Monthly Archives: May 2008

Spanking

Here’s a PowerPoint regarding the issue of spanking and corporeal punishment I made in undergrad for a class.

For what its worth here’s my thoughts on spanking.

My overall position on spanking is: Though not explicitly Biblically mandated, it is wise for most children upon severe and volitional misdeeds/offenses to be spanked.

Spanking will be relative to the child and circumstance; and to delineate explicitly guidelines and principles would be helpful but tedious and cumbersome at this time for me personally.

It seems clear to me that the “rod” (choter in Hebrew), refers to corporal punishment of some kind in the book of Proverbs.

For example, “a whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools” (26:3). Clearly, corporal punishment of some kind is in mind here. Or take, “on the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.” (10:13). Then, one uses a rod to strike in 23:14, “If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” (Similarly in 23:13.)

Maybe, though, I’m missing something.

I do believe however from 23:13, that corporal punishment (which spanking is a manifestation of) is a subset or type of discipline. It says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” To not withhold discipline involves striking a child with a rod, but I do NOT think that discipline is coterminous with corporeal punishment.

Take another example. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”(29:15). Rod and reproof are aspects and dimensions of discipline—and I believe that there are even more. Discipline does not equal the rod.

So not all discipline demands or warrants spanking/corporal punishment. And I honestly don’t believe anyone who believes to the contrary.

Now, my understanding of Proverbs derives particularly from Bruce Waltke (see An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach by Bruce K. Waltke and The Book Of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) by Bruce K. Waltke).

Basically, the statements in the book of Proverbs are not imperatives, nor guarantees that if we follow each one to the letter everything things will be as described in this book. There will be exceptions.

For example, it says in 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” However, as we all know there are many children whose parents trained them up correctly in so many, but they still departed from the path, with temporally or entirely.

In Wisdom literature, each saying is a generalization in which exceptions will always occur, and should not be taken as explicitly as commands. They are wise sayings that should be followed if one wants to be wise.

As a result, I don’t think that one can say from Proverbs that spanking or corporal punishment is a Biblical mandate. Nor do I think exceptions to, or abuse of, warrant refrain from this form of discipline.

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol” (23:14-15). “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (22:15). IF you spank or use corporeal punishment, there is no guarantee that these proverbs will hold true.

But I don’t think one can escape the fact that it is wise to spank a child under some severe circumstances. As it says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (13:24).

Could be wrong.

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Some Good Audio Resources

Though I don’t plan on reading Young, Restless, and Reformed by Collin Hansen (not least of which are expressed by Challies), the following interviews with Hansen may be of some value to you–they were for me.

While I’ve heard and read many of what DA Carson has said in the following lectures at the 2008 Nashville Conference on the Church and Theology, I still found them to be profitable (particularly the end of the first on with regards to the Gospel being necessarily the epicenter of all theologizing).

Enjoy.


Random Good Quotes

“None of us feels the true love of God till we realize how wicked we are. But you can’t teach people that — they have to learn by experience.” Dorthy Sayers

“Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.” G.K. Chesterton


Understanding and Applying Scripture

Here’s a great quote on how to read the Bible and apply it in every circumstance, as Christ must always be the hermeutical key. Take from Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives) by Paul David Tripp.

That is how Scripture differs from an encyclopedia. When I use an encyclopedia, I do not need to read other articles to understand the one I am reading at the moment. One article has no connection to another; there are no overarching themes. In the Bible, however, every passage is dependent on the whole, and the whole Bible is held together by interdependent themes that run through every passage like rebar, the steel rods that reinforce concrete. If I handle Scripture topically, I will miss the overarching themes at the heart of everything else God wants to say to me. These themes give me a sense of identity, purpose, and direction that will fundamentally alter the way I think, desire, speak, and act. They will go to the root of my problem, producing change that lasts.

The sad fact is that many of us are simply not biblical in the way we use the Bible! Being biblical does not mean merely quoting words from within its pages. Being truly biblical means that my counsel reflects what the entire Bible is about. The Bible is a narrative, a story of redemption, and its chief character is Jesus Christ. He is the main theme of the narrative, and he is revealed in every passage in the book. This story reveals how God harnessed nature and controlled history to send his Son to rescue rebellious, foolish, and self-focused men and women. He freed them from bondage to themselves, enabled them to live for his glory, and gifted them with an eternity in his presence, far from the harsh realities of the Fall. (pp. 26-27)


Damnable Sins or Just A Sin

Michael Patton makes the claim in his post “Will One Sin Really will Send You to Hell for All Eternity?” or “Why is Hell Eternal?” that it isn’t particulars sins that sends a person to hell. Rather it’s our rebellion, as particular sins are symptomatic of our rebellious nature. And only rebellion is what damns a person, not other individual sins.

