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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Straining Gnats, Swallowing Camels

The Baylyblog has some words about the PCA and Federal Visionist theology.

Straining at gnats, swallowing camels

It's an interesting read, none the less, for us dunkards outside the community.

Best line in the article:

More interesting, perhaps, than the TR/tall steeple alliance is the FV/Missional pairing, a partnership between, on the one side, a cast of allegorizing, ecclesiastical-authority-reclaiming, covenantalist, former-theonomists and, on the other, shaved-head, authority-rejecting, artist-loving, not-unwilling-to-look-queer hipsters drawn together by two synergistic interests: commitment to post-millenarian cultural engagement (informal on the missional side, formal on the FV) and fondness for N.T. Wright.

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Lego Apartments

This is the progressive liberal's dream house. If Jerry Brown had his way, everyone would live like this. Just like the guy says in the video, "Why do we need "stuff" when all we need are basics like a kitchen and a bed?"

Notice there are no children.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

FBT Updates

For the long, Memorial Day weekend, if any one is interested, I uploaded the remaining two audio messages that finish my series on the Creation Week of Genesis.

Plus, I added two excellent articles. The first is by Doug Kutilek on,

The Defense of Biblical Miracles.

It's longish, but a good overview on the doctrine of biblical miracles and their place in redemptive history.

The second is by Phil Layton.

A collection of citations from post-Reformation theologians who believed in a restoration of ethnic Israel.

This came up earlier this week in my article about one particular young, restless Reformer who insists that the idea of the Jews being saved and restored at the return of Christ is the promotion of a false gospel.

Hope you all enjoy them and I'll see everyone after Monday.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reformed Whalers


He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.

Yesterday, someone sent me this link:

Why Harold Camping and not John MacArthur?

The gist of the post is summed up in the opening paragraph:

Have you noticed?

Everyone has jumped all over Harold Camping for being wrong in his predictions and eschatology.

Yet, John MacArthur has been shown wrong in his predictions (concerning Israel and their salvation by sight) and eschatology here and here and here and here and elsewhere, and in his teachings promising salvation to unbelievers after the second advent of Jesus Christ – clearly a heresy – and everyone says ‘hushhhhh.’

What’s the difference between Camping and MacArthur?

What’s the difference between Camping and MacArthur? Really? Camping and MacArthur have both made false predictions about the end of the world? Is the guy serious? And get this: he’s claims to be a pastor, too.

Let’s see: A number of the free, on-line dictionaries define the word “prediction” as, “foretelling how things will happen in the future.” Harold Camping, as we all know, first “predicted” the world could possibly end in 1994, though he left his calculations a bit ambiguous and opened to fudging by placing a question mark after 1994. But, 1994 came and went, so Harold Camping recalculated and foretold how the world will certainly end May 21st, 2011. He was so confident in his prediction he even stated on his website, “The Bible Guarantees It!,” this time with an exclamation mark rather than a question mark. We all know how that last prediction turned out, though Camping has since filed an extension with God for October 21st of this year.

Now, according to pastor-teacher Joel, John MacArthur has been shown wrong in his predictions and eschatology.

Go back and read that statement again.

How else am I to understand what pastor-teacher Joel is saying here EXCEPT that he believes John MacArthur has made the same types of predictions as Harold Camping. Am I missing something here? Anyone?

I happen to know something about what John teaches seeing that I work for the guy and attend his church. I have never heard John MacArthur make any prediction, anywhere close to what Harold Camping did, and then bet his entire ministry and career against it happening the way he says it will.

So. I leave a comment under pastor-teacher Joel’s post. I ask him to provide the specific examples of where John has made failed predictions like Harold Camping and everyone is saying “hushhhh” because he’s John MacArthur. Pastor-teacher Joel replies with a chiding comment saying I didn’t read his post carefully. He never said John, “made any predictions concerning Jesus coming or dates a’ la Harold Camping” and then adds, “What were you thinking?” He even posted a cryptic twitter message yesterday about people who don’t read comments carefully.

Wow. What was I thinking? Well, if you open up your post by saying Harold Camping was wrong about his predictions and eschatology and then in the next line say that John MacArthur has been shown wrong in his predictions in the same manner, how else am I to understand those words? Do I need to employ some sort of Reformed voodoo hermeneutic to get the true and deeper meaning out of the comment?

But, Joel attempts to weasel out of his libel by saying John was wrong about his predictions concerning Israel and the their salvation by sight. Ah yes, that makes all the sense in the world. Why didn’t I see that before. And to help me out more, he provides me examples of John’s wrong predictions by linking me to his VERY OWN BLOG POSTS on the subject. Isn’t that convenient.

Of course, none of those posts he links provides me with any of the specific examples I requested. They are all his personal rants against John’s Dispensational eschatology compared and contrasted against pastor-teacher Joel’s Covenant Theology.

