Going to Hell in a Handbasket – Part 2

BT

Thanks for the comment. I assume the “unpardonable sin” you are referring to comes from

“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Mark 3:28-29

and

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.” – Luke 12:10

I am not really convinced that these verses speak about the final rejection of Christ. The verse seems to be in the context of someone who attributes the power of God to the Devil and accusing them of it.

I agree that the lost (and the saved) will be judged according to their works. However, I am not sure that judgement is the reason for sending one to hell.

Revelation 20:12-15 – And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

v.12-13: the dead are judged from the works written in the book (of works)
v.14: Death and Hades are cast into the Lake of Fire (the second death).
v.15: anyone not found in the Book of Life is cast into the Lake of Fire.

As you know, Revelation is sometimes a hard book to interpret because of the symbols it uses. I could be wrong, but here, I think it is clear that the dead are cast into the Lake of Fire because they do not appear in the book of life (not because of their works).

2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

This text does not really talk about our sins causing us to go to Hell. Again, I agree that the lost (and according to this text the saved) will be judged according to their works. I am not too sure how the whole recompense thing works out, but one question that we should pose is: “are temporal sins worth an eternal punishment?”

Matthew 16:27 – For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

This is similar to the previous verse. One may also point to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. When the works are tested by fire. Those whose works remain receive reward but those whose works are burned up suffers loss. Perhaps this is what the judgement is, and then those who are not found in the Book of Life suffere the second death.

1 Peter 1:17-19 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

This too is similar to the two previous verses. It really does not talk about the judgment being that which sends one to Hell.

Baptist Theologue, I am not trying to refute your position (or anyone’s position). It may appear that way because of how I handled the verses you gave me. I guess I am just trying to read what the text says without assuming things. Basically if the text says we are judged, then all I take from it is that we are judged (without assuming it is what sends us to Hell). I think this is a safer practice because of the dangers that come from assuming the rest of the text.


Gary

I will answer your questions inline:

Q1: “In order to be “fair,” shouldn’t we have the genuine choice or opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior?”

Simply, I was say no, based on Romans Romans 9:20-24:
“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

I do not know why, but I think there is something different about being causally determined to sin and then being sent to Hell because of those sins. And being causally determined not to accept Christ and then being sent to Hell. I guess part of the reason is because the sins we commit have happened, are happening, and will happen (from our view point) and they are ultimatly by our own doing (even if they are causally determined). However, failure to acknowledge Christ is by God’s doing.

Q2: “Didn’t God create the sin problem?”

This is another issue I have to deal with. Like I said, I do not really like my position on free-will. The only possible explanation is what you have suggested, causal determinism began after Adam’s sin. However, I do not like doing that, because it seems like I’m pulling an answer our of my butt with absolutely no data to support it. It might be one of those “we see through a glass, darkly” things (I hate those too).

Q3: “Was Jesus governed by the law of cause and effect? Did he chose to die for us or was he compelled to do so? “

This is a little easier for me to answer than Q2 because of who Jesus was. One could easily say, yes, Jesus (on Earth) was governed by the law of cause and effect. Then could say, Yes, he chose to die for us. How are these two possible? Easy, Jesus’ choice happened before his conception – which I do not think is too far a stretch from what happened. Then everything that occured after Jesus’ conception happened according to cause and effect (just the way God intended).

Gary, thanks for the comment. I would love to hear what you have to say about the solution to your own Q2.


Drew

Thanks for the link, I will read it when I have some extra time. But first, let me take a poke at your questions:

“Isn’t rejecting Christ itself a sin? And if it is, why isn’t it universally provided for in His sacrifice?”

In a way I knew this question would arise. The easy answer is yes, rejecting Christ is a sin. Some may say it is not universally provided for in His sacrifice because it is an “eternal sin” versus a “temporal sin.” I am not sure that answer works.

You could change the system a little bit and say that going to Hell is a result of not having your name in the Book of Life. So then, anyone who rejects Christ is forgiven, however, because they fail to appear in the Book of Life, they go to Hell. I am not sure I like that answer either, unless you say that only those whose name appears in the Book of Life are those who accept Christ (and vice versa). Even still, the answer still scares me a little.


Again, thank you all for commenting. Let me reassure you again, that I am merely thinking over things. This new system I have written about is not dogma to me, just questions in my mind. Feel free to add more comments.

