TOLERANCE & INTOLERANCE — PART 1 OF 2

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PART 1

UNDERSTANDING TOLERANCE

Definitions

Tolerance – [mass noun] The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with. Oxford Dictionaries

Tolerant – [adjective] Showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not necessarily agree with.Oxford Dictionaries

Intolerance – [mass noun] Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own. Oxford Dictionaries

Intolerant – [adjective] Not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own. Oxford Dictionaries

Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you. Timothy J. Keller


In the UK, when Christians engage in politics, with people, family and/or work they are often labelled as intolerant, regardless of whether they are tolerant. When Christians forcibly express their views on mankind, it can come across rightfully and/or wrongfully judgemental, hypocritical and even arrogant in manner.

However, when it comes to tolerance and intolerance, Karl R. Popper (Austrian-British Philosopher and Professor) made the following observation:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. ― Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

What Popper is saying in this statement is that unlimited tolerance inevitably leads to the dismissing of tolerance in general if we don’t “defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant“. Although, in doing so, it is important to note that Popper was not legitimizing intolerance and persecution, but rather claimed:

…in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. [He also claimed] that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and [stated] we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.” ― Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

In Popper’s example (given above), Christianity would have the right, like any other religion and/or human being, to promote tolerance or intolerance, although this would be heavily dependant upon the situation. In comparison, Christianity would also agree with the points raised, regarding intolerance, when it comes to murder, kidnapping or the revival of the slave trade.

However, what I have found in society is that when the intolerant call Christianity intolerant (as opposed to the tolerant calling it intolerant) it often stems from misunderstanding, or willful ignorance, of what Christianity is about due to one’s own “Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own.” Whereas the tolerant often rightly judge those aspects of Christianity that are, in fact, intolerant. Though in the end, what we must be understood of Christianity is that it does not exclusively promote tolerance or intolerance, but rather promotes both.


NEXT UP

PART 2

CHRISTIANITY’S INTOLERANCE AND TOLERANCE

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SUPERIORITY OF SCIENCE… or possible arrogance?

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Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, — Romans 1:22 KJV


When you believe that you have the answers to the building blocks of society, independent of God, be sure that you are right…


So often, one can run the risk of explaining away the very basis on which their faith stands when thinking that they know more than God. Richard Dawkins (Ethologist, Evolutionary Biologist, and Author), for example, was raised an Anglican and said to have embraced Christianity until he gave it up midway through his teens. When asked in an interview for the Guardian “what changed?” Richard answered:

I suppose that by that time the main residual reason why I was religious was from being so impressed with the complexity of life and feeling that it had to have a designer, and I think it was when I realised that Darwinism was a far superior explanation that pulled the rug out from under the argument of design. And that left me with nothing. Darwin’s child by Simon Hattenstone

One could argue that he probably didn’t have much of a relationship with God prior to renouncing his faith, being that he was a young teenage boy, but that is not for us anyone else to say. What we do know, however, is that he considered Darwinism to be a far superior explanation for the origin of life. Although, for all its superiority Dawkins later wrote:

I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one. — The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins

As Dawkins does not have [an] explanation for complex biological design, like many scientists before him and the many more scientists that will come after him, I do not envisage that any of them will ever be able to provide an in-depth factual analysis as to how the complexities of the universe, including biological design, came into being.

Don’t get me wrong, science is good, and as an “intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour… (…of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”) science undeniably influences most aspects of everyday life. Some of which include food, energy, medicine, transportation, leisure activities and so much more. It also improves human life from individual comfort to global issues.

However, when the obtainment of that knowledge, which is gained through scientific enquiry, is viewed through the lens of arrogance, it devalues those qualities that make science what it isIn Dawkins case, the lens would be atheism, and by using it as an example of what is wrong with science one would need to look to McGrath. Having studied and taught within the same academic circles as Dawkins, Alister McGrath (quite possibly Dawkins intellectual equal) says of Atheism:

Atheism, I began to realize, rested on a less-than-satisfactory evidential basis. The arguments that had once seemed bold, decisive, and conclusive increasingly turned out to be circular, tentative, and uncertain. — Alister McGrath, Theologian, Priest, Historian, Scientist, Christian Apologist and Public Intellectual

As a result, when scientists, like Dawkins, misconstrue science in such a way as to suit their own agenda they, in fact, rob it of its intellectual faculties. By finding satisfaction in their less-than-satisfactory evidential basis of their own arguments and/or arguments of others (similar to their own), they continue to reject the challenges that weaken their resolve (perhaps for fear of being proven wrong). Thus, their arguments grow everymore circular, tentative, and uncertain, but in the end all I can say is this…

be sure that you are right.

Spirit and Truth — Part 4 of 4

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PART 4

RENEWING OF MIND:

DIGGING DEEPER


The aim of this blog series is to edify you just as God’s Word has edified me, by helping you to grow in wisdom and understanding concerning spiritual matters. Be blessed and I hope you enjoy what you read.


Colour Key
Light Blue — relates to, or is, main Scripture (Mark 12:30-31).
Dark Blue — the basis for argument and discussion.
Gold  to highlight important phrases and/or topics/words needing to be read independently and/or in conjunction with Light Blue and Dark Blue texts.
TGL — Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

In the previous blog, we found that the twelve needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit was going to guide them into all truth showing them all things to come (John 16:13), and from Romans 12:1-2 we have learned that the Holy Spirit needs to continually act and transform our lives in order to make it easier for us to sustain God’s Law.

