Saturday, May 28, 2016

How Should We Interpret Genesis?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

The first eleven chapters of Genesis are the most attacked section of the Bible (and with increasing intensity nowadays), and were understood to be actual history by most Christians throughout church history, until Christians began ceding science to secularists about 150 years ago. There's a good reason for understanding Genesis as written, since Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others referred to Genesis as literal history as well. Still, riders on the Old Earth Owlhoot Trail want to force in millions of years by way of the latest trends in man-made science philosophies, and tell God what he said and meant instead of taking the natural reading of Genesis. Naturally, atheists support them.

Compromisers and outright Bible-deniers are using misleading, loaded terminology to poison the well against those of us who actually believe that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are not poetic or allegorical. So, how should be interpret them?
The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, Benjamin West, 1791
One area of compromise came from Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers in 1814, who proposed a gap of long ages between the first two verses of Genesis, but the "Gap Theory" simply does not work. Others will try to spiritualize the early chapters of Genesis, referring to it as poetry (even though it doesn't read like Hebrew poetry), or say that they contain spiritual truth. How can you have spiritual truth from something that is false, including the order of the days of creation as compared to evolution?

For that matter, most Christians have understood the days of creation to be actual days, and not long ages. Some will do an "Aha! Gotcha!" approach when saying that the word used for day, yom, יוֹם, can possibly mean something other than an actual day, it can mean an age. Actually, that's not true. There are "qualifiers": evening, morning, and a number. That means day, old son. If God wanted to impress on us long periods of time, there are other (better) Hebrew words that could have been used (such as olam, עוֹלָם, instead of people reading into the text (Prov. 30:5-6). Not good enough, you still want to compromise? A section of Exodus kind of nails it down, doesn't it?

By the way, ask a compromiser what is there in the book of Genesis that somehow looks or reads differently after the eleventh chapter. Why are chapters twelve through fifty historical, but the first chapters are not, according to their view? Where did the textual style change? 

Theistic Evolutionists, disciples of Hugh Ross, and others like to ridicule those of us who believe that the Bible means what it says. One way of doing this is through loaded terminology and redefining words; we are "literalistic". Well, when something is written with the intention of being taken literally, people take it literally, don't they? Unfortunately, since there are so many negative connotations from compromising tinhorns who misuse the word literal that biblical creationists need to clarify: we use historical-grammatical exegesis. Although some people don't cotton to those expensive words, they're needed to make things more specific.

When one starts with faulty theology at the beginning, it has a domino effect throughout Scripture. Here is the first of two videos that I'm going to present without embedding (since embedding slows down the page loading time). The video is "A World of Compromised Faith", and it runs about half an hour. (It's actually audio in a video format, so if you use one of the free online YouTube-to-MP3 converters or other software, you can grab it and listen to it at your convenience.) The source is an episode of Chris Rosebrough's "Fighting for the Faith", and I excerpted the pertinent section. Scott McKenna of Edinburg's Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church gave some fine examples of intellectualizing and spiritualizing Genesis, Pentecost, and the Bible in general in "Pentecost: A World of Faiths". Such heresy shouldn't be surprising from someone who puts in quotes from Schopenhauer and H.G. Wells in the "What We Believe" section!

The second video is an actual video (not just "audio in video format" like the one I did above). It is "How Should the Bible be Interpreted?" from Creation Today, runs about half an hour.

Here are some resources and supporting documents for your edification:
I suggest — request — that you save (and share) this article to help edify and encourage Bible believers who are dealing with compromisers who want to slap leather with them. The truth is on our side, and we don't need to be intimidated.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Renunciation by Association

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article is another appeal to clear thinking and discernment among Christians. I get to doing that on occasion, you see. There's a fallacy of guilt by association where a person receives condemnation because of who they run with or what they believe in. Sometimes it results in a witch hunt mentality, possibly utilizing the ancient proverb, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". (Although attributed to Arabs, it's actually traced back to Hindu writings of Arthashastra.) Such a concept can be very detrimental for Christians.

Should Christians dislike other Christians because one likes a teacher that the other one dislikes? Let's cut each other some slack, Jack!

It's bothersome enough to upset someone you love because you give a warning about false doctrine or other dangerous territory in spiritual subjects. On a related matter, it hurts when someone will get a burr under his saddle against some teacher or writer, and then get irritated at you because you like a person that they dislike.

Now, hold off on drawing that shootin' iron and let me explain. There are people who are fans of heretics like Rob Bell, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston, and so on, and I don't cotton to associating with them. If an associate of mine wants to friend up a supporter of heretics and I stop associating with him or her, I may be doing the guilt by association thing. On the other hand, that person may be doing a form of missionary work on the heretic supporter.

