My Neanderthal Article

My article I wrote about a month or so ago interacting with a Reasons to Believe apologist and their weird human-Neanderthal hybrid ideas, was picked up by Creation Ministries International.

Neandertal-human hybrids: Apologetics Gone Real Bad

I appreciate the opportunity that allows my writing exposure to a much broader audience. I was also grateful for the way Jonathan Sarfati and the folks at CMI helped with punching it up with more details and links I hadn’t supplied in the original.

Jesus and Wine Theology and the Reformed Hermeneutic

Jesus Drank ReislingTheology that is really cool and fun and stuff

At the risk of receiving a severe wedgie from a number of my Reformed acquaintances who run around my game circle, I wanted to respond to a discussion that took place at the ReformCom 2016 with the guys of Apologia radio, N.D. Wilson, and Darren Doane.

I specifically want to focus in upon the bizarre ramblings from Doane regarding what I call his “Jesus is wine theology.” Doane’s “theology,” if we can even call it that, perfectly highlights the horrendous abuse the historical Reformed, typological hermeneutic rains down upon the Bible when a person studies it.

I’ll begin with a bit of background.

Doane is a commercial video director, as well as a filmmaker.  He is known for religiously themed work such as Unstoppable, a movie addressing the problem of evil with Kirk Cameron, Collision Course, a documentary that follows around Doug Wilson and the late Christopher Hitchens as they debate in various venues, and Saving Christmas, that carries a 0% at Rotten Tomatoes and has the honor of being the winner of the 2015 Razzie award for worst picture.

So much for taking dominion, but I digress.

I tussled once with Doane on Twitter in the months before his award winning Saving Christmas was released. I even stated that I thought the trailer looked fun when I was defending Kirk’s promotion of the movie on a Catholic radio program against some finger-wagging discernment folks. I wrote about that HERE.

Where I took exception with Saving Christmas was with Doane’s excessive overuse of typology. For instance, in our Twitter exchange, he insisted that Christmas trees are talked about in the Bible because God was the first one to bring a tree into His house. He likened the lamp stand in the tabernacle with us putting Christmas trees in our homes. I wrote about out exchange HERE for those interested.

Doane has since moved from spiritualizing Christmas trees to now spiritualizing wine. At the ReformCon2016, he participated on a live podcast interview for Apologia Radio where he enthusiastically discussed the topic of wine and Jesus and drinking for the Christian. The audio can be heard HERE. His comments begin at the 56:06 mark. Or watch the Youtube portion HERE.

I’ve written out a loose transcript of the relevant portions I wish to address. Keep in mind that I have slightly edited his remarks removing the “…and ums,” along with smoothing out the excitable effervescence that bubbles from his talk.

When I became a Christian I didn’t drink, which is even better because I was double-holy. I not only became a Christian, but I was like super moral. Like double-anointed portion.  I don’t drink. This is fantastic, I was the sober guy.

When I became a Christian, the last thing I even thought about was alcohol. I mean, I just received salvation. My sins were forgiven. My interest for the word ignited. I dug into the Scriptures because I wanted to nail down what the Bible taught on important points of doctrine. I couldn’t have cared less about determining the limits of my Christian liberty with drinking a beer or scotch. There were deeper, more profound truths that occupied my heart.

And who was he hanging with as a new Christian? He gives the impression all his friends from church were a bunch of frat party drunks and he was the designated driver taking them home from a Sunday night fellowship.

Skipping to the end, as he wraps up his musings about Jesus and wine, he explains that even after he had studied out wine from the Bible, he still did not drink. That was until an acquaintance asked him why and then remarked, “Whose gonna teach your daughter to drink?” implying, “how is she gonna learn to drink?”

When I heard that, I thought, “Eh?” Christian parents are obligated to teach their kids how to drink? Your kids have to be taught how to drink? What exactly does that entail? Them watching you regularly down a rum and coke? Spirited dinner table discussion of the state drinking age limit? Or what is the best way to age whiskey? Honestly? What is the bizarre fixation with neo-Reformed folks and drinking booze? I’ve never understood it. It’s like a little kid who is now potty trained and has to tell everyone he is wearing big boy pants.whatwouldjesusbrewBut let me move along to what I wish to address specifically and will get me into trouble,

Years later, because I love theology, every year I would sort of pick something to dive into. One year I picked wine. Jesus did say “I’m Wine;” so I thought I would dig into the Bible on “wine.” So I spent almost a whole year going through the Bible, looking at how wine was used.

Jesus said “I’m wine?” Searching my Bible Works, I can’t find any where in the Gospels when Jesus said such a thing. Maybe he has in mind John 15, where Jesus says “I am the vine and you are the branches?” While it is true that wine comes from grapes that do grow on vines, that is not the same as Jesus saying “I’m wine.” Or it could be when Jesus talked about putting new wine into old wine skins, and he assumes the “new wine” is Jesus. Who knows?

Moving along,

When you start digging into something it gets super fascinating. Like when did wine first appear? When did fruit first appear? In fact in creation it’s at the end of day three and that ties into end of day three of Jesus’ Resurrection, there some cool stuff going on there. What is wine? With wine, you actually have to take grapes and kill them and you have to smash them and you have to kill it, you have to bury it. And put it into somewhere dark then after time it comes out. It’s totally new. It’s glorified. You have this Jesus-picture thing going on. It’s like in theology this is getting really cool and fun and you’re going through this stuff.

And then something hits me about communion, and that’s what theology does, it does everything, it rolls, it starts going, it starts paradigm shifting, all because of theology, right? … And then all of the sudden it hit me that wine burns. [pause here for dramatic effect]. You take grape juice. It’s sweet, it’s fun. My kids love it. But you take wine, Wooo. It burns. It’s fire. God is a consuming fire. Oh Darren’s on the skinny branch right now, he’s just reaching. But you go back and look at fire in the Bible [another dramatic pause] That’s. What. Theology. Does.

I can imagine the scruffy-bearded young folk in the audience listening to that nonsense for the first time thinking to themselves, “Oooohhhh, That’s so deep. I never thought about all those connection between Jesus and wine before.” Well yeah. No one else has either. What he presents is borderline neo-orthodoxy gobbledygook. (I chuckle when he says wine burns and is like fire and you need to go back and look at fire in the Bible. Someone has. It doesn’t mean what you think).

Let’s break down that theology:

God created the seed-bearing plants on day three.
Grapes are seed-bearing plants.
You have to crush and squeeze and essentially “kill” grapes to make wine.
Jesus said he was the vine and we are the branches.
Jesus was crushed and squeezed and killed.
But was raised to life three days later.

See? God creates plants day 3+grapes being crushed=Jesus in the tomb 3 days! Wine! THEOLOGY!

brewing companyDoane’s theology is no more theological as that tongue speaking 13-year old girl telling everyone God says in the Bible that he wants them to be a funnel to receive His blessing. The only difference is that Doane gets a pass from the folks at RefCon because he hangs with Doug Wilson and says he is Reformed and Calviney and of course, drinks wine.

