encyclopedia that can be revised as more information comes to light to correct it, then the implication is the previous revelation was insufficient and God is still in the process of revealing Himself.

The oft-repeated quote from 2 Peter about how “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” really does not have much bearing on this whole process that was supposed to have occurred when the authors penned their documents. The 2 Peter text is talking about speech, not writing.

I am not sure if the person has read the passage carefully. Peter specifically says, knowing this first, no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). The revelation spoken by those holy men of God was written down in Scripture. That is Peter’s main point here. There is something more sure than just spiritual experience: It is the written Word of God.

It is my contention, as I draw this post to a close, that the non-inerrantist arguments with inerrantists like myself, is not so much over the certainty of whether the autograph’s are truly represented in the texts we use today. Rather, his disagreement is with the authority the inerrantist draws from the text itself. Inerrantists (read Bible-believing Christian, here) believe God’s Word is authoritative. With it, we have a standard of truth claims by which we can make judgments and evaluate our world. Most free thinkers, whether they have “faith” or not, don’t like truth claims meddling in their personal affairs.

Liberals, KJV Onlyists, and Inerrancy

kjvoBack in 2005, when I was a brand new blogger, I had occasion to interact with a Unitarian heretic on the nature of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. My Unitarian antagonist was drinking the postmodernist Kool-aid that truth is uncertain and not entirely, if at all, knowable, and for any Christian to say with strident confidence that the Bible is God’s infallible and inerrant Word, is childishly naive.

He posted a few articles that gave the standard arguments against the doctrines of infallibility and inerrancy that have been soundly answered over the years, but he pretended did no exist, or were not worth his investment of time to engage.

At the time I was looking for post fodder for my fledgling blog. I was also interacting with a number of King James Onlyists on various internet forums. I began to notice several similarities between what the Unitarian heretic argued against the inerrancy of Scripture and what KJV onlyists argue for the exclusivity of the KJV as the only reliable English translation. One of the primary talking points was that we do not have the original autographs of Scripture, merely copies, and they have been corrupted over time. Even though the reason why the Unitarian heretic believed they were corrupted is different than why the KJVO believes they are corrupted, their arguments for their position share many common facets.  With that strange union in mind, I compiled a post about it.

The 2015 Shepherd’s Conference has been called a summit on the doctrine of inerrancy. This being the week leading up that summit, I want to repost my article I wrote on the subject some 10 years ago now, slightly updated and edited.

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My Unitarian challenger alleges that the doctrine of inerrancy is erroneous. The reason being, he argues, is the fact the Christian church does not possess any of the original autographs written by the prophets and apostles. We don’t have Paul’s original epistle to the Colossians or John’s original Gospel, etc. All we have in our possession today are copies upon copies; and those copies are several hundred years removed from the first century.

In other words, no one can be absolutely sure what the Bible originally said, because unless God safeguarded the manuscript copyists from error, He never really intended to give the church an inerrant Bible. Thus, evangelical fundamentalists are mistaken to be so dogmatic about any of their convictions and the postmodern leanings of free thinking Unitarians are vindicated.

Now, in an odd twist, our Unitarian finds himself in agreement with some extremely strange bedfellows from the King James Version Only camp. That is because KJVO advocates hold to the same belief about the autographs as the liberals do. They claim we no longer have the autographs either and the copies have been corrupted.

However, rather than believing the Bible is errant and unreliable with its content, the KJVO advocate believes God’s Word is perfectly contained in one, infallible, purely preserved translation: the King James Version original published in 1611. Here we have two entirely different conclusions about the Bible, but the exact same starting point regarding the original writings.

How does a biblically thinking Christian approach the doctrine of inerrancy? Can we trust the Bible is inerrant even if we don’t have the original autographs? Or, must we appeal to a special translation that is supposedly marked with God’s hand of providence?

The doctrine of inerrancy is built upon three important pillars. Let’s consider them in order.

First, inerrancy is bound to the character of God. The Scriptures declare God’s desire to reveal Himself to men. Because we know God is holy, righteous, and incapable of lying, we are certain we can trust any revelation from Him as being truthful and accurate in all areas.

Some non-inerrantists may suggest the truthfulness of God’s revelation only pertains to spiritual truths, or even perhaps one central focus of Scripture that can be separated from the unbelievable portions. God, they will argue, is not concerned with the precision of historical information and other non-spiritual details. So that, when the Bible comes into conflict with man’s knowledge about science, archaeology, and other similar disciplines, it is concluded the Bible is probably in error. God didn’t care to preserve the accuracy of such facts anyway, so we are at liberty to change them if need be.

But, in response, we also know God is the sovereign Lord of all things, and that most definitely includes His revelation. If He has the absolute authority to create everything that exists, govern nations, raise up and put down kings and their societies, then God can certainly govern the accuracy of the details recorded by the writers of Scripture. Peter confirms God’s sovereign hand in recording Scripture when he writes, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

It is presumptuous to automatically conclude man’s speculative theories and ever-changing views of the world take precedent over the codified revelation given by the sovereign God of the universe.