He seems to be upset that John believes the nation of Israel will look upon their returning Messiah and be saved when He appears. In this post, after pastor-teacher Joel outlines his take on Zechariah 12:10 and its fulfillment in Acts 2, he asserts how John teaches another, false gospel, is a lying deceiver misleading the Church, and clearly is a heretic. Amazing. A lying, deceiving, heretic? I tend to reserve those kind of words for folks like Charles Russell, Clark Pinnock, and Benny Hinn.

I am curious. If the notion that Israel will be redeemed upon seeing their returning Messiah is a heresy as pastor-teacher Joel claims, what does he make of other Reformed men who also taught the same thing, like John Murray, Charles Hodge, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, and even John Calvin. More are listed HERE. What about Martyn-Lloyd Jones when he said to Carl Henry in a 1980, Christianity Today interview that,

“To me 1967, the year that the Jews occupied all of Jerusalem, was very crucial. Luke 21:43 is one of the most significant prophetic verses: ‘Jerusalem,’ it reads, ‘shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’ It seems to me that that took place in 1967—something crucially important that had not occurred in 2,000 years. Luke 21:43 is one fixed point. But I am equally impressed by Romans 11 which speaks of a great spiritual return among the Jews before the end time. While this seems to be developing, even something even more spectacular may be indicated. We sometimes tend to foreshorten events, yet I have a feeling that we are in the period of the end.” [Carl Henry, “ Martyn Lloyd-Jones: From Buckingham to Westminster,” Christianity Today, February 8, 1980].

I take it pastor-teacher Joel believes all these men were “teaching a false gospel, and leading the church into error?”

Honestly, pastor-teacher Joel needs to repent. Harold Camping and John MacArthur have nothing in common. How truly troubling it is that a person, not to mention a pastor, would so make Dispensationalism his “white whale” that he would full on bear false witness.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More False Prophecies

Harold Camping has recalculated the data and extended the day of judgment another 5 months. Maybe he forgot to divide by two or something. Any how, Triablogue has some additional links to secular false prophets and their failed predictions:

10 Famous Science Predictions that Failed to Come True

The Jupiter Effect

Environmental Refugees: An Emergent Security Issue

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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Laminin Molecule and the Inadequacies of Evidentialism

This is a shameless repost of an article from back in 2008.  I had a friend send me an email over the weekend regarding Louie Giglio and his laminin molecule evidence for God.  Being in need of a filler post until I have a moment to write substantively, I thought I would repost it for a newer audience.


[see my semi-review of Louie Giglio's, Indescribable]

Snopes is one of the few websites I have hit regularly since I have had access to the internet beginning in the mid-90s. Their emphasis is cataloging, and in many cases, debunking, popular urban legends floating around the culture on the internet. Snopes has been helpful for putting in perspective those impassioned email chain letters pleading with me to sign a petition to defend our free speech against atheist activists or outlawing Democrats. At least twice a week or so I check their "What's New" page for any new legends I should be watching.

One of the recent entries under the "What's New" page pertains to a sermon illustration utilized by evangelist Louie Giglio. It has to do with the cross shape of the laminin molecule, one of the basic biological building blocks in the cell. Giglio, in his talk (which is available in a clip located at the link), references Colossians 1:15-17 where Paul speaks of how Christ is the creator of all things and in Him and through Him all things consist. He then illustrates this passage by pointing out how the shape of the laminin molecule resembles a cross and then draws the conclusion that in the basic building blocks that holds all life together - the laminin molecule - God has revealed His hand of design by making the molecule appear in the form of a cross.

The husband and wife team who maintain the "watchdog" site are obviously dubious of the illustration and offer their response to Giglio's use of the laminin molecule as evidence for God's work in our lives. For instance, they chide the idea of purposeful design by saying the molecule antedates Christ's dying on the cross by thousands of years, implying Giglio is reading his beliefs into nature. That very well could be true, but their response just reveals their ignorance of Christian theology and its teaching about God's predetermined purpose of redemption in the cross work of Christ before He even created.

Nonetheless, coming from the position of unbelief, I thought the article had some important apologetic insight when appealing to such illustrations as "proof" for God. particularly, the fact that any evidence offered for proof of anything must be interpreted, and a person will interpret such evidence according to a particular world view. A couple of other examples cited in the entry would be how a person may see in the molecule the shape of a sword or a caduceus, the symbol for medicine with the two snakes intertwined around a staff.

However, more relevant to the issue of Christian evidence and their use in apologetics is how the entry points out the fact that the actual molecule doesn't always look like a cross. The diagram (pictured above on the left) is a man-made diagram meant to convey the basic components of the molecule, not necessarily represent its physical appearance. Even in the picture above, the two real molecules on the right don't exactly look like a cross. It is these sorts of sniggling little details that causes me to cringe when eager Christians thoughtlessly employ these kinds of "proofs" for God's existence, when in reality they may undermine the very thing they wish to prove.

