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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gay Oriented Associate Pastor

The Paulding Lights

I just love this sort of stuff.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Defending Premillennialism [8]

israelThe Covenant Reformed Understanding of Israel’s Land Promises

Allow me to re-introduce my readers to a study I left off last fall. A couple of years ago I began a series of posts examining eschatology. They flowed out of some personal reading I was doing on the subject. Once I had finished a general overview of the main systems and the theological issues pertaining to those systems, I then moved to specifically defending premillennialism as it interfaces with amillennialism and postmillennialism.

In my previous articles (which can be read HERE if anyone wishes to “catch up”), I began by noting that the heart of disagreement between premillennialism and amillennialism/postmillennialism centered upon the hermeneutics one utilizes in the discussions. I would like to revisit that disagreement in the future sometime, but as I reboot my study, I believe a better way to explore hermeneutical distinctions would be to examine specific theological points and individual prophetic passages. I began to look at passages before I left off, but I didn’t quite get into what I wanted to study. So, I’ll switch gears a bit, and begin by addressing the land promises made to Israel.

Anyone who gives just a cursory review of the theological literature recognizes the non-premillennial, Reformed covenant position on the land promises to Israel is sharply distinct from the typical premillennial, Dispensational position. Whereas the premillennial position understands the land promises God made to Israel have not been ultimately fulfilled and will be so at the coming of Christ when He establishes an earthly, geo-political kingdom whose government is centered in Israel; non-premillennialists, for the most part, agree those promises were fulfilled according to the terms of the Mosaic covenant in as much as Israel obeyed God, but that they are ultimately typological, pointing to a greater promise fulfilled in the universality of the Christian church and the eternal state of the new heavens and new earth.

So as we consider what the Bible says about the land promises initially given to Abram in Genesis, and reiterated to his descendants throughout the book of Genesis and the remainder of the OT, we can ask some questions about those promises. For example, have the land promises been fulfilled? Will the Jews be restored to the Promised Land? How exactly are those land promises fulfilled? Does the land promises entail physical, geo-political territory?

But before I dive into my study defending the premillennial perspective, it may be helpful to sketch out the basic Reformed covenant view of the land promises. Their view can be outlined according to 5 broad headings:

The NT Church is understood to be the “New Israel.”

The Reformed covenant position recognizes a strict continuity between the OT people of God, Israel, and the NT people of God, the Church, the Body of Christ. According to Romans 4:11, 12 and Galatians 3:15-29, Christians are considered the true spiritual seed of Abraham. Reformed writers, Crenshaw and Gunn state,

Paul argues in Galatians 3 that God intentionally used seed as a collective noun that has both a singular and plural reference so that the singular reference could refer to Christ and the plural reference could refer to those who are in Christ. Paul’s point is that the Abrahamic promises were made to Abraham and to his seed (vs. 16), that the seed of Abraham is Christ (vs. 16) and all who are in Christ (vs. 29), and that therefore the promise given to Abraham belongs to all who are in Christ (vs. 29), … When Paul was explaining the Old Testament promise that belongs to the Christian, he was referring specifically to the land promise … [Crenshaw and Gunn, 234, 235]

Their comment builds upon John Calvin’s views of these passages, who wrote,

In a word, he gives the appellation of the Israel of God to those whom he formally denominated the children of Abraham by faith (Gal. 3:29), and thus includes all believers, whether Jews or gentiles, who were united into one Church. [Calvin, 186]

Thus, it is understood then, that the Church is the new community of the people of God. O Palmer Robertson writes,

…Paul declares that the “new creation”– the new community within humanity brought into existence by the cross of Christ in its uniting of Jews and Gentiles into one new people of God – is the community that may be designated as “the Israel of God.” [Robertson, 43]

Again, Crenshaw and Gunn state,

In Reformed interpretation, the land-inheriting seed of Abraham are defined not strictly in terms of racial descent but in terms of a continuing covenant community [Crenshaw and Gunn, 233].

The Promises made by God that Israel will occupy the land is said to have been fulfilled

For example, consider these passages:

Joshua 21:43-45

43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.
44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

1 Kings 4:21

So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

1 Kings 8:56

"Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

Nehemiah 9:7-8

7 "You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham;
8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, The Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites-- To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.

Patrick Fairbairn sums up what these passages say by writing,

The occupation of the earthly Canaan by the natural seed of Abraham was a type, and no more than a type, of this occupation by a redeemed Church of her destined inheritance of glory; and consequently everything concerning the entrance of the former on their temporary possessions, was ordered so as to represent and foreshadow the things which belong to the Church’s establishment in her permanent possession [Fairbairn, 1:359]

The land promises were conditioned upon Israel’s obedience to God’s covenant

In Deuteronomy 28, 29, God told Israel before they entered the land that their blessing in the land would be contingent upon them obeying the terms of the covenant God made with them. If not, then they would come under judgment to the point that if they persisted in their disobedience, God would send foreign nations to drive them out. The book of Judges, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles records this very thing happening. Israel’s rejection of Jesus only solidified this judgment and they were permanently removed from the land in 70 AD.

Gary Burge writes in regards to Israel’s disobedience and the land,

The connection between covenant fidelity and the promise of land is evident throughout the Torah. Possessing the land was contingent on Israel’s consistently living by God’s righteous standards… Both Leviticus and Deuteronomy warn Israel about righteousness and the land in dramatic terms. In fact, the images are shocking! If Israel does not obey God’s laws, then the land itself will vomit the nation out. [Burge, 61, 62]

See also Jon Zen’s article, Today’s Israel: Is God on her side.

The greater fulfillment of the land promises is the entire earth, the world, or the “cosmos.”

Reformed believers understand that the land promises have their greatest fulfillment in the entire earth. In other words, God’s promises were not just given to one ethnic group of people centered in the physical borders of Israel. Rather, they are made to the whole of God’s people, both in the OT and NT who will inherit the entire earth.

Crenshaw and Gunn write,

… The ultimate fulfillment of the land promise involves the whole world and not just Palestine. Notice what Paul said in Romans 4:13: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world (kosmos) was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”… We know that the Abrahamic land promise ultimately refers to the whole world (Romans 4:13). Adam was originally given dominion over the whole world (Genesis 1:26-28). This inheritance was lost in the fall and Satan became the prince of this world… Through His resurrection-ascension, Christ has received all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Christ, from His heavenly throne, is today fulfilling Psalm 2… Even as God gave Palestine to Israel under Joshua and told them to conquer it, so God has given the nations to new covenant Israel under Jesus and has told us to disciple them. [Crenshaw and Gunn, 241, 242, 243]

The People of God await a heavenly land and a heavenly Jerusalem. Their hope is not upon physical, geographic territory in the Middle-East.

The last two chapters of Revelation make it abundantly clear that the hope of God’s people is in a new heaven and a new earth dwelling with God in a New Jerusalem. These images speak volumes as to where the believers will dwell. The land promises were mere shadows and types of God’s greatest promise.

Robertson notes,

The possession of the land under the old covenant was not an end in itself, but fit instead among the shadows, types, and prophecies that were characteristic of the old covenant in its presentation of redemptive truth… Abraham received the promise of the land but never experienced the blessing of its full possession. In this way, the patriarch learned to look forward to “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10).”

For those who would like to have a bit more on the Reformed perspective about the land than what I just touch on here, check out Bob Hayton’s lay-level overview of the land promises in a series of articles he wrote up for his blog: Understanding the Land Promises.



