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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hank Jumps the Shark

BAM man, Hank Hanegraaff left me a long time ago when he had a phone company start telemarket bombing my family at least once a week begging for money. My disfavor for him increased after he became a full blown preterist and unwitting PLO shill with his accusation of racism against Dispensationalists. Now he has become an official deep time creationist who appeals to voodoo hermeneutics to re-read Genesis.

Hank Hanegraff and the Days of Creation


It is sad. I remember about 10 or 12 years ago when Hank just published his book on the Farce of Evolution (or some similar title). He came to my church and did a talk on the subject. He claimed to be a biblical, 6 day creationist at the time. A lot can change over a decade I guess.

I reproduce the transcript of the call Ken Ham posts in his blog article (note my emphasis):

Caller Theresa: Hi! I wanted to ask you if you believe that God created the earth and all in it in seven literal days, or if you kind of translate it into thousands of years or . . . ?

HH: Well, that’s an interesting question. I think that one of the things that we have to recognize is that the book of Genesis is a literary, artistic masterpiece in a lot of different ways.

Uh, first you have a mnemonic device by which you can remember the creative prowess of God every single day of the week so that you have two triads which are memorable, which correspond to one another in alliterated fashion that you can remember as a mnemonic device each day of the week. I think that in itself is profound. [huh?]

Secondly, I think that you have to recognize that all of Genesis is written in such a way that you can remember it with ten fingers of your hand. So that the genealogical construction and the people mentioned are mentioned in such a way that you can remember God’s creative prowess as well as the foundation of the entire biblical text out of which comes an ongoing plan of redemption culminating in a new heaven and a new earth where indwells righteousness.

My point here is to say that I do not think that Genesis chapter one is designed to give you a chronology of creation, but rather to give you a hierarchy of creation—uh, ultimately culminating in a new creation so I, I think if you want to answer the age question, you’re better off going to God’s other book, which is the book of nature. I don’t think that Genesis is intended to give you a timeframe.

Caller Theresa: So you don’t think we should look at nature and use the Genesis account as a starting point and interpret nature based on the Genesis account—you think we should use nature to interpret Genesis?

HH: No, no, I wouldn’t say that at all. I think that you have to employ the art and science of biblical interpretation to rightly interpret the Genesis account of creation. You need to be able to read the Bible for all its worth. For example, when you get to Genesis chapter three and you see that the serpent is tempting Eve and then later you see how the serpent suffers as a result of his temptation, and how Christ forever puts enmity between the seed of the woman, you see immediately how powerful the text is and you don’t want to minimize the power of the text by supposing that, that Jesus Christ crushed the power of the evil one by stepping on the head of a snake. You want to take the text and read it in the sense in which it’s intended, and so I don’t in any way say that you want to take ah, some kind of minimalist approach to the interpretation of the book of Genesis. No, you need to learn to read it for all its worth.

Caller Theresa: OK, thank you.

His last point is amazing. So on one hand Genesis is not meant to be taken chronological, which in my mind means historical. I mean, the concept of "chronology" is tied to history, right? Yet on the other hand, the story of man's fall and Christ's redemption of man is meant to be historically real?

I just don't get it. And this is a clear reason why I have Hank listed under "muddled theology."

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gleanings From Daniel [21]

triumphalDaniel’s Seventy Sevens: Prophetic Date Setting (9:25-27)

I have been considering Daniel chapter 9, and my study has taken me to the prophecy of Daniel's 70 weeks. It was a revelation given during the first year of the new Medo-Persian empire. Daniel recognized that the 70 years of Israel's captivity were coming to an end. He offers a two-fold prayer: Confession of sin and the request to restore Israel to the land.

The angel, Gabriel, is sent to provide an answer for Daniel that consists of describing a decree by God entailing an allotted 490 years for the prayer to be answered. The 490 years revealed here are based upon the Jewish Sabbatical year. Every 7th year the land was to rest (Leviticus 25:2-6). Seventy Sabbatical "weeks" are appointed for Israel before transgressions are finished and restoration takes place.

As I noted last time, there are three primary views of when those 490 years started. There is only one official decree that I believe fulfills the language of Daniel when Gabriel says, "From the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem;" I believe the seventy sevens started with Artaxerxes decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 B.C. The story behind the decree is recorded for us in Nehemiah 2.

Artaxerxes began his reign in 464-463 B.C. The time of the decree would have been Artaxerxes 20th year (Assuming Nehemiah was using a calendar year from October to October). Knowing that the Persians used an accession year chronology, meaning the 1st year was not counted, 444 B.C. would be 20 years or so after he came to the throne.

I personally believe God is revealing through Gabriel to Daniel a specific prophetic chronology that any serious student can study and determine with startling precision when these particular events take place in time. There is no reason why that conclusion can't be drawn. I say that for four reasons:

I. Prophetic Year

How long was a year in Daniel's mind? Or should we say God's mind?