I am utterly unaware of who Louie Giglio is or what his ministry is all about. From the brief biographical information I saw on one of his websites, he is a typical, mega-church Southern Baptist who is a popular youth conference speaker. And though I would imagine his ministry has been a blessing to many folks over the years, he is one of those type of speakers who will sensationalize Christian "evidences," like the laminin molecule, in order to make God appear to be really cool and neat-o. But this misappropriation of Christian evidence has some hidden dangers that will undo your credibility as a messenger for God.

First, it capitulates to the culture, particularly the teen culture who already think being a Christian is "squaresville." Though there is good intentions with the attempt to show that believing in Jesus doesn't make a person an "L7," what happens when smug and surly Devon goes home after one of these Giglio conferences where he opines on the shape of the laminin molecule, does an internet search only to discover that Giglio exaggerated his proof? All that shows is Christians can lie.

Secondly, the illustration merely trivializes the Gospel. Honestly, does the laminin molecule have to look like a cross in order for God to be a perfect creator? How does a cross shaped molecule help God out exactly? How does it make God more real? Isn't the fact that there is a complex, self-replicating molecule to begin with proof enough for God's hand in all of life? This illustration runs along the same lines as Ray Comfort's banana evidence for the existence of God that I wrote about last year when he was going to do a national debate with some atheists on ABC's Nightline.

Honestly, when I see evidences like this put forward as "proof" for the Christian faith, I see someone ashamed of the power of the Gospel and lacking trust in the sufficiency of God's written Word.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

False Prophecies

While we heap scorn upon Harold Camping’s head, booing and hissing him until our throats become raw, I am reminded of the secular false prophets, particularly those of the ecological persuasion, who have presented their prophecies many years ago as “absolutely guaranteed.”  Oddly, these individuals get tenure at a major university, rather than having to deal with life crippling shame. 

Paul Ehrlich, professor, Stanford

"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make, ... The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years."   Paul Ehrlich in an interview with Peter Collier in the April 1970 of the magazine Mademoiselle.

By...[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s."   Paul Ehrlich in special Earth Day (1970) issue of the magazine Ramparts.

He envisioned the President dissolving Congress "during the food riots of the 1980s," followed by the United States suffering a nuclear attack for its mass use of insecticides. The End of Affluence 1975

Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

The late George Wald, professor, Harvard

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

More can be found here, here, and here

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Friday, May 20, 2011

City Limits

I have some things in the works, but life and chores come first. Plus we have a new baby arriving in a week and we have to rearrange the nest around.

In the meantime, I can always depend on others to do my websurfing for me. I saw this over at Tim's place.

The fellow has a website with some other similar videos:

Dominic Bourdreault

All of them well produced. In fact, I would even suggest clicking over there and watching them in HD.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Soul Man

A Few More Thoughts on The Existence of The Soul After Death

During our series on Hell at the GTY blog, the annihilationists we encountered insisted that humanity has “conditional immortality.”

Conditional immortality can be defined as,

…the belief that God has created all human beings only potentially immortal. Whether they will actually be granted immortality depends on their response to the revelation of God. The unbeliever never receives the capacity to live forever and, perhaps after a finite period of punishment for wrongs done during his lifetime, will be punished forever by being annihilated. … outside of Christ there is no capacity for immortality, and the unbeliever will eventually be reduced to nonexistence [Todd Miles, A God of Many Understandings?, 126]

So in other words, human beings are not born with souls. Man is not a dual creature, body and soul. When a man dies, his “soul” sleeps in the grave and is unconscious of the afterlife. The only “immortality” a soul can experience is if it is granted to a person by God upon his faith in Christ.

But these ideas are contrary to orthodox, biblical Christianity that teaches man is both body and soul, and upon his death, the soul departs the body, remains fully conscious and is either in the presence of the Lord or in torment, awaiting the resurrection and final judgment at the end of days. One particular annihilationist challenger even kept insisting the concept of dualism, that man is both body and soul, has its origin in pagan Greek philosophy, particularly the writings of Plato.

As I noted in a previous post on this subject, the claim that dualism is Greek in origin is problematic. This is especially true if it can be demonstrated that Jews and Christians believed in a body/soul distinction BEFORE Greek philosophy became wide spread. Can it be demonstrated that God’s people had an understanding of dualism, particularly the notion that a person’s conscious soul continued after death? Yes. Consider these thoughts:

Laws Against Necromancy

The OT condemned the practice of necromancy, or the conjuring up of spirits or speaking to the dead. For example, mediums, or witches practicing necromancy, are condemned in Leviticus 19:31, 20:6 and Deuteronomy 18:11. Later, the prophet of Isaiah condemns mediums who practice necromancy in Isaiah 8:19, 19:3 and 29:4. The condemnation of such individuals among God’s people reveals that a popular belief in life after death existed in pretty much all the cultures surrounding Israel. If the idea of dualism and a post-mortem conscious soul was not true, I believe God would have clarified this truth.

