Gleanings from Judges [2]

molechThe Destruction of the Canaanites

Judges can be a disturbingly dark and tragic book. We see the people of God sliding into apostasy, becoming like the pagans they were told to destroy from out of the land.

But the book of Judges really begins in Genesis, for that is where we have the record of Canaan’s cursing after Ham’s sing against his father, Noah (Genesis 9:20-28). The Canaanites became the inhabitants of the land God promises to Israel, and throughout Genesis and Exodus, the people who descended from Canaan persecuted the people of Israel and engaged in unimaginable wickedness.

The question before we get into the book of Judges proper is simply this, Why would God insist upon killing every last Canaanite? (Deuteronomy 7:1-6, 20:16ff.) All because their fore-father, Ham, looked upon a naked, drunk Noah? Not only that, God commanded the destruction of everything: man, woman, child, and even animals.

Those are important questions to ponder because skeptics raise those commands of God as a reason why He shouldn’t be worshiped. Anytime modern, Islamic atrocities by jihadists are perpetrated, critics will say God’s OT commands to destroy the Canaanites is really no different. God is basically commanding the genocide of innocent people critics will argue.

Yet is that truly the case?

Back in Genesis 15:12-16, God gives a unique prophecy to Abraham. He tells him,

12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.
13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.
15 “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.
16 “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

Note verse 16 that speaks to the iniquity of the Amorites not yet being completed, or full. The word “Amorites” is also a general description of the Canaanites. It is all of those nations and tribes living in the land promised to Israel. According to God’s word, Abraham’s people would not be brought in the land until the iniquity is full. What would essentially be another 650 years, over half a millennium.

Fast-forwarding to the time immediately before the conquest, God says through Moses in Deuteronomy 9:1-6 that Israel was being brought into the land specifically as a military instrument of divine judgment against those nations. Verses 4 and 5 state,

4 “Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you.
5 “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God describes those nations as practicing wickedness, or evil.

So the question is, what sort of wickedness? What exactly were their iniquities God was judging?

Idolatry. Idolatry reflected their religious beliefs. The Canaanites believed the forces of nature are expressions of divine presence and activity. In order to prosper in their daily lives, such as raising animals, crops, having families, or gain victory in military conquests, the right god had to be identified. Their worship was designed to encourage that particular god to favor the person or people. Elaborate rituals and ceremonies were enacted to appease that god and to bend its will toward the tribe or nation.

El was the head god. He was a powerful father figured, but was impersonal and had no real interest in human affairs.

His wife was Asherah, who was also worshiped. She was something of an environmental mother nature figured who was worshiped in groves of trees, particularly evergreen trees, that were planted and cultivated for the purpose of creating a sacred site. When there was revival in Israel, one of the first things done to drive out the false gods was to cut down the groves or burn the Asherah.

Baal was their son who became the storm god, the one who brought rain and crops. He threatened El and was said to have struggled victoriously against the gods of the sea, the rivers, and death. After defeating his foes he took Asherah (at his father’s behest) as his consort. Their incestuous relationship produced his sister, Anat.

It was believed the rain was Baal’s semen that fertilizes the earth. Hence, the rituals of the Canaanites would dramatize that myth and were highly sexual. To engage in the idolatry of the Canaanites was best described in Scripture as “whoring after other gods.”

Incest. Because Baal commited incest with his mother, his sister, and even his daughter, it became a practice of the Canaanite culture. Recall Lot’s daughters who committed incest with him. They were raised in the influence of a Canaanite region called Sodom and Gomorrah.

Adultery. As I noted, Canaanite religion involved sexual rituals, many of which that employed the use of temple prostitution. The story of El committing adultery with two goddesses became a ritual that was to be repeated five times by the company and the singers of the assembly gathered to worship.

Child Sacrifice. One of the more disturbing elements of the Canaanite worship was the sacrifice of children to Molech, the Canaanite god of the underworld. He was pictures as an upright, bullheaded idol with a human body. Basically a minotaur. The belly was designed as a furnace. A child would be laid upon the outstretched arms of the image. It wasn’t only infants, but children as old as four would be roasted alive on that demonic idol.

Historian, Plutarch, who allegedly witnessed one of those horrifying services, describes how the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums so that the wailing children agonizing in the heat could not reach the ears of the people.

Homosexuality and Bestiality. There is no surprise those two depraved acts would occur because their gods practiced those perversions. The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is evidence of the practice of homosexuality.

Now we understand why God was bringing judgment upon Canaan. The Canaanites were not innocent cabbage farmers minding their own business. Their culture was utterly depraved. They performed wickedness that is in some respects even worse than the atrocities done in our modern day in areas controlled by ISIS. That is why God outlines those sins in Leviticus 18 and declares them as terrible abominations.

Sadly, as we will see in Judges, Israel began to adopt those practices when they fell away from their covenant faithfulness to the LORD.

Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [7]

itaintbibleIt has been a number of months since I took up Jack McElroy’s KJV only book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? I had to put aside my reviews for a little while because the book was just becoming so wearisome to read. However, I didn’t want to abandon the project entirely. There are a few remaining posts I can draw out of the book. As I noted in my last entry, rather than providing a chapter by chapter review, I plan to interact with specific topics he addresses.

With this post, I come to chapter 10, “Which edition of the King James Bible is “The Bible”?” It is McElroy’s attempt with the use of double-standards and inconsistency to explain away all the differences between the various English editions of the KJV that have been updated and published since 1611. His basic assertion is that all of the KJVs ever published can be called the “Word of God.” In fact, he insists that the Lord would never be ashamed of any edition of the KJV because God has used them all.

Some of his reasoning is odd; perhaps even desperate. In the biggest “for instance,” he defends the insertion of the Apocrypha in the earlier editions of the KJV claiming it “provides valuable background information on the Old and New Testaments.” [163] He further writes, “Even if they’re not inspired [the books of the Apocrypha], those books would never have been originally included if they didn’t have some value” [ibid]. Really?

I find those comments strange given his previous rant in chapter 6 of his book about the influence of Roman Catholics in modern version production. Surely he is aware that the Catholics intentionally declared the Apocrypha inspired during the Council of Trent for the express purpose of refuting the Protestant Reformation? But he is either unaware of it or conveniently dismisses that historical nugget in order to preserve his KJVO apologetic.

But let me unpack that claim a bit more. His entire thesis throughout his book is that the KJV is God’s Bible. In his introduction, McElroy writes,

It’s [the Bible] the only authority we have. We have no pope, no cardinal, no priest, no Watchtower Society, no Church in Salt Lake City. The book is our only and exclusive source of truth. It’s our only and final authority. The Bible (and when I say Bible I mean book) is the foundational document for everything we believe. Our thoughts about God, about why we are here and what we are here for, and the reasons for our hope of eternal life are contained and defined for us in that book [7].

He goes on for a few more paragraphs with similar gushing praise for the King James version being that book and likening it unto the perfection of Jesus Christ. At one point he writes, “Like him, it should be pure — containing all of God’s words and not adulterated with men’s words” [8, emphasis mine].

So let’s break this down:

The earlier editions of the KJV contained the Apocrypha. In fact, the NT in the original KJV has marginal notes cross-referencing back to books from the Apocrypha. For example Hebrews 11:35 with 2 Maccabees 7:7,

hebrewskjv

There are others like Matthew 6:7 referenced with Sirach 7:14, Romans 9:21 with Wisdom 15:7, and John 10:22 with 1 Maccabees 4:59. Certainly the KJV translators saw some connection to the NT.

Even though he says those books are not inspired, you know, breathed out by God, McElroy insists they are valuable none the less because if God initially included them, He must’ve had a divine reason for doing so. Yet now those books no longer exist in any published King James one would find available at the local Bible Baptist Bookstore. Why is that?

If the books of the Apocrypha are not inspired, does that make them “men’s words?” But McElroy has told us that our Bible should be pure, containing ALL of God’s words and should never be adulterated with men’s words. If we follow his logic here, God included the Apocrypha, and if God included the Apocrypha for some unstated purpose, those books cannot be adulterated men’s words, which I think would mean they are inspired, right?

Yet they are no longer found in the KJV.  Did God choose to remove them? If so, why? Especially given McElroy’s claim that they would not have been included if God hadn’t intended them to be. Does he not see how goofy his defense of the KJV is becoming? I can only concluded that God either made a mistake or at some point changed His word for no apparent reason and rescinded His revelation.

dehartsI’d bet an order of chili-cheese tater tots you wouldn’t find one of them
Apocrypha KJVs at DeHarts.

Moving on…

McElroy pulls together comparison lists of what he calls, “insignificant matters” that show slight changes in grammar, standardized spelling, word order, and the like between the published English editions of the KJV. He argues that those changes had to do solely with the readability of the English printed text of the KJV, and nothing to do with changes or updates to the base Hebrew and Greek text from which the English in the KJV was translated. That is the key distinction. The editions of the KJV only change the English presentation in the printed text. Those changes do not affect the Hebrew and Greek that would transmit doctrinal error into English.

So for example, modern versions, translated from an altered base text, allegedly insert textual error into the Bible when they eliminate the last 12 verses of Mark, or switch the word “God” to “who” in 1 Timothy 3:16, or remove the proof of the Trinity by leaving out 1 John 5:7-8. Whereas the modern versions have their underlying original language source text revised over and over again, the KJV does not.

Of course, anyone with any basic working knowledge of textual and translational studies knows that is a ridiculous exaggeration and grossly disingenuous. It’s an argument against the modern versions that has emerged from the conspiratorial fever swamps of KJV apologists who claim sinister groups and heretics have corrupted the ancient copies of the Bible.

The one area that seems to be completely ignored throughout all of his book is the issue of marginal notes. The KJV, like any good language translation, will have marginal notes explaining a difficult reading or even an alternative reading that maybe found in other original copies of the Hebrew or Greek. The King James translators even noted when a particular reading wasn’t found in the best manuscripts. Take for example the marginal note for Luke 17:36 as it reads in the KJV,

luke17The note states that verse 36 is “wanting in most of the Greek copies.” Why are those dastardly KJV translators casting doubt upon God’s pure Word? It’s like one of those modern perversions Roman Catholic “scholars” have tampered with!

