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

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bizzaro Ideas

bigpollutionBack on April 30th of this year I posted an article reacting to a group of young progressives here in my hometown who were complaining about what they thought was the impropriety of local government officials participating in a prayer breakfast. The comments were entertaining to read as each person outlined how the religious right were working to pass intrusive laws to bring forth a despotic society of finger wagging moralists.

In response, my article pointed out the reality of how things truly are. It is the secular left, particularly in the form of enviro-nannies, who thrive upon the claims of man-made global warming hoaxers to create an artificial catastrophic panic so as to pass laws forcing the common citizen to be greenie leftists. As an example, I noted an article from the U.K. where recycling laws were being enacted that would force people to maintain a complicated recycling bin system in order to recycle in the most energy efficient manner.

The post stayed up a day or so with a minimal amount of commenting, until an atheist troll came along and left this hysterical response:

Uhh, did you really write: "It's the small, local level, everyday details in life that are easily brought into power by a secular body of governmental officials who readily embrace the bizzaro idea that the world is on the verge of a man-made environmental apocalyptic collapse."

Uh, you do know that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is pumping 1 million gallons of oil a day [Wall Street Journal] into Louisiana and Florida prime fisheries, right? And you wrote 10 days after the spill started-- after it had already pumped about 10 million gallons into prime fisheries-- and still going strong? Which made it already as big as the Exxon Valdez spill, when you wrote the sentence:

"the bizzaro idea that the world is on the verge of a man-made environmental apocalyptic collapse."
Really? Really? Bizarro? What does "Bizarro" mean in your country's language? Does "Bizarro" mean something different in your language, like "Obvious" or "normal" or "already proven"?


He then went on to link troll me back to an unrelated article about Islamic creationist terrorists posted where? Of course, his own blog. Never mind the fact that oil spills, which we have laws in place to regulate (and regrettably failed and got in the way of stopping the spill sooner) and intrusive environmental laws that force people to be green against their wills, are unrelated. Also keep in mind the chicken little philosophy of the man-made global warming faithful is also unrelated to the occasional oil spill.

So.

With that bit of background, Time magazine on-line posted this article just yesterday.:

BP Oil Spill: Has The Environmental Damage Been Exaggerated?

You know. Time magazine. That Republican rag in partnership with that right-wing propaganda news organization CNN. I mean, they both have been in the back pockets with big oil for years.
Selected sections from the article:

The Deepwater Horizon explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it's no leak; it's the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It's also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling. But so far — while it's important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago — it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. "The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared," says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana. [emphasis mine]


And this interesting tidbit:

The scientists I spoke with cite four basic reasons the initial eco-fears seem overblown. First, the Deepwater oil, unlike the black glop from the Valdez, is unusually light and degradable, which is why the slick in the Gulf is dissolving surprisingly rapidly now that the gusher has been capped. Second, the Gulf of Mexico, unlike Alaska's Prince William Sound, is very warm, which has helped bacteria break down the oil. Third, heavy flows of Mississippi River water have helped keep the oil away from the coast, where it can do much more damage. And finally, Mother Nature can be incredibly resilient.

I would think my atheist commenter, who displays the strident scientific confidence with his rebuke that I have encountered with pretty much every internet atheist I have stumbled across, would have known this. I mean, it is coming from "scientists."

Oh, but Time and CNN are hardly alone. From the right-wing kooks over at Vanity Fair on-line:


So....Has Anyone Seen the Oil that Spilled into the Gulf?

And those fascists at Yahoo! News report,

Mighty Oil-eating Microbes Help Clean Up the Gulf

Who's living in a bizarro world, now?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

John Calvin’s Missionary Zealotry

An often repeated objection by the opponents of Calvinistic theology is that Calvinism will kill evangelistic and missionary endeavors. It’s believed by these objectors that if Christians believe everyone’s salvation has been determined from eternity past then there is really no need to evangelize because God will do it all at His own time. Such a claim is absurd and reveals an ignorance of Church history, let alone what historic Calvinism has taught on evangelism.

What most do not know, including many Calvinists, is that John Calvin himself was an indefatigable supporter of missionary efforts. Historian Rodney Starke writes, “Frankly, I can’t understand why Calvin’s remarkable career running missionary-agents has been so completely ignored by historians… But virtually no trace of this aspect of Calvin’s career or of its immense impact on the success of Reformed Protestantism can be found in the standard works.” Starke highlights an Encyclopaedia Britannica article by Robert M. Kingdon who writes a few paragraphs on the subject. I thought Starke’s sketch of Calvin’s missionary support was worth copying for others to read.

huguenotsIt is well known that, following in the wake of Lutheranism, Calvinism soon became the primary basis for popular conversions to Protestantism. In many places Lutheranism was from the early days a “state church,” in that it was adopted by kings and princes as the new, official faith with little regard for what the “people” may have preferred. It was Calvin’s “Reformed” brand of Protestantism that rapidly gained several million individual French, Dutch, and German adherents, and a significant number in Italy as well. These converts were not produced by royal edict but were the direct result of personal enthusiasm, usually in defiance of the state.

