Quote from Alvin Plantinga

God can create free creatures, bu He can't cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren't significantly fee after all; they do not do what is right freely. ~Alvin Plantinga. God, Freedom, and Evil pg. 30~


Musings on the Incarnation

No matter how much or how long we engage the discussion of the Incarnation, due to our finite nature, we will still find ourselves wondering about certain issues. I do not think the Incarnation is illogical or logically contradictory but is hard to understand as humans or with the information that we currently know in our time-space-matter continuum.

When we say that God became a man (John 1:14) we are not saying something logically contradictory. We are not saying that a triangle is a circle or that the color orange is blue at the same time. We are conceding a difference between God and man but we are also admitting that they are not logially incompatible. We are suggesting the Incarnation is more akin to an orange triangle. God and man are ideas from two logical worlds but are not incompatible. We are saying that something is both a triangle in shape and orange in color--no contradictions.

In John 10:30 Christ says that He is "one" with the Father. Not "one" as merely an agent or the acknowledgment of a separate entity or person. One here refers to a unity of God and Jesus Christ. If God was united with Christ he would have been more than one simply granted authority to act upon His behalf. This union gave Christ the ability to speak and act with divine prerogative. He was the one God in the flesh.

This divine prerogative is seen in John 2:19 where Christ assures us that when His temple is destroyed "I" will raise it up. Such a feat cannot be done by Jesus if some inseparable union of deity and humanity did not exist. It also shows Christ speaking with divine prerogative. The "I" of John 2:19 cannot be separated from the same singular, eternal, transcendent deity of the Father who Incarnate in the Son. The only God the Father of the Old Testament is Jesus, the Son. He was the Son of God through the virgin womb of Mary (Luke 1:35). The begotten Son of God.

The Incarnation is our glimpse into the world of God. Today we experience and know what those of the Old Testament saw prophetically or maybe partially. God entered our human existence and has given us a way of escape. The Incarnation lets us know that God has come. He is Jesus and He will come again to take His Bride away; destroy evil and bring justice.


The End of Evil: Quote from Christopher Wright

"When the reign of God extends over every corner of the universe, when the earth is filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea, when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, when heaven and earth are renewed and united under the righteous rule of Christ, when the dwelling place of God is again with humanity, when the city of God is the center of all redeemed reality—then we will have been delivered from all evil forever...The cross and resurrection of Christ accomplished it in history and guarantee it for all eternity." Christopher Wright, The God I Don't Understand


Quotes from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (The Broken American Male)

I recently received Rabbi Boteach's book The Broken American Male And How To Fix Him. Here are some good quotes I've read so far. I highly recommend this book for every man out there!

Men today are angry because, as psychologist Warren Farrell points out, they are not allowed to be human beings but instead are conditioned to be human doings. pg. 4

I could no longer appreciate myself because I had bought the great American lie that life is about the endless pursuit of wealth. If I didn't have the cash, then I hadn't lived. I could not take pride in my achievements because they were too modest. pg. 7

Amid the many challenges facing the American family today, soulless capitalism, along with its destructive effect on men and women, is the biggest problem of all. pg. 10

Does a country with a 50-percent divorce rate deserve to call itself civilized? pg. 11

It is not normal for a man to come home after a long day's work at the office and feel more comfortable watching TV than talking to his kids. pg. 12


When Did Jesus Speak As The Father?

Recently I was asked, "When did Jesus speak as the Father." Of course this question was driving at problematic use of terms in Oneness theology which says that Jesus is the Father. I avoid saying that in an equivocal sense because it does not seem logical or coherent. To get to the question, however, I would say the deity of the Father was Incarnate in the Son (e.g. Heb. 1:1-3). Jesus even said the Father was in Him (John 14). John 3:34 also tells us that the one whom God has sent utters the words of God. I would say, in order of revelation, it is easier to find Him speaking as the Son of God, or Daniel's "son of man".

The deity and humanity of Christ was united inseparably, just as you or I cannot be separated from the genetic contributions of our parents without harm. Therefore isolating the properties of the Incarnation will further confound the complexity of the Union altogether. Trinitarians should readily admit this to be true from their perspective as well, especially concerning the properties of the divine persons of the Trinity.

I believe there is only one person of God, and that person was Incarnate in human nature (Heb. 1:1-3). As far as I have found, no other meaning is provided in the text of Scripture. Pronouns and prepositions do not necessitate the meaning of plural persons especially in the normal understanding of the term person. It does not demand that corporeal realities are present since that would violate monotheism. Special meaning is the only retort for Trinitarians here but this contradicts theology since when it is properly appropriated is meant to transmit a reasoned understanding of the study of God. The Trinity contradicts such an outcome.

The Incarnation is a wondrous work of the Divine yet it cannot be fully understood. There are some things such as the prayers of Christ that may never be satisfactorily explained by anyone (see Matt. 17:46 or John 17:5). In John 2:19 it is recorded of Christ that when his body or temple is destroyed "I" will raise it up. This is said in light of the Incarnation but it also shows Christ speaking with divine prerogative. Jesus is the One who is fully human and fully divine. Jesus also speaks as no mere man as he pronounces before Abraham was "I AM" (John 8:58). The "I" of John 2:19 cannot be separated from the same singular deity of the Father who was Incarnate in the Son of God through the virgin womb of Mary. Jesus was the visible image of the very being of God (Heb. 1:3) and his divine nature is identical to that of the Father. Every characteristic of the Father is also characteristic of Jesus, the Son. There is no distinction between the Father and Jesus except those produced by His humanity.

In the John 17:5 text we are not forced to conclude that communication there is only between two persons, especially in the traditional sense. The prayers of Christ are probably given to us as examples of Christ's life of obedience and humility. In this text the Father is not speaking. In this text Jesus is praying, as God manifest in flesh, to God whom He knew was also somewhere other than Himself. This can only happen by the miracle of the Incarnation. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). If so, then God was in Christ as He prayed. This does not mean that Jesus prayed to a different divine person who is also God but as a man "approved" by God praying to God before His disciples. This is something Christians do to this day. God is inside of us yet we pray upward to Him as well. Jesus cannot be our perfect sacrifice if he was not human in every way. This means that Jesus had to pray (Ps. 65:2).


Oldest extant Hebrew writing discovered and deciphered

Here is a great article about archaeology and the Bible from Jason Dulle at Theosophical Ruminations. Click here to read it from his blog.