KJV apologists typically dismiss the marginal notes as unimportant and irrelevant. However, that dismissive attitude is easily challenged when the Hebrew qere and ketiv readings are considered.

The qere are marginal notes in the original Hebrew that became main text readings in our English Bibles. As copyists copied, they would come across a reading in the text that was odd, or perhaps unclear, or one the scribes believed was not originally part of the text, or even one that was difficult to read out loud. A scribe would leave the text unchanged, but place a marginal note with the reading he believed really belonged in the text. The word ketiv means, “as it is written” and is the unchanged text associated with a particular qere, or marginal note.

The King James Only Issue site has a more detailed article on the subject, Something “qere” is going on in the KJV. That article links to an extensive list of qere readings that are switched out with the ketiv readings as found in the King James translation. I will highlight one example taken from the KJV Only Issue article to show you what I mean.

In the KJV, Job 13:15 reads, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” The English of the KJV basically gives the idea that even though Job can have his life easily taken away by the Lord, he will still trust him. That’s a solidly orthodox understanding of the English text.

There is one problem, however. The words “in him” comes from the qere marginal reading. The KJV translators inserted it into the main Hebrew text when they translated into English. The words “in him” are translated from a little word “lo.” Combined with the Hebrew word for “hope” or “trust” the verse presents the idea of trusting in him, or trusting in God.

The RSV comes closest to translating the actual ketiv text of the written Hebrew, “Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope; yet I will defend my ways to his face.” The ketiv reading “he will” is pronounced the same as the qere “lo.” The ketiv “lo,” however, is spelled differently. Essentially, they are Hebrew homophones, similar to our English words “morning” or “mourning.” In this instance, though, when it is combined with the Hebrew word for “hope” or “trust” the word is negated to mean “no hope.”

Given the overall themes of the book of Job like eternal security, retributive justice, the folly of trying to earn God’s favor, the verse could be Job’s expression of uncertainty as to what God is doing in his life. “I have no hope in him,” Job complains. In Job’s limited understanding, God is doing what he wants with him; but he will muscle along anyway attempting to justify himself before the Lord.

What needs to be made clear, and is completely left out of McElroy’s book, is that the KJV translators changed the Hebrew text like this in many places. Now, they did what every sensible and honest translator of the Bible does: picked the readings they believed best explained the context. But it cannot be ignored that they altered the base text in doing so.

It is those sorts of little details that are conveniently left out of KJVO polemics. When they are examined, they demonstrate the major inconsistencies in the KJV apologetic.

Rachel Held Evans Then and Now

Sibylline Oracle, Rachel Held Evans, September 7, 2012,

God’s name is not something to use to score political points.  It’s not something to throw around lightly or to use as a weapon against a political opponent. God and Our Political Platforms.

God’s little sweetheart, Rachel Held Evans, November 19, 2012,

This, I believe, is the real evangelical disaster—not that Barack Obama is president and Mitt Romney is not, but that evangelicalism has gotten so enmeshed with politics, its success or failure can be gauged by an election. The Real “Evangelical Disaster”

Rachel Held Evans, January 30, 2016,

Rachel Held Evans, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Rachel Held Evans is a Christian blogger and the author of Faith Unraveled, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and Searching for Sunday.In addition, Ms. Evans speaks at retreats, conferences, universities, and churches across the country. She has been featured on NPR, Slate, The BBC, The Washington Post,  The Huffington Post, CNN, The View, and The Today Show, and in 2012, she was named one ofChristianity Today’s “50 Women to Watch.”  Ms. Evans received a B.A. from Bryan College.

President Obama Announces Key Administration Posts

Remember kids, Christians and politics is bad and makes Jesus cry when conservative, evangelical Bible-believing Christians are involved. But enlightened, faith-building when leftist, pseudo-Christian bloggers are involved.

Gleanings From Judges [1]

judges

The Background to the Book of Judges

A few years ago, I had the opportunity of teaching through the book of Judges. The book is a bit foreign to us in the 21st century; but even so, it remains God’s Word and I believe there are many excellent truths we can glean from it.

Judges is a dark book. It represents 350 years during the history of Israel when the people wallowed in sin, wickedness, and apostasy.

Israel disobeyed God’s covenant: Judges 2:1-2 – “Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?”

Moral and religious failure spread throughout the nation, and the people turned from following YHWH: Judges 2:11,12 – “Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger.”

The people embraced spiritual compromise and as a result, they turned themselves over to spiritual apostasy: Judges 3:5-7 – “And the sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth.”

Judges, then, provides us many truths to consider:

– It provides us a picture of how religious and moral compromise can overtake God’s people.
– It is a warning for vigilance against that moral and religious compromise.
– And it is a call to complete commitment to God’s kingship and Christ’s lordship (Judges 21:25)

Judges also sets up the reason why Israel needed a king, a national leader that would unify and bring governance among the people in the ways of YHWH. A leader who would keep the people faithfully committed to the covenant.

