Thursday, July 27, 2017

Signs in the Heavens and Prophetic Significance

In one respect, this post will be outdated very quickly, as September 23, 2017 will come and go. However, the principles that are expressed in the articles linked below are applicable to other events as well as the excitement and confusion they will generate.


A blood moon is a common occurrence. A tetrad of them less so. Neither means the end of the world.
Credit: Pixabay / Ulrike Bohr
Although the Bible clearly tells us that no one can know the time of Christ's return, some folks like to commence to doing "date setting", and think they've figured out some special message or code. These consistently fail. Yes, Genesis 1:14 has the word "signs", but that is not a call to use the heavens for divination on Revelation instead of their real purpose: timekeeping. 

"But there's a tetrad of blood moons!"

Yes, the moon turns read during a lunar eclipse. Has to do with refraction. The four blood moons thing has happened before, too. Pass the cheese curls, willya?

"The sun will be in Virgo, the sun and some planets will be in it, and Virgo means Mary the mother of Jesus!"

That constellation has been known by many names, and there is no reason to believe it refers to Mary. The sun and planets go into that constellation all the time. Got any more spinach dip?

"Three planets in Leo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, makes the number of stars in it up to twelve!"

You may be unclear on the concept of a constellation, old son. It is based on our view from Earth, but there are many more stars out yonder than we see here. Stargazers picked out certain stars and "saw" Leo (an ornery cuss, and has no real association with Jesus), but had to ignore other visible stars. Yes, planets were considered "wandering stars" in days gone by, but to add three planets to bring the total of Leo's stars up to twelve is really reaching. Can I have a slice of that pizza?

"But there's an ancient gospel in the stars!" No, not really. That concept has been discredited. Trying to Christianize astrology is not a good idea. Stay away from divination and other occult practices, God hates that stuff. Do you have any antacid on hand? I ate too much of your food.

Stargazing is fun and educational. If you're in areas that frequently get cloudy, have difficulty in traveling, or something else, you can do a form of it on your computer. Here is some astronomy software, and I see that Stellarium and Celestia are freeware that get recommendations.
From time to time, sensational claims hit the media that the world will end, or the Rapture will come, because of some supposed coming event. Now CMI is not an end-times ministry, for reasons stated in End-times and Early-times, so what follows is not specific to any eschatological view. In general, one wonders what part of the following words of Jesus are so hard to understand:
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36 ESV).

But apparently these soi-disant prophets know better than Jesus, God the Son and the Incarnate Word (and see Hypostatic Union: Did Jesus know when he was coming back?). Added to that hubris is usually a basic ignorance of astronomy.
To finish reading, click on "Will the world end on 23 September? — How to think about doomsday scenarios", which has quite a few links for further reading. Also, you may want to see a similar article, "What Will Happen on September 23, 2017?" Just for fun, come back here and re-read this post after that date.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Genesis and the Fall of Man

Liberal theologians and compromising theistic evolution sidewinders (you can't get more liberal and compromising than an "evolutionary creationist") have bushwhacked Scripture for many years. They cannot tolerate the creation account in the first two chapters of Genesis, so they say that it was allegory or myth. But that's not enough for some folks, and they attack the doctrine of the Fall in the third chapter of Genesis.


Although Genesis 3 does not say words like guilt and sin, the clear teaching of those concepts is there.
Credit: Pixabay / Activedia
These compromisers are telling us that that the Fall was not in Genesis, but was added later on. One contention is that certain words were not in the third chapter, such as guilt and sin. Those words do not need to be there, since the concepts are clearly taught. Further, if you study on it, you'll see that original sin is affirmed elsewhere in Scripture, as are death and the Curse. They need death before sin so they can force in millions of years and evolution. That's eisegesis, old son, and does violence to a heap of doctrines — including the gospel message.
Critical scholars have long rejected Genesis 3 as an accurate account of actual events, such as the Creation and Fall of man. However, in the recent debate over the historical Adam, many professing evangelicals, and once-professing evangelicals, who have adopted the methods and conclusions of critical secular scholarship, have pointedly argued that the doctrine of the Fall, which teaches original sin, is not original to the text of Genesis 3. These scholars see the doctrine of the Fall and original sin as an invention the church Father Augustine of Hippo (354-430) read into the text. In the recent book Adam and the Genome, which rejects a historical Adam, theologian Scot McKnight argues:
You can read what Scot says and the rest of the article by clicking on "'In Adam’s Fall We Sinned All': Does Genesis 3 Teach the Fall of Man?
  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rapid Plant Growth in Creation Week