Now I can hear my detractors complain, “Fred, that is Doane’s views, and he is a little whimsical when he reads the Bible.” In fact, during the Facebook comment discussion when I reviewed Saving Christmas, even R.C. Sproul Jr. chimed in telling me that Doane’s imaginative interpretations are unique to a small number of individuals in the theonomy camp like James B. Jordan (who is no longer a theonomist as I understand it). That sounds like a reasonable clarification. It’s inaccurate to impugn a majority of individuals based upon the weird ramblings of a few.

I believe that objection is problematic, however.

Here is where my observations will stir up with my Reformed acquaintances the kind of excitement generated when one throws a live squirrel into a gymnasium filled with 250 yellow labs: The tendency to spiritualize and abuse Scripture with heavy doses of typology is endemic to the Reformed hermeneutic.

The Reformed hermeneutic claims that because Jesus is the fullest revelation from God, the Apostles, as they wrote the New Testament, were led by the Holy Spirit to spiritualize the Old Testament. They would, for instance, redefine the recipients of the OT prophecies that were originally given to the people of Israel, as now pertaining to the Church. The Reformed hermeneutic teaches that the NT has interpretative priority over the OT. Thus, Reformed interpreters believe they are at liberty to utilize a typological/spiritualized hermeneutic when reading the Bible.

The degree to which typology adversely effects the meaning of Scripture will vary from person to person, but it is certainly there among the Reformed. One need merely to look over the few Reformed commentaries on the Song of Solomon to see what I mean. Guys like John Gill and John Collinges, wrote massive, encyclopedic works on Song of Solomon simply to say it is a book about Jesus loving the Church. A.W. Pink, who has always been a favorite of mine, was also notorious for his heavy typological emphasis in his various gleaning series, and even the 1689 Federalism Baptists emphasize typology almost to the exclusion of other hermeneutical elements necessary to the reading and understanding of Scripture. The worst is with folks like John Walton, who turns the creation account of Genesis into some theological picture about the temple of God or whatever.

I certainly believe God presents pictures and types in the OT that are fulfilled with an anti-type in the NT, but the writer of Scripture tells us what is going on. He doesn’t leave it to us to creatively find the type/anti-type connection. A good example would be marriage originally intending to picture Christ’s love for the church and the church loving Christ. The thing is, however, Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that marriage was meant to be that picture.

Types become a problem when enthusiastic Christians begin seeing types when none really exist. One that just drives me crazy and is often appealed to by Reformed folks is 1 Samuel 17 when David defeated Goliath. I listened to one Lutheran pirate, who will remain unnamed, spiritualize that entire story as a type of Jesus defeating Satan. David was Jesus, Goliath Satan. He went so far as to claim the five smooth stones David gathered from the brook before he met Goliath in battle were the 5 wounds of Jesus on the cross, the nail prints in his hands, his feet, and the spear wound in his side.

facepalmI’m Sorry. That deserves a Jesus facepalm

Though it sounds all pious and spiritually insightful, it misses the entire point of what 1 Samuel is trying to convey. It’s merely contrived fancy to say it is all a big story about Jesus defeating Satan.

Where types don’t really exist, any that are discovered become subject to the interpreter’s imagination and it ultimately strips the real authorial intent from the meaning of Scripture. Bible study is turned into a free-for-all, and the true understanding of the text is lost. If you take that approach to reading the Bible you will always be out bobbing around out on the skinny branch with Doane.

The Myth of the Stronger Brother

realmen1 Corinthians 8

I recently introduced the topic of Paul’s discussion on eating food sacrificed to idols from 1 Corinthians 8-10. Folks can pop over to my first post to catch up on the background info.

However, to provide a little recap:

It is my contention that Paul was doing much more than settling a dispute between factions of believers at the Corinthian church who were divided over whether or not a Christian had liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols. I think Paul was insisting that ALL the Corinthian believers were to leave the idol temples and have nothing to do with them. He did not see eating idol food as neutral that ultimately did no spiritual harm to a Christian. He sees eating idol food as seriously dishonoring to the LORD and a disaster to the Christian Church.

Over the course of three chapters, Paul lays out his case as to why the Corinthians must leave the pagan temples and abandon eating idol food all together. I broke down his argument into four larger points: Eating idol food, 1. is danger to believers, 2. disqualifies one’s ministry, 3. destroyed Israel, and 4. disrupted the fellowship.

With this post, I want to consider the first point: Eating idol food is a danger to believers.

An overview of some critical concepts introduced in chapter 8 will help us understand Paul’s argument.

First, what exactly did Paul mean by the idea of “things sacrificed to idols” in 8:1?

As I noted in my introductory article, the classic interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8-10 believes when Paul speaks of those things sacrificed to idols, he is talking about meat from a pagan sacrifice that is used in a religious ceremony, but then is taken to the local street market where it is sold to the general public for a price. The temple authorities not only use the meat in their ritual but also turn a profit in the local market by selling off what was left.

The Corinthian Christians were shopping the local markets for food to buy, find a fabulous piece of meat for a cheap price, and purchase it for the family to eat. Other Christians, who were once heavily immersed in the Corinthian pagan culture, are troubled by those fellow Christians who so easily, without a second thought, purchase food that was once used in a religious sacrifice. In their minds, that piece of meat has the stench of the pagan ritual wafting off of it. Those Christians are defiling themselves and cursing God by eating it.

Turning to 1 Corinthians 10:25, that seems to be the scenario that Paul is addressing as I will explore when I come to that chapter. However, eating things sacrificed to idols is much more than preparing a prime rib dinner for a fellowship time with meat purchased at the local market that just so happens to have been sacrificed to idols.

What Paul has in mind when he addresses the topic is the religious ritual and the meal eaten by the participants partaking in that meal. No Corinthian could avoid the rampant paganism that pervaded their city. Paganism was everywhere. Participation in the temple rituals are what connected them to their society and their culture.

Eating meat sacrificed to idols entailed an elaborate religious meal eaten by all the participants sharing in that meal. The animal for sacrifice was brought to the temple. The appropriate rites were performed that involved a priest making the sacrifice on behalf of the person or persons. The priest would examine the entrails of the animal determining whether there was a “revelation” from some deity. The rest of the food would be prepared for a banquet and eaten by the friends and invited guests. Individuals with unique privileges or social status could use special sanctuaries in the temple for their ceremony.

Participation in those various ceremonies was an integral part of living life in Corinth. Everyone attended and utilized the temple. It was the place where a person would make social connections, advance in business dealings, and demonstrate he or she was an upstanding member of Corinth. In other words, the pagan temple, and all the feasts that took place there, reflected a particular worldview.

That is the reason eating idol food in the temple should have been such a big deal among the Corinthian Christians. Eating at the temple was tied directly to a specific religious worldview opposed to God. What Paul is intending to address throughout chapters 8-10 is that the Corinthian Christians did not see their participation in those ceremonies as a problem and they should have. Rather than leaving the temple culture of Corinth behind them, they whole-heartily participated in it and attempted to synchronize their Christian faith with that participation.

Another important concept Paul outlines in chapter 8 is the idea of “the weak.”