A great deal of learned and sophisticated attention has been devoted to the particular theological basis for the greater popular appeal of Calvinism. But even though Calvin was a profound theologian and an exceptionally clear writer, it is unlikely that the theological appeal attributed to his work could explain the conversion of more than one in a hundred of those who became Calvinists. … [T]o transform favorable sentiments into activities requires face-to-face recruitment. That’s how Calvinism really outdid Lutheranism. Not by effective theology, but by more effective action- by creating huge underground religious networks of individual converts who brought in their friends, relatives, and neighbors, under the guidance of professional, missionary secret agents.

It was during his visit to Poitiers that Calvin got his first experience with secret evangelism. Not only did he proselytize in homes, but he held secret services in “a spacious cave near the city.” Once reestablished in Geneva, Calvin recognized that he had access to large numbers of men well suited to serve as secret Protestant missionaries behind Catholic lines. They abounded in the constant stream of Protestant refugees (including Calvin) who arrived in Geneva and other Swiss cities from Catholic-controlled territories, especially from France and the Low Countries. … What Calvin did was to select talented and reliable refugees, ordain them and train them not only theologically but also in what modern intelligence agencies call “tradecraft,” and send them home to build the Calvinist movement. Responsibility for this operation was vested in the Geneva Company of Pastors. …

In addition, the training of agents stressed efforts to win the nobility to their cause, and many of the noble refugees were convinced to return home as convert supporters- it is estimated that 50 percent of French nobles were Calvinists by the time the first French War of Religion broke out in 1562. Of course, since these “subversive” nobles were not trained or directed by the Company, they were not named in its official records, so their number will never be known. Nor do we know how many unordained refugees also went back to their country of origin on their own to missionize. We do know that as religious conflict in France came to a head, during 1561 and 1562, nearly every Calvinist leader in Geneva made at least one surreptitious trip into France.

In any event, despite the records maintained by the Company, it is nearly impossible to know how many missionary-agents Calvin sent out. … The best that can be said, then, is that “hundreds” of ordained missionary-agents were sent forth, in addition to the many lay missionaries and nobles. It is important to realize that the primary role of these agents from Geneva was to recruit local missionaries whose task was to inspire their flocks to convert others, thus constructing a kind of pyramid club of conversion.

Owen Chadwick has offered a specific example of how rapidly these pyramids could grow. In 1559 several citizens from the small town of Castres in the Languedoc went to Geneva to buy Bibles and other religious books. While there they asked to be sent a pastor. In April 1560 Geoffrey Brun arrived in Castres and began holding secret services in a private home. The congregation grew so quickly that after six months Brun returned to Geneva to get an assistant. By February 1561 the assistant was holding separate services in another home. The magistrates ordered him to desist. But after several sessions with Brun, the magistrates joined the congregation. “The flock was now too big to meet in private houses, and so they took over public buildings and released Protestant prisoners by force. Henceforth the town was a Huguenot town.”

To assist the Calvinist conversion efforts, printers proliferated, and printing soon became the major industry in Geneva. The presses ran day and night, producing a flood of tracts and pamphlets, as well as books and vulgate Bibles. The city also sustained large paper mills and ink-making plants. … Most of this immense flood of Calvinist publications was sold abroad, making a substantial contribution to the spread of Protestantism. Of course, since most of this material was banned in Catholic-controlled areas, the distribution pipeline operated surreptitiously; some shipments were confiscated, but most went through. [For the Glory of God: How Monotheism led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery, pg. 95, 96, 97, 98].

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Monday, July 26, 2010

What doest thou here, Elijah?

I have to confess that I am emotionally conflicted over this Jennifer Keeton gal who has gotten into trouble with her college officials. The story goes like this: Jennifer is a counseling student at Augusta State University in Georgia. Her profs and other university officials discovered through classroom discussions and personal conversations that Jennifer is a Christian who believes homosexuality is a perversion. Of course, she may not have used those exact words with her profs, but you get the picture.

They in turn essentially told her she was incompetent to be a "multicultural" counselor and would have to under go a rigorous brainwashing... I mean, "re-education" program that entails such things as doing diversity training with an emphasis on gay and lesbian lifestyles, increase her exposure to gay and lesbians such as attending a gay day parade, and the clincher, at least according to the suit being filed against the university: Modify her Christian convictions so as to affirm homosexual perversion as being morally acceptable or be psychological tortured by having her head forcibly put into a cage with hungry rats.

I'm kidding. Just a little despotic humor there folks.

No, she risks being expelled from the program.

My conflict is between two thoughts.

Firstly, I have to confess I am righteously outraged at university officials who would act with such radical intolerance. I am sure the officials demanding these changes are of the leftist moonbat sort who rarely if ever get out of their leftist moonbat sanitariums called the American university. They tend to pride themselves as being accepting of new ideas, expressing diversity, and loving of all points of view. Much like the Athenians who spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing - Except of course the red state, evangelical perspective.

Their response is the rawest form of hypocrisy I have seen in a while. I have to wonder of their reaction if Jennifer was say, you know, a Muslim. Would she be forced to renounce the teaching of Allah and Mohamet? Or would she be coddled as believing alternate, but acceptable views of gays and lesbians?

Additionally, as my lovely wife noted, it is rather telling the school officials are upset at her for her convictions regarding homosexuality. She doesn't have to face a secular extremist lobotomy because she thinks it's okay for parents to paddle their kids, or women should strive to be homemakers above all else, or teens should practice sexual chastity until marriage.

