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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Science, Faith, Genesis and Compromise

Did you know that the one who was most influential in forming the modern scientific method was a Biblical creationist? Yes, it was Sir Francis Bacon. Although he has been called a great man of faith, he actually did damage to our understanding of science. He wanted to leave God out of science and be strictly secular with it.

He had an unscriptural belief that God's revelation was expressed in "two books". One of those is the Bible, the other is nature. When "interpreted correctly", they are in harmony. (Frankly, this sounds cultic, smacking of the Mormon claim that the Bible is true "as far as it is translated correctly".) Compromisers like Hugh Ross will give priority to the current understanding and beliefs of modern science trends, interpreting the Bible to fit with those preconceptions.

Christians gradually surrendered science to the secularists. Then, they began sacrificing their belief in the authority of Scripture.

There are two parts to the following article, linked after the introductory excerpt:

About 400 years ago, there lived an English nobleman, philosopher and lawyer by the name of Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who is regarded as the father of the ‘scientific method’. As did many other great men of science, such as Sir Isaac Newton, he professed faith in God and the Bible. However, his writings, which have had a profound influence on the whole Western world, have achieved much harm as well.
Bacon’s main objective was to free up ‘natural philosophy’, as science was called back then, from any and all impediments which would hinder its proper development for the common good of mankind. The obstacles, as he saw them, which hindered scientific progress were so offensive that he called them ‘idols’ and he urged his readers to banish them completely from their minds.

‘Leave the Bible out of it’

Near the end of the list of ‘idols’ which Bacon said must be ‘abjured and renounced’ were any systems of natural philosophy which were built on Genesis 1, Job, or any other part of the Bible. This wilful and untrue presupposition, that the Bible has nothing to teach us about understanding the workings of nature, is the ugly root which has influenced some of the greatest scientific minds from Bacon onwards. The mindset among scientists to set aside the Bible did not commence with Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) nor prior to that with Lyell’s 3-Volume Principles of Geology (1830–1833). The trend had been firmly launched more than 200 years earlier in Sir Francis Bacon’s works. The scientific method, we were told, allowed no room for divine revelation. Bacon wrote that man ‘understands as much as his observations … permit him, and neither knows nor is capable of more.’
Read the rest of "Part 1: Culture wars: Bacon vs Ham, The story behind the modern-day separation of faith and science", here. You can follow the link at the end of the article to Part 2, or come back and click on "Part 2: Culture wars: Ham vs Bacon", here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Learning from Past Mistakes in Defending the Faith

And whoever is so bold that he ventures to accuse God of fraud and deception in a single word and does so willfully again and again after he has been warned and instructed once or twice will likewise certainly venture to accuse God of fraud and deception in all His words.
— Martin Luther

In a previous brilliant article (oops, almost forgot that this is not the "with attitude, in-character" Weblog), I discussed Fundamentalism and anti-intellectualism, and the errors made regarding the defense of the faith. Now I have learned something else that runs parallel.

One of the fundamentals of Fundamentalism is the inerrancy of Scripture. (I am not a Fundamentalist, but I hold to this position, as do many other non-Fundamentalist Christians.) Although Christians had been instrumental in the development of sciences through the years, we surrendered to the secularists. The Bible came under assault from Darwinists, uniformitarianism and "Higher Criticism". Instead of adhering to their presuppositions that God's Word is true, they traded for the presuppositions of secular science philosophies. When people are enamored with "science" and impressed with the results of practical science, it becomes difficult for many people to resist the allure of historical science philosophies: "The world is billions of years old, science proves it". Actually, the opposite is true, but that is beyond the scope of this Weblog.
William Jennings Bryan

Although Fundamentalists in the 19th and early 20th Centuries generally did not compromise on evolution, they did compromise on the plain teachings of Genesis. That meant fanciful "explanations" like Lucifer's Flood and the Gap Theory. They wanted to believe the Bible, but were unskilled at refuting the science philosophies. By compromising and adding "deep time" to Genesis (including nature or "general revelation"), they actually hurt their own position on the inerrancy of Scripture.