Comments

  1. Baptist Theologue says

    Lew, in regard to the unpardonable sin, it involves more than what most people realize. The context of the sin is important. Notice the following verse:

    “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31, NASB)

    Also notice the verse below:

    “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Timothy 1:13)

    Why was one type of blasphemy unforgivable but the other type forgivable? Context. Paul committed a sin of ignorance, not a willful sin. The unforgivable sin is willful.

    The Bible makes it clear that sins of ignorance (unintentional sins) can be forgiven. Notice the following passages:

    “Now when these things have been thus prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship, but into the second only the high priest enters, once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.” (Hebrews 9:6-7)

    “And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven.” (Numbers 15:28)

    Similarly, when Paul unintentionally sinned after he became a Christian, he said that he was not doing “what I would like to do” (Romans 7:15); rather, “sin which dwells in me” was causing his actions (Romans 7:17). Thus, both Christians and non-Christians can commit unintentional sins.

    When Peter addressed the Jews in Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus, he said that the Jews “acted in ignorance” when they put Him to death (Acts 3:17). Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

    Willful (defiant, intentional) sin, however, is an unforgivable type of blasphemy. Again, notice the following passages:

    “But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be on him.” (Numbers 15:30-31)

    “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

    “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29)

    Unintentional sins of ignorance are forgivable through the blood of Jesus. Willful, defiant sins are unforgivable. When a lost person has heard the plan of salvation and experienced the full convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and when that lost person ultimately, finally rejects Jesus by refusing to surrender his life to Him in repentance and faith, that person has committed the unforgivable sin. Christians, of course, cannot commit the unforgivable sin.

    While commenting on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Matthew 12:31-32, Craig Blomberg, Associate Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, discussed Numbers 15:30-31:

    “Listeners steeped in the Old Testament would call to mind the laws that labeled particularly defiant sin as blasphemy and seemingly unforgivable (see esp. the sinning with a high hand of Num 15:30-31) – the flagrant, willful, and persistent rejection of God and his commands. These Pharisees’ attitude to Jesus is comparable.”

    Craig L. Blomberg, “Matthew,” in The New American Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery, vol. 22 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 203-204.

    While commenting on the passage in Matthew, however, Blomberg explained that the sin mentioned in Hebrews 6:4-6 is also an unforgivable sin:

    “This is not the only place in the New Testament in which an unforgivable sin appears (cf. Heb 6:4-6; 1 John 5:16). . . . Probably blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is nothing more or less than the unrelenting rejection of his advances.”

    Ibid., 204.

    E.Y. Mullins and H.W. Tribble, former professors at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, related the unpardonable sin to “hardness of heart”:

    “That sin is hardness of heart which takes the form of opposition to, or blasphemy against, the Holy Spirit. The sphere in which the unpardonable sin takes place is the sphere of the inner relations between God’s Spirit and man’s; and the form it assumes is resistance to the truth which the Spirit reveals.”

    E. Y. Mullins and H. W. Tribble, The Baptist Faith (Nashville, Tennessee: The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1935), 47.

    Robert Stein, a professor of New Testament at Bethel Theological Seminary, commented on Luke 12:10:

    “Blasphemy is not limited to speaking evil of the Holy Spirit. It can also mean a hardened attitude toward God and unrelenting opposition to what he is doing through his Spirit in leading individuals to faith.”

    Robert Stein, “Luke,” in The New American Commentary, ed. David Dockery, vol. 24 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 348.

  2. Alan Knox says

    Baptist Theologue,

    I saw that Lew conluded his reply to you by stating: “Basically if the text says we are judged, then all I take from it is that we are judged (without assuming it is what sends us to Hell). I think this is a safer practice because of the dangers that come from assuming the rest of the text.” This seems to be the thrust of Lew’s post.

    Then, I read your comment. I did not see where you interacted with Lew’s statement concerning judgment and hell. Did I miss something?

    Thanks,

    -Alan

  3. Baptist Theologue says

    Lew and Alan,

    In regard to Revelation 20:12-15, the sequence of events seems pretty clear-cut. There are two types of books mentioned in the passage. The Book of Life has the names of the elect in it, and it is described as “the book of life from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 17:8). God has always known the identity of the elect. The other books do not contain the names of the elect; rather, they are a record of the sinful works of the non-elect. The elect are saved by grace; the non-elect are judged on the basis of works. The non-elect are sent to hell after they are judged. Albert Barnes commented on the passage in Revelation 20:

    “It would seem that in regard to the multitudes of the impenitent and the wicked, the judgment will proceed ‘on their deeds’ in general; in regard to the righteous, it will turn on the fact that their names had been enrolled in the book of life. That will be sufficient to determine the nature of the sentence that is to be passed on them. He will be safe whose name is found in the book of life; no one will be safe who is to have his eternal destiny determined by his own deeds.”