Again, the classic view understands the weak as Christians troubled with eating meat sacrificed to idols. However, the “strong” Christians had matured sufficiently so as to understand that eating meat sacrificed to idols did nothing to really do any spiritual harm. The weak were merely enslaving themselves to a silly superstition regarding meat sacrificed to idols and needed to think biblically. Because their consciences were misinformed on the matter, they were infringing upon every one’s liberty.

buddhistDown the street from my church in LA is one of the largest Thai Buddhist temples outside of Thailand. Nearly every week there is some festival or ceremony happening at that place. The folks attending there bring their food to be offered to the monks and in the various ceremonies. To raise money for the temple, the Buddhists sell food at their temple as well as at a nearby Thai restaurant. Many folks from my church frequent the place. (They have some excellent fried bananas, by the way). However, some of my Christian friends believe the restaurant is a living example of what Paul was discussing in 1 Corinthians 8 and will refrain from eating there for fear of violating someone’s conscience from our church.

The problem with that perspective, and the strong/weak dichotomy in general, is that it doesn’t really exist in Paul’s discussion within these chapters. In fact, the use of the word “strong” to describe the mature believers is nowhere mentioned from 8-10. It is merely assumed that because Paul discusses the “weak” that the opposite, the “strong,” is implied with his argument.

That conclusion is drawn from Paul’s discussion of those with “knowledge” or “who know” found in 8:1-4, 7, 10-11. Thus, those with knowledge, or described as “who know,” are understood to be the mature, strong believers. They recognize that the idol is nothing, that the false religion is just that, a false religion, and eating any food associated with one of the false sacrifices does nothing spiritually or physically to the person. Similar to what Paul writes in 8:4-6. As the strong, they have liberty to buy and eat idol food and to enjoy it. The weak, however, do not. Their consciences trouble them when they eat idol food, so much so that they are said to become defiled from eating it.

The idea of knowledge in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, however, is his way of calling someone a Christian. Knowledge is equated with the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit to understand and receive spiritual truth. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 1:5, Paul writes of being, “…enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge” This use of knowledge is also found throughout many of Paul’s epistles like, 2 Corinthians 2:14, 4:6, 10:5; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9-10; and Titus 1:1 to list a few.

The knowledge the Corinthians had revealed to them the true nature of false gods and false religion, 8:4-6. But rather than their knowledge being a good thing, it was in fact terribly misused. Backing up to 8:1, Paul expresses how knowledge can make one arrogant. When Paul writes in 8:9, “But take care that this liberty of  yours does not somehow become a stumbling block…”, that liberty is not a good thing; he is actually chiding their false liberty they had developed. What they considered liberty had made them arrogant toward one another within the church as well as those outside the church.

It needs to be kept in mind that the Corinthians’ so-called liberty was not merely limited to only purchasing meat that just so happened to have been sacrificed in a pagan temple. Instead, they were Christian believers actively involved in pagan ceremonies. The Corinthians were not asking Paul, “Is it alright if we eat food sacrificed to idols bought in the market?” but were insisting, “What’s the big deal about participating in temple services?”

Pulling our discussion together, the weak that Paul describes are those Christians who were still infused with old habits as idolaters.

Those weak Christians heard the Gospel. They believed upon Jesus as the Savior Who delivers sinners out of the bondage to their sin. Christianity is the religion of the true and living God. The worship of God and the fellowship with His people takes place in an entirely different and radically new way. God hates idolatry, according to His own word, and will suffer no other gods before Him.

Yet, fellow believers from their own church still frequent the temple and participate in the services that were offered, fellowshipping with pagans and attending their feasts that were often profane. All the while, those believers claim that because they are now in Christ, they have true knowledge about God and thus the liberty to eat and drink in the temple.

But that attitude poses two significant dangers that threaten the church.

First, it sins against the believers. Paul argues in 8:10-11, “for if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, it he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.”  Paul’s words could not be clearer: The Christian who has developed a false sense of liberty in his mind and thinks it is okay to participate in the pagan festivities at the temple could very well bring a fellow believer to ruin. The idea of ruin means destruction, not just offended sensibilities.

Second, it sins against Christ. Paul continues in 8:12, ” And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.” Beyond just bringing spiritual disaster against a fellow brother, the Christian is sinning against the Lord Jesus. That is because He is the one who secured that one’s salvation and now it has been place in danger by the foolish behavior of a fellow Christian.

What is Paul’s solution? Does he tell the Corinthians to be on the alert for immature believers and avoid them so as to not to offend their sensitive to the notion of eating in temples? Does he suggest discipling the weaker brother to grow in maturity so he can eventually join everyone else down at the temple? Not at all. He writes, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” In other words, completely eliminate your participation in such activity.

As we will go on to learn, dining in the idol temples is not just a stumbling block for the so-called weaker brother, it is a horrendous idea for all Christians.

Gleanings from Judges [9]

gideon

Gideon Delivers Israel – 6:28-7:25

The last judge I introduced was Gideon. He came from a well-to-do, wealthy and influential family. He was also a skeptical, sign-seeking, questioner of God. When the Angel of the LORD chose him to defend Israel, he excused himself by claiming he was a big nothing among the people of Israel. Yet, in spite of that, the Angel of the LORD came to Gideon and called him to the action of leading them to victory over the Midianites.

The Midianites, and an unnamed “people of the east,” were used of God to bring judgment upon the Children of Israel who had returned to their patterns of sinful behavior. They would swarm into the part of Israel were there was a lot of fertile crops and plunder the land. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat.

God is a faithful, covenant keeping God, and he warned Israel that such things would happen if they were to disobey His voice. The invasion by the Midianites was God’s way of keeping His Word.

When we closed our last study, Gideon had been tasked by the Angel of the LORD to confront the false religious system in his home town. Not only was his hometown the center of cultic worship practices, the house of his father served as the meeting place of the false religionists. At night, Gideon destroyed the altar with a bull, cuts down the totem pole associated with the altar, and makes an offering to God with a new altar he built out of the debris.

In the typical display of sinful backwardness that often follows when people move away from God, the men of the town confront Joash, Gideon’s father, about him tearing down the altar. They even invoke Deuteronomy 21:18 where the Scriptures declare that a stubborn and rebellious son must be stoned. The people were so given over to their idolatry and covenant breaking that they began to call that which was righteous evil.

Joash, revived in spirit, defended his son’s actions. He threatened the people with death who would fight for Baal. He told the people that if Baal is truly a god, he can fight for himself and he will punish Gideon. They then gave Gideon the nickname, Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him.”

Israel Delivered

All of those events my have happened shortly before the Midianites came around for their annual marauding, because shortly after Joash challenges the town folk, in came the Midianites.

Gideon is said to have been “clothed” or “filled with the Spirit.” In other words, the Spirit of the LORD possessed Gideon. Keep in mind this is a separate “filling” than what would happen at salvation. This “filling” was a theocratic anointing that gave the recipient the ability to command and lead. With Gideon, he rallies the troops for battle and they readily come to join him.

However, he still has his doubts about his calling and assured victory. In fact, his doubts are so enormous that he tests whether or not the LORD would truly help him by ask for a sign with a fleece. Twice!

Gideon’s fleece is often used as an example of how to determine God’s will. A person who has an important decision to make that could have multiple possibilities and outcomes is told to “throw out a fleece.”