Was a year suppose to be 365 days? How we understand our current day calendar? If we subtract 490 years that places the end of the 70 weeks in the 40 A.D.s or so. That would be well beyond when we know certain details of Daniel's prophecy would have been fulfilled, the cutting off of the Messiah.

I think there are some biblical indicators that tell us God had in mind 12 months of 30 days.

There is historical precedent for this.

In Genesis 7:11, the flood began on the 17th day of the 2nd month. Genesis 8:4, the flood waters end on the 17th day of the 7th month. That would be 5 months total. Additionally, Genesis 7:24 says "The waters prevailed on the earth 150 days." Five months of 30 days would be 150 days. There is no reason to think these numbers are "analogous" or "symbolic" in nature.

But this is Genesis, not Daniel, a prophet who lived several thousand years past the flood. Fair enough. Turning to the book of Daniel, Daniel 7:24, 25 says the "little horn" known as the end-times Anti-Christ has his duration fixed for 3 1/2 times. I take that to be 3 1/2 years, for in Revelation 13:4-7, John's commentary on this Anti-Christ, he is said to rule for 42 months of 1260 days, or 3 1/2 years. Doing the math, that would be 30 day months.

II. Prophetic Precision

One will note that Gabriel divides the seventy sevens into 3 groups:
7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week.

= 7 weeks would be 7x7 or 49 years.
= 62 weeks would be 62x7 or 434 years.
= 1 week would be 7 years.

Daniel 9:25-26 - The first set of 7 weeks, 49 years, Gabriel says Jerusalem was rebuilt and turned into a thriving city. This is the first years following Nehemiah and Ezra's ministry in Jerusalem. The next set of 62 weeks, or 434 years, takes us to what the prophet describes as the coming of "Messiah the prince" who is Jesus Christ.

49 + 434 will give us 483 years. Thus, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to what Daniel states is "the cutting off of the Messiah" (v. 26) will be 483 years. The question then is, "Can we determine the time when this cutting off of the Messiah takes place? I believe we can with certainty.

Harold Hoehner, in his book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, provides one of the best comprehensive surveys detailing the historical precision of these prophetic years. Hoehner builds upon and refines the original calculations made by Sir Robert Anderson in his book, The Coming Prince. Their summary of these calculations are thus,

If these are 483 prophetic years of 12, 30 day months as I believe they are and as I noted above, then 483 x 12 x 30 = 173,880 days. If we divide those "days" by our solar calendar of 365 days, we get 476 solar years. Synchronizing those 476 years with our modern calendar by multiplying 476 by 365 days, we get 173,740 days. If the decree to rebuild Jerusalem happened in 444 B.C., and calculating for leap years of which there are 116 days (173,856), brings us to 33 A.D. Hoehner adds 25 days to the original calculation of Anderson to get the date of Nisan 10 (March 30th), 33 A.D. This would be the Triumphal Entry of Christ presenting Himself to the Nation of Israel as their Messiah. Four days later, on Nisan 14, (April 3rd), the Messiah the Prince was "cut off."

III. Prophetic Princes

It is at this point where divergent, eschatological interpretation come into play with the remainder of Daniel’s prophecy.

It is noted that there is a discussion of two “Princes” in this passage: Messiah the Prince (v.25) and the prince of the people who are to come (v.26). I believe these are two, separate individuals. But many amillennialists and postmillennialists, and to some extent, historic premillennialists, believe there is only one prince being spoken of here throughout the entire text: Jesus Christ.

They understand that Christ being “cut off” makes his death an “abomination of desolation” (vs.27) in that Jesus made an end of the temple sacrificial system. The OT promises of the Messiah were fulfilled in Christ’s death, being “cut off,” and His Resurrection. He made an end of the Mosaic law and in doing so, makes the temple "desolate.” The “people of the prince” speak of the Jewish nation who rejected their Messiah, or cut Him off. Daniel is describing their destruction in vs.26. Even though the Roman army destroyed the temple and Jerusalem, ultimately, their destruction was by their own hand, as it were, when they crucified their true Messiah.

There a some problems with this position. The most notable is that Jesus did not make a “covenant” (v.27) for “one week” that was broken in the middle of that week. Unless we make this “week” typological in some fashion, the week here has to be the last 7 years of the prophetic seventy-sevens.

The nearest antecedent for the “he” who shall confirm the covenant (v.27) is the “prince” of the people who are to come in v.26. Examining all the relevant biblical data, the only conclusion one can make and be true to the meaning of the text here is that this “prince” is a separate prince from “Messiah the Prince” (v.25) We have encountered him before in Daniel 7:25. There, that individual, described as a “little, blasphemous horn,” is said to persecute God’s people for a 3 1/2 years.

What Gabriel is revealing to Daniel is that Messiah the Prince, Jesus Christ, will be “cut off.” That happened on the 14th of Nissan, when He was crucified to make atonement for sin and establish the new covenant. He is said to be “cut off, but not for himself.” His death was sacrificial in nature.

