Friday, May 08, 2020

Christians and the Mosaic Law

There's one objection that gets raised to Christians all the time. It's the claim that Christians cherry pick from the Mosaic Law. Christians are inconsistent, for example, because they oppose homosexuality, but they're okay with wearing clothes made of two kinds of fabric.

This objection is based on theological ignorance about the relationship between Christianity, the Mosaic Law, and morality in general. While it is true that Christians affirm some aspects of the Mosaic law and do not practice other parts, they aren't being inconsistent. There is a principled reason for making a distinction between laws that should be kept and laws that don't need to be kept. This is my effort to explain what that principled reason is.

The Mosaic law was only given to the Hebrew people under the Mosaic covenant. It has never applied to anybody outside of that nation.

However, there are universal moral principles that have always applied to everybody, whether they were part of Israel or not. Some of those moral principles are codified in the Mosaic law.

So there are Mosaic laws we are obligated to keep, but it is not because they are in the Mosaic law. Rather, it's because they codify universal moral principles.

Christians are not under the Mosaic law, so they have no obligation to keep anything in the Mosaic law merely because it is in the Mosaic law. However, they do have an obligation to keep whatever universal moral principles there are, even if they are in the Mosaic law.

Even though the Mosaic law is not incumbent on Christians, it can serve as a moral guide to a certain degree since it captures universal moral principles. But not every law in the Mosaic law has an underlying universal moral principle. In the case of those laws, we don't have to keep them.

There are a few ways we can make the distinction between laws we should keep and laws we don't have to keep. One way is to look at the basis upon which God judges other nations. For example, we see God punishing other nations for things like violence and for their sexual practices, but he never punishes them for violating the Sabbath or for wearing the wrong clothes. So we know that the prohibitions against murder and adultery are universal moral principles and ought to be obeyed, but we can't say the same thing about wearing clothes with two kinds of fabric.

Another way we can tell is by looking at the moral standard of the New Testament. The New Testament writes to a broad Christian audience, including non-Jewish Christians who are not under the Mosaic covenant. So we can look at the moral proscriptions spelled out in the New Testament to tell what moral obligations Christians should have.

A third way is to give some weight to our own moral reasoning. God has written his moral law on our hearts, and through careful reflection, reasoning, conscience, and moral intuition, we can distinguish between right and wrong. This kind of moral awareness is open to everybody, whether they are Christians or not.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Christian Universalism

I had a debate on Christian Universalism one time. I argued against it, and my opponent argument for it. Here's my opening statement:

Thank you, rjohnson741, for the challenge and for shortening the character limit to 6000.


Pro defines Christian universalism as "the belief that all mankind will be saved through Jesus Christ." But we need to also explain what it means to be saved. In general, to be saved is to be rescued. In Christianity, we are being rescued from the wrath of God. Notice the contrast Paul makes between wrath and salvation:

1 Thessalonians 5:9 "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Romans 5:9 "Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him."

Once more:

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 "…Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."

People are under the wrath of God is because of their sins (Romans 1:18, Colossians 3:5-6). To save people from the wrath of God, Jesus died for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). His death provides forgiveness for sins (Matthew 26:28). Consequently, salvation comes by the forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77).

The alternative to suffering the wrath of God is having eternal life (John 3:36), so to be saved is to have eternal life (Titus 3:5-7). A person who has eternal life will not come under the judgment of God (John 5:24).

From all this, it follows that a person who is saved will (1) have their sins forgiven, (2) be spared the wrath of God, (3) not come under the judgment of God, and (4) have eternal life. If there is any person for whom all four of these things are not true, then that person is not saved, and if there is any person who will not be saved, then Christian universalism is false.

Contra universalism

Christian universalism is false because there are some people whose sins will not be forgiven, who will suffer the wrath of God in judgement, and who will not have eternal life.

1. Not everybody will have their sins forgiven.

Matthew 12:31 "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven."

Pro could claim that nobody ever has or will commit this sin, but the context indicates that some already have.

2. Some people will suffer the wrath of God.

Colossians 3:5-6 "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience."

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 "…Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."

And let's not forget the bowls of wrath poured out on mankind in Revelation 16. All of these passages say that wrath is coming. There will actually be people who suffer the wrath of God.

3. Some people will come under the judgment of God.

John 5:28-29 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment."

Matthew 11:22 "Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you."

2 Peter 3:7 "But by his word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."

These passages show that there will be a day of judgment in which some people will come under the judgment of God.

4. Not everybody will be raised to eternal life.

Daniel 12:2 "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but others to disgrace and everlasting contempt."

Matthew 25:46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Pro's argument for universal salvation

Pro's argument can be summarized like so:

1. God accomplishes all of his desires.
2. God desires the salvation of all people.
3. Therefore, God accomplishes the salvation of all people.

This argument commits the fallacy of equivocation because God's desires in the first premise does not have the same meaning as God's desires in the second premise. There is a difference between desiring to act and desiring a state of affairs, e.g., we might desire to punish our kids so they will learn good behavior, but wish we didn't have to.

And there are many examples in the Bible of God desiring things which he does not bring about. The most obvious example is morality. God has a desire for people to act morally (Proverbs 21:3), but every one of us acts immorally.

In Ezekiel 33:11, God says, "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live." God has a desire that the wicked repent and live, but many don't, and the old testament is filled with examples of God killing the wicked.

So there are different senses in which God desires things. He has a moral will and a sovereign will. When we say that God accomplishes all his desires, we are speaking of God's sovereign will. But when we say that God desires that people turn from their wickedness and live, we are speaking of God's moral will.

We know that God does not sovereignly desire the salvation of all people through the following reasoning:

4. Whatever God sovereignly desires, he accomplishes.
5. God does not accomplish the salvation of all people.
6. Therefore, God does not sovereignly desire the salvation of all people.

Pro agrees with 4. I have already demonstrated 5. 6 follows from 4 and 5. Since God's sovereign desire in premise 1 of Pro's argument is not the same as God's moral desire in premise 2 of his argument, Pro's argument commits the fallacy of equivocation, and his conclusion does not follow from his premises. So Pro has not demonstrated Christian unversalism.


As many of you already know, there are a plethora of other scriptures I could've used to undermine universal salvation. There are so many that it's not possible to bring them all up in this debate. If I have room in the next round, I'll bring up some more of them.