I recall a young man I knew in college who did this with a particular girl he had been dating. He was fretting over whether or not he should really commit to her as the one he would eventually marry. One evening when they were leaving a sporting event together, they were headed over to a church fellowship, but they had drove separately. When they were leaving the parking lot, she was in front of him in her car. Remembering the idea about throwing out a fleece, he quickly prayed, “If this girl is the girl I’m to marry, please show me right now with the direction she turns.” As they pulled on the road from the parking lot, she turned to the right, when he knew he would turn to the left, heading over to the fellowship. For my friend, God had just answered his prayer! Of course, she had to pick up some cookies she said she would bring and the closest supermarket was down the street a block in the other direction. But no matter, that was God’s clear answer that he was free to date another gal he had met.

Gideon already knows what God told him about saving Israel from the Midianites. In fact, Gideon even tells God in a prayer, “If you will save Israel by my hand, AS YOU HAVE SAID,” (6:36). Gideon’s appeal to the use of laying out a fleece is not him determining God’s will for the matter at hand, he already knew what God’s will was. It was an act of disobedient doubt of what God clearly had revealed. It is only be an act of God’s grace that He answers Gideon’s requests about the fleece. In a way, it is as if God alone is concerned about His people’s deliverance.

When God does deliver, He wants to put His power on display so as to glorify Himself. He does that with Gideon’s army (7:2) and declaring two separations among the people.

First, God tells those who are afraid to go home. That word reduced the size from 32,000 to 10,000. The second separation is a bit difficult to understand in Hebrew, but it involved how the men drank water.

The idea is that 9,700 of them got down on both their knees and put their head and hands down low so as to draw water up with their hands to their mouths. The remainder merely knelt down on one knee and drew up water with one hand. There was nothing particularly special about how they drank the water that separated those 300 from the rest, as if the way they drank made them especially inclined to be great fighters. It just so happens that is the way they drank water by a brook. If their drinking technique indicated they were better than the rest, then that defeats the whole purpose of it being God who alone receives the glory for Israel’s victory over their enemy.

By this time, the Midianites were probably very much aware of Israel’s presence. They have probably seen the army gather and then leave over the course of a day or so. God placates Gideon’s fear by telling him to go down into the camp of the Midianites with his servant. When they came there, Gideon overhears one Midianite telling another about a dream he had about a loaf of bread knocking down a tent. The other Midianite responds with the interpretation that it was Gideon and that God has given the enter encampment into his hands. Only God can give such an amazing sign. Upon hearing that revelation, Gideon is said to have “worshiped” (7:15). He knew God was there with them.

Returning to his men, Gideon rallied the troops. He divided the 300 men into three groups. Pretending to be larger than what they really were, their blowing of trumps and lighting torches, set the camp of the Midianites into disarray. The LORD set everyman’s sword against his fellow man (7:22) and they fled in terror.

Idol Meat and Christian Liberty

idolAn Overview of 1 Corinthians 8-10

I have been meaning for a while now to post some of my studies on 1 Corinthians that I presented to my volunteers at Grace to You over the last year. I was particularly anxious to toss up my studies on chapters 8-10, because I believe they are so wildly misunderstood by the larger Christian community.

But alas… I got distracted and put it off. However, a little dust up with some NCT folks on Facebook ignited my passion, so here we are.

Like I noted, I think chapters 8-10 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is totally misunderstood and misapplied by Christians, especially among the Red State evangelical and neo-Reformed types I bump into on social media. The chapters address specifically the idea of eating meat sacrificed to idols and the concept of Christian liberty, and the wrongheaded thinking among Christians about the subject has created a misapplication of what it is exactly Paul was addressing.

The idea of Christian liberty, in my opinion, has fallen upon hard times nowadays. It is usually defined along the lines as having the freedom to sit in pubs, drink beer, smoke cigars or pipes, and watch popular television programs, while at the same time conversing about theology. Many of those new libertines once circled around in the orbits of strict, fundamentalist congregations that were ran like a concentration camp by straight-laced, kill joy finger-wagers who condemned those activities they now celebrate.

Yet, at the same time, any Christian who even suggests that drinking and smoking and consuming entertainment is not necessarily the wisest testimony to present before the world, are shamed as being legalists. They will be labeled the “weaker” brothers, and some go so far as suggesting that they are “in sin” because they wish to place a yoke of burden upon the “stronger” believers who have been freed by the work of Christ to enjoy their new found merrymaking. The entire scenario is a concept taken from the chapters in Corinthians that are before us here.

drinkingwhat.That liberty/strong and weak conscience dichotomy represents the classic understanding of 1 Corinthians 8-10. It is taught that Paul was responding to an internal squabble taking place in the church of Corinth over whether or not Christians were at liberty to eat food that had been offered in sacrifice to idols. Two factions had emerged. On the one hand there were the so-called strong believers who felt that all Christians have the ethical freedom because of Christ to eat any food that may have been offered to idols. Yet on the other, there were Christians in the church, who came out of the rank paganism of the Corinthian culture, who are weak in conscience regarding the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

The strong believers wrote Paul asking him to arbitrate the dispute. They wanted his instructions regarding the matter, especially they wanted Paul to inform the weak to stop worrying about offending God with partaking of delicious food that just so happened to be sacrificed to idols. When Paul wrote back to them in our letter that is 1 Corinthians, he sided theologically with the strong, but rebuked them for not considering the weaker brothers among them. Instead of giving them total freedom to eat a succulent prime rib that just so happened to have been used in a sacrifice to idols and telling the weak to shut up and enjoy their freedom, he informed the strong to lay aside their liberty for the sake of the weaker brothers serving them until they had sufficiently matured in conscience so as to enjoy the prime rib with them.

That interpretation is the standard one taught from the pulpits and believed by most Christians today; but it misses the point of the passage.

Rather than Paul deciding between two groups arguing at Corinth over whether or not the food they were eating was tainted with pagan hands, Paul was disagreeing with all the arrogant, enlightened Corinthians who insisted they could be a practicing believer AND still participate in idol temple ceremonies that were a staple of their culture there in Corinth. Chapters 8-10 isn’t about eating food that just so happened to have been used in a pagan sacrifice. Paul was telling them to get out of the temples and stop eating idol food all together, because the food was being eaten during a pagan service. These chapters have nothing to do with the freedom of strong believers eating food sacrificed to idols and deferring to the weak in conscience.

Now, before I unpack all of that, a little background is in order.

We in the 21st century, western society really cannot comprehend the power of religion, particularly a pagan, non-Christian one, forming our political-social lives. Here in the good ole U.S of A., we consider ourselves a “Christianized” nation, but if we are honest about it, we for the most part experience a secularized version of the Judeo-Christian ethic. As much as atheists will complain bitterly that atheism is shut out of the political arena and a person has to be a Christian to run for office because the entire US is “Christianized,” given the trajectory of our country’s moral decline, that is absolutely untrue.

Probably the closest we can come to the situation in Corinth during the time of Paul would be Islamic states and those countries where Roman Catholicism has a heavy influence among the people like Croatia and Mexico. India, with its commitment to Hinduism would be another, as well as a number of Asian nations committed to Buddhism. In those countries the politics and culture are interwoven to such a degree with the main religion that it dominates everything.