Gary Burge, Who are God’s People in the Middle-East

John Calvin, Commentaries on Galatians and Ephesians

Curtis Crenshaw and Grover Gunn, Dispensationalism: Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow

Patrick Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture

O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hermeneutic Studies

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Innocent Couples"

I don't know what that Carlsberg is, but I want some.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dear Jamin,

lucyJamin Hubner offers his advice to a fan.

Apparently, a tender soul stumbled across some disturbing information that contradicts Jamin's anti-Dispensational meta-narrative.

He asks,

Hey Jamin,

I have recently wanted to become more familiar with the subject of dispensationalism vs. covenant theology. I am currently reading Dispensationalism by Ryrie and have Michael Horton's book on Covenant Theology (if you have a better recommendation I will purchase it). As I am downloading your lectures on apologetics, I decided to check for articles on this topic and came across your article Where Dispensationalism Came From. In Ryrie's book he mentions the dispensational scheme that Jonathan Edwards (not that Edwards was necessarily a dispensationalist) put forth in his work "A Compleat History or Survey of All the Dispensations". Would this not pre-date Darby? As I have not read this work by Edwards, perhaps I am missing the context, but Edwards' dispensational scheme has some similarities to the seven dispensations espoused by modern day dispensationalists.

In response to this specific question, Jamin replies,

Dispensationalists typically play the pre-Darby card in an effort to justify their system, but is rarely an adequate appeal. The idea is to make associations and draw similarities between Darby and previous thinkers (e.g. Ireneaus, Edwards, some Reformers, etc.) to say Dispensationalism goes back (for some, they would say to the Apostles, while others would say back to the Reformers, etc.). But in reality, the thinkers are simply not teaching Darbyism. Resemblances, vague parallels and similarities are not enough to dismount Darby as essentially the Father of Dispensationalism (nor dismount Scofield as perhaps the chief popularizer). But that's not to say we shouldn't acknowledge that Darby had previous influences and that attempts have been made to try and systematize redemptive history, address the application of biblical law, and solve various hermeneutical issues. Certainly there have been such attempts.

Yes Edwards pre-dates Darby (Edwards died in 1758, Darby in 1882). Edwards talked about dispensations - as did about any non-dispensational theologian during the Reformation to Modern Age.

Jamin is one of those YRR guys who counts himself liberated from the shackles of fundamentalist Dispensationalism. Like many of his youthful "born-again" Reformed ilk blogging these days, he tosses out the bath water with the baby.

It isn't that he was just taught wrongly about Dispensationalism. It is that Dispensationalism is cultic heresy of the rankest order that must be destroyed. Of course, Jamin doesn't necessarily speak against Dispensationalism with such warlike "take-no-prisoners" language. Rather, he paints Dispensational adherents as a bunch of biblically illiterate dullards enslaved to their traditions.

One of the theological urban myths Jamin has latched onto is the idea that Dispensationalism is erroneous because it has its origins with J.N. Darby in the 1800s. This can be a rather problematic claim, especially if it can be shown there were pastors and theologians who held to Dispensational ideas who predate Darby.

Additionally, Jamin thinks Covenant Theology has a "trail of blood" like lineage that can be traced all the way back to the Apostles. This of course is wishful historical revisionism and should be beneath a guy who hosts a so-called peer-reviewed theological journal.

I'll consider three problems with Jamin's response.

First, the historical reality is that Covenant Theology, as an organized theological system, is really just a couple of hundred years older than Dispensationalism, so one can say it is just as "new." The modern form had it's beginnings with the emergence of Calvinism. Dutch theologian, Johannes Cocceius, is often designated as the founder of Covenant Theology, publishing his work on Federalism in 1648 after the WCF was hammered out. He is basically the "Darby" of his day.

Additionally, even though there may had been first generation Reformers who laid some ground work for CT, like Caspar Olevianus and Zacharius Ursinus, it was the second, third, and even later generations of Reformers like William Ames and Hermann Witsius who began developing Covenant Theology as we know it today, as they built upon Cocceius's previous work.

And if we are gonna get a bit closer to home for Jamin, Reformed Baptist articulation of CT came nearly 100 years or more after the credo-Reformed articulation.

Secondly, Jamin is just as guilty of playing a "pre-Darby" card, or a "pre-Cocceius" card, and he is mistaken about that card. While it is true certain seed elements of Covenant Theology were written about by pre-Reformed theologians, it is just as true certain seed elements of Dispensationalism was mentioned by similar writers, if not, in some cases, the exact same writers.

Ryrie devotes an entire chapter to this, but Jamin, and his inquirer, over look it. Moreover, Jamin also misrepresents what Ryrie says on this matter. Even Ryrie is aware of over eager Dispensationalists who exaggerate the pre-Darby historical evidence. He writes,

The first strawman is to say that dispensationalists assert that the system was taught in postapostolic times. Informed dispensationalists do not claim that. They recognize that, as a system, dispensationalism was largely formulated by Darby, but the outlines of a dispensationalist approach to the Scriptures are found much earlier. They only maintain that certain features of what eventually developed into dispensationalism are found in the teachings of the early church. [Ryrie, 62].

We can say the same thing about Covenant Theology.

And then third, I am made to wonder if Jamin has even seriously read Ryrie's book or just merely second or third hand critiques of it. If he has, he didn't read closely, nor does his inquirer, because the "John Edwards" they mention is not the Jonathan Edwards most people know who preached "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and was instrumental in the First Great Awakening as Jamin suggests.

The John Edwards in question, as far as Ryrie is concerned, was a Calvinistic minister in the Church of England who lived from 1637 to 1716. He published two volumes entitled A Compleat History or Survey of All the Dispensations, and as Ryrie states, the purpose of his books was "to display all the Transactions of Divine Providence relating to the Methods of Religion, from the Creation to the end of the World, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of the Revelation." [Ryrie, 66].

In order to keep this anonymous inquirer from being grossly ill-informed on the matters of Dispensational theology, I would refer him to my post highlighting some essential works in Dispensational thinking. Though Ryrie is an obvious choice with understanding background material, there are others who can also offer a fuller perspective on these matters.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Vintage Hip and Thigh

Squirrel asked in the comments of my last post whether or not the atheist I responded to ever got back to me.  I remember he did, and of course he was none too happy with me for my snarky response to him, but I forgot that I did write a follow-up post answering his claims.  I though I would digitally re-master it and post it as well.


12 Angry Statements


The other day I posted an article describing how I have incurred the rage of an angry and bitter anti-Christian. My antagonist initially emailed me to present 12 dogmatic statements he claims I cannot answer IF I affirm the inerrancy of God's Word.
My original response was a spoof played off the fact that all of his objections have been soundly answered by better men than myself. If he doesn't like the responses to his statements others have already provided, then he will certainly not accept mine.

That being stated, in order to prevent my emailer from gloating, I will respond to these statements to demonstrate how easily answered they are.
His original comments will be in Arial Bold.

To believe your bible in any translation(or original manuscripts) is inerrant & god breathed, here is what you must believe.
#1.A snake can talk(remember the snake was cursed to crawl on it's belly & eat dust.
#2.A donkey can talk.
#9.You have to believe god made the sun stand still when it already stands still or believe god stopped the rotation of the earth which anyone should know would be a disaster in many ways for earth.
#10.You have to believe Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt which is unbelievable.

I took these set of statements out of sequence because they generally deal with miraculous interventions and extraordinary acts of providence by God. Biblio-skeptics tend to ignore the fact that the Bible presupposes the existence of God who has directly intervened in human history past.