"Approximately 18 months ago archaeologists discovered a 3,000 year old pottery shard containing an ink inscription written in proto-Canaanite script. That script has now been positively identified as Hebrew, making this the oldest extant Hebrew writing ever found. It is from the 10th century BC, which would be around the time of King David’s reign. Interestingly, it was discovered 18 miles west of Jerusalem in a building near the city gate at Elah Fortress, in the valley where the Bible describes David’s historic battle with Goliath.

The translation of the text is:

1 you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2 Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3 [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4 the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5 Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

The importance of this discovery is two-fold. First, it proves that Israelites had the ability to write in the 10th century, silencing critics who claim that certain books of the Bible could not have been written as early as the internal witness suggests because the Israelites lacked the ability to write. Secondly, it proves that the fortified city in which it was discovered was a city of the Israelites (the most ancient Judean city discovered to-date). Its massive size indicates the presence of a strong kingdom, and thus this would serve as physical evidence for the existence of an early united monarchial kingdom in Israel (a fact denied by many skeptics)."

by Jason Dulle M.A. Exegetical Theology


Quotes from There Is A God by Antony Flew

I just got my copy of There Is A God by Antony Flew. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Flew he was a popular and prolific philosopher and author (e.g. God and Philosophy, The Presumption of Atheism and How to Think Straight). For years he contended that there was NO God and now he has changed his mind. His claim is to deism, which is still steps away from Christian theism, but it is still refreshing to read from a great man who changed his mind and has the guts to say it. Below are a couple good quotes I've read so far. 

"we still have to come to terms with the origin of the laws of nature. And the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind." There Is A God, pg. 121 Antony Flew

"the laws of nature, life with its teleological organization, and the existence of the universe--can only be explained in the light of an Intelligence that explains both its own existence and that of the world. Such a discovery of the Divine does not come through experiments and equations" There Is A God, pg. 155 Antony Flew


Manifest Faith: James 2:14-26 Part Four

Position Statement- James 2:17

Verse 17 is the position statement of James on this matter. James has just told us that if a brother or sister comes to us for warmth and we give the traditional farewell or the formulaic response, without ever really helping them with warmth then our words are no good. James listed a specific situation and then gave his position on the matter.

The NIV does a good job of rendering his words, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Many in the time of James knew the will of God about certain things. Many, schooled in the principles of the OT knew that God desired attention to the poor. However, what good is that knowledge if we do not allow it to move us to positive action? None. This is a faith that has neither physical benefit for others nor the benefit of personal salvation.

It is interesting to remember that Paul’s use of works is different from that of James. Paul mainly speaks of “works” in a negative way to describe actions done apart from a genuine faith. This type of work is rooted in human boasting and is a human attempt to gain favor with God based upon merit (See Romans 9:32). Conversely, James references a work that naturally develops from genuine faith (2:21-26). “When Paul speaks of faith, he speaks of it as including the works of faith. When James speaks of faith in this instance, he speaks of false faith that does not result in the works of faith. When any apostle speaks of works resulting from faith as saving anyone, inherent in those works is included the faith that is the only way whereby those works can be produced.”

Argument from Reason - James 2:18-20

Before we approach the text further consider vss. 18-20 rendered by the NET:

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith without works and I will show faith by my works. (19) You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that and tremble with fear. (20) But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless?

The meaning of the objector here can vary according to commentarians. However, what is most crucial is that, regardless of the argument from the hypothetical objector, no one can demonstrate their faith apart from works. To compound the absurdity of the antithesis to this position James says that the demons believe in one God, and even tremble. The one who simply says he believes is worse off than the demons because they do more than believe this fact, they shutter at it.

The claim of the objector has been seen as empty. Thus James rhetorically asks if more evidence is needed. The NIV uses “empty” and the NKJV “foolish” in describing the person who simply says they have faith, but is never demonstrated. The Greek word here, kene, means hollow or empty. If the empty person still desires evidence that works validate faith, then familiar figures of OT history will be presented, e.g. Abraham and Rahab.

Argument from Torah - James 2:21-25

The use of Abraham here is brilliant. The Genesis account of Abraham says, “Abraham believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6, NKJV). At this particular time Abraham did nothing but believe and continue his life of obedience. God made Abraham a promise and Abraham sincerely believe the promise and because the faith was genuine, it was accounted to Abraham for righteousness, even though it was impossible, for the moment, to demonstrate the genuineness of his faith in a tangible way. God in his omniscience and power knows full well those who have genuine faith or no. We are justified by faith even though the person has not yet lived out their faith over time.

The dichotomy of the works of some and those of Abraham is that Abraham did not offer his son in an attempt to earn favor with God. Therefore it was not a work done for human merit, but done in loving obedience to the Almighty.

In Genesis 15:6 the Hebrew verb translated as “believed” (Genesis 15:6) simply means that Abraham trusted God. This believing on God was continual and it was imitative of God. This principle is “most famously expressed in Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (for NT formulations of this principle, see, e.g., Matt 5:43-48; 1 Cor 11:1). It is no surprise, therefore, that if Yahweh is faithful, it is expected of Israel that they should be faithful too. Abraham then was committed to God; his live would be a life of living by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).

The faith of Abraham was not merely mental assent, as demonstrated later in Abraham’s life (c.f. Genesis 22:1-14; James 2:21-23). Genuine faith, necessarily, is transformative. Those who believe will make their faith evident. This does not mean, however, that the only faith that is valid is faith demonstrated. The fact that genuine faith will be demonstrated does not make it invalid simply because it was not demonstrated. Abraham was to trust and believe that God do as He promised.

The genuineness of Abraham’s faith was later demonstrated in a tangible sense when he offered Isaac, (c.f. Genesis 22:1-14; James 2:21-23) but it later serves to prove that Abraham was justified apart from and prior to works. Although faith results in obedience to God’s commands, justification occurs at the point of faith.

The use of Rahab is brilliant as well. Rahab put her faith in action. Not only did she profess to be on the Lord’s side, she demonstrated it by lending the Israelites spies lodging and sending them in a different direction. It is also interesting to note the difference between Abraham’s situation and that of Rahab.

Apparently Abraham obeyed a direct command from God. Rahab, on the other hand, did what was seen as the right thing to do. She heard no explicit commands from God, as did Abraham, but she acted upon her faith in a practical way. A way, that in principle, many of us can use every day.

From divine perspective, faith seen with action is foreknown by God. From human perspective faith and action are anticipated almost simultaneously since the former is not seen by the human eye—only its works.

