Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday Resource - Refuting Compromise (Video)

Although it is just over an hour, this video is well worth your time. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati shows how proponents of an old Earth are using the same atheistic interpretations of scientific facts. Worse, he shows how compromisers like Hugh Ross and BioLogos are on terrible theological ground. The real question is about biblical authority versus man's opinions. Let him explain. NOTE: Skip ahead to the seven minute mark to where he actually begins talking.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Reinterpretation and Other Old-Earth Compromise Efforts

It constantly baffles me why some Christians insist that the Bible does not mean what it says back in Genesis. Some blatant compromisers like Hugh Ross and BioLogos can be seen as dangerous to the gospel. It is disheartening when a respected philosopher like William Lane Craig actually mocks biblical creationists. When people I respect, like Greg Koukl of "Stand to Reason", keep making efforts to say that Genesis does not mean what it says (as he did in his radio show on September 2, 2012, at about the 1 hour 10 minute mark), it is discouraging. Especially when I know that Koukl has a great deal of worthwhile material!

As I have said before, we are sending people a mixed message:

The Bible is true, and contains what we need for salvation and a godly life, it means what it says. You don't need to be told what to think, have a "Watchtower" magazine or Book of Mormon. Except for the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Then, we have to go with the current trends of modern science philosophies; do not go with the plain reading of the text, nononono!

But many of us do believe what the Bible says. We do not need the ever-changing whims of science philosophies to tell us what it means. Why the compromise? Why the insistence on eisegesis, forcing "deep time" into the Bible? What is the purpose of using atheistic interpretations of scientific data? If people want to let "science" tell us what we should believe, why stop at Genesis? "Science" also says that water is not turned into wine, virgins do not conceive a child from the Holy Spirit, men do not rise from the dead... Compromise begets more compromise.

Here is an article about theological tap-dancing and reinterpretations of the text that old-Earth people commit.
Since the rise of uniformitarian geology in about 1800, many in the church have capitulated to this new ‘science’. Thus they have rejected the traditional plain historical-grammatical interpretation of the creation and Flood accounts. They routinely resort to erroneous reasoning to support their compromising reinterpretation. Following are discussions of the three most common errors committed.
I urge you to read the rest of "Common errors made by deniers of a young Earth", here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Do Christians Deny Genesis?

It seems that most people simply believe in "deep time" and use current science philosophy trends to interpret the Bible. As I have said before, I believe that many people have simply not bothered to examine their theology, and see that their opinions are actually doing violence to the rest of Scripture. Others are actively compromising and denying the authority of God's Word.

What causes people to accept what "science" says, and to interpret the Bible according to secular belief systems? Here is an article that has some good answers.
Evangelicals believe that the Bible is the word of God, but most of them (in the Western world outside the USA, at least) do not believe that God created the universe in six literal days about six thousand years ago. Furthermore, they say that those who do believe it are interpreting the Bible wrongly. Why? Are they right? And why do so many of them say it? Also, why are so many resistant to even considering this matter? This opens up a huge area of discussion, and this brief foray does not intend to be comprehensive. Also, I write it in the knowledge that many ‘old-earth’ Christians are very sincere in their belief and commitment to the Gospel.
First, my own experience. Although I never believed in macro-evolution, for many years I was convinced that the ‘millions of years’ were a proven fact of science. I was aware that if this were true, it would mean that God’s method of creation involved millions of years of death, disease, violence, suffering and waste. I was uneasy about this, but the evidence for a billions-of-years-old universe seemed incontrovertible. However, I kept searching for the truth and the light finally dawned when I came to realise that the millions-of-years scenario is by no means a proven fact of science and is totally incompatible with the Bible. In fact, the scientific evidence supports the literal understanding of Genesis 1–11. The turning point, for me, was when I read Refuting Compromise.
You can read the rest of "Evangelicals and Biblical Creation", here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ashamed of Christians

Servants, be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ; not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is bound or free.
Ephesians 6.5-8, World English Bible

I've got nothing against God,
it's his fan club I can't stand.
— Unbelievers' slogan

This is not an easy article to write. Here I am on vacation, the place to myself, and I'm running all over chasing after shiny things instead of actually writing it. Then I had to walk away to think and pray. Once you read it, you will see why I had difficulties. Although I do not set out to irritate people on this Weblog, I am certain that people on both sides of the chasm will be annoyed.