Looking now to the second question posed, namely, What more does the Holy Spirit give us?; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 along with Matthew 7:1-6 teaches us in more depth how Romans 12:2 can be applied to our lives as follows:

1 CORINTHIANS 2:6-16 HOLY SPIRIT’S TEACHING & UNDERSTANDING

6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. — 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 KJV

Paul states in verse 6 that “…we (Cf. with “we” in v.12) speak wisdom amongst them that are perfect (KJV), i.e. the more intelligent, ready to apprehend divine things (TGL), but “…not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought” (KJV; Cf. v.7 and Acts 4, specifically v.8 and v.13). Verse 8 also teaches us that if the princes (leaders/rulers — TGL) of Jesus’ day had gained access to this wisdom “…they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (KJV)

However, in the best turn of events throughout history, Jesus rose from the dead as our Saviour giving us His Spirit to dwell in us (John 14:17; Cf. 16:7). Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul informs us that “…the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (v.10 KJV), but that “…the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (v.11 KJV) Curiously, verse 14 states that:

the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. — 1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV

What Paul means by this is that no one can spiritually discern those things that are spiritual without receiving the Holy Spirit, and in turn, the Holy Spirit cannot be received without sincere belief in Jesus Christ. Verses 15-16 also go on to say that:

15…he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. — 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 KJV

Now when I first read these verses, I do admit, I had to read them 2 or 3 times because they seemed to contradict one another, especially since most Christians would agree on principle that judging is wrong (even though we as Christians do fail in this area). However, when the Holy Spirit lead me into the truth, and understanding, of their meaning it showed me something in scripture that I had not previously seen. Notice for yourselves how verse 15 is split into two parts. Part 1) says he that is spiritual judgeth all things and part 2) says yet he himself is judged of no man. Again, to the undiscerning eye, these verses do seem strange and contradictory in behaviour, and as we know Matthew 7:1-2 certainly would not have supported the first part of 1 Corinthians 2:15.

But… let me show you what the Holy Spirit taught me

Let us start by looking at both Matthew 7:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, in context, in order to answer the following question, namely: What more can the Holy Spirit teach us?:

MATTHEW 7:1-6 — JUDGE NOT

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.Matthew‬ ‭7:1-6‬ ‭KJV

Now, in the first two verses of Matthew 7, Jesus says “1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (KJV) As I said before, “To the undiscerning eye these verses do seem strange, and even contradictory”, especially since both parts of 1 Corinthians 2:15 seem to be at odds with one another. The first half of 1 Corinthians 2:15 also seems to contradict Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:1-2.

Nevertheless, when looking to Matthew 7:6 Jesus says: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (KJV) Again this seems strange, but in the context of 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 Paul said that we (referring to himself and others) speak wisdom among them that are perfect, i.e. mature (v.6 KJV), and not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought (v.6 KJV). In this sense, the dogs (Matt. 7:6 KJV) which Jesus spoke of, would bear some resemblance with those who belonged to the wisdom of [the/]this world (1 Cor. 2:6 KJV), and in addition were said to be [coming] to nought (v.6 KJV).

By acknowledging this we learn two things; Firstly, that both passages (Matt. 7:1-6 and 1 Cor. 2:6:16) subtly display the differences between the wisdom of this world (v.6 KJV) and the wisdom among them that are perfect (v.6 KJV);

Side-note  In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, Paul was evidently talking about the culture and climate of his day, but in comparison, his (and the other’s) conversations among them that [were] perfect (1 Cor. 3:6 KJV) could be seen as a logical progression of Jesus’ teaching concerning Matthew 7:6. This can be seen more clearly from the beginning of 1 Corinthians 2:8 (referring back to v.7) when Paul states that none of the princes of this world knew (v.8 KJV) of the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. (v.7 KJV)

But secondly, (and perhaps) more importantly, we learn from 1 Corinthians 2 that we can spiritually discern (v.14), but not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual (v.13 KJV). As a result, when comparing Jesus’ statement concerning judging one another (Matt. 7:1-2) with the spiritual judgement mentioned in the 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, we learn that a Christian who is in the Spirit and therefore led by the Spirit “…judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (v.15 KJV). This is because he and/or she would be operating in the mind of Christ (v.16 KJV).

In other words, if we are to genuinely operate in the Spirit having the mind of Christ, we will be able to judge matters for ourselves so long as we use spiritual discernment accompanied by the guidance of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (Rom. 8:11). In this way, we will not be judged (as Matt. 7:1-2 would imply), because that which is spiritually discerned and in union with the mind of Christ is free of judgement on account of His perfection

Although, it is worth noting that for those who know God, but still judge with the human heart, Matthew 7:1-2 would apply.


Points to Remember

Part b) What more does the Holy Spirit give us?

  • 1 Corinthians 2:6 states that “…we speak wisdom amongst them that are perfect (KJV), i.e. the more intelligent, ready to apprehend divine things (TGL), but “…not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought” (KJV; Cf. v.7 and Acts 4, specifically v.8 and v.13).
    • Side-note — Verse 8 also teaches us that if the princes (leaders/rulers  TGL) of Jesus’ day had gained access to this wisdom “…they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (KJV)

  • 1 Corinthians 2:10 says: “…the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (KJV)
  • One cannot spiritually discern those things that are spiritual without receiving the Holy Spirit, and in turn, the Holy Spirit cannot be received without sincere belief in Jesus Christ.

General Points to Remember

  • Throughout this blog series, we have found that the Law could not do what it was meant to do because the flesh was weak. (Rom. 8:3)
  • If Mark 12:30-31 is to be sustained by any Christian it is clear that one more thing is needed, namely the Holy Spirit.
  • From Romans 12:1-2 we have learned that the Holy Spirit needs to continually act and transform our lives in order to made it easier for us to sustain God’s Law.
  • Last, but not least, if we are to genuinely operate in the Spirit having the mind of Christ, we will be able to judge matters for ourselves so long as we use spiritual discernment accompanied by the guidance of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (Rom. 8:11).

NEXT UP

TO BE CONTINUED…

Spirit and Truth — Part 3 of 4

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PART 3

RENEWING OF MIND:

DIGGING DEEPER


The aim of this blog series is to edify you just as God’s Word has edified me, by helping you to grow in wisdom and understanding concerning spiritual matters. Be blessed and I hope you enjoy what you read.


