25 Dec 2013

God’s Character

Religious 90 Comments

On the Sunday posts lately there has been a lot of sarcastic commentary about the supposedly awful character of God. Among other things, He is accused of murder, since (after all) if human rulers did some of the things He does, they would be murderers.

I have said this before, and don’t recall anyone even trying to answer the point, let alone refute it: If the God described in the Christian Bible exists, then every moment of existence is in perfect accordance with His will. He doesn’t “intervene” in order to wipe out the Egyptian firstborn children, then hang back in the shadows and let Nature take its course for everybody else. No, every person who has ever lived will die exactly when and how God dictates. So if He’s a murderer vis-a-vis the Pharaoh’s oldest kid, then He’s also a murderer vis-a-vis His own Son and someone who dies in his sleep at age 103 in the rest home.

The nature of God (as depicted in the Christian Bible) is so radically different from ours, that it’s difficult to evaluate His actions from our framework. For example, we have a common saying that one shouldn’t “play God.” What does that mean? It means humans shouldn’t be meddling in things that are the domain of God. It’s OK for God to play God, but it’s not OK for humans. Now you can disagree with the specific areas of action for which this saying has been deployed; presumably someone at some point said taking aspirin was “playing God.” But I’m pointing out the nature of the expression itself.

But you know what? If Christianity is true, then we do know exactly what God would act like, if He were one of us. That person is Jesus Christ, and even few atheists will complain about His character. They can say He’s a myth or that the gospel accounts contradict each other, but few people deny the exquisite excellence of His moral fiber.

Merry Christmas as we celebrate the greatest gift of all time.

90 Responses to “God’s Character”

  1. Ken B says:

    What the heck Bob? Even YOU dispute it! You as a pacifist object to his actions in the temple with the moneychangers. You as an anarchist object — morally –to the injunction to render unto Caesar. As an Austrian you object to inter personal utility comparisons, which Jesus explicitly enjoined us to make.

    I won’t even get into whether Jesus supported stoning homosexuals or disobedient children. That jerry falwell, Ayatollah Khomeini, Urban II, and Torquemada hold him up as a man of splendid character should tell you that people read into Jesus whatever they want.

    • Ken B says:

      Let’s look at one example, the pericope adulterae. This is a late invention, even by loose standards it cannot be maintained its authentic. So, it was made up by Christians with certain moral values to both justify those values and to enhance Jesus thereby. But other, harsher, judges, like nearly all of Islam, and it seems Mr North, reject such tales. They have different values — stoning for adulterous women is a good thing –and in their tales Jesus agrees at least tacitly. Same process, same motives.

      And this time, alas, the bloodthirsty have the better case. So they will agree with you, and agree Jesus was righteous in wanting public stonings.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      That’s a good point. It is rather awkward for a self-professed pacifist to support, indeed worship, a clearly non-pacifist God.

      Not only that, but if Murphy is to claim that everything that happens is exactly according to God’s will, then not only do none of us have will, but Murphy would have no basis to criticize anyone for anything, because it’s all according to God’s will and God’s actions are perfect.

      Murphy criticizes Krugman, but if God is responsible for what Krugman is saying, then if God is always right, then so is Krugman. Murphy would also be right in saying what he says about Krugman’s arguments. So we would have to think that contradictions exist and are perfect. Right or wrong? Out the freakin window. Everything is right, even two mutually incompatible statements.

      Every time Murphy talks about God, every single time, he seems so incredibly confident and sure of what he says, despite the logical problems that if spoken of by Krugman in an economics discussion, he would be all over it and SEE those problems.

      I am not “sarcastic” when I say that God would have to be evil if God exists. Not only that, but the conception of God as explained by believers is a muddled mess of illogical gobbledygook. Never has any believer spoken or written a treatise on a religious doctrine that is without contradictions. Even Aquinas couldn’t solve the conundrums he found himself in.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        Krugman Kontradictions are God’s will. I guess Murphy needs to get over and let his will be done…

        • JNCU says:

          What [Krugman] means for evil God means for good.