  4. BT,

    I am not sure I follow your line of reasoning. It appears you have done the very thing I have said is dangerous to do, namely, adding meaning to the text.

    You said, “Why was one type of blasphemy unforgivable but the other type forgivable? Context. Paul committed a sin of ignorance, not a willful sin. The unforgivable sin is willful.”

    First, I disagree; this is the brunt of my last post. Matthew 12:31 does not say anything about intentionality or willfulness. A plain reading tells its reader that any blasphemy is forgiven except blasphemy against the Spirit. You are adding to Matthew 12:31. It says “any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men” – not “any ignorant sin and blasphemy.”

    Second, sins of ignorance are still willful sins. One can willingly do something and be ignorant of the consequences. Also, “ignorantly” is not the word you should be focusing on in 1 Timothy 1:13. A better translation might be, “while ignorant, I did it in unbelief.” Or as the YLT translates it “being ignorant, I did it in unbelief.” According to the Greek, he did these sins in unbelief, not in ignorance. The word αγνοων (“while ignorant”) is being used as an adverb in this passage-describing the condition he was in when he was unbelieving.

    Third, Matthew 12:31 seems straight-forward. So much so, that it should probably be used to interpret 1 Timothy 1:13, not vice-versa. Paul’s blasphemes were forgivable, therefore they could not have been against the Spirit.

    Later you said, “Willful (defiant, intentional) sin, however, is an unforgivable type of blasphemy.”

    First, Matthew 12:31 says “blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” – not “willful blasphemy against the Spirit.” It seems like your presuppositions are driving you to add “willful” to the text here. I think it would be much safer to read the text plainly and take a simple understanding of what is being taught. Any sins are forgiven except blaspheme against the Spirit.

    Second, Numbers 15:30-31 does not seem to be a good verse to support your connection of willful with defiant.

    Third, Hebrews 6:4-6 & 10:26-29 do not speak about blaspheming the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins. I am not sure how you can use this to support your position. Apart from making an assumption that those who fall away have thus blasphemed the Spirit. I do not think this is a leap the text infers.

    You said, “When a lost person has heard the plan of salvation and experienced the full convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and when that lost person ultimately, finally rejects Jesus by refusing to surrender his life to Him in repentance and faith, that person has committed the unforgivable sin.” Which I assume is your interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6. I do not see how you can come to this conclusion, without saying that this person has blasphemed the Spirit.

    However, I do agree, “Christians, of course, cannot commit the unforgivable sin.” I would even go further and say the Elect cannot commit the unforgivable sin. But I would put the falling away in a different category than blaspheming the Spirit. I do not think Christians can fall away either.

    I would like to know how Blomberg came to the conclusion that blaspheming the Spirit is equal to rejecting God and his commands – Especially since the context of Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10 suggest that blasphemy against everything, including Christ will be forgiven. I also do not understand how Blomberg can then say that the unforgivable blasphemy is rejecting Christ.

    I find myself wondering what Scripture Stein uses to support his theory that the unforgivable sin is more than blasphemy against the Spirit.

    ———————————–

    Baptist Theologue,

    I think it is very important to take Scripture at face value. I have discovered there are a lot of things we take for granted taking zig-zags through scripture, ignoring context, and reasoning with circles. It seems dangerous, even scary, because we won’t have answers to all our questions – but I would rather have fewer answers and know I am not taking advantage of God’s word, then risk abusing the very words that were entrusted to us.

    Lew

  5. BT,

    Re: Your Revelation post:

    I find it interesting though that Revelation 20:1-15 nowhere mentions the Elect (i.e. those who have their names in the Book of Life). In fact, it does say that the “dead” were judged but then the final verse says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

    I think it is neat that John discusses the judging of the dead in verse 13, then jumps to death and hades being cast into the fire, and then describes the dead being cast into the fire because their names were not in the Book of Life. It does not say anything about being cast into the fire because of their works/judgment.