Colour Key
Light Blue — relates to, or is, main Scripture (Mark 12:30-31).
Dark Blue — the basis for argument and discussion.
Gold — to highlight important phrases and/or topics/words needing to be read independently and/or in conjunction with Light Blue and Dark Blue texts.
TGL — Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
CWG — Christ’s Words in Greek

In the previous blog, we looked at how Mark 12:30-31 could be sustained by the Holy Spirit, in-depth, using Romans 12:1-2. In conclusion, we found that by allowing the Holy Spirit to continually act and transform our lives made it easier for us to sustain God’s Law.

However, as this conclusion brought us to an end I couldn’t help but think as a sceptic…

“Why would the Holy Spirit be needed among the twelve?” 

For this reason, the last two parts of this blog (Parts 3 and 4) will be ‘Digging Deeper’ to give two answers in response to the following questions; a) Why was the Holy Spirit needed among the twelve?; and b) What more does the Holy Spirit give us?

Starting with the first question, prior to Pentecost (Acts 2), no believer had received the Holy Spirit internally and therefore could not be transformed by the renewing of [their] mind (Rom. 12:2 KJV). This is something that Jesus was fully aware of when He spoke to His disciples of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26; Cf. 16:13-16), especially when He mentioned the Spirit being with them, but not yet in them (John 14:17).

In preparation for PentecostJesus prepared the twelve disciples by stating the following:

13 [Nevertheless/However] when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. — John 16:13-16 KJV

Even though they had not received the Holy Spirit (in the sense that they were not changed that the spirit which governs the mind was renewed  TGL), they had been transformed and renewed to the extent that they were able to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13:11 KJV). However, for those who did not have this kind of knowledge or understanding, Jesus claimed that these people’s hearts were waxed gross (Matt. 13:15 KJV).

Side-note CWG states that the Greek term waxed gross “has both positive and negative meanings, but in the passive, as it appears here, most of its meaning is more negative “to become thick”, “to become dull,” and is a metaphor for “to become stupid.”

We know from earlier that the Spirit was among the twelve, but not yet in them (John 14:17). This, in turn, showed that their minds had not yet been spiritually renewed with respect to Romans 12:1-2 (this can be seen more clearly in John 14:5, 8, 22; 16:17-18, 29-30 with reference to their questioning and other places within scripture). For this reason, they needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit was going to guide them into all truth showing them all things to come (John 16:13). In short, this is why the Holy Spirit was needed among the twelve.


In the previous blog, as was mentioned earlier, we found that the Law could not do what it was meant to do because the flesh was weak (Rom. 8:3). It was only by Jesus’ great sacrifice that we were able to love the Lord our God with all of our being, as well as love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and not by our own individual efforts, but by His propitiation for our sins. (Rom. 8:4) However, if Mark 12:30-31 is to be sustained by any Christian it is clear from what was said in the previous blog, and above, that one more thing is needed, namely…

The Holy Spirit!

Even though God had not willed the Holy Spirit to be given prior to Jesus’ ascension (John 16:7) or crucifixion, it was not God, but man, that separated the Spirit from mankind (Rom. 5:12-17; Cf. Gen. 6:3). Fortunately, by God’s good grace and mercy we regained spiritual life through the sacrificial death of His Son that His Spirit might dwell in us (Rom. 8:11; Cf. Romans 5:12-17).


But it doesn’t end there…

We have learned that the twelve needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit was going to guide them into all truth showing them all things to come (John 16:13), and from Romans 12:1-2 we have learned that the Holy Spirit needs to continually act and transform our lives in order to make it easier for us to sustain God’s Law

To find out what more the Holy Spirit gives us, stay tuned for part 4


Points to Remember

Part a) Why was the Holy Spirit needed among the twelve?

  • Prior to Pentecost (Acts 2), no believer had received the Holy Spirit internally and therefore could not be transformed by the renewing of [their] mind (Rom. 12:2 KJV).
  • Jesus’ twelve disciples needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that it could guide them into all truth showing them all things to come (John 16:13). In short, this is why the Holy Spirit was needed among the twelve.

General Points to Remember

  • Throughout this blog series, we have found that the Law could not do what it was meant to do because the flesh was weak. (Rom. 8:3)
  • If Mark 12:30-31 is to be sustained by any Christian it is clear that one more thing is needed, namely the Holy Spirit.
  • From Romans 12:1-2 we have learned that the Holy Spirit needs to continually act and transform our lives in order to made it easier for us to sustain God’s Law.

NEXT UP

PART 4

RENEWING OF MIND:

DIGGING DEEPER

Spirit and Truth — Part 2 of 4

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PART 2

RENEWING OF MIND: SUSTAINING ‘MARK 12:30-31′


The aim of this blog series is to edify you just as God’s Word has edified me, by helping you to grow in wisdom and understanding concerning spiritual matters. Be blessed and I hope you enjoy what you read.


Colour Key
Light Blue — relates to, or is, main Scripture (Mark 12:30-31).
Dark Blue — the basis for argument and discussion.
Gold — to highlight important phrases and/or topics/words needing to be read independently and/or in conjunction with Light Blue and Dark Blue texts.
TGL — Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
LKOB — Larry Pierce’s Online Bible

In the previous blog, we found that the Law could not do what it was meant to do because the flesh was weak (Rom. 8:3). It was only by Jesus’ great sacrifice that we were able to love the Lord our God with all of our being, as well as love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and not by our own individual efforts, but by His propitiation for our sins. (Rom. 8:4)

In this blog, we will be looking at how Mark 12:30-31 can be sustained by the Holy Spirit, in-depth, using Romans 12:1-2.