          Genesis 50:20

          Krugman’s nonsense is an opportunity to make the Austrian case.

      • Philippe says:

        “I am not “sarcastic” when I say that God would have to be evil if God exists.”

        Or it could be that evil doesn’t actually exist, or that God isn’t actually omnipotent or omniscient.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      Ken B –
      On the IUC point – there’s a BIG difference between saying that two people’s utilities are numerically comparable and saying that we allow ourselves to make ethical judgements that weigh peoples’ utility against each other.

      You don’t have to be an Austrian to reject IUC. I reject IUC after all. But that is a positive question – a scientific question.

      As an ethical matter I am happy to say that we should value utility derived from the marginal dollar of a rich man less than the marginal dollar of a poor man. But I’m not making any kind of scientific claim when I say that.

      • Ken B says:

        Does not seem an escape hatch available to Bob though does it? You say Jesus made a scientific error, Bob cannot. But Bob does not recant and accept IUC, so he must think Jesus is being a bit loose with the truth in order to bolster the judgment you make.

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          Or Jesus is not making a scientific statement.

          • Ken B says:

            Jesus clearly says the woman’s mite is more than the rich man gave. If he knows, repeat knows, this is false he’s being dodgy.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “As an ethical matter I am happy to say that we should value utility derived from the marginal dollar of a rich man less than the marginal dollar of a poor man. But I’m not making any kind of scientific claim when I say that.”

        Actually that is a scientific claim DK. You are taking YOUR valuations of a rich man having a dollar less, and YOUR valuations of a poor man having a dollar more, to be of higher worth than the rich man keeping their dollar (and the poor man going with one dollar less). You are therefore comparing your utility with their utility, or at least the rich man’s utility, and you are saying that your utility is higher than theirs (or at least his).

        This is the scale of ranked wants that you are claiming to be something other than IUC:

        1. You observing a rich man having a dollar less and a poor man having a dollar more.
        2. Rich man’s utility of having one dollar more.

        You are indeed making an IUC when you frame it in the way you have framed it.

        • Ken B says:

          Yeah. I’m not convinced MF has put it quite right, but there is something very specific and arbitrary about what DK wants: take a rich man and a poor woman and as a principle decide that her utility over a buck *matters more* than his does. Now if IUC made sense this would be a very easy conclusion to reach. But otherwise it’s very specific — high shannon information content. That suggests it’s a way of making the IUC without accepting that’s what you are doing. Special pleading.

          • Tel says:

            Sure, you can decide it, “as a principle”, but that isn’t science either, it is politics, and perhaps law.

            What the idea of deciding “as a principle” is all about is getting a sufficiently large group of people to agree on something. They don’t actually need to relate this to any real measurement, they just shake hands and agree amongst themselves.

            Morality can grow out of consensus, but science cannot.

        • Tel says:

          DK is not making a scientific claim, because science requires some objective reference to measure with. DK can make a claim about his own valuations of course, but we aren’t about to put DK into a glass jar in Paris and use him as a reference for all future valuations — I doubt he would be consistent over time at any rate.

          In order to be scientific about a valuation, you need to say, “Here is a procedure for measuring it, and you get a reliable outcome every time you use this procedure.”

          If it isn’t repeatable, then it isn’t science, and yeah a lot of Economics falls into that bucket.

    • JNCU says:

      “What the heck Bob? Even YOU dispute it! You as a pacifist object to his actions in the temple with the moneychangers.”

      Money changers invaded Christ property, the temple. As a pacifist you and I would agree he has the right to get them out of the temple, which is is his property.

  2. Daniel Kuehn says:

    I don’t know. The whole walking on water thing?

    Nobody likes a show-off, Jesus.

  3. Gamble says:

    If you don’t understand mans decision to fall and then Gods decision to send a Savior, none of it will make any sense to you.

