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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Confronting Gays with Truth and Love

So the former CCM artist, Derek Webb, does an interview for an agnostic, inter-faith blogger guy from the Huffington Post. Frank writes up an open letter in which he asks among other things why Derek uses his "I'm an Artist" badge to be soft on what the biblical Gospel is, yet at the same time bash fundamentalist/evangelicals/churches for supposedly being mean to gays.

Evangelicals being mean to gays seems to be the major complaint from the few supporters of Derek who ventured forth to leave comments under Frank's post. Their whining is so shrill about being mean to gays, it is as if homosexual sin should be the last thing ever discussed with a gay person, if at all confronted to begin with.

Homosexual sin has become in our modern world the *fad* lifestyle demanding to be accepted and approved without question. Any person who speaks against homosexuality is automatically labeled a bigot and will not be tolerated in a society that otherwise demands tolerance toward every wack-a-doodle belief system and personal conduct.

The current *fad* among the younger set moving within evangelical circles is to love homosexuals unconditionally while overlooking and never bring up for discussion their same-sex lifestyle choice. To do so is to be a bully; speaking the truth, but without love. Evangelicals have traditionally been mean and condemning of gays, or so complains Derek Webb and the minions who agree with him.

So as a Christian who has been granted the privilege of bearing the saving Gospel of eternal life to a lost world, it is unloving to tell a gay person his sexual orientation and lifestyle is sinful? Really? I take it with this approach, it is unloving to tell a pederast his or her orientation is sinful, too?

The truth is that sodomy or any same-sex behavior, no matter if it is practiced between two loving, committed men or women, is sin before a holy God. This is clearly and emphatically taught in Scripture. There is no amount of exegetical voodoo anyone can do to the text so as to make the Bible accommodate homosexual orientation. To deny what the Bible says on the matter denies the authority of God's Word. There is no middle ground. Thus, homosexuality must be repented of and renounced or be judged eternally by God's just wrath. This is what scripture plainly teaches. Only Christ can save a homosexual from the penalty of his or her sin.

Moreover, saying a gay person's same-sex orientation is a product of his biological orientation and thus can never be "changed" suggests God has no ability to transform sinful hearts. This is like saying God can redeem and sanctify a man who looks upon women with lust in his heart (or "oriented" toward being polyamorous), but not the same-sex orientation of homosexuals. With redemption comes cleansing and transformation. Granted, no amount of personal, legalistic manipulation will "change" a gay person to being "straight." That is a supernatural work by God. Only the sanctifying Spirit can change the homosexual's heart so he or she will no longer seek the carnal fulfillment of same-sex sin. To deny this change can happen, however, is to deny God's power.

God both saves and transforms. A person who says this is an unloving message to give a gay person, misses what love truly is.

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Academic Mercenary

The man who writes term papers for college and graduate students, tells his side of the story:

The Shadow Scholar

As I would expect in our postmodern age, even some seminary students do this:

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.

There is a sharp word to be said to the apparent, blissfully ignorant teachers and professors reading these things:

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?

Indeed.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Books I Heard and Read in 2010

My annual end of year list highlighting the main books I read this year. 

Audio Books:

I did three:

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of MeaningJonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg’s historical narrative providing the background to progressive liberalism.  It was an educational listen for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the rise in popularity of Mussolini among western elites (what is it with east and west coast liberals and their fascination with crazy dictators?), and the story of Woodrow Wilson’s progressive administration and how Obama’s mirrors it. 

The Infidel DelusionSteve Hays and crew

I am currently about 3/4 of the way through this book listening to it on my text to speech reader.  It is a collaboration of Triabloggers Steve Hays, Jason Engwer, Patrick Chan, and Paul Manata.   A bit heavy at times for the layman, but the guys do a good job addressing the key arguments offered by the internet atheist propagandists the average church-goer is going to encounter out in the work place or on the community college. 

Short Stories of H.P. Lovecraft Read by Wayne June

I am not a fan at all of the horror genre, and because of that dislike, I know really next to nothing about H.P. Lovecraft except that he supposedly influenced such horror writers as Stephen King and Clive Barker.   So when I saw occasional pop-culture, geek references to the Cthulhu, I was intrigued as to what that was all about.  I went to our county library and came across a collection of Lovecraft’s stories read by a voice talent narrator named Wayne June.  The stories I heard were not what I expected.  They were obviously weird, sci-fi like stories, but not the grossed out, gory stuff I thought I was going to get.  Plus, the narrator, Wayne June, did a superb job reading them.  He has a tremendous voice he uses to not only read the story, but to give life to the characters.  The stories are worth hearing just to listen to June talk.

 

Normal Books:

Arguing With Idiots – Glenn Beck

I am about half way through this book.  I don’t necessarily care for Beck.  I appreciate his poking at liberals in the same way I have appreciated Rush Limbaugh’s poking, but honestly, I get tired of Beck’s religious references as if he, a Mormon, is a genuine, evangelical Christian.  I had a volunteer give me this book as a present, and I have to say I have loved reading it.  I like the points he makes, the history he brings to the topics covered in the book, and the cartoon illustrations he provides to demonstrate liberal idiocy are a riot. 