Which leads me to my second area of discord.

As much as I am disgusted by the treatment of Miss Keeton, and hope her lawsuit will shake Augusta State University to its foundations, I have to agree with the university officials when they claim biblical Christianity is incompatible with their counseling program.

That is absolutely true.

Biblical Christianity has nothing in common with a counseling program set up by a group of narrow-minded, secular academic bigots who are so morally retarded that they call wicked good and good wicked. Without getting too far down this rabbit trail, having been an observer and participant in counseling for many years now, I can confidently say a good many of the personal problems for which people are counseled can easily be marked up to personal sin issues. Bitterness and selfishness being the dominant roots to many of those problems. The "counseling" taught by the secularist does very little in the long run to confront people where they need to be confronted and truly help them change.

But didn't Miss Keeton go into this program with these things in mind? Especially in our modern society where those who practice homosexual perversion have been elevated to a protected priest class? Certainly she was expecting an eventual clash between teachers and fellow students when this subject came up in class and conversation. If not, I wonder about the advice she received from Christian friends and her church leadership when she expressed interest in pursuing this counseling program.

Certainly its a travesty a young gal is being forced to change her personal convictions because they conflict with the unyielding propaganda of a state university. Yet at the same time, why should Christians think they should receive favor from a hostile world who will always hate them and the God they serve?

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hard Truths for Theistic Evolutionists [3]

creation2 Genesis as absolute beginning out of nothing

Christianity has historically affirmed that the first chapter of Genesis describes God speaking the material universe into existence for the first time out of nothing. What is traditionally called creation ex nihilo by divine fiat. So: when Genesis 1:1 states In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, this was God speaking into existence the absolute beginning of all things both in space and on our planet earth. Nothing in our known, material universe existed before Genesis 1:1. There was only the eternal, Triune Godhead.

This doctrine has been held by the Christian Church since its formation on the day of Pentecost. Early Christian apologist clarified and defended the absolute beginning of creation ex nihilo against the pantheistic cosmologies when they interacted with the Roman-Greco philosophies that entailed belief in gods creating out of eternal matter. The Shepherd of Hermas, written sometime between 90-150 A.D., was one of the first extra-biblical, non-canonical sources affirming creation ex nihilo. The second book of The Shepherd called Commandments, under the first command states,"First of all, believe that there is one God who created and finished all things, and made all things out of nothing." This view of creation was articulated and defended by such men as Tatian, Irenaeus, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine.

Even the major theological creeds and confessions of the Christian Church affirmed the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. For instance, the opening lines of the Nicene Creed state, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” Later, during the time of the Reformation, many of the major confessions affirmed the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. The Belgic Confession under Article 12: The Creation of All Things, states, “We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word-- that is to say, by his Son.” The Westminster Confession of Faith 1646, in Chapter 4 on creation, even expands on the understanding of creation by affirming six day creationism. It states,

I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

The same is affirmed in the cousin confessions of The Philadelphia Confession of 1742, and The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

During the last two and half centuries, however, there as been an ascent of uniformitarian philosophy and Darwinian evolution as the governing principles over the various scientific disciplines. Since that time, the truth claims made by scientists regarding the origin and history of the world have been granted a certain intrinsic infallibility that allows those claims to not only challenge Scripture, but to also correct the biblical record of creation. As a result, the Church has slowly conceded the propositional teaching of creation as revealed in Scripture to these so-called scientific constructs. Across the broad spectrum of denominational conviction, what the historic creeds and confessions have taught about creation has largely been abandoned.

Instead, accommodational perspectives have been adopted in order to find common ground between modern, scientific ideas about origins and the Genesis narrative. Typically, the opening chapters of Genesis are re-interpreted in some manner so as to fit in the millions and billions of years of earth’s history the scientists proclaim is undeniable. One of those re-interpretative methods is to say Genesis 1:1 is not addressing the absolute beginning of the creation. Rather, what is being outlined in Genesis 1 is a re-creation of some sort or a re-telling of creation in a theological fashion modeled after ancient near-eastern cosmologies. Theologian, John Walton, who is one who takes the position of a re-telling in Genesis 1, states that though God certainly was the original creator billions of years ago, Genesis is not recording that initial event in the first 2 chapters. It is an event that just hasn’t been revealed to us.

But is this view sustained by the whole of biblical doctrine? Or is it merely a clever capitulation to what has been misperceived as scientists speaking authoritatively regarding the “inerrancy” of the alleged “scientific” evidence? I believe a clear, comprehensive survey of God’s Word teaches without doubt that Genesis 1:1 is a statement of God creating from an absolute beginning out of nothing. There are six reasons I say that:

1. The Hebrew phrase In the beginning speaks to an absolute beginning. There are a number of reasons why the Hebrew phrase bereshith, or as is translated in our English versions, In the beginning, means an absolute beginning. I’ll highlight two important ones. First, the word “beginning” is often paired in the O.T. with its antonym, “end,” acharith. For example, Job 8:7, 42:12, and Ecclesiastes 7:8. The idea being that the author, in the case of Genesis, our Creator, the LORD God, has at the outset initiated specific activity that has a beginning with a future goal intended, or what would be an end. This is particularly seen in Isaiah’s contrast of God with the pagan false deities in chapters 40-50 of his prophecy. Isaiah 46:10 states, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.