Take for example how the prophets of Israel compared God to false gods and idols, say for instance in Isaiah 44. The one thing the prophets would always note is that God is the only God in existence. All the other false gods don’t exist, hence the reason they are false. A similar thing would happen if souls did not continue after death. Israel doesn’t consult mediums because no souls exist to be consulted. However, it is implied that mediums attempt to do so and Israel is forbidden to participate in their conjuring, because souls do continue after a person dies.

Saul and the Witch of Endor

The key example of necromancy in the OT is Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor as recorded in 1 Samuel 28. During this encounter, Saul has the witch conjure up Samuel’s spirit. There are couple of things to note with this passage.

First, I recognize there is a debate as to whether this was really Samuel or a demon impersonating Samuel. However, nothing in the text suggests this was a demonic entity, but instead, the details of the text clearly indicate that it was really the spirit of Samuel. I believe an unique experience God allowed in order to condemn Saul, Israel’s first king.

But secondly, notice that Saul sought out a medium to begin with. If it was a commonly held belief - the true, Bible based, Jewish belief - as annihilationists insist, that souls did not continue after death but merely “slept” in the grave, why did Saul seek out a medium? Would he not have been taught all His life that souls are not conscious after a person dies? The opposite seems clear to me. That Saul understood a man’s soul continued after death and that he could attempt to communicate with it, something that was forbidden by God.

The Disciples and the Ghost

Moving to the NT, can it be shown that early Christians, in this case, the very disciples of Jesus, had an understanding of dualism and that souls of men continued after one’s death? Yes.

Consider the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. Two of the gospels, Matthew 14:26 and Mark 6:49, record that when Jesus came to the disciples walking on the stormy seas of Galilee at night, their immediate reaction upon seeing Jesus was fright, because they believed they were seeing a ghost. The word used by the biblical writers to describe what the disciples believed they saw is phantasma, which is understood to be a “spectre” or “apparition.” What we would call a ghost.

Why would they believe this? I guess we could say they had been “influenced” by Greek philosophy, for Plato certainly lived a few hundred years before the disciples. Maybe they “read” Plato or perhaps came under the influence of Hellenist Jews. But really? Old Testament believing, synagogue attending Jews who longed for the coming of the Messiah were influenced by Plato? No. They believed Jesus was a ghost because they believed the conscious souls of men continued after death, that’s why.

Also, consider the words of the resurrected Lord to His disciples in Luke 24:39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." Again, Jesus addresses a common belief the disciples must have had. That being, humans are body and spirit and the spirit can exist consciously apart from the body. Why would Jesus even raise this comparison if men did not have souls? It would be absurd. Rather, in order to dispel the notion that Jesus is just a spirit, or ghost, He contrasts His resurrected body with that of what would be known as spirit. His assumption is that spirits exist apart from a body, because spirits are obviously non-material. Jesus, however, is not “just a ghost,” but tells the disciples He really rose bodily from the dead.

The Richman and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31 is the undeniable biblical passage teaching us men will exist as conscious, spiritual entities after the body dies. Jesus teaches that the righteous go to the presence of the Lord and the unrighteous to a place of torment. Annihilationists and soul sleepers are hard pressed to interpret this story. I have read a variety of views from various annihilationist and conditionalist sources, and regardless of their conclusions as to what they believe this story is telling us, they all have to appeal to convoluted exegesis in order to explain away the ramifications of the details.

Even laying aside the debate as to whether this is just a parable or a description about real people the Lord knew in eternity, the one question overlooked by those who reject dualism and the consciousness of the soul after death is, why would Jesus make up a false story regarding something that is fundamentally a lie in order to illustrate divine truth?

If the dualist is correct, man is not body and soul, and the conditionalist is correct, the soul of man is not immortal and is not conscious after death, then they are faced with explaining why our Lord and Savior appealed to what they claim is heresy, the conscious soul of the dead continuing in the afterlife, in order to teach a spiritual truth. All of the so-called “problems” annihilationists claim this story generates, like the tormented being able to see into the realm of the righteous and even communicate with that side, are really irrelevant. The Lord of glory is still telling a parable that clearly teaches dualism and the conscious existence of the soul after death. Either Jesus is telling us the truth about the afterlife, or He (who describes Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14:6) is appealing to heresy to present spiritual truth. For He never once clarifies this as heresy if He is.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Homosexual Jihad

We can no longer say the homosexual lifestyle is "encroaching" upon America. It has encroached.

The chant that says "We're Here! And We're Queer!" is a grim reality that Christians can no longer ignore. Decades ago, the homosexual community declared a secular fatwa against traditional America generally, and biblical Christianity specifically, and they have been on a homosexual jihad ever since to destroy any and all opposition to their lifestyle and behavior.