The following article is a bit long and it's not "fluff", but extremely informative and (to me) very interesting:
The Christian fundamentalist movement in America played a key role in defending and promoting the importance of biblical inerrancy. While often ridiculed and mocked, early American fundamentalists withstood the tide of theological liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nevertheless, many of these staunch advocates of biblical inerrancy failed to understand the importance of defending the traditional view of Genesis. This mistake led to some of the movement’s greatest failures, and ultimately contradicted the central doctrine for which fundamentalists so fervently stood. This article will survey the history of Christian fundamentalism in America along with its strengths and weaknesses, victories and defeats. The significance of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will also be examined.
I hope you finish reading "The Rise and Fall of Inerrancy in the American Fundamentalist Movement", here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Resource: OEC Compromisers

It seems that Old Earth Creationists (OECs) who use atheistic methods and interpretations of science and then add huge amounts of time into the early chapters of Genesis are more extreme than I thought. No, I am not saying "extreme" as in "blowing up buildings belonging to Biblical creationists". What I mean is that they have to keep twisting Scriptures and forcing excuses to justify their compromising positions.

From Ken Ham's Weblog:
After watching what turned into a two-hour debate between Hugh Ross and me on TBN television last week, AiG board chairman, Pastor Don Landis, gave an address to the AiG staff yesterday morning titled “Contending for the Faith” (Jude 3). Jude 3 states “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
His powerful address focused on challenging the staff to understand that compromising with millions of years is really an attack on the work of Christ — it is an attack on the Cross.
I really urge you to listen to this very powerful and moving 40-minute presentation. You can do that by clicking below:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dealing with Arrogant Atheists

Ironically, the fundamentally flawed atheistic worldview has helped modern Christianity by forcing questions and issues into our faces that were sidestepped and ignored. (I think some of the questions were also in the minds of believers as well, but we did not bother to ask.) One reason that people have abandoned their faith is when they would ask questions about the very first book of the Bible and receive scolding or pious non-answers.

Apologists have been becoming more skilled, more knowledgeable and more plentiful. The same with apologetics ministries. I have been encouraging Christians from the beginning of this Weblog to know what and why we believe (2 Peter 3.18) so that we can share the gospel effectively (1 Peter 3.15, Jude 1.3 NASB) and be on guard against false teachers and compromisers (Matthew 7.15 ESV, 2 John 1.7, 2 Cor. 11.13-15).

This includes the so-called "New Atheist" movement. (It has been pointed out that there is not much "new" in it, just an increase in loud hatred of God and his servants.) The "Logic Lessons" are useful in defusing the intimidation of atheists when we learn that they make a tremendous number of logical fallacies.

One resource I provided here before was a set of links to a talk by Andy Bannister on dealing with atheists. Another recommendation is for True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism (only 2.99 USD at Amazon, free Kindle book software is available if you need it). My recommendation is qualified, however, because authors of the book did not take the Apostle Paul's approach in Acts 17 of going back to Genesis. I offered to remedy that in a future edition if the editors are interested. Still, there is a great deal of philosophical and rational information that dismantles the atheistic worldview.

I have a similar qualified (that is, I noticed the lack Genesis or creation) recommendation for the following article by Alan Roebuck. It's called, "How to Deal with a Supercilious Atheist", and definitely worth your time:
Not all atheists are supercilious, of course. Many are content to live and let live, and some even grant that religion (which, in America, basically means Christianity) does some good.  But atheism as an organized, evangelizing movement has been on the offensive lately.  Witness the "New Atheists" such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, with their aggressive stance against God and their bestselling books attempting to debunk religion. So, assuming you are a theist, what do you say to the atheist who asks, "You don't (chuckle) actually believe in God, do you (snicker)?"

The natural response would be to start giving evidence for God: the origin of the universe in the Big Bang requires a cause that is beyond matter, energy, space and time, the design of life requires an intelligence to account for the information that it contains, the many accounts of miracles and the supernatural cannot all be fabrications, and so on.  Entire libraries have been written on the evidence and arguments for God.
I encourage you to finish reading the article here.