Monday, November 4, 2013

Romans 1:18-20, the passage that is used for indiscreet firing/bombing.


Base text:
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
[The scripture citations are from ESV. The Greek word translated as “suppress” in ESV is also translated as “hold” and “withhold” in other versions.]

For the sake of brevity I use the term outsiders for:
  • gentiles - those who believe in god/gods other than the Judeo-Christian God.
  • mentally challenged.
  • those with physical disabilities that hinder their understanding.
  • those to whom the gospel was never preached, or wrong gospel was preached and hence they rejected it.
  • All those who lived before Christ, probably, including even Neanderthals.
  • Infants and toddlers.

Literalists argue that this scripture passage is applicable to every outsider who haven't even heard of the Judeo-Christian God and couldn't hear about the Judeo-Christian God, for reasons beyond their control.

According to literalists Romans 1:18 tells us that these outsiders “suppress the truth”. Logically, these outsiders have to have the truth and know the truth in order to suppress or withhold it.

Can any of the literalists show me a few scriptures that say these outsiders had truth in them or truth was given to them? The Bible tells us very clearly that the truth came through Jesus Christ.
Joh 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
This excludes all those lived before Christ from outsiders, because truth came through Christ, not before Him.

What is truth?

Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life...
Jesus Christ is the truth. Jesus came to testify the truth (Joh 18:37).

Knowing the truth is to know Jesus Christ.
Joh 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Read this verse with:
Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
In short, Christ is truth. Knowing truth is to know Christ. If one has to suppress truth one has to have to a minimum familiarity of the truth.

For instance, if I move to a place where there is Christian persecution, till such time the locals do not recognize me as a Christian they will not persecute me. Logically, those whom Paul says as suppressing the truth are someone who have some familiarity of truth. This excludes all those who unfamiliar with truth (Christ) from outsiders.

Does the creation reveal the existence of God to everyone? (Rom 1:19, 20)

Literalists may argue that the context of Rom 1:18-20 is not about Christ and it is about the creation (the things that have been made) revealing the divinity and eternal power of God to everyone (outsiders). The scripture says "his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived"...

Wait a minute. Have you ever been with mentally challenged as I had been with? Many of them do not even perceive when they urinate or defecate. Do you mean to tell me that such people can clearly perceive the eternal power and divine nature of the Judeo-Christian God from created things? Frankly, you should be kidding me!

How about physically challenged (deaf + dumb + blind) do they clearly perceive the eternal power and divine nature of the Judeo-Christian God from the things that have been made?

Even among literates there are many who do not know how the water that is poured at the bottom of a plant reaches till its leaves or why day or night occur, leave alone clearly perceiving the the eternal power and divine nature of the Judeo-Christian God.

If not perceiving God from the creation is sufficient to condemn outsiders, then why Christ at all?

If Rom 1:18-20 were to mean that those who do not perceive the eternal power and divine nature of the Judeo-Christian God from nature/creation will be condemned, does it not also imply that those who perceive are saved? If it be so, then why Christ at all? Why God sent His Only Son to earth and put him through all the suffering if there is an easier way out like saving all those who perceive God's eternal power and divinity from the creation? Does not the theory make Christ redundant and unnecessary?

Since the Greek word "θεός" does not always mean the Judeo-Christian God, will those who perceive and worship nature as God, like pantheists, also be saved by the same criterion?

The passage is about someone to whom the truth and the works of God are manifested, and NOT about all the mentally challenged, physically challenged,  illiterates, and those to whom gospel was not preached. The ones who suppress or withhold truth are the ones to whom truth is/was delivered.

I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will persuade you from using Rom 1:18-20 for indiscreet scripture bombing on all and sundry.

In Christ,

Tomsan Kattackal

ps: I wish, hope and pray that you don't have child who is mentally challenged. If you have one, will you still say that such a child is unrighteous and is a vessel of God's wrath? Will you still say that such a child who does not know its right hand form its' left is suppressing the truth? I pray that you won't. But if you say, I don't have think twice to call you unconscientious.

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