In previous posts, I have taken Christians to task over several things (and tried to encourage people to get into the Word and live according to God's purposes in our lives).  The verses at the top are somewhat out of context. In modern usage, they illustrate a principle for employees to realize that their ultimate employer is God and to work to please him most of all. I believe that this principle is valid for all we do as followers of Jesus, that we should strive to do our best in all things.

If we are going to identify ourselves as followers of Christ, we must live and act like it (Rom. 15.5-6, Rom. 12.1-2, 1 John 1.5-6, 1 Peter 2.12 NIV, James 3.13). Our conduct, as well as our words, are supposed to be part of our testimony to the lost (1 Peter 3.15-16 NASB). Those of us who take the Bible seriously enough to share the gospel have enough difficulties already from getting tongue-tied, having interruptions and distractions, trying to make the most of our opportunities, people finding excuses to disbelieve and more. We do not need liberal church-ians ("Christians" who use church-going as a religious social club and a "Get Out of Hell Free Card") making things more difficult with their attitudes and conduct! Nor can we have Bible-believing Christians giving in to their weaknesses (Gal. 5.16-21), either.

Listen, everyone is going to have bad days and foul up. I get that. I do that. We need to repent of our conduct and attitudes, and not make excuses for them. Worse, we cannot make a lifestyle of such things. If we do that, what good are we to God?

I came across some comments, and obtained permission to use them here (without identification). The first commenter said:
So, I really don't like the "Church Crowd." (The people that go out for food and such right after church.) We were at [an area restaurant] yesterday (awesome) and it was just filled with all of these well-dressed Sunday types. OK, that's cool, just waited in line.
But then, all of them one after another just kept treating the staff like crap because their food was taking longer than usual (busy day, duh!) and just kept downtalking them and whispering to one another basically agreeing that everyone other than them were a lesser being. Basically they all just go from being all fake-nice at church, and then immediately show who they really are once outside the doors. So thank you for validating one of the main reasons I don't go to church in the first place. (The other one being that MOST-not all- people there are always so conceited and full of the "I'm better than you" attitude. That's the stuff.)
Here is a reply:
Having worked in food service for [many] years, I appreciate your observations. I hate working Sunday mornings for the same and have formulated my own theory on this Sunday behavior.

People will go about their whole week being cordial towards one another unless otherwise provoked. When church day comes, they come to their lord with apologetic hearts and minds to be degraded by their pastor for being sinners. They endure this mass humiliation for nearly 2 hours, having become convinced that they are scum, leave their church to take this new self-loathing out on the serving public (who did not go to their god for apology) to feel better about being sinners now that they can live up to the title.
I, too, have been in food service. One of the ugliest things to see is someone who is not getting the food that they want when they want it, "church-goer" or not. But there is a problem here when church people as a whole can bring shame on Christians (and, ultimately, the name of Christ) because of selfishness and bad conduct. All of us can use improvement (1 John 1.9).

My regular readers know that I spend quite a bit of time dealing with logical responses and the lack thereof from unbelievers. These readers also know that I am well aware that we cannot live our lives being analytical all the time and stifling our emotions. We are human, after all.

But we can have some control over our emotions and learn some clear thinking practices. That is one reason I wrote the "Logic Lessons" series. Since I use real examples for those lessons, there are some things I would like to point out in the above dialogue.

First, there was an assumption that this was a "church crowd". This is based on the time of day and their clothing. Although it is a reasonable assumption, it is not conclusive. From the information given, they could have been on lunch break from a convention at a hotel down the road. Still, I will assume the original assumption is probably correct.