Then, at some future point, the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city of Jerusalem. The “prince,” who is the little horn of Daniel 7:25, is identified with the fourth beast. That fourth beast is understood to be the Roman Empire. Hence, “the people of the prince who is to come” has to be the Roman army when they came in 70 A.D. and tore down the temple and burned Jerusalem. This is highlighted in Luke 19:41-44 and other portions of Christ’s Olivet Discourse in Mark 13, Matthew 24.

IV. Prophetic Gap

The first 483 prophetic years lead us up to Christ’s first coming. However, there is one week of 7 years unaccounted for. I believe they are yet future, detailing Christ’s second coming. Which means to say there is a “gap” between the first 69 weeks and the last week.

Amillennialists and postmillennialists do not like the idea of a gap. It is one of the major points of contention, and in some cases ridicule, on the part of non-premillennialists. But the idea of a “telescoping” of prophecy, where some of the prophecy is fulfilled at one point, then a gap of time takes place, then the rest is fulfilled at a later point, is not uncommon in Scripture.

For example, Jesus cuts Isaiah 61:1-2 when he applies this prophecy to Himself in Luke 4:16-21. He did not include Isaiah’s words, “And the day of vengeance of our God” which speaks of a future judgment.

Additionally, even those who do not wish to see a long, 2,000 year gap existing between the 69th and 70th week have to have a gap of at least 40 years or more if the final week was allegedly fulfilled in 70 A.D.

Why is there a gap?

I think the reason is simple: Daniel’s vision does not include the mystery of a NT church that expands God’s redemptive purposes to include the gentiles. God is gathering additional subjects for the kingdom by the means of the Church. This is what is called, “the time of the gentiles” that Jesus spoke of in Luke 21:20-24 and Paul mentions in Romans 11:25. Israel is currently in a state of blindness, because we are experiencing the “time of the gentiles.”

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baseball's Greatest Play, 35 Years Later

I love this story even more now than when I first saw this as a kid. Not only did Rick Monday poke the eye of a lefty wacko, but come to find out, he's from my home town of Batesville, Arkansas.

Today is the 35th anniversary.

I would be curious as to what became of the flag burner, William Thomas, and his son. Any info, please share in the comments.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Evangelical Dog and Pony Shows

A Rant

A dear saint emailed me a video over the weekend. It is only six and a half minutes, but I think it is worth the time invested so we can learn some hard lessons about evangelicals and culture.


The story is heart stirring. In fact, I would wager that a few of you got all misty eyed and weepy as the report moved along. A little girl and her father lose mother and wife after a courageous battle with cancer, dad makes a video of little girl singing Amazing Grace and uploads it to You Tube, little girl becomes an overnight sensation, the rest is history, to God be the Glory. Right?

Well.

At the risk of being booed and hissed, receiving frowns and glares, having people wag their heads at me, and accusing me of quenching the Spirit, or otherwise beating up on a little kid. I have to confess I am troubled by what I see here.

"Troubled" with a capital "T" Troubled.

Just so I preempt any misconceptions,

I will say I appreciate how Rhema's daddy has been an active part of her life after her mother's death. I was particular encouraged to see how he allowed her to share in her mother's darkest, agonizing days when she was dying of cancer. It was a move against our hand-wringing, nanny state society who shield our generation of children from real, gritty tragedy and personal trial.

I will also admit she has some talent going for her as an aspiring singer. That fact is certain.

And, it was nice to learn that Rhema and her father appear to be sincere Christians. When I checked around on the internet, they go to what looks like to me to be a water-downed Church of Christ fellowship. I say water-downed, because the congregation isn't the typical CoC church I am familiar with from that neck of the woods. They have a quasi-charismatic feel to them (I mean, it's called "the Branch." Any church named after gardening is typically charismatic or lean heavily that way), they have adopted a multi-site model for their church, and they allow musical instruments to be used in worship at the campus where Rhema and her daddy attend.

Having said all of that,

Let me unpack the concerns.

First, why is her father marketing her like a pop-star? She has an "official website." What seven year-old has an "official" website? I mean, is it "official" in that there are already non-official sites? I can understand the "Star Trek" franchise having an "official" website, but a seven year-old? A seven year-old who is just famous for singing Amazing Grace on You Tube ONLY has an "official website" if the smell of money is in the air and there's a need to market a "product."

And what's with the glamor shots at the "official" website? Of a seven year-old girl!? I guess you can say the pictures are "tasteful" and "cute." But honestly, glamor shots of a little girl displayed on a website are odd. I know this may come across harsh, but that's Jonbenet Ramsey weird. Am I overreacting? I can only hope the daddy is getting some input from family and friends and pastors at their church as to how to go about promoting his daughter.

Yet something is telling me he isn't getting any words of caution from similar minded folks like me among his circle friends. The reason I say that is because in the 20/20 report, Rhema says she believes God has called her to sing Gospel music and Gospel music can touch people's hearts.

