Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spiritual Ponzi Schemes

This past Sunday was John MacArthur's last time in the pulpit before he takes a couple of month's break for the summer.

He did an introduction to a series on the attributes of God that will be presented by various pastors from Grace Church. The introductions he gave were outstanding. The first one from Sunday morning in particular in which he spoke on the spiritual Ponzi scheme set up by the TBN evangelists. Worth listening to over the long weekend.

A True Knowledge of God Part 1

A True Knowledge of God Part 2

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Raqia and Ancient Cosmology

ancientcosmosTheistic evolutionists, and other accommodationist views on the book of Genesis, make the claim that the Bible presents a primitive, three-tiered cosmology that depicts a flat earth sitting on pillars that floats upon the sea with a round, metal dome as a sky.

It is argued that the biblical writers, men like Moses and David, were unsophisticated with their knowledge of the cosmos and God never really intended to explain the function of the solar system with the planets orbiting the sun or the spherical nature of the earth or the vastness of the universe. Rather, God merely explained the cosmos in terms that the writers of Scripture, a bronze aged culture, could truly understand. Besides, the purpose of Genesis 1-11 was not to present history or any scientific data at all, but is theological in nature and God accommodated His revelation to the scientifically limited people of Israel. This is the view taught for example by Peter Enns, and John Walton in his book, The Lost World of Genesis: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.

Supporters of this view of Genesis believe they are drawing the correct interpretation from the biblical text. Obviously, with what we know of the cosmos in today’s modern, scientific world, a literal reading of Genesis contradicts the reality of things. Or at least that is what they claim. If Christians attempt to teach the book of Genesis as being literal history, they risk embarrassing God for denying reality. Any literal reading of Genesis puts a massive stumbling block in front of people when we preach the Gospel. We are essentially telling people that when they trust Christ for salvation they must also embrace pseudo-scientific ideas of a young earth and a 6 day creationist model which contradict known fact. The only option for true, Bible believing Christians is to lend God a hand against misguided young earth creationists and their “literalist” interpretations that rape the text of Genesis with foreign meaning.

However, the position presented by Peter Enns and John Walton and utilized by theistic evolutionists that God used accommodating language to reveal His purposes to primitive minded men create some significant theological difficulties. The most egregious is how God’s character is impugned. This position basically says God had to hide the truth from the biblical writers because their small minds would be unable to grasp it. In other words, God was either purposely vague to help stupid people or He outright lied. I believe such a view of God is deplorable and likens Him to pagan deities. (More about the theological difficulties of theistic evolution in forth coming posts).

The concept of a three tiered cosmos with a solid, metallic dome covering a flat earth is something of a urban legend that seems to be promoted by accommodationist believers attempting to snatch the Genesis record out of the hands of young earth creationists. John Byl notes in a blog article on the subject of Genesis and ancient cosmology that such diagrams of an ancient earth covered by a solid dome owes more to “the ignorance of modern scholars than of ancient civilization.” In fact, Noel Weeks points out in a journal article that a three-tiered cosmology isn’t even really identifiable with in ancient near eastern creation myths, those “myths” accommodatists claim are reflected in the opening chapters of Genesis [Cosmology in Historical Context, WTJ 68 (2006): 283-93].

When one honestly considers the text of Genesis 1, God is in no way presenting such a picture for the ancient earth. Genesis 1 is a day by day outline that progressively reveals God creating miraculously over a course of 6 days. It is not attempting to formulate a physical model of the cosmos. Theistic evolutonists like Peter Enns, however, seize upon the Hebrew word raqia or what is translated as “firmament” or “expanse” in Genesis 1:7, 8. The related verb raqa means to “stamp” or “beat out,” and in the piel stem of Hebrew is used to describe a metal smith “beating out” gold metal to cover an idol. Because of that language usage, accommodationist commentators like Enns and Walton connect the use of raqa as “hammering out” metal to the idea that raqia in Genesis 1:7, 8 was believed by the OT Israelites as saying the sky is a solid, metal dome.

But Old Testament scholar, Gleason Archer, argues quite convincingly that the classic Hebrew dictionary by Brown-Driver-Briggs is the culprit with defining raqia as a solid surface. There is no warrant for such a definition in the context of Genesis 1, and in other OT context where reference is made to God creating, like Isaiah 42:5, the raqia is described as a tent or a cloud that God spreads (roqa) out. There is no solidity at all with raqia.