Before I get into the book, it would be helpful to know how this situation came to be. What is the background to Israel compromising with pagan nations and their slide into spiritual apostasy? Also, who are these people that Israel was to conquer yet instead compromised with their religious practice? So let me briefly identify the land and the people called “Canaan.”

Canaan was the territory along the Phoenician Coast. The Egyptians called all of western Syria by the name, Canaan. Coming to the Bible, when we turn to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10:6, we discover that Canaan was the 4th son of Ham, the son of Noah.

Canaan’s brothers were Cush, Put, and Mizraim and each one of them are identified with areas in the ancient world where their descendents settled. For instance, Cush is known as Ethiopia and Mizraim is identified with Egypt. Canaan, then, begot the families that produced many of the nations that came into contact with Israel when they entered the land after the Exodus.

Those nations occupied the land God specifically told Israel to wipe out. Deuteronomy 20:16-18 states,

16 “Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.
17 “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,
18 in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.

God placed all of those people groups “under the ban,” as it was known, which means they were to be “utterly destroyed.” The reason being is because they were all connected to a unique situation found in Genesis 9.

It involved a sin committed by one of Noah’s sons that is recorded in Genesis 9:18 ff. Though it appears trivial on the surface, digging deeper, serious wickedness is exposed.

After the flood, Noah, his wife, and their three sons and their wives, make it through to a brand new world. Yet, even though it was a “brand new world” sin also came with them. Noah, it is said, planted a vineyard, made wine, and eventually got drunk. During his stupor, he stripped himself naked and passed out, laying in his tent in a humiliating fashion, exposed for everyone to see. Ham sees him, and the text says he went out to tell his brothers with delight. To basically mock and ridicule their father.

By the way, it is important to note also that there is no indication of Ham physically touching his father. Some suggest that Ham performed an act of homosexual sodomy against Noah while he was in his unconscious, naked state, but that is pure, unsupported conjecture.

The sin Ham committed against his father was really when he went out to tell his brothers. Henry Morris writes in his commentary on Genesis that Ham’s actions (telling his brothers) revealed rebellion against his father’s authority, “plus resentment against the entire moral standard that had been taught and enforced by Noah in his family.” “Fundamentally,” writes Morris, “his act revealed an attitude of resentment against God Himself.” [The Genesis Record, 235]

Noah eventually discovers what happened. You will note how Moses, when he records this shameful event, how Ham is the father of Canaan (9:18,20). That is an important connection, because Noah levels a curse against Canaan. Notice it is not against Ham, but his son Canaan.

Yet, why not against Ham’s other sons? It is uncertain, but perhaps they were God-fearing whereas Canaan was not. He could have expressed the same rebellious disrespect that Ham did; hence, Noah in his curse is speaking prophetically.

Moving through the record of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, we see how the descendants of Canaan become the mortal enemies of God’s people. They were notorious, wicked sinners, profaning the God of heaven and persecuting Israel. Sodom and Gomorrah were the first real indicators of the depths of depravity found in the land of Canaan.

So we can begin to see why God placed them all under the ban and why they were given over to be utterly destroyed. That is what I will take up the next time.

Historical Vs. Origin Science – A Rejoinder

uglycatBack a few months ago I posted a theological geeky article entitled, Historical Science, Observational Science, and Creation. I was interacting with the challenges of an old earth proponent by the name of Luke Nix who maintains his blog called Faithful Thinkers.

Luke claimed in his initial post that the categories historical/origin science and observational/operational science are a false dichotomy. Young earth creationists, like Ken Ham and those Answers in Genesis folks, regularly distinguish operational science from origin science when they respond to their critics.

But, as Luke goes on to suggest, when they make that distinction and try to argue for their position, YEC are simply arguing falsely and are really just giving a reason for Youtube atheist to point and laugh at Jesus. Most importantly, it also cuts against his old earth views that he insists are necessary to make Christianity look rational in the eyes of the skeptic.

In my critique of his article, I tried to show that Luke had manufactured something of a strawman. He starts with inaccurate definitions of what origin and operational science means and from there forward the major criticisms he levels against YEC its use of the distinction falls rather flat. Not only that, but I noted two major pioneer books in the debate between evolutionists and creationists that addressed the very topic of origin science vs. operational science. They specifically utilized the distinction as a key, apologetic talking point and they were written by old earth creationists years before AiG even came into the worldview arena.

I notified Luke for his feedback after I posted my article. I didn’t hear back from him at first, and it wasn’t until around Christmas break that he acknowledged my post. He thanked me for the critique and said he’d respond. And true to his word, he did shortly after the new year. His rebuttal attempts to take me to task,

Historical Science, Observational Science, and Creation – A Clarification and a Critique

I have to confess I was a bit disappointed with his response. Primarily because he didn’t even attempt to interact with my review and rebuttal of his major arguments he claims refutes the alleged false dichotomy YEC make distinguishing between historical and operational science.