ROMANS 12:1-2 — LIVING SACRIFICES & RENEWING OF MIND

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. — Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

To start with, in verse 1, Paul beseeches (Meaning: to entreat; to supplicate; to implore; to ask or pray with urgency; followed by a person — TGL) his brethren (Meaning: used almost exclusively in solemn and scriptural language, in the place of brothers — TGL), by the mercies of God, [to] present [their] bodies [as] a living sacrifice, holy [and] acceptable unto God, [of] which [Paul states is their] reasonable service, i.e. duty.

By presenting (Meaning: to bring, lead to, in the sense of presenting, without a dative: Acts 9:41; Col. 1:28. of sacrifices or of things consecrated to God — TGL) oneself as a living (Meaning: having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul — TGL) sacrifice (Meaning: a sacrifice; by offering up himself — TGL) to God leaves nothing to chance. We’re to present ourselves in body and in mind as 1 Cor. 6:20 shows. However, what must be noted far above all is that all of these things are only made possible by the mercies of God.

So, how does the Holy Spirit sustain the righteous requirement of the Law?

Well, in the second verse which we will be looking at more intently, we find that we need to be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind, [so] that [we can] prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. By allowing our minds to be transformed and renewed in this manner makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. It is in this way that the Holy Spirit helps us to sustain the righteous requirement of the Law.

Interestingly, TGL defines the word transformed as being a change of moral character for the better, and LKOB defines the word renewing as a renewal, renovation and/or complete change for the better. Mind, however, means to be so changed that the spirit which governs the mind is renewed (TGL).

In light of the Law, these two verses teach us that the Holy Spirit has to transform/change and renew our moral character (Cf. Gal. 5:16-17, 24-25), contained within the mind, for the betterment of ourselves before God so that we can, once more, prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. By allowing the Spirit to continually act and transform our lives in this way makes it easier for us to sustain God’s Law.   


In these two verses, we find the spiritual ingredients for sustaining the righteous requirement of the Law.


Points to Remember

  1. First, and foremost, it is only by the mercies of God that He allows us to present our bodies as living sacrifices before Him. – Rom. 12:1
  2. We are not [to be] confirmed to this world. – Rom.12:2
  3. And finally, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in such a way as to be able prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. – Rom. 12:2
    • Transformed change of moral character for the better.
    • Renewing renewal, renovation and/or complete change for the better.
    • Mind to be so changed that the spirit which governs the mind is renewed.
  4. By allowing the Spirit to continually act and transform our lives in this way makes it easier for us to sustain God’s Law

NEXT UP

PART 3

RENEWING OF MIND:

DIGGING DEEPER

Spirit and Truth — Part 1 of 4

8

PART 1

The Righteous Requirement of the Law


The aim of this blog series is to edify you just as God’s Word has edified me, by helping you to grow in wisdom and understanding concerning spiritual matters. Be blessed and I hope you enjoy what you read.


Colour Key

Light Blue — relates to, or is, main Scripture (Mark 12:30-31).
Dark Blue — the basis for argument and discussion.

Gold  to highlight important phrases and/or topics/words needing to be read independently and/or in conjunction with Light Blue and Dark Blue texts.


MARK 12:30-31 — THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS

The main scripture we will be looking at today is Mark 12:30-31, which reads as follows:

30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. — Mark‬ ‭12:30‬-31 ‭KJ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬V

So, what does it mean to love the Lord your God with all of these things, and to love your neighbour as you love yourself?

MARK 12:28-34 — THE SCRIBES: WHICH IS THE FIRST COMMANDMENT?

28And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. — Mark‬ ‭12:28-34‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Well, in Mark 12:33 a scribe came to speak with Jesus. The scribe said that loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all understanding, with all the soul, with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, was more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that the scribe had answered wisely, He said to him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God (v.34). Notice that Jesus did not say “Thou ART in the kingdom of God”, but rather, “Thou art not far”.

Looking back to verse 33 let’s just sit back for a moment and think about this, how can two commandments be more than all [the] whole burnt offerings and sacrifices? And how does this relate to what it means to love the Lord your God with all of these things, as well as loving your neighbour as you love yourself?

Well, this is something God’s Word can actually provide an answer to.

Continue reading

Can a sponge sharpen a SPONGE?

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“Funnily enough this title was born out of a humorous conversation I was having with one of my friends who is a Pastor. When the laughter eventually died down I came up with the following title, which is based on Proverbs 27:17.”


Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.                 Proverbs 27:17 KJV

A. R. Fausset’s commentary interprets Proverbs 27:17 as a “…conversation [which] promotes intelligence, which the face exhibits”. When I was talking with my friend about this passage I made the joke that a lack of wisdom and knowledge can sometimes feel like a sponge is sharpening a sponge.

When I came to faith at the age of 19 I was attending a lively evangelical church, which challenged a lot of my preconceptions that I had formed about church growing up. As a young believer I found the simplicity of love, and with that acceptance, to be very appealing. As my faith developed I found that the evangelical environment I had grown accustom to was lacking in certain areas. Even though the atmosphere had initially been exciting, engaging and fun overall, when it came to engaging with scripture on deeper level teaching tended to veer into personal experience rather than biblically-backed teaching.

“…the evangelical ethos is activistic, populist, pragmatic, and utilitarian. It allows little space for broader or deeper intellectual effort because it is dominated by the urgencies of the moment.”

The late Richard Hofstader (Author, Professor, and Historian) also observed in :

One begins with the hardly contestable proposition that religious faith is not, in the main, propagated by logic or learning. One moves on from this to the idea that it is best propagated… by men who have been unlearned and ignorant. It seems to follow from this that the kind of wisdom and truth possessed by such men is superior to what learned and cultivated minds have. In fact, learning and cultivation appear to be handicaps in the propagation of faith. And since the propagation of faith is the most important task before man, those who are “ignorant as babes” have, in the most fundamental virtue, greater strength than men who have addicted themselves to logic and learning.  Richard Hofstader, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Hofstader thence finishes: “At bottom, this proposition, despite all the difficulties that attend it, has been eminently congenial both to American evangelicalism and to American democracy” [4]. This horrifying evangelical spirit in regards to academia and learning is quite appalling in regards to the task of administering the gospel to unbelievers.To make this point clear and short, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind” [5].