The best understanding of raqia is that of an “expanse,” or simply put, the sky and space as opposed to the earth. That is all God was telling Moses when He revealed His creation week to him. So, when we read how God set the sun and the moon (and the stars) in the “firmament” or better, the “expanse,” the Bible is not saying God is poking big holes in a metal dome or hanging enormous light bulbs from its ceiling. It is the realm of the sky (which by extension would include outer space) as opposed to the earth. Additional study can be found in J.P. Holding’s article, Is the Raqiya a Solid Dome?

Hence, anyone who attempts to argue that Genesis teaches a primitive mythological cosmology is practicing bad exegesis and bad historical research. I would argue they have an agenda to set forth.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go For Launch

I had an acquaintance send me this video. It is a time lapse of STS-131 with the Discovery being prepared for launch.

I tend to geek out on this stuff. Even more so knowing aerospace engineers who attend my church.

Go For Launch

A stellar ad for vacations in Arkansas comes before the video.
You don't want to miss that.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cool Pictures of the Day

Cassini, the intrepid little satellite in orbit around Saturn, continues to send back some spectacular high resolution images of the planet and its moons. Some of the pictures are so crisp, it is like looking at Google earth images.

Checking in on Saturn

By the way, one of my acquaintances who was once the president of our local Bible Science Association was actively involved with the Cassini program until he had his manager unwisely demoted him because he holds to ID ideas and was passing out some of the videos produced by the Discovery Institute to willing co-workers. He maintains a couple of fun websites, one on issues in evolutionary science and another one on creation safaris.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Uganda Pastor’s Conference

We watched this video yesterday after John preached.  It was a pastor’s conference that took place in Uganda back in March of 2010.  What makes it unique are two things to consider:

First, the conference leaders handed out 10,000 copies of John’s study Bible.  That means 10,000 pastors who will be, for the first time, exposed to expositional study of God’s Word.

Second, is that Christians in Uganda suffered severely under the dictatorship of Idi Amin in the 1970s.  He attempted to eradicate the Church from his country.  But as we can see here, he only sowed the seeds of the martyr’s blood. 

I personally liked the music that accompanied our version we watched at church, and if it comes available, I’ll link it, but you get the big picture none the less.

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Friday, May 21, 2010


Ligonier Ministries is replaying a debate between John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul concerning baptism and whether or not we should practice infant baptism or believer's baptism.

The announcer states the debate was recorded earlier at a Ligonier Conference. If it is the conference I am thinking of, this was a debate that took place in Pasadena, California at a Nazarene mega church. If it is, two items of note:

First, in the manner of full disclosure and because Ergun Caner has come under fire for describing, say for instance, a radio interview as a "debate" when in fact it was really just an interview, this encounter between R.C. and John was along the lines of a discussion, not a debate. John preached on believer's baptism, R.C. followed by preaching about infant baptism, and then there was a nice Q&A discussion between the two as they sat in cushy chairs and took pre-written questions from the conference MC.

Secondly, I was there. In fact, I sat in the second row right behind R.C. My friend Chuck and I took a picture with him (which was included in the video my wife and I played at our wedding) and I had a jovial conversation with him about how I liked him anyways as a preacher even if he was wrong about eschatology.

What I remember vividly is overhearing a conversation between a group of conference attendees sitting behind me who I could classify as being young, restless, and Reformed before it was trendy to be young, restless, and Reformed. They were bugged that R.C. would even allow "that dispensationalist" (a direct quote) to speak at his conference, let alone participate in a pre-conference debate with him on the sacred doctrine of infant baptism. One of them remarked that John was an okay preacher, but he was putting his reputation at risk by debating someone like R.C. and maybe he would get his "theology straightened out" (another direct quote). For a moment, I was kind of nervous for him.

R.C. graciously allowed John to go first, and for 50 minutes, John articulated one of the most biblically sound and exegetically logical message I had heard. He pretty much demolished every paedo-baptist objection to his position before R.C. was able to speak. R.C. sat in the front row and twirled his penny loafers around with his toes the entire time. After he finished, his young and restless critics were silent.

When R.C. got up, he maybe spent 25 minutes covering the historic, Reformed position on infant baptism, closed, and then they moved into the Q&A portion. I couldn't had been prouder of my pastor.

The full message John gave can be read or heard HERE.

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Intelligent Designers Design Life

Artificial Life Breakthrough

See how many times you can count the use of such words as constructed, controlled, designed.

Critics of the new technology believe it could unleash a catastrophic natural disaster the likes of which have never been seen since the hydrogen bomb set loose a mutated, radioactive Godzilla on to Tokyo back in 1956. Certainly a Michael Bay movie around this theme has got to be in the works for summer 2011.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Answering the 95 Theses of Dispensationalism

Sometime last year, oh I don't know when exactly... Maybe fallish, I received another eye rolling screed against the evils of dispensational theology. Sadly, the Monergism website endorses and links to the screed, which knocks them down a bit in my opinion of them.