For the Glory of God: How Monotheism led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and The End of Slavery – Rodney Stark

I came across this book in the footnotes of an article I read this past year.  I was engaged with a gang of theistic evolutionists over at the GTY blog and the timing of me discovering Stark’s book couldn’t had been better.  I checked it out of the library and read the big section on religion and science.  It was so well done I immediately purchased the book off Amazon.  The subtitle provides the subjects he covers.  With each one he dismantles many anti-Christian urban legends such as Galileo contradicted the Bible and so was punished and Christians burned millions of innocent women in witch-hunts. 

Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Histories – Jeffrey Burton Russell

I found this book around the same time I found Stark’s.  A friend recommended I get it after I got tangled up on my blog with a crusty atheist insistent that the Bible teaches a flat earth.  Russell’s work is short, but packed with good information about the flat earth myth we have been taught in school. 

The Greatness of the Kingdom – Alva McClain

I picked this up in an used book store to add to my material on eschatology.  McClain’s study of the Kingdom of God throughout Scripture is a tour de force.  First he outlines a theology for the Kingdom, but then he covers the biblical teaching on the Kingdom from Genesis all the way to Revelation.  Along the way he deals with problem passages like Ezekiel 40-48, as well as special passages like Daniel’s 70 Weeks.  Amillennialists will dislike that McClain is a Dispensationalist, but my Reformed Covenant friends must deal with his argumentation if they are seriously going to take on Dispensationalism as an errant, theological system.

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

This book provides a basic, yet thorough, exegetical and theological study of creation, man’s fall into sin, and then God’s restoration in the work of Christ on the Cross and at His Second Coming.  The biggest portion of the book deals primarily with creation and the Genesis record.  The author begins with a background to how origin science moved from being God centered, grounded in the biblical text, to being naturalistic and hostile to Scripture.  He then spends the majority of his book covering the historicity of Genesis and interacting with errant old earth interpretations of the text.  The latter third of the book provides a study on how Christ brings humanity’s redemption and restoration with God.  The last couple of chapters outlines eschatological themes with the author being some what vague as to his overall eschatology.  I was a bit let down on the eschatology and I was left wanting more.  Yet in spite of that dissatisfaction, the best part of the book is his study of creation.  It is probably one of the most thorough defenses of biblical, young earth creationism I have read in some time. 

Earth’s Catastrophic Past Vols. 1 & 2 – Andrew Snelling

I have to confess I read the first volume, but only portions of the second.  Snelling’s massive study on flood geology is something of an up-date to Whitcomb and Morris’s The Genesis Flood.  Snelling spends 3/4 of the first volume going over the Genesis record of creation and the flood narrative.  He provides an overview of the various flood interpretations by the standard old earth, uniformitarian creationists, and then explains why they are wrong.  He then gives the proper way to read the Genesis flood narrative and once he establishes the truthfulness of a global, Noahic flood some 5,000 yeas ago, he spends the rest of volume one, and then volume two, providing the history of geology as science and building a catastrophic flood model from the geological evidence. 

The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Refuting Dawkins on Evolution – Jonathan Sarfati

Sarfati provides a chapter-by-chapter review and response to Richard Dawkins’s work, The Greatest Show on Earth.  The book is obviously meant as a polemic against Darwinian evolution, but at the same time Sarfati engages the evolutionary arguments put forth by Dawkins, he gives the reader a creationist response to the same evidence.  The book is a decent introduction to the creation-evolution debate.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End of An Era

Earlier this December, Grace to You radio ministries officially closed their tape lending library for good. The change in technology from the clunky cassette tape to CD and MP3 format was too much.

I work at GTY and in a strange twist of irony, I have only listened to maybe a little handful of the Grace to You radio broadcast since I learned of John MacArthur in the summer of 1988. My first and biggest exposure to John MacArthur was the tape lending library. A friend of mine in Arkansas had been saved at Grace Church in the early 80s and spent a couple of years there before moving back to my home state. He brought with him a trunk load of John MacArthur tapes, bought a duplicator, and began making tapes to hand out to people. He gave Lance Quinn, the long time senior associate pastor of Grace, his first John MacArthur tape.

When God saved me, I was introduced to this fellow and he handed me my first John MacArthur tape, a sermon from Matthew 7 called, Empty Words. The preaching was profound. What I liked about John was the fact that he went through the Bible verse by verse, used the Bible to explain the Bible, exposed his listeners to Church history during the sermon, and of course, he was rock solid theologically.

I called the 800 number of GTY and ordered a catalog, and I was thrilled to learn when I received it that they had a lending library program to which I could pay a yearly, nominal fee to check out 6 or so cassette messages at a time and listen to as many of them as I could pass back and forth through the US mail system. I immediately signed up and began listening to tapes via mail. I listened to John's series on God, Satan, and angels; selected chapters in 1 Corinthians, particularly chapters 12-14; 1, 2, and 3 John and Jude; a lot of the gospel of Matthew; portions of Romans; many special series; and a bunch of question and answer sessions John gave at his church.