I will say, however, that I was appreciative of the fact that he at least reluctantly acknowledged the philosophical implications of his position. In other words, he acknowledges the fact that YEC consider (rightly, in my mind) historical science inadequate as a source of knowledge and truth. That’s because historical science relies heavily upon indirect, circumstantial evidence. Indirect, circumstantial evidence must be interpreted and so the majority conclusions that are often times extrapolated from those interpretations are heavily dependent upon the presuppositions of the person making them.

Luke, however, totally rejects that historical science is fraught with those philosophical notions. So much so that he charged me with misrepresenting the authors of those two works I noted. He even claims they affirm his position. That got me all riled up and I am going to show you that such is hardly the case.

Let me begin with The Mystery of Life’s Origins written by Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen. Again, a scanned PDF of the book is available online HERE.

The authors spend a number of pages in the epilogue discussing the distinction between origin/historical science and operational science. I didn’t provide any citations in my first article because that wasn’t my point; but seeing that Luke insists I’m misrepresenting those men, I’ll provide selective quotes.

First, regarding the definition of operational science the authors write,

Notice, however, that this approach to testing theories only works if there is some pattern of recurring events against which theories can be checked and falsified if they are false. Through repeated observation attention is focused on a class of events, each of which is similar. The equations describing the behavior of the class would be applicable to any of its individual members. Let us say,for example,we have a theory about earth orbiting the sun and we propose to test it by predicting a solar eclipse. Although a particular eclipse would be the focus of the experiment, the result would apply to solar eclipses as a general class. Because there are recurring patterns of celestial movements we can test the theory. Such theories are operation theories. That is, they refer to the ongoing operation of the universe. We shall call the domain of operation theories operation science for these theories are concerned with the recurring phenomena of nature. [Mysteries, 202 (of the printed edition)].

That definition is my definition; the definition of the folks at AiG.

But what about origin/historical science? The authors write,

On the other hand an understanding of the universe includes some singular events, such as origins. Unlike the recurrent operation of the universe, origins cannot be repeated for experimental test. The beginning of life, for example, just won’t repeat itself so we can test our theories. In the customary language of science, theories of origins (origin science) cannot be falsified by empirical test if they are false, as can theories of operation science. [Mysteries, 204 (of the printed edition)]

They continue by explaining that the only way to investigate origins is similar to sleuthing a murder. Why that sounds exactly like what Luke is saying. The authors, however, go onto to write,

Such scenarios of reconstruction may be deemed plausible or implausible. Hypotheses of origin science, however, are not empirically testable or falsifiable since the datum needed for experimental test (namely,the origin) is unavailable. [ibid]

In other words, one has to bring his interpretations to the evidence. Interpretations fall into the realm of philosophical presuppositions. For the average, secular old earther, that excludes the supernatural and God creating.

Now coming to the second book, Origin Science by Norman Geisler and Kerby Anderson (excerpts are available online HERE, specifically the introduction that lays out the thesis), Luke says I make the “grave error” of ignoring four key categories of science the authors mention by zeroing in only upon the third category, historical science, and conflating it with origin science.

Really? That is a rather puzzling accusation. The authors identify only two major approaches to science (not four “types” of science as Luke states), observed and unobserved. Those two approaches are then each broken into two further categories: singularities and regularities. The category of singularity is broken into two further categories, primary causes and secondary causes. See this diagram,

scientificapproachLuke is faulting me for ignoring the concept of “regularities” under the first category of the unobserved past and conflating them with the concept of “singularities.” In Luke’s view those so-called historical regularities like geology are dependable for providing us knowledge about the ancient world. Hence, geological forces that we see today are analogous to geological forces 40 million years ago, so it is erroneous to call that “origin science” and that the historical science is unreliable. That way he can maintain his views of deep time and accommodate secular views of an ancient earth and Reasons to Believe can keep chugging along.

However, Geisler and Anderson both acknowledge that historical science in the past is based upon assumptions experienced only in the present and applied to the past. In other words, philosophical presuppositions. They write,

A science about the past does not observe the past singularity but must depend on
the principle of uniformity (analogy ), as historical geology and archaeology do. That is, since these kinds of sciences deal with unobserved past events (whether regular or singular), those events can be “known” only in terms of like events in the present. [Origin Science, 14]

It’s that “known only in terms of like events in the present,” part that is problematic and what YEC like the speakers of AiG object to. That’s because what is always “known” in the present may not be what happened in the past. Sure, it may be the probable, educated guess, but again that is an assumption. That is especially true if the science is laying out a radically different story of historical events than what is revealed in Scripture.

And then one last comment before closing out. Luke claims I am ignoring Jeremiah 33:25,26 in support of his take on the reliability of historical science. Jeremiah writes,

Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.

Jeremiah states something similar in 30:35-37. The idea being that God’s promise to restore Israel through the New Covenant of Christ is as certain as the fixed order of the astronomical events like the sun rising and setting.

But is Jeremiah’s revelation really affirming the wildly unbiblical apologetics of Reasons to Believe and other so-called old earth creationist attempts to accommodate the reading of Scripture with secular science? Of course not.