Second, "Basically they all just go from being all fake-nice at church, and then immediately show who they really are once outside the doors." Let's see...abusive ad hominem, hasty generalization, appeal to motive, maybe a bit of poisoning the well fallacies. These kinds of things seem most likely to occur from an emotional response.

Third, "So thank you for validating one of the main reasons I don't go to church in the first place. (The other one being that MOST-not all- people there are always so conceited and full of the "I'm better than you" attitude. That's the stuff.)" More of the same. I could give the same approach and say about a rock concert, "Rampant promiscuous sex, un-American values, use of illegal drugs — thank you rock and rollers for validating one of the main reasons I quit listening to rock in the first place." See, this kind of thing is emotional, not substantive. And I wonder about "all of them" being rude.

I have some serious issues with the respondent's comments that followed.

"Having worked in food service for [many] years, I appreciate your observations. I hate working Sunday mornings for the same..."

S/he is speaking from experience, no quarrels there.

"People will go about their whole week being cordial towards one another unless otherwise provoked. When church day comes, they come to their lord with apologetic hearts and minds to be degraded by their pastor for being sinners. They endure this mass humiliation for nearly 2 hours, having become convinced that they are scum, leave their church to take this new self-loathing out on the serving public (who did not go to their god for apology) to feel better about being sinners now that they can live up to the title."

In logic, this is known as a prejudicial conjecture. According to Dr. Jason Lisle,
This is where a person substitutes an arbitrary conjecture for knowledge. He has failed to study the topic in question, and so he simply begins stating guesses based on nothing more than imagination. A prejudicial conjecture is not making a reasonable guess based on the best information available; this is perfectly acceptable. A prejudicial conjecture is where the information in question is publicly available, but the person has failed to do his homework. If he would have simply gone to a public library and done 30 minutes of research, he would know better than to make such an uneducated claim.
In my apologetics work, I encounter this kind of thing frequently. People make arbitrary statements as if they were fact, but if they had "done their homework", they would not make such statements. In addition, it has a straw man argument, hasty generalization, abusive ad hominem and appeal to motive.

(By the way, I have been on this planet for quite a while, and do not know of such places that treat their members with such emotional abuse. Any pastor to acted that way would have an empty church. The problem is quite the opposite, there is too much "feel good now" stuff and not enough respect for the Creator of the universe.)

Again, it is unreasonable to expect people to be analytical all the time. Whether they have a reasonable basis for what they feel, they still feel it. In my experience and learning, people feed their feelings over a long period of time. If you are in a face-to-face conversation with someone who is describing their bitterness, it is not a good idea to list their logical fallacies; this write-up is for your edification and is not a prescriptive method.

Instead, we can take a questioning approach. Questions like, "What do you mean by that?", "How did you reach that conclusion?","Why do you feel that way?" and similar questions. (Asking an avowed atheist, "Why is it wrong for Christians to act in a way you don't like actually wrong in your worldview?" is for advanced students!)

While I was writing this article, I was subjected to a personal attack on Facebook. Again. It is arrogant, condescending, has a disingenuous pretense of nobility, is full of fallacies (a later comment even took a victim approach) and other efforts to provoke and waste time. This is his opening comment. I'll let you figure out the fallacies:
You held true to form doing what almost every religious adherent does who runs these pages. If something is too threatening or you cannot adequate support your position, the pattern is usually throw a fit, then block and pretend like it never happened.

I expect you are young (at least you seem to be by your responses). I only hope that one day you mature enough to be able to reflect upon why you would have such a visceral response to such things. Also, I would hope you one day will be able to admit when you are wrong and actually LEARN from debates. That, to be honest, is the only benefit to such discussions. Otherwise, people only spin their wheels and leave with a deluded sense of victory. Anyway, best wishes and good luck on your journey.

People like this are motivated by hate and pride, and I do not waste much time on them (Matt. 7.6). Their minds are made up. By the way, this troll was been reported to Facebook and blocked. After I took a screenshot.