Conclusion: A Body Without a Spirit - James 2:26

No analogy is perfect, especially when we look for the weakness. It is wise, then, to be cautious with this example since it can be read so that works are THE animating cause of salvation. This is not so. Faith must come before any work. It is the job of faith to produce good works; it is not the job of works to produce faith. The point is simple, the result of removing works from faith is like removing the spirit from the body; it is dead.

Neither soul nor body is desirable alone; a body without its life-force is simply a rotting corpse. Likewise, says James, faith is useful when joined to works, but alone it is just dead, totally useless. Dead orthodoxy has absolutely no power to save and may in fact even hinder the person from coming to living faith.


James reminds all of us about the pressing and continuing concern for the thoughtful treatment of the poor (2:15-17). James also spurns the one who would say they have faith but never demonstrate said faith. He also reminds us of two very important figures in OT history—Abraham and Rahab. The use of these two figures demonstrates for us that that genuine faith results in tangible demonstrations of compassion for others. True religion lives. It is not dead and stale. The Letter of James relevantly demonstrates to us that that doctrinal purity alone is merely dead orthodoxy (verses 19-20).

Many have and still do point to such events as the Inquisition, or other blights upon Christendom historically, and measure our faith accordingly. A fresh observing, interpreting, and applying of this text can only serve to revive the doctrine of good works. Jesus said that we should let our “light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NIV)

James encourages us to leave a “pretended faith that does not work.” Since “the hypocrite merely “says” that he has faith (James 2:14). A searching, groping world is looking for relevance and answers it seems only right to demonstrate a Christ and a church, full of believers, who are energized and activated by love and through faith.

“Unproductive faith cannot save, because it is not genuine faith. Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to heaven. The coupon of works is not good for passage, and the coupon of faith is not valid if detached from works.” (Ryrie Study Bible, p. 421 2:24)


1. Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. (2000, c1991, c1994). The complete word study Bible : King James Version. This electronic resource is a compilation of the The Complete Word Study Old Testament, edited by Warren Baker, and The Complete Word Study New Testament, edited by Spiros Zodhiates.; Words in the text numerically coded to Strong's Greek and Hebrew dictionary, introduction to each book, exegetical notes, grammatical codes on the text, lexical aids. (electronic ed.). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

2. The Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, (HALOT) CD-ROM Edition © 1994-2000 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. All rights reserved

3. Willem A. VanGemeren, General Editor. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. © 1997-2001 Zondervan Publishing House

4. Davids, P. H. (1982). The Epistle of James : A commentary on the Greek text. Includes indexes. (134). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

5. Shedd, W. G. T., & Gomes, A. W. (2003). Dogmatic theology. "First one-volume edition (3 vols. in 1)"--Jacket. (3rd ed.) (788). Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub.


Quotes from I AM by David S. Norris Ph.D

Speaking of a Oneness hermeneutic Norris states, "The simple hermeneutic, one insisting that church tradition retreat in the face of the biblical narrative--that Scripture should speak on its own terms--is the very milieu out of which Oneness Pentecostalism was born." pg. 4

"For Oneness Pentecostals, a postmodern critique of dogma has cracked open the door for conversation in a way that was not possible before." pg. 6

"God cannot be studied as an "indirect object." pg. 15


The Patriarchs and Archaeology

Why so little archaeological evidence for the Patriarchs?

The fathers of Biblical Israel, often called the Patriarchs, are decidedly difficult to date primarily due to a lack of abundant physical evidence.  It is estimated that that the Biblical account places the Patriarchs to around the Middle Bronze Age (2166-1805). This is not alarming given our overall ignorance of that time period. John J. Bimson notes, “Our knowledge of the centuries around 2000 BC is very small, and our ignorance very great.”[1]
Dr. David Gottleib states, “Archaeology has uncovered a myriad of details, details that the Bible records about the quality of life and the conditions of life of the Patriarchs which turn out to be accurate to the last detail.”[2] The quality of life and lifestyles recorded in the Genesis account reflect those in early extra-biblical source such as the Code of Hammurabi. The Egyptian and Hittite texts, thousands of clay tablets from the Amorite city of Mari, the Horite city of Nuzi, and the cities of Leilan and Alalakh all support the statements of Gottleib. 

Marriage contracts and inheritance laws contemporaneous with the Biblical story are accurately reflected in extra-biblical sources. For example, the Hurrian Law at Nuzi and the Code of Hammurabi in Babylonia gave legal precedence for a man to adopt children he may have fathered through slaves as legitimate heirs. This is identical to the custom we see in Genesis 17-20 when Sarai, the wife of Abraham, gives Hagar (slave) as a means of producing an heir. Understanding even small elements of life during such times helps to correctly understand the Sitz im Leben of the Old Testament accounts.

[1] ""Archaeological Data and the Dating of the Patriarchs" by John J. Bimson." "Archaeological Data and the Dating of the Patriarchs" by John J. Bimson. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.

[2] Gottlieb, David "Bible Veracity and Archeology" Mesora: Discussions. Retrieved from www.mesora.org. Internet accessed 16 November 2009.

The Martyr by Herman Melville

Indicative of the Passion of the People on the 15th Day of April, 1865

by: Herman Melville (1819-1891)

GOOD Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm--
When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

He lieth in his blood--
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver--
The Avenger takes his place,
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall do
What the heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And his blood is on their hand.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

"The Martyr" was originally published in Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War. Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1866.


After reading "The Martyr," I get the impression that Melville's purpose in writing the poem was to associate Abraham Lincoln with Christ, our Lord. The opening line refers to Good Friday, which usually commemorates the crucifixion of Christ. It is the Friday preceeding Easter Sunday. Some may disagree, and this is warranted, but like Christ, Lincoln died on a Friday.

In the first stanza Melville poetically likens the assassination of Lincoln to the Crucifixion of Christ.

"When they killed him in his pity / When they killed him in his prime/Of clemency and calm,"

In my opinion, this describes the merciful, forgiving, and loving characteristics of both Christ and Lincoln. Lincoln could never bring salvation or forgive but was a messiah in his own right. Both men where killed in in the prime of their lives. Both had left a mark on those they worked for, but still had so much to give. The assassin murdered Lincoln despite his kindness. The Jews were instrumental in killing Christ despite the passive and mercy He exhibited to all men.