Why this is an important discussion is because of what Luke’s disagreement ultimately comes down to. He believes, for example, that the secular geological “evidences” against a global flood of Noah are reliable and should be accepted. Hence, the biblical text of Noah must be interpreted to be just a regional flood, not a global one.

Yet what exactly is the authority, then? Do we read the biblical account and understand the geological evidence in light of what the inspired biblical text emphatically states, that Noah’s flood was worldwide in its extent in spite of consensus “expert” opinion? Or do we re-read the Bible in light of the evidence, accommodating the claims of secular geologists who by default exclude a worldwide flood?

Now Luke, along with other deep time creationists, will say there truly isn’t any conflict. They’ll insist they never have to relinquish the authority of Scripture. They are merely harmonizing it with God’s “general revelation” or some such nonsense. But where exactly does that harmonization end?

The pseudo-Christians of Biologos insist all the genetic evidence stands opposed to a real, historical, biblical Adam uniquely created as a full formed man. They’ll equally insist they are using the same principles of induction and past regularities established by analogy in the present just like Luke says are reliable. But surely he will not follow them to their conclusions that the Bible is errant or we must re-interpret the Genesis account according to some fabricated genre that strips it of any historical reality? I don’t believe that is a direction even he is willing to take.

By the way, Neil still thinks you’re an idiot,

neil

Recapitulation Revisited

revelationRecently I had a commenter drop some challenges to one of my posts on eschatology. Specifically, my post addressing the concept of whether Revelation 20 is sequential or a recapitulation.

I thought I would bring a few of them to the front page and interact with the arguments for a broader audience.

First, let me remind everyone of the basics of what I was discussing.

Briefly stated, the idea of recapitulation is “to repeat in concise form.” As I noted in my article, amillennialists and postmillennialists generally interpret the book of Revelation as a series of prophetic visions the Apostle John was given that describe the church age. With each new vision, the reader is returned back to the beginning of the church age and is provided new revelation describing it further or filling in more details of a previous vision.

The events in Revelation chapter 20, rather than following in chronological sequence to chapter 19, is a vision that returns John’s audience back to the beginning of the church age. In other words, the events revealed in chapter 20 comes before those revealed in chapter 19. The concept of the millennium described in chapter 20 is merely meant to convey the ideal conditions of Satan being bound and the church triumphantly proclaiming the Gospel throughout the world. Only at the end of that time will Satan be released before Christ returns to consummate this age.

I argued that the book of Revelation is for the most part sequential. Now that is not to say that some of the visions overlap and build upon each other by revealing newer content to previous content. By sequential, I mean that the prophetic events described in major sections generally follow one after the other and that any notion of recapitulation is forced upon the text by one’s eschatological system. That is especially true regarding how chapters 19 and 20 relate to each other.

I presented my case centered around three key arguments: The context of chapters 19 and 20 in the larger whole of the book, John’s repeated use of “and I saw” presents a chronological progression of events, and the purpose clause in 20:3, “any longer,” brings the reader to the conclusion that the events of chapter 20 follow closely after chapter 19.

So with that background in mind, let me interact with a few of the comments from my challenger,

1. The question of whether Revelation as a whole is recapitulative in structure is essentially different than the question of whether chapt 19 and 20 are recapitulative. That is, it is possible that Rev as a whole is recapitulative but 19 and 20 are not; it is also possible that Rev as a whole is not recapitulative but Rev 19 and 20 are. Yet you seem to address these two issues as if they are essentially the same.

I would agree with his premise. I wasn’t, however, directly addressing the concept of recapitulation in other portions of Revelation. In fact, as I noted above, I believe a few overlapping, recapitulatory style visions are in the book of Revelation, but that is irrelevant to my thesis.

The focus of my article explored whether or not the events of chapter 20 are a vision of recapitulation or do they follow in sequential, chronological order to chapter 19. Much of the foundation of non-premillennial theology stands upon a recapitulatory interpretation of chapter 20. I believe the exegesis of chapter 20 will only bring one to the conclusion that the events recorded in the chapter follow immediately upon those of chapter 19.

I am at a loss why my challenger thinks I conflated two issues. Because he mistakenly thinks I am conflating two issues, the possibly of recapitulation existing in the book with the focus of my post, exploring whether Revelation chapter 20 is a recapitulation of events, he proceeds to set up a series of strawman arguments.

2. You say that the context demands that they are chronological, however the evidence you provide in support doesn’t provide a sufficient logical basis for that claim.

It would have been helpful if he provided some key examples as to how my take on Revelation 20 not being a recapitulation is lacking in sufficient evidence.  Instead, he provides an example comparing Revelation 6:13 where it says how the stars of the sky fall to the earth, with Revelation 8:12, where the stars seem to be still in the sky since a third of them are made not to shine. But again, even if 8:12 is a recapitulation of 6:13, it has no relevance to chapter 20 being a recapitulation. There needs to be more refinement with his challenge.

