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.