At one time, as I understand it, there were as many as 5,000 members participating in the tape lending library program. When I began working for GTY, one of my duties was to drive the ministry van down to the Panorama City post office in the morning and pick up the lending library mail. Usually there would be 5 to 10 giant mail bags filled with packages for the lending library I had to lug out to the van. That was in the early to mid-90s.

Over the last 10 years or so, the lending library has dwindled down to about 200 participants. Earlier this fall, a couple of guys at GTY called each and every one of them to inform them of our decision to close the library because it was becoming more of a burden for us to maintain, especially financially. It is bitter-sweet to think of the library closing. I know I probably speak for thousands of people when I say how it was used by God in a big way with my spiritual life.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Wilson Footballs

This being bowl week all across the country, folks may be interested in how footballs are made. Wilson, in Ada, Ohio, makes all the NFL footballs.

The one thing that struck me with this video is not so much the manufacturing process, which is interesting to watch, but the fact that all of the workers featured in this video have been doing the same job from anywhere between 20 to 40 years. I think the guy says one gal had been doing her one job in the football making process for 42 years.

Either these dear folks truly love their job or there isn't much else to do in Ada.


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Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Claus is Comin' To Town


























































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Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Holy Night

Phil Webb's awe inspiring singing at this year's Christmas concert.

There are other numbers available to watch also: HERE

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

I've seen this at a few places the last couple of days, so I might as well join the crowd.
Very well done.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughts on the Evolution of Homosexuality

...Or Adventures in Aggravating Young Progressives.

The decision over the weekend to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" made me think: How does a strict Darwinian evolutionary worldview explain homosexuals and homosexual behavior?

I asked this question on the blog where many local progressives were gathering to raise toasts and sneer at those dinosaurish Republicans. One of them had written something along the lines of, "Nature (or God) made 10 percent of the population homosexual, so it is really uncool to be mean to people." I pointed out that probably every one of them believed in Darwinian evolution as the infallible scientific paradigm. I mean, one just HAS to be an evolutionist to be a gay loving progressive, right? Who wants to be perceived as a stupid creationist? That's like what Sarah Palin believes.

Darwinian evolution is the default "scientific" mechanism to explain why life does what it does to adapt and survive, so where does homosexuality fit in? Moreover, a conundrum arises when we consider that homosexuality is a same-sex attraction and behavior, but one cannot reproduce with the same-sex. So what biological advantage does homosexuality confer? Even more to the point: if organisms are merely gene transferring machines as evolutionary dogma insists they are, where did homosexuals come from to begin with? The genes have to be passed along from some previous, homosexual organism, but again, organisms can't reproduce with the same-sex. This is an especially difficult problem if one is going to argue homosexuality is genetic rather than nurture or a choice.

The push back was what I expected: emotional froth.

The first person said I was a hater burning a strawman to ask such a stupid question. Okay, I guess. I am just looking for some consistency among free-thinking, intellectual progressives who pride themselves with NOT being narrow-minded, gay bashing conservatives and big believers in reason and logic, Darwinian evolution being a big part of that reason and logic worldview.

One person wrote that monogamy doesn't confer an evolutionary advantage either, so put that in your pipe and smoke it you ignorant Republican bigot. But I pointed out that whether a couple is monogamous or polygamous is irrelevant. In a viable, evolutionary worldview, only heterosexuals can reproduce sexually, either with one or multiple partners.

A second commenter responded to my objection by pointing out how there are many heterosexuals both male and female who can't reproduce, you homophobic jerk. That is true, but again, it is irrelevant. According to an evolutionary worldview, those reproductively impotent couples wouldn't survive either, but the ability to reproduces really has nothing to do with the point: Only heterosexuals can reproduce and pass their genes along to the next generation.

A third person chimed in with some homophobia stomping anecdotal stories from around the world. He wrote,

Zoos in Japan and Germany have documented homosexual male penguin couples. They built nests together and used a stone as a substitute for an egg. (Happy Feet!) Both male and female pigeons sometimes exhibit homosexual behavior. Same-sex pigeon pairs will build nests, and lesbian hens will lay (infertile) eggs and attempt to incubate them. Courtship, mounting, and full (*I can’t type it-I’m blushing*) between bulls has been noted to occur among American Bison. Yup- good old mid-western American Bison. And I can’t even post what those naughty Amazon Dolphins do.

Of course, zoos in Japan and Germany are zoos. You know, where animals live in climate controlled captivity and are pampered by people 24-7. A zoo is not the brutal, harsh world of BBC Planet Earth. Homosexual male penguin couples would die in one generation without reproducing. So too with the lesbian pigeons. It's called natural selection in the evolutionary construct, and it weeds out the weakest members of the group so the overall group can survive. Additionally, bison bulls and dolphins that supposedly display homosexual behavior typically reproduce with females to pass along their offspring. They are not exclusively homosexual, as it were. And if we are going to look to the animal world to justify our behavior, chimps will kill and eat their own babies and male whales of all breeds gang rape females. At this point, I don't see Congress repealing rape policy anytime soon.