When the Apostles began to take the Gospel into the uttermost parts of the world beyond the boundaries of Israel, they went into a world that was pagan with a myriad of different religions, idols galore, and temples everywhere. We see in the book of Acts how the Gospel bumped up against idolatry. For instance, in Acts 14:11-13 the pagans tried to sacrifice to Paul thinking he was a god, Acts 17 records Paul’s famous encounter on Mar’s Hill in Athens, and in Acts 19, a riot breaks out in Ephesus when Paul preached the Gospel and challenged the cult of Diana.

A huge part of the pagan religious world was the feasts served in idol temples. Those feasts were what connected the pagan gentile to his culture and his gods. Just think about the religious milieu that was part of the everyday living for the OT Jews. In the same way, the temple practices were at the center of every facet of their lives, and the feasts and food offerings God required were considered to be so important that He brought judgment upon Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, for their sacrilege with mishandling those offerings on behalf of Israel.

Thus, when we come to Paul’s letters in the NT, idolatry and idol worship were a major theme he often addressed. For example, in his two letters to the Corinthians, Paul explained how idols were a part of their former lives (1 Corinthians 6:9), how idols lead people astray (1 Corinthians 12:2), and asked the Corinthians what business does God’s people (that would be them) have with idols (2 Corinthians 6:16).

In other NT passages Paul commends the Thessalonians for turning away from idols to the true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). In Acts 15:20,29 it is interesting that the letter from the Jerusalem counsel told gentiles to abstain from fornication, things strangled, consuming blood, and idols. Acts 21:25 reiterates those same commands.

With those passages in mind, it is important to recognize that Paul is not okaying the so-called stronger believer eating a pot roast he bought at a market that was only offered in a sacrifice. The fact that the Jerusalem counsel condemned all of the areas gentiles participates in when worshiping in a false, idolatrous religion, and the fact that Paul spoke against idolatry throughout his epistles, makes it clear he was not talking about a pot roast someone bought at a market that was offered to an idol. What he was telling the Corinthians in 8-10 was to get away from the idols and temples and the pagan feast.

But we need to keep in mind that it was a major struggle for the gentiles to abandon their idolatry. That is because the new gentile Christians came from a pagan saturated society. Eating a meal in a temple to a deity would be a big, social-economic opportunity. It would be difficult to just give that up. Participating in those ceremonies and showing interest in the goings on in the local temple is what made them Roman or Corinthian. It demonstrated they were fit for leadership, that they were diverse and multicultural. In our day, it would be similar to attending a gay wedding of a business colleague. 

What the Corinthians were proposing to Paul was not the question of “do you think it is okay for us to eat food sacrificed to idols,” but rather they were brashly stating, “What’s the problem with attending pagan festivals and eating food sacrificed to idols?”

First Corinthians 8-10 lays out four reasons why it was a problem for the Corinthian Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

1. It was a danger to believers

2. It disqualified one’s ministry

3. It destroyed Israel

4. It disrupted the fellowship among believers

I’ll consider each one of these points in turn as I work my way through these chapters over the course of the next few posts.

Thomistic Irony

learningtoflyI wanted to offer some comments on this post,

Aquinas or Van Til? Testimony of a campus minister

It was written in response to a talk that Scott Oliphint gave at the ReformedCon 2016 conference called Reformed or Romanist? Dr. Oliphint reviewed and critiqued a book entitled Evangelical Exodus, a collection of testimonies by former students and faculty from Southern Evangelical Seminary who had apostasized to the Roman Catholic Church. As Dr. Oliphint points out in his lecture, according to their testimony, those individuals went to Roman due in part to their exposure to Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy.

Thomism is the backbone philosophy behind Roman Catholicism and classic apologetics, and because it is the philosophical methodology taught at SES, Dr. Oliphint’s talk obviously ruffled some feathers. The author of this article took umbrage with Dr. Oliphint’s lecture, and so he in turn attempts to alleviate his criticisms by explaining why classical Thomism is more robust an apologetic methodology than presuppositionalism. However, in doing so, he offers up some head scratching irony, at least in my opinion.

He begins by telling us how he held to presuppositionalism for nearly 15 years after having read Van Til who he says gave him the certainty he longed for; but then he moved to classical apologetics.

Those remarks makes me wonder about his overall theology. Presuppositionalism is derived from a Calvinistic soteriology. In other words, when the presuppositionalist engages the lost person with the Gospel, the revelation of Scripture informs him of specific anthropological descriptions of the person with whom he is speaking. The Bible tells us that all men are separated from God and blinded in their sins. Hence, what is needed in the conversation is a proclamation of the Gospel message that will bring that person to a saving knowledge of Christ.  For the presuppositionalist, answering apologetic objections is a secondary matter in the overall encounter with a lost person.

I can only assume he still maintains a biblical understanding of man’s sin nature and the noetic effects of the fall, but I find that hard to believe given that he writes, “The classical method, however, is rooted in realism and the reliability of sense-perception, and is therefore the better path.” and “Rather, because sense-perception is reliable, I can have common ground with unbelievers, and show them the evidence for Christianity in a robust, yet simple way.”

Like all classicists, he naively places a lot of faith in the “sense-perception” of unbelievers. If he held to presuppositionalism for 15 years, I would think he understood what Van Til taught about unbelievers and the so-called reliability of their “sense-perception.” While it is true that they may perceive things with their senses, that doesn’t mean their perception is reliable. God intends for mankind to perceive reality according to the manner in which He created it. Scripture declares, however, that unbelievers suppress that truth in unrighteousness. Put another way, they intentionally deny or explain away the reliability of their perception, because they hate God and want nothing to do with Him.

I was also curious about his comparison of Van Til’s apologetics to that of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy. He writes,

…presuppositionalism was my meat and potatoes for nearly a decade and a half, ever since reading Cornelius Van Til. Van Til gave me the certainty I longed for. That is, Hume’s radical skepticism was solved by the Kantian notion of transcendentals, but with a different spin: it is the Triune God and Holy Scripture which are the necessary preconditions of knowledge.

He then goes on to conclude why Thomism is a better apologetic method by stating,

I can demonstrate important truths, like the existence of God i.e. Aquinas’ 5 Ways, and the historical reliability of Scripture without resorting to lengthy discussions about Hume’s problem of induction, Kantian transcendentalism and resultant idealism, and the supposed epistemological certainty that presuppositionalism attempts to offer (a form of realism, it seems, based upon presupposing the ontological Trinity and the Bible as the Word of God). 

Now it is important to distinguish what Kant meant by the word “transcendentals,” because it is not the same thing Van Til meant.

I would encourage folks to pick up John Frame’s massive work, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, so as to get firm overview of the development of general philosophy and all the accompanying terms, as well as how philosophy interacts with biblical theology. Frame has an extended discussion on Kant’s philosophical worldview that is insightful.

Without getting bogged down in a lot of the philosophical gobbledygook, Kant’s predecessors, like David Hume, believed philosophy was essentially an exploration of discovery: a person started at one philosophical landmark and followed a trail to the next.  The starting point was self-evident axioms (rationalism) or sense experience (empiricism). The method was to follow the axioms or the sense data wherever they seemed to lead the person, [See Frame, 254].

Considering what I have learned from the classic apologists I have interacted with for a while now, that is exactly how they describe their apologetic methodology. They affirm what they call “first principles” or “self-evident” truths regarding reality, and then using Aristotelian philosophy and the five proofs of Thomism, build a cumulative case for the existence of God and the reliability of the Christian faith.

