Thursday, May 31, 2018

From the Beginning of Time

A common sentiment in love songs and starry-eyed romantics is a promise to love someone "until the end of time". They are unknowingly admitting that time itself has a beginning. There is a related idea that God was bored, sitting there doing nothing since eternity past, so he decided it was time to commence doing some creating. This view erroneously assumes that time always existed. It is fair to ask where time itself came from.


The Bible gives insights on where time came from, when it began, and when it will end.
Credit: Unsplash / Tim Aterbury
It causes some amazement when people stop to consider that Genesis 1:1 describes time, matter, and space in one verse. All three are linked. Some secularists know this, and manufacture their own atheistic creation mythologies involving the Big Bang, the "inflation theory", evolution, and so forth. Only the biblical worldview makes sense of reality.

Further, God is outside the limits of those things he created, but he steps in when he sees fit. This is difficult for us to contemplate, because were are the created being and are constrained to space, time, and matter. The beginning of time is difficult to consider, and to strain the mind further, consider that time will also come to an end.
Questions about time often arise in discussions of Genesis and Earth’s age. Could billions of years have elapsed before the “in the beginning” of Genesis 1? When did time start? Science and Scripture suggest some answers.

As one of the seven fundamental quantities of physics, time is essential to our existence. It sets “the stage on which reality plays out.” It permits possibilities to become real and allows causes to produce effects. Over time, we observe matter change state or form. People grow, learn, and get to know one another and God. Because of time, we humans get the privilege of experiencing the present, remembering the past, and hoping for the future.
It's time for you to finish reading this article by clicking on "Time and Creation".



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ulrich Zwingli, Neglected Reformer

I suppose you thought that everyone was finished with material about the Reformation. We had the 500th anniversary of what is considered the beginning of the whole thing, where Martin Luther put out his 95 theses on what was the social media of his day. 

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli has been called the "Third Man of the Reformation"
Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli by Hans Asper, 1531 / Wikimedia Commons
The Reformation continued developing and theology was being refined. Newer Reformers appeared on the scene, and not all were in agreement. Sincere, thinking people will disagree (just like not all biblical creationists are in lockstep). Ulrich Zwingly is often tacked on as an afterthought to Christian history, which is unfortunate. He upheld the authority of Scripture and was in trouble for disputing Papal decrees. This was not just a dispute over religion, but was a threat to governmental authority at the time. One reason I delayed posting this was to make an emphasis about how Zwingly is neglected.
[S]trangely, one of the leaders of the Reformation, often called the “Third Man of the Reformation” (behind Luther and Calvin) is often omitted. That man was Ulrich Zwingli (sometimes spelled Huldrych Zwingli). Due to his death early in the Reformation, he seems to have been largely forgotten or relegated to passing mentions in books covering this time period. This is unfortunate, as Zwingli had (and still has) a profound effect on Protestant theology. The Reformers’ aim was to point people back to the authority of Scripture, to encourage the translation of the Bible in the common tongue of the people, and to reject any tradition or man-made teaching that contradicted Scripture. Zwingli was passionate for these principles.
To read the article in its entirety, click on "The Forgotten Reformer—Ulrich Zwingli".
 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

You Cannot Be Neutral

Neutral is useful for machines and a color palette, but for people, not so much.

You can be neutral about a variety of topics, but that kind of neutrality is often hitched up in the team with apathy and ignorance, among others. Will Manchester United win the next FA Cup? I neither know nor care, so I'm neutral. Do you have an opinion on my picture of the Catskill Mountains near the Ashokan Reservoir, or are you neutral. I'm neutral about your opinion.



When emotions are involved, it becomes more difficult to remain neutral. From there, we have matters of involving spirituality, origins, and so forth. Whether atheists and evolutionists believe it or not, they have faith-based positions just like Christians have.

When discussing God, the Bible, creation, evolution, and other things, unbelievers often say that they want to "leave God out of it" and to discuss on "neutral ground". Sorry, pilgrim, you cannot be neutral. As the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen said about people who want you to be neutral, "They're not, and you shouldn't be". This is not about evidence, as you can "one up" each other until the cows come home. Instead, it is a spiritual matter — something that secularists deny. Why do you think secularists defend evolution so much? It is their creation myth, which is foundational for atheism.