A second reason comes from the history of translation. Since about 1920, a few liberal oriented modern translations like the New English Bible and the Anchor Bible render bereshith as a temporal clause so that the opening verse reads something like, In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth. This translation has more to do with the higher critical idea Genesis reflects ancient, near-eastern cosmology like the Babylonian Enuma Elish, rather than the actual exegesis of the text. The implication of rendering Genesis 1:1 as a temporal clause would be the possibility that some matter pre-existed the creation narrative and thus God used pre-existing material to shape the earth. That in turn supports the reconciliation of Genesis with the idea of the earth being 4 billion years old as maintained by modern science.

Even though one can still affirm Genesis 1:1 as absolute beginning if the verse is rendered as a temporal clause, the grammatical grounds to translate the verse as such is problematic. Theologian Robert Reymond points out the reasoning for translating Genesis 1:1 as a temporal clause cuts against the vast majority of translations of Genesis both ancient and modern that regarded bereshith as an absolute. He further notes that bereshith is accented with a disjunctive accent indicating that the word has its own independent accent and was constructed by the Masoretes as an absolute noun [Reymond, 390]. Isaiah 46:10, noted above, is constructed in the exact same way. Isaiah makes it clear that God has established an absolute beginning and distinguishes that beginning from an absolute end that is the stated goal of His counsel.

2. The uniqueness of the word bara to God’s creative activity. The word bara, or “create” in our English translations, is use 38 times in the Hebrew Qal stem and 10 times in the Niphal stem. The word bara in these two stems is used only of God. The biblical writers reserved bara exclusively for God’s creative activity. As it pertains to creation, God’s activity must be supernatural and miraculous. Meaning Genesis must be the initial creation of the heavens and earth and not some event of re-creation. A re-creation implies matter was already in existence from which God formed or fashioned the world and its inhabitants. Such would mean matter existed eternally with God, which would make God no longer unique as a creator as He is revealed in Scripture. If God’s “creating” in the Genesis narrative was from matter He had created billions of years before as John Walton and other theistic evolutionists suggest, this would cut against the entire testimony of the Old and New Testaments that places the creation of the world at that starting point of Genesis 1:1.

3. The testimony of the Old Testament. Genesis is not the only place in the O.T. addressing God’s creative activity. Throughout the entire O.T., the writers of Scripture clearly identify God as the unequaled, sovereign Creator. They contrast His eternality and power as the sovereign creator to the impotence of the false gods of the pagans and they mark creation at the beginning as recorded in Genesis. Allow me to point out a small handful of passages.

For example, Psalm 90:2 states, Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalm 33:6-9 speaks of God’s creation by divine fiat, or the creation directly by His Word, By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. Citing the Genesis narrative, God explicitly tells Moses in Exodus 20:11 that everything created in the heavens, the earth, the sea was created during that sequence of activity as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2, For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. The phrase “all that is in them” covers the entire created realm in the physical universe. Exodus 31:17 reaffirms this truth.

4. The testimony of the New Testament. The N.T. also has an exhaustive list of references to Genesis 1:1 being the absolute beginning point of creation ex nihilo. I’ll focus our attention to some key passages. Acts 4:24 reads almost word for word as Exodus 20:11, So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. The testimony of the primitive church was one that recognized God as the ultimate creator who put His creative activity at the first week of Genesis 1. Revelation 4:11 is a doxology identifying the creation of all things by the hand of God, what the Christians, as we just saw, affirmed in Acts 4:24 which was taken from Exodus 20:11, You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created. Again, the phrase “all things” is all encompassing: everything in the known universe and the world.

Probably one of the clearest proclamations of the absolute creation of the world ex nihilo in Genesis 1 is recorded in Hebrews 11:3. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. This verse is so clear in affirming what Genesis 1 says regarding the creation. First it states that all things are created by God. “All things” being a comprehensive expression describing the entirety of the whole created realm. Next, Hebrews 11:3 affirms creation by divine fiat, or by God’s very word, when it says the worlds were framed by the word of God. Then lastly, the verse affirms creation ex nihilo when it states that the things seen (the material universe) were not made of things which are visible (or pre-existent matter or eternal matter).

5. The phrase “Before the foundation of the world” as a marker for absolute creation. A more narrow piece of biblical evidence placing the absolute beginning of creation in the first verse of Genesis is the phrase, Before the foundation of the world. It is used in the N.T. at least 10 times. Its primary use is tied to the work of God’s salvation through Christ in at least 8 of these instances: Matthew 25:34, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3 and 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, and Revelation 13:8 and 17:8. The use of this expression in relation to redemption is noteworthy, for within the next two chapters after the record of creation, Adam fell into sin. God had purposed the redemption of sinners before He created the world, a redemption tied directly to the first man’s sin.