In the third stanza Melville compares Lincoln to the "Forgiver" which is, of course, similar to Christ. "They have killed him, the Forgiver" is followed by the line "The Avenger takes his place." One might ask, "Avenger"? I believe the "Avenger" is the people. The people are left to take vindicate both the work of Christ and Lincoln. Some suggest that Lincoln was the "Avenger" could also be Lincoln because he is described as "wisely stern."

Melville might laugh at my feeble analysis, but who knows. I think he would agree that the beauty of poetry is that it is open to exploration and interpretation. I know I would be tickled pink if my poetry was still be discussed over 14o years after publication.

The Book of Obadiah: A Brief Summary

Book Outline:

I. The Vision of Obadiah (1:1)
i. Edom's destruction foretold (1:1-9)
II. Bitterness Instead of Forgiveness (1:10)
i. The cause of Edom’s destruction (1:10-14)
III. Justice on the Day of the Lord (1:15)
i. Edom's destruction complete (1:15-21)
IV. The Kingdom is the Lord’s (1:21)


The book of Obadiah (meaning “servant of the Lord), a Minor Prophet in the Old Testament, is a prophecy written to the Southern Kingdom of Judah and alternates to the nation of Edom. The book begins by calling itself a “vision” which is an indication also shared by Isaiah (1:1) and Nahum (1:1).

This book is the shortest book in the Old Testament consisting of only 21 verses. Despite its brevity Dr. Gleason Archer says it “bears the distinction of being the most difficult of all the prophecies to date.” Scholars, liberal and conservative, are divided over the dating of the text to this day. The date is either shortly after Judah and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 585 B.C. or much earlier when Jehoram was king of Judah in 848-841 B.C.

The prophetic content of this book focuses upon the ancient feud between Israel and Edom. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau and therefore still held malice towards the Israelites because of Jacob cheating Esau of his birthright (Genesis 25:21-34; 27:41). It foretells of the doom of Edom for their pride and malice towards Israel (1:1-16). It also foretells the deliverance of God’s chosen people (1:17-21).

In the book of Obadiah we see that the Edomites stood by, encouraged, and even looted while the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem (1:12-14). They refused Israel passage through Edom (Numbers 20:14-21) and even rejoiced over their capture (Psalms 137:7). The name Edom comes from a Hebrew root word that means "red." Edom was once located south of the Dead Sea in an area with numerous rocky cliffs that provided cover and concealment ideal for military positioning. Ironically, much of the sandstone of this area is red in color.

Due to the influence of the Persian Empire the territory of Edom would become a province called Idumea, the Greek form of Edom, which was a name extant during the times of Christ. In the Maccabean period (165-142 B.C.) John Hyracanus, a Jewish revolutionary leader, forced the Idumeans to accept Judaism. Herod the Great, a Roman appointed king of Israel during the time of Christ, was of Idumean descent. After Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus, a Roman Emperor, destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the Idumeans disappeared from history.


The book of Obadiah focuses upon the relationship between Jacob (ancestor of the Judeans) and Esau (ancestor of the Edomites) as well as Messianic and eschatological undertones. It speaks of Gods principle of justice rather than betrayal returned for betrayal as is common in the human condition. “Obadiah also provided the people concrete hope in that he declared the defeat of a perennial enemy, Edom.”

Justice and vengeance belongs to God and is trans-covenantal (spans both Old and New Testaments). While alluding to Deuteronomy 32:35 the Apostle Paul confirms this:

Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Esau had reason to have anger towards Jacob yet his descendants—generations removed—still held on to bitterness and rancor. This reveals their inability to forgive and simultaneously their willingness to enact justice themselves. Much like sibling rivalry the two nations were in conflict and the Edomites were constantly treating Israel cruelly.

Betrayal and bitterness are both nasty attitudes and emotions that eat at an individual’s physical and spiritual health like cancerous tumors. They have the ability to affect one both spiritually and physically. When betrayal is from those closest to us the pain is more severe. The Edomites mistakenly felt secure in their fortified position amid the rocky and mountainous terrain of Edom. Security and confidence will never survive apart from God and no location is beyond the sight and reach of the eyes and hand of God.

Summary of Verse Selections:

In 1:1 we see the supernatural origin of Obadiah’s writings by the inclusion of the term “vision.” The Hebrew word used here (chazon) refers to the direct communication between God and man rather than a mere dream. Using this term places the prophet on greater footing for it indicates he has heard and seen from God Himself and thus has specific insight for the recipients of the prophecy.

In 1:2-9 the prophecy is focused upon the Edomites and reminding them that no matter how impregnable or inaccessible in their mountainous homeland they become Gods power and promises stand much higher. The Edomites felt they were exalted and soared as eagles with their “nest among the stars” (1:4 NIV) yet God is able to bring them down. God sternly reveals their betrayal and treachery. God promises to destroy them and not just deliver light punishment but once His judgment was come it would be complete.

Walter Elwell notes, “Theives steal only what they want (or can carry), and grape pickers may overlook a few grapes. However, on the day Edom is ransacked and pillages nothing will remain untouched by the looters. Even the most mundane of possessions will be pillages by the ruthless invaders.” The punishment will run so deep that even the “hidden treasures” (1:6) will be pillaged. This punishment is also recorded in Jeremiah 49:9-10 where God concludes that the Edomites will be “no more”.

If grape-gatherers came to you,
Would they not leave some gleaning grapes?
If thieves by night,
Would they not destroy until they have enough? But I have made Esau bare;
I have uncovered his secret places,[2]
And he shall not be able to hide himself.
His descendants are plundered,
His brethren and his neighbors,
And he is no more. (NKJV)

1:7 promises that even the allies of Edom will deceive and trap them. Their allies will eat their bread and the Edomites “will not detect it” (NIV). In 1:8 subtle irony exists wherein the “wise” and men of “understanding” will be “cut down” (1:9). Their pride (1:3); Jeremiah 49:7) had blinded them and lulled them into a false state of security which meant certain doom. Even the brave warriors of Edom will become terrified and cut down. The writer of Proverbs speaks of this very thing:

When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom. (NKJV)

Keil and Delitzch indicate the Edomites were “celebrated for their wisdom” and in fact “Eliphaz, the chief opponent of Job in argument, was a Temanite (Job 2:1; Teman was a geographical location in Edom). With this withdrawal of wisdom and discernment, even the brave warriors lose their courage. The heroes are dismayed, or fall into despair.”

1:10-14 is still focused upon the descendant of Esau as it explains the cause of their doom. 1:10 begins with “because” which is an indication of a slight shift in the tone of this prophecy. The prophecy lists their “violence” (NIV) against the descendants of Jacob.