There are people who are theologically sound. Sure, there will be disagreements on side issues, that's not the point. (This is getting more difficult to explain than I thought.) I'll put myself in the middle of this. Suppose I promote something I think is really great by Pastor Whatzit. But my friend Jedediah can't stand Pastor Whatzit because that pastor trounced Hezekiah Howzit in a debate, and Jedediah really likes Howzit. (Are you with me so far?) So, because I posted something by someone Jedediah dislikes, then Jedediah does a kind of guilt by association thing on an emotional level and dislikes me as well. I don't cotton to being disliked because I like something or someone, especially when both Whatzit and Howzit are brothers in Christ but have differing views.

There are Pages on Facebook that post things I don't like, but they are generally on solid theological ground. (Others are off the rails, and good material from them is a rarity, so I distance myself.) Similarly, I don't agree with everything that every creationist posts, whether scientifically or theologically, but there's no reason to reject an entire ministry.

Now, if I'm promoting heresy, it may very well be right and proper to drop me on the trail and ride on. Before doing that, a Christian should pray for me and approach me about it. But if I say that I've renounced orthodox Christian teachings in favor of Petey Pelagian's views and won't repent, move on. Otherwise, cut me some slack, Jack! I'd be much obliged if you'd grant people the courtesy of being wrong on occasion.

There are time when someone will read something they disagree with (or by someone they don't care for), and then realize that there was something worthwhile there after all. I've come around to a different way of thinking on some things, and known of others who have done the same. It may not be right away, but it can happen.

Looks like my main point is that Christians cannot divide over personal preferences, emotional reactions, and maybe traditions. Things can be overlooked, others need to be prayed about and maybe even discussed before stopping an association.

I've really struggled with the wording on this, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Get Your Armor On!

There are many people who claim the name of Christ, fill their minds with garbage from enemies of God (that is, the world, James 4:4), then wonder why their Christian life is a shambles. I've seen social media profiles of people who call themselves Christians, and mayhaps have a religious movie or two in their profiles, say they like the Bible, and have a passel of entertainment sources listed that proclaim things in direct opposition to God's Word! Scripturally illiterate Christians have weak or nonexistent spiritual walks, and are actually a hindrance in proclaiming the gospel and defending the faith.

Too many Christians are unaware that we're in a spiritual war, and are woefully unequipped. Here is a series of messages that will help you deal with it in a biblical manner.
Roman soldier image credit: openclipart
What people don't realize is that we're in the middle of a war. You're either God's property or Satan's property, there's no middle ground.  1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us that Satan is on the prowl. People who are compromisers, don't know their doctrines, are unwilling to take a stand for the truth — they're safe (until they have to give an account to Jesus). Christians, we need to be aware of the battle and learn how to use our armor.

Much as I'd like to have on my cowboy boots, grab a six gun and a Big Fifty rifle, even if I saw a spirit (unlikely) and let fly with some hot lead, it wouldn't pay that no nevermind. This is a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:12). That doesn't mean some kind of "I bind the spirit oppressing the Arizona Territory in the name of Jesus". Are you trying that hokum? I've got some bad news for you, Sunshine, that stuff isn't in the Bible! No, if you want to be effective in God's army, you have to do things God's way. He's equipped us (Eph. 6:13-17).

I highly recommend that you spend some time on this series. It's not some fluff that you can breeze through in a few minutes, either. But this sermon series is worth it, you can spread out the messages so you don't have to pressure yourselves to get through them in a hurry. Each title can be read, downloaded or heard online. To get them, click on "The Believer's Armor".

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Literacy in Bible Times Confirmed

Hand me a pottery shard, I have to leave a note for my wife...much obliged.

If someone gets a notion to slap leather with a Christian about evidence for the Bible, he'd better not be grabbing archaeology to use as his shootin' iron. Archaeology has been supportive of the Bible. (Why not? It's God's Word, after all.) Some tinhorns will use arguments from silence using archaeology (something mentioned 4,000 years ago hasn't been found, so the Bible is false), but that shows desperation as well as ignorance of logic.

Using "ancient humans were not evolved enough to be intelligent enough to write" presuppositions, people have claimed the Bible was not written by the authors we associate with the texts. This has been steadily shown to be false, and recent archaeological evidence affirms the Bible. Again.
Dead Sea image credit: Freeimages / phunphoto
It has been claimed that people in the Bible could not have written because they were not literate. How do they know that? They don't. It's an assumption based on presuppositions, and those ultimately come from evolutionary assumptions. That is, ancient humans were stupid and hadn't evolved enough yet, and we're the most intelekshul specimens of humanity, us today being them. Wrong.

Evidence has been mounting to refute their faulty assumptions, and there is some big news: pottery shards. Those things were examined, and they were used as written communication. Further, they show that people in the Old Testament times had widespread literacy, not just a few elite folks here and there.
Analysis of 16 texts written on pottery shards confirm that ordinary people were literate in Old Testament times.