    Lew

  6. Baptist Theologue says

    Lew, there is a clear distinction in the Old Testament and New Testament between willful, defiant, intentional sins and unintentional sins of ignorance. As I pointed out in Numbers and Hebrews 9:6-7, the unintentional sins of ignorance were symbolically covered by the priest’s sacrifice, but willful, defiant sins were not.

    You said that the defiant sins of Numbers 15:30-31 do not equate with willful sins. Notice Albert Barnes’ comment on verse 30:

    “Presumptuously – The original (compare the margin, and Exo 14:8) imports something done willfully and openly; in the case of a sin against God it implies that the act is committed ostentatiously and in bravado. Reproacheth the Lord – Rather, revileth or blasphemeth the Lord: compare Eze 20:27.”

    Notice what Keil and Delitzsch say about verse 30:

    “But it was only sins committed by mistake (see at Lev 4:2) that could be expiated by sin-offerings. Whoever, on the other hand, whether a native or a foreigner, committed a sin ‘with a high hand,’ – i.e., so that he raised his hand, as it were, against Jehovah, or acted in open rebellion against Him, – blasphemed God, and was to be cut off (see Gen 17:14); for he had despised the word of Jehovah, and broken His commandment, and was to atone for it with his life. בהּ עונה, ‘its crime upon it;’ i.e., it shall come upon such a soul in the punishment which it shall endure.”

    You said,

    “Hebrews 6:4-6 & 10:26-29 do not speak about blaspheming the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins.”

    The Greek scholar and former professor at Southern Seminary, A. T. Robertson, commented on 10:29:

    “Hath done despite (enubrisas). First aorist active participle of enubrizō, old verb to treat with contumely, to give insult to, here only in the N.T. It is a powerful word for insulting the Holy Spirit after receiving his blessings (Heb 6:4).”

    Notice in Robertson’s comment on Hebrews 5:2 that he contrasts willful sins of Numbers 15:30 (“with a high hand”) and Hebrews 10:26 with sins of ignorance:

    “And erring (kai planōmenois). Present middle participle (dative case) of planaō. The one article with both participles probably makes it a hendiadys, sins of ignorance (both accidence and sudden passion) as opposed to high-handed sins of presumption and deliberate purpose. People who sinned ‘willingly’ (hekousiōs, Heb 10:26) had no provision in the Levitical system. For deliberate apostasy (Heb 3:12; Heb 10:26) no pardon is offered.”

    In Hebrews 6:4-6, it is clear that the tasters have spit out (rejected) what they were tasting without swallowing (making a commitment) it. The scholar F. F. Bruce commented on 6:6:

    “The margin of ARV suggests an alternative rendering which may appear to moderate the gravity of our author’s words: ‘it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance, the while they crucify to themselves the Son of God. . .’ By suggesting that these people cannot be brought back to repentance so long as they repudiate Christ, this rendering might be thought to imply that when they cease to repudiate Him repentance will be possible. But this is certainly not what is meant. To say that they cannot be brought to repentance so long as they persist in their renunciation of Christ would be a truism hardly worth putting into words. The participle “crucifying” is much more appropriately taken as causal than as temporal in force; it indicates why it is impossible for such people to repent and make a new beginning. God has pledged Himself to pardon all who truly repent, but Scripture and experience alike suggest that it is possible for human beings to arrive at a state of heart and life where they can no longer repent.”

    John MacArthur also commented on Hebrews 6:4-6:

    “But Christians are not being addressed, and it is the opportunity for receiving salvation, not salvation itself, that can be lost.”

    After a lost person ultimately, finally rejects Jesus after hearing the gospel and experiencing the full convicting power of the Holy Spirit, that person does not get another opportunity to receive Christ before dying physically. He has committed the unpardonable sin.

  7. Alan Knox says

    Baptist Theologue,

    I have followed this discussion with interest, not because of the topic (“judgment of sins and hell”), but because of Lew’s suggestion that we often add to Scripture based on our theological assumptions.

    What is interesting is that you seem to do this in each of your posts, without explaining to Lew why it is correct for you to do this.

    For example, Lew said (as you quoted him), “Hebrews 6:4-6 & 10:26-29 do not speak about blaspheming the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins”.

    To refute this, you quote Robertson who states, “It is a powerful word for insulting the Holy Spirit after receiving his blessings (Heb 6:4)”. Now, it is great that Robertson interpreted Heb 6:4 to indicate that the people were blaspheming the Holy Spirit. However, Scripture does not say this in Hebrews 6. This is the exact point that Lew is making.