The neutral ground plea is actually getting you to admit that the Bible is not true about the heart of sinful man. We presuppose the Bible is true, and they want us to drop our presuppositions and deny Scripture, instead standing on their naturalistic presuppositions. Someone may demand that we "prove that God exists using evidential or scientific means", but God has already said that they know he exists (Romans 1:18-23). Also, to attempt such a proof, that the Creator, who is spirit and is not confined to space and time that he created, can be materially proven is a logical fallacy called the category error. Not going to do that, old son.

The unbeliever has a worldview through which he or she filters evidence, just like we have. But when you're talking, they are often telling themselves (or maybe telling you as well), "That's not true!" or even calling you a liar because they do not like what you say. They cannot logically refute it, and their worldview is threatened, so they get on the prod. Be firm, and do not compromise on your stand. An honest enquirer is more likely to respect you and be open to Scripture. For a more complete explanation, here is an article that makes some excellent points.
Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).

Those seeking to secularise society often claim that their position is the most reasonable because it is the only one that’s neutral—the only one that’s free from influences arising from religious beliefs. Prominent among these is Jonathan Miller, who rejects the label, ‘atheist’, describing himself simply as a ‘disbeliever’. This, of course, implies that he has no belief. How ridiculous! As someone who doesn’t believe in a creator, he must believe the alternative—that life arose by only natural processes. As someone who does not believe in God, he must believe that there is nobody to whom we are morally accountable. Presumably, as an ardent Darwinist, he also believes along with Richard Dawkins that we are no more than ‘survival mechanisms—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.
To finish reading, click on "The myth of neutrality". For something that is not easy but very enlightening, a 49-minute video of Dr. Greg Bahnsen, "The myth of neutrality". (I used a YouTube-to-MP3 online converting service so I could listen to it instead of watching.)



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Apostasy, Deconversion, and Atheism

There are people who have actively chosen to leave the Christian faith, using a pretense of intellectual and even moral superiority to those who do believe. Some professing atheists claim that they are "former Christians". These riders of the owlhoot trail exhibit little or no accurate knowledge of the Christian faith, however, and often attack Bible believers, even seeking to destroy us in the public square. Especially biblical creationists, as they need evolution in atheism.


Atheists, compromising Christians, and others rebel against God
Credit: Pixabay / Edward Lich
Although atheism is a blatant rebellion against God, another form of rebellion is to "deconvert" from orthodox beliefs. Michael Gungor used to believe in creation, then went on to theistic evolution, and went on record rejecting the inerrancy of the Bible. Singer Don Francisco came out rejecting inerrancy as well. Some pastors and teachers who held to the Bible's teaching on homosexuality jumped on the compromise wagon. Karl Giberson does not exhibit much knowledge of Christianity, and prefers to promote his religion of evolutionism. Andy Stanley is rebelling against Scripture, and seems to be getting worse. What I have seen in many cases is when people rebel against God, their compromises lead them to further apostasy.

Whether it is an atheist, theistic evolutionist, theological compromiser, or something else, it is frequent that these people who jumped the fence to run to their false freedom try to convert others to their way of thinking. Atheists flat-out seek to destroy the faith of Christians, and the others are more subtle, trying to "reason" with others to join them in their slide toward apostasy. Note that quite often, any of these types will play the victim card.

One that made news early in 2018 is Jen Hatmaker. She claims the moral high ground, and shreds Scripture while trying to gain converts to her viewpoint. Thanks to The Domain for Truth for the link to this article.
When it comes to reaching the “lost,” one of the most tried-and-true methods is the personal conversion story. Whether done privately or publicly, it’s compelling to hear about how someone came to believe in the truth of the gospel and the Bible. Such testimonies can personalize and soften the message so it is more easily understood and received.

But when it comes to reaching the “found,” there’s an equally effective method—and this is a method to which the evangelical church has paid little attention. It’s what we might call the de-conversion story.

De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians. And their purpose is to convince them that their outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent. A person simply shares his testimony of how he once thought like you did but have now seen the light.
To read the rest of this very interesting and informative article, click on "Jen Hatmaker and the Power of De-Conversion Stories". For a related article, you may also appreciate "Pain, Disappointment, and Apostasy".



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Logic and the Bible 2: Unbliblical Worldviews

In "Logic and the Bible", we saw that the three main laws of logic are impossible without God. That does not mean a requirement to believe in God's existence, or to be a believer in Jesus Christ is necessary for logic to work. However, it works because God exists, whether someone believes or not. Now we can saddle up for another part of our journey.


people will try to generate excuses to get around the necessity of God for logic to exist
Credit: Freeimages / Drew Pendleton
It seems like we should be able to file this under "Completed", but some folks will not be satisfied with what Dr. Lisle said before. Just as we see Darwin's disciples use rescuing devices even after deep time and evolution are shown to be insufficient, people try to get around the necessity of God for logic to exist.