This single proverb has a much broader context, but as I do not believe in single verse teaching let me first unpack this verse before introducing other scriptures. To start with, the Hebrew word for countenance (see image below) translates into different variations of the name face (used 2,109 times in the KJV), which is more clearly shown in Exodus 34:29.

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What we also have to understand about this passage as well as the Book of Proverbs on the whole is that it was written to impart Godly wisdom, and like all the other Books of the Bible the Book of Proverbs was also inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21). It is also important to note that the background surrounding this Book concerns King Solomon’s son, whom he is speaking with throughout the Book. This is shown in the first chapter (Prov. 1:8, 10, 15) and numerous other places within the Book.

Proverbs 1:2-3 teaches us that the Book was written that his son may “…know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding” (v.2 KJV), and “…receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity” (v.3 KJV). However, in verse 4 we find that these qualities were assigned for a specific purpose: “To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” (KJV) Following this, if Solomon’s son was able to know, perceive and receive these things, verse 5 implies that he would become a wise and understanding man that would “attain unto wise counsels” (KJV), and verse 6 states that if this criteria was met he we would be able to “…understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” (v.6 KJV) The Hebrew word for dark sayings (see image below) translates into riddle, difficult question, parable, enigmatic saying or question, perplexing saying or question (only used 17 times in the KJV).

Chiydah.jpg

Bearing all of this in mind as a prerequisit to Proverbs 27:17, we can understand the broader ramifications of this passage 

Can a sponge sharpen a SPONGE? (Part 2 of 2)

2

 Teaching Evangelicals how to find Wisdom

I think it goes back to the fact that the evangelical community often does not have a biblical vision of God. ― Tony Campolo

Based on this assumption, I thought it would be a good idea to give a biblical account of wisdom in accordance with God’s Word. In order to avoid any personal or private interpretations of what wisdom is, I will be using scriptural references to define its parameters. By doing so I hope that everyone, including evangelicals, will be able to understand how wisdom works and operates in a biblical sense, rather than in an evangelical sense. I also hope that this blog will give you a fresh outlook, whilst also challenging your own preconceptions.


Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. ― Proverbs 27:17 KJV

In the previous blog, I mentioned A. R. Fausset’s interpretation of Proverbs 27:17 which explained the verse as a “…conversation [which] promotes intelligence, which the face exhibits”. In contrast, the previous blog concluded that this was not the case amongst most evangelicals (Noll) and the religious people of Hofstader’s time, as neither group tended to encourage broader or deeper intellectual thought. If both groups had looked to what the scriptures teach regarding wisdom, the Book of Proverbs would certainly have been the best place to look.

To start our exploration of the topic of wisdom I would like to begin with Proverbs 27:17. Even though this verse gives the appearance of being short and simple, it actually has a much broader context than it lets on, but as I do not believe in single verse teaching let me first unpack this verse before introducing other scriptures. To start with, the Hebrew word for countenance (see image below) translates into different variations of the name face (used 2,109 times in the KJV), which is more clearly shown in Exodus 34:29.

Paniym.jpg

What we also have to understand about this passage, as well as the Book of Proverbs on the whole, is that it was written to impart Godly wisdom, and like all the other Books of the Bible the Book of Proverbs was also inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21). It is also important to note that the background surrounding this Book concerns itself with King Solomon’s son, whom he (King Solomon) is speaking with throughout the Book. This is shown in the first chapter (Prov. 1:8, 10, 15) and numerous other places throughout the Book.

In the first chapter, Proverbs 1:2-3 teaches us that the Book was written with the express purpose to teach Solomon’s son, that he may “…know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding” (v.2 KJV), and “…receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity” (v.3 KJV). However, in verse 4 we find that these qualities were assigned for a specific reason: “To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” (KJV)

By applying these purposes (vs.2-3) to our own lives we learn that wisdom goes hand-in-hand with instruction, in order to perceive and receive the following qualities listed in vs.2-3. Although, if wisdom is not accompanied by instruction, and likewise, instruction is without wisdom, wisdom suffers overall.

Fortunately, if Solomon’s son was able to know, perceive and receive these things, verse 5 implies that he would become a wise and understanding man that would “attain unto wise counsels” (KJV). Verse 6 also states that if these criteria were met he we would be able to “…understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” (KJV) In our case, we can achieve the same outcome. If we know, perceive and receive these things (vs.2-3) we can also become wise and understanding (v.5), and as a result be able to understand a proverb and its interpretation (v.6).


Extra info: The Hebrew word for dark sayings (Prov. 1:6; see image below) translates into riddle, difficult question, parable, enigmatic saying or question, perplexing saying or question (only used 17 times in the KJV).

Chiydah.jpg


There is, however, a problem with this picture. If a Christian identified themselves as an evangelical, that is to say, they met Noll’s criteria (as mentioned in the previous blog), being primarily activistic, populist, pragmatic, and utilitarian, allowing little space for broader or deeper intellectual effort, finally allowing themselves to be dominated by the urgencies of the moment, this would create a problem.

So many Christians today are saved by the gentle message of love, acceptance and adoption, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when this invitation becomes a watered-down foundation on which they, the church, or individuals stand upon it is detrimental to the Church. Instead of wisdom, theology and doctrine being established, encouraged and taught, you tend to find that thoughts and feelings, supposedly Spirit-led, are prioritised above them. In the more extreme cases, they work exclusively in churches without any biblical underpinning.

In both examples, evangelicalism is without wisdom and instruction, which is dangerous because we have let it have a platform within the Church. By allowing ourselves to be dominated by the urgencies of the moment we are in fact forgoing the kind of wisdom mentioned in Proverbs 1, which enables us to hear and increase in learning (Prov. 1:5). It is for this reason that we need to treat it like a silent fire and put it out immediately.