The Bible is not often mentioned in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A paper by scholars including Israel Finkelstein (advocate of a late chronology) concludes that ordinary soldiers at a remote desert outpost called Arad were literate. By doing handwriting analysis of inscriptions on 16 pottery shards, they deduced that six different individuals, each of which knew how to write and spell correctly. Rachel Pells writes in The Independent:
To read what Rachel wrote, click on "Arad Texts Confirm Widespread Literacy in Judah". And, you may want to check out "Archaeologists buttress early dating of OT books".


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Creator in the Psalms

Some people try to pass off Genesis as some sort of poetic imagery or allegory of creation, but if you study on it a spell, you'll see that such a claim doesn't hold water. For one thing, take a look at what Jesus believed about Genesis, as well as the other writers through the Bible who referred to Genesis as history.

Genesis is written as history, not allegory or poetry. However, poetic sections of Scripture help us gain a fuller understanding of Creation in the Bible.
King David Playing the Harp, Gerrit van Honthorst, 1611
However, we do find poetry about creation outside of the early chapters of Genesis, and they have some mighty powerful and interesting messages for us. Here is a series of three articles by Lita Cosner of Creation Ministries International:
Also, Dr. Ben Scripture has been doing an intermittent series of "Scripture on the Creator". These are about fifteen minutes each. To listen, click on this link, and then the "Launch Sermon Player" link so you can scroll up and down to select the messages.

We need to gain a proper understanding of God's work in creation, but also appreciate its significance in Scripture, and to uphold the authority of God's Word.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Strength in Suffering

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

In another article, I discussed how some people will turn their backs on God because of disappointment in their lives, whether trivial, expecting God to be a cosmic wish-granting genie, bringing problems upon themselves and then blaming God, or from serious hardships. Some find excuses to suppress the truth of God, preferring their own sin and pride to submission to their Creator. There are others who seek God in the midst of their hardships and remain faithful. See "Pain, Disappointment, and Apostasy".

There are people who blame God for their problems that are real, trivial, or brought upon themselves. Others, such as "June", praise God in the midst of suffering and remain faithful.
Image credit: Pixabay /jill111
Paul the apostle had hardships (for example, see 2 Cor. 11:16-33, Acts 4:19-20), and you'd think that if he was relying on his own strength, he'd be quite willing to say, "Too much! I'm taking the next stage outta Dodge!" In Second Corinthians, he wrote, "By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively. Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong." (12:7-10, World English Bible).

Recently, I was communicating with a woman I'll call June. Aside from a bit of editing, I'll let you tell her story:
I am just over 34. I like animals; dogs, cats, horses, giraffe, things like that. Yellow is my favorite color with dark green as a second and light purple as a third. I love music maybe one day I will learn the piano and harp.  
Now that the simple is done on to more important things.

I became a believer at 9. I was born with several medical problems, lack of medical knowledge did not give a good prognosis then. I have CHARGE syndrome which is an acronymn that is impossible to remember, essentially it involves the eyes, ears, and digestive track as well as heart and lungs. I have bilateral coloboma in my eyes and am legally blind so cannot drive, reading can be tricky best not to have all caps, bizarre colors or overly small fonts. My left ear is deaf. I also have several autoimmune disorders Lupus, Sjogren's syndrome, arthritis, anemia, fibromyalgia, and celiac, that would all take too long to explain, I have mild cerebral palsy and scoliosisI can walk (as good as any healthy 65 year old). As a child I had several surgeries and feeding tubes. I am very loyal to my friends, I can get very defensive of them, never make a short girl angry. Apart of it is having a mother's heart, if the LORD has me marry I hope to adopt children.
June has not only remained faithful to Jesus, but is also a biblical creationist. She added that people putting forth "old earth nonsense offends us with medical problems. We do not serve a cruel God, and evolutionists tend to see us as disposable". How true! Atheists and evolutionists look for utilitarian and pragmatism. (For instance, they search for reasons for beauty in nature, waving off the remote possibility that God gave them for our benefit!) It is evolutionary thinking that gave us eugenics, after all.

This woman has had many difficulties throughout her life, including childhood surgeries and things she has to deal with even now. She has a heart for the gospel, praising God, helping other Christians, and is very pro-life. Some people would rage at God, forgetting that we're in a fallen world (Rom. 8:22, Rom. 5:12) that was originally perfect (Gen. 1:31). All will be made new, and death will be defeated (2 Peter 3:5-10, Rev. 21:1-4, 1 Cor. 15:26). People who look to themselves and their own strength will have disappointment in life, but when we focus on life in Jesus, we have tremendous hope — and our strength is in him.