We cannot assume laws of logic exist because of our experiences, because we may have faulty memories, be deluded, and the irrational assumption that logic will be the same in the future. There is also the claim that logic is a convention; that is, the laws exist because we agree on them. That doesn't work, because other people may come up with their own logic systems and expect them to be true, but that cannot happen. Someone else may say that laws of logic are simply the way the universe is, and there is no need for God the Creator. Since the universe keeps changing, there is no reason to expect the laws of logic to remain constant. 
We saw previously that the Bible can make sense of laws of logic and their properties, and that the three laws of thought are rooted in the nature of God.  However, non-biblical worldviews cannot make sense of laws of logic or their properties.  As one example, consider materialism: the belief that all things that exist are physical and extended in space.  It is quite obvious that materialism cannot make sense of abstract laws because abstract things are non-material, and the materialist does not allow for the existence of the non-material.  But really, any worldview that denies the Bible cannot make sense of the existence and properties of laws of logic.  Why should there be abstract laws that govern all correct reasoning?  Who decides what these laws are?  Why would such laws be universal, and invariant?  Even if a person were to presume that laws of logic existed and had all these properties, how could that person possibly know that laws of logic are such?  What are some possible ways in which the non-Christian might attempt to account for laws of logic?

My remarks are just an overview, but you can read Dr. Jason Lisle's more detailed explanations about those points and more. I'd be much obliged if you'd read the rest by clicking on "The Failure of Unbiblical Worldviews to Justify Laws of Logic".

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Deity of Jesus

Some people try to do away with the extremely important doctrine of the deity of Jesus. Some will give a simplistic reaction along the lines of, "He never said 'I am God'", somehow demanding that exact phrase in the Bible, and ignoring all the other evidence that Jesus did indeed claim deity. Other owlhoots such as cultists, atheists, and liberal theologians sidestep the truth for their own purposes.


Scripture clearly indicates that Jesus is God
Credit: Unsplash / Jacob Meyer
The idea that Jesus is not who he claims is an ancient heresy called Arianism, which was made by Arius in the 4th century. It has been around in various forms for all these years, and the most common example is evinced in the Jehovah's Witnesses. 

As C.S. Lewis pointed out in Mere Christianity, it is nonsensical to claim that Jesus was a "great moral teacher" while claiming to be God. Indeed, Christianity itself is worthless if Jesus is not God in the flesh, our Creator, who died for our sins and then bodily rose from the dead.

I have three items to present. The first is a rather lengthy article that gives conclusive evidence from the New Testament that Jesus is God. Second, a sermon by Phil Johnson that I found fascinating (and hope you will agree) that the Bible establishes the deity of Christ. He also makes some other historical references. Third, links to three sermons on the first chapter of John by Dr. Albert Mohler.  I hope you will bookmark or otherwise save this link or the ones below for future reference.

Here is the article:
I’ve heard many people, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses, say that the Bible does not teach that Jesus is God. In response to that claim, I took a deep dive into Scripture, particularly the New Testament, to see how much evidence there really is for the deity of Jesus. What I found was astounding. There is overwhelming evidence that the NT authors intended to present Jesus as God come in the flesh. In this “article,” I’m providing a resource for you to use next time someone challenges you on this issue.
I go through the books or sections of the New Testament noting different times that Jesus is revealed as God. Though this is not an exhaustive list, I have identified more than 120 verses or passages that express the divinity of Jesus in some way. Some of the verses taken by themselves are not absolute proof of his divinity, but when viewed along with the many other passages on the subject, they strengthen the case for the deity of Christ.
Jesus is either claiming to be God, accepting or demanding worship, claiming to possess attributes that only God can possess, claiming to do things that only God can do (and then doing miracles to prove it), or others are making these claims about Jesus.
To read the rest (get comfy, it's long but worth it), click on "The Divinity of Jesus Revealed in the New Testament".

Next is the sermon that I mentioned. It is called "Jesus is YHWH", and is free to listen online or you can download the MP3.

Finally, three sermons by Dr. Mohler, also free to listen online or download the MP3s:
John 1:1-3, then  John 1:3, finally John 1:4-8.