The alternative is that we let the fire spread until it consumes the Church, because when a Christian or church allows, or worse still encourages, this kind of behaviour it leads only to carnality. By this, I mean that the individual and/or individuals do not act or live by the Spirit of God, but rather by the flesh, and as we know “…they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.(Gal. 5:24 KJV; Cf. Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:13-26; Col. 3:1-17) Therefore, those who are not Christ’s have not done so.

Though this may give the impression of being a new phenomenon, don’t be fooled, Paul saw this same situation occurring when writing to the Corinthians (read the whole of Chapter 3). He wrote to them regarding their carnal behaviour, which he likened to that of babes, rather than referring to them as spiritual (1 Cor. 3:1 KJV).

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon translates spiritual “…as the part of man [or woman] which is akin to God and serves as His instrument or organ”, whereas the word babes translates as childish or untaught or unskilled. Sound familiar? Strong’s Definitions further defined this term on a more personal level as a simple-minded person and/or immature Christian, which certainly sounds evangelical in nature.

To close, all I want to say is this, if we choose to first and foremost be dominated by the urgencies of the moment, we have willfully and deliberately chosen to forget that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” (Prov. 1:7 KJV), and in forgetfulness become “…fools [despising] wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7 KJV) It is for this reason that Proverbs 27:17 teaches us to promote intelligence in conversation.

To prevent us and to save us from becoming fools.


General Points to Remember

  1. A. R. Fausset explained Proverbs 27:17 as a “…conversation [which] promotes intelligence, which the face exhibits”.
  2. The Book of Proverbs, on the whole, was written to impart Godly wisdom.
    • Like all the other Books of the Bible the Book of Proverbs was also inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21)).
  3. The background surrounding the Book of Proverbs concerns itself with King Solomon’s son, whom he (King Solomon) is speaking with throughout the Book.

Wisdom Points to Remember

  1. Proverbs 1:2 teaches us to “…know wisdom and instruction; [and] to perceive the words of understanding.” (KJV)
    • Verse 3 teaches us to “…receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity.” (KJV)
    • Verse 4 teaches us that these qualities were assigned for a specific reason: “To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” (KJV)
  2. If we can know, perceive and receive the qualities mentioned in verses 2-3, verse 5 implies that we would become wise and understanding being able to attain unto wise counsels (KJV).
    • Verse 6 also states that we would be able to “…understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” (KJV)

Final Points to Remember

  1. Wisdom goes hand-in-hand with instruction, and if wisdom is not accompanied by instruction wisdom suffers overall.
  2. When Christians allow themselves to be dominated by the urgencies of the moment they forgo the kind of wisdom mentioned in Proverbs 1, which enables us to hear and increase in learning (Prov. 1:5).
  3. Proverbs 27:17 teaches us to promote intelligence in conversation, to prevent oneself from becoming a fool.

Christians should not get TATTOOS… or should they? (Part 3 of 3)

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PART 3

Tattoos and K.I.S.S.

My hope is that by the end of this post every reader will have a clearer more in-depth understanding of how this topic should be addressed, both in and out of the Church and Christian circles. Before anyone gets the wrong idea about the title given above, K.I.S.S. is not a reference to the American rock band. It actually refers to the principle “Keep It Simple Stupid” which was coined by the American engineer Kelly Johnson. As a result, the title will read as ‘Tattoos and Keeping It Simple Stupid’.

Having laid the groundwork for this final post by looking at the Levitical passage in much depth in part 1, as-well-as a brief history of tattooing/marking in part 2, you will undoubtedly have guessed that Christians can, in fact, get tattoos. That being said, this final blog will now address and advise, the best course of action as to how a Christian should prepare before getting a tattoo. At University, I also had a friend that challenged my preconceptions on whether Christians should get tattoos or not. He also got 2 tattoos himself, which I will be talking about, later on, using them as an example for how Christians should go about getting tattoos.


 

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. – Used by the National Canine Defence League since 1978

I am sure most people have seen and heard this slogan around Christmas time, but I thought it worthy to compare it to tattooing. In a similar sense, a tattoo is also for life and not just for Christmas, and like getting a dog, a tattoo requires a great deal of thought and consideration before getting one.

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Some people do admittedly get tattoos without giving the idea much thought beforehand (see images to the left), whereas others live with no regret whatsoever regardless of the risk.

 

However, the Department of Health has produced model bylaws for local authorities to consider when regulating piercing and tattooing for their businesses, which has minimized potential risks, some of which include the following:

  1. Equipment such as needles must be either disposable or sterilised after each use.
  2. Premises must be clean, and body fluids must be cleaned up, and couches and other furniture must be disinfected after each client.
  3. No eating or drinking should be allowed.
  4. All pigments should be sterile and inert.
  5. All jewellery should be sterile.

Despite having shown that tattooing in a broad sense should not be prohibited by the Church or wider Christian community, that is not to say we should go out and get tattoos without cautiousness or constraint. 1 Corinthians 10:23 does, after all, teach us that “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: [and] all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (KJV) The motive, and definition, behind the action of being expedient, is one of convenience and practicality, although possibly improper or immoral. What this means for tattooing as a Christian is that even if the act of getting a tattoo is lawful in today’s society, the convenience and motive behind getting one can sometimes be used as a mask to hide ulterior motives. Vanity and low self-esteem tend to be the more common reasons for why a person would get a tattoo, neither of which glorify God.

Also in this passage, the term edify means to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness and blessedness. It also means to build, which can be better understood in reference to Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49. However, if one were to edify not it would mean to undo and/or reverse these qualities. As a result, Christians should always carefully and prayerfully consider their motives for getting a tattoo beforehand.