Because the writers of the Bible treat their writing as an historical record of God's divine dealings with humanity, particularly God's redeemed people, I would only expect to read about extraordinary acts of God. In fact, if the Bible claimed to be a book recording the revelation of the divine, sovereign creator, yet contained no miraculous works by that creator in order to establish His divinity, then wouldn't it raise suspicion in the minds of its critics? Yet, my antagonist would just as easily hammer that point as a means of mockery.

The Bible claims to be a supernatural book with its source in the mind of our Creator. I expect it to tell of supernatural events. Why is that hard to believe unless you are unwilling to submit to the Creator who produced those supernatural events?

Looking at each point in turn.

#1 - First, the Bible says it was a serpent. The text is unclear as to what sort of animal that was. The idea of a snake is from the modern day and my antagonist is reading the concept of a modern day python back on to the text. Second, the serpent was satanically controlled. Third, it was cursed AFTER it talked, not before. And fourth, this was an unique, one time event never to be repeated.

#2 - Similar points apply with Balaam's donkey as with the snake. The Angel of the LORD was present when the donkey talked, even giving it the ability to rebuke Balaam.

#9 - Again, similar points apply as with #1 and #2. This was a one time event of extraordinary providence. If our Creator can create His world, He certainly can protect it from disaster when He reveals Himself in a miraculous, cosmological display, so as to deliver His people and bring a crushing blow against their enemies.

#10 -  There were supernatural events that took place in the historical past which show forth God's character as revealed in judgment, wrath, and even mercy. Additionally, the description being recorded here may be a metaphorical description explaining how Lot's wife was merely destroyed in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah because she tarried behind Lot. The text is not clear how far behind she may had been. Because she refused to take seriously the warnings of judgment delivered by the angels, she was overcome in the cities' destruction.

#3.That man was so stupid back then that he actually thought he could build a tower to heaven.

Nothing in the text suggests they were building a physical tower into heaven. The text says the people acted as one in rebellion to what God had commanded when he told humanity after the flood to spread over the earth. Instead, they worked together to build a great city with a tower with its top in the heavens. Basically a grand skyscraper probably constructed for the worship of false gods. There is nothing stupid about this given the fact the similar relics of ancient societies still exist today like the pyramids.

#4.You have to believe against any logical thinking that all those animals,incl,snakes & all different kinds of insects and enough food to feed all of them(different kinds of food)for almost one year would fit on an ark that size,which is impossible.
#5.You have to believe there was food for them to eat when they came off the ark even though the whole earth was supposedly covered in water.

The subject of the ark's dynamics and physical feasibility to accomplish what it did according to the biblical record of Genesis 6-8 is vast. There have been countless studies done and papers/books written demonstrating that the ark could carry all the animal kinds (not the entire species we see today), as well as enough food to feed them for a year. This statement is made from a position of scholarly ignorance by a person who is a anti-Christian bigot.

Interestingly, the T-bloggers recently wrote a lengthy critique of an anti-creationist book written by a similar religious bigot who mocks the historical record of the ark. There are also additional citations in response to like-minded critics in the footnotes.
Answers in Genesis also lists a plethora of articles detailing the physical reality of Noah's global flood and the feasibility of the ark.

Before moving on, I should note that my emailing antagonist told me in writing that he dismisses anything posted at AiG's website. "They're mind-controlled" so he claims and thus are unreliable. That's how an atheist/biblio-skeptic shores up his ignorance, by automatically poisoning anything his critics and opponents write. So much for free thinking and doing your homework and all.

#6.You have to believe in a flat earth because these supposedly inspired by god people said so back then.

Nothing in the biblical record suggest the earth is flat. This is anti-biblical urban myth.

#7.You have to believe the earth is 6 to 10,000 years old despite overwhelming proof it is much,much older,even if not 4.5 billion years old.

And what exactly is that overwhelming proof? The variety of radioactive dating methods are wildly inconsistent with each other when tested on just one sample. Moreover, dating methods are subject to speculative interpretations, interpretations that are driven by particular presuppositions, in this case naturalistic uniformitarianism. 

Again, AiG has a list of technical articles dealing with this issue, but remember, most skeptics refuse to interact with the data and information, but instead choose to attack ad hominem straw men versions of their critics whom they do not respect.

#8.You have to believe all those heavenly bodies out there that they are still finding were created in one literal day(morning & evening)that is despite the fact that even now they are finding suns,stars just now begining [sic] to form.

Usually the person who makes statements invoking the authority of modern day evolutionary cosmology are generally ignorant of the problems inherent to modern day evolutionary cosmology. He is also blissfully unaware of the in-fighting that exists between the proponents of various theories and models that are dreamed up to help explain away those problems.

For example, note the contradiction in his original statement. In #7 he speaks about the earth being 4.5 billion years old. The so-called billions of light years (a "light year" being a measure of distance, not time, by the way) are considered one of the reasons we believe in an old universe. However, in #8, my emailer suggests one solar day is way too short a time for suns and stars to form, especially now that we are finding stars just beginning to form. OK, how exactly would we see their light if they are just now beginning to form?

Discover magazine did an article on the youthful galaxies located by the Galex telescope that are 2 to 4 billion light years from earth, but began forming just 1 billion light years ago according to the telescope observations. In the March 2006 issue, a thoughtful reader wrote a letter to the editor expressing curiosity as to how we could even see their light? He writes,

"If the youthful galaxies located by the Galex telescope are 2 billion to 4 billion light-years from Earth but started forming less than 1 billion years ago, how can they be observed at all?"

In other words, it should have taken the light from these 1-billion-year-old galaxies 2 to 4 billion years to reach us. The editors at Discover responded thus:

Your question cuts right to one of the trickiest problems in cosmology: how to refer to the timing of events when there are many different ways to describe them. The conventional solution is to describe everything from the way we perceive it. In this case, that means that when we say that the galaxies started forming less than a billion years ago, we mean that the galaxies AS WE SEE THEM TODAY appear to have started forming less than a billion years ago. Put another way, when their light started heading toward Earth 2 billion to 4 billion years ago, these objects were less than a billion years old. That convention may seem confusing, but the alternatives are even more puzzling. For instance, it would be more comprehensive to say that these galaxies, located 2 billion to 4 billion light-years from Earth, appear to have begun forming less than 3 billion to 5 billion years ago, and then their light spent 2 billion to 4 billion years traveling toward us. More comprehensive, yes, but even harder to follow!

In other words, its a mystery that doesn't fit into the prescribe view of evolutionary cosmologists.

For my antagonist emailer, its easy for him to make fun of a biblical description of creation than deal with real problems of cosmology.

#11.You have to believe Lot had intercourse with 2 of his daughters on 2 different nights and knew it not.

This comment is strange. The text clearly states he was drunk out of his mind and unaware of what happened. Why is that hard to believe? Such things happen in Las Vegas all the time between total strangers.

#12.You have to believe Jesus was concieved [sic] without human intercourse this despite the fact that at least 20 other dying & resurrecting savior sun gods had this claimed of them long,long before the supposed time of Jesus,you claim them a myth but the same tale about Jesus true.

This is a woefully ignorant exaggeration of historical fact. In all of my private email interchanges with my antagonist, he always returned to cut-and-pasted articles from non-scholarly, atheistic websites that try desperately to tie Jesus to some ancient myth. Mithra is the favorite these days.

J.P. Holding of Tektonics has done some extensive research debunking these claims, even interacting with the world's literary experts on these various myths who also deny the connection between the alleged myth and the historical Jesus.