The obvious question to ask is: What “foundation of the world” is being referenced in these passages? And, what does the writers mean these things took place “before” that foundation of the world? If the initial creation of God was billions of years ago yet is never really revealed in Scripture as some theistic evolutionists like John Walton argue, this expression would be strange; especially in light of God’s redemptive purposes in Christ. The only “foundation of the world” in the minds of Christian readers could only be the creation as recorded in Genesis. Colossians 1:16, 17, when identifying Christ as our Creator, states And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

6. The testimony of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Then of course, the ultimate testimony to the absolute creation of the world in Genesis 1:1 is our very Lord and Savior Himself and His apostles who wrote the N.T. documents. This is an important point to consider, because a good many Christians adhering to and promoting some form of theistic evolution or other deep time views of the world are Reformed in their theological convictions and put a high premium upon a Christological hermeneutic where the N.T. interprets the O.T. The words of Jesus and the apostles should have some significance upon this issue.

Probably the greatest testimony concerning Christ and creation is found in John 1:1. The apostle clearly connects the person of Christ to the creation in Genesis when he opens his gospel in the exact same way as Genesis, In the beginning was the Word… John goes onto state this Word was Jesus Himself and John says the Word was our creator: All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. Throughout the pages of all four gospels, this truth regarding the creation is utilized by Jesus and the apostles. The expressions “From the beginning” and “The beginning of creation” are used by both Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 19:4, 8, 24:21; Mark 10:6, 13:9; John 8:44), and the apostles who used similar expressions in their epistles (Romans 1:20; Ephesians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrew 1:10; 2 Peter 3:4; 1 John 1:1, 2:13, 3:8; Revelation 3:14).

With this brief overview, I believe it is clear the Bible, God’s infallible Word, teaches the following as summarized by Robert Culver, 1) The world, including heaven and earth, all that exists, was created by God, and 2) the world had a beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, at which moment both time and space came into existence [Culver, 147].

This doctrine also has significant ramifications upon our view of biblical infallibility and inerrancy, because Scripture provides chronological markers with the various genealogical lists recorded in the book of Genesis, 1 Chronicles, and Luke. Though there is a possibility some gaps exist between the names, there is no indication whatsoever long, deep time gaps exist allowing for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years old earth advocates need for their system to work. From the point of the creation week to the coming of Christ is no more than a few thousand years. Also, Andrew Kulikovsky notes Isaiah 45:18 where the prophet states God did not create the earth to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited. [Kulikovsky, 175]. Yet old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists would have us believe the earth was uninhabited for billions of years, a direct contradiction to what Isaiah .

For a Christian committed to the infallible and inerrant authority of God’s Word, any evolutionary explanation of earth’s history appealing to deep time of billions of years is unsupportable by the biblical data. The two systems cannot be harmonized and it is foolish to think they can. When two opposing “authorities” compete for the acknowledgement of a believer’s convictions, one has to give way to the other, for they cannot be united. Regrettably, for a good many Christians, the “inerrancy” of the so-called evidence takes precedence over the clear teaching of Scripture.

Sources:

Commentaries on Genesis

U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis: From Adam to Noah

J. Davis, From Paradise to Prison

H.C. Leupold, Genesis 1

Kenneth Matthews, Genesis 1-11:26

Theological Resources

R. Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical

John Feinberg, No One Like Him

Andrew Kulikovsky, Creation, Fall, Restoration – A Biblical Theology of Creation

Jaroslav Pelikan, Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)

Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology

John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Atheist Take Down

I got an alert in my inbox telling me of a new product from the much capable and fine gentleman at Triablogue. They have produced a free e-book worth the download onto the Kindle, Nook, or Ipad, or in my case, having to print it out the old fashioned way.

The Infidel Delusion

There in you will find a link to a 257 page PDF of relentless warfare against vicious spiritual Jihadists known as internet atheism.

Your hearts should be gladdened.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Brief Survey of Apologetic Methodology

I had the privilege back in the month of May to teach on the subject of apologetic methodology and evangelism to the Gracelife Bible study where my family and I attend. The audio is not the greatest, so you will have to suffer a bit with that. There's lots of ambient living room noise with people shuffling around and coughing and so forth. Overall it was a good time with a few insightful attendees providing great input to the subject. I thought I would share with the readers:


A Brief Survey of Apologetic Methodology

Monday, July 19, 2010

The History Channel's World War 2: A Review

Sometimes you stumble upon a review in which an author is able to sum up what you were always thinking in your heart.

Here's a rather exacting autopsy of one of the most ridiculous TV shows to come along in some time. A program that is, in the author's words, "nothing more than overwritten collections of tropes impossible to watch without groaning."

World War II

ht: Dan

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Has It Come to This?

When I started my blog back in 2005, I never really wanted to moderate comments. At first I let anyone post, including anonymous commenters. But that quickly changed because spammers learned how to utilize the combox to leave a dozen comments linking people to all sorts of weird and wacky places.

I basically forced my commenters to be real people who had to register an account in order to leave comments with the addition of having to authenticate their personhood by typing out an unpronounceable word. Immediately I saw a drop off of spammers to almost zero and that process has been fruitful ever since. Every once in a while I would get a commenter who cussed like a rapper, but I could delete them pretty fast.

But times they are a changing I guess, because now I have foreigners, especially foreigners from the Asian continent and other Pacific rim countries, leaving spam directing people to escort services and other sleazy places. The account system is in place. The authentication process is still in place. Yet some how these folks are able to by pass those security procedures to leave their trashy links. The idea that such a comment can stay on my blog for several hours if I happen to be away from a computer for any length of time makes my skin crawl. I hate the thought that in amongst a bunch of angry atheists, theistic evolutionists, and KJV onlyists yelling at me for my views on the Bible, there sits a comment linking my readers to a porn hub of some sort.