  4. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    “No, every person who has ever lived will die exactly when and how God dictates. So if He’s a murderer vis-a-vis the Pharaoh’s oldest kid, then He’s also a murderer vis-a-vis His own Son and someone who dies in his sleep at age 103 in the rest home.”

    I understand the logic behind this, and I’m hardly an expert on Christian theology, so I’m in no position to dispute it with you. I’d just like to say the way the Bible is written (at least in the NKJV, which is what I read), STRONGLY implies that this is not the case. Maybe it’s just an issue with the language and sentence structure after multiple translations, but it’s very hard to read the Bible and walk away thinking anything other than “sometimes God intervenes directly, and sometimes he just lets things work out on their own.”

    In the OT, God is definitely treated like a character who acts (and sometimes does not act), rather than an omnipresent force who directs everything that ever happened.

    • Ken B says:

      You are right, Bob and Callahan are wrong. They import philosophical ideas into their notion of god. Well and good, but not biblical. The biblical idea of god is a bit blunter.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        In Murphy’s writings, I see a wavering between determinism, where God wills everything that happens, and compatibilism, where God is considered as acting in the moment to change what would otherwise have occurred if God didn’t act.

        For some reason he wants to believe two mutually incompatible things. On the one hand, he wants to believe that everything that occurs is in accordance with God’s will, and not any Earthly will. On the other hand, he wants to believe humans have free will and can choose.

        The funny thing is that compatibilism is not inherently contradictory, if we constrain determinism and constrain free will to their respective finite spheres of phenomena, rather than insisting on a monism. But Murphy suggests a universal determinism, which makes human free will impossible.

        • Tel says:

          On the one hand, he wants to believe that everything that occurs is in accordance with God’s will, and not any Earthly will. On the other hand, he wants to believe humans have free will and can choose.

          That’s not entirely inconsistent, God made a choice to bestow free will, and thus delegated some element of the decision onto humans.

          For example, suppose I’m a store manager and I ask one of the staff to get some cleaning done. I don’t actually guide the mop and instruct the guy every step of the way, although I could choose to do that if I wanted to, but I figure it isn’t necessary and he can get the job done when left up to himself. Of course, if the staff member starts goofing off while not being supervised and breaks stuff then as store manager I’m still responsible.

          God can’t get out of being responsible for what evil people do, because after all God could have stopped them. God can shrug it off with omnipotence though… logic is your limitation, not a limitation of God.

          But Murphy suggests a universal determinism, which makes human free will impossible.

          Is that really true? Suppose I generate a million random numbers and write them in a book. Now you have to guess the numbers, how would you guess? Those numbers must be pre-determined because they are in the book, but you can’t see the book so you must accept them as random.

          If I read you out one number each day, and I cross out each number from the book as I go, are those deterministic? Suppose every so often I slip a genuine random number into what I read out (i.e. a number not from the book) can you tell which numbers are coming from the book and which are really random? If you can’t tell the difference you kind of have to accept there is no difference.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            “That’s not entirely inconsistent, God made a choice to bestow free will, and thus delegated some element of the decision onto humans.”

            Will is binary. Either I have it, or I don’t. Either God has it, or he doesn’t.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Matt M wrote:

      In the OT, God is definitely treated like a character who acts (and sometimes does not act), rather than an omnipresent force who directs everything that ever happened.

      Let me ask you this Matt M.: Would you say the OT suggests that certain things lie outside of God’s power to control?

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        No, I wouldn’t say that. That’s why I’m trying to be charitable to you here. I’m not saying you’re *wrong* about God being the supreme director of everything that ever happens. If he’s *not* that, then the concept of “God” doesn’t really work (at least not for me).

        I’m just saying that the Bible as a narrative device doesn’t really present things through that way. It seems that while God *is* in fact supreme director, he also sometimes intervenes in a “more direct” fashion, if that makes any sense. Yes, everything that ever happens is “according to God’s plan” but the Bible (possibly just for narrative effect) seems to imply that when God allowed Moses to part the Red Sea, that was a direct action God was taking at that exact moment, not just another part of his plan that was always guaranteed to have happened, no different than the fact that a grasshopper was stepped on along the way.