The 95 Theses Against Dispenationalism

95!? There are exactly 95 problems with dispensational theology!? Ah, yes. This is a Reformed group publishing these theses, so we have to have some historical reference. It is put out by a group called the Nicene Council spearheaded by Ken Gentry and other preterist guys like Gary Demar.

Ninety-five is quite a daunting list. And the writers want you to know your an idiot, too, if you disagree with them. At least that is the tone I get from them.

I wondered if anyone was going to respond to them. It would make for at least 95 blog posts. Thankfully I was made aware of Dr. Reluctant, Paul Henebury, who was providing a response to each point. I think when I discovered him, he was on his 12th post and was maybe half way through the 95 points. I wanted to link his material immediately but thought I would wait until after he finished. That was to be several months later, but he finally completed it.

Contra the 95 Theses

There are 23 post in all. The tag page starts at the top with the last one, so you have to work your way down to the first one on a second page. Hopefully that is not confusing for you.

The fellows who put their list together give the reader the impression their arguments were unassailable and thus unanswerable. They'd better not go away from Paul's response thinking such things.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Neanderthals are People

Recent science headlines claim homo sapiens (that’d be us regular folks) and Neanderthals interbred.  In other words, shacked up and had babies.  Hence, modern human beings have Neanderthal DNA.  I heard one impassioned caller to Greg Koukl’s program proclaim that such news proves the Bible is untrue. 


It doesn’t occur to the guy that they can have children with human beings, because, well, Neanderthals were people, too.  You know, human beings. 

Those Enigmatic Neanderthals

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Monday, May 17, 2010


I do believe we are seeing the unraveling of a Christian celebrity. 

Over the weekend, high school year book photos of Ergun Caner were published, and contrary to his claim that he was a hardcore, Jihad training Muslim who wore Islamic clothing to high school, the year book photos show a kid who looked a whole lot like my high school acquaintances in Arkansas with all the awkward hair cuts and gangly physical features typical of all high school kids.  The Associated Press released a report on the Caner situation which is probably the more accurate one I have read in the mainstream media since this whole thing has gone down. 

Liberty University has set out an investigative probe to  look into Caner’s background and whether or not he embellished his past.  Of course, I am amazed that in light of the crushing amount of evidence demonstrating he has, an investigative probe of this nature is even necessary.  But, the leadership has to look as though they are taking these matters seriously now that the MSM has gotten involved and they are no longer able to ignore anonymous, “hack” bloggers with a personal vendetta against the Caner brothers.  

I personally predict a face saving attempt will be made to put these accusations off their back.  I can see Caner resigning, perhaps shortly after the June 30th deadline for the probe to finish, and his excuse will be something along the lines of having to sacrifice himself to save the university he loves from the mean-spirited Calvinists and angry Muslims and other anti-Christian hostilities who only wish to see the school ruined. When reputations on this level are at stake, I rarely see the person in question acknowledge the truth. 

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Star Maker Records

From the Google reader…

Before I was a blogger, I tried my hand at music.  My brother is on the drums.


I Told You So

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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Lewontin Moment

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. Source

For a few years now I have been tracking Mary Schweitzer's find of red blood cells from a 68 million year-old T-Rex and eventually an 80 million year old hadrosaur.

A young, theistic evolutionist has recently been commenting on the GTY blog. During the course of our interchanges, a few commenters raised the assertion that evolutionists will ignore and spin evidence that goes contrary to their constructs. They noted as an example the significant out cry by evolutionary paleontologists against Schweitzer's findings. Initially, they accused her sample of being contaminated and then published papers against her saying she merely discovered bacterial film mimicking the appearance of red blood cells. Eventually, they all had to admit she did indeed identify red blood cells, because not only was she able to identify proteins, but a second sample was found in the Hadrosaur bone. Three teams of laboratories confirmed the presence of red blood cells and viable dinosaur tissue that was not fossilized.

In response, our young theistic evolutionist posted an outstanding video of a CBS 60 Minutes report from November 2009 that has Lesley Stahl interviewing Schweitzer and her mentor, Jack Horner, regarding the background to their findings. The young theistic evolutionist wrote as commentary to the video that, "The bone samples had to be soaked in solution before the tissues were made plastic! Even 60mins pointed that out!" Well, that is not entirely true. Our young evolutionist makes it sound as if soaking the bone in acid some how created the blood or soft tissue. What happened is that the petrified portions of the bone were dissolved leaving the soft tissue samples.