By the way, just like he rejects AiG out of hand, my emailing antagonist also rejects J.P. Holding because, a) "J.P." still goes by the alias he gave himself for security reasons when he worked with hardcore criminals in the state penitentiary where he was employed, and b) he was too mean and direct with my emailer when he was hassling him. Once again, such self-imposed blindness only reveals a heart angry at the God of scripture and who truly doesn't care for the truth.

So there you have it. I responded to each one of his charges and none of them disprove the inerrancy of the Bible. All we have are baseless charges just like they were asked decades ago, but have once again been proven wrong.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Vintage Hip and Thigh

As I cobble together my longer posts for my next study, I ran across this from the archives back in 2007. I present it again, slightly updated.


Thank You Mr. Atheist for Your Loving Concern

From the Email In-box:

imageTo: fred@fredsbibletalk.com
From: *****
Subject: RE: [QUAR][Barracuda] Bible inerrant

I accidently ran into your internet site and read your article about an inerrant Bible.I won't go into the area of screwed up translations.I will copy and paste some of your statements and comment on them. Paste from your site: Anything He does will be untainted with error, and because He has breathed out scripture, the scripture is then tied to His purity and holiness and can correctly said to be inerrant.

From me>>To believe your bible in any translation(or original manuscripts) is inerrant & god breathed, here is what you must believe.
#1.A snake can talk(remember the snake was cursed to crawl on it's belly & eat dust.
#2.A donkey can talk.
#3.That man was so stupid back then that he actually thought he could build a tower to heaven.
#4.You have to believe against any logical thinking that all those animals,incl,snakes & all different kinds of insects and enough food to feed all of them(different kinds of food)for almost one year would fit on an ark that size,which is impossible.
#5.You have to believe there was food for them to eat when they came off the ark even though the whole earth was supposedly covered in water.
#6.You have to believe in a flat earth because these supposedly inspired by god people said so back then.
#7.You have to believe the earth is 6 to 10,000 years old despite overwhelming proof it is much,much older,even if not 4.5 billion years old.
#8.You have to believe all those heavenly bodies out there that they are still finding were created in one literal day(morning & evening)that is despite the fact that even now they are finding suns,stars just now begining [sic] to form.
#9.You have to believe god made the sun stand still when it already stands still or believe god stopped the rotation of the earth which anyone should know would be a disaster in many ways for earth.
#10.You have to believe Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt which is unbelievable.
#11.You have to believe Lot had intercourse with 2 of his daughters on 2 different nights and knew it not.
#12.You have to believe Jesus was concieved [sic] without human intercourse this despite the fact that at least 20 other dying & resurrecting savior sun gods had this claimed of them long,long before the supposed time of Jesus,you claim them a myth but the same tale about Jesus true.
I could go on about the impossibilities you claim to be inerrant in your bible.The names of authors of the whole Bible is unknown the names claimed to be the writters [sic] was guessed at by Hebrews(O.T.) and Christians(N.T.)no one ZERO knows who wrote one word in the bible.Only a brainwashed,mind controlled christian [sic] could ever believe the Bible inerrant,it's to obvious that it is not for any thinking person.

Greetings ____,

I want you to know how much I appreciated your email. I was touched by the fact you took the time to express to me your concerns in writing.

Honestly, I am a rather obscure and unknown internet presence with a small time website and a blog that maybe gets 200 visits a day, half of which are people looking for joint pain medication. I am no where in the league of a James White, or Steve Hays, or Dan Phillips, or the guys at Answers in Genesis, or even that pseudonymous J.P Holding guy. In the grand scheme of things, I am a guppy in a big, big pond of much larger, more significant fish.

Yet you thought enough of me – someone who is a total stranger to you – to become a mentor of sorts and help straighten me out. Most atheists are not even as considerate as you, but instead lace their correspondence with rude, insulting remarks and scurrilous comments meant only to ridicule and tear me down.

You far exceed the hacks from the Rational Response Squad. That is what I particularly like about your email. It contains none of the snarky arrogance common place among atheists. You even took the time to list some examples where you believe I have intellectually derailed.

First off, I must confess my overall dismay. Your email really shook me up. I mean, in the entire 2,000 years of church history since apologists have been answering critics with their polemics, I don't believe I have read any biblio-skeptic offer the examples you provide here. You must be praised for originality and freshness with your criticisms. And regrettably, I haven't read a Christian book attempting to answer them.

Take a few of the Bible verses you pointed out. You mean to tell me what I learned in 3rd grade Sunday school class,via a felt board, that the Tower of Babel is wrong? You mean to say it wasn’t just a large temple? That the expression "whose top reached to the heavens" is telling me this was a mythical story describing a structure designed to take men into heaven itself? Into outer-space? Like a giant space elevator or something? Yes, I guess I can see how that is a bit silly. What a face-palm.

Oh, and to think I just presupposed the fact that since God is God, then miraculous, one time events like a talking snake, or a talking donkey, or Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt (assuming the expression is not a way of saying she died in the judgment of sulfur and brimstone) could be expected to happen.

Gosh, I had no idea I was suppose to look at all reality only through material naturalistic uniformitarianism as a philosophical filter. Thank you for clarifying that for me.

snakeAlso, I must how gladdened I am that your email was devoid of any phony, educated condescending huff and puff. Many atheists I have encountered in the past carry on with their criticisms about the reliability of the biblical text as if they have genuinely studied textual criticism, but in reality, they are ignorantly repeating 3rd, maybe 4th hand sources as they type away in their mother's basement.

But you are different.

You seem to draw from a deep well of information and personal experience when you point out any belief in the inerrancy of scripture has zero evidence and no thinking person would adhere to such a belief. Golly, I have only been studying the Bible for nearly 20 years, a good half of that time at a seminary. I learned just two years of Greek and a year and a half of Hebrew. You must have really studied those languages, like, a whole lot. How long have you been a student of textual criticism and the original languages? I envy your expertise.

I'm guessing now, since reading your email, that I have wasted my time heavily immersing myself in the critical studies of many of the textual scholars the world has mistakenly labeled “brilliant.” Men like Constantine Von Tischendorf, Johann Bengel, Robert Dick Wilson, E.J. Young, D.A. Carson and Daniel Wallace, a man who actually handles and documents the original texts often under consideration when we speak of inerrancy.

These guys all claim the historical documents are overwhelmingly trustworthy and reliable and provide for us an almost 100 percent accuracy when it comes to the veracity of the biblical text. Yet in reality, as you point out, these men are nothing but a bunch of bunko artists. I’ve been duped. You can imagine how shaken of soul I am since considering your email.

I reckon the same goes for biblical creationism. How you have found the time to not only be an expert in biblical studies, but also in all the applied sciences is truly amazing. You really left me scratching my head, because I don't believe I have read any one who has ever addressed the star light problems you raised in your email. Double-face-palm.

At any rate, I apparently now have reevaluate what I have learned thanks to your thoughtful exposure of these non-thinking and brainwashed dolts. I have never seen so clearly before now.

So thank you for your loving concern. I am in your service, for you have saved me much embarrassment.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Debating the Dating of Revelation

I stumbled across these videos yesterday.