    I am not saying that Robertson is wrong in his interpretation. However, our (or anyone else’s) interpretation of Scripture is not the same as the text of Scripture.

    -Alan

  8. Baptist Theologue says

    Alan,

    The word “Trinity” is not in Scripture. Does that mean that when we discuss the Trinity we are adding to Scripture based on our theological assumptions? Our interpretation of the texts that describe the Trinity is not the same as the text of Scripture, right?

  9. Alan Knox says

    Baptist Theologue,

    You are blurring the distinction that I (and I think Lew) is making here. There is a difference between what the text of Scripture says and what our interpretation of Scripture says.

    As I said before, this does not mean that our interpretation is wrong. However, it also does not mean that our interpretation is correct. We must always judge our interpretation based on what the text of Scripture actually says.

    Yes, I believe that Scripture describes God as One in three persons (what we call Trinity). However, I do not believe that I can insert Trinity into any Scripture that I desire. I must allow Scripture to speak for itself.

    -Alan

  10. Baptist Theologue says

    Alan, you said,

    “However, I do not believe that I can insert Trinity into any Scripture that I desire. I must allow Scripture to speak for itself.”

    I agree, and I think you would agree with me if I substitute “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” in that quote:

    “However, I do not believe that I can insert blasphemy of the Holy Spirit into any Scripture that I desire. I must allow Scripture to speak for itself.”

    Apparently we disagree about how particular passages speak for themselves.

  11. BT and Alan,

    Thank you for keeping up the discussion. I too am really enjoying this.

    BT,

    In my short time being a Christian I have been challenged with many new ideas and thoughts. One that I have recently been considering is our dependence on what others say a text should mean. Usually we come to the text with a presupposition before interpreting it. Then anyone who we consider to be a “scholar”, who also agrees with our interpretation is therefore correct.

    Personally, I have discovered it is better and healthier for me to come to a text with prayer and dependence on God – knowing that the Holy Spirit is inside me and will lend his helping hand.

    Have I forsaken scholarly works? Absolutely not! I very frequently look to see what both sides say about a passage (liberal, conservative, whoever). But I make every effort to stop them from driving my interpretation.

    BT,

    I do not think I was clear when I was trying to say that “defiant” does not equate to “willful.” I agree that Numbers 15:30-31 is talking about defiant sins (which are willful sins). The point I was trying to make is that defiant sins are not the only type of willful sin. Sins of ignorance are still willful sins. There are probably other non-defiant sins that are willful too.

    Further, Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10, make it clear that one can speak against Christ and be forgiven. To speak about something means you have some sort knowledge of that thing. So they would be speaking willfully – not unintentionally.

    I think some of the authors you have quoted are great authors – but what they say is not scripture. As Alan pointed out, they are giving an interpretation – could it be correct? Yes, of course. could it be incorrect? Absolutely. There are also a number of scholars who disagree with them. The “unforgivable sin” being the rejection of Christ is not the only interpretation of that text (I have seen a few) – I lean away from that interpretation because I think it goes against the context of it’s own verse and the verses after it.

    I try to stick with an interpretation that takes fewer liberties with the text. When I read a scholar I ask myself – is the author saying this because it is implied by the text or because of his presupposition? Sadly, in my opinion, our presuppositions drive us more than the text does.

    This process usually leaves with with fewer answers, but as I said before – I would rather have fewer answers and not abuse scripture, than have an answer that truly abuses scripture.

    Again, BT and Alan, thanks for the comments. This has been very thought provoking for me – hopefully it has for y’all as well.
    Lew

  12. Baptist Theologue says

    Lew, you said,

    “Usually we come to the text with a presupposition before interpreting it.”

    I agree.

    Then you said,

    “Then anyone who we consider to be a ‘scholar,’ who also agrees with our interpretation is therefore correct.”

    Their conclusions may be correct, but the reasoning behind it may be incorrect. Obviously, some scholars disagree with other scholars. We must analyze the reasoning behind the conclusion they reach, not just the conclusion itself.

    You next said,

    “Personally, I have discovered it is better and healthier for me to come to a text with prayer and dependence on God – knowing that the Holy Spirit is inside me and will lend his helping hand.”