It is the other people, the ones who had the dialogue that was analyzed, that bother me. Like I keep saying, whether it is "reasonable" or not, they have these feelings. They can be pain, anger, resentment and other things — or a mixture. In fact, there is a wall that they have constructed. We can try to get through that wall through discussion, prayer and a reasonable defense of the gospel (ἀπολογία).

But it is much, much more difficult to do when Christians act like jerks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is Genesis to be Taken "Literally"?

One of the reflexive responses of compromisers regarding Genesis is, "You can't take it literally". To me, that says, "I reject anything that indicates a creation week of 24-hour days, a young Earth and a Noachian flood, because I add millions of years and interpret the Bible through "nature", which is the 67th book of the Bible."

That is a very bad idea:

But...what does it mean to take Genesis "literally"? I tend to cringe when people say that, because misotheists will find all sorts of strange things to take out of context and then accuse Christians of believing "that" (which is not only a transparent attempt at manipulation through ridicule, but a straw man fallacy). No, I take a rational approach. Most of us Biblical creationists do, in fact.
Creationists are often accused of believing that the whole Bible should be taken literally. This is not so! Rather, the key to a correct understanding of any part of the Bible is to ascertain the intention of the author of the portion or book under discussion. This is not as difficult as it may seem, as the Bible obviously contains:
No, I'm going to make you finish reading this excellent article called "Should Genesis Be Taken Literally?", here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Apologetics, Evangelism, Motive and Regard for Scriptures

As I have said many times here, when we engage in apologetics, we need to be well-grounded in the Word and good instruction, as well as walking in the Spirit (Eph. 5.18), using the armor of God (Eph. 6.11-19). We must be proclaiming the gospel with boldness (Eph. 6.19, Acts 13.46, Phil. 1.14). Prayer is essential to our task as well as our daily lives (Eph. 6.18, Jude 1.20, 1 Thess. 5.17). If we attempt to engage in apologetics without having a real Christian walk, we are asking for trouble.

Further, people who do not really believe the Bible simply undermine the gospel, and the efforts of apologists who do believe the Bible is God's Word; a "high view" of Scripture is essential. When compromisers say that the Bible needs to be interpreted by adding current man-made science philosophies, that it is only for "spiritual truth", adding views that are either unscriptural or anti-scriptural, saying that the Bible is not reliable — they need to examine themselves and see if they are actually saved.

What is our motive for apologetics? We must be brutally honest with ourselves before God. Some people share the gospel with joy, remembering that they were lost sinners and are now saved by grace through faith, and want to see others receive the gift of salvation. There are people who are reluctant, and do this because of Christian duty. Some do nothing, and are possibly not actually saved themselves, or uncaring about the eternal destination of others (or not believing that Hell is waiting for them).

"Is that all of the motives people have, Cowboy Bob?"

By no means. There is a certain possibility that I want to discuss because it is very important — and very unpleasant.

Are we doing apologetics to impress others with how intelligent we can be and to win arguments? To be blunt, such motives stink. We are to be sharing the gospel with the lost and seeking to glorify God, not glorify our egos. Witnessing is done through the power of God, not through our own cleverness of speech and intellect.

To take this further, people who want to "win" often have a tendency to argue on "neutral ground", leaving behind their belief that the Bible is true. Dr. Jason Lisle pointed out that there has to be an ultimate standard by which we evaluate data. If the so-called "neutral ground" is used to judge the ultimate standard, then it becomes the ultimate standard!

Some readers may see that I am leaning toward what is called "presuppositional apologetics". Some clarification is in order. I have heard evidential apologists demean and even ridicule presuppositional apologetics. Some of them are simply locked in with evidentialism, others do not have a proper understanding of presuppositionalism. One annoying assumption on the part of some evidentialists is that presuppositionalists never use evidence. Not true. Also, evidentialists do have presuppositions.