The Edomites failed to ally themselves with Judah against a common foe (1:11); they rejoiced and boasted in the day of Judah’s misfortune (1:12); they marched into the gates of Jerusalem after it had been attacked simultaneously seizing their wealth (1:13) and in the “day of their trouble” they waited in ambush at a strategic intersection to cut down and turn over those fleeing Jerusalem to the Babylonians (1:14).

The response from God in these passages indicated that opposition to God and His people will not go without recompense. The arrival of divine justice however cannot be calculated by human methods because the appropriate action will be given in His time.

1:15, considered the second portion of this prophecy, alternates its focus from Edom (particular) to the whole world (universal). Edom then becomes an example of God calling all nations or all people to repentance. Not only shall Edom experience the “day of the Lord” (NIV) but “all the nations” (NASB) of the earth as well. The “day of the Lord” here refers to that great day when God will reveal Himself to enact judgment and just punishment (see Joel 1:15). This will be the time when God will destroy evil.

“As you have done, it will be done to you” is also recorded in 1:15. This notion of retribution is clearly taught throughout the Old Testament. Alternatively called, “an eye for an eye” is also found in Exodus 21:24-25; Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21 which indicates that punishment will be equivalent to the crime. Obadiah also includes the idea that their sins will “return upon your head” which may have resemblance with an earlier statement made by Moses:

But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 NKJV)

1:17-18 records that the “house of Jacob” will be holy and a fire and the “house of Joseph” a flame. This speaks of deliverance for Mount Zion (commonly used to refer to Jerusalem). The coupling of Jacob and Joseph here refers to most if not all of the twelve tribes of Israel. David Baker notes that “the entire nation of twelve tribes will ultimately be restored, to the detriment of those who persecuted her.” Conversely, the “house of Esau will be stubble” (NIV) that is obviously set ablaze by the former houses mentioned. From this consummation there will be “no survivors” (NIV).

1:19-21 speaks of the destruction of Israel’s enemies. Once the destruction has taken placed they will take possession of their land, and this territory will be expanded. The “deliverers” (1:21) mentioned are possibly exiles or the remnant who will return. At the time of Obadiah’s prophecy the kingdom was not the Lord’s, as it was in the hands of sinful leaders, but through divine certainty it will fully be under the Lord’s rule (1:21). “The kingdom will be the LORD’s” (NIV) is a quote from Psalm 22:28. This statement apparently refers to the fulfillment of Israel’s Davidic Kingdom under the reign of the Messiah Jesus Christ (Daniel 2:44, 7:14, 27; Zechariah 14:9; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15: 19:6)

1. Archer, L. Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. © 1968 Moody Press pg. 296
2. Walter A. Elwell and Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, electronic ed., Baker reference library; Logos Library System (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1996).
3. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1996, c1989). Ob 10.
4. Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002). 10:240.
5. D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994). Ob 15.


The Book of Jonah: A Brief Summary

Brief Outline:

I. Jonah Flees to Tarshish from the Presence of God (chapter 1)
II. Jonah Prays to God and is Delivered (chapter 2)
III. Jonah Obeys and Preaches Gods Message (chapter 3)
IV. Jonah Regrets Gods Mercy and is Admonished (chapter 4)


The book of Jonah, a Minor Prophet of the Old Testament, is about an Israelite prophet who reluctantly obeys God without genuine repentance. This narrative, which has often been labeled myth, legend and even allegorical, was written during the reign of Jeroboam II (780 B.C.) The text itself does not purport to speak of anything but people, events and places within the context of an actual historical setting. Dr. Gleason Archer suggests that the book “was composed by Jonah himself” in the “neighborhood of 760 B.C.”

The mythological perspective would make Jonah no more than a mere mythical character such as Hercules or Zeus. The allegorical perspective simply deems the work as parabolic of certain symbolisms within the text itself (e.g. Jonah is Israel, the fish is Babylonian captivity). The parabolic view does have some value in spiritual application but is not the style of the text itself. While the text of Jonah is apparently historical it also signifies the “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17). The early Jewish historian Josephus viewed it as historical and even Christ Himself vouched for its truth (Matthew 12:39-41).

Historical Context:

Jeroboam II brought about one of Israel’s greatest eras of political strength and territorial expansion (793-753 B.C.). 2 Kings 14:25 tell us this of Jeroboam II:

He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher. (2 Kings 14:25 NKJV)

Jonah supported this territorial restoration of Israel and God used Him “according to the word of the Lord God.” Despite being the great-grandson of Jehu Jeroboam II was the first king of the Northern Kingdom (ten of the twelve tribes). He followed a pattern of wickedness set forth by his predecessors and further entrenched it for those who followed. In fact, during the reign of Jeroboam II the wickedness grew so that the prophet Amos would eventually condemn him for his greed and immorality (See Amos 4:4; 7:10-17). The Northern Kingdom would go on to have 19 kings but sadly none of them ever attempted to bring their people back to God .

Jonah was a famous statesman and would have been known among his people. He was the son of Amitai who was also a prophet of Israel (see 2 Kings 14:25; Jonah 1:1). Throughout the book we see Jonah’s fluctuation from stubbornness to repentance back to stubbornness again. Jonah was self-willed (1:1-3), pious to Hebrew tradition (1:9), momentarily courageous (1:12), prayerful (2:1-9; 4:1-2), reluctantly obedient (3:3-4), a selfish bigot (3:4-10; 4:1) and very concerned with his own reputation (4:2-3). Throughout the text we find Jonah to be strong and yet at times exhibiting weakness of character. Even the initial prayer of Jonah (Jonah 2:1-10) was ego driven and in 4:1-2 his prayers turn accusatory towards God. Jonah was a man who reluctantly obeyed and yet was still unrepentant until the end.

Summary of Chapters:

Chapter One: In the first chapter we see that Jonah evades the command of God to cry out to the Ninevites to turn from their great wickedness (1:2). Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, an arch enemy of Israel. Historically the Assyrian hordes had inflicted much persecution and suffering upon the Israelite people.

God, being so eager to save them, would allow repentance that would result in forgiveness. Instead of being obedient, as is common among the stubborn Israelites, Jonah fled to Tarshish by way of Joppa, thinking he would evade the presence of the Lord.