    It’s not an either/or situation; it’s a both/and situation. We should come to the text with prayer and dependence on God, knowing that the Holy Spirit is inside us and lending His helping hand, but at the same time we should examine what scholars have to say about the text so that we have a fuller understanding of the historical context and linguistic nuances. The Holy Spirit can use the scholarship of others to help us understand the text.

    You said,

    “I very frequently look to see what both sides say about a passage (liberal, conservative, whoever). But I make every effort to stop them from driving my interpretation.”

    I also do that.

    You also said,

    “I agree that Numbers 15:30-31 is talking about defiant sins (which are willful sins). The point I was trying to make is that defiant sins are not the only type of willful sin. Sins of ignorance are still willful sins.”

    The passage (28-31) makes a clear distinction between willful, defiant sins and sins of ignorance. Notice that Numbers 15:28 mentions sins of ignorance:

    “And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.” (KJV)

    Sins of ignorance are driven by our depravity (Romans 7:17), while willful sins are committed while one is under the full influence of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power, and thus willful sins are committed when one has the power of contrary choice in regard to salvation, i.e., libertarian free will. We still have a type of freedom when we commit sins of ignorance in the sense that we are free to do what we want to do, but we do not have the power of contrary choice in regard to salvation with this type of freedom, and thus this type is the non-libertarian freedom described eloquently by Jonathan Edwards. I am a three-pointer (TUP), so I agree with E. Y. Mullins and Norman Geisler on many issues. I described their views to some extent on the latest post on my blog.

    You said,

    “To speak about something means you have some sort knowledge of that thing. So they would be speaking willfully – not unintentionally.”

    I respectfully disagree. One can commit an unintentional sin of ignorance when one has some sort of knowledge of that thing. When Peter addressed the Jews in Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus, he said that the Jews “acted in ignorance” when they put Him to death (Acts 3:17). Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

    You said,

    “I think some of the authors you have quoted are great authors – but what they say is not scripture.”

    I agree, but they can certainly help us to understand Scripture.

    You said,

    “In my opinion, our presuppositions drive us more than the text does.”

    I hope that is not true.

    You finally said,

    “I would rather have fewer answers and not abuse scripture, than have an answer that truly abuses scripture.”

    I agree, but I also believe that after extensive study one can have more answers that do not abuse Scripture.

  13. BT,

    You said, “Their conclusions may be correct, but the reasoning behind it may be incorrect…”

    I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I was merely saying that if we come to scripture with a conclusion in mind (and we think our conclusion is correct) and we look at a scholars work that agrees with us (we automatically assume that author must be correct as well). – I agree with you, they may be correct but they may be wrong too.

    You said, “It’s not an either/or situation; it’s a both/and situation…”

    I would not say it is a both/and situation. I do not think it is necessary for someone to go to a scholars work in order to understand the text. I feel the Holy Spirit is fully capable of revealing what was intended from scripture. I do agree, the Holy Spirit can use other works to help someone understand, but I would not say it is a both/and situation.

    Regarding your Numbers 15:29-31 interpretation. You seem to be making an equivocation here. There is a difference between unintentionally doing something, and ignorantly doing something. Numbers 15:29-31 does not make a distinction between ignorance and willfulness; it makes a distinction between intentionality and defiance (or willfulness as you put it).

    Regarding Acts 3:17 – I agree, they did act in ignorance. But they sinned willingly – not unintentionally.

    I think our biggest hangup is what we consider to be willful sins. I believe that one can willfully sin even though they are ignorant. You don’t seem to think that is true.

    Lew

  14. Baptist Theologue says

    Lew,

    In Numbers 15:29, the words “unintentionally” and “ignorantly” can be used interchangeably. Notice the NASB translation:

    “You shall have one law for him who does {anything} unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them.”

    Now notice the KJV translation:

    “Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.”

    The key Hebrew word is “shegagah” which Strong’s lexicon defines as “a mistake or inadvertent transgression: – error, ignorance, at unawares, unwittingly.”

    I think we can grasp this concept. If someone makes a mistake and says, “I didn’t know what I was doing,” we could say that he unintentionally erred. The person saying that probably meant that he didn’t have enough knowledge about what he was doing. Thus, we often hear that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A person who ultimately, finally rejects Jesus after hearing the plan of salvation while under the full conviction of the Holy Spirit has committed an intentional, willful sin that is unforgivable. He had all the knowledge he needed to surrender his life to Christ in repentance and faith, but he freely, willfully, intentionally, ultimately, and finally rejected Christ.