So.

They only choice I had was to enact the nuclear option of turning on comment moderation. I hate doing it, because most of the dear folks who come here on occasion to participate in the comments are civil and articulate. Even some of the angry, atheist trolls. However, I will not tolerate sinful spam. Hopefully this won't be a deterrent for readers.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

City of the Wymyn Slaves

A Rant

I've been around Grace Community Church long enough to have seen an entire cabinet's worth of crackpots come and go. Some physically protest in front of our church. I've written about a couple of them here and here. Others merely hurl their internet screeds from a distance. Typically, they all have some petty ax to grind with something John either has taught or teaches.

The more amusing reactions are from those metropolitan elites who on a whim think touching evangelical Christians will enlighten them in some fashion. Their reaction is precious. Like a bewildered anthropologist stumbling out of the jungle upon a previous undiscovered village of naked pig spearers.

The latest among these culturally diverse elites comes from a womyn named Anne Eggebroton, who teaches on wymyn and religion at a local state college down the road from us a few miles. She is also the founding member of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Womyn's Caucus. For some unstated reason, she paid a visit to our church back around the middle of May when John was still preaching, before he left for his summer break.

What she experienced will be forever seared into her soul...

The Persistence of Patriarchy

When Anne stepped foot on our campus, she crossed through a tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum that transported her into an alternate universe. Sort of like Agent Dunham in that Fringe show. What she saw with her eyes horrified her beyond all imagination. Religious man tyrants preached from the pulpits and slave wymyn were walking around chained to baby strollers. Even worse, all the wymyn had been lobotomized to value child rearing and homemaking and quilting above all else. Worse still: they submitted and served their husband masters without question.

Staggered by what she was witnessing, Anne began to question the various wymyn she was meeting if our church taught biblical submission. A hearty "Yes!" came from the brainwashed wymyn folk. Making this positive affirmation even more heart breaking for Anne was the fact it came from intelligent professionals; one in particular was a physical therapist womyn.

Yes, Anne. I imagine for the worldly wise person like yourself, Christians who take the Bible seriously as a divine revelation breathed out by the living God, the concept of wives submitting to their husbands, and let us not forget, husbands loving and serving their wives, is a bit perplexing. But for a person who holds up man's ways above God's ways, I expect the visceral reaction recorded in your article.

A couple of things you should know about us, however, Anne. First, we genuinely believe our Creator has commanded the male-female relationships of headship and submission because He happens to know what is the wisest and best for His creatures. He wants His people for whom He has redeemed to live lives filled with the Spirit, and that entails providing spirit led regulations regarding male and female relationships. We also think homosexuality is a sin against God, what's your position on that? But then secondly, we recoil from any notion of molding God into our image when our individual preferences and expectations are not being met in the manner we want. That includes when what God commands of us may be hard. We pray for strength, seek out our fellow Christians for support, and trust God's providence during those times. Leaving from hard relationships should be a last resort.

Anne could take no more and hurried across the acres of parking lot surrounding our "mega church" to find the portal that would take her back to her reality. She had to quickly warn her sisters to beware.

One has to wonder, though, if Mr. Eggebroton looks across that parking lot at all those submissive wives chained to baby strollers and lets out a long, weary sigh.

BTW: See Al Mohler's much less snarky article on Anne's visit.
See Dan's also.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Love and Marriage

Over the weekend, as I reflected upon 10 years of marriage with my lovely bride, I was reminded of an article I read a couple of weeks ago in which a young gal laments the growing number of single people putting off marriage. There is much wisdom with her words.

Why Marriage is Declining


Not that I am an expert on relationships by any means, but when I was single, I saw marriage as a most worthy state I wanted to obtain. It took me a bit to get myself oriented to think biblically about marriage, however. Probably the one key element lacking in the minds of many single people.

I certainly had to wake up to my sloppy, mediocre self. I got sober-minded and did away with all those single guy habits I cultivated with my 15 years of roommate living like acting goofy, wearing clothes that didn't match, and buying cheap shoes. I also had to put off all the absurd, fleshly expectations I had accumulated as a single, Christian young man for what I wanted in a wife: a Proverbs 31 Victoria's Secret model who can sing and play the piano.

And though there was much sweat and agony (mostly with the breaking of my single guy habits and expectations), God blessed me with a dear lady who has been my best friend and has brought many, many days of happiness.

My one word of exhortation to single folks: Guys and gals, pay attention to your friends.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

On Matters of Age

Ultimately the disagreement between old earth creationists and young earth creationists boils down to the matter of authority. Evidence really has nothing to do with it.

The question truly is:

Which story of history is going to be trusted when it comes down to the origins of the universe, the world, and mankind; and I would add, which story of history is to be trusted as it explains the end of all things?

The biblical record revealed to men by our sovereign Creator tells us one version of the history of our origins. Fallen men, on the other hand, who labor under the noetic effects of Adam's sin, who also actively fight against their Creator, have concocted an alternative history that is contrary to the one recorded in Scripture as revealed to us by our Creator.