The video is around 13 minutes long, but worth the watch: B-REX
(sorry for the commercials)

But notice how no one really addresses the elephant in the room, or should I say dinosaur. How is it possible for soft tissue to be extracted from bone 68 MILLION YEARS OLD! That is a 68 followed by six zeros! 24 billion, 820 million days, to be exact. The reaction by Schweitzer and Horner is like "Gee golly! would you looky there, there's blood in there. Idn't that neat-o!? -- Did you know chickens are related to dinosaurs?" The commitment to their evolutionary traditions are breath taking to say the least, and is a clear indication how even the most allegedly unbiased scientist will explain away the evidence that radically challenges the foundations of their beliefs.

It is what I have coined, A Lewontin moment (c), named after evolutionary biologist, Richard Lewontin who wrote that quote at the top in a book review of Carl Sagan's book, Demon Haunted World. Schweitzer and Horner, and our theistic evolutionary commenter, are willing to accept the absurd, dino tissue existing intact for nearly 70 million years, rather than to allow for a divine foot in the door.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gleanings from Daniel [10]

Babylon Falls [Daniel 5]

Daniel 5 is the transition of the head of gold to the chest of silver as revealed to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. The last Babylonian king has his moment and then descends into the ages of obscurity.

Daniel, by divine providence, is there to record the events, to witness the fulfillment of the dream he interpreted in chapter 2 and watch the transfer of one empire to the another.

In spite of the worldliness that runs through this chapter, God is once again put on display before a pagan king, but in this case, he is morally debauched.

Three broad points to consider from this chapter: The Event, The Woe, The Judgment.

I. The Event (5:1-9)

The chapter opens by telling us that Belshazzar made a feast. We have to stop there and identify who this person is. For many years skeptics and mockers ridiculed this section of Daniel. Bels. could not be a king in Babylon, it was argued, because there was no record any where naming him as a royal official, let alone the last king of Babylon. Everyone knows it was Nabonidus.

But that change in 1861 when a cuneiform tablet was found at Ur that contained the name "Bel Shazur." In 1882, the "Nabonidus cylinder" was uncovered. It chronicled how the crown prince, one named Bel Shazur was regarded as king because he was left in control of the army of Babylon from 549-545 B.C. while Nabonidus established a new military in Tema located in north east Arabia. By 1924 it was well established that Bels. had been appointed king over the city of Babylon by his father.

The major Babylonian monarchs that ruled while Israel was in captivity for 70 years:

Neb. 605-562 B.C.

Amel-Marduk 562-559 B.C. He is mentioned in 2 Kings 25:2-30 and Jeremiah 52:31-34. He was the man who released king Jehoiakim. Amel-Marduk was assassinated by his brother-in-law.

Neriglissar 559-555 B.C.

Labashi-Marduk 555 B.C. He was a child beaten to death by conspirators.

Nabonidus 555-539 B.C. He was not officially royal linage. He married into the family by taking a daughter of Neb. What is unique about Nabonidus is that he spent much of his reign living in Arabia worshiping the moon god, Sin. He rarely spent any time in Babylon. As noted above, he left his son, Bels. in charge of Babylon, and when the empire fell, Bels. fell into obscurity. Hence the reason we know of the events in Daniel 5 is because there was an eye witness.

By the time we come to chapter 5, Nabonidus and his army had been defeated a short time before this by the Medo-Persians and had fled the scene leaving Bels. as the "sole" ruler. This feast with the 1,000 nobles could very well had been the coronation feast, but more than likely was a customary festival, one of the many large feasts put on by NE potentates.

During the celebration, Bels. called for the gold and silver cups taken from the temple in Jerusalem. The ones used exclusively in worship of YHWH. He uses them now to drink to the gods of gold and silver.

"Drinking wine." The implication is that he and his guests are getting drunk and as a result stupidly commits sacrilege. But why bring out just those cups? Surely there had to be other religious cultures? Verse 23 seems to suggest Bels. knew exactly what he was doing by deliberately mocking God. It could be that he knew God had humbled his grandfather, Neb. Perhaps he even knew of Daniel's prophecy of Persia defeating Babylon. What ever the case, God was going to certainly judge him.

While they were engaged in a drunken party, a spectral hand appears out of nowhere and writes on the wall. It quickly sobered everyone. Bels. is so frightened his knees knocked.

He calls out to his wisemen "with strength" as the text states, which means to say he is screaming for them. There is writing on the wall. He can read it, but he obviously can't understand what it means. Bels. promises them great reward even to the point of making the one who can interpret the writing third highest ruler, (which implies Nabonidus is the first, he is the second).