Joppa was once a major port of Israel, a gateway (See 2 Chronicles 2:15-16; Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3; Acts 9:36-43; Acts 10:5-23). Its activity has now been replaced by the modern day city of Tel Aviv. The Joppa coastline is strikingly beautiful with deep blue waters and in mythology was the very location which Andromeda was supposedly chained to be consumed by a sea monster to appease Poseidon. Joppa was also the same port which Solomon used to receive the cedars of Lebanon for construction of the temple (2 Chronicles 2:15-26).

Jonah feared that the Ninevites would repent of their evil ways and be spared the impending doom that was certain against the city. The fact that God would forgive the Ninevites was also alarming to Jonah because it would mean that God would use Gentiles, if they repented, and become vessels used by God. As the Biblical story unfolds we see this is indeed the case for salvation to everyone who will believe and repent.

Jonah was so prejudiced and bitter against the Ninevites that he would rather have died instead of delivering the message of repentance. The behavior of Jonah did not reflect the character and values of God rather it demonstrated Jonah’s prejudice and cultural attitudes which was shared by all of Israel. Instead of allowing God’s work of transformation to be done in the people of Nineveh, as well as in the life of Jonah, he ran from God and avoided the pain of admitting his own prejudice.

God acted immediately upon the disobedience of Jonah by sending a storm (1:4) and a giant fish in his path to get his attention. The mariners and captain began to call upon their gods. In 1:6 the captain even appeals to Jonah, whom was found “sound asleep” (NLT) in the hold of the vessel, to pray to his God for deliverance. Soon the mariners began to cast lots to see who may be bringing the curse or storm upon them. The lots fell upon Jonah who was willingly tossed overboard. Once Jonah was tossed overboard the storm ceased!

By arrangement of God Jonah was swallowed by a giant fish and remained there for three days and three nights (1:17). The Hebrew (dag) and Greek (ketos) word for “fish” refers to a huge fish, of any species, or even a “sea monster” (NASB). Some have a hard time believing this actually happened but they may as well deny God as the creator of all living and the divine architect of nature. Dr. Carl F.H. Henry has noted that a persons “concept of God is determinative for all other concepts; it is the Archimedean lever with which one can fashion an entire world view.”

1:17 suggests that this sea monster was “arranged” (NLT), “appointed” (NASB), “provided” (NIV) or “prepared” (NKJV) just for this occasion possibly to not only keep Jonah from drowning in the depths of the sea but also to transport him to his eventual destination—Nineveh. The debate over whether or not such a fish exists or has been found and recognized by modern science, somewhere in the waters of the Mediterranean, is besides the point since the text reveals that God “prepared” the fish. Dr. Gleason Archer writes the following concerning the “great fish”:

“Numerous cases have been reported in more recent times of men who have survived the ordeal of being swallowed by a whale. The Princeton Theological Review (Oct., 1927) tells of two incidents, one in 1758 and the other in 1771, in which a man was swallowed by a whale and vomited up shortly thereafter with only minor injuries.

One of the most striking instances comes from Francis Fox, Sixty Three Years of Engineering (pp. 295-300), who reports that this incident was carefully investigated by two scientists (one of whom was M. DeParville, the scientific editor of the Journal Des Debars in Paris). In February, 1891, the whaling ship, Star of the East, was in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, and the lookout sighted a large sperm whale three miles away. Two boats were lowered and in a short time, one of the harpooners was enabled to spear the creature. The second boat also attacked the whale, but was then upset by a lash of its tail, so that its crew fell into the sea. One of them was drowned, but the other, James Bartley, simply disappeared without a trace. After the whale was killed, the crew set to work with axes and spades removing the blubber. They worked all day and part of the night. The next day they attached some tackle to the stomach, which was hoisted on deck. The sailors were startled by something in it which gave spasmodic signs of life, and inside was found the missing sailor, doubled up and unconscious. He was laid on the deck and treated to a bath of sea water which soon revived him. At the end of the third week, he had entirely recovered from the shock and resumed his duties…His face, and neck and hands were bleached to a deadly whiteness and took on the appearance of parchment. Bartley affirms that he would probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, for he lost his senses through fright and not through lack of air.”

Throughout the book of Jonah we see God preparing for Jonah; making a way of escape and provision for him. His provisions are not always according to our pleasure nevertheless those who have yielded their lives to God have made him captain of their human vessels. God prepares a “great fish” (1:17); a “plant” for shade (4:6); a “worm” to destroy the plant (4:7) and a “vehement east wind” (4:8).

Several years later Christ pointed to this same story in Matthew 12:40 as a figure of His own death, burial and resurrection. Matthew 12:40 states:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (NKJV)

Chapter Two: In the second chapter we see that Jonah prays to God and obtains deliverance. In fact, most of the content of these ten verses make up the prayer of Jonah. While in the belly of the giant fish Jonah turned to God in prayer (2:1). Even in the depths of the sea and in the belly of a giant fish God came to Jonah and dealt with his heart. The giant fish is often a main character in Sunday school lessons however the giant fish is neither hero nor villain. God and Jonah are the main actors in this narrative and the Ninevites possibly secondary.

Jonah’s resistance to God seems worse than that of Moses, Amos or even Jeremiah who all struggled with their respective assignments or purposes from God. Israel’s behavior is strikingly similar to the behavior of Jonah and certain parallels can be made without forsaking the historical import of the text.

A reading of the second chapter records the prayer of Jonah who called to God from the “land of the dead” (2:2 NLT) and “sank down to the very roots of the mountains…imprisoned in the earth” (2:6 NLT). It is interesting to note that modern scientist have found that most mountains have begun from the floor of the ocean. In 2:9 Jonah utters the most profound words of the chapter: “for my salvation comes from the LORD alone.” (NLT) or “salvation is of the LORD” (NKJV). In fact, these few words sum up the message of the Bible.

Here we see that Jonah acknowledges God as the only source of salvation by providing the great fish but still does not repent or acknowledge the divine mission appointed to him prior. The greatest of efforts of Jonah to evade the presence and command of God were futile and God even made a way of escape.

In 1:10 the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land giving him a second opportunity to carry out the divine commission appointed to him. As the divine architect God has the ability to command nature to do His will in the form of the supernatural. The Scriptures record Balaam’s donkey given the ability to speak (Numbers 22:28); the star of Bethlehem was used as a sign to the wise men (Matthew 2:2) and another fish was provided to the disciples with a coin in his mouth to pay temple tax (Matthew 17:27).

The exact location that the fish deposited Jonah is not certain. Some assumptions have been the coast of Palestine, Syria or even near Joppa where Jonah originally boarded for Tarshish.

