Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Even Unbelievers Understand the Importance of Genesis

Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing! — G. Richard Bozarth, "The Meaning of Evolution", American Atheist (February 1978), p. 30.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  (2 Peter 3.3-7 KJV)
Here is a bit of a follow-up to this article.

Even the atheists "get it", as shown above. But note the equivocation where he said, "Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science..." Evolution is a philosophy about the past using interpretations of evidence. It is not "science" per se. No, nobody is fighting science! We are fighting the philosophies of materialism and uniformitarianism. Especially since they fail to accurately explain the evidence.

When Christians present a reasoned explanation for the gospel (apologia, ἀπολογία), we need to be clear that the Bible is true from cover to cover. What good is it to say that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and then say that it does not mean what it says in Genesis? "The creation week was actually long periods of time, 'day' does not mean 'day', the global flood at the time of Noah was not really a global flood, Adam was not a literal man" and so on. So, how can we expect someone else trust the rest of the Bible to mean what it says?
  • Death began with the sin of Adam (1 Cor. 15.22, Rom. 5.12, Rom. 8.22)
  • The first promise of the Redeemer was in Genesis (Gen. 3.15)
  • The first covering for sin was in Genesis (Gen. 3.21), a foreshadowing of the covering for sin in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ because he loves us (Gal. 2.20)
  • Peter reaffirms the creation (2 Peter 3.5)
  • Peter reaffirms the global flood, which was a judgment on mankind; another global judgment is coming — by fire (2 Peter 3.6-7)
  • Paul refers to Jesus as the "last Adam" (1 Cor. 15.45)
Again, I ask you: What is your ultimate authority? Do you bow to the ever-changing whims of man-made science philosophies, or do you put your trust in the Word of God?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stumbling Apologists

Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Prov. 30.5-6, NKJV

Here is something else that I cannot understand: Willful ignorance. At least, it looks like willful ignorance to me.

There are some apologists for the Christian faith who are utterly brilliant and have taught me a great deal. There are also some that are brilliant philosophers of theology that I do not try to understand because I find the depths of philosophy that they practice to be tedious and impractical, and I do not want to expend the mental energy in following what they're saying. Then there are the philosophers that do great work, and I do need to expend the mental energy to learn from them.

How is it, then, that a layman like me can spot flaws in their work?

I mentioned one time that a certain apologist said that he would not let science tell him how to view Scripture, and so he rejected evolution. Then, he promptly said that young-earth creationism is wrong because of what science has shown! Wait — the same facts, methods, techniques of science that support the belief that the earth is ancient are also used to support evolution, are they not? Why the inconsistency? More importantly, why the reluctance to accept a plain reading of Genesis at face value?

What baffles, irritates, irks, flusters and befuddles me is why these apologists (as well as knowledgeable laypeople) who proclaim the inerrancy of Scripture will keep trying to make the unnatural stretch of turning the days of Creation Week into some huge amount of time. There are a few possibilities of which I am aware:
  • Compromise. To them, the Bible does not mean what it says because they want to accommodate scientific philosophies. "Theistic Evolution" is an escape for people who believe in evolution but want to appear religious, and deny the Bible. "Progressive Creation" also denies important aspects of the Bible, and its adherents should consider well the words of Proverbs 30.6. There are other variations of compromise, but these two cover a great deal of ground and require extensive theological gymnastics of tampering with the Bible.
  • Not thinking it through. Some people just have not thought about the ramifications of their position, and how they are letting the latest whims of man-made science philosophies dictate their understanding of the Word of God.
  • Bad information. Young-earth creationism has been badly misrepresented. (I'll be blunt: There are people who claim to be Christians that have actually lied about young-earth creationists and their beliefs, and also called us liars because they do not agree with our views!) People who reject young-earth creationism have often only heard from its opponents, and have not bothered to seriously investigate the framework of the young-earthers. It seems a bit hypocritical to criticize atheists and "skeptics" for getting their information about God and the Bible from sites like "I hate God even though he doesn't exist and his book is wicked too dot com", and yet, ignore the material presented by Bible-believing scientists.
  • Bandwagon theology. This is simply a herd mentality. "Everyone in my church believes in an ancient earth and universe, I will too", or, "Dr. Philos Offy has two earned doctorates and 144 honorary doctorates, and he believes the universe is old and accommodates evolution, he's my hero, so he must be right".
  • Some other biases or presuppositions.
When debating with old-earthers, I point out that the word yomיוֹם, translated as "day", has several meanings [1,2]. The obvious meaning is a literal day, another meaning is an indefinite period of time. (There are, unfortunately, old-earthers who misrepresent young-earthers' views on this, saying that we insist that it can only be a literal day. Examining, say, Answers In Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research or Creation Ministries International will show that such claims are disingenuous at best.) For the most part, "day" means "day".