Pro-homosexual defenders are stuck with what could be called a Dawkins' Dilemma. It doesn't matter if it is people or animals. How did homosexual behavior arise naturally without the ability of homosexuals to reproduce? If we apply evolutionary dogma, homosexuals are mutations; rejects that should be selected against because of their inability to continue the health of the group population.

So in the overall debate with gay issues, if progressive liberals are to be true to their core, intellectual and scientific values, they unwittingly encourage the idea that gays are natural mutations, which make them worst bigots towards homosexuals than religious conservatives ever will be.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Last Young Earth Creationist

I am a villainous man. I began this extended essay with these words, good reader, and I conclude with them—villainous because I am a Young Earth Creationist. For those of you who have paid me the courtesy of reading this essay to its completion, you now understand fully why I am unapologetic about my villainy. And as long as the Fourth Commandment contains these words, ―for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day,‖ so long shall I remain a villain.


Master's College Prof., Jim Owen, responds to the criticisms of such men as John Collins and Mark Noll.

The Villainous Confessions of a Young Earth Creationist.


It's a long read, so pack a lunch and dinner.

HT: John Byl

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Text to Speech Software: A Brief Review

I read a lot. Sometimes I rotate reading 5 to 6 books at a time. On top of that, I download internet articles I happen to find or get linked to. Most of my reading I try to do in the evening after the kids are down or early on Saturday or Sunday mornings before anyone is up. In the last year or so, on occasion I have been taking the bus to and from work, so that allows me some extra time to catch up on my reading. But honestly, with a family demanding my time (and me wanting to give them the time), both pleasure reading and serious, sermon prep reading, can become quickly limited.

One way to help get my reading done is that I started downloading audio books. I have "listened" to several so far and I enjoy learning this way. I can read my book, as it were, while I am riding my bike, or on the bus, or when I have to spend time doing desk work at my job. The audio books have been a fabulous way to stay caught up on the reading I want to do.

The draw back with audio books, however, is that there isn't a whole lot of the heavy duty theology books I like to read in audio format. It's a great format for non-fiction, historical stuff I like to read, but not for commentaries on Acts, for example.

Then I heard how James White found some text to speech software that turns documents like Word and PDF files into a MP3 audio file that can be read to you. He was doing this with ebooks he was buying off Amazon. I thought that was a smashing idea, but I had a couple of problems: The cost of any such software and I am an internet/computer idiot so I didn't even know where to begin apart from a basic search. I needed to find a program that can turn large PDFs or any text document into an audio MP3 I can put on my Ipod.

So, I contacted a few friends I knew were computer whisperers and asked them if they personally had any recommendations for good TTS software that would be cost effective for me. After a week or so, my friend Peter Nelson wrote back with the following review and recommendations:

I am sure that I don't need to tell you there are lots of TTS software. Some of the freeware isn't bad at all, others are just plain awful. Some of the paid software is very good. After reviewing them I started listing to some things that made them outstanding in my opinion.

1. Adjusting the reading rate this is essential to actually get something that you can stand to listen to.

2. Multiple voices: I really hate to say this but James White is right: anything said by someone that is British is more enjoyable to listen to. Some of the programs had British speakers. Invariably these sounded better than the American voices.

3. Multiple file formats. Some will only read Text files other won't read any file you have to copy and paste the text into the "reading area" On PDFs this doesn't always work.

4. Ability to save to MP3 files. Seriously. Being forced to sit at the computer listening to these documents instead of putting them into my MP3 player and being able to travel to work on something; I might as well just read them.

Having said that here are the winners:

Freeware:

TTSReader http://www.sphenet.com/TTSReader/index.html Limited use. Can't load pdfs but txt and rtf files are good. Can make either mp3 or wav files and has free multiple voices.

SmartRead http://www.smartysoft.com/smartread/index.html Different voices txt (no pdf). Can convert to mp3.

Paid:

Expressivo http://www.expressivo.com/index.php?lang=english This does it all and the voices are so good it's scary but not as scary as the price. You are definitely paying for the quality of the product here. But seriously. If you want to listen to those Master seminary documents this software makes it sheer pleasure. Throw subtle hints around the house and have the relatives chip in to buy you the express package. BTW British voices all the way.

Alive text to speech. http://www.alivemedia.net/textspeech.htm Yes you can get pdf etc. with this product but you can't open the pdf file and have it displayed in the program. Highlighting and copying to the program is the only way. Expressivo allows you to open the pdf in the program and convert it to MP3. Alive text to speech will convert to mp3.

Natural Reader http://www.naturalreaders.com/index.htm Didn't like the interface but it does have all the features I was looking for it's good but not as good as Expressivo. (sounds like an add doesn't it.) There were others but the even though they were like $29 the quality of the files they created (mp3) weren't worth the money. For my money if your going to spend some of your hard earned cash, get Expressivo.