        I guess my point is, you can’t blame people for claiming that God murdered the Pharaoh’s son when the Bible presents it as if that’s directly what happened.

        Exodus 11:4-5: 4 Then Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals.”

        The Lord is saying he is going to act. The language here is not at all suggesting that this is some thing that was decreed well in advance and would have happened regardless of circumstance, even though an intellectual understanding of God can easily allow us to reach the conclusion that this must be so.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Matt M. OK I think I see partly what’s happening here. I agree that the Bible makes it sound as if God *killed* the Egyptian firstborns in a more “direct” fashion than that their hearts beat before that fateful night, but my more important point was that God didn’t *murder* them.

          All of this stuff is admittedly difficult; Ken B. and MF will say “contradictory and nonsensical.” I think (a) we have free will and choose sin but (b) God is in complete control of everything that happens. So yeah that’s tough to wrap your mind around.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:


            Do you think the Pharaoh had free will to let the Hebrews go? The Bible specifically mentions that God “hardens his heart” which presumably prevents him from doing so, thus supposedly necessitating the killing of all the firstborn.

            But if God never “hardens his heart” in the first place, perhaps he lets them go much sooner and none of that unpleasantness would have been necessary at all.

          • Ken B says:

            Not at all. You claim an exemption from logic. Very simple.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              What does it mean that a person can be illogical, and yet still live and procreate?

              I’ve always found it fascinating to contemplate the fact that people can be incredibly illogical thinkers, and yet still exist.

              Our world is very, VERY accommodating.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            It’s only “tough” for me because I refuse to accept contradictions, even in religious dogma.

        • Ken B says:

          This is good Matt. Bob, and you, ALSO want to import philosophical notions into the idea of god. You say so explicitly. Bob though thinks Plotinus’s enneads is a book of the bible.
          Read the bible sometime. There are differing changing notions of god in the bible. An excellent book is The God of Old by Kugel.

          • Ken B says:

            That snark about reading the bible btw is directed at Bob, not Matt.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            “Bob though thinks Plotinus’s enneads is a book of the bible.”


            • Ken B says:

              MF, Bob and Callahan insist that the god of greek philosophy and the god in the bible are the same. I insist they impose philosophy on the rather cruder ideas of god actually in the bible. God in the pentateuch walks around and talks about other gods for example. See also Christopher Fisher’s note below. He seems like a believer who sees what Bob is doing.

    • Philippe says:

      Matt M,

      “the NKJV, which is what I read”

      What do you think of this bit?:

      Romans 13:5-7 (NKJV)

      5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
      6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
      7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.


      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        I think that’s dumb is what I think of it.

        I’m not a practicing Christian, just a guy who read the Bible and is sympathetic to *many*, but not all, of the tenets of Christianity.

  5. JNCU says:

    Great post

  6. Yosef says:

    ” For example, we have a common saying that one shouldn’t “play God.”…But I’m pointing out the nature of the expression itself.”

    We also have a common saying that someone was “taken before their time”, If everyone ‘ who has ever lived will die exactly when and how God dictates’ how can anyone be taken before their time? It means that some people must be dying at other than the time when we think God would dictate. Now, you can disagree with the specific times this saying has been deployed, but I’m just pointing out the nature of the expression itself.

    Bob, if its the same whether God murders vis-a-vis old age, the striking of the first born, or the ordering of his chosen people to kill all those he points out, would you be willing to kill on God’s commands?

  7. Philippe says:

    “we do know exactly what God would act like, if He were one of us”

    I don’t think he can be “one of us”. Because we (me, you, etc) are not God.

    In order to be “one of us” he would have to be not-God, which doesn’t make much sense.

    • Philippe says:

      Also God can’t be both omnipotent and perfectly good, unless there is no such thing as evil.

