Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Legacy of Martin Luther

It is October, 2017, the month of the Reformatin's 500th anniversary. The Reformation is considered to have begun when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door — a kind of social media of the time, and not an act of vandalism. He wanted debate, or serious discussion, on some matters that had been troubling him about the Roman Catholic Church, faith, the Bible, and more.

A movement does not typically happen in an instant, and Luther was a priest and a monk who had been pondering some things for a long time, including his own salvation. He learned some things from Scripture that brought problems into focus, and his writings caused him a heap of trouble, and he was investigated for heresies at the Diet of Worms in 1521. We've heard and read about it a great deal lately. It sounds like a California fad eating style, but actually a diet back then was a formal assembly, and this was conducted in the city of Worms. Now the term makes sense, doesn't it? It's interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation made use of modern technology: the printing press. We use our modern technologies extensively, some for good, some for evil, some for silly pictures.

For people who want to dig deeper, read about John Wycliffe, who laid some of the groundwork that influenced the Reformation.


Martin Luther did not intend to start the Protestant Reformation, but he has a tremendous legacy
Luther at the Diet of Worms, Anton von Werner, 1877
There are people who point to some of Luther's character flaws and views, such as his antisemitism. That does not mean that we should reject everything he taught, that would mean remaining Roman Catholic, which is contrary to God's Word.

Something else that we seem to hear about these days is a legacy, how people will be remembered. Martin Luther did not intend to start a world-changing movement, but the Protestant Reformation eventually ran at full gallop, and others joined in. When you hear about "the Reformers", it was not just Luther and a few friend in Germany, but people in other areas as well. This lasted for several years. Luther wanted the truth of Scripture available to people in their language, and translated the Bible into German. He also took the foundational book, Genesis, very seriously. Many other important considerations were brought to the fore as well.

To learn more, I hope you'll read "Luther's Legacy". For some biographical and historical information, I recommend "Martin Luther: the monk who shook the world".

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Martin Luther Took Genesis Seriously

One of the main problems for Christian theology occurred when Christians ceded the proper understanding of Genesis to secular science. Not only did those owlhoots compromise on long ages, but they often included evolution as well. At this time, liberal theologians were stampeding through academia and the churches, causing a great deal of confusion and apostasy. Theologians back then had forgotten the importance of a solid foundation.


"When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are." - Martin Luther
Martin Luther had a different problem than we have: some people
rejected six day creation because it seemed too long!
(Click for larger.)
In the course of events leading to the Reformation, Luther realized the importance of the foundation of Scripture itself. He also held fast to the foundation of the gospel message itself, which begins in Genesis. Our creation reformation requires rejecting compromise on biblical truth, beginning from the very first verse.
Five hundred years ago in Wittenberg, Germany, an unusual scholar changed the course of human history using pen and hammer. Dr. Martin Luther protested unbiblical teachings and practices—especially selling indulgences—sparking the Protestant Reformation. Unsurprisingly, a review of Luther’s treatment of Genesis shows how taking Scripture seriously logically leads to taking creation seriously. In fact, Luther appreciated creation enough to record detailed observations of jackdaws and ravens.
To finish reading, click on "Luther, the Reformation, and Taking Creation Seriously".

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Reformation and Creation

As most Christians are aware, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, so don't be surprised when you see a whole passel of articles, sermons, and so forth all over the web. While major movements begin suddenly and have various events leading up to them, October 31 is considered the "official" date when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Then things really took off. No, not because of the apparent vandalism, because that was the form of social media back then. Instead, things really took off because of what Luther had written.

Like Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, creationists are calling for a reformation as well: authority of Scripture
Luther nailing 95 theses, Ferdinand Pauwels, 1872 / Wikimedia Commons
Luther emphasized the solae ("alone"): Scripture, faith, and grace. In later years, "Christ alone" and "glory to God alone" were added. The religious authority of the Roman Catholic Church had usurped its authority, focusing on tradition and selling of papal indulgences. Luther also wanted the Bible available in the language of the people. A common thread is the authority of Scripture.

Biblical creationists have also spurring along a Reformation as well. Evolution is not simply a discussion for academics and scientists, but has ramifications in civil life as well, such as eugenics. Many professing Christians have compromised on the authority of Scripture in favor of atheistic interpretations of ever-changing whims of science. While creationists present evidence that refutes evolution and affirms special creation, we also emphasize upholding the authority of Scripture. Like the Reformation of 1517, many creationists are attempting to call Christians out of secularism and humanism, and back to the Word of God — beginning in Genesis. If we can't trust what God says in the first eleven chapters of the Bible, it should be no surprise that people doubt what God says about sin, repentance, and salvation!
Posting such topics for debate on church doors was the social media of the time. And like incendiary topics in today’s social media, Luther’s “post” soon went viral, setting off a long-lasting firestorm of political and theological conflict across Europe. In the world of that time, royalty and religion, princes and popes, were thoroughly entwined, so such a declaration not only rocked the foundation for church authority, it also destabilized the political structure of the day. The ensuing Reformation, replete with its heroes and villains—their identity often depending on which side of the aisle you occupied—was a turbulent time that turned theology as well as European papal and political power on its head. But apart from strictly historical aspects of the movement, what is the take-home message of the Reformation for today’s Christian?
To read the entire article, click on "The Relevance of the Reformation".
 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Asking Questions to Reveal Answers

While it is helpful for someone to give his or her viewpoint in detail, the good stuff comes after they've finished a presentation. This can be seen in formal debates during what is sometimes called the "cross examination" period (here is one example), and audience questions after a press conference or something similar.