Because Peter was sold on Expressivo, I thought I would give it a try. There is a thirty day trial version available that allows you to download the basic program and the available voices. I sampled the voices I was interested in at the main website and downloaded the ones I liked the most to test. I got the British "Brian" voice and the American "Joey" voice. I then downloaded The Infidel Delusion to be read to me by the British voice. I prepared a couple of other shorter articles to be read to me by the American voice. I will say the British voice is much more pleasant to listen to than the American voice. In fact, after sampling a couple of articles read to me by "Joey" the American, I preferred the "Brian" the Brit.

What are my thoughts?

Overall I love the program. It is worth the investment if one were wanting to expand his "reading" in an audio format.

There are some drawbacks, however.

- First off, listening to a computerized voice, regardless if it is suppose to be Cambridge English, takes a bit of getting use to. I found that I had to listen carefully or I would miss what was being said.

- Moreover, the vocal presentation can be choppy at times. It is a computer, to say the least, and not a natural, human voice. Hence, a computer will not emphasize -- or perhaps over emphasize -- some authorial nuance a human reader will know to pick up during the course of reading. This does present some entertaining listening. For example, I was particularly amused with how my British voice read the part of The Infidel Delusion describing the brains of Hector Avalos and Billy Graham floating in a jar. Also, words can be mispronounced, like "Parousia" being pronounced as PARASIS, as in paralysis.

- Being that this is a computer voice reading a PDF document, it reads everything. I mean everything. Page number, the content, the reference numbers for the footnotes, then the footnotes themselves. If the footnotes continue onto the next page of the PDF, the computer is going to return to the top of the page, read the content first, then conclude with the footnote from the previous page. It is things like this that explains what I mean by having to get use to listening to a computer read you a book.

Yet, in spite of these minor annoyances, the program is great. If a person is like me and is looking for an avenue in which to expand his reading, Expressivo provides a tremendous platform for text to speech study.


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Two Californias

Victor Davis Hanson writes of how a lethal combination of elitist environmentalism and unenforced immigration laws have created a third world Apartheid state in rural, Central California. It truly is heartbreaking reading. This is the fruit of progressive leftism: societies living in squalor clinging to the government for their livelihood.

Two Californias

He writes,
California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California’s rural hinterland.

and,

We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gleanings from Daniel [18]

An Introduction to Daniel's Seventy Weeks

I have come to a critical juncture in my study of Daniel, but before I lay out my exposition of Daniel 9:24-27 and the 70 weeks, I believe it may be helpful to quickly survey how the main hermeneutical systems within Bible-believing evangelical circles interpret this section of Scripture. The 70 Weeks of Daniel is a major eschatological passage. How a person interprets the vision will have theological ramifications on other portions of Scripture that may reference Daniel 9.

Leaving off critical and liberal approaches, I believe there are primarily two hermeneutical systems that concern our study as faithful, Bible loving evangelicals. I define them as the Reformed covenant view, and for the sake of keeping the discussion clear and any confusion to a minimum, the Dispensational view.

Just as a side note, I do recognize Dispensationalism comes in a variety of flavors. (as does the Reformed covenant position). I pointed this out in a recent post. I will say I have heavy Reformed sympathies, especially as my theology pertains to the soteriological doctrines. I part company when it comes to ecclessiology and eschatology and how I understand the outworking of God's decrees and the purpose of His will, but that is a discussion for some other post.

I will also point out that I cannot possibly cover every nuance to this passage with this brief post. I recognize individuals within both theological camps may break down the exposition to this passage differently. People are welcome to quibble with me in the comments. I want merely to hit the salient points of disagreement so as to build a frame work on which to outline my personal study.

The Reformed Covenant View:

Beginning first with the Reformed covenant view of Daniel 9, there are two recognizable interpretations of the passage from that perspective. First, is what could be called a symbolic view of the prophecy. The 70 weeks reflect real events, but the "weeks" are not at all meant to be understood as chronological time. These "weeks" are not "weeks" of years, or what would be 7 year intervals, but they are periods of undetermined time that reveal events pertaining to God's People, the Redeemed in Christ both Jew and gentile, extending from the rebuilding of Jerusalem, up to the first coming of Christ, and beyond to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the Bar Kokhba rebellion in 135 A.D. and eventually to the Second Coming of Christ. With this view, the emphasis of the 70 weeks is God dealing with His redeemed throughout redemptive history and the comfort the work of God's Messiah brings to those redeemed.

The next view is what I would consider a literal view of the prophecy. Reformed covenant proponents of this perspective recognize the 70 weeks as real, literal seven year periods that are meant to be chronological. The 70 weeks are divided into three periods, 7 weeks of years, or 49 years; then 62 weeks of years, or 434 years; and then one final week of 7 years. Representatives of this position will place the starting date for the 70 weeks either at 458 B.C. with the decree of Ezra to rebuild the temple or 445 B.C. with the decree of Nehemiah to rebuild the city, and the first 49 years end when Nehemiah and Ezra finish their work. The next group of 434 years extend to Christ's first coming with some proponents believing they end with the baptism of Jesus in either 26 or 27 A.D.; or they end with Christ presenting Himself as Israel's Messiah at the Triumphal Entry during the final week of His life in 33 A.D. The final 7 years are understood as ending with Stephen's stoning in Acts 7, an act that solidified Israel's rejection of their Messiah.