Seems like some professing Christians look for excuses to shove long ages into the plain reading of Scripture (like some atheists, who claim to reject it altogether), but the only way to get millions of years out of the Bible is to first put them into it through eisegesis. It's interesting that these same people claim to believe other miraculous things, especially the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but they get all het up about Genesis. Never could figure why they want to compromise on the Word of God, but I suspicion it's to look smart in the eyes of secularists.

Plants grow slowly now, does not mean they were slow in creation week
Credit: Freeimages / Viktors Kozers
I reckon that it's a fair question, though to wonder about plants can accelerate from zero to fruit in such a short time. Part of their confusion may occur from expecting that plant growth then should be like plant growth now. If you study on it, you'll realize that we're talking about creation week — the whole thing is a series of miracles in a context of literal days. To say that days mean long ages or that plants need a long time to grow so God doesn't mean what he clearly says is plenty inconsistent.
One critic of 24-hour creation days has argued, “if the author were thinking here of 24-hour periods of time, what he would have to be imagining would be something like time lapse photography where the little seed bursts out of the ground and then erupts into this tree, grows up and pops out blossoms all over and then bam! bam! bam! all the apples pop out on the tree. I just can’t persuade myself that this is what the author was thinking of—that he imagined this looking like a film being run on fast forward.”
That owlhoot was using the fallacy of the argument from incredulity, but we'll leave that alone right now. To read the entire article, plant yourself in front of "Foliage in fast forward — Why rapid plant growth during creation week poses no threat to the biblical timeframe".
  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Real Reasons to Care about the Environment

Many of us see and hear about caring for the environment, please recycle, do not litter, watch your water usage, and so on. Nowadays, it seems that most people have a semblance of concern for nature and the environment as a whole, but it wasn't so long ago that stupid and greedy people were forced to stop polluting through legislation and fines. Of course, there are those who have evolutionary and socialist viewpoints upon which they base their interest for the environment. Some are muy loco en la cabeza, seeing humans as a plague on Earth and want to see us killed off!

Tinker Falls New York a part of God's creation
Credit: Wikimedia Commons / javajoe6 / CC BY-SA 3.0
We can agree with evolutionists that this planet is all we have, and we'd best be taking care of it. But the motivation of Christians is mighty different. We are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27), and Earth was created to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). Earth was not created for us to act like polecats and trash the place. After all, it was not only created to remind us of our Creator (Romans 1:18-23), we have a job to do: we're stewards of creation. Go back to Genesis and see that God began with putting Adam in the Garden to work it (Genesis 2:15).
Before knowing Christ, my affections had revolved around earth’s beauty and her creatures. I held two views. First, I was biocentric. Because of my background in biology, I saw how all organisms were interrelated. . .

Second, I was also an ecocentrist. I focused on the interconnectedness of nature and how our survival depends on being in harmony with nature. . . I “knew” that, if nothing else, spaceship earth was all there was, and we must do all in our power to save her.

As my relationship with the Creator grew, I realized that my belief in the natural world as the source of all value was wrong and a form of idolatry. So I rejected both views.
You can read the entire narrative in context (or listen to the free audio version), and get some interesting information on creation care perspectives, by clicking on "Caring About Creation for the Right Reasons".
 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Christians and Big Lies

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This is one of those articles that I do not cotton to writing. Not only is it likely to cost me "followers", friends, and associates, but the whole thing is painful to deal with. Specifically, Christians behaving so badly that I don't want to be named among them.