 

In the previous blog, Isaiah’s graven mark (Isaiah 49:16 KJV) showed us he was willing to mark himself as a servant of God, not for himself, but to the glory of God. In the same sense, tattoos should be done to the glory of God, and not to the glorification of oneself. When Jesus was asked by the Jews “…whom makest thou thyself?” (John 8:53 KJV), and whether He was greater than Abraham, part of His response was as follows: “…If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:” (John 8:54 KJV). He spoke these words not as our risen Saviour, for He had not been arrested yet, but rather as an example.

We are not to honour ourselves. It is God that gives us honour.

But you’re probably thinking at this point, what on earth does any of this have to do with tattooing? Well, by tattooing oneself you give glory to yourself, the person, subject or thing that is tattooed on your skin. When Isaiah made the graven mark upon his hands it was clear who he was giving the glory to, and even though this was not specifically a tattoo, the act still showed that he was giving the glory to God. In the same sense when getting a tattoo we should be giving the glory to God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 also supports this by stating: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (KJV) When getting a tattoo we should be concerned with the whatsoever ye do part of this verse.


 

Terry_Wid_Fam.jpgAt University, I had a Christian friend (see picture to right) that challenged my preconceptions on tattooing. Having come to faith at the age of 19 I had been taught by my church that tattooing was wrong but forgivable. However, at University where I later met my friend I found that he did not agree with this position. He rather stated that there was no such scripture that directly prohibited the act of tattooing, which was true, and also refuted the 1 Corinthians 6:19 verse which I was using at the time to argue my case.  

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He later went ahead with getting two tattoos (see picture to left and picture above), both of which glorified God in his life. The first tattoo (picture to the left) reads “I Prayed, He Spoke, I Conquered”, and testifies of a time in his life when he prayed, God spoke, after which he was able to conquer the problem with God’s help. The second tattoo depicts God in the form of a Lion wearing a Crown to show that He is King. On a more personal level, the crowned Lion represents God’s consistency in all the times He has given my friend victory. Under the Lion’s head, there is also a sword, which signifies all the fights my friend has waged through prayer and fasting when seeking an answer from God.

It is worth noting that before my friend got these tattoos he had prayerfully and carefully considered what he was going to get beforehand, and as we can see the end result showed that he wanted to glorify God in his life, rather than himself or any other thing. By using his example as a benchmark for how Christians should get tattoos, this would be the example to follow, but I will also be providing a quick step-by-step guide below for anyone that is still unsure of how to get a tattoo as a Christian. It is also worth noting that at the time my friend got these tattoos he was a mature Christian (and still is), and even though this is not the case for every Christian, especially new believers, he was in a far better position to judge right from wrong on account of his spiritual maturity, with which he could apply spiritual discernment.


To conclude, there will be a final Points to remember section and a practical step-by-step guide offering additional support and guidance as to how a Christian should go about getting a tattoo when contemplating getting one. Other than that I hope you have found this 3-Part blog series to be informative, insightful and fun to read (despite its length).

And please feel free to leave a comment below.


Points to Remember

  1. A tattoo is for life and not just for Christmas, and like getting a dog, a tattoo requires a great deal of thought and consideration before getting one.
  2. 1 Corinthians 10:23, when applied to tattooing, teaches us that even if the act of getting a tattoo is lawful in today’s society, the convenience and motive behind getting one can sometimes be used as a mask to hide ulterior motives. It goes without saying, but a Christian should always carefully and prayerfully consider their own motives before getting a tattoo.
    • Vanity and low self-esteem tend to be the more common reasons for why a person would get a tattoo, neither of which glorify God.
  3. Tattoos should always be done to the glory of God, and not to the glorification of oneself.
    • By tattooing oneself you give glory to yourself, the person, subject or thing that is tattooed on your skin.

How should a Christian go about getting a tattoo?

  1. Take the time to pray – Everything should start with prayer, and if you’re not willing to take this first step, perhaps you shouldn’t be getting a tattoo. 
    • However, if you are willing to be prayerful it is always beneficial to take the time to talk things over with God in prayer, especially since tattoos are permanent, and need a great deal of thought and consideration before making the choice to get one. Prayer also has a real practical application. When we speak with God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, we are conveying to God through faith in action what our priorities are by putting Him first. This is something Jesus did exceedingly well when He was on earth (Read: Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 11:1) and I would highly recommend it.
  2. Check your motives – Make sure that your motives are pure, Pray again, and talk things over with God
    • Remember, the motive, and definition, behind the action of being expedient (1 Cor. 10:23) is one of convenience and practicality, although possibly improper or immoral.
    • And the term edify means to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness and blessedness, and also means to build.
    • As a result, always make sure your motives for getting a tattoo are pure, and check to see if your motives promote growth in any of the following areas mentioned in the above bullet-point.
  3. Seek Christian counsel
    • If you are unsure, or even feeling confident in your decision, it would still be wise to seek Christian counsel from a mature Pastor, Elder, church leader etc.
  4. Pray and check your motives again
    • Pray for whatever has been advised or discussed with your Christian counsel
    • Also check your motives again, perhaps your Christian counsel has challenged your motivation for getting the tattoo?
    • However, if their advise or challenge has not swayed your decision, you have been prudent in seeking out Christian counsel.
  5. Get the tattoo
    • Finally, if your motives are pure and glorify God, get the tattoo.
    • But remember to find a tattoo parlour that abides within the law (i.e. follows the regulations set forth by the Department of Health). Most tattoo parlours will abide by the law, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
    • And last, but not least, remember that tattooing is an artistry, meaning that whatever you want to get a tattoo of, will be performed through the medium of an artist. For example, when you go to get a haircut you are again looking for an artist in a similar, but different, sense to cut your hair to a style of your choosing. What this means is that if you want to get a tattoo, make sure that you like the work of the artist before getting one. Otherwise, it will be like getting a bad haircut where you wanted one style instead of the other. The only difference is that with a bad haircut your hair will grow back, whereas with a tattoo it will be permanent.

Christians should not get TATTOOS… or should they? (Part 2 of 3)

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PART 2

A History of Tattoos… A History of Markings.