Chapter Three: The third chapter records Jonah finally being obedient to God and fulfilling the prior commission to cry out to the Ninevites of God’s impending wrath. It is interesting to note that Jonah was to proclaim the divine message—“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (3:4 NIV)—to a people who despised and had inflicted persecution upon his race. A modern day example could be an Israeli religious leader walking through a densely populated capital city of Iran or even Syria proclaiming that the entire populous must turn from their wicked ways, including the tenets of Islam, and repent to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In 3:1 the word of the Lord comes to Jonah for the “second time” (KJV, NASB, NIV). Unlike before Jonah responded in obedience. After the proclamation for them to turn before being overturned the Ninevites “”believed God”; “declared a fast” and all of them “put on sackcloth” (3:5 NIV). Note that the order of their actions is started in belief or faith. For all those who would a repentant life before God there must first be faith. Ones object of faith will determine future actions as well.

Putting on sackcloth was a sign of mourning (1 Kings 20:31); anguish as in the case of Jacob who donned such a garment at the news of Josephs fake death (Genesis 37:34) and also for fasting (Isaiah 58:5). The sackcloth garment was made of goat or camel hair. In Jonah 3:8 even animals mourned in sackcloth at the decree of the Ninevite king.

3:10 records that God “relented concerning the calamity He had declared” (NASB). The relenting does not indicate a change in the character or ontological essence of God rather it points to the wonder of His mercy and love in dealing with man in the existential realm. God is never surprised by human actions but thankfully allows man to turn from his ways and align themselves with His divine plan. We should also remember that God had sent Jonah to warn the Ninevites to repent and turn from their ways. If God had continued with destroying them He would have been going against His own distinctions between good and bad; right and wrong.

Chapter Four: In the final chapter we see that Jonah has obeyed God but his heart never changed (see Jonah 4:1-3). He was “greatly displeased and became angry” (NASB) because God had relented and granted mercy to the Ninevites—sparing them from destruction. Jonah begins to reveal his psychological reason for evading His divine command earlier—he knew Gods grace and compassion would prevail if the Ninevites repented. As is common to humanity and even Israel in that day Jonah felt his way was best and sought to accomplish that end. Jonah 4:2 states:

“And he prayed to the Lord and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (NASB)

Jonah was so angered and distraught that Nineveh had repented he asked the LORD to “take my life from me” (NASB). Often times, cultural heritage and self-will is so deeply rooted in a person that abandoning those concepts and moving forward is frightening to the point of desiring death rather than life. At this time Israel was in a state of moral decline and perhaps Jonah felt at a loss because his fellow countrymen would not be stirred to future holiness because of God’s mercy and compassion. We can only speculate, but it is possible he felt his only weapon to fight (Gods judgment) against this moral decline had been lost.

Perhaps the irony, selfishness and contradictory misplacement of Jonah’s anger is readily seen in 4:10-11 which states:

But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” (NKJV)

In most any other occasion, it is probable, Jonah would have cared little for a plant. Even more so when the lives of over 120,000 people were at stake. With vicious heat beaming down upon him there is a reasonable purpose for concern but this is not what should have concerned him the most.

These two verses do reveal a certain the progressive nature of sin and disobedience (see 2 Timothy 3:13). Rather than be concerned about restoring man to right relationship with God he was blindly taken up with concerns about a plant which cannot enter into fellowship with God.

As the narrative comes to a close God readily points this out to Jonah and perhaps simultaneously revealing the spiritual nature of Israel as a nation.

Purpose: As we see throughout the Old Testament Israel was constantly backsliding and disobedient to God. Scholars have suggested that Jonah is a type of this behavior; a book revealing the character of Israel.

The allegorical interpretation of the book of Jonah is tempting yet it should not be given to the whole of the book. Dr. Gleason Archer notes that “numerous features of the narrative can scarcely be fitted into the allegorical pattern.”

What is the purpose of this book? Many answers to this question can be discovered by study, however; we should look at the actual teaching and information found in the text itself.

From the text it should be readily discerned that God has an eternal plan and purpose for all mankind if he will only repent and turn to Him. Second, when humans are presented with a divine command that is contrary to cultural heritage or self-will they are likely to evade the task altogether or seek to employ their own will.

Third, God is the divine architect of nature and is able to use it for His will and purpose. Ones concept of God does form his subsequent beliefs and actions. Fourth, God will judge and punish the wicked but will also relent and grant mercy if they turn to Him in repentance and humility.

Fifth, by the seemingly immediate repentance of the wicked Ninevites, in all social and economical classes, it can be seen that the most depressed or wicked mission fields can yield proper response. Sixth, this narrative beautifully demonstrates Gods willingness and foremost concern to show mercy and love towards his creation.

The Jonah narrative should have demonstrated to Israel that if they truly repent and turn God was willing to restore them. It also indicates that if they did not repent from their ways God would use any person or people group that was willing to yield themselves to Him. A glimpse at the New Testament and the Incarnation of God Himself, to redeem everyone who believes, is a further testimony of this.

At the coming of our Incarnate Lord we see that it was Gentiles who received the message of Christ rather than the Israelites, who would eventually disbelieve and even crucify the Son of God (See Matthew 12:38-42).

1. Archer, L. Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. © 1968 Moody Press pg. 296
2. Short, Melton. The Old Testament Made Simple. World Impact Ministries. Clanton, AL. pg. 45
3. Henry, F.H. Carl. Remaking the Modern Mind. Grand Rapids, Mich. William B. Eerdmans, 1948

Thomas Aquinas and 5 Arguments for the Existence of God

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275) was an early academic theologian during the Middle Ages. Francis Schaeffer has noted that Aquinas “changed the world in a very real way.” In his last work, which was left incomplete at his death, Summa Theologiae Aquinas quickly tackles the discussion about the existence of God. In this discussion he posits five ways of proving Gods existence. To read the full article by Aquinas on these proofs click here.

In the time of Aquinas the Holy Scriptures were not as commonly possessed by the common man as they are today. Indeed, today translations of the Scriptures abound not only in their ability to be accessed but also in the variety of renderings of the original languages. This was a time where social hierarchy was evident and lords ruled over their peasants. The common man did not have in common such things that the more affluent persons, such as those born into wealth and abundance, often took for granted or even gloated over. It was a very impressionable time for those who knew poverty as their closest relative. After all, they regularly did the bidding of their lords without question.