There you have it: Those three sanctified magic words, "GOD CALLED ME." They automatically prohibit any criticism by anyone. Especially if that "anyone" thinks what you are doing is not smart at all.

"You know Jerry, I don't think it is wise to just quit your job to pursue a career in CCM. I know you play the guitar okay for our fellowship class worship time, but hitting a major career as a CCM artist is rare, plus you have a family of three to support, don't you think you ought to take this whole CCM thing one step at a time and... What did you say? GOD CALLED YOU? Oh. Well, if GOD CALLED YOU, who am I to argue against you taking this leap of faith? I'll be praying for you."

This assumes, of course, that God calls seven year-old girls every once in a while to touch people's hearts with Gospel music on the internet. And if God called her, what self-respecting evangelical pastor will stand opposed to God's call on a little girl's life? Plus, God knows the plans He has going for her as that verse in Jeremiah says. If anything goes wrong, God's to blame. He was the one who did the calling.

Regrettably, what I see here is another evangelical dog and pony show. A few of them happen every year. One or two have some sweetness to them like our little girl here, or they are outright train wrecks like Todd Bentley and pint-sized preachers. The internet makes them even more popular than they normally would be, yet I think it is something of a stretch to say a bunch of sappy Southern Baptists blubbering over your You Tube testimony are being "touched."

We can only hope the dad exercises discretion with young Rhema. The last thing we need to have happen to her is go the way of Britney Spears shaved head or Miley Cyrus' Vogue pictures.

Remember, both of those gals claimed to be Christians.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Interesting Stuff on the Web

Today is Earth Day, so let us remind ourselves of our God given mandate:

earthThen God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28)

Emphasis on the words “subdue” and “dominion”

So let the strip mining commence!

Before I move on to the handful of links I found during this shortened week for me, I had the privilege this past Sunday of teaching the adult Sunday school at Grace Church, Santee. My subject for the hour was on apologetic methodology as it interfaces with evangelism. I thought I rushed through the material too quickly, but it can be hard to edit when there is so much information one has to cover in so short a time.

I put the message on-line if anyone is interested. Overview of Apologetic Methodology.

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For you smarty-pants smart phone geeks, especially you Iphone people who send me emails that end with “Sent from my Iphone you loser” and other such slogans, you may want to take note of THIS.

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I think a co-worker passed this paper along to me a little while ago. I was reviewing it the other day and thought it would be worth the plug:

Exegetical Fallacies: Common Mistakes Every Student of the Bible Must Avoid.

Indeed.

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Plucky AiG lecturer, Georgia Purdum, highlights an article by Dr. Lynn Margulis, the widow of Carl Sagan. Dr. Margulis wrote an article for the April edition of Discover magazine and at first glance, one would think she had become a creationist after reading her criticisms of evolution by natural selection and mutation. But in reality, she was endorsing her unique endosymbiotic theory of evolution.

Evolutionist Challenges Mechanisms of Natural Selection and Mutation

I am sure the guardian priests of the scientific community will all rise up immediately to censor her for advocating pseudo-science voodoo and insist she be denied tenure unless she already has it.

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What would the Easter season be without some archaeological flim-flam artist getting on TV or NPR to talk about the “real” historical Jesus. This year, not only do we have Bart Ehrman’s new book making the rounds, but Simcha Jacobovici claims to have found the three nails that held Jesus to the cross. Like “Wow.” That’s a pretty amazing find. How exactly did the Roman Catholics miss those relics after all this time? I mean, I would think finding the three nails of the cross would be way easier to do than, say, collecting a vial of Mary’s breast milk or a lock of baby Jesus’ hair.

Anyhow, here’s a more accurate perspective of Christ’s crucifixion: Simcha Jacobovici and The Nails from Caiaphas’ Tomb

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Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail:

baby and bunny

big bunny

pink bunny

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hell’s Bells

Some brief thoughts on my interactions with Rob Bell supporters and so-called “evangelical” annihilationists

ozzyJust returned from my trip down to San Diego, so I have to get into my groove a bit before the blog is up and running normally.

In the meantime, my pastor was moved to jump on the Rob Bell pig pile and wrote up a few posts. The posts in order are,

Rob Bell: A Brother to Embrace or a Wolf to Avoid?

Rob Bell: “Evangelical and Orthodox to the Bone?” Hardly

Rob Bell’s Unbelief in His Own Words.

I had the occasion before I left for a week, to engage the few Bell supporting annihilationists in the comments of the first post. It was quite stimulating. My encounters helped me realize the need for Christians to develop a robust theology on hell, and then prepare themselves to defend it biblically.

Allow me to outline my observations I made from my interaction with the eternal conscious torment deniers:

- The annihilationists I interacted with seem not to realize how serious man’s sin truly is. Or at least they haven’t pondered it too much. I believe one commenter wrote something like, “The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.” Which I take it to mean this person believes creatures living in complete anarchy against their eternal Creator’s moral laws are just having a little fun and shouldn’t be punished too severely. Isn’t punishing these folks in conscious torment forever by their Creator a tad over the top? It’s just not fair.