Also, I'm going to leave names out of this, because I'm not calling people out for heresy, such as in 2 Tim. 4:14-15, 3 John 1:9-10, and elsewhere. It may come to that, because demonstrably false claims about brothers in Christ have been made, and sin needs to be exposed. Not sure that my doing so will be helpful, though. Christians who are in certain circles will know who I'm discussing, but I'd rather stick with principles at this point. Besides, when I spend many hours searching for web documentation that may or may not be available tomorrow, people tend to ignore the supporting links anyway.

Looks like I need to make up some names so we can keep things clear. Are you paying attention, Hoss? I'm making up names. That means if someone else has the same name I'm using here, it ain't him.

Christians are called to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:3), and there are large sections of the Bible that warn about false teachers and apostasy. Some folks don't seem to know about these things, and have an "everybody gets to Heaven anyway, so let's just get along" attitude. Those who do know about taking a stand for the faith often get on the prod and want to slap leather with people who disagree with them, whether over small things or serious matters of the faith. In their zeal and pride, they commence to misrepresenting and even lying about other Christians, then recruit others into their causes. Then people are shooting at anything that moves, and disaster ensues.


Christians against Christians leads to a lot of  pain
Smoke of a .45, Charles Marion Russell, 1908 / Wikimedia Commons
John Wheeler (first made up name) is an ordained minister, teacher, author, has an online ministry that includes live webcasts, debates with people of various persuasions, and more. Although I don't agree with everything he says, I respect him and have learned a great deal from him. Mr. Wheeler has a heart for Mohammedans, and wants to accurately learn about their beliefs for the purposes of not only debate, but especially for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Brian Hoffman is an author, has a daily radio program, believes in teaching biblical doctrine, emphasizes the moral law and true repentance, and uses his online organization as a way to help Christians understand the importance of a biblical worldview. He knows which end of a Bible is up.

Some of Hoffman's theology differs from Wheeler's (and vice versa, obviously), but neither party presents heretical views. I don't think they even have heterodox views, either. I've found warnings against both people online where they are called "deceivers" and need "repudiation". Unfortunately, this kind of thing comes from people who believe that their narrow view of Scripture is the correct view, and dissenters need a good slapping down. No grace, no tolerance, no kindness in nonessentials, but a passel of vituperation — often yoked with horrible misuse of the Bible.

I need to holler whoa for a moment. In apologetics, and especially in biblical creation apologetics, we emphasize critical thinking. That doesn't mean what some people may think: looking for reasons to think and speak negatively. Instead, it means to think rationally. We want people to be able to spot bad reasoning and catch on when they're being led down a primrose path to faulty conclusions. Christians must add the desire and ability to think biblically to their critical thinking skills.

We have two men with ministries and desire to do outreach, but have theological differences. It happens. Sincere believers disagree on some things. I think that in a discussion with each of these guys, they would enthusiastically agree with me on some things, and want to slap some "sense" into me on others. I'm still learning, and no human has all the answers, but there are people who think more highly of themselves and their worldview than is appropriate.

I've learned from John Wheeler something that I believe is very important, not just in apologetics, but in serious discussions as well. He believes in learning the opposing view so he can avoid misrepresenting it. (Watch or listen to some formal debates with atheists, who are constantly using logical fallacies against Christians and creationists. Especially misrepresentation. It's one of their favorites.) Christians need to be accurate when we address opposing viewpoints, whether in debates, discussions, articles, lectures, or whatever. If we're attacking a position that someone does not hold (and therefore, does not need to defend) or we are using logical fallacies, we are not being good ambassadors of Christ. Learning the opposing viewpoint is very important with detailed witnessing to people in cults and other religions. You don't have to be an expert on everything, and you can share the gospel and what the Bible clearly teaches. When you don't know someone else's view, admit it.

On the receiving end, I've been challenged to "debates" from atheistic evolutionists who constantly misrepresent what I say, what creationists teach, what the Bible says, and more. Lack of knowledge, lack of respect (I should add bullying and abuse as well) certainly do not motivate me to expend time and intellectual energy on people like that. If they want to ask something, that's different (1 Peter 3:15).