Highlighting particular exegetical points:
The Reformed covenant view understand Jesus Christ to be both "the prince" or "Messiah" who is to be cut off as described in verse 26, and the "prince" mentioned in the next clause who is described as having a people who come to destroy the city. The idea being that the Jews, or the people of the prince who is to come (Jesus Christ), bring their own destruction upon themselves by rejecting their Messiah and hence solidifying God's wrath against the nation as played out in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. The destruction of the temple put an end to sacrifices for the OT sacrificial system just as Daniel states.

Oddly, it is at this point many Reformed covenant folks allow the final week of 7 years or at least the last 3 1/2 years of the final week (42 months), to be understood as figurative and non-literal. For example, Kim Riddlebarger argues the final 3 1/2 years is, per the Apostle John's comments in Revelation 12:14, speaking to the time of "tribulation" Christ's Church will endure before Christ's Second Coming.

The Dispensational View

Dispensational proponents approach Daniel 9:24-27 much differently than their Reformed counterparts; yet there are a few similarities. For instance, in the same manner many Reformed covenant interpreters believe the 70 weeks represent periods of literal, chronological 7 years, so too do Dispensational interpreters. They would believe the first set of 7 weeks represent the 49 years of Ezra and Nehemiah's ministries to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem beginning in 445 B.C. and continuing until that work is completed. The next 62 weeks cover the 434 years of intertestimental history (a good portion of which I believe is revealed in Daniel 11) until the first coming of Jesus Christ and the termination with Christ being cut off at the Crucifixion.

It is at this point, however, where Dispensational interpreters depart dramatically from the Reformed covenant interpreters. Where as the Reformed covenant interpretation sees a fulfillment of these final 7 weeks shortly after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ or perhaps understand the final week as non-literal, Dispensationalists believe those final 7 years are yet future, awaiting fulfillment at the time of the end. That final week sets into motion significant historical events that culminate in the Return of Jesus Christ, the restoration of Israel, and the establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth. That means the Reformed view rejects the idea of an extended gap of time (2,000 years at least at this point) existing between the completion of the 69 weeks and the final week. Dispensationalists, on the other hand, believe a gap has to exist because specific exegetical factors revealed throughout the other portions of Scripture warrant the understanding of a gap of time.

Highlighting particular exegetical points:
Rather than understanding the Messiah who will be cut off and the "prince of the people who will come" as being one and the same in the person of Jesus Christ, Dispensationalists understand there to be two individuals: Jesus Christ and then an eschatological anti-Christ figure who has been revealed elsewhere in Scripture. "The prince of the people who will come" identifies this anti-Christ figure with the last beast in Daniel's prophecy in chapter 7 or the iron legs in chapter 2. The Roman empire was the last beast figure, and "the people who will come" alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D brought upon Israel by the Roman armies of Titus. This destruction initiates the determined desolations mentioned at the end of 9:26, which I believe indicates the marker for the "gap" of time between the 69th and final 70th week. Thus, this "prince" spoken of in 9:26 is identified with the last beast that will be a final, major empire in the last days before Christ's Return.

Now, my Reformed covenant friends will often write how their perspective is theologically superior because they consider their view Christological or Christo-centric. In other words, their interpretation of Daniel's 70 Weeks focuses upon the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross and His deliverance of God's people both Jew and gentile from the ineffective works of the OT sacrificial system. Daniel 9 is meant to reveal how God will bring to an end the OT sacrificial system in the work of Jesus Christ. Dispensationalists, they argue, place the focus of Daniel 9 away from Christ's cross work and back to the Jewish people who represented a religious system destined to be done away with by God Himself. Hence, Dispensationalists completely miss the clear, historic redemptive element of this prophecy.

I, however, respond as one from a dispensational perspective that the Reformed covenant folks overstate their view. My position is no less "Christological" as theirs. I clearly see a focus with Daniel's prophecy upon the redemptive work of Christ. It is this work that fulfills the purpose of these appointed 70 weeks as stated by the angel in 9:24. Yet, other significant exegetical factors within Daniel's 70 week prophecy coupled with further revelation given in other portions of Scripture does not allow for an exclusive, "Christological" hermeneutic as the Reformed covenant contend. This is what I hope to demonstrate in my study.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

iBand

I have a busy week with no time really to write out anything substantive.

Thankfully, a co-worker sent me this video.

I know I am suppose to despise it because it was made by one of those big, seeker-friendly churches where the preacher sits on a stool while he gives his audience a spiritual pep talk using interactive video of kids in third world countries.

But honestly, I thought it was pretty cool.
Don't you wish your church was this awesome?

Regrettably, they didn't perform these numbers for the traditional, 7 AM service.


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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

FBT Update

For those interested, I have begun uploading to my other website, Fred's Bible Talk, the messages from an ongoing series on Genesis chapter 1.