- That leads to the fact these annihilationist have an extremely low view of God’s holiness and justice. That goes without saying. If you believe the continually flagrant breaking of God’s moral law isn’t that big-a-deal, obviously you don’t think God will be moved to judge such treason with any severity.

- Other annihilationists reject my accusation, however. They believe sin is serious and God will judge it severely, hence, this is the reason God extinguishes the existence of the wicked.

- But if we are going to say the wicked eventually get “extinguished,” we are forced into two options:

A) Either denying outright what the Bible teaches regarding the wicked man’s consciousness continuing after he dies, or B) appeal to bizarre, convoluted selective exegesis.

Some cases in point:

- Certainly the annihilationists I debated believe the righteous who receive eternal life will continue to be conscious after they die, but for some reason, the wicked won’t. They are to be extinguished. The eternal punishment of the wicked is contrasted with the eternal life of the righteous. See for example Matthew 25:46; John 5:28, 29; and Acts 24:15. If the righteous will continue to consciously experience their eternal life, why won’t the wicked continue to consciously experience their eternal punishment?

- The word “death” is suggested to mean extinguish or go out of existence, rather than “separation” as the Bible teaches.

- Likewise, the word “destruction” is redefined to mean “total extinguishing” rather than “loss” or “valueless” as the Bible teaches.

- The parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is dismissed as a symbolic tall tale. The annihilationist claims it is a parable, and everyone knows parables are to be understood symbolically. That is true to a degree, but a couple of problems:

First, how exactly does a symbolic parable prove the annihilationist’s thesis regarding wicked men not having consciousness after death? All of the sudden, because the parable is “symbolic” it doesn’t mean what it so plainly states? At face value, reading Luke’s account of the rich man’s torment, why would I conclude anything else BUT that wicked men are conscious after they die and suffer torment?

Second, when Jesus spoke in parables, he utilized real life illustrations. You don’t see Jesus appealing to Disney-esque talking squirrels or fairy godmothers to make His spiritual point. Thus, even though one may argue the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable, it is a parable drawn from real experience.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Going on Holiday

This is a truncated week for me because me and the fam are headed out for some R&R. We won't be back until next week sometime.

We are not even sure what we are going to do with ourselves, though I think at some point we plan to visit this place: El Indio

On Sunday, I have the opportunity to teach the adult Sunday school class at Grace Church, Santee. Subject will be on apologetic methodologies. Stop by if you are in the area.

Meanwhile, I have updated my Genesis 1 series with two more messages. They can be located HERE.

Now that I think about it, maybe we'll do some fishing:

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Thoughts on the Warning Passages of Scripture

Last week I finished up my four part series on eternal security over on the GTY blog:

Is Eternal Life Always Eternal?

How Firm Our Foundation

Once Saved, Always Saved?

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim it!

I wanted to build my case for the doctrine of eternal security around four areas:

  • The concept of conditional security, or a Christian can lose his salvation, is contrary to God’s clear and direct promise to save sinners.
  • The significance of our regeneration and God’s power to overcome our orientation to sin.
  • The significance of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in the lives of Christians.
  • The legal relationship we have with Christ; we as His slaves, redeemed from sin, and He as our sovereign Lord and Master.

I can testify that it was quite an adventure and I received a lot of good feedback from commenters.

There was one question I saw asked by a number of commenters: How exactly do you explain the warning passages about falling away that teach a Christian can lose his salvation?

Let me offer few thoughts:

- First, when we look at the whole of Scripture, there are no warning passages teaching us Christians can lose their salvation. Granted, there are certainly “warning passages,” but the warnings are directed toward being on the alert against false teachers, or being led astray into error, or being tossed about by false doctrine. There isn’t one that clearly says a Christian can endanger his relationship with Christ to the point Christ will disown him, take back His promise of eternal life, and cast the former Christian away into eternal judgment.

- Second, any warning passage understood to be speaking to the loss of a Christian’s eternal life is inferred by the exegete reading the passage. In these occasions, the exegete brings his theological presuppositions to bear upon the passage in order to draw the inference the passage in question is teaching Christians can lose their salvation.

- Obviously, my second point cuts both ways. Those exegetes who teach eternal security bring their theological presuppositions to bear upon those passages as well. However, I believe the clearer biblical revelation insists we understand these warning passages in light of eternal security rather than conditional security. Meaning, the whole of Scripture clearly teaches a Christian’s salvation is secure and certain and can never be lost. So then any uncertain passage that appears to “warn” Christians about the danger of losing their salvation must be interpreted and read in light of that clearer revelation.

- Of the warning passages in the Bible, Hebrews has what appears to be the most direct. Specifically Hebrews 6:4-6 which reads,

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame.”