I have not watched them in their entirety just yet, but I understand Hank gets "pwnd" pretty bad by Hitchcock. I figure some folks are gonna say, "Hank Hanegraaff? Why such easy pickins'?" Though I certainly agree that debating Hank on any theological subject is like shotgun blasting a bunch of baby ducks swimming in a pond, as I understand it, both Ken Gentry and Gary Demar were approached first to do the debate and both declined for whatever reason. Hank was the third choice, and next to Gentry and Demar, he is certainly a recognizable preterist popularizer who has published on the subject.

Hitchcock's dissertation was on the dating of Revelation. Though a 95 AD writing of John's Revelation does nothing to impact a futurist view of the prophecy, that date certainly does impact the preterist interpretation of the book making it unworkable.

Hitchcock's dissertation is available for free PDF download here:

A Defense of the Domitianic Date of the Book of Revelation

(BTW, the download was agonizingly slow and I am running on a superfast internet connection. You folks with dial-up in Cave City, Arkansas may want to do some chores while you wait).

Debate is watchable in three parts:

Debate on the Date of the Book of Revelation (Part 1 of 3) from Thomas Ice on Vimeo.

Debate on the Date of the Book of Revelation (Part 2 of 3) from Thomas Ice on Vimeo.

Debate on the Date of the Book of Revelation (Part 3 of 3) from Thomas Ice on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gleanings in 1st Samuel [2]

hannahHannah’s Vow [1 Samuel 1:1-11]

The book of Samuel opens during a period of spiritual darkness. As we will see a bit later, this time is marked by priestly ineptitude, priestly sin, and disobedience by the people. In the midst of this, God raises up Samuel to return the hearts of the people back to God and to anoint the first two kings.

The first chapter introduces us to Samuel family. Three individuals: Elkanah, Hannah, and Peninnah.


The opening verse of chapter 1 tells us about Samuel’s father, Elkanah. He is provides a unique picture to Samuel’s family background.

The Bible tells us that he was from the mountains of Ephraim, and he is called an Ephraimite. However, in 1 Chronicles 6:22-28; 33-38, we are told he is a Levite, specifically from the family of Kohath.

How exactly do we understand this? This is the importance of the genealogical lists recorded in the Bible, those brutally boring sections we tend to glance over during our daily Bible reading.

Joshua 24:33 tells us the Levites lived in the hill region of Ephraim, so Samuel’s family is geographically an Ephramite, however genealogically a Levite.

Elkanah is described as a godly man. It is clear he has a deep devotion to the Lord as he makes trips to Shiloh to worship at the Tabernacle. However, he had a problem.


Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, was barren. In fact, the note in verse 2 says rather bluntly, “Hannah had no children.” To the reader of Scripture, there is a reason she is barren: It’s by divine decree. Verse 5 says, The LORD had shut her womb.”

Modern readers tend to overlook the direness of her situation, because being childless was a great stigma in her society.

First, if a woman was barren, she could not strengthen her clan, or family, which would mean, secondly, that she would be unable to pass the inheritance along to any descendants. In Hannah’s mind, she believes she is unfavored by the Lord, or even cursed.


But verse 2 tells us Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and a second woman, Penninah. But why is that? If Hannah is said to be barren, how exactly then did Elkanah take it upon himself to get children? He took a second wife, Penninah.

Hannah was his first wife; his first true love. We can see this in the way he treated Hannah (verse 5). Penninah, however, was there to simply produce the babies.

Some would think the Bible condones polygamy, but it doesn’t. No where does God approve of this arrangement. Elkanah took a sinful, fleshly approach to fixing a situation, rather than praying and asking the Lord for help to begin with.

One can note the sinful impact polygamy has on the family. A rivalry is made in which Hannah is mocked and provoked and her relationship made miserable (verse 6). I would imagine Penninah even invoked God’s sovereignty against Hannah but reminding her that God is the one who gives babies and He must not love her, or He would give her one.

What then does Hannah do? She does what all believers should do when their souls are vexed: She prays. She pours out her heart to the LORD and vows a vow that if God will give her a child, she in turn will consecrate him before the Lord.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Just in Time for Black Friday

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Cars 2: An Assessment

Is Pixar on the verge of jumping the cultural shark?

cars2Pixar has always exemplified competent film-making. All of their movies have been consistently well-done in both writing and production. If you are a geek like myself, and have ever taken the time to watch the documentaries that come on the DVDs telling how the film was made, or sit through the movie and watch it with the audio commentary turned on, you know the heart, soul, and passion the entire animation team put in to their work. In a way, it is like they see themselves as crafting a piece of art, not just making a movie.

In my opinion, I haven’t seen a “bad” Pixar film yet. I have ranked in my mind my favorites, but all of them are brilliant and contain their own endearing charm.

The original Cars is like that. It wasn’t one of my favorites at first. When I saw the trailer, I wondered how they were going to pull off the concept of anamorphic talking automobiles. I didn’t see it when it was released in the theater, but I waited until it came out on video. I thought it was fun, but I thought it was “okay.” As always, Pixar did a masterful job tackling the subject of talking cars, but I was more of a The Incredibles fan.

Because I have three boys who like Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Nana got them the video for Christmas. I cannot say how many times I have “watched” it on Saturday mornings, but somewhere around the 14th viewing, the movie began to grow on me and I was appreciating it more than when I first saw it. In fact, I imagine the DVD release is what made the characters so popular across the world. It’s Pixar genius really. Little kids, boys in particular, love cars. When the parents need a “baby-sitter” for 80 minutes, Cars is the perfect thing to throw in the player.

Added to that is Disney’s line of Hot Wheel cars modeled after the characters, because what did my kids want for Christmas and birthdays now? And on top of that, the “Car toons” videos featuring Mater the tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, manufactures a climate just begging for a second, full-length feature film with all the Cars characters. That is exactly what we got this past summer.

Cars 2 has recently been released on DVD and being on my sons’ wish list for Christmas I’m caused to reflect on the film. Unlike the first one, I did see Cars 2 in the theater. I even made a special trip down to Burbank to watch it at the cavernous AMC theater complex.

The gist of the story is simple. In this outing, Lightning McQueen has been invited to participate in the international world grand prix that will be held in Japan, Italy, and England. While this international racing championship is going on, Mater, who is tagging along as the crew chief, gets himself entangled in espionage with a couple of James Bond-like characters who mistakenly believe he is an American operative who holds a piece of valuable information. Thus the comedy mayhem ensues.

Like all their previous films, the animation was glorious to behold. One can only marvel at the painstaking attention to scrutinizing detail that comes from this team of animators. The movie also has the right amount of inside, adult humor in the story and visuals that is barely over the heads of the children in order to keep the parents entertained.

Yet, in spite of that Pixar magic, the film veers off course in an unusual direction.

Running through the entire movie as the main sub-plot is a message of muddled environmentalism. The bad guy in the movie is an oil tycoon who wants to discredit the use of alternative fuels so he can control all the oil reserves. (He’s probably a Republican, too). I see this plot line, however, as a troubling exposure of a deeper agenda.

Pixar, I believe, has reached a place in the hearts of average Americans where people trust them. Their films are not only well done production-wise, but also tell a heartwarming story with a moral at the end extoling the good values of friendship, faithfulness, overcoming fears, and family.

But now that they have earned this place, I believe we are seeing the beginnings of them exploiting that trust. Within the last 12 years or so, Pixar’s films never had a hint of leftist activism in them. They were politically “neutral” so to speak. Probably the first one to hint at any sort of activism was Wall-E, which, according to the critics, was a movie slamming capitalist consumerism and promoting environmentalism. I could see what they meant with that movie, but I saw Wall-E as more of a science fiction film, and what good is a futuristic sci-fi movie without an apocalyptic hellscape? Though maybe the makers at Pixar had in mind subtle hints of environmentalism, I saw the demise of the earth by pollution in the context of the larger story about the robot.