Cannot locate original source to give credit. Wish I could, I really like this humor that makes a point.
Several times, I have come across people who point out the few exception to the general rule of yom with an ordinal number meaning a literal day (such as Hosea 6.2), and they make the exception into the rule; that is, since "day" with an ordinal is not always read that way, other ways of reading the text must be allowed. This is horrible thinking, especially since if God wanted to say that creation happened in huge amounts of time, he did not need to have the author use yom.

What do they do with Exodus 20.11, by the way?

One analogy that I have used is dominoes. If you compromise in Genesis, which is foundational to the gospel, you have to continually compromise all through the Bible. Let me show you.

I was very disappointed when I read an apologist put forth the view that it was perfectly acceptable to think that at some point during evolution, God suddenly granted consciousness or enlightenment to a male and female, and they were made into Adam and Eve! Adam was considered a real person in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3.38), Paul said that Adam and Eve were real people (1 Timothy 2.13-14), Jude called Adam a real person (Jude 1.14). Death entered the world because of Adam's sin (Romans 5.12), but "progressive creationists" and "theistic evolutionists" require death before sin. But worse for this view is that it is an insult to Jesus, since Paul referred to Jesus as "the last Adam (1 Cor. 15.45). What does that mean? Was Jesus the next stage of evolution?

Why do they do this? There is no valid reason for such extreme eisegesis!
Many Christians have conceded to uniformitarian dogma by imposing theories on Genesis like the day-age view, gap theory, and the framework hypothesis. Christians taking on names—progressive creationist, theistic evolutionist, or even young-earth creationist—implies Genesis 1–11 does not have one clear interpretation. [3]
Now look, nobody is saying to put "our" view of the Bible over your daily experience or observable science. If the Bible said that things fall upward when dropped, we would have a problem to deal with, and I would expect that the context would indicate that this was figurative or allegorical. The science used for evolution, the age of the Earth, the age of the universe, all of that is not observational science. In fact, such historical science is in a state of constant change. (For scientific evidence against evolution and for a young earth, I have a site called "Evolutionary Truth by Piltdown Superman".)

People disagree about models and mechanisms all the time. Evolutionists themselves are not unified about evolution itself [4]. Creationists also disagree, and put forward their own models to interpret the evidence and see if the data fit. Great! That is what science is about! The real question is, "Who is your authority? Is it the ever-changing whims of man-made science philosophies of the day, or the unchanging Word of God (Isaiah 40.8)?" If you disagree about, say, the age of the earth because you have given honest consideration to the available evidence (including evidence from young-earth creationists), well, fine. That's your prerogative. But watch your presuppositions and make certain where your final authority lies. You don't want God calling you a liar because you added to his Word.

My work here is done for now. Is anyone up for a game of dominoes?

Addendum: I wrote a follow-up to this article, here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Breaking Fellowship — A Rant

Once again:
"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."
2 Tim. 2.22-26, ESV

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Most of the time, I try to keep these articles instructive and/or practical. This time, I am making the article a personal thing because I am hurt and angry. (Plus, some instructive and/or practical bits.) At the risk of sounding pretentiously noble, my "hurt" was not from personal attacks. Rather, I am hurting because of the way Christians act.

A while ago, I wrote that Christians get judgmental and will, in essence, slap down and break fellowship with a believer who is not "spiritual" enough to please them. My suggestion was that we can give instruction to the other believer (Gal. 6.1 NKJV).

There are times, however, when we are to distance ourselves and even break fellowship with some people who call themselves Christians (1 Cor. 5.11, 2 Thes. 3.14). If they repent, they should be restored (2 Cor. 2.6-8 NIV, Gal. 6.1 ESV). There is no need in this article to go into all of the reasons for breaking fellowship or putting someone out of the church.

One of the most frequent problems in the church is strife. (And "infighting", more than discussing areas of disagreement, is one of the reasons I left the faith for several years.) I have had some specific problems with the Calvinist-Arminian strife. Yes, I said strife! I have mentioned how I am bothered by the attitudes of some Calvinists who act like they have the One True Faith. But I have recently encountered some positively vicious attitudes among Arminians. Ironically, some say that they are attracted to the teachings of Jacobus Arminius because they seem kinder or gentler. His "disciples" that I have encountered lately are anything but kind and gentle! The main problems I have seen involve the Arminians’ dislike of the Calvinist position of "election" or "predestination".