The word “tattoo” did not enter into the English language until the late 1700s, and though Leviticus 19:28 is used by a large proportion of the Christian community to show God’s disapproval of tattooing “Leviticus 19:28 can be clearly seen not to be prohibiting tattooing”, as was mentioned in the previous blog.

Biblical texts backed by archaeology do show us that scarification was forbidden, rather than tattooing as we know it today. However, recent archaeology has shown that Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE) marked themselves, but it was limited to women. These marks were associated with fertility (breasts, thighs and abdomen) and considered to be a form of religious good luck charm when conceiving, carrying and birthing a child.

It is possible that the Israelites were influenced by Egyptian culture and rule during their enslavement, but 1 Kings 18:28 shows us that the Canaanites customarily slashed their bodies for ritualistic purposes in homage to their gods. Likewise, the Leviticul passage is also associated with pagan mourning practises and idolatry. So it is entirely possible that the Leviticul passage takes this into account when prohibiting practises concerning the dead.

When looking at these verses solely in relation to tattooing it is important to note that Jewish and Christian scholars alike have almost always deemed tattooing to be “guilty by association” with other pagan rites. Even though this has been argued in the past, we have already seen in the previous blog that the word “tattoo” did not enter into the English language until the late 1700s, and that the word “Mark” (TIB) or “marks” (KJV) also had an uncertain root, therefore nullifying this argument. As a result, we know that “tattooing” should never be associated with scripture. Instead the word “Mark” (TIB) or “marks” (KJV) should be used in relation to scripture, and even then in a loose sense as the Hebrew word has an uncertain root. 1 Kings 18:28 does, however, lend support to the ritualistic aspects of the Leviticul passage.

Other such references to cuttings or markings


In reference to the Biblical prohibition of tattooing, three years ago, John Huehnergard and Harold Liebowitz challenged this position:

They recognized that mourning practises in mythological texts from Ugarit (a Canaanite town on the coast of Syria from the late Bronze Age) involved the cutting of the body. However, tattooing [was] never mentioned in these texts. [This was] also true of mourning practises in Mesopotamia and Egypt. – Mark W. Chavalas (Professor and Editor), Unholy Ink: What Does the Bible Say about Tattoos?

As a result, Chavalas’ observations further support the fact that tattooing was not mentioned in the Bible let alone prohibited, and additionally discredit any tattoo related claims in reference to Canaan, Mesopotamia or Egypt, unless of course such texts should come to light in the future. (please note that the term “tattooing” should really read as “markings” in the quote above).


Having looked at tattoos and markings briefly throughout history, we can see that any argument made for the prohibition of tattooing is rendered invalid, but if one was still not convinced by this argument and wanted to rather argue for the prohibition of markings in general, they would need to address and provide an answer to the following points found in scripture.

Starting with Ezekiel 9, in verses 2-3 God chose one of six men (who was clothed differently to the others) in linen to “…set a mark upon the foreheads of [those] men” (v.4 KJV) that were showing signs of distress, caused by the abominations that were being committed in Jerusalem at the time (v.4). He used these markings in a positive light to determine who was going to be saved as a result of the mark, and to distinguish between those that were doing good and those that were doing wrong.

In the eighth chapter of Song of Songs, we also find another positive reference to markings, which could almost be mistaken for a couples love tattoo: “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm…” (8:6 KJV). Similar poetic language is also used in Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of

Revelation 13:16 (Cf. 20:4) does on the other hand provide us with a negative account of marking, referring to the antichrist that will “…causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (KJV). In any case, each one of these passages conveys a degree of servanthood. In Isaiah 49:16 Chavalas explained the verse as being:

…reminiscent of the common Mesopotamian and Israelite practise of marking or branding slaves with the name of the owner, often involving the forehead or hand, perhaps so slaves could be returned to their owner if they had fled. If this is correct, then [marking] was considered by the ancients as a mark of ownership. – Mark W. Chavalas (Professor and Editor), Unholy Ink: What Does the Bible Say about Tattoos?

Isaiah’s graven mark was a willing proposal on his part to become a servant of God, and therefore accentuated God’s ownership of him. In the same sense the seal upon the lovers heart and arm (Song of Songs 8:6), the signet upon the Lord’s hand (Jeremiah 22:24), the seals of the 144,000 (Revelation 7:3), and the marks of the antichrist (Revelation 13:16), all show ones servitude to a respective owner, good or bad. However, the most curious verse I have found within scripture is in Revelation 19:

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. – Revelation 19:16 KJV

For anyone arguing against markings in general, this verse would present something of a problem; Firstly, because it seems to contradict God’s Word, had He intended to ban all forms of marking; Secondly, the subject matter of this verse is Christ, which therefore escalates the contradiction to Christ Himself; Thirdly, if God had intended to ban all forms of marking it would make no sense to include any of the passages we have previously looked over (in addition to Him marking Himself), especially since most of them show markings in a positive manner (with exception to Revelation 13:16).

All in all God’s Word shows markings in both a positive and negative light.

But ask yourself this. If God had intended to prohibit markings altogether, would He have made it this difficult to prove?


Points to remember

  1. It is possible that the Israelites were influenced by Egyptian culture and rule during their enslavement, but 1 Kings 18:28 also shows us that the Canaanites customarily slashed their bodies for ritualistic purposes in homage to their gods.
  2. Biblical texts backed by archaeology do show us that scarification was forbidden, rather than tattooing as we know it today.
  3. Chavalas’ observations discredit any “mark” related claims in reference to Canaan, Mesopotamia or Egypt.
  4. Marking was possibly considered by the ancients to be a self-imposed or forced mark of ownership.
  5. Christ’s marking of Himself (Revelation 13:16) contradicts totality arguments made against markings. 
  6. God’s Word shows markings in both a positive and negative light.

NEW BLOG:

PART 3

Tattoos and K.I.S.S.