There is no subtly with Cars 2; it screams in your face. John Lasseter, who directed the film, even stated in an interview he wanted to get across a clear environmentalist message. So I am not shooting in the dark when I offer my objections.

The problem, however, with this new found push in activist film-making, is that it causes the storyline to suffer. At the risk of sounding like some Star Wars geek complaining about the logical continuity problems in Episode I, let me give an example of what I mean.

All through the movie there are occasional comments made by the characters talking about pollution, dirty air, and a clean environment. But think about it for a moment? Why would automobiles care about environmental activism? They’re automobiles, not people. Green technology and recycling really has no bearing on them.

But before you dismiss me, think a moment about the sub-plot of an oil tycoon who wants to discredit alternative fuels. What is it that makes automobiles run? In other words, what is their “food?” To have cars talking about how their “food” is bad and ruins the environment is sort of strange, don’t you think? Maybe someone can argue that they wanted to promote strict vegetarianism rather than environmentalism, but I find such an argument in the context of a movie about talking cars who depend upon oil to survive a bit weird.

Moreover is the hint of bigotry woven into the story with the main bad guys. They are lemons; you know classic defective automobiles like American Motors Gremlin or the Chrysler LeBaron. One of the motivations for their criminal activities was due to them being shunned by the other cars because of their lemon status. They were second class citizens in the Cars world.

Now, whether the animators intended this or not, I left the movie with the impression that the reason for their crooked, pro-oil ways had to do with them being defective. It was their handicap that made them bad. Rather than being pitied, because that’s just the way they are made, being a lemon could potentially stir up major personality flaws. Anyone see any major inconsistencies with a team of animators who more than likely believe homosexual orientation is “normal” human behavior?

Maybe I’m reading way too much into this, but I took it as something of a jab against the character of any oil producer or anti-environmentalist. I, as a conservative who believes environmentalism is an enormous waste of time and money let alone a religious cult, am defective at heart, which makes me a “lemon.”

Whatever the case may be, it is undeniable that Pixar is moving into the promotion of leftist causes in their films. And for liberals who operate according to a leftist ideology, what is the biggest leftist issue currently in America they would like promoted in the psyche of their young audience?

dayandnightConsider their animated short “Day and Night” that ran before Toy Story 3. It was a bizarre cartoon featuring two androgynous egg-shaped characters who were suppose to represent how people need to get along with each other in spite of their “differences.” A speech is heard on a radio station toward the end of the short in which the narrator says the unknown should not be feared but embraced. Say what you will, it was an indictment against any group (Oh, I don’t know – like evangelical Christians) that is perceived as being rigid and unyielding with their convictions.

If you think I am mistaken about this move toward homosexual advocacy, take a look at the video put together by a group of the main animators at Pixar studios exhorting homosexual youth that life “only gets better” if you merely embrace who you truly are as gay.

I don’t know how far away it is, but I’ll bet with in the next few years, Pixar will be releasing a film featuring either a story with homosexual undertones, or a key character who is gay. It is just a matter of time.

It is regrettable, because this otherwise fine film company is on their way to jumping the cultural shark.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Ehrman/Wallace Debate

Ed Komoszewski breaks down the most recent debate between Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace regarding the reliability of the NT documents.

Don't Put the Bart Before the Horse

And while were on the subject of Bart Ehrman and the NT, you may also want to check out Michael Kruger's review of his most recent anti-Christian screed, Forged.

ht: Dan

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Gleanings in 1st Samuel [1]



I have had occasion to teach through the books of Samuel in both a home Bible study setting, as well as from a pulpit. Though most of my study has been from the first book of Samuel, these two books are favorites of mine. God is clearly put on display, and the stories are legendary, especially for flannel graphs in junior church!

Over the next several months, I wanted to reproduce my notes I have accumulated over the times I have taught the book in the same fashion I did with Job and Daniel as blog posts. Hopefully it will be an encouragement for my readers.


Before diving into the text of Samuel, it is important to establish the historical context for when the events recorded in this book took place.

Let me provide a big picture and work my way down to the time of Samuel.

Beginning in Genesis, we have the record of YHWH God calling out Abraham, choosing him to be the individual who will father the people who will become Israel. Abraham begets Isaac, who begets Jacob, who begets the 12 sons who will father the tribes that will be Israel.

In God’s providence, at the close of Genesis, the entire family is moved to Egypt where they live for 430 years (Exodus 12:40-42). God delivers the family that by the time of the Exodus, has become a great nation. This happens around 1446/45 B.C.* After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness because of their unbelief, God brings them into the promise land under the leadership of Joshua.

The land was not entirely subdued; Israel was commissioned to finish the work Joshua had started, yet they failed in accomplishing that task. Thus began a dark time in Israel’s history known as the Judges. The key description of that period, “There was no king in Israel, and every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

The books of Samuel, at least the first part chronicling Samuel’s life, overlap with the last part of Judges.

For instances, Samuel was more than likely a contemporary with Samson. The encounters with the Philistines described in 1 Samuel 7:13-14 may very well be a result of the events recorded in Judges 16:23-30. The Philistines were attacking Israel due to the exploits of Samson, and the destruction of their temple at his hands stirred them to war.

Samuel then was considered the last judge, but he was also the first official prophet of Israel. It was with Samuel, then, that we see the rise in the prophetic office.

A prophet did not just foresee the future. His function was much more than that. A prophet was a divine spokesmanthe mouthpiece for the LORD.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:15-22 provide us a working picture of a prophet.

1. He was to be an Israelite that declared to the people the covenant made with YHWH.

2. He presented “new revelation.”

3. That “new revelation” had to be continuous with the previous revelation, or what was contained in the Mosaic law – Deut. 13:1-5. In other words, he didn’t present “revelation” that contradicted what was revealed before or led the people away from YHWH and into disobedience.

4. A prophet would receive a distinct call.

5. He declared God’s word, or we could say he was God’s spokesman.

6. His office was verified by undeniable signs of divine unction. Usually those signs were a prophetic word that came to pass shortly after it was given to the hearers.

It is important to note that God’s people were responsible for “testing” the new revelation by the standard (canon) of the older revelation. They were to verify the authenticity of the signs.

Who wrote Samuel?

A good portion was by Samuel, but Samuel dies in 25:1. How was the record completed? First Chronicles 29:29 provides us a clue. It speaks about the books (or “words of”) Samuel the seer and Nathan and Gad. The second two were prophetic men who ministered with David. They kept the books of revelation (book of Jasher – 2 Sam. 1:18) and the records of David (1 Chron. 27:24). The remainder of what is 1 and 2 Samuel would have been filled in by those two men.


*I do not wish to get bogged down in the particular arguments for either the early or late date for the Exodus. One of the better sources to establish why I choose the 1446/5 date for the Exodus can be read in a paper by Doug Petrovich, Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus-Pharaoh. Additionally, more support for this date can be read in Leon Wood’s, A Survey of Israel’s History, and Eugene Merrill’s, Kingdom of Priests: A History of OT Israel. Also, the website, Associates for Biblical Research, has material available on-line that sorts through the arguments.


Monday, November 07, 2011


From Challies, who always seems to post these before anyone else.