Coming back to Immanuel Kant, he believed that our most basic knowledge comes about not by the world’s impressing it on the mind (following the “self-evident” landmarks and building a case), but by the mind’s imposing various concepts on the raw data given to it by the world, [see Frame, 256]. Put simply, for Kant, in order to understand the nature of reality, a person must examine the reasoning process that governs the nature of experience. Philosophical knowledge begins with men who already know because they are men with minds, and how it is they interpret the world with that knowledge.

Van Til, on the other hand, speaks of transcendentals and the need to confront the reasoning process that men employ when interpreting the world, but he is building his apologetic approach from the revelation of Scripture.

The Bible provides us with specific descriptions of fallen man’s nature and reasoning abilities, which, according to the Bible, is hostile to God, Romans 8:7. They want nothing to do with their creator. So what may be considered “self-evident” truths for the classical apologist is not at all “self-evident” for a hostile person in spiritual rebellion against his creator. His reasoning will bring an entirely different set of interpretations to those so-called “self-evident” truths and he will draw entirely different conclusions about them.

Van Til recognized the spiritual dimension to man’s fallen reasoning and his interaction within the world where God, his Creator, has placed him. Because man, according to Scripture, hates God, he will not reason about that world in the way God expects him to do. Van Til zeroes in upon that inconsistent disconnect between the way the fallen man wrongly reasons about the world in which he lives and challenges him with the Gospel. Man’s reasoning problem is his spiritual separation from his Creator. When Christ saves a person, that individual is now clothed, as it were, and in his right mind, Mark 5:15.

Having stated all of that, those points were not the most glaring examples of irony. Keep in mind that this post was written as a brief rebuttal to a talk Scott Oliphint gave in which he suggested that Thomistic philosophy was turning a number of SES graduates into Roman Catholics.

In his effort to respond to Oliphint, the author highlights a book he says is recommended by SES faculty entitled The Last Superstition: A Refutation of New Atheism, by a guy named Edward Feser. The book allegedly demonstrates the intellectual ability Thomism has in trouncing the foggy thinking of new atheism, because Thomism, based upon Aristotle’s four causes, explains reality much better than what Kantian transcendentalism can.

The irony: Feser is a Roman Catholic!

I hope we can appreciate the humor here, because it is as obvious as the pope’s funny hat.

funnyhatIn fact, if you go to Feser’s Wiki page, it tells how he was an atheist for about a decade before his reading of Aristotle — and get this, THOMAS AQUINAS — led him back to the Catholic Church.  A book written by a Roman Catholic, explaining how he read Thomas Aquinas’s apologetic philosophy that led him back to the arms of Rome, is recommend by the faculty of SES for the students to read. Hello?

In a podcast put out by the folks at SES, it was suggested that it may be a good thing to shore up their teaching on the Reformers by exposing the students to them in class. That, I would agree, would be a fabulous idea. The problem, however, is that I can never see that happening as long as Norman Geisler is alive; I don’t believe he would allow it if he has any say in the matter.

However, if that does happen, may I suggest that the administrators at SES secure some solid lecturers on the subject and require all the student body to hear from them, rather than assigning an associate professor to teach a few elective classes on a general overview of the Reformation. There are a number of excellent teachers the students would benefit from immensely, like Stephen Nichols at Ligonier Ministries, or Sinclair Ferguson, or Carl Trueman, or even, *gasp,* James White, who I know would be absolutely elated to come and teach. Pulling together classes like that would go a long way in inoculating the kids from the bitter waters of the Tiber.

Gleanings from Judges [8]

gideonThe Calling of Gideon – Judges 6

Of all the accounts recorded in Judges, Gideon’s is unique in that his is probably the longest one with the exception of Samson. Gideon’s judgeship and its aftermath covers four chapters, 6-9.

His account can be divided into two sections. Chapters 6-8 tell of Gideon’s deliverance of Israel from the Midianites, and then chapter 9 tells the story of his son, Abimelech.

With this post, I’ll introduce the first major section when Gideon delivers Israel from the Midianites.

Israel Punished

Once again, as is the habit of sinful people, Israel rebelled against the LORD. One would think that after a few times this situation happened, the people would begin to get right; but not so.

After 40 years of rest following the judgship of Barak and Deborah, the next generation or so begins to act wickedly before the LORD. This time, Israel is punished by the hand of the Midianites. Now who exactly were they?

The Midianites have a close kinship with Israel. Genesis 25:2-4 tells how Abraham took a second wife named Keturah after the death of Sarah. She bore him a number of children – Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Ohuah. Those children and their families begot many of the Arab peoples we know today. Not Ismael, necessarily, who was Abraham’s son by Hagar, but the children from Keturah.  The children of Midian grew into several clans later know as the Midianites.

Genesis 37:25-36 tells how the Midianites were the caravaners who took Joseph to Egypt. In Exodus 2:15-22, Moses father-in-law was a Midianite named Reuel/Jethro. Later in Numbers 25:15-17, Balaam stirred up the Midianites against Israel and they were caused to fall into sexual sin because of them. They were later punished in Numbers 31.

Coming to Judges 6:1ff., the Midianites appear to be a prosperous people. In fact, when Israel went to war with them in Numbers 31, an immense amount of spoil was seized from them, 72,000 oxen and 16,750 shekles of gold. Here in Judges, they had domesticated sheep and camels. The camels were a perfect animal used in their caravans and nomadic trading life.

Israel Pundered

God used the Midianites, who worked with the Amalekites, another reoccurring enemy of Israel, along with another unnamed people group in the east, to bring judgment upon Israel. The Midianites would come up to the fertile farm land of Central Israel, and squat there. They would bring their families and livestock and basically eat up all the produce. They are described as locus without number.

Israel, rather than fighting them off, would flee to the hills and hide themselves in caves and makeshift strongholds. They probably had to hide their livestock there and what little food the could harvest before the invasion. Those circumstances were foretold in Deuteronomy 28:33, 38-42, and 51, when God said that if Israel sins, He would give their land to their enemies. Israel would cultivate and plant, but the enemies would come and eat of the harvest.

Israel Rebuked

Israel is said to have “cried out” to the LORD in verse 7. One has to wonder if it was a cry of genuine repentance or just frustration because of the circumstances. In response, the LORD sends an unnamed prophet to rebuke the people. He begins by reminding them of Who it was that brought them out of Egyptian slavery, Who had rescued them from previous oppressors, and had committed Himself to be their God.

The prophet then confronts the people, and draws them to consider the reason for their suffering. They had sinned against their covenant-keeping God. He tells them how they had disobeyed the LORD by fearing the false gods of the Amorites. His was the message of all those sent from God. Elijah will later tell the people, “how long shall you falter between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21), Jesus our LORD said directly that “you cannot serve God and mammon,” and James wrote in his epistle that “friendship with the world is enmity against God” (James 4:4). The same principle applies here in Judges: Israel can no longer fear the false gods of the Amorites, but must turn to fearing the only true and living God.

Call of Gideon

After the prophet leaves, we are introduced to Gideon. From reading 6:11-27, it is clear that Gideon was from a wealthy family. They had servants and his family seemed to be influential leaders in their community. However, Gideon the man was something of a mystic. He wanted signs to provide confirmation of the major decisions in his life. That speaks more to his doubt than his trust in God.