I can’t provide a comprehensive study of this passage, but I will make some observations:

  • The author shifts from speaking directly to his readers, “you” (5:11, 12), “us” (6:1), and “we” (6:3) to addressing a group outside their immediate circle, “those” (6:4). That is relevant, because he is not addressing any of his readers, but an unnamed group outside their group.
  • Next, notice that his description of “those” who have fallen away is of them having been “enlightened,” having “tasted,” having “partaked,” and having “tasted.” The grammar of the text suggests nothing was amiss. There was nothing inadequate or partial about their experience. All of these things were true of them, they were enlightened, they tasted, and they partook of salvation, which is clearly implied by the passage.
  • However, note how their falling away is permanent. There is no hope of renewing them again, it is impossible. If this passage is saying a Christian can lose his salvation, once he has lost it, it’s gone forever with no hope of rescue.

How then do we understand this passage? I think commentator, Homer Kent, has the best solution. He believes what is being spoken of here in Hebrews 6:4-6 is hypothetical. He explains it this way in his commentary on Hebrews:

Proponents of this view [the hypothetical view] hold that the author has described a supposed case, assuming for the moment the presupposition of some of his confused and wavering readers. To those who would suggest that they are truly regenerated but could still go back to Judaism (thus turning from an exclusive allegiance to Jesus), he warns by his description what the frightening end would be. If a person were truly enlightened and would experience everything provided in regeneration, and then would turn away in repudiation, it would be not light thing, for he would be without hope of recovery. He would have abandoned the only means of life-changing repentance. …

This explanation follows the normal exegesis of verses 4 and 5, regarding the description as of regenerated persons. It also treats the warning severely as verse 6 infers, and harmonizes with the severe warnings of 10:26-27 and 12:25. The hypothetical case is frequently objected to as not providing any real warning if it could not happen. Yet hypothetical and even impossible cases are not unknown in Scripture. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:12, “And the law is not of faith: but, the man that does them shall live in them” (but no one ever did, nor could). James 2:10 states, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law [a hypothetical condition] and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Jesus said in John 9:39, “I am come…that they which see might be made blind” (there were none who could see, but Jesus took His hearers at the estimate of themselves, v. 41). The author of Hebrews implies that he is speaking this way in 6:9. [Kent, 113].

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Rage Against the Machine

rageMy wife and I are true, cultural subversives. Counter-culture to the core.

We homeschool our children.

I remember one time standing around with our neighbors outside on a Saturday afternoon. One of them asks my wife which school we were going to send our oldest son. My wife replies, “We’re going to homeschool him.”

Silence and blank stares.

Like looking into the eye of a chicken.

After about 8 seconds, one guy pipes up, “What’ya gonna do for their social skills?”

I answered, “Nothin.” The look of dismay was precious.

Now just so I am clear:

Neither my wife, nor I , have anything specifically against public education. (Though our disdain for the creeping leftism infecting public schools grows on a yearly basis). We were both publicly educated, and I actually graduated high school normal, well adjusted, and loving my parents. And that in spite of the temptation to attend the weekly kegger parties.

My wife even taught 6th and 3rd grade for a number of years before she gave it up to become *GASP* a stay-at-home-mother.

We live in a more conservative than normal area of LA, so our public schools (for the most part) obviously reflect the community conservatism. We have never advocated “homeschool only.” We have a good number of close friends whose kids attend public schools. Some of them even attend LAUSD schools, and we let our kids play with their kids.

We had the conviction to homeschool for a few reasons.

First, we wanted to be the primary influence in our children’s young lives, not some gray-headed lady as sweet as she may be.

Second, we recognized how strong an influence our children’s peers can be. Public school, with their secular values is bad enough, but parents can combat a lot of what kids are exposed to at home. It’s the peers that can be a problem. If there is one group of boys who are notoriously hateful toward authority, their influence is way more powerful on my sons than some spiteful, anti-Christian 5th grade teacher. Additionally, we didn’t want our kids exposed to junk earlier than we wanted them to be. In our day of instant, hard-core pornography on the internet, any 8-year old with an older teenage brother and the app to download videos onto his Ipod touch, can be scandalizing my kids’ minds before school or at lunch.

Third, schools waste a lot of time on frivolous, stupid stuff like pep rallies and seminars about not smoking, going green, bullying gays, etc. It’s nonsense junk our undiscerning, feelings-driven culture believes is essential for being healthy. In reality, it’s filler to keep the kids in class until a specific time, like baby sitting, and it’s propaganda to teach them to be mushy minded, pliable leftist. The truly important stuff, you know, like reading, writing, adding numbers, could take half a day to complete. With my wife directing the course work of our children, their education stays focused and their thinking isn’t cluttered by silliness.

Fourth, our education is well-rounded, much more so that what is offered in public education. By that I mean our kids will be exposed to ALL points of view and they will be taught how to critically think through those issues.