Granted, there hasn't been a whole lot of physical violence. Their terrorism is played out ideologically and culturally. In the class rooms of high schools and universities, and within media and popular entertainment. And it has been successful. To paraphrase conservative pundit, Michael Medved, if aliens were to land on the planet and all their knowledge of America was learned from Hollywood, they would go away believing all homosexuals were sweet, fun-loving, up-standing members of society, where as all religious Jews and evangelical Christians were nothing but self-righteous, hateful, hypocritical bigots.

Christians need to gird their loins. They need to prepare themselves to engage this enemy with firm godliness. This is not the time to be soft, and gushy, and gullible, and apologetic for our faith. These folks aren't going to be soft and gushy. We exhibit compassion, definitely; but compassion that is wrapped in the truth of what God says about homosexuality, informed by His Word.

I would also exhort readers, if you haven't already, to listen to James White's interview with Michael Brown on the Dividing Line, Thursday, May 12th. Dr. Brown has just published a near 700 page book documenting the rise of the homosexual movement in the U.S. and its influence upon our culture. My copy arrived this week, and though a formal review is a ways off yet, - because I just started it - I can tell you right now:

If you are serious about ministering to people trapped in homosexual sin;
or if you are a pastor wanting to prepare yourself and your church to confront homosexual sin;
or if you are a parent, with a newly graduated high school senior who will be starting as a freshman in college this fall and you want to prepare him for the philosophical onslaught he will be sure to experience in the class room;
or just a Christian who wishes to be fully equipped to grapple with this massive cultural shift,
You need to spend the 20 or so bucks and get this book.

Though it will be an "uncomfortable" read, Dr. Brown's research will help you to think critically about what it is we face.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hell Raisers

doreinfernoThe GTY blog has been posting a series critiquing Rob Bell and defending the doctrine of eternal punishment. Obviously, when a high profile ministry like Grace to You posts articles on current controversies within Christendom, it will draw attention. Thus, a handful of annihilationists sallied forth to our blog and one of them left some challenges.

Most of them were soundly refuted within the comments under the various posts. I thought I would take a moment to answer the one challenge I saw often repeated.

The Biblical passages for eternal life with an immortal soul being a gift from God Rom 6:23, the idea that all men are not born with an “immortal soul” (that term is nowhere in the Bible) platonism [sic] (Greek phylosphical [sic] influence) says all men do have an immortal soul. We believe eternal life is a gift, and God could destroy the soul if he wants to Mat 10:28.

Annihilationists like to call themselves “conditionalists.” The word "conditionalism," for those not in the "know," is another fancy way of saying "annihilationist." They use the term to describe their insistence that men do not have an immortal soul. The only way humanity obtains “immortality” after death is if God grants immortality to the person as a gift upon the person’s faith in Christ for salvation. Thus, the soul’s immortality is “conditioned” upon God giving that gift to the person.

They also like to make the charge that the concept of men having an immortal soul is a result of Greek philosophy creeping into the church.

This is a classic assertion made by annihilationists. Both Leroy Froom and Edward Fudge present this claim in their books defending annihilationism, but it is a claim fraught with problems.

If it is true about Platonism influencing early Christian thought on the immortality of the soul, then there should be clear evidence of such an influencing happening. Meaning, before a certain point in Church History the soul’s immortality was never taught by early Christians and we can thus gage a period of time when this influence of Greek philosophy began to appear. However, if it can be shown that early Christians believed in the immortality of the soul, this claim becomes quickly problematic. This is especially true if Christians believed in the immortality of the soul BEFORE the Platonism allegedly began to influence their thinking. Most annihilationists pin-point the problem with Augustine, or a century or so before his influence. That is at least 200 years after Christ.

Another problem for the Platonic influence claim is the Jewish teaching on the soul’s immortality. Christianity arose from Judaism. If it can be shown that Jews, both before and after Christianity arose, believed the OT taught the soul’s immortality, it then becomes difficult to defend the idea that Platonism introduced false teaching to Christians about the soul’s immortality.

Robert Morey, in his book Death and the Afterlife, documents a number of Rabbinical sources, both before and after Christ, that teach the soul’s immortality. The entire book can be read on-line HERE.

The rabbinic literature is clear that the soul of man was understood to be invisible and immortal (Bab. Tal. Ber. 59, AZ 21). At death, the soul leaves the body and remains conscious. Mid. Gen. 409, 516, 549; Num. 733; Ecc. 83, 229; Ba. Tal. Shab.777-779 PT Mo'ed Ketan 111. 5,826, Yeb amoth XVI.3,157, Bereshath Rabba C.7, Vayyakra Rabba XVIII.

The righteous go to "The Throne of Glory" or Paradise (Bab. Tal. Shab. 779), while the wicked "recline in anguish and rest in torment till the last time come, in which they shall come again and be tormented still more" (2 Baruch 36:12). Thus the wicked experience conscious torment (Apocalypse of Ezra VII, 78-101; Book of Enoch 103:7).