This leads to a second pillar,

God safeguards the transmission of His written revelation through the thousands of copies handwritten by His people, both during the time of the OT and the time of the NT. The body of textual evidence for the Bible is compiled from hundreds upon thousands of entire manuscripts, portions of books, fragments of books, translations into various languages, historical citations and so forth, making it the most attested piece of ancient literature ever written.

It is correct to point out how every single biblical manuscript is copied from a previous copy, and each copy will contain discrepancies to some degree or another. However, those “discrepancies” are easily explainable, and the presence of copying errors have a proper historical, literary context within the biblical canon.

Before the invention of the Gutenberg press in the 1400s, all books and other important documents were handwritten. The one common occurrence with all handwritten documentation, especially documents transmitted by copying many times over several generations, like the Bible, is the duplication of copying mistakes. All human beings are prone to marginal error with anything they do, regardless of how talented a person may be. When it comes to copying a document, even one as valued as the Bible, people will still misspell words, miss a word here or there, repeat the same sentence and so on. Additionally, the text being copied may be damaged physically or maybe missing sections and it will contain copying errors made from the previous copier.

On the outset, numerous copies with many copying errors appear to be a serious dilemma for the Christian believing in a pure biblical text. It is at this point, once again, where the philosophies of liberal, non-inerrantists and KJV onlyists merge.

The non-inerrantist believes those copying errors demonstrate a hopeless corruption of the biblical text. Because the original autographs were lost, no one can be absolutely sure what those documents said. That means there is no real authoritative Bible today with any specific meaning to the text.

adulteryThe KJV onlyists, on the other hand, also believe copyist errors demonstrate corruption, but corruption by heretical men who wanted to distort God’s Word. Just like the Unitarian inerrancy denier, however, they too believe no one can rightly appeal to the original autographs because they have been lost. Only the original language texts from which the KJV was translated represent the true, original autographs.

Yet, contrary to both of those erroneous viewpoints, the sheer number of copies, and their “errors,” affirms the certainty of textual preservation. God protected His revelation by allowing the biblical documents to literally “explode” across the ancient world at different times and in different locations through its many copies. In this way, His revelation was safeguarded from any one group gathering up the Scriptures and altering the content.

Within the first 300 years of the Christian church, those copies of the Scriptures were so far flung there could be no organized effort to genuinely corrupt the Bible. The one side effect, however, is the presence of minor copying errors that could always be corrected.

That leads to a third pillar.

God uses the human discipline of textual criticism to recover the originality of His Word. People have a negative misconception about textual criticism. They falsely believe it implies criticizing the supernatural aspects of God’s Word, or that it undermines the authority of the Bible in general. That is not the case at all.

Genuine, thoughtful textual criticism involves experts examining all the available textual evidence for the Bible, carefully analyzing all the various copying errors and other similar discrepancies, and then recovering and restoring, to the best of their ability, what the original documents actually said. Some believe we can know within about 98% certainty what the originals actually contained with the remaining 2% being discernable by the reader.

More importantly, scholars have discovered over the last few hundred years as they have poured over all of the available textual evidence, that those copyist errors have a minimal impact upon the Bible as a whole. Both non-inerrantist and KJV advocates exaggerate the significance of those discrepancies. The non-inerrantists insist the details of the Bible have been lost so there is no true absolute authority to be found in Scripture, and the KJVO apologists insist God’s true Word is only to be found in one 17th century translation. In reality, both positions are horribly mistaken.

Yes, it is true the Scriptures we hold in our hands today are translations from copies removed several generations from the original autographs. However, God in His marvelous sovereignty has worked His providence to preserve His Word in those copies in spite of all the variety of discrepancies. Sure, we don’t have 100% pristine accuracy with the original autographs, but God’s people can be confident they hold God’s infallible and inerrant revelation in their hands.

There are many great resources for further study on this important doctrine of inerrancy.

A good place to start is with the online edition of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.

There are also many fine books on the subject.

Two classic works worth the read are:

The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture by Princeton great, B.B. Warfield. Cornelius Van Til wrote a lengthy introduction to this work that is also a fine treatment on inspiration and inerrancy.

And, Inerrancy, edited by Norman Geisler. This is a large collection of essays by various theologians highlighting different areas pertaining to the doctrine of inerrancy. The work was out of print for some time, but I believe it has recently be made available again.

There are also some simple introductions to the doctrine of Scripture in general.

From God to Us by Norman Geisler and William Nix

Scripture Alone by James White

From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, edited by Willams and Shaylor.
God’s Word in Our Hands – The Bible Preserved For Us, also edited by Williams and Shaylor. Both of these books compliment each other and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They both are a collection of essays on the doctrine of Scripture, preservation, translation and the transmission of the Bible. The book on preservation is probably one of the better modern treatments of that subject.