The first three sermons can be downloaded or listened to here:

The Creation Week of Genesis

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Car Vs. Bicycle

It appears as though the Chinese do not have a word for "yield" in their language.

Either that, or they should implement some drivers' ed course in their high school. Maybe repeated viewings of "Highway of Blood" or "Red Asphalt" would help put into perspective how dangerous driving a car can be.

HT: Pecadillo

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Gleanings from Daniel [17]

Daniel Prays for Israel [9:1-19]

We come to an important chapter in Daniel. Chapter 9 entails some pivotal, and controversial revelation regarding the coming of Jesus Christ - The Son of Man in Daniel 7.

It is controversial in that the interpretation of the subject matter revealed later in vs. 24 and following defines how one sees the unfolding of eschatological events in the end-times.

But, before dealing with those eschatological events, Daniel presents for us an unique prayer. It is one of the longest prayers in the Bible and the prayer is spoken on behalf of the people of Israel. In fact, the covenant name of God, YHWH, appears in this chapter seven times, not being found anywhere else in Daniel's book.

I. The Occasion of the Prayer 9:1-2

The setting of this chapter is the first year of Darius the Mede - 538 B.C. This is following the fall of Babylon and 12 year after the previous vision in chapter 8. This is the same Darius we saw in chapter 6, "Darius," I believe, being another name for Cyrus. Daniel reminds us of God's sovereignty - Daius was made king.

It was during the first year Daniel came to understand an important truth: He understood the exile was nearing an end.

He was reading the prophet Jeremiah [note by the way how he calls the prophet's book, scripture] specifically Jeremiah 25:11-12 which reads,

11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon 70 years. 12 Then it will come to pass, when 70 years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the LORD; and I will make it a perpetual desolation.

The prophecy had reached a fulfillment. It had been 70 years Israel served Bablyon, and the Babylonian empire had just been taken over by the Medes and the Persians. This captivity for the Jews started in 605 B.C. when the first captives went to Babylon and continued to 538 B.C. Daniel is in the 68th/69th year of this exile. The next couple of years will see Israel returning to Israel.

II. The Awakening to Pray (9:3-15)

The realization of Jeremiah's prophecy stirred up Daniel to go before God in prayer. Not just a quick prayer to God, but he was stirred to fervent prayer, "I set my face." His motivation was to go to God until God answered. He prays to the LORD God, the sovereign Lord, owner, ruler of all the human kingdoms. He expressed his humility and dependence upon God with sack cloth and ashes.

From this prayer, I believe we can learn from Daniel so as to strengthen our own prayer life. It is a model for us to consider.

1) Saturated with Scripture.

Note how Daniel was stirred to pray by being in God's Word. Throughout his prayer, Daniel specifically references the OT passages dealing with God's covenant relationship with Israel. For example, Leviticus 26:31-35, Daniel mentions the curses brought upon Israel and the land. Our prayers should be filled with scripture, which implies we are reading it regularly.

2) Filled with adoration to God.

Daniel's prayer being soaked in Scripture set his mind to be thinking rightly upon God. This fills his heart with adoration. Daniel reflects upon how God is,

- awesome (4)

- Covenant keeping (4) which implies God keeps the good blessing along with the bad cursing. In other words, God would not be faithfully keeping the covenant with Israel if He did not bring the curses they deserved for their disobedience.

- Merciful (4)

In the same manner as Daniel, our understanding of who God is should elevate our thinking to adore the God of Heaven when we pray.

3) Confessing of Sin.

Daniel's heart is quickly turned to the importance of confession. There was a reason Israel was in bondage: They had sinned against God. "Commited iniquity," "done wickedly," "rebelled," "rejected the prophets," "departed from precepts." Further, they are said to be shameful, they experienced "shame of face" because they were disgraced by the bondage. However, unlike Israel, God has been faithful. He does not lie. He is been faithful to punish Israel who are deserving of punishment (14).

III. Petition and Supplication

Only after sin is confessed can supplication be made. That is what Daniel does. Daniel makes a prayer of restoration. Note verse 18. Not because of what we do, but because of God. Daniel knew God would keep His promises to His people and calls upon God to forgive them, to hear his prayer, and to move to answer.

Daniel's prayer is answered, and the remainder of chapter 9 details the answer God provides.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hard Lessons from OEC and Theistic Evolutionists [2]

This post is a continuation of a previous post I did some time ago in which I began to outline the "theological" lessons I learned from an extended period of interaction with theistic evolutionists and old earth creationists.

For a bit more background, see PART 1.

In summary, both theistic evolution and old earth creationism bring significant theological ramifications to the Christian faith. Even though theistic evolutionists and old earth creationist insist they should be distinguished from one another philosophically, they hold enough similarities that they share the same criticisms, thus I address both groups together.