To be direct, I am struggling with a proper understanding of it myself! There are some presuppositional apologists who are overbearing and confusing. (Unfortunately, I believe some of them have a problems with pride, just like some evidential apologists). To make matters worse, there is no single "school". My own approach is a mix. I use evidence, but refuse to go to "neutral ground" or leave the Bible behind.

There is an article that is making an impact on me (present-tense, because I am going through it again), and would like to recommend that people give it a serious examination. Also, I recommend Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle. He gives what I consider an excellent explanation of presuppositional apologetics. (It's quite readable. And he uses evidence.) So, the article that I am strongly recommending that you read is "Evangelism and Apologetics".

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Theological Physics, Compromise and Homosexual Marriage

If we are going to be effective soldiers for Jesus, we have to be firm on the basics: Get into the Word, spend time in prayer, fellowship with other believers and get good teaching. If you are not doing these things on a regular basis, you have no business getting in Satan's face — you'll be shredded. But if you are doing those, then add your spiritual combat gear (Ephesians 6.10-18) and apologetics training books, videos, lectures, audios or whatever. And remember, the whole thing is not only about being strong in the Lord and growing in faith ourselves, but to be able to present the gospel. You do care that people are dying without Christ and spending eternity in Hell, yes?

The first part of the basics, getting into the Word, is vital.

Do you believe the Word of God? Or is the Bible something that you do not consider all that important? If that is the case, I urge you to check yourself and see if you are truly saved. You cannot expect to be an effective witness if you do not believe the Bible.

When it comes to peripheral matters, there is room for variation, accommodation and disagreement. Unfortunately, too many Christians have sold out their convications at the foundation of the foundation, which is Genesis. Christians made concessions by saying that Genesis is not historical, but allegorical and get bad theology, such as:
  • Theistic evolution. God used evolution to create man, but this trade-off creates more theological difficulties than it solves (Mark 10.6-8, 1 Cor. 15.45)
  • The "Gap Theory", where there are millions or billions of years between the first two verses of the Bible.
  • "Progressive Creation", where God stepped in ever few million years and made adjustments.
  • Local Flood. (Compromiser Hugh Ross says that Noah's Flood was "worldwide, but not global", an amazing bit of semantic tap dancing.) This raises some serious difficulties in dealing with other verses in the New Testament (2 Peter 3.5-7, Luke 17.26-27).
  • Further accommodations because the foundation has been negated.
I have said before that when we are weak regarding Genesis, then it leads to a domino effect of further compromise, all the way through the Bible. But I learned that dominoes can knock over bigger dominoes than themselves, transferring energy. In a kind of theological physics, the transfer is not of kinetic and potential energies, but of spiritual power. When we gave way on the essentials back in Genesis, the chain reaction gets bigger and bigger, and we can become willing to cop out on pretty much anything.

Think compromising (this Dutch piece is about 1 min. 38 sec.):

It turns out that big things happen, and God's people are sitting there slack-jawed, wondering what happened and hoping that maybe somehow God will swoop down and fix things that they should have handled from the beginning.

Here is the latest big issue with which we are confronted.

Suddenly, a small minority of homosexuals is gaining political power. Atheists, political leftists and others who hate God's Word and his servants are using this "issue" against us. Suddenly, we are expected to say that "gay is okay", and waive not only our convictions, but redefine marriage itself as it has lasted for thousands of years. Here is an excellent article on how compromise on Genesis has led to Christians being taken by surprise and pretty well overpowered by worldly forces when it comes to so-called "gay marriage".

Globally, there is a debate about what marriage is, and whether we should, or even can, redefine it to include unions between two men, or between two women. Many make this into a civil rights issue, saying that to deny the right to marry to two people who love each other is deeply and fundamentally unjust. To complicate matters, many people have friends and family who identify as homosexual, so this becomes a personal issue for a significant portion of the population. Even more complex is the existence of church leaders supporting gay marriage, even professing evangelical ones.
I hope you will finish reading "Gay ‘marriage’ and the consistent outcome of Genesis compromise", here.