II. The Woe (5:9-25)

The text says the queen told Bels. of Daniel. This could quite possibly be Neb.'s daughter who had married Nabonidus and thus would be Bels. mother. She is identified as Nitocris. If it is her, it is understandable how she would have remembered Daniel, who would be in his 80s at this point, and the ministry he had with her father.

Daniel is called and Bels. shows him the wall and promises his rewards if he can decipher what it says. Daniel rejects his rewards and instead launches into a sermon of woe against Bels. and his debauched behavior.

Daniel first reminds him how God is the one Who establishes kingdoms, not men. As proof, Daniel reminds him of Neb. and how God humbled his pride (Daniel 4). Moreover, and to the point, Bels. knew this himself. He wasn't ignorant of what God does and thus he is held accountable to that knowledge. And then Daniel comes to the evening events. He rebukes Bels. behavior, thunders against his sin and told him how his sin is against the very God of heaven who establishes kingdoms. "and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."

III. The Judgment (5:26-31)

After those opening remarks, Daniel explains the writing: MENE has the idea of "numbered; TEKEL, the idea of "weighed"; and UPHARSIN means "divided". Put together, the prophecy judgment is saying that Bels. life is numbered, he was weighed, or had his "value" determined and was found wanting, or lacking. His kingdom will then be divided, broken into pieces and given to his enemies.

Then, in what is probably one of the greater understatements in scripture, that night Bels. was slain.

The text is silent as to what happened, but history describes the final night of Babylon. The Persians had diverted the Euphrates river that flowed through the city. The army was able to pass under the main walls and into the city without much of a fight. The ancient historian Xenophon tells how a decade or so before this, an unnamed son of Nabonidus was involved with the assassination of the previous king and suggested his father reign. He further tells how a few years before the city fell, this same unnamed son killed the only son of a Babylonian governor named Gobryas on a royal hunt. Believing he did not get the justice he deserved, Gobryas defected to the Persians and helped Cyrus defeat the Babylonians. History records that on the night Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians, Gobryas led soldiers to the banqueting hall and personally killed Nabonidus's son who had remained there in the city.

The people welcomed Cyrus as a hero, because they all hated Belshazzar.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More about "Noah's Ark" from the Chinese

I had an acquaintance email me some videos made by the Chinese team who allegedly found "Noah's Ark." They respond to allegations made by Randall Price that they had been the victims of a hoax or were attempting to perpetrate a hoax.

The one fellow, I think named Panda something (love the name), made a good point that if they were being "hoaxed" by the Kurds, how were they able to bury and freeze a massive wooden structure in a remote, mountain location in Turkey without anyone knowing it?

Still, I think we need to keep a biblical perspective...

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Growtivation Church

I swear we just had a church like this open up a new facility this weekend right down the road a piece. I think it's really called North Point, or some other compass related theme. Which I guess means the church points a person in the right direction ... or something.


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Friday, May 07, 2010

The Sex Trade and the Bible

A cranky atheist has been leaving comments on a post from back in 2008. He took me to task for asking him why he, an atheist, cares about the Islamic sex trade. (Yes, I know it is weird. You'll have to read the post). Rather than answering me, he laid down a challenge:

why do you, a Biblical literalist, care about drugs and sex slavery? Drugs are not forbidden in the Bible, and sex slavery is permitted, and in fact, mandated, as long as God's people do it to God's non-people. Exodus 21 says you can sell your daughters into slavery, and in those days owners always had sex with their female slaves, as the slavery laws and many stories (Abraham x Hagar) make clear, so if you're pressed for cash, sell little Hadassah into sex slavery, says Exodus 21. And in Numbers 31, Moses is positively furious with the Israelites for not killing the non-virgin Midianites and making sex slaves of the vigins [sic]

He then provided me with a list of passages that supposedly prove God not only sanctioned sex slavery, but even ordered the rape of women in some cases. Those passages include:

[Deut. 20:10–15; Deut. 21:10–14; Num. 31:1–47; Isaiah 13:16; Judges 5:30; Judges 21:10–14 ... Ex. 21:2–8; Ex. 21:20–21; Deut. 20:10–15; Lev. 25:44–46; Isaiah 14:1-2].

He then offered this closing remark: So how can you, a Biblical literalist, logically oppose sex slavery, when God's people are ordered to do it to God's non-people?

Knowing I have many readers who perhaps encounter biblio-skeptics among their co-workers and family who throw out the sex-slavery allegation, It may be helpful to put together a response. I don't expect my atheist challenger will be persuaded by my answers. I predict he will give me some clever excuses to explain them away so as to keep on suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Preliminary Remarks

To begin, there are a number of facts we need to consider.