 

The real problem is that we are at enmity with God. From the moment we are born, we inherit the traits of our father Adam. This infectious disease is called sin. This disease issues forth into a disposition toward God that causes us to begin life with our fist in the air, not recognizing His love for us or authority over us. It is rebellion. While this rebellion does act according to its nature, the problem is in the disposition, not so much the acts. When we sin, we are just acting according to the dictates of our corrupt nature. But the worst of it—the worst sin of all—is that we will never lower our fist to God. We are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3) and as a leopard cannot change his spots, so we cannot change our rebellious disposition toward our creator (Jer. 13:23).

… Can an enemy of God love his neighbor? Of course. Enemies of God can and do all sorts of acts that the Bible would consider virtuous. But from the standpoint of their relationship with God, they cannot do any good at all (Rom. 3:12). Giving a drink to someone who is thirsty with the left hand while having your right hand in a fist clinched toward heaven does not count as “good” before God. Why? Because we are in rebellion against Him. This is our problem.

This I propose is the only sin that keeps people in Hell for all eternity.

Interesting. Don’t know if I agree.

It could rather be that each sin is an act of rebellion that deserves damnation. Sin is the exchanging of “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23). It’s essentially spiritual adultery.

Thus, the nature and the symptoms are both damnable; though distinct, they cannot be separated. Just think of an adulteress relationship. Both the heart and the action are inseparable. God judges the individual sins, no doubt, and they appear worthy of eternal punishment. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Col 3:5-6).

Neither way, I agree our rebellion is the most grievous sin and deserves damnation. Just now I think each act of sin is our rebellion in action and thus also deserves damnation.

Could be wrong.


Some Good Interviews

Here are some helpful interviews I’ve found:


Overcoming Sin by the Glory of God

Taken from Pleasures Evermore: The Life-Changing Power of Enjoying God by Sam Storms, Heat and Light summarizes the two different ways, via Greek mythology, that a person can overcome sin. This is an amazing illustration.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus, the hero, must sail his ship through dangerous waters near an island of Sirens. The Sirens were an evil, man-eating monster that entranced passersby with songs so beautiful that they could then control the thoughts and actions of the sailors, driving them to crash their boats on shore, and be devoured by the seductive beasts. Odysseus, being well aware of their powers, commands his crew to plug their ears, and chain him to the mast. You see, though he knew the dangers, he still longed to hear the Siren’s songs. And hear them he did: the Sirens even took the shape of his own wife, capturing all of his passions: heart, mind, soul, & strength. He was only restrained from redirecting the ship by the chains binding him to it’s mast. Yet, Odysseus survived the temptation of the Siren’s song, at least physically.

In another Greek myth, the Argonautica by Appolonius of Rhodes, our hero is Jason. On his journey home from his quest to find the ‘Golden Fleece’, he travels the same route as Ulysses, and also encounters the same threat. However, heading wise instruction, he brought with him the musician, Orpheus, who was renown for playing the lyre so beautifully that nothing could compare to his music. Instead of plugging their ears, and tying Jason to the mast, like Odysseus, Jason simply asked Orpheus to play his finest tune. Jason and his crew didn’t even notice the songs of the Sirens because they were entranced my music far more lovely: the songs of Orpheus.

Now, Odysseus may have survived the Sirens, but only Jason triumphed over them – “both obeyed” but only one was changed, and he was changed by BEAUTY! These examples ring true with me as two very different examples of how to live out the Christian faith. How often have I fell into the trap of thinking that merely by making laws restraining my actions that somehow I am living the life of a Godly Christian, when in fact the only true triumph of Godliness is when my temptation is curbed by a greater beauty – the beauty of the one true God, which we should pursue with such passion that we actually begin to lose interest in sin, as we are able to see it as it truly is. This ‘seeing God’ as beautiful, is Christian Hedonism, and it results in WORSHIP.

Listen to Dr. Storm expound on this reality: Pleasures Evermore Conference: Christian Hedonism