      Being perfectly good means he can’t be evil (if evil exists), which means he can’t be omnipotent.

      This is because there are certain (evil) things he can’t do, as a result of his perfectly good nature.

      However, if evil doesn’t exist then he can be omnipotent, as there is then nothing he can’t do.

    • JNCU says:

      He wouldn’t need to be no-God to be one of us. All he did was to take a human nature.The referenses are Phillipians 2 and the Chalcedonian creed.

      Besides, human is not mutually exclusive with God. We are merely humans. Christ us both God and human.

      • Philippe says:

        so it depends on what you mean by “one of us”.

        I am not simultaneously God and human.

        If God were to take the form of a human he would not really be the same as me, or like “one of us humans”.

        He would be God in a human form, which is different.

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          Agreed. I also have this same issue with those who insist that Christ was “killed” or that God “sacrificed” his son.

          Death, by any reasonable definition, is irreversible. If you die *knowing* you will return, that’s not really “death” by any reasonable standard, nor is it any significant “sacrifice” on God’s part.

          • JNCU says:

            The killing of Christ in the cross made belivers in him sacred so we would not be punish eternally for not being sacred (sinners.) That is why the killing of Christ in the cross is a sacrifice because it made us sacred. He was punish instead of us.

            Where did you get that death has to be irreversible? In the historic context of Christ and the Apostles the word death meant a temporary separatation of soul and body, until the end time resurrection of all humans to face judgement were bofy snd soul would reunite forever. The reference is the book of Daniel.

            You are probably thinking of a different concept and for some reason are attaching the word Death to that concept.

          • Ken B says:

            It’s like god making suckers of those angels.

        • JNCU says:

          One of us equals human, christ is human in one of his natures, so he is one of us in one of his natures.

          We are only humans, Christ is consubstantial with us in his human nature and consubstantial with thd Father and Holy Spirit according to his divine nature.

          Read Phillipians 2 and the Chalcedonian creed for more details.

          • JNCU says:

            A good analogy, as limited as it can be, in popular culture is the movie Avatar. The main character was one of us in his human nature and a Navi in his Navi nature. He could run in his Navi nature but not in his human nature and he was still one person, with 2 natures. Other humans had only one nature but the main character was one of them anyway in his human nature.

  8. Enopoletus Harding says:

    “That person is Jesus Christ, and even few atheists will complain about His character.”
    “He never said a word in favor of education. He never even hinted at the existence of any science. He never uttered a word in favor of industry, economy or of any effort to better our condition in this world.”
    -Robert Ingersoll

    -I say his character was rather arrogant, but not particularly good or wicked. Also, he gave people false hope-
    and nearly incited violence-

  9. Carl says:

    Bob you sound like a crazy person

  10. wisdumb says:

    Merry Christmas, All!

    You guys are great, but please realize this:

    Humans cannot comprehend all of God, so we need to take what He tells us about Himself. I know, this sounds like a scary proposal, but the only other option is to believe in your own authority – which seems to work fairly well until you die.

    Happy New Year, too!

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “…the only other option is to believe in your own authority – which seems to work fairly well until you die.”

      Atheists think the individual’s consciousness ceases to exist upon death, so what “works fairly well until we die” can be reduced to “what works fairly well.”

  11. Christopher Fisher says:


    I don’t think you can point to a Bible verse that shows God ordaining when all people die (maybe specific people when He kills them). In fact, sometimes God brainstorms with the angels to figure out how to kill people in “real time” (2 Kings 22). In the Bible, not only does God not predestine the future, but He is sometimes taken by suprise and sometimes repents.

    Thank you.

    • Ken B says:

      Bob will explain why that interesting passage actually means the exact opposite of what it literally says.