1) Atheists and scriptural critics will regularly pretend to have a great knowledge of the biblical text. They will often string together all kinds of Bible verses like they themselves are a fundamentalist revival preacher. It is easy to become intimidated by the sheer volume of their citations because they give the appearance they know what they are talking about. This expertise, in reality, is a facade. The vast number of them come from religious backgrounds in which they were exposed to a shallow reading of scripture or never taught it in a meaningful fashion. That is why they cherry pick the ones favoring their opposition.

2) Of those atheists who were saturated in the study of Scripture, say for example Bart Ehrman or John Dominic Crossan, their criticisms of problematic passages of the Bible are spun and twisted so as to exaggerate the supposed difficulty under consideration. For instance, the allegation that God sanctions sex slavery and commanded rape of innocent people. Their goal with distorting the Bible in this fashion has nothing to do with uncovering the genuine meaning of the text, but is more for the purpose of fueling their continuing rage against their creator and to paint God as a monster unworthy of our worship.

3) It is a fact that slavery is recorded in Scripture. However, to equate the indentured servitude regulated in the books of Moses with the cruel harshness of human trafficking and slavery found in virtually every human society throughout the history of the world shows a severe lack of historical perspective. I would even say an intentionally self imposed intellectual blindness. It is also equally ridiculous to anachronistically read the struggle Western society had with slavery in the 18th and 19th century that eventually resulted in the American Civil War back into the Bible as if the slavery spoken of in the pages of Scripture is the exact same thing.

4) It is also true some men spoken of in the Bible had concubines. That is to say, a man had more than one wife, or practiced polygamy. The primary purpose for such an arrangement (apart from monarchs who gathered wives for political purposes) was to maintain the family name through the birth of a male heir. If the favored wife, the first wife the husband married, was unable to give birth, he would seek out a surrogate to produce male offspring. This is the case with Elkanah, Hannah, and Peninnah (1 Samuel 1-2). Hannah was unable to conceive, so Peninnah was taken as a wife to produce children.

These arrangements were not sanctioned by the Lord at all, but were the efforts of men to take matters into their own hands as it were. This is seen in the example the atheist challenger notes with Abraham and Hagar. Sarah gave Hagar her handmaid to Abraham so that he could produce the promised heir. Such an action mocked God's promise to Abraham, and was a blatant display of fleshly reasoning. His actions were not rape, as is supposed by the atheist critic, because Hagar already had a relationship with Abraham's family and remained 14 years with them until Sarah ran her off (Genesis 16).

The Texts

With those comments in mind, let us consider the passages offered by our atheist antagonist. Of the ones he lists, maybe five of them pose any significant difficulty for a Bible believing Christian. I have outlined them according to importance of the challenge.

Exodus 21:7-11

7 And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 "If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. 9 "And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10 "If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. 11 "And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.

I wrote on Exodus 21 in an earlier post from this year that can be found HERE. I recommend the reader to consider it in order to have a more detailed study of this passage. Suffice it to say for our purposes now, this passage in Exodus is not sanctioning the selling of a daughter into sexual slavery. To describe the text in such a manner reveals an ignorant bias. This is a description of indentured servitude: a family in debt who has a daughter capable of work who will then contract with another family in order for her to be used to pay off debt. This is clear from the overall context that begins in 21:1.

As happens with many of these arrangements, the man of the other family either falls in love with the girl and wishes to marry her, or maybe wants to have her be arranged for marriage to one of his sons. The text is providing detailed instructions on how this arrangement is to be made and the regulations that help safe guard the girl's purity in the situation so that she won't be taken advantage of as a maidservant. Rather than sanctioning the sex trade, the text is prevent such from happening.

Numbers 31:1-47

Numbers 31 is long so I won't cite it in the entirety. This chapter is a problematic one for a Bible believing Christian because it records the destruction of the Midianites by Israel's armies during the wilderness wanderings. It is not all that different from the record of 1 Samuel 15 where the Amalekites are utterly destroyed. When the secular talk media discusses acts of Jihad by Islamic radicals against non-Muslims, biblio-critics are quick to appeal to places like Numbers 31 to make comparisons between Islamic and Judeo-Christian views of God. If God commanded death to innocent unbelievers in the OT like the Midianites and the Amalekites, how then can the God of the Bible be any different than Allah of the Qu'ran? Of course, those nations destroyed by Israel were far from "innocent" victims, as if Israel, in a blood lust fury, chopped down villages of peace loving, poetry reading gardeners and their sweet families.