The righteous in paradise are exhorted to worship God (Song of Three Children, 64). This obviously requires that they are still conscious after death.

The rabbis interpreted Eccles. 9:5, "the dead do not know anything," as referring to the living wicked who are called "dead" in a spiritual sense (Mid. Ecc. 229). The word "sleep" is used to describe the body at rest awaiting the resurrection while the soul is conscious in the afterlife (Mid. Gen. 549).

At the resurrection, the soul returns to the body according to The Apocalypse of Baruch.

Early Christian apocalpytic literature such as The Apocalypse of Paul described the angels carrying the righteous away at death (14) and evil spirits coming to carry away the souls of the wicked to torment (15-19).The Apocalypse of Peter graphically described the conscious torment of the wicked in the hereafter (390, 508, 514, 523, etc.).

Josephus states that the Essenes and all Jews except the Sadducees believed in the immortality of the soul (Wars II, 154-159, 163, 166).

The early church historian Eusebius (E.H. VI, C37) stated that the doctrine of "soul sleep" was invented by third-century heretics. The exact nature of the belief of the Essenes is still under investigation and there is conflicting material in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There seems to be a mixture of the teaching of annihilationism and eternal torment in the literature coming from the Essenean community. Thus writers can quote sources to support either position [Morey, 50, 51].

Yet Christians do not need to appeal to extra biblical sources to affirm the truth of man being both body and soul and the soul’s immortality.

The Bible is quite clear that man is a dual creature comprised of both body and soul, and when men die, their soul departs the body, where it is either in the presence of the Lord or away from the presence of the Lord, as it awaits the resurrection of the body at the latter-days.

For example, Jesus states in Matthew 10:28 “But rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” and James writes in 2:26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Both passages reveal a dichotomy with man between body and soul.

Additionally, the soul of both the righteous and the wicked will continue to exist consciously in the eternal afterlife upon death. They never go out of existence, or just “sleep,” as the annihilationist claims.

One of the more penetrating passages against the idea of the wicked going out of existence is Revelation 20:10, 15, where it says of those who are cast into the lake of fire that “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The devil, the beast, and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire, and then those who are not found written in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire (20:15).

You will note that it is conscious beings cast into the lake of fire, angelic beings (Satan, and by inference, the devils), as well as humanity (the Anti-Christ, false prophet and the unsaved). Moreover, they are tormented day and night forever and ever. If they merely go out of existence, what is the use of the phrase “forever and ever?” Most annihilationists say this expression means just that, they go out of existence and will never exist again for all eternity. But those in the lake of fire are tormented. How exactly can non-existent beings be tormented? One must be conscious of the torment in order to be tormented.

Consider also Christ’s contrast in Matthew 25:41, 46 between the righteous who receive eternal life, and the wicked who go away into everlasting punishment. Here we have two categories of individuals being eternally judged. If we can expect the righteous will consciously go into eternal life, so too the wicked will go consciously into everlasting punishment. Also note the description of everlasting fire in 25:41 prepared for the devil and his angels, similar imagery found in Revelation 20:10, 15. Nothing in the words of Jesus suggests He means the wicked go out of existence. Instead, they experience the fullness of God’s holy wrath in the same way the righteous will experience the fullness of God’s holy grace: consciously forever.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Interesting Stuff on the Web

I wanted to get this up last week, but chores both at work and home occupied my time. Better late than never, I guess.


Michael J. Krugger, one of my favorite Reformed Presby writers, has a review up of Bart Ehrman's new book, Forged: Writing in the Name of God. Michael was also interviewed about Ehrman on the STR program April 11th. It's worth a listen. Interview starts the last hour of the program.

A couple of items on Genesis and creation. First, I appreciate this brief post explaining how Genesis is not poetry and it certainly is history. I would even add that it isn't just a theological polemic, either, that being the current vogue explanation among commentators. Emphasis needs to be placed on the significance of Genesis as an historical narrative.

And, I always chuckle when strict Darwinists have to resort to the use of such words as "design" and "purpose" to describe the complexity of life. "Design" and "purpose" being significant no-nos in Evolutionary dogma. Jerry Bergman writes about the move by "book burning" science writers to purge such "ID" friendly talk from their literature: Scientists Urge Censorship of Terms Implying Design and Purpose When Describing Life.

I love urban legends. Christian evangelicals have a ton of them. Former TMS class mate of mine, Todd Bolen, exposes a couple of well known ones. First, the countless messages I have heard on hell always have a reference to gehenna as the city dump outside Jerusalem that had perpetual smoldering rubber tires. Well, smoldering garbage. It's a myth. Also see his follow-up post on the background to gehenna=city dump.

And...I always wondered about the story of the high priest putting bells on his robes and a rope around his ankle so that those outside the holy of holies could hear him moving about and if the jingling stops, pull his dead body out by the rope. It's a myth, too.

