The following are all essays written by philosopher Paul Copan on Christian apologetics issues. You can find the full list of articles here. I’ve broken down this list so that it is easily accessible by subject area. Currently 14 are available here:
Naturalism as a Worldview/God and Ethics
- If you can’t prove your belief scientifically, is it meaningless?
- God and Human Rights
- God, Naturalism, and the Foundations of Morality
- My Genes Made Me Do It–Ethics and Evolution
Evil and Suffering
God and Neuroscience
God of the Old Testament
- Is the Old Testament God Evil
- Making Sense of Old Testament Violence
- How Could God Demand the Killing of the Caananites?
- Does the Old Testament Endorse Slavery (3 essays on this one)
Answering Various Objections:
New Testament & Jesus
Paul Copan teaches philosophy at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is the Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics. He received his PhD at Marquette University.
“Jesus’ own mission statement incorporates healing and social justice, and his followers will be recognized by their feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, welcoming the immigrant, and visiting the sick and the prisoner.”
Ken Wytsma and Rick Gerhardt
8 Things to teach kids in terms of apologetics early on:
- Apostles Creed
- Nicene Creed
- Ten Commandments
- Lords Prayer
- Psalms 23
- The Beatitudes
- The Greatest Commandment
- The Great Commission
I’m curious to what extent teaching the meaning and purpose of the first three is more important than them learning them word for word. A to a great extent the same is true for the rest.
- Psalms 23 I think was a great passage to memorize when I was young.
“According to Paul,
1. Jesus is the peace that brings ethnically diverse people together.
2. Jesus breaks down walls that divide ethnically different people.
3. Jesus creates a new man or human species. Before Jesus, only Jews and non-Jews existed. After Jesus, a new group of people called the church was created for him.
4. Through the cross, individual sins are forgiven, different ethnic groups are reconciled, and hostility between people has been killed.
5. As Paul writes in these verses, these four gospel realities are complete. God’s people just need to walk in the good works Jesus has prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:8-10).”
Derwin L. Gray, A New Kind of Apologist, p. 108
The Core Question:
Looking at Leviticus and the old Testament in terms of this question is a straw person.
I would suggest looking what the New Testament might say on the topic. In considering that, you should at least consider this: Homosexuality in the New Testament
Romans 1 in the New Testament also is fairly clear on this point:
The Guilt of Humankind
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural,27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
I’m not sure we can fully know the answer to the question with perhaps 100%–its not the type of wager however that I would like to personally take. Will Christian gays who have repented go to hell?
The Bible seems to suggest that anyone who is unrepentant of their sins will go to hell. So the Bible doesn’t per se single out gays.
Does the New Testament suggest that homosexuality is a sin?
Will God have grace on homosexuals who are otherwise committed in their heart to the principles of Jesus?
How does God view love and grace?
I’m not entirely sure.
Is gayness biological? Is it a choice?
Ethical considerations don’t necessarily speak to being predisposed to a particular type of behavior. Generally we think of ethics as separate from these considerations. A gene which might predispose one toward X behavior is not typically viewed as a means of escaping responsibility.
Should homosexuals avoid faith if the New Testament suggests their behavior or choices are sinful?
No. I don’t see why that would be the case either. There is certainly disagreement about this topic. Gods grace is certainly another issue. If I was gay….the verses in the New Testament would certainly give me pause in terms of thinking about my choices moving forward.
Johnathan Merrit provides an appropriate preview:
Her way of interpreting the Bible is not systematic, for example, and she tends to feel her way through the text. And she also admits in this interview that her sexual ethics might not rule out polyamory.
I’m confused how the theology of Elmo and Seasame Street provides any link to the theology of God. That is God is the ultimate frame. How I feel is an almost entirely subjective question that relativizes the Biblical text until its meaningless.
The question of polyamory specifically highlights that issue. She doesn’t solve anything–she really multiplies the issue (see also polyamory).
You have no notion of relationship or the expectations thereof, if the idea of an individual “feeling” dictates moral principle.
The whole point of morality, ethics, and values is to check biology–to provide accountability and justice and responsibility to its downsides. Its not to just affirm all that biology allows.
The issue of grace and forgiveness is a much better basis on which to struggle with these issues rather than eliminating sex from our moral lexicons. [not to mention the ways she relativizes the entire text–making most all commands or principles just a question of my personal and subjective feeling at the time, not mored to any notion of wisdom or principle.] It seems to turn humans into kids who just feel their way around and ends up justifying Machiavelli, all the dictators of history, and Donald Trump.
For clarity, this is at the end of Merrits’ interview:
RNS: What are your thoughts on polygamy? It seems a polygamous relationship could adhere to your principles here–fidelity, consensuality, etc. Can a polygamous relationship ever be “holy” in your view?
BM: Polygamy as it’s usually practiced in fundamentalist cultures – one older dude with a bunch of younger women – doesn’t pass the tests of equal power and mutuality. Polyamory, though, as a sexual and romantic relationship between three or more consenting people? I don’t know. I think it would be really hard insofar as intimacy is hard enough in a dyad, and mutuality would be well near impossible given the even more complicated power dynamics and the reality of sin. I think there’s something really lovely about long-term monogamy that would be hard to capture with additional partners.
Whats more her last statement encapsulates her relativism.
But, just because something is outside my experience doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong.
which is a red flag that biology, culture, and radical philosophy and not the Bible is the leading principle guiding her interpretation. Once you decide that you are at the center of the text, rather than God and that you are the authority rather than God, the ethics unravels and the principles unravel, and you’ve turned the world upside down with you at the top and God under you.
Here is a list of the philosophical presuppositions of science:
• existence of a theory-independent, external world
• the orderly nature of the external world
• the knowability of the natural world
• the existence of truth
• the laws of logic and mathematics
• the reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties to serve as truth gatherers and as sources of justified beliefs in our intellectual environment
• the adequacy of language to describe the world
• the existence of values uses in science (e.g., “test theories fairly and report test results honestly”)
• the uniformity of nature and induction
(Garrett J. DeWeese & JP Moreland, Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner’s Guid to Life’s Big Questions, p. 136-137)