Often these passages are lifted from their contexts in which they provide a clearer understanding of the events leading up to the destruction of the nation. In the case of the Midianites, the context of their dealings with Israel begin in Numbers 22 where they are said to have joined forces with the Moabites to fight against them (22:4). They hired Balaam to curse Israel, who fails to level that curse, but instead leads Israel to sin against God by having them led into spiritual harlotry by Moabite and Midianite women (Num. 25). This act of sin aroused God's anger against Israel and the Lord judged them with a plague that struck down 24,000 people (25:8). As a result of this wickedness, God commands Israel to go to war with the Midianites (25:6-8). This judgment against them is recorded in Numbers 31.

The difficult passage, then, is Moses' words to the captains of the army who brought back all the women of the Midianites as captives,

14 But Moses was angry with the officers of the army, with the captains over thousands and captains over hundreds, who had come from the battle. 15 And Moses said to them: "Have you kept all the women alive? 16 "Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 17 "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. 18 "But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.
In this act, the women that led Israel into wickedness would be slain. The death of the male children would insure the extermination of the Midianites as a people and keep them from ever again seducing Israel to sin. Only the young girls who were virgins would be allowed to live and assimilated into the nation of Israel. Our politically correct sensibilities bristle at such a description, but the death of the Midianites was not commanded capriciously for the sake of heartless cruelty. God was bringing swift and deserving punishment upon a wicked nation that reveled in their sin against God and his holy people.

The accusation of sex slavery and forced rape is raised against the comment of verse 18, "But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately." But nothing in this passage implies such a villainous act took place. Just that those girls were kept alive. Nothing is recorded as to what happened to them, though it is assumed they were eventually married off among the people of Israel. However, because men can act sinfully in such cases, God gave regulations regarding women taking into captivity because of war and that brings us to the next set of passages.

Deuteronomy 20:10-15 and 21:10-14

These passages describe a similar situation: a city being taken in war and the women (presumably young girls never married) being captured. Only Deuteronomy 21:10-14 is relevant to our discussion here:

10 When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, 11 "and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, 12 "then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13 "She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 "And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her.

The situation describes a solider or some other man of Israel wanting to marry a girl taken into captivity due to war. But rather than God allowing the man to do with her whatever the man pleases, note how commandments are laid down to protect the girl. She basically is made plain: trimmed nails, changed into new clothes, and shaves her head. Hence, those outward things a man would have seen to have caused him to desire her are removed. She is to mourn a full month for her family. After that period, if the man still likes her, he can marry her. However, if he has no delight in her, meaning, after the month she no longer appeals to him, she is to be set free. Notice also how the man is forbidden to sell her for money and to treat her brutally, which would mean, rape her or make her into a sex slave. So, rather than sanctioning such atrocities as the atheist alleges, God provides a way for the girl to be protected by law.

Judges 21:10-14, 20, 21

20 Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, "Go, lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 "and watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin.

This last passage for our consideration has to do with the tribes of Israel going to war against the tribe of Benjamin for an act of wickedness that took place in their territory as outlined in Judges 19. Though the Lord directed in leading Israel's military machine against Benjamin (Judges 20:18), God did not direct the tribes in counseling them to kidnap women for the remaining men of Benjamin in order to preserve their lineage in Israel as described in 21:20-21. Those were acts sanctioned solely by the elders of Israel, and thus reflected the theme of Judges, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes."

The remaining passages raised by the atheists taken from Isaiah have nothing really to do with God sanctioning rape or the sex trade, but are prophetic descriptions of what will happen to the wicked Babylonians when they are given over to their enemies as a sign of God's judgment against them. What they did to other nations, pillage and rape, will happen to them.

So to answer the atheist's charge, how can you believe the Bible when God sanctioned sex trading and rape?, God never did, and contrary to his accusations, the Bible never does either.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

It's Raining Babies

Been busy this week, but I do have a long one coming tomorrow sometime the good Lord willing.

In the mean time, let me keep the unwashed masses amused.

I expect this to show up on Dan's blog tomorrow.

Hey. Even if it's photoshopped, it's a good one.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Caner in Christianity Today

Squirrel alerted me to the recently posted, on-line article covering the Caner/integrity scandal.

Bloggers Target Seminary President

I personally don't like the way CT framed Caner's opposition as some personal attack against him by a small league of unknown bloggers. I have no animosity against the guy and would be ignoring the complaints charged against him by the 22 year-old Muslim critic if I thought Caner and Liberty were doing a good job answering his objections and those from other folks like James White. But the fact that he has run off to hide while sending out emails lambasting his critics, both Muslim and Christian, and framing the whole thing as if he were an innocent martyr doesn't look good for him.