And this article isn't so much pointing out a myth as it is attempting to deal with a problem passage: Joshua's Long Day: A Survey and Assessment of Interpretations. I wonder about the author's conclusion that this day was just some extension of the darkness by the hailstorm mentioned in the previous verses. I may have more to say on this passage in a stand alone post, but why is it automatically assumed a miracle of cosmological proportions is problematic?

Did you hear about the radical homosexual community in San Francisco that had a hunky Muhammed contest mocking Islam? Of course you didn't, because it was a hunky Jesus contest on Easter Sunday complete with sexually explicit acts (with children present) designed to mock Christians. The hypocrites in the media would never report on the blasphemous bigotry. But imagine if a SBC mega-church were to put on a play about homosexuals renouncing their lifestyle?

In the meantime, one soul warming item to mention. Radio apologist, Michael Brown, recently did a campus debate with a lawyer on the subject of same-sex marriage. I have only heard excerpts, but Dr. Brown apparently handily defeated his opponent: Brown/Smaw debate on same-sex marriage.

He recently published a book on the radical homosexual agenda that may be worth picking up:
A Queer Thing Happened to America


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

We have experienced similar episodes with our children. The ones I always seemed to recall, however, involved violent retching and torrents of vomit rather than blood.

Blood On The Carpet


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Spiking the Football

Since the death of American arch-enemy, Osama bin Laden, a good portion of our public has been clamoring to see the photos of his corpse, and/or the compound raid video.

The president has flat out refused to release them, saying that releasing them is only gloating over the defeat of our enemies - spiking the football - as it were. We got'em, that's all the matters. No need to get all crazy with blood lust; the terrorist attacks of 911 have been avenged, let's all move on.

This of course raises the question among Christians: Should Jesus loving Christians be salivating to see the bullet ridden head of OBL? The more "pious" wish to heap shame and guilt upon those of us who do want to see them, implying that our attitude is unChristlike and not becoming of a follower of Jesus. I even read one comment in which the writer wrote that we shouldn't be treating his body as a trophy.

I am reminded of a couple of instances in Scripture:

So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day. And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day. (Joshua 8:28, 29)

Did Joshua inappropriately make a trophy of Ai's king? Was such dishonoring to God?

And this,

And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. (1 Samuel 17:54)

Was David keeping a "trophy" when he kept Goliath's armor? And what about him taking his head back to Jerusalem? I can only imagine it was to make a public spectacle out of the known enemy of Israel.

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The Circle of Life

Come on everyone. Sing it with me...


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

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


During the last decade or so, preterism has become all the rage among the young, Reformed crowd who have renounced their former, Dispensational, Fundamentalist ways. There are websites dedicated to the promotion of preterism, and bloggers, apologists, and authors who have given a considerable amount of time speaking and writing on the subject.

A lot of the proponents I have personally encountered come across to me as smug, chest-thumpers. Granted, much of the strident zeal they exude in defense of their hermeneutic can be chalked up to the excitement of immature, cage-stage devotees; but it gets tiresome being called a heretic, racist, and any number of other ad hominem’s. It also becomes old real quick having to interact all the time with strawman arguments that misrepresent my position as a dispensational oriented premillennialist.

The immediate difficulty I have with preterism is the constant need for its proponents to defend their orthodoxy. That’s because the nuances are such between the orthodox and heterodox preterists that it is hard to tell them apart. I see this as a problem.

The orthodox preterists call themselves “partial preterists,” and earnestly insist on being distinguished from the “hyper-preterists” or “neo-hymenaeanism” heretical variety, who teach the second coming happened in 70 A.D., among other things. In fact, the “partials” expend so much effort clarifying their own views in distinction from the heretical strain that it is almost impossible to find any treatment of the “good” preterism without having to wade through a disclaimer setting forth their hermeneutic against that of the “evil” hypers’.

To be fair and charitable, there are always imbalanced, “hyper” positions within theological systems, hyper-Calvinism being one of the more familiar examples. But the difference, I believe, is that when I talk about Calvinism with a person, I as a Calvinist rarely, if ever, have had to set aside any time contrasting my views against the hyper variety. Now some may say the friendly chiding I gave my Reformed Covenant friends as to their general mishandling of Dispensationalism is a similar example to the partial/hyper distinctive. But there is a clear difference with distinguishing between sensationalists who happen to be Dispensational adherents, and hyper-Dispensationalists, who certainly teach gross, theological error.

At any rate, I’ll lay aside exploring the particulars of preterism until a later time. It’s my goal to eventually blog on preterism as a subject sometime in the future. But in the mean time I wanted to expand upon one of my points outlined in my last Daniel post, that being a gap existing between the 69th and 70th week in Daniel’s prophecy.