      • Major_Freedom says:


        • Ken B says:


        • Major_Freedom says:

          And then when Murphy seeks to correct our ignorance, heads will explode as the implication is revealed that we were planned by God to have been ignorant and wrong all along, because, you know, if God’s plan is perfect, then…

      • Major_Freedom says:

        The inevitable answer we’ll get is that God foresaw all those events of 2 Kings 22 transpiring, back as early as creation. God spoke to Huldah in a way that makes it seem like God’s current actions are contingent upon the unforeseen choices of the human King et al.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Christopher I’m not even seeing the apparent problem here. When God asked Cain where his brother was, did that prove God didn’t know the answer?

      • Ken B says:

        See Christopher? God wasn’t discussing at all, he was playing an elaborate joke on angels too dim-witted to notice. Bob knows god knows, but those angels? Suckers!

        • Major_Freedom says:

          “Bob knows god knows, but those angels? Suckers!”

          This is well placed snark.

      • JNCU says:


        Christopher is a King James Onlyist. You’re surrounded by silliness of belivers and nonbelievers.

        Christopher religion is base on a 1600’s translation of the Christian Scriptures, not on the Christian scriptures.

        “Most every other Bible is based off a fraudulent “cut and paste” version of the Bible known as the Wescott & Hort (or Critical) text.”


        He does not understand the difference between a translation and the Scriptures.

        • JNCU says:


          You are surrounded by silliness of antihistoric belivers and silliness of nonbelievers.

        • Ken B says:

          The KJV is as you note based on one of the worst texts. However the passage in question is present in better versions. I generally use the ESV

          Pretty much all passages not from the King James grate on my ear — the NIV is unendurable — but if you are concerned with accuracy not poetry it is best avoided.

          • JNCU says:


            What is the problem with this passage?

            Is the fact that God ask a question to the angel, that God already knew the answer a problem for you?

            • Ken B says:

              I think CF’s reading is right, as I have made clear I think. But to be more explici. Bob refers to “the god of the bible”. Well from the bible you get a god who does not control everything. Here you have to impose a non biblical assumption to dismiss the clear import of the passage. This isn’t the biblical god at all, its a greek philosophy god imported into the bible, with the embarassing bits dismissed –oh it cannot mean THAT …

              You think Plotinus’s god is biblical?
              As CF asks, where’s your biblical citation?

              • JNCU says:

                Why do you think God was tricking angels?

                I have not read Plotinus. But I wouldn’t discounted apriori because his writings are not canonical.

                Philosophy, as any study of reality, is Christ natural revelation. We as historic Christians accept both revelations. The books of the Bible and the study of nature.

                I am guessing you object to 1800’s American 2nd Gret Awakening revivalism that sees the Christian Scriptures as Sunday’s newspaper. Dispensationalism, 7th Day Adventism, Jehova W, come from that silly ideological milleiu. Dispensationalism remained orthodox but it still uses the same hermeneutics.

          • JNCU says:

            I do not know what you mean by “suc…” ? I am not a native English speaker.

          • JNCU says:

            Do you mean you think they were fooled or tricked by God?

            If so, whay do you think so?

            • Bob Murphy says:


              I think our friends are misreading the story, and assuming that the angels themselves are being tricked. As opposed to, God asking which angel is going to volunteer to influence the king to make a poor decision.

              Like I said, I don’t see how this hurts Calvinism. If anything, this hurts people who believe we have free will and choose to do evil things that violates God’s plan. It’s analogous to God hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

              (I didn’t study the passages with a fine-toothed comb, but that’s what I remember happening in this passage from previous readings. I’ll wait for Christopher to explain why it’s a problem for Calvinism.)

              • Ken B says:

                If we are misreading then explain how WITHOUT ANY OUTSIDE ASSUMPTION ABOUT GOD HAVING PERFECT FOREKNOWLEDGE explain what we are missing. The point at issue is, what are the properties of the god as described solely in that large collection of books called the bible. As Fisher points out, you cannot, from that collection, find a citation showing he controls everything. (Or at least you have not, and we know of none.) but he can and does cite this. In the context if the bible, and not greek philosophy, this presents a god who allows variance.