Time for a side trail. How did Jesus respond to sinners? He was friendly, treated them like people (Luke 19:10, Matt. 11:18-19), and did not quirt them into submission. Unbelievers are at enmity with God, but that does not justify our getting all uppity and treating them like horse apples. We were lost sinners as well, saved by the grace of God (Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8-9). How can we reach the lost by being as pleasant as a burlap bag full of rattlesnakes? It most certainly is not biblical!

Mr. Wheeler has had formal debates with Mohammedans, and has done so in a knowledgeable, respectful manner. He also had a dialogue, an informal conversation with a Mohammedan scholar. This was done in a church setting, but not as part of a worship service. (I believe a similar conversation happened in a mosque.) Some people were outraged, others were less bothered by the location. Phil Johnson, associate of Dr. John MacArthur and executive director of Grace to You, said that they do not use the worship area for unrelated activities is because "...the facility is dedicated to the proclamation of God’s Word and the corporate worship of God’s people . . . this is one of the ways we keep a sharp focus on what we as a church are most committed to". Personally, I think it can be used for debates and so on, but I respect Mr. Johnson's views.

Five or six months after Wheeler had these discussions, Mr. Hoffman and others who saddled up to ride with him began circulating some outlandish material that Wheeler was promoting Chrislam. That claim is false. Worse, Hoffman was posting a video clip that was incriminating Wheeler — but he edited out very important comments before and after the segment that he used! I have to be blunt: such manipulated information is lying. I'm not talking about the kind of "lying" that some people disingenuously redefine, where they are unwilling to distinguish disagreement from deception. No, this is definite deception going on.

Hoffman has his disciples who took his word for what happened, and refused to give Wheeler a fair hearing. If they did, they would see the deceptions perpetrated by Hoffman. Other people in various outfits circled the wagons and joined in the defamation of Wheeler — they, too, were being dishonest. The whole thing turned into a witch hunt (see "Season of the Witch Hunt" for similar topics). Hoffman did not give Wheeler a fair hearing or allow him a chance to discuss what had happened. (One "journalist" was questioned by John Wheeler as to why he did not investigate what Wheeler actually said, and was told that he did not need to, because Wheeler is wrong!) Some people went to Brian Hoffman's social media sites to correct him, but were banned.

This is where we lasso the critical thinking that I mentioned above. When presented with sensationalistic claims, it's best to do some investigation and find out the facts for yourself. Sometimes, it is easily done, but in cases like this one, podcasts must be heard and articles must be read; getting the accuser's version and blatantly rejecting additional information is irrational and dishonest. These folks need to read the verses about Christian love for the brethren, and also the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians would be helpful, too. Brian Hoffman should feel blessed that John Wheeler believes what the Bible says about suing other Christians, such as in the fourth chapter of 1 Corinthians.

If Mr. Wheeler was promoting heretical views, Mr. Hoffman should have been biblical about it and confronted him directly instead of going to the web. If a Christian is lying or actively practicing other sin, there are biblical directives for confronting him or her for the purpose of repentance. Wheeler is guilty of doing things that some people do not like, but there is no evidence of sin.

Mohammedans are the objects of fear, hate, and suspicion. What Mr. Wheeler was pointing out is that there are different varieties of Islam. After all, not all Christians are the same, you savvy? I'll allow that Mohammedans are not helping themselves. Not all interpret the Koran in the same way, not all want Sharia law imposed on Western nations, and not all approve of terrorism. But we are not seeing moderates protesting the actions of the radicals (which may be out of fear of reprisals). While many hate us and want us exterminated or to be submitting to dhimmitude, not all share those beliefs. Some want to have honest discussions and learn. All need Jesus.

Now a personal question for people who know the participants in this dispute even though I used made-up names; how are you going to react to Brian Hoffman's deceptions and misplaced zeal? Another question: are you going to disassociate with, or even hate, those of us who are trying to educate you? Writing this article has not been a pleasant experience, and negative (unchristian) reactions from professing Christians would not surprise me.