And shame on the Liberty officials for brushing all this off as just personal persecution against Caner by mean Calvinists. This will only make matters worse for you.

Updated: I appreciate Squirrel's Response as of today, as well as James White's.

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Copernicus and his Revolution

Over the weekend, we had a theistic evolutionist wander into the comboxes at the GTY blog. As is typical in discussions between those who favor Darwinian evolution as the explanatory mechanism for the origin of life with those who believe our world is a special creation made by a creator, mythological legends of our Christian past will be invoked to demonstrate the inferiority of using the Bible in such arguments.

In this case, our theistic evolutionist appeals to the legend of Copernicus, whose work in developing a heliocentric model of the solar system was vehemently opposed by not only the Catholic Church, but also Martin Luther and the Protestants, because Copernicus's work contradicted the Bible. As the legend goes, eventually, those small-minded Christians had to begrudgingly admit Copernicus was right and the Bible was wrong, and thus, they were forced to scramble about for a "biblical" answer to the ever crushing evidence of the scientific facts.

There is much ignorance concerning Copernicus and the so-called "Revolution" he created, and his work that supposedly shaped our thinking in "scientific" matters is highly exaggerated. and oft abused. Historian, Rodney Stark, provides the proper historical perspective concerning Copernicus in his book, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery.

All discussions of the "Scientific Revolution" begin with Copernicus, almost as if his use of the word Revolutions in the title of his famous work had referred to drastic social changes rather than to celestial orbits. According to popular accounts, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) was an obscure Catholic canon in far-off Poland, an isolated genius who somehow "discovered" that, contrary to what everyone had always believed, the earth revolves around the sun... the Church made unrelenting efforts to suppress these views, and it was only through the more enlightened auspices of Protestantism that the "truth" survived.

There is far more fiction than fact in this account. First of all, Copernicus received a superb education. He took his first degree at Cracow, one of the greatest universities of that time, and then spent another three and half years at the University of Bologna, possibly the best university in Europe. Next, he spent about four years at the University of Padua, interrupted by a brief visit to the University of Ferrara, where he received the degree of doctor of canon law. Second, the notion that the earth circles the sun did not come to him out of the blue; rather, Copernicus was
taught the essential fundamentals leading to the heliocentric model by his scholastic professors. That is, the heliocentric model was developed gradually by a succession then-famous (but now sadly neglected) Scholastic scientists over the previous two centuries, their conclusions about mechanics being so well formulated that "Copernicus could not improve upon them." For all the profundity of his contribution, Copernicus is best understood as having added the implicit next step. ...

What, then, did Copernicus contribute? Very little more than to propose a model of the solar system with the sun at the center, circled by the planets. Everything else included in
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was wrong! What made the book more than merely a new concept was that Copernicus "expressed himself chiefly in mathematics, the native tongue of science." Thus he fully worked out the geometry of his system providing a method of calculating future positions--essential for setting the date of Easter, the solstices, and the like. Howeve, his system did not yield results more accurate than those produced by the earth-centered system created by Ptolemy in the second century, which guided Europe's celestial calculations ever since. The Copernican system was no improvement in that respect because he failed to recognize that the planetary orbits are ellipses, not circles. Here he may have been misled by having too much respect for Greek philosophy, which held that the motion of the heavenly bodies must be circular since that is the ideal shape. Consequently, like Ptolemy, Copernicus had to clutter his model with epicycles (loops) in the orbits to obtain reasonably accurate calculations -- he ended up with even more loops in his model than had Ptolemy. Indeed, Copernicus failed to progress beyond Ptolemy and the ancient Greeks in that he, too, postulated that the planets did not move through space as such but were encased in "huge rotating spheres" or shells that held them in place. Actually, according to Copernicus it was the spheres that rotated around the sun-- the "Celestial Spheres" in his book's title are not planets, and the circles in his drawings do not designate planetary orbits. Both represent solid spheres within which he thought the heavenly bodies are embedded. ...

One reason history has paid so little attention to the work that prepared the way for Copernicus is that he failed to acknowledge these debts in his famous book (while Kepler's book gave Copernicus lavish praise). This omission was in no way unusual; it simply was not typical in this era to give much credit to predecessors. ... But the more important reason Copernicus has been presented as a lone genius who revolutionized science is that it suited the ideological agenda of those who were (and remain) determined to impose notions concerning an "Enlightenment" and a "Renaissance" on Western history. [Stark: 135-136, 138-140].