Credit: Pixabay / Gerd Altmann
Most of us don't commence to speechifyin' or debating very often, so how about questions in a more personal setting, without the crowds? Much better. People can ask questions to clarify meanings and positions, and even get to know the other person a little better. On social media, it gets difficult to have a good discussion with someone unless it's in private messages, else other people chime in.

Greg Koukl has something he calls the "Columbo Tactic", based on the television detective, that helps you (and often the other person) get to the heart of a discussion. Two short articles on the subject are at the Stand to Reason weblog and the Stand to reason main site. He also has a book called Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions that goes into more detail. It's interesting that Koukl uses evidential apologetics while I emphasize presuppositional apologetics, and last I knew, he believed in an old earth while I am a biblical creationist, but the material mentioned above fits mighty fine with creationary, presuppositional approaches.

Christians and creationists can use the approach of asking questions to help someone see the problems with their viewpoint, and also show them scriptural truth. We can also use the discussion to present pertinent information. Ultimately, we hope to lead them to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Do pointed questions help people think? Good questions can make them curious and open their minds to things they might not have considered. When people express doubts about the truth of the Bible, asking the right questions can help guide them toward the right answers—biblical answers.
To read the rest, click on "Using Pointed Questions to Point to Answers". The video below may prove helpful as well.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Those Dying Leaves

In my neck of the woods — well, North America — it's autumn. (I reckon some folks call it fall because that's what leaves do.) This time of year has been used in many songs, often denoting sadness. Others are fond of this time of year, even planning to drive through areas on "color tours". You might want to consider taking route 209 which comes up here to Kingston, NY and runs down past Port Jervis into Pennsylvania. Kind of a difficult two-lane road, though. How about going off 209 into Ellenville, then onto Route 52 past Cragsmoor and into Pine Bush? You'll clip some of the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest, see some Catskill Mountains, and get lasso yourself some colored leaf viewing.

An interesting question is that if death entered the world when Adam sinned, what about plant death before then? The answer is in specific Hebrew terminology.
Image credit: Pixabay / pixel2013
I kind of wandered a mite. So, what about those leaves? People like looking at them, but get irked when having to rake their yards and clean the gutters by their roofs. We agree that they're dead leaves. Or are they? Death came into the world because Adam sinned, but we read in Genesis that everything was originally vegetarian. That means plants were eaten. How did plants die before death entered the world? There's some specific Hebrew wording involved here, as plants are not "alive" in one specific sense.
Fall in America and throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere is a beautiful time of year. Bright reds, oranges, and yellows rustle in the trees and then blanket the ground as warm weather gives way to winter cold. Many are awed at God’s handiwork as the leaves float to the ground like Heaven’s confetti. But fall may also make us wonder, “Did Adam and Eve ever see such brilliant colors in the Garden of Eden?” Realizing that these plants wither at the end of the growing season may also raise the question, “Did plants die before the Fall of mankind?”

Before we can answer this question, we must consider the definition of die. We commonly use the word die to describe when plants, animals, or humans no longer function biologically. However, this is not the definition of the word die or death in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word for die (or death), mût (or mavet), is used only in relation to the death of man or animals with the breath of life, not regarding plants. This usage indicates that plants are viewed differently from animals and humans.
I won't leave you out on a limb. To finish reading, click on "Do Leaves Die?" Don't forget the last part about how leaves get their color, that's at the end. 

 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Biblical Response to Racism

Bigotry exists in many forms, and people have had fear, suspicion, and even hatred of those who are different in some way. It can even be based on geographical locations. (I've been snubbed by people in the Southern United States for being a "Yankee" — I knew an American of German ancestry who detested people in France! Strange.) The most common form of antipathy toward people who are different is commonly called racism, and I believe that both skin color and cultures are distinguishing characteristics to make it easier to hate people of other "races". The race issues will be the limiting factor for this post.

The correct response to racism is in a proper understanding of the Bible
Credit: Pixabay / Rhythm_In_Life
Today's politically-charged climate brings racism to the fore in ways that are unprecedented, many times with loaded terms and false accusations leading to violence. The racism issues seem to be either excessively complicated or oversimplified, often prompted by people having political and cultural "tunnel vision" and "thinking" with their emotions.