                The problem with Calvinism is predestination. If god does not control the future, allows free choice, and allows men’s minds to be changed, then it’s odd to suggest he damns them before hand regardless. It might not be acontradiction but it sure does make MF’s point that that god is evil.

            • christopher fisher says:

              The story is told in both 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18. The text starts off with the Israelite King Ahab preparing to go to war. He is calls all his prophets together to prophesy about the outcome. They all prophesy success. Wanting more affirmation, Ahab calls in God’s own prophet, Micaiah, to verify. At first, Micaiah does prophesy the same thing. But the King detects that something is wrong and presses him on the issue. Micaiah then tells the King that the King will die and describes God’s elaborate plot to kill him:

              1Ki 22:19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.
              1Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
              1Ki 22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’
              1Ki 22:22 The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’
              1Ki 22:23 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”

              God hated king Ahab and sought to kill him. God wanted Ahab to die in Ramoth Gilead. But God was not controlling Ahab. God does not use human beings as puppets. Instead God needs to convince Ahab to actually go to Ramoth Gilead to die. He crowdsources the angels to figure out how to do this. The text reads that various angels proffer ideas. We can imagine what they say: “We can get his wife to nudge him”, “We can make him angry at his enemy”, “We can get a neighboring King to pledge support in the battle”, “We can appeal to his pride”. But God finally listens to one angel that outright says to use lies to promote the idea that Ahab is going to win in battle. God likes this plan and endorses it.

              Sure enough, King Ahab takes the advice of his prophets and ignores God’s prophet who clues Ahab in on the plot against him. King Ahab then dies at Ramoth Gilead.

              Problems for the Calvinists
              1. Omniscience. Did God not know from eternity past how the King was going to die? Why did he consult with angels? What was the purpose of brainstorming in heaven? If it was a way to bring to the front already known knowledge, what purpose is this serving? Did the angels believe they were affecting God?
              2. Omnipotence. Why is God crowdsourcing His approach? Does God not control everything? Has not God already decided what to do? Do the angels assume God’s mind is fixed (are they Calvinists)? Is there any indication in the text of God having already decided how He would control the entire situation?
              3. Summum Bonum. Did God lie? He sent deceiving spirits with the intent to deceive Ahab. God wanted Ahab to believe a lie. God’s own prophet told this lie, knowing it was a lie. How is this not God using and approving of deception?

              For an alternative reason why it is ok for God to kill people: http://christopherfisher.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/is-it-immoral-for-god-to-kill-people/

        • christopher fisher says:

          The funny thing is that I link to my blog, where I explain why KJ only-ism is wrong. How do you go making up random nonsense? I am a Greek Majority text proponent.



          • JNCU says:

            Because you critisized a reading of the NKJV that is majority base, and gave preferance to a KJV reading which is not majority base. I am glad you are not as nuts as I thought. But why would you criticized the NKJV? That is close as you are going to get to the majority text.

            • christopher fisher says:

              Because the NKJV has problems itself. If you read the posts, all versions of the Bible are translated by Calvinists. This means the KJV NKJ NIV NAS, etc. We cant be “my English Bible says this and it trumps your English Bible”. They are translations and are only as good as the translators.

              Although these translations can be useful, priority should be given to the original language. For the original Greek text, I advocate the Majority text. This differs from the Westcott Hort in significant ways. For example, the WH does not include Mark 16 9-20. The entire section is missing.

              The only two Bibles that use the Majority Text are the KJV (uses the TR, but close enough) and the NKJV. So those Bibles I suggest, not because of accuracy of translation but because of the Greek base text.

          • Ken B says:

            The majority text is based on a clearly faulty methodology. It completely ignores age, point of origin, or linkages between manuscripts. And the TR has sections where the Greek is a translation of a few hundred years ago from the Latin.
            The only “advantage” of the majority approach is that laymen can use it as well as can the boffins. That alone should suggest a problem!