Theistic evolutionists argue that one cannot possibly read Genesis as a real, historical record because that "literalism" forces the Bible believer to accept young earth creationism. The "evidence" we see is just way too overwhelming in favor of an ancient world of deep time to hold to such a naive, childish understanding of Genesis. Instead, theistic evolutionists attempt to offer a mediating position between these two diametrically opposite authorities competing with one another so as to inform our understanding of history. They wish to recognize the sacred Word of God along with all the so-called evolutionary, deep time "evidence."

Yet, when the arguments put forth by theistic evolutionists are examined, one has to wonder how seriously they take God's revelation as being truly inspired and inerrant. While a good portion of theistic evolutionists (and by default, old earth creationists) claim to believe in an inspired Bible they tend toward elevating the authority of scientism over the authority of Scripture to speak as a divine revelation. Usually they appeal to hermeneutical alchemy so as to lend God a hand with the evidence. But that approach merely maligns the biblical text, pouring into the Genesis narrative bizarre interpretations that strip the language of any ability to communicate in a meaningful fashion.

If a person were to scan the comments of young earth detractors, they seem to be bothered by the "appearance of age" argument. In other words, they don't like it when biblical creationists say the evidence that is understood to be millions and millions of years old has "an appearance of age." Really, the position of the YE creationist is better described as believing God created a "mature, fully functional creation." Meaning, when God created the world, trees would be fully grown, animals fully grown, rivers, valleys, hills, even space, the sun, moon, and stars, all ready to be utilized by God's capstone of creation, mankind.

But the theistic evolutionists respond by saying such a view of creation presents a problem of a "false history." As one theistic evolutionary apologist notes, it would be like Jesus creating "false" bills of sale, and other such "evidence" when He changed water into wine so as to present a history about the origin of the wine that never really existed. In like manner, to ignore the so-called evidence for the "age" of the earth and claim God made it with an "appearance of age" is turning God into a deceiver, because He created this entire phony historical back story that never existed. Such things as ice cores that are 100,000 years old, star light that has traveled millions of years, sediment deposits that are suppose to be dated millions of years old, etc.

There are two problems with this argument as I see it:

First, it misrepresents the concept of a fully mature and functional creation. No one is arguing that God made things with "appearance" of age necessarily. Certainly God didn't create in a manner so as to deceive or provide a "false history." But God does make things fully functional and mature. Many things that are fully functional will be aged, or in other words, have the "appearance of age." Take the wine in John 2. Jesus turned water into wine instantaneously. It looked, and smelled, and tasted like "aged" wine, even though it was minutes old. A sommelier, without prior knowledge of what Jesus did, would certainly say it was aged so many years or whatever. A better example is Jesus feeding the five thousand. The fish and loaves were obviously created in just mere moments, but the fish never swam. They were never eggs that grew into baby fish that in turn grew over the course of a year or more to become fish ready to be netted, prepared, and consumed as a meal. The same is with the loaves. They did not come from wheat that was planted, that grew over the summer, that was harvested, threshed, turned to flour, and then made into bread to be eaten. A process which would take several months. Both the fish and the bread had "an appearance of age," or better, was fully functional to perform the purpose of what they were created to do: feed 15,000 people or more.

Secondly, and more to the point, theistic evolutionists unquestioningly assume the "age" of rocks and star light travel and all those things that specifically point, in their minds, to real, legitimate millions of years IS the real age of those things. It's the real history. But this presupposes a consistent uniformitarianism of the natural processes when in point of fact they ignore the actual miracle of God initially creating the world, the fall of man, the flood, as a major aspect to how we understand the physical characteristics and properties of these processes. Put another way, what they are thinking is old history based on the evidence is not the real history as they understand it. They discount those essential elements revealed to us by our Creator that have drastic impact on the creation.

Which means, as I noted above, the disagreement is ultimately a matter of which authority you allow to inform your perspective of the evidence as it relates to the origin of the world.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Studies in Eschatology

All of my current articles reflecting my personal study in the subject of eschatology and eschatological systems.

Responding to Sam Waldron’s MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto – A Friendly Response

A Review of MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto – A Friendly Response.

Replacement Theology

Sam is a Dispensational Man

Peace and Mercy … Upon the Israel of God

For They are not All Israel Who are Israel

Addendum to the Land

The Commonwealth of Israel

Studies in General Eschatological Theology

Apocalyptic Visions

Herman Gnuteks

Out with the Old, In with the New

Type Casting the Bible

Israel => Church

Thy Kingdom Come

Christological Platonism and other Eschatological Supplements

Restoring Israel

The Kingdom: Spiritual and Material

Amillennialism

Postmillennialism

Premillennialism

The Millennium in Church History

Apocalypticism and the Book of Revelation

Revelation 20: Sequential or Recapitulation?

The Binding of Satan: Present or Future?

A Spiritual or Physical Resurrection?

The Duration of the Thousand Years: Literal or Figurative?