Please share this article so others can be encouraged. I'm going to conclude with a gospel song that June likes:

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Season of the Witch Hunt?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Way back yonder in my school days, kids would get together based on hate. They didn't really understand hate, but they were upset with someone and disliked him or her. Then they'd recruit others to join them in their persecution efforts. You see that kind of thing today with the advent of the Internet, which became a useful tool for cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is a crime (not that people care about the law until they're actually captured). In some cases, cyberstalking and vicious bullying have driven people to suicide — and worse, such as in the case where it led to the deaths of three people.

While it's fine to fellowship with people who agree with you on things (Christians are exhorted to do so throughout the New Testament, for example), recruiting people to join in a witch hunt is petty, childish, and harmful. Part of that is based on an inner need for acceptance and to feel important (some people want to save the world from the "evils" of biblical creation but do not have a consistent moral foundation for good and evil, for example). I reckon some people never grow up, and go on a kind of witch hunt against "the enemy".

Unfortunately, Christians do the same nonsense.

There are professing Christians who act in a most unchristian manner, joining in on witch hunts against fellow believers. They need to do some thinking, fact checking, and just plain grow up.
The Witch Hunt, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1888
On a side note, the witch hunts of history were done by people who had little or no knowledge of what the Bible teaches, especially the New Testament. Here in the U.S. of A., I consider the Salem Witch Trials a travesty and a black mark on the histories of the country and those who pretended to represent God. And I don't have good things to say about the witch hunts in other parts of the world, either.

I'm going to start with one of my latest experiences of being the hunted witch. No, not from childish atheopaths, but from a professing Christian. Tiny Matt was angry because I posted a link refuting the lies and bad scholarship claiming that Easter has pagan origins. Because of this, he "unliked" The Question Evolution Project and told us off. Apparently, he deleted his comments, but I have some from my e-mail notifications and assembled a screenshot:

Used under "Fair Use" for educational purposes. Besides, it's in my e-mail.
For a professing Christian, he is acting in a very unchristian manner. He disliked the Easter post (which he refused to read, preferring Kent Hovind's material). The entire Page is a "false prophet site" because of one item with which he disagrees? He used to like the posts. (Good thing he didn't find out I'm not a member of the King James Onlyism cult!) I challenged him to find something that was false in the Statement of Faith, but that received no response. Hero worship is a bad thing, as is poor knowledge of biblical teachings about our liberty in Christ.

EDIT 4-02-2017: I was able to locate his witch hunt post where he was being a "good Christian" by telling falsehoods:

Used under "Fair Use" for educational purposes.

Chris Rosebrough endured his own witch hunt. Tullian Tchividjian is a disgraced preacher, and Chris wanted to get more information and urged people to slow down on the matter. Because Chris Rosebrough refused to join in the persecution of Tchividjian, he received his own harassment from people who could not be bothered to actually learn the facts, or even give a Christian a fair hearing. You can learn more at "A Statement RE: Tullian & the New Allegations" as well as audio at "What Constitutes a Witch Hunt?" EDIT 7-02-2017: Rosebrough gave him a chance, but Tchividjian turned out to be dishonest, and no longer can associate with him until Tullian repents.

Dr. James White had his own harassment. He wrote a post about a black kid flipping off a police officer, speculated about the times in which we live, and the kid's upbringing. The resulting firestorm said that that Dr. White is a racist, and people were repeating the allegations without checking the facts and White's public history. He later wrote a detailed article on this, and dealt with a libeler. What was interesting to me was that he echoed some of what I have been saying about anti-creationists who view things through their Darwin spectacles (presuppositions). Dr. White talked about how people use their "lenses" to view the world, and often have to interpret events based on ethnicity and culture. See the long but important article, "Gospel Lenses and the Search for Allies (Updated with Full Response)". Also, he responded in an earlier "Dividing Line" episode (free to watch or download the audio") at "Ethnic Gnosticism and the Gospel".

My experiences being the hunt-ee are insignificant in comparison to those of Chris Rosebrough and Dr. White, as I have not been attacked by anyone of consequence or had large-scale harassment that needed much of my attention. But those two had to take significant amounts of time in the instances above, and at other times, to spend time making clarifications. (And no, although my remarks about cyberstalking being a crime and having caused the deaths of people, White and Rosebrough are not going to be driven to suicide. But some people are setting themselves up for criminal prosecution and also litigation.) Brethren, these things should not be!

This witch hunt mentality is one reason I sometimes despair of calling myself a Christian, since too many Christians are seeking self-importance instead of the truth. Some of us emphasize critical thinking and checking facts instead of spreading sensationalistic material and libeling others. Ministers end up  having to waste precious time defending themselves over false allegations when they want to be about the business of proclaiming the truth. Come on, Christians! To be blunt, this kind of behavior is expected from children, atheists, and cultists. You're being fools. Although we all sin, some need to do some serious thinking, repenting — and growing up.