They present a new perspective on Genesis. Just like N.T. Wright teaches a new perspective on Paul, many proponents of theistic evolution and OEC insist upon a new perspective of Genesis. They claim certain external factors exist in the natural world that demands Genesis must be interpreted differently than being a literal, historical document. Yet, the historic, Jewish and Christian understanding of the opening chapters of Genesis is that it records the creation of the world by divine fiat in the space of six, ordinary days. This is confirmed in Exodus 20:11, for example, when God told Moses to pattern the Jewish work week after His week of creation in Genesis 1. The people of Israel were to work six days and then rest the seventh day in the same manner God worked six days at creating and then rested the seventh.

The literal, historical interpretative understanding of creation was acknowledged by both the majority of Jewish and Christian commentators until the mid-18th century. But Christians ditched it after they were convinced by so-called scientific “authorities” who insisted the evidence we see in the world contradicts the historical record of Genesis. Thus, the rise of multiple hermeneutical systems developed among both liberal and evangelicals for interpreting the creation week of Genesis is unique in Church history. That is not to say all of these particular hermeneutics are heretical, but it is to say they are suspicious, especially in light of the fact they are wildly inconsistent with the grammatical nuances found in the Genesis text.

Genesis cannot be understood properly until the modern, scientific age. A repeating assertion I read from a number of the theistic evolutionists is Genesis represents a primitive record written by a pre-scientific people. Genesis isn't meant to be taken scientifically at all, and modern discoveries in the various scientific fields within the last 200 years now show us that Genesis must be interpreted in a figurative fashion. In a manner of speaking, it is as if Genesis was a misunderstood book for the nearly four thousand years after it had been composed by Moses. It wasn't until the late 1700s with the development of modern scientific disciplines that we finally had a "key" to interpret the book properly.

However, what is being missed with this claim against Moses and the post Exodus Jews is that Genesis was never meant to be a "scientific" book. The Israelites never saw it as a science book. Genesis is a historical book, written to provide the historical background from where all of mankind, and eventually the people of Israel, came. Moses didn't seek to establish scientific theories or challenge the scientific establishment in the 21st century. He was given a revelation of Earth's history by the very Creator who created the Earth. But, when Genesis records events that cross scientific inquiries, the history will be "scientifically" accurate. I understand that pretty much all of the history recorded in Genesis cuts against the "history" formulated by the so-called scientific academic establishment, but this only marks a clear dividing line. I either believe the history of the origin of the world as revealed by my Creator or I don't.

Parallel-a-mania. Another clever way deep time creationists try to get around the historical-grammatical ramifications of what Genesis proclaims is to say Genesis chapter 1 and 2 is a theological polemic against ancient Near Eastern religions. They argue that when Moses wrote Genesis, the children of Israel would soon be crossing into the Promised Land to engage the heathen nations that occupied it. Israel would be tempted to adapt their false religions to their own worship of YHWH, thus it was necessary for God to provide a theological grounding for Israel's national worship. The first week of creation as recorded in Genesis chapter 1 parallels many of the ANE myths regarding the creation, for example the separation of the light from the darkness and the description of the firmament as a solid, metal dome over the earth.

Though this polemical parallel view is becoming more accepted among those who want to accommodate modern, deep time assumptions with the account of Genesis 1 and 2, there are genuine problems with it. The most glaring is the fact the parallels between the Genesis creation account and the ANE creation accounts are for the most part contrived. In fact, it is almost the same as when atheists claim the Gospel writers borrowed from the stories of Mithras, or any other number of pagan myths, to fabricate the life of Jesus.

Honestly, when one reads the ANE creation myths like Enuma Elish or the Egyptian creation texts, there really is very little similarity between those accounts with the Genesis narrative. Of those points that may appear to overlap, any resemblance to what Genesis records is either a mere coincidence or quite possibly a corruption of the true account of God's creation that had been passed down until recorded officially in the Genesis narrative.

A severe lack of discernment. I was a bit disturbed by how easy it was for my old earth and theistic evolutionary proponents to quote approvingly from some known atheist defender of evolution or reference an unorthodox theologian who teaches profound heresy. For example, toward the beginning of our GTY series on Genesis, the Biologos website posted a video of Gregory Boyd, a notorious heretic who denies the omniscience of God, speaking as a “theologian” who had no problem reconciling evolution with the biblical record of Genesis. It was as if a profound disconnect existed. One particular old earth advocate would personally email me articles explaining how “literalist” Christians are misrepresenting the book of Genesis. When I looked at the website where these articles originated, without fail the author held to a whole host of unbiblical positions like gay marriage, women preachers, and one article I was sent was written by a guy who claimed elsewhere on his website that the Bible is okay with public displays of nudity and nudist communities.

Within the last few months, old earth proponents have teamed up with Catholics, apostates, and other Scriptural deniers to participate in a major conference and in one recent news item, the folks over at Biologos have won the approving sympathies of the atheists at the National Center for Science Education.

When I considered how easily it was for individuals who insisted they were Bible believing Christian to quote favorably from writers who hold to ungodly perspectives of Scripture and the Christian faith, I am left wondering about their discernment. Why are they so comfortable fellowshipping with heretics? Rather than seeing a defender of truth, I see a person being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.

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