As I pointed out, preterists ridicule any idea of a gap existing between the 69th and 70th week. I don’t recall how many times I heard or read Gary DeMar, or Kim Riddlebarger, or Gene Cook, or Dee Dee Warren, or any other number of preterist popularizers explaining to their audience how ridiculous the notion of a gap of time between the 69th and 70th week is. DeMar devotes an entire chapter in his book, Last Days Madness, to debunking the notion.

But is the idea of an extended gap of time between the 69th and 70th week just absurd eisegetical gymnastics? A phantom of “silly putty exegesis” as Demar claims? I don’t think so.

I say that because of a couple of reasons found in Daniel and the Olivet Discourse.

First, the last clause of Daniel 9:26 states And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

That word desolations is significant in its descriptions of God’s dealings with Israel. The word speaks of being made waste, or desolate in the sense of being made empty, and it is meant to describe a terrible horror, or something that is spectacularly appalling.

In its usage within the OT, the word is connected with God bringing the terms of His covenant upon the people of Israel, particularly the cursings against a disobedient people. One of the major points of those covenant cursings is that God will remove the people from the Promised Land.

For example, in Leviticus 26:31-35, the Bible says,

31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.

32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.

33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies' land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest-- for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

The desolation described here in Leviticus is Israel having its land made waste, or emptied of people, if they refuse to obey the Lord. Desolation was fulfilled when Israel went into captivity for 70 years. This is noted in Jeremiah 25:11; 34:22; 42:2, 22, and other similar passages in the OT.

So what are exactly these “desolations are determined” that Daniel mentions? They have to be some future desolations beyond the 70 years of captivity Israel had just experienced. Luke’s version of Christ’s Olivet Discourse, I believe, supplies a clue. Luke 21:20 records Jesus saying, But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Here, Luke mentions a specific sign of “armies and desolation,” which would match closely to Daniel’s “war and desolations” in 9:26.

I believe this desolation began when Rome came to Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. Here we have clear historical fulfillment of Christ’s words. In this instance the preterists are correct. But there is more.

Luke 21:24 goes on to record Jesus saying, And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. What Jesus predicts happened: Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, the people were killed and led away captive into all the nations, and, according to Jesus, this desolation was to continue until the times of gentiles are fulfilled. The desolation begins with a sign, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded…” This event signals the desolation and “the time of the gentiles.”

Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:34 that the generation he was speaking to would not pass away until these things begin to take place. Preterists understand that a good portion of the prophetic events outlined by Jesus in his Olivet Discourse were completely fulfilled in 70 A.D. Though I think they are correct in that the generation did not pass away, they are mistaken as to the fulfillment of the prophetic events spoken. The “fulfillment” Jesus is talking about, I believe, is that that generation would be alive to see the beginning of the desolation and the start of the “time of the gentiles.” That desolation included the destruction of the temple, the giving over of the nation to captivity, and the ultimate dispersion of a good bulk of the Jewish population.

Second, one additional grammatical highlight is the phrase in Matthew 24:34, “until all these things take place.” Without reproducing all of the lexical and syntactical details, the word genetai that is translated as “until all these take place,” has the more concise idea of “when these thing begin to take place.” Barry Horner provides a good analysis of this point in his article, The Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24, starting at page 31 and following. The first appendix attached to Horner’s article, written by Presbyterian minister C.E. Stowe, is an even more detailed study of this passage in Matthew. In short, rather than being a comment from our Lord that these events will be completely fulfilled, He is saying to His audience to be alert to when these events start.

The beginning of events, then, is the desolation of Jerusalem and the ushering in of the time of the gentiles. This is why there is a gap. We are now in that time of the gentiles, which has yet to be fulfilled. Paul explains in Romans 11:25 that blindness on the part of Israel has happened because the fullness of the gentiles is not complete. God is actively bring gentiles believers to salvation in Christ, and until the time of the gentiles ends according to God’s divine purpose, the 70th week is yet to take place.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden Surprised to Wake up in Jack Chick Nightmare

AP - Osama bin Laden, mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., was surprised to wake up in a horrible Jack Chick-like nightmare moments after he was shot dead this past week.

Eagerly anticipating being welcomed by the open arms of 72 ready and willing virginal concubines, bin Laden was instead roughly grab by two gigantic angelic beings, stripped totally naked, and then forcibly brought before the white throne of a massive, glowing outline of Jesus Christ.

"What is this!!, where are my endless figs and eternal virgins chained to couches!? Where is the prophet(pbuh)?!" shouted a defiant bin Laden, as a large movie screen was lowered from a radiant cloud and replayed all of the intimate, personal details from his life. From his birth to his ultimate demise, everything was laid out clearly before a countless throng of witnesses.

There was also a moment of tension when bin Laden attempted to rush up to the throne and attack the Lord of Glory, only to be thrown backwards when Jesus declared, "Depart from me!"

Sentencing came quickly and an angry bin Laden hurled curses and shook his fist as the two angels dragged him away and tossed him into a lake of fire.

No word if bin Laden will attempt an appeal.