Some more advanced works include,

Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger

Inspiration and Canonicity of Scripture by R. Laird Harris

Holy Scripture – The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. 1 by David King. The entire three volumes by Webster and King is worth the purchase, but the first volume deals specifically with Scripture’s infallibility and authority.

The Text of the New Testament – Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration by Bruce Metzger.

And the first section in the late Robert Reymond’s New Systematic Theology entitled, A Word from Another World is a fine review of the doctrine of Scripture.

Two books that specifically address KJV onlyism, but are good overviews on the doctrine of Scripture are,

One Bible Only? edited by Beacham and Bauder and The King James Only Controversy by James White.

 

Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [12]

bigbroDoes Christianity model authoritarian organizations?

I continue once again considering the list of 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity compiled by blues guitar playing, Christ-hating anarchist, Chaz Bufe.

Thankfully, he provides us another short point that will require a short response:

14. Christianity models hierarchical, authoritarian organization. Christianity is perhaps the ultimate top-down enterprise. In its simplest form, it consists of God on top, its “servants,” the clergy, next down, and the great unwashed masses at the bottom, with those above issuing, in turn, thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots backed by the threat of eternal damnation. But a great many Christian sects go far beyond this, having several layers of management and bureaucracy. Catholicism is perhaps the most extreme example of this with its laity, monks, nuns, priests, monsignors, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes, all giving and taking orders in an almost military manner. This type of organization cannot but accustom those in its sway—especially those who have been indoctrinated and attending its ceremonies since birth—into accepting hierarchical, authoritarian organization as the natural, if not the only, form of organization. Those who find such organization natural will see nothing wrong with hierarchical, authoritarian organization in other forms, be they corporations, with their multiple layers of brown-nosing management, or governments, with their judges, legislators, presidents, and politburos. The indoctrination by example that Christianity provides in the area of organization is almost surely a powerful influence against social change toward freer, more egalitarian forms of organization.

If ever there was a more amazing example of the kettle-painting-pot cliche’! Chaz is a self-professed anarchist, so I can understand why he would have problems with any authority, let alone Christianity. Yet once again Chaz’s main illustration of Christian authority gone wild is Roman Catholicism and Catholicism does not represent the whole of biblical Christianity by any stretch of the imagination.

To a degree, Chaz raises a reasonable complaint about organized religion, Christianity specifically. It certainly is true that various sects of Christianity have had their problems with authoritarian abuse. Many independent fundamental style churches whether Baptist or Pentecostal, can be governed like a local HOA board of directors who implement some of the most odious zero tolerance policies imaginable. Ridiculously strict pastors and deacons will wield an iron rod of preference issues in the guise of “godliness” over a congregation of cowering members. They unlawfully lord over the people they are meant to shepherd.

However, in spite of those problems, biblical Christianity affirms the importance of authority structures within a church and soundly condemns the abuse of authority by leaders over a congregation. Human error does not negate the truthfulness of Christianity.

When Scripture is followed as the Lord intends it to be followed, abusive authority figures will stay checked. Of course, that is not to say members may need to be firmly disciplined, but firm discipline submitted to biblically led leadership is ordained of the Lord (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5).

As an anarchist, Chaz doesn’t care a bit for any boss, or president, or leader telling him what to do with his life. But, what sort of society does Chaz the anarchist have to offer in the place of bosses and leaders? I suggest Chaz’s anarchism would be just as authoritarian and abusive as the Christianity he decries.

True anarchy desires a world where everyone is living in tribal style communities with no centralized government, working and sharing together in free thinking cooperation, friendship, and absolutely no religion. Perhaps that is the kind of anarchist utopia Chaz has in mind. People gardening, weaving baskets, gathering fruit, sewing clothes, treating each other with self-respect, living eco-friendly lives, no one being made to attend church, and of course, engaging in all the free sex a person can humanly imagine with reckless abandon and impunity. You know, the type of society that in a Star Trek universe is effortlessly assimilated by the Borg without a fight.

If only historical anarchist movements could be that benign.

The historic reality, contrary to Chaz’s visions of what anarchy should be, has been horrific and blood filled. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does human government. For when one government is overthrown, another one most certainly will fill its place. In many cases, much worse than the first, and even if the rebel rousers express good intentions to refrain from being cruel authoritarians to each other. Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind, here.

A present day example of real anarchy is the country of Somalia where it was the only known world state without a centralized government between 1991 and 2006. The country was a disaster in which the poor and helpless were brutalized by those individuals who were able to gain power by means of force and violence.

Though Chaz has Pollyannish visions of living in a hobbiton style community where everyone shares equally in the collective good with no one bossing anyone else around, hierarchical authority structures have a necessary function in society. For one, authority structures make sure everything operates correctly. Such things as ease of commerce, basic emergency care, and defense. It also enforces the rules upon the members of society. Authority is designed to protect the citizenry. Does incompetence and abuse often arise within the authority structure? Certainly. But a society is much better off to find a corrective for the authority structure rather than live completely without it as Chaz envisions.