Defending Premillennialism

Philosophical Considerations in the Development of Hermeneutics

The Reforming of Hermeneutics

The Wooden Literalist: Legendary Beast of Theology Lore [1]

The Wooden Literalist: Legendary Beast of Theology Lore [2]

Outlining the Basics

The Telescoping of Prophecy

Kingdom Citizens

The Covenant Reformed Understanding of Israel's Land Promises

The Everlasting Promise of the Land

The New Covenant Promise of Israel's Restoration

…series still in progress

Miscellaneous Articles

The Manuel Lacunza Conspiracy

The Great Disappointment

Additional Thoughts on 70 A.D., Preterism, the Olivet Discourse, and Gap Theories

The Literal "Hermeneutic" and Dispensationalism

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How Electricity and Genetics Works

P.Z. Myers is sort of the American equivalent to Richard Dawkins. He hates God - particularly the Christianity version - and he engages in a vitriolic on-line apologetic for his extreme anti-theistic, evolutionary fundamentalism. Only he doesn't get as much play as Dawkins because he doesn't have the British accent going for him.

Over the weekend he takes BJU to task for publishing "creasyun" nonsense.

Frickin' electricity, how does it work?


He and his minions took gleeful delight in the comments hurling their scorn upon BJU, creationism, and God. Stupid Bible thumpers don't know how electricity works.

One has to labor through a good many snarky remarks (comment #287) until they find this one written by a BJU graduate in biology. (I saw it reprinted at the Sharper Iron site). Note my emphasis:

A little bit of very critical information is missing from this. First of all, what is the title of the textbook? What is the page number of this paragraph? What is the context of the information? What is the grade level to which it is written?

It's clear that this is written to young children and is not intended to be a in depth analysis of what is known about electricity. The point that it makes, however, is very valid: we really don't know all that much about electricity. We FEEL like we know a lot compared to our ancestors, but in the big picture we really don't.

I am a graduate of the BJU science department and completed my MS and PhD in Microbiology at a large southeastern university. I am now a postdoctoral fellow at a medical school as an immunologist. While I'm not a physicist and can't speak to the details of electricity with great knowledge, I can speak about Immunology and Cell Biology. We know a good bit about the cell. We've uncovered countless molecules and pathways and have answered a great number of questions. However, as I am frequently reminded when doing literature searches in PubMed, we really don't know much at all. In fact, that was one overarching theme that I encountered time and time again at the recent American Society of Immunologists meeting in Baltimore: we've learned a good bit, but we've barely even uncovered the tip of the iceberg. I spoke with a non-Christian cell biologist recently and he echoed those sentiments, that in spite of everything we've learned about the cell, we really don't know what's going on. His exact words were: we don't know anything. It is a very naive person who feels like we know a lot (and a person who hasn't studied much science). One of the oldest rules in studying science is that when you answer one question, you uncover 100 other questions. We can talk A LOT about the little bit we do know and we can trick ourselves into thinking we've got it all quite figured out...as long as we neatly avoid the innumerable molecules and pathways that we don't have a clue about. Immunology is an even bigger mess. I wouldn't presume to think that the realm of Physics is any less complex than that of Immunology or Cell Biology.

This is a very sad, lame and weak attack by someone who clearly has an axe to grind with God, Christianity, creationism/ists, or BJU (or all of the above). If you can't distinguish between what might be written about electricity in an elementary school book and what is taught at the university level, then you probably aren't that bright to begin with. Further, I can assure you that I could pick up any science textbook written to a comparable age level and present the material as absurdity.

In any event, I'll do you one better. "An Introduction to Genetic Analysis" by Griffiths et al is a very commonly used, secular, college level textbook. On page 472 in chapter 15 (7th edition), which discusses genetic mutations the authors make the following quote: "Because mutation events introduce random genetic changes, most of the time they result in loss of function. The mutation events are like bullets being fired at a complex machine; most of the time they will inactivate it. However, it is conceivable that in rare cases a bullet will strike the machine in such a way that it produces some new function." Keep in mind that the authors are/were professors at the University of British Columbia, UCLA and Harvard. This is an absurd statement in every way imaginable and even if I were an evolutionist, I would blush with embarrassment. This is what some of the best scientists have to say about the role of mutations in evolution??? If I had the time and desire, I could dig out my copies of "Molecular Biology of the Cell" by Bruce Alberts et al and give similarly absurd statements.

Unlike the authors in the quote I cited in the above paragraph, the authors of the elementary textbook published by BJU are not even attempting to explain electricity. You are trying to use it in that way, but it's clearly not what the text was being written for. They merely use electricity to reveal the complexity of nature and demonstrate how little we really know about the world around us. The reality is they could have used countless examples from every scientific discipline. Griffiths et al, however, are attempting to describe to a college level audience the complexities of mutations and how they might contribute to evolution. And the above quote is the best they could muster. Pretty sad if you ask me.

Evolutionists (and the University of Minnesota, Morris) must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel these days.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Have A Popping Safe Fourth of July

















Unless something major happens that really, really, stirs my passions, I won't be blogging until the 5th of July.

Be safe with those fire crackers.

Don't put out any eyes.

GTY From Space

Phil shared the forward John MacArthur wrote to Jeff Williams' book called The Work of His Hands: A View of God's Creation from Space. The book is a collection of photographs Jeff took on his first tour of duty on the International Space Station in 2006.

As a supplement to Phil's post, I recalled one of Jeff's first photos he sent to us. It is of Grace to You ministries in California. You can't really make out the building clearly, but it is still neat to think it was taken by a friend we knew on the ISS.

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