He then moves to suggesting how eschatology discussed in other books in the NT contradict a sequential interpretation of Revelation 20. I am then directed to a couple of passages,

1 Cor 15 has a pretty specific chronology, yet no room is left in it for a literal 1000 year reign between the Second Advent and the New Heaven and Earth.

Sure there is room for a millennium. In fact, Michael Vlach’s little book on Premillennialism devotes an entire chapter to interacting with that basic objection. Additionally, portions of the book, Three Views of The Millennium, are available online and the premillennial response of Craig Blaising to amillenniallist Robert Strimple’s exact same objection as my commenter can be read HERE, and he also shows no difficulty existing for the possibility of a millennium kingdom.

The primary problem is the chronology of the stages of resurrection in 15:23,24.

1. “Christ the first fruits”
2. “after that those who are Christ’s at His coming”
3. “then comes the end.”

eschatologyMy detractor (and most non-Premillennialists) thinks no time exists between those who are resurrected at Christ’s coming and the end. But if there is a space of at least 2,000 years between Christ, the first fruits, and those who are resurrected at His coming, there really is no difficulty understanding that a space for a millennial kingdom can exist between those who are resurrected at His coming and the end. That is especially true if we have additional revelation from the Apostle John telling us a millennial kingdom will happen.

Moreover, the words epeita and eita, which are translated as “after that” and “then” can be understood as relating an interval of time between those resurrected at Christ’s coming and the end. The word eita is specifically used in other NT passages where the contexts shows us that an interval of time exists between two events. See for an example Mark 4:17; 4:28 [2x]; 1 Corinthians 15:5, 7; and 1 Timothy 2:13.

My commenter then moves to a second passage from Matthew 24:29 and states that because the cosmological signs are similar to those found in Revelation 6:12-14, Revelation cannot be chronological. Yet once again, the focus of my post is that the events of chapter 20 is sequential to chapter 19, and hence this example is entirely irrelevant to my thesis.

Finally, he comes to my key arguments.

First he interacts with my argument that says John’s use of “and I saw” (kai eidon) in 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11; 21:1 indicates a series of chronological visions.

At this point you seem to make a claim with no supporting evidence. Yep, the phrase indicates a series of visions, There is nothing about the phrase however which requires that these visions are showing chronological events. …. BOTH sides must already be committed to a particular view before they can make any claims about how this phrase is used.

I would argued that the supporting evidence is much stronger than he lets on with his complaint. I would refer readers to one of the original papers I used when writing my article, Premillennialism and An Exegesis of Revelation 20, in which the author lays out a tight, exegetical case for a sequential chronology of events from chapters 19 through 20.

Furthermore, most non-premillennial commentators disagree with my challenger’s assessment and affirm that John received the visions in chronological order. Where they may differ is that they would deny the progress of history revealed in those vision is in chronlogical order. That conclusion is of course driven by one’s theological and hermeneutical precommitments brought to the text as my detractor rightly notes. Thus, there really isn’t any serious difficulty with understanding the sequence of events between 19 and 20 as being in chronological, historical order unless you are insistent on disproving premillennialism.

He then moves to critiquing my final point that says how the purpose clause “any longer” in Revelation 20:3 indicates an interruption of something already taking place. In chapter 20, it would be the interruption of Satan deceiving the nations “any longer.”

This is a case of begging the question. It requires an interruption of something already taking place *only if one already presumes a chronological reading*!! How do you know it requires an interruption? Because 19 and 20 are chronological. How do you know they are chronological? Because otherwise it would require an interruption.

The clause “any longer” doesn’t stand on its own subjected to the whimsy of one’s theological presuppositions. There are other exegetical factors that draw us to the conclusion “any longer” means an interruption of something going before it. Regarding chapter 20, it is the the binding of Satan and all of the ramifications of what it means for him to be bound. I go into more detail about that binding in a separate article in my overall study on eschatology.

While I appreciate the sharpening effect of my commenter’s challenges, I find them a bit strained and the least bit persuasive. I still think the only way to make sense of the the events found between Revelation 19 and 20 is to see them as chronological in sequence.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption

I read Doug Kutilek’s review of what appears to be a wonderful little book. It tells the story of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Christian conversion and his renunciation of his racist views around a decade after the war and a few years before his death. The following review is taken from Doug’s occasional email newsletter, “As I See It,” volume 18, number 8 for October to December. Thought I would share with the readers.

forrestNathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption by Shane E. Kastler. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing, 2010. 176 pp., hardback.

Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877), the legendary Confederate cavalry officer in the American Civil War who was the terror of Union armies for four years, has been the subject of numerous biographies and studies. We reviewed one of the more famous accounts, that by Robert Selph Henry, “First with the Most” Forrest, in the very first issue of As I See It 1:1. We followed this up with an article in As I See It 3:6, “The Conversion of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA,” about Forrest’s embracing Christianity late in life, a thing mentioned only in passing in most Forrest biographies, with few or no details.