Kids now-a-days – and I am thinking more along the lines of older, teenage kids – go to class and hear one point of view from a teacher. Yes. I know people want to think a teacher is objective, fair, and centered on the facts of the material being presented, but such is rarely the case. They are imparting their values onto a subject they are teaching. So, for example, the obvious contentious debate between evolution and creation will be hopelessly lopsided in a public school setting. That’s because the school is forbidden to teach creation and the teacher is typically biased in favor of evolutionary thought. Thus, the kids get a propaganda lecture, and are not taught to critically think through the issues of dissenting opinion.

Our convictions to homeschool are shared by many of our friends, and I would imagine the hundreds of thousands of homeschooling families across the United States. However, our convictions are despised by the elites who worship the State “god.” In fact, our convictions are beginning to be considered subversive, undermining the very fabric of our society.

As the gay agenda continues to assert itself in the lives of families, in our culture, and eventually our laws, any “dissent” against homosexuality being a legitimate lifestyle will not be tolerated. Meaning, homeschoolers, who tend to be Christocentric and teach their children homosexuality is sinful and will be judged by God, will increasingly be seen as a serious threat to the secular society. So much so, that any talk of “tolerating” the intolerant for the sake of the 1st amendment rights will be dismissed.

I was recently directed to a report written by law professor Catherine Ross,

FUNDAMENTALIST CHALLENGES TO CORE DEMOCRATIC VALUES: EXIT AND HOMESCHOOLING

It is a amazing document to read. She practically argues that homeschoolers shouldn’t exist. Those that do should be hunted down and their kids seized.

Consider some of her more precious insights, (Note my emphasis)

Many liberal political theorists argue, however, that there are limits to tolerance. In order for the norm of tolerance to survive across generations, society need not and should not tolerate the inculcation of absolutist views that undermine toleration of difference. Respect for difference should not be confused with approval for approaches that would splinter us into countless warring groups. Hence an argument that tolerance for diverse views and values is a foundational principle does not conflict with the notion that the state can and should limit the ability of intolerant homeschoolers to inculcate hostility to difference in their children—at least during the portion of the day they claim to devote to satisfying the compulsory schooling requirement. [Ross, 1005]

And

Homeschooling parents who subscribe to an absolutist belief system are at the base of many legal disputes that arise in schools. They often insist on a closed system of communication—objecting to their children’s hearing or reading about discordant ideas or beliefs. If a parent subscribes to an absolutist belief system premised on the notion that it was handed down by a creator, that it (like the Ten Commandments) is etched in stone and that all other systems are wrong, the essential lessons of a civic education (i.e., tolerance and mutual respect) often seem deeply challenging and suspect. If the core principle in a parent’s belief system is that there is only one immutable truth that cannot be questioned, many educational topics will be off limits. Such “private truths” have no place in the public arena, including the public schools. [Ross, 1006]

I love this line, They often insist on a closed system of communication—objecting to their children’s hearing or reading about discordant ideas or beliefs. I wonder if she would say the same thing about a biology teacher who refuses to entertain anti-Darwinian criticisms, or those Muslims with their “closed system of communication?”

But I digress.

And in conclusion she writes,

As I have argued, democracy relies on citizens who share core values, including tolerance for diversity. When parents reject these values, the state’s best opportunity to introduce them lies in formal education. Setting aside all of the other issues surrounding homeschooling, the importance of inculcating democratic values is sufficient reason for more rigorous regulation of homeschooling than prevails at present. Whatever the precise parameters of parental liberty ultimately prove to be under the U.S. Constitution, they neither protect the right of parents to homeschool without oversight nor outweigh the state’s interest in the appropriate education of youth for citizenship. [Ross, 1013]

When Ross writes, “tolerance for diversity,” that’s Orwellian new speak for “you must embrace my sexual perversion without question.”

I don’t think we can mark this off as the rantings of a hairy-legged, man-hater feminist. She represents the growing voice of the “machine” demanding that you conform or be cast out. And it’s more than just long-suffering with sinners: if you teach your kids anything the “machine” loathes, you do so at the peril of you and your family.

I guarantee you. Here in the good ole’ US of A, we’ll soon be reading more of these reports that are coming out of Germany.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blogging on Eternal Security #4

Final post on the subject of eternal security is now up at the GTY blog.

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!

I may have some follow up posted here at my place next week. Commenters asked a lot of good questions.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Four More Years

Most effective campaign ad I've seen yet for Obama.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Life

Angola prison in Louisiana had the reputation of being a brutal, cruel place. It is a facility where some of the hardest, most violent criminal offenders are housed. It is said that 90 percent or more of the prisoners at Angola will be serving out life terms.

Angola was such a terrible place, both prisoners, and prison guards and wardens, never wanted to go there. In 1995, Burl Cain became warden. He thought he was only going to be there for a few years before he would be moved somewhere else in the U.S. prison system. He didn't expect he could change anything.