Some jaspers will use any excuse to cry "Racism!", which I reckon to be downright stupid because trivial and unjustified accusations detract from the real thing. As a side note, a writer on proper word usage is advising people to get away from the cutesy "grammar Nazi" handle because it trivializes the evils of real Nazis. And, therefore, of racism.

As I said, racism existed for a mighty long time, but Darwin and his followers managed to make it fashionable and "scientific" until it became unpopular. (See "Evolution, Racism and the Bible", "More Modern Evolutionary Racism", and "Further Studies in Scientific Racism", for starters.) There are evolutionists today who will use abuse of science to justify racism, but the biological differences between people are extremely small.

Anti-creationist bigot supports evolutionary racism
Used under Fair Use provisions for educational purposes
Click for larger
People groups exist, and there are definite differences. These extend to skin color, culture, languages, geography, and so on. However, biblically speaking, there are no races. I shouldn't have to say this, but bigotry has no place in the body of Christ. Jesus did not die on the cross for any particular race, and all are one in our risen Lord (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:14-17, Matthew 27:50-51). We can trace backward and see that people groups came from Noah's sons, and the dispersion at Babel. The correct response to racism is not in evolutionary science or politics, but in biblical Christianity.
Our nation and society continue to suffer from strained race relations and subsequent racism. This is evidenced by the increased racial tensions experienced with tragic consequences such as killings, destruction of property, and general social unrest over the last two years in cities such as Ferguson/St. Louis, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; New York, New York; etc. For our reference and understanding on the terms of race and racism, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines race: family, tribe, people, or nation of the same stock: division of mankind based on hereditary traits; racism: discrimination based on the belief that some races are by nature superior.

This article will attempt to provide some understanding on the divisive issues of race and racism and how we can cope with these issues, with considerations from a creation and creation science or naturalistic evolutionary perspective. To help us understand and cope with the issues of race and racism I will address a number of important distinctions between creation and evolution as they relate to man or mankind and our social, moral relations.
I hope you'll invest a little time and read the rest. Just click on "Race and Racism: Understanding and Coping". Something else Christians may want to look at (but I'm not endorsing the entire site, haven't read more than this here article), "Critical Theory and the Unity of the Church".
  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Handcuffed by Evolutionary Indoctrination

Darwin's disciples have done an excellent job in promoting their materialistic viewpoint, with the conflation of evolution with science as one of their main tools. This provides these owlhoots with an emotional manipulation tool, since people do not want to be seen as "science deniers" when they reject minerals-to-misotheist evolution.

The propaganda is everywhere we turn, whether textbooks, television documentaries, entertainment... A scene in the 1977 movie High Anxiety has Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) giving a lecture and saying, "...that each patient is a supreme individual endowed with those qualities that distinguish the human being from the slime from which he emerged". Even Bugs Bunny used it when he was told to start at the beginning: "...in the beginning, there was no life. The earth was forming..." To appear intelligent and sciencey, add evolution. Just keep your eyes and ears open and you'll see what I mean.


People are handcuffed by evolutionary propaganda and indoctrination
Credit: Pixabay / ROOKIE23
Bible-believing Christians go to church on Sunday and sometimes midweek, read the Scriptures, talk to God, and so on. With the constant bombardment of secularism and evolutionism, how is someone supposed to hold to biblical truths about creation and theology? Let's face it, many Christians do not put much effort into meeting challenges, or nominal Christian parents do not provide sufficient information to their children, which contributes to their minds being enslaved by secularists.

Nathan van Ree professed to be a Christian, but significant areas of his life were lacking. The bombardment of Darwinism at the foundation of the faith helped accelerate his doubts, but strangely, he was not taken in by the hollow arguments of Sam Harris and his ilk. Nathan was not going to float downstream with the rest of the deadwood, and started investigating. Biblical creation science materials are rare in Christian bookstores, and mighty scarce in secular bookstores. (Fortunately, we have a wealth of material online and through special order.) Nathan was able to learn the truth. Children are not so fortunate, being in church for a couple of hours a week, but at the mercy of government-run indoctrination centers many hours a week for several years. We must be proactive!
Around the beginning of 2015 there was trouble looming in my life. I realised my desire to attend church was completely missing. Perhaps even worse, late in the evenings, discussions between me and my wife often arose about the whole issue of faith. It all seemed to boil down to the question of whether what we heard every Sunday was all true and was written in our Bibles. In fact, the problems started a few years earlier, partly because of a particular Bible translation in Dutch that we had started reading after dinner. It had never occurred to me so much before, but this new translation told things in a plain, understandable way and it hit me—entire peoples being slaughtered, that sort of thing. I couldn’t help feeling that what we were reading wasn’t right. Mind you, we hadn’t reached the New Testament yet. As we continued reading through the Bible, I would get angry occasionally, and pouring out my frustrations on my wife wasn’t, of course, very helpful.
To read the rest, click on "Breaking the shackles of evolutionary propaganda — One man’s testimony of ‘seeing the light’"