The Angel of the LORD appears to Gideon at the time he was threshing wheat in the winepress. The winepress, by the way, was a terrible place to thresh wheat. One had to work extra hard to separate the chaff from the kernels with no breeze to help.

The Angel of the LORD says to Gideon that the LORD is with you! Gideon’s response was sarcastic, almost bitter and accusatory of God, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?” He goes on to complain about not seeing God’s miracles and that He has forsaken Israel. It is an attitude of unbelief; the kind of smug bitterness witnessed even today among “churched” unbelievers who now want nothing to do with biblical Christianity and instead seek out man-made substitutes like liberal denominations that tickle the ears.

The Angel of the LORD, however, graciously continues to exhort Gideon. He even tells Gideon that He is the LORD who will go with him into defeating the Midianites.  In spite of his excuses, the Angel of the LORD entertains Gideon’s request to perform a sign. (As if God’s Word is not good enough).

Having some sense of awareness to who it was he was speaking, Gideon insists on preparing an offering to the LORD. Gideon pulls together a good amount of food, including preparing a goat, something that would be scarce given their circumstance, and brings it before The Angel of the LORD. He commands Gideon to lay it on a rock, and in a similar fashion when God burned up the sacrifice of Elijah on Mount Carmel, the offering ignites in flame and is consumed.

That night, Gideon is assigned the task of tearing down the false idol of his father’s house. Using two bulls, one that would be later sacrificed (keep in mind livestock was essentially money), he toppled over the false altar of worship and cut down the wooden image associated with it. He then killed one of the bulls and offered it to the LORD.

One interesting note. Though Gideon was making a rather bold statement with his actions, he did it by night rather than the daytime, because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much.

Neanderthal-Human Babies: Old Earth Apologetics Gone Real Bad

lawyerSo recently on twitter, I had a back and forth with a Reasons to Believe apologist.

It began this way:

I tweeted out the following,

ross1The next day, an associate of Reasons to Believe, tweeted to me the following response,

Ross2Now in fairness, he is absolutely correct. I had mis-tweeted, as it were. Technically, Ross, and RTB apologists, argue that there were soulless hominids that pre-dated the creation of Adam. Those hominids were a lot like modern man, but they lacked the image of God Adam and all his descendants have. They were animals, much like a higher functioning version of the great apes.

None the less, I responded by asking the following,

Ross3A bit of background is in order to explain my question.

More and more every year, researchers are inadvertently proving what biblical, young earth creationists have always maintained: that Neanderthals are an extinct group of people that lived shortly after the Tower of Babel incident and eventually died out. In fact, the very day my RTB Twitter protagonist and I were sparring back and forth about Neanderthals, researchers reported uncovering some underground structures in France probably built by Neanderthals. That discovery demonstrates that they were much more than high functioning great apes.

However, while RTB rightly rejects the evolutionary interpretation of the so-called “science,” they still persist in their commitment to the conclusions of the data, insisting that Neanderthals were non-human animals. That commitment to the non-human aspect of Neanderthals has led them to advance a rather strange, a-theological and unbiblical apologetic that touches the doctrine of Adam’s sin.

Along with discovering Neanderthal artifacts, researchers have also identified that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans. Do a search and you will find a number of articles discussing it. Neanderthal DNA is even identifiable in some modern people groups living today in Europe. Evolutionary propagandist claim it is proof that Neanderthals and humans share a common evolutionary ancestor. Creationist have always said it merely proves Neanderthals were humans all along, descended from Adam and Eve.

The fact that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans (according to the secular evolutionary view) is a major problem for the RTB “biblical model” that has been developed by Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana to explain hominid fossils and other early man-like creatures. As far back as 2004, when DNA research was just beginning with Neanderthals and there was no specific proof of so-called Neanderthal-modern human interbreeding, Fuz Rana wrote this for the RTB blog,

Despite compelling evidence, a minority of paleoanthropologists still believe (as do some Christians) that Neanderthals made a genetic contribution to modern humans through interbreeding. If Neanderthals interbred with modern humans, then by definition, they must be human. (Emphasis mine. Full article HERE).

Now, one would think that once it was discovered that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred, RTB would modify, or even better, entirely retool, their model and apologetic talking points. I mean, RTB apologists insist that they want to acknowledge the clear evidence of the 67th book of the Bible, right? Nope. They dug in.

I recall vividly back in 2010 a Stand to Reason podcast (listen HERE) on which Fuz Rana discussed with Greg Koukl the biblical worldview (well, the RTB “biblical” worldview) of how Christians can explain the genetic interbreeding evidence. He appealed to bestiality, and explained that the abomination of Leviticus 18 regarding bestiality may possibly have had in mind the previous interbreeding of humankind with Neanderthals.

I was gobsmacked. Seriously? I couldn’t believe what was coming out of my earbuds. As of last year, their stance has remained pretty much the same. If you go to RTB’s website, search for “Neanderthals,” the top link to pop up is a 30 minute podcast Rana did explaining the RTB position on them. Again, he pushed the interbreeding/bestiality angle.

My twitter opponent responded to my question with the same line of argumentation,

ross5

Ross4He goes on to explain in a later tweet that Neanderthals are similar enough to humans that they could reproduce together, but that the mating itself would be considered sinful.

Yikes!

Here is where I have a serious problem with the RTB apologetic for Neanderthals. That view has major ramifications against the imputation of Adam’s sin, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and what it means to be a person created in God’s image.

First, the Genesis account clearly states that when God created the sea creatures, birds, and land animals, He did so “after their kinds.” See specifically Genesis 1.  In other words, God created abundant and diverse creatures to fill the earth, and it is implied that when they reproduce, they do so “after their kind.” Meaning, animals can only reproduce with other similar animals “after their kind.”

The general point that Genesis records is that like animals reproduce with like animals, i.e., horse+donkey=mule. God has set a genetic boundary, as it were, upon the creatures He made. So sharks for example, will not reproduce with dolphins, or wolves with badgers, or human beings with chimps, or any high functioning great ape. It doesn’t matter if there is similar DNA, we are not the same “kind” as a chimp or orangutan.

Contrary to my twitter opponent, if Neanderthals are similar enough so that they and humans can mate and produce children, they are of the same kind, meaning, human beings, descended from Adam, bearing the image of God. Even Fuz Rana, back in 2004 when he originally wrote on Neanderthal interbreeding with human beings, acknowledged as much when he stated that if proof of interbreeding comes forth, then Neanderthals are people.

Given RTB’s adoption of secular time tables for Neanderthals living on the earth for roughly 5,000 years with modern man some 40,000 years ago, why would it be sinful for human beings at that time to mate with them? Seriously? The prohibition against bestiality is given to Israel as they entered the land of Canaan. God specifically condemned Canaanite false worship practices, the participation of bestiality being one of those practices. Would bestiality with Neanderthals even enter their mind when Moses gave that prohibition?