Today the effectiveness of simply being able to quote Scripture as an absolute answer to the complaints and skepticisms of our post-modern society has been weakened. Certainly individuals exist where this method suffices but likely they are already devout believers or are those who have already vested some authority in the Holy Scriptures by way of reason or intellect. Many wonder about, doubt or even totally disbelieve that God even exists much less an inspired Word exists from God Himself.

For some simply quoting from the Scriptures is equivalent to quoting from Shakespeare or Chaucer. It has been demoted, in their eyes, as simply another work of literature. Since Nietzsche God is dead in the minds of some. Once God is—again—made alive we can then begin a discussion about submission to the divinely inspired Book of God.

For example, does a freshman student of medicine begin by studying specified diseases or disorders? Do they begin by starting their own clinical practice? No, it is likely that they start with anatomy 101 or learning medical terminology to get a firm foundational grasp of the human body and terms associated with its treatment.

After studying philosophy with Albert Magnus, in Cologne, much of his early theological training was received at the University of Paris. Aquinas owes much of his philosophical and theological outcomes to Aristotelian methods. In fact, Oxford scholar Jonathan Hill has noted that he was “foremost amongst those making efforts to assimilate Aristotelian methods and tools in the discussion of Christian theology.”

Aquinas begins this article by listing two objections. The first is the problem of evil and how the existence of evil cancels out the existence of a God who is infinite in goodness. The second supposes the existence of God to be redundant since nature and human reason can account for natural and voluntary things. At the end of the article Aquinas answer these objections concisely. We shall examine the five ways of proving Gods existence offered by Aquinas.

The first three ways discussed by Aquinas can be called cosmological arguments. There are different forms of this argument but essentially it posits that “since there is a universe rather than none at all, it must have been caused by something beyond itself.” This argument has its roots in Aristotle and Plato but essentially argues that whatever begins to exist has a cause. Therefore, whatever exists has been caused or set in motion by God, the uncaused cause. For example, if we were to count to 100 we had to begin somewhere—at 1. There is no infinite series of events. Each cause has an effect and therefore in the Thomistic arguments God is not a cause but the “first mover”; the one who has created the initial cause that has set matter into motion.

First Way: This argument refers to the Unmoved Mover based on the idea of motion. Newton’s first law of motion essentially states that an object will remain at rest unless force is placed upon the object. Aquinas says, “motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality.” Each object has the potential for motion. For example, a book sitting on the very edge of a table has potential for motion if force is exerted.

Aquinas analogously refers to heat and wood. Wood has the potential to be hot but not until the heat has acted upon the wood. He also notes, “whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another.” In other words, the wood cannot heat itself but must have some force to act upon it. This setting into motion cannot go on to infinity because then there would be no first mover. As mentioned earlier, once we arrive at 100 we must concede a starting point. He concludes that “it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.”

Second Way: This argument refers to causality. Although Aquinas is referring to the causality of existence, consider the book near the very edge of the bookshelf. It has the potential of causality but must have force exerted upon it to see it fall to the floor. The cause of this effect could be someone shaking the bookshelf or simply a child nudging it to fall. God is eternal and without cause or else He would not be God simply by Biblical definition (Deuteronomy 33:27; 1 Timothy 1:17). According to the second argument everything that exists must originate from an initial cause. Human beings and the universe are effects which must have a cause. Since these exist then there was a cause.

It would be impossible for a human to exist prior to his existence. Aquinas notes, “There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible.” The point is that nothing can be self-caused because existence would be bestowed upon itself. Since this is obviously true everything that has a cause is or was caused by something other than itself. For a human to exist there were a series of causal events in order to come to conscious existence.

Human life did not simply appear without cause. Our human existence is dependant, then, upon other causes. “Therefore, there must be a first, uncaused, efficient Cause of all efficient causality in the world. Everyone gives to this the name of God.”

Third Way: This way of proving Gods existence argues for the existence of necessary and possible beings. Possible beings are those that begin to exist and cease to exist. A necessary being would be just the opposite—without ability to non-exist. The existence of human beings is not necessary but possible. This is demonstrated daily by the human death that has occurred since its beginning. A necessary being would always exist.

Aquinas notes, “that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing.” Since things in our temporal universe have been caused to exist or are not necessary then there must be an absolutely necessary being. According to Aquinas then, “we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.”

Fourth Way: This argument has been called “the argument from gradation (Perfection) in things.” William L. Craig suggests this argument is a type of “moral argument.” Aquinas notes that “among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like.” Here he refers to the varying grades of things. For example, there are various cuts of meat, e.g. chuck, sirloin, ribeye, prime rib, T-bone, porterhouse, New York strip or filet mignon. All parts of these choice cuts come from the same beef, however, even beeves raised for such purposes vary in their quality or breed. To many the filet mignon is the best of the best.

Another way to illustrate this would be a diamond. The value of a diamond is determined by four factors: color, shape, blemishes, and weight. As anybody who has visited a jewelry store has noted, diamonds too, have various grades. This effect of gradation is apparent in everything in some sense. There exists within everything a “superlative standard: the most good, most true, and so forth.” The result then is that within all things there exists something is the best or truest. Aquinas concludes, “Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.”

Fifth Way: This final argument is a type of teleological argument—an argument from design. For example, the nautilus shell has certain design patterns in each and everyone that is repeated in nature. In nature we observe that all things grow and move towards some end or goal. Craig uses poppies and acorns as an illustration. He states, “poppy seeds always grow into poppies and acorns into oaks.”

Fibonacci numbers (from Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (1170-1240) are widely used in mathematics. In nature design patterns, such as the spiral growth of leaves on some trees, often exhibit the Fibonacci series. Each sequential number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. For example, a series beginning 0, 1 ... continues as 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. Many things in nature duplicate their pattern and design each time a new one emerges.

Aquinas notes, “whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer.” Here he points to the archer who aims his arrow towards a mark. The arrow does not arrive at its mark without some intelligence that has selected the arrow, placed it and then aimed and shot. Aquinas concludes, “. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”

1. Schaeffer, Francis A. Escape from Reason. © 1968 by Inter-Varsity Press. London, England
2. Hill, Jonathan. Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity. © 2006 by Jonathan Hill. Published by Lion Publishing Plc. Oxford, England
3. Geisler, N. L. 1999. Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics. Baker reference library . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.
4. Craig, William L. Reasonable Faith © 1994 by William Lane Craig Published by Crossway Books Pg. 88

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)