Friday, January 15, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Eight)

Is it Good to be Able to Tell Good From Bad?
            Genesis 2:16-17 relates the account of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. “Jehovah God,” it (NWT) states: “also gave this command to the man: “From every tree of garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.” The skeptic thus assumes that knowledge of good and bad is condemned.
            However, Hebrews 5:14 (NWT), which says: “[S]olid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong,” is said to contradict that, implying that it is such knowledge is good.
As I argued previously, Adam and Eve knew of good and bad; they knew to obey God was good and to eat of the tree was bad.[1] It would not have been hard for them to realize that Jehovah is good. The meaning of the tree was to test mankind – would they respect Jehovah’s sovereignty and let him decide right and wrong, or if they would presume to try to do so themselves. To know in this sense, or to determine for oneself, is bad.
            But, let us assume that that harmonization is incorrect, what then? We see that a great deal of time had passed between Jehovah’s command and Paul. In Edenic times, it would not have been beneficial for them to know good from bad, for that would lead to sin. However, in our world, where the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, we need to be mature in thinking ability. So, even then, there is no contradiction.

Should We Obey God Alone?
            Acts 5:29 (WEB) reports: “Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men,”” thus affirming in the skeptic’s mind that we can only obey God. So, the skeptic reasons that Ephesians 6:5 (NWT), which says: “Slaves, be obedient to your human masters, with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your hearts, as to the Christ,” clearly contradicts that.
            However, and this is pretty obvious, Peter and the apostles were showing that God’s authority was superior to that of the authority of men. In fact, God allows all existing authority to exist, and expects us to pay taxes and obey them, but he does have a limit.[2] Peter’s declaration was not an absolute refusal to obey secular authority, but a refusal to obey a certain command, so it cannot be used to furnish a contradiction.

[1] See The Self-Harmony of the Bible II, p. 27
[2] So, as long as secular authorities do not violate God’s commands, to obey them is to obey God.

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