Now I have a problem. I can try to give extensive documentation and, I feel, become part of the problem, or I can tell people to take me at my word (or do their own research), taking the risk that I will be called a liar. Fine, call me a liar if you wish. I have to go with Scripture and my conscience.

My recent encounters with Arminians have been quite startling, because they are acting like atheists. That's right, I said it!
  • Mockery, such as this unconscionable poster
  • Straw Man arguments, making caricatures of Calvinism to knock down
  • Selective citing and misquotes
  • Misattribution
  • Guilt by association; Calvin believed and taught thus and so, and he had certain character flaws. I heard a caller to Matt Slick on CARM radio ask him if he believed in something. He said, "No". The caller replied that John Calvin taught that. Matt replied, "Well, Calvin was wrong, then". News flash: Calvinists do not treat the writings of Calvin as if they were Scripture!
  • Hate and rage; "You're right to criticize Calvinism (not its people) — It's sickening!" Tell me, how far is it from "poking at the god of Calvinism" (through mockery and disunderstanding) to mocking and hating other believers in Christ? I feel that soon, this will turn into actual hatred of Calvinists themselves
  • Idolatry; "My God doesn't..." This includes putting preferences, feelings and opinions above the Word of God
  • Excusing and justifying themselves
Let me stop right here and point out that not all of the Arminians approved of the discussion, and there were some other voices of reason to point out the errors of the angry Arminians. I posted a few comments, and posted a link to a pertinent article (which I believe only had two visits, so they were not exactly interested). Also, I have a strong feeling that these Arminians do not trust God!

Not only are these angry Arminians attacking fellow Christians, they are unwilling to listen to others who pointed out flaws in their logic. Just like modern atheists who are only interested in showing off their uninformed opinions rather than actually understanding the concepts involved (Prov. 18.2), they compare notes with other angry people who lack proper understanding. Then, they justify their strident, hateful comments and positions.

It would be nice if more Christians would try to get the attention of these angry mockers and attempt to correct them. Also, all mature Christians can pray for them.

Do you know what this is, really? It is pride! It really looks like they would rather be "right" than to express Christian love. I really cannot get over how their prideful attitudes remind me of so many of the obstreperous atheists that I have encountered!

One of these people on Facebook wants to be an apologist. With his emotional bias and unwillingness to learn about what he is attacking, I think he will end up humiliating himself and the name of Christ.
Infighting among Christians is a source of derision for unbelievers, and a stumbling block for believers. When some professing Christians insist on causing strife, breaking of fellowship may result.
Listen, I am not a Calvinist. Nor am I an Arminian. I have agreements with both camps, and have problems with both camps. But I cannot stand for such contempt for fellow believers. So, instead of continuing to try to point out that these Christians are acting in a most un-Christian manner (and, frankly, making me wonder if they really are Christians in the first place, John 13.35, Luke 6.44), I cannot continue to fellowship with people who promote pride, strife and division in the body of Christ. Not until they repent.

What do you think? Am I right? Am I wrong?

There are things in the Bible that I do not like. For example, I wish that everyone could be saved and go to Heaven. So, I could take me "theology" even further than certain Arminians wish to go and become a Universalist. Also, I do not like the concept that some people are "elected" or "predestined" for salvation. Personally, I do not think this doctrine is correct (stumper: Acts 13.48), but I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong. I am not going to mock other Christians who hold to this view, because their view is based on Scripture, whether I agree with their understanding of Scripture or not.

And there are other things in the Bible that I do not like. Why? Probably because I do not understand them. We, the created beings, cannot fully comprehend the Creator! That there are things in the Bible that we do not like, or do not understand, does not make them untrue. Nor does it give us any right to ridicule those who hold to a position that we disagree with.

In a comments area on a Facebook posting, I asked some of these people if they obtained their information from informed Calvinists, and I named a few examples. I was told, "I've had Calvinists themselves tell me this." So? Does that mean that those people were skilled and informed about the theology that they espouse?

I listened to a series of lectures on Roman Catholicism, and the lecturer said that we were probably better informed about the official teachings of Rome than the overwhelming majority of Catholics. Many times, I have heard Mormon callers to radio shows (or read commenters on articles) dispute what was quoted by the experts because they were uninformed about official Mormon teachings. The same with Mohammedans who say, "The Koran does not say this!" Uh, yes it does, here is the reference. And so on.

So, if you're going to criticize the doctrines, be very certain that you are understanding it correctly! Even with my lack of knowledge of Calvinistic teachings, I still caught the angry Arminians in significant errors.

Please, for the sake of Christ, we need to stop being so outright vicious to each other. Unless were are not truly his followers (John 13.35).