If the RTB model is true, and that at some point in the past modern human beings bred with Neanderthals, a profound, theological difficulty emerges. Humanity, according to Scripture (Romans 5 specifically), inherit Adam’s sin and guilt from his disobedience in the garden. All of his progeny (you know, the entire human race) has Adam’s sin imputed to them. Where exactly does that leave the first generation Neanderthal/human hybrid offspring? Is that human-Neanderthal baby identified with Adam’s sin? Like that old Puritan grammar book, “A is for Adam in whom we all fall.” Is it part of the fallen human race in need of redemption? Or is it excused because it is half man, half animal?

oinkA half man, half Neanderthal Jerry!

That would also raise the question as to when the offspring actually begin to be identified with Adam’s sin. Meaning, when the half man, half Neanderthal mates with another human, will that Neanderthal offspring with the 1/4 Neanderthal blood now be considered guilty of Adam’s sin? Or does the “Neanderthal” have to be bred out sufficiently before the person is an actual person and has Adam’s sin imputed to him?

The most serious theological consequence with RTB’s view of Neanderthal-human hybrids is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, again Romans 5, as well as 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ could impute to His people His righteousness because He is our kinsman redeemer. He is a kinsman in that when he took on humanity, He is now considered our “next of kin.” He has the judicial authority to be our substitute in our place before God. The problem is that no Neanderthal-human hybrid could ever have Christ’s righteousness because it would be animal and not human. In short, given RTB’s view of Neanderthals, if they reproduced with human beings descended from Adam, they could not be saved. Of course, that is assuming they are considered “in Adam” to begin with.

The reason I am even addressing the subject is that Reasons to Believe and their old earth apologetic is often times the default, go-to resource for creation/evolution issues among the classical, neo-apologetic ministries and blogger groups I encounter on social media.

Twitter feeds, for example, like the The Poached Egg, Stand to Reason, Ratio Christi, and a host of others, will occasionally link and promote the OEC position of RTB because they have been told they are the reasonable ones when defending Genesis and the creation narrative. They don’t put unnecessary stumbling blocks before unbelievers like telling them they have to believe God created the world miraculously in 6 days.

Yet in their efforts to appear reasonable before the world, as noble as they may be, a central, core doctrine of the Christian faith is adversely effected. Now RTB claims that is not the case at all, and in point of fact, would probably say I am blowing their views of Neanderthal-human hybrids way out of proportion. But given what the Bible clearly states about the imputation of Adam, the work of Christ, and that God has so ordered His creation so that animal kinds cannot reproduce with other animal kinds, the RTB Neanderthal hybrid apologetic is not just a strange view, but comes perilously close to being described as heresy.

BTWN: The Home School Vs. Public School Episode

homeschoolersI had the privilege once again to join the BTWN fellas to kick around a few topics. First, we discussed what church growth should look like for a congregation. Then we turned to Christian potheads, man. And then we spent the remainder of our time in a spirited discussion about whether or not Christian parents can send their kids to public school. Tim and I took the affirmative, Len the negative.

BTWN: Episode 174

Just to summarize my position regarding the great homeschooling/public school debate if I were not clear enough on the podcast:

– My wife and I currently home school all five of our children. In fact I have written about our views HERE and HERE.

– I do not believe God forbids Christian parents from sending their kids to secular, public schools. There is not a Bible verse anywhere in Scripture that says a parent has to home school.

– The exhortations to train your kids in godliness and so forth, found in Deuteronomy and other similar passages that homeschooling advocates often appeal to for their anti-PS convictions, are not addressing a general education a child would receive in either a public school or at home.

– Instead, passages in Scripture exhorting the teaching of God’s Word to children and raising them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord are speaking specifically to the parents role in raising their children to fear God and to obey His law. Parents can do that while still sending their kids to public school.

– That said, I do share many of the concerns of anti-PS homeschooling advocates. I understand that secular educators and education can have an agenda. Christians must not be naive regarding that fact.

– However, public schools differ from community to community. Some will be more liberal than others, while some extremely conservative than others. My family happens to live in a conservative oriented school district in LA county. Parents need to use discernment and discretion when choosing how they will educate their kids.

– It is grossly inaccurate and a ridiculous exaggeration on the part of anti-PS homeschooling onlyists to automatically charge all public schools and their teachers/administrators everywhere across America as attempting to steal the heart of children from Jesus and to turn them against God.

– Parents who do send their children to public school need to be extra vigilant in what it is their children are learning, who their friends are, who their teachers are, what are the influences, etc.

– The more the parents are involved with their kids education with such things as helping with homework, reviewing assignments and lessons, and even giving of their time at their local school, the more they will be equipped to address issues that may confront their kids and interact with educators and administration.

– Homeschooling is absolutely no guarantee that your children will be safe from worldliness and anti-theistic philosophies, or even that they will be saved. I know a number of loving, God-fearing parents who home schooled their children who never once darkened a PS door, who are now hellions and/or hostile toward their parents and the Christian faith. Anti-homeschooling blogs exist for a reason.

Peter Ruckman: The Crank as Artist

lifePeter Ruckman died. In a Chick tract-style nightmare, he was stripped naked and hauled by a gigantic angel to stand before a glowing outline of Jesus as the universe watched his entire life play out on a enormous drive-in movie screen.

Ruckman was the grandfather of 20th-century wild-eyed, kooksville KJV Onlyism. He was to KJVOlyism what Rousas Rushdoony was to modern theonomy and L.Ron Hubbard to Scientology. A despicable character who was both unfit for the pulpit and unqualified to be called a minister of God, Ruckman’s brawling rhetoric spawned at least two generations of worthless, pugnacious, “bad attitude” fighting Baptists whose doctrines have become a malignancy upon Christ’s Church.

He had an overheated type-writer from which his fevered mind birthed a number of his false doctrines he published in rambling, often times incoherent commentaries, so-called “Bible studies,” and of course his monthly Bible Believer’s Bulletin screeds.

I was first bewitched by Ruckman’s written materials when I was a stupid, untaught new Christian in college. As a recent convert to KJVOnlyism, I secured his book, Problem Texts, that attempts to provide an explanation for every apparent contradiction in the King James Bible. I thought it would help me answer skeptics on my school campus. It only helped to keep me mired in error and made Christianity a laughing stock. Probably the most bizarre of his books is called Black is Beautiful in which he writes about UFOs, government conspiracies, and other paranormal activity. A full review can be read here, Refuse Profane and Old Wives’ Fables.

A commenter on another blog reminded us how Ruckman illustrated all of his book covers. In fact, his crude chalk drawing style is copied for a lot of the lame, seizure-inducing KJVO websites that look like they were created using Windows ME “Paint,” we see on the internet today.

Here are some of his better gems,

liarslibraryhypercalvinismI think he is confusing garden variety, biblical Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism.
The donkey ears are a nice touch, though.

mythologicalmarkrapturesclownsvilleI think this is his take on the Brownsville Revival, which took place in Pensacola

masterpieceHere’s another version,

satanA number of years ago, one of his sons contacted me out of the blue to fill me in on a particularly aggressive KJVO opponent I had been tussling with on my blog. His son was an amiable fellow, and though he was not in agreement with a lot of his father’s ministry, he said that his dad was the real deal, believing everything that he taught and producing the volumes of printed material all on his own.

As “real” and sincere as he might have been, his stuff will only lead a person to spiritual disaster. I can only pray his wretched teachings will fade from the collective memory of the faithful in the Christian church.