            • christopher fisher says:

              Here is the thing about the critical text. Whereas the Majority text represents a majority of all manuscripts that for the most part all agree with each other, the critical text is primarily from 4 manuscripts of Alexandrian origin (older because of climate) which diverge from each other. On face value, they are not very good text, and may only exist because they were bad enough to not see use. These “older” texts will have an Alexandrian bias, just because of the region which is conducive to preserving documents!

              The majority text may be better because: 1. They agree with each other more (indicating less errors). 2. The source documents did not have an Alexandrian bias.

              I think we should pause before claiming the “Majority” text is a bad text (in favor of the critical).

        • christopher fisher says:

          Oh, and fyi the 1600 KJV is not in use. The one that most onlyists use is 1769 version. I am still wondering how you can read a blog post saying one thing, and then quote it as trying to say the opposite.

      • christopher fisher says:

        Mr Murphy,

        We can all understand what God is trying to accomplish by getting people to self confess. We see it every day in our daily interactions. The problem is that God makes very specific statements to Himself, his angels, and even to people… statements that have no figurative meaning.

        Gen 22:12 … for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.

        Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created… for it repenteth me that I have made them.

        Jer 15:6 … I am weary with repenting.

        Gen 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

        Jer 32:35 …neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

        Isa 5:3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
        Isa 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

        I think we should pause before discrediting God’s own utterance about Himself in favor of attributes we assume onto the Bible.

        For your consideration, I will present to you a case against omnipresence:


        Thank you.

        • Ken B says:

          “Assume onto the bible”. Exactly.
          Bob cannot give a refutation without extra, non biblical, assumptions about the nature of god. Which is of course the point at issue.

  12. Carl says:

    I love how Murphy starts out with the goal of justifying mass murder of babies. Obviously, the conclusion that it was murder and it was wrong can NEVER be reached. It’s ruled out from the outset. From there, just fill in the mumbo-jumbo justifications yourself. Reminds me a lot of statists.

    • Ken B says:

      You should read his Pangloss was right post, and comments.

  13. Ken B says:

    Robert G Murphallahan: of course the God of Aristotle, the God of the Bible, and the God of the Koran are the same thing. Each one is the only God. There can only be one only God!!

    Skeptic: but they say different things. The God of Aristotle is a bystander. They all have diiferent creation stories. The Old testament doesn’t even have a clearly defined version of the afterlife. The New Testament preaches that you must believe in Jesus or you go to hell. The Koran teaches if you believe Jesus is God you go to hell. In the Koran Allah creates menspecifically to damn them. You say in the New Testament he would never do that. These are all fundamentally different ideas. It’s simply a logical fallacy to see if it because I believe my god is only one you believe your god is the only one that we must therefore believe the same thing. You might both be wrong. You slipped in the assumption that this thing must exist.

    Robert G Murphallahan: what part of only do you not understand?

  14. Ken B says:

    Am I the only one struck by the fact that in a thread on what the Bible says about God, only one side is actually citing biblical passages?

    • JNCU says:

      One side is more busy than the other. I will get back with some passages after a trip. But the 2Kings passage is not related to the topic. However, you guys seem to think that it affects God’s forenowledge in some way. I was concerned you guys read into the text things are are not there. But the last passages Chirstopher quoted are better to work with.

      • JNCU says:

        Is it busier rather than more busy? It sounds odd either way.

        • Ken B says:

          Busier. Doesn’t sound half as odd as Bob’s arguments.

  15. JNCU says:

    John 18:4

    Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”

    He pretty much knows the future. And likes to ask questions anyway.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Of course there are many many verses explaining that God knows the future, but that was a particularly fitting one for this debate, JNCU. Thanks.

    • JNCU says:

      1 John 3:20 ESV

      For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

  16. Yes Virginia, the God of the Christian Bible Is Omniscient says:

    […] the comments of my last religious post, some people stated matter-of-factly that the Bible provides different views of God, and that […]

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