Wait for it. Takes a few seconds to get going.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Dad’s Super Awesome Saturday Morning Pancakes

Or at least that is what my kids call them…

My wife does most of the cooking at our house, for which I am grateful.  Occasionally, depending upon the circumstances, I may have to substitute; but I work off a set of pre-written, precisely detailed instructions my wife has left me so my chances of truly ruining anything is greatly reduced.

Sometime early on in the childhood development of our kids, I started making pancakes on Saturday mornings.  It has become something of a weekly ritual.  Every once in a while I may switch to making waffles, but pancakes have become my area of expertise.  A few people who have eaten them ask about my recipe, so I thought I would write it up in a post. 

Any good cooking depends upon two things: a good recipe and a cook’s experience cooking the recipe.  I’ll break down my recipe and my tips.

Originally when I started my pancake odyssey, I tried boxed pancake mixes and Bisquick as a flour base and used whole milk to mix, but I couldn’t produce the kind of pancake I liked.  I wanted to cook a plate of pancakes Michelle Obama would publicly condemn, but devour in her kitchen when the press wasn’t looking.  A plate of pancakes that could easily make it onto those yearly health magazine lists of “Breakfasts You Should Really, Really Avoid.”

Then, I thought about going entirely from scratch, so I started scanning cook books.  I figured it would take a bit of time to prepare, but ultimately, the pancakes produced would be so much more superior.  Additionally, I wanted to use buttermilk rather than normal milk.  I am sure it has to be the unhealthy, heart-killing, stroke-inducing elements in the buttermilk that makes them good, but the pancakes made from buttermilk I just loved. 

I finally landed on a recipe I liked.  It was taken from a cook book that is suppose to provide you with the “top secret” recipes of famous restaurants.  This one was for pancakes made at International House of Pancakes.  Here’s the list of ingredients.

  • 2 & 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder (Yes.  “soda” and “powder” are two different things).
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla (though you can adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of buttermilk

And just to let you know, I have already doubled the recipe, because the paltry amount of pancakes the original yielded eventually became unsatisfactory to meet our family’s needs.  This recipe makes around 12-14 (or more, depending on how big you make them) pancakes.  If you need less, you’ll have to divide the measurements in half.

DSC_0009 (3)

Now.  I grab my mixing bowl and add together all my wet ingredients first.  One thing that is absolutely necessary in my preparation is a hand-held mixer.  I have found it essential as a time saver, as well as the means of distributing the ingredients evenly and smoothly through out.  I long for the day we can get our selves a Kitchen-Aid mixer. 

By the way, there is no particular order in which you need to mix the wet ingredients.  I only make sure my buttermilk is in the bowl with my two eggs before I mix so I won’t slop the eggs on the counter. 

Next, I add my dry ingredients.  When I started making these pancakes, I would mix the dry ingredients all together in a separate, stainless steel bowl as seen in the picture above and then slowly, little-by-little, add the mixture to the wet ingredients mixing them as I added. 

DSC_0010 (3)I have changed my technique over the last year since I took that picture. (Note my TeamPyro mug, btw).  Now, after I have mixed the wet ingredients, I add each of the dry ingredients one by one and mix them together.  I save the sugar and flour until last.  With the flour, I add 1/2 cup measurements and mix as I go until I have added all the 2 &1/2 cups.  Doing it in this fashion first keeps your mixer from burning out attempting to mix a big bunch of flour at once, and it removes any lumps that could remain in the batter. 

Once that is done comes the griddling. 

DSC_0011 (2)

I have to use an electric griddle and a stove-top pan in order for the pancakes to be finished in a timely fashion.  I pre-heat the oven to 200 while I am mixing the batter, and place a plate or metal pan in the oven to keep the pancakes warm as I cook them.  Watch them, though, because they will dry out if you dither too long cooking.  

I then use a 1/2 cup to 1 cup measuring cup to ladle the batter onto the hot griddle.  As a bonus, you can add blue berries or chocolate chips (or both!).  I add a handful AFTER I have ladled the batter onto the griddle.  Sprinkle your berries or chocolate chips in the cooking batter.  Doing it this way makes for an more even distribution of berries or chips.

I was once really fastidious about how long they cooked on each side, so I would set a timer to two minutes or so.  Now I have learned to eye-ball them. 

The original instructions called for you to oil a pan, or spray Pam on the griddle.  I guess you could do this, but I found that the oil absorbed the heat and the pancakes did not get to that lovely, chestnut brown color I like.  They came out more of a Labrador Retriever yellowish tan.   I use a non-stick pan and use a little, if any Pam.  The result is a fabulous pancake.

You can then serve them any way you like.  With heart-attack bacon and sausage, and for the true food Pharisees, with fruit, like strawberries.  Just don’t add whip cream like my family does.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

When the Church Growth Expert Visits the Deacon's Meeting


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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Answering a Cranky Evidentialist


….And I don’t mean William Lane Craig or Norman Geisler.

Back in 2009, I had occasion to briefly interact with a pastor who was a self-described “evidentialist Calvinist.” We exchanged words on the subject of apologetic methodology in the combox under a post entitled, The Problem with The Evidentialist Approach to Apologetics.

My detractor had a strong dislike for presuppositionalism in general, and Van Til specifically. He even put up an article at his personal blog called something like, “Van Til Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About,” if memory serves. I tried looking for it to give it a link, but the post had been removed for one reason or another.

Anyhow, in the combox exchange, the evidentialist left a number of bullet points attempting to challenge my view of apologetic methodology. I kept a copy of the comments in a file labeled “possible blog articles” with the intention of writing a post or two from them, but life and work distracted me, and I forgot about them. I recently came across them again and I thought it may be instructional to offer my thoughts.

I’ll try to organize the material to flow a bit better than the typical back-and-forth in a combox.

1. “Autonomous” is nothing but a pejorative buzzword.

It would be helpful if our detractor would flesh this comment out more. How exactly is “autonomous” a “buzzword?” Does he mean to say it is a fairly recent addition to the Reformed vocabulary? Or that the concept of “autonomous” as it relates to man’s reasoning is unsubstantiated in Scripture?

If he means that “autonomous” is an unbiblical word, only originating with presuppositionalists, this is a rather problematic assertion. It’s like saying the word “Trinity” is unbiblical because it is nowhere found in the pages of Scripture and had its coinage in the writings of early apologists like Justin Martyr and Tertullian.

When presuppositionalists speak of “autonomous,” they have in mind the idea of sinners who are not submitted to the authority of God as revealed in Scripture. “Autonomous” has in mind what Paul describes as those “lofty and high things that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” and those thoughts that “are not captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Individuals Paul also describes as being “futile in their thoughts” (Romans 1:21) and who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18). This is reasoning originating from the sinful heart of men that attempts to rationalize man’s rebellion against their Creator.

2. “Autonomous” reasoning is all God gave us, to receive and evaluate information. There ain’t anything else.

Again, definitions would be helpful. “Autonomous” is not to be equated with the ability to receive and evaluate information; at least the concept of “autonomous” as defined by presuppositionalists. We are not talking about the manner in which a person evaluates chemical reactions, for instance. We are speaking about a person who attempts to live life apart from the “fear of the LORD” as Proverbs describes it.

3. If God is above logic, as Van Til claimed, then we can’t know anything about God. This principle is the pathway to neo-orthodoxy and spiritual skepticism.

I am assuming my evidentialist friend here has read what Van Til has taught on the subject? Be that as it may, I am not sure where he is getting this claim from Van Til. As I understand what Van Til taught about God and logic, at least according to John Frame as he reports in his book on Van Til’s theology, he believed the foundation of logic was to be the nature of God, meaning logic doesn’t operate independently of God. In this sense, one could say God is “above” logic, because the reason the world is “logical” has to do with God.

