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.