In order to survive the couple years he expected to serve at the prison, he knew immediately he had to do something to get the violence and bloodshed among the prisoners under control. So he invited the LSU atheist free-thinkers society to come in and teach the prisoners about Darwinian evolution and proper hygiene.

No. Just a little apologetic humor there.

Warden Cain knew the only thing that could change prisoners is Christ. He began with a core group of inmates with whom he did intensive Bible study. He insisted on both prisoners and prison employees to behave with Christian morals. And he founded a Bible college and seminary for the prisoners.

Burl Cain was interviewed on his work at the prison.

The prison turned around dramatically, and it stands as a testimony of God's grace in the lives of some of the most notorious sinners in America.

Our pastor, John MacArthur, was invited last fall by the inmates in the Angola Bible college and seminary to come and teach for a few days. John eagerly went and had a wonderful time teaching the men the Word of God.

Shortly after he returned, an acquaintance passed along these short videos highlighting the history and revival that took place at Angola.


Part 1



Part 2

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Interesting Stuff on the Web

In between writing for the GTY blog, I did happen to find some things of interest.

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Dr. Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis recently gave a series of lectures for the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. His subject was on the theological compromise with millions of years.

Millions of Years and the Compromise of the Theologians

His lecture was part of DBTS’s on going Rice theological lecture series. Past series are available for download. There are some interesting subjects with good speakers, so check them out, too.

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When I was in seminary, I was required to take a class on prayer taught by Dr. James Rosscup. He made us buy a 500 page syllabus for the course, and by the end of the semester, we maybe worked our way through a third of it. Over the last 15 years or so, Dr. Rosscup has expanded this syllabus and got it printed into 4 volumes.

Exposition on Prayer

The books combined are over 2800 pages and represent an exposition of every prayer found in the entire Bible. It would be a tremendous gift for your pastor, beloved Sunday school teacher, or even a Bible study teacher. Yes. I realize the set is 100 bucks. But I am sure you can get some other like-minded folks to pitch in to cover the cost.

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The latest satellite images from Mercury are available on-line: New Mercury Images

I tend to geek out on that stuff. Also, who’d thought the earth really looked liked a giant potato? See a visual on how gravity impacts the planet earth. You’ll be amazed: Gravity Satellite Yields “Potato View” of Earth

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I don’t know who Ishmael Abrahams is, but he has a good overview of how one’s presuppositions drive the conclusions we draw about evidence. He also debunks anti-creationist skeptics:

Kachina Bridge Dinosaur Petroglyph

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Michael Reagan, adopted son of Ronald Reagan, remembers the assassination attempt on his dad that took place 30 years ago this week.

On the 30th Anniversary of the Assassination Attempt of Ronald Reagan

I was in 6th grade when it happened. I came home after school to find my parents watching the news coverage (at that time only 3 channels), and even the independent stations out of St. Louis were covering it. Being historically unaware, I was just annoyed I couldn’t see the Brady Bunch re-runs. That weekend, SNL did their famous Buckwheat has been shot skit with Eddie Murphy that mocked the endless, wall-to-wall coverage of the event. If you are ever in LA, you have to stop by the Ronald Reagan Library. They have revamped the place and the section highlighting the assassination attempt is awesome.

And as a footnote: If any of my kids grow up to be a bitter ingrate that spends his every waking moments doing nothing but dragging my memory through the dirty like that dopey Ron Reagan Jr., I swear hear and now that I will personally haunt him from the grave.

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Because China is an odd mixture of modern day life and 19th century peasant life, there has been an significant problem with major road accidents between cars and trucks and people on bicycles. In some cases, three or four people on a weird, tricycle contraption. We’re talking getting broadsided big time.

There is one notorious intersection where video cameras record almost daily major collisions. It’s like watching those driver’s ed. slasher films you’d see in high school like Red Asphalt. Be warned (BE WARNED), The clips are not gory by any means, but they will make you cover your mouth and gasp loudly, “Oh my,” because we all know that when a person riding a bike gets creamed by a car, it usually doesn’t turn out well for the guy on the bike.

Shocking Chinese Traffic Video

Just as a digression, there is a rather vocal group of cycling enthusiasts here where I live and they think that because CA is a pedestrian friendly state and has made it legal for them to ride their bikes in the traffic with cars, motorists need to share the road with them. But if I am hit by a car, it doesn’t matter if I was in my right to ride in traffic and if the motorist is hauled off to jail, I am still left paralyzed, or worse, dead.

But any how,

I appreciated one comment,

This is the result of socialism. Life has no value, only the state. Most of the people are so poor they can hardly eat. The Party doesn’t care. It is consumed only with its own survival.

If Obama and the LEFT wins here, it will be the same. Marxism never raises the standard of living for the masses, only for the govt elite. That is what the Democrats, Soros, the globalists are after. I have seen documentaries on Lenin’s Russia, Stalins Russia and Cuba. My brother-in-law escaped the communist takeover of Hungary, his parents didn’t.

Word.

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