4. If you have to understand everything (the eternal context) in order to understand any one thing (brute facts), then none of us know anything. Which is a foolish claim.

I think what he is missing is how presuppositionalists insist that true knowledge begins with a fear of the LORD. This isn’t a “foolish claim” but a biblical one, for instance, Proverbs 1:7; 9:10. How exactly does my evidentialist detractor understanding those passages?

5. If Christians and non-Christians share nothing in common epistemologically, then we are incapable of reasoning with each other, and are forced to just yell louder and more assertively at people. And add pejorative adjectives like the word “brute” in front of innocent words like “facts.”

I wonder what sort of “presuppositionalists” this pastor has spoken with. Perhaps there are muddled presuppositionalists he has encountered, but I personally can think of none who would argue in such a fashion as to say Christians and non-Christians share nothing in common epistemologically. The issue is not that they fail to see the world logically, for example. It is that they live inconsistently to what they believe by suppressing those truths when it comes to ultimate issues, like the submission to God as their sovereign authority.

6. The argument that presupposing the Christian worldview makes everything else intelligible is… an argument based on evidence. It’s called “the argument from coherence.” Like C.S. Lewis’ “I believe in the sun because by the sun I see everything else.”

As I understand “the argument from coherence” it is merely saying that one’s worldview, or philosophy of life, should be cohesive and consistent as a whole. In other words, portions of your thinking aren’t detached and irrational to the rest of what you may advocate.

Of course such cohesiveness is based on “evidence,” no one is denying such a thing. But it is “evidenced” upon the conclusions of one’s presuppositions. The fact that one can see everything presupposes the luminosity of light that the sun generates.

7. The Bible nowhere claims to be self-attesting. Van Til made that up.

That’s a rather ignorant assertion if this guy genuinely believes it. The idea of the Bible being “self-attesting, or better, “having self-authenticating qualities,” is an historic, Protestant Reformed doctrine. For example, the WCF states in chapter 1:iv,

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

Also, consider the concluding sentence of the next point, 1:v, which says,

…our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

You’ll note with 1:iv, the writers state that the authority of Holy Scripture is not dependent upon the “testimony of any man or church.” You can read there also, “established by extra-biblical evidence;” certainly “extra-biblical evidence acting as an authority over Scripture.” Rather, Scripture is the Word of God because it is wholly from God as it claims. Other theologians have historically affirmed this position, including Calvin, Bavinck, and Warfield, all who pretty much pre-date Van Til.

8. Nothing in 2 Timothy 3:16 claims that the Scripture is self-attesting. 2 Timothy 3:16 claims that the Scripture is divinely inspired. Is that what you mean by self-attesting … so do all the other major religious texts in the world.

This is a rather surprising statement. The very doctrine of inspiration implies self-authentication, because inspiration is a work of God. The fact that God is the inspirer of Scripture, which is His revelation, means its veracity and integrity is intricately woven to His character. Scripture’s authority derives from God’s authority. As the writer of Hebrews notes, For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, (Hebrews 6:13).

Additionally, major religious texts do not necessarily claim this kind of inspiration. They may claim an uniqueness to a particular guru, but nothing like the self-disclosed God revealed in Scripture. The closest competitors, like the Qu’ran, and I can maybe add the Book of Mormon also, derive their authority from the Old and New Testaments, or previously disclosed revelation. If those books deviate from the consistency of the previous revelation or Scripture, which both the Qu’ran and the Book of Mormon do so rather radically, those book are to be counted as suspect if not outright fraudulent.

9. The noetic effects of sin have no bearing on the fundamentals of presuppositionalism…

The idea of the noetic effects of the fall implies that all men, due to them being separated from God, have their reasoning impacted by that fall also. Contrary to what my evidentialist detractor argues, the noetic effects of the fall go beyond just causing men to be blinded to the Gospel message. They are not merely limited to understanding and accepting spiritual things.

Rather, the fall has impacted all of man’s reasoning abilities in much broader areas. Once again for example, what Paul identifies as “suppressing the truth.” If one is already presupposed to anti-supernatural materialism and scientism as the means of all knowledge, any “evidence” or “testimony” or “facts” that directly challenge those presuppositions will be explained away in light of those presuppositions – or denied outright in some cases.

This is why appeals to evidence alone are not sufficient to convince men hostile to God about the truthfulness of Christianity. All the evidence will be interpreted according to philosophical axioms which spin the conclusions one makes about that evidence.

10. If evidentialism is so bad, why does God use it in Scripture?

I certainly agree God uses evidence in Scripture. I wouldn’t deny it for a moment. For example, in Luke 2, after the angels pronounce the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds, they say to one another, “Let’s go see if this is true.” They wanted evidence, and the angel told them where they could find it.

I as a presuppositionalist am not opposed to the use of evidence. I just recognize that in all the examples of evidence used in Scripture, God is divinely telling us what the evidence means. The cross was merely an instrument of torture and death utilized by the Roman government. God, however, puts a specific interpretation on that cross that now has an entirely new emphasis.

11. Brute facts are the only facts available to anyone. Your knowledge of what I wrote, which controlled the occasion to which you replied, is 100% comprised of brute facts. You don't God's "big picture" in, around, and through my comment, nor do know it regarding yours, but here we are talking anyway. …

As I understand Van Til’s view of “brute facts,” he meant to say there are no “uninterpreted facts.” That being, all facts everywhere must be interpreted. One’s presuppositions then interpret those facts.

I am able to communicate with people because God is my creator and He created men to communicate not only with Him, but with each other. God is also not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), which can be extended to mean God is “logical” in all that He does. Communication implies some logical cohesiveness in the means of “communicating,” things like vocabulary, syntax, and grammar that allow people to understand each other.

12. … Jesus said, "Believe I'm the Son of God because I work miracles." God didn't give people philosophy lessons in Dutch Idealism before giving them proofs of His own identity. The point remains, one can't promote a philosophy of knowing that isn't taught in the Bible (whether explicitly, or by a necessity of logic, as the WCF says), and in fact is contradicted by the words and actions of God.

But here in the 21st century, no one has seen Jesus do miracles. We base our conviction that Jesus did miracles on the veracity of the testimony from eye-witnesses; a testimony that is revealed and preserved in Scripture. Our starting point begins with our faith in God’s truthful character and His ability to keep His word that He will preserve Scripture.

13. … Yes, the Bible does depend throughout on empirical verifications. If archaeologists ever find Jesus' skeleton (hypothetically speaking), then Christianity and the Bible aren't true. Correct?

My faith in the veracity of God’s Word is tied directly to what God has revealed of Himself as a Truth telling God. As I noted in my response to my evidentialist challenger,

All critics of Daniel said the book was false simply because chapter 5 mentioned Belshazzer as the king of Babylon. Anyone even remotely familiar with Babylonian history knew Nebonidus was the last king of Babylon. This discrepancy was not solved until it was found in the Nebonidus Chronicles, discovered around the late 1860s, that Nebonidus appointed his son, Belshazzer to be king in Babylon as a co-regent. So was Daniel true before that time, in other words, self-attesting?

Additionally, sensationalist glory hound, Simcha Jacobovici, claims to have found the Jesus family tomb including the bone box of Jesus. Discovery Channel ran a documentary on it. Has he proven the Bible to be an untruthful revelation? I think my cranky evidentialist would say no.

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