This present biography of Forrest, while tracing his life in a well-written and succinct account admittedly dependent on other earlier accounts, does so with an eye constantly on the influences that ultimately led to Forrest’s life-transforming conversion in late 1875. It could be properly sub-titled “A spiritual pilgrimage from profane sinner to humble saint.”

Forrest’s mother and his wife were lifelong devout Christians, and always prayed regularly and fervently for Forrest’s conversion (and protection during the war—a multitude of such prayers were definitely answered). While he respected their faith, he long felt that religion was only for women. During the war, numerous pastors and preachers served in Forrest’s command and regularly preached and taught the Bible in camp, often with Forrest in attendance. Near the end of the war, Forrest wrote a letter to his soldier son, urging him to NOT follow his own sinful ways (though he neither used tobacco nor drank alcohol nor was ever unfaithful to his wife, Forrest was an inveterate gambler, was known for his volcanic temper, and his profane language—except in the presence of women).

After the war, through a series of financial failures (in stark contrast to his consistent ante bellum business successes), Forrest was brought to the end of himself. He encountered one of his former soldiers who had been converted to Christ with a clear change for the better of the man, and began regularly attending church with his wife. After a sermon by the pastor on the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27, the parable of the two builders, Forrest clearly saw himself as a man who had built his life on the sand, as a sinner facing eternal personal calamity. Confiding these things to the pastor, the pastor urged him to go home, and read through Psalm 51, one of David’s Psalms of repentance and confession of sin. At their meeting the next day, Forrest confessed that he had trusted Christ as savior and was at peace with God.

Though he lived less than two years after that event, he was clearly a different man. Among other things, he spoke briefly at a banquet given in his honor by some of the black populace of Memphis. In his remarks, he spoke of his desire to see the blacks attain success in life and the full exercise of their rights. Among other things, he said:

Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.

When presented with a bouquet of flowers by a black girl, he stooped and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Were this incident widely known, Forrest would be a symbol of reconciliation between the races, rather than there being demands by the uninformed calling for the removal of a statue in his honor from a Memphis park.

Forrest is a prime example that there are no hard cases with God, that no one living, no matter his age or the depths of his sin and corruption, is beyond the reach of God’s saving and forgiving grace (or the prayers of believers), if he will humble his heart, assume full responsibility for his sins and seek God’s mercy. I am sure that Forrest would confess, in the words of Paul, “This is a true statement worthy of complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.”

The author Shane Kastler is a Southern Baptist pastor, currently serving a church in Louisiana. His research is thorough, his writing readable, and his documentation and bibliography adequate.

Doug Kutilek

My 2015 Blogging Year in Review

baby new yearAh. 2016 arrived, and the day before, I received WordPress’s annual review of my blogging the past year of 2015. Here are the results:

5. Interpreting Ezekiel’s Temple Vision. I originally posted this article back in January 2013, approximately 2 years ago to the month. It is still one of my most searched articles/series.

4. Perry Noble’s Apology. Last Christmas, mega-church goofball, Perry Noble, the grown man who dresses like he is 14, preached a sermon in which he claimed God “spoke to his heart, telling him that the word “command” does not exist in the Hebrew and so the idea of 10 Commandments was wrong. He issued a letter of apology to his mega-congregation explaining how it is God’s fault that he is an idiot.

3. Does the Bible Teach that a Woman has to Marry Her Rapist? I wrote this article a long time ago; like maybe back in 2009 or 2010. I reworked it a bit and updated it to look nicer since my move from my old Blogger site and reposted it in 2014. It is still frequently visited due primarily to atheist wackos putting it on lists and websites called things like, “Crazy Fundy Teaching” or “**** Fundy Christians Believe,” or some such nonsense.

2. The Real Reasons Why Youth Are Leaving Church. I wrote this in response to a number of alarmist, hand-wringing posts I see popping up on popular apologetic blogs and ministry websites. Generally, those articles insist that the reason why youth are leaving churches and abandoning their Christian upbringing is because they graduate from the safe confines of their high school youth group bubble, encounter the real world at their local community college or state university, and are unprepared to answer all those smart thinking atheists when they challenge them with their withering criticisms of the Christian faith. The authors insist that if churches would regularly invite apologetic speakers to teach their youth about intelligent design theory, or evidentialist apologetics, as well as Thomist philosophy, those kids will be prepared to intellectually Kung Fu kick the daylights out of those Youtube atheists at college.

I believe that is nonsense as I outline in the article. It somehow came across the radar of Todd Friel and he read it on his Wretched radio show.

And the number one, most visited and read article on my blog for the year 2015 was,

1. About that Lying “Prophet” that Rebuked John MacArthur

Back in August of 2015, John MacArthur had returned from an extended summer hiatus. During the second AM service, he was recapping his summer and sharing with the congregation what he had done. All of the sudden, a scruffy looking goofball walked up onto the platform where John was talking, whistled real loud, and then proceeded to yell at John for his anti-Charismatic beliefs. Security escorted him out of the service as he continued to shout at John to repent of his cessationism. That event got spread far and wide on social media, and Charismatic wackos wondered if this was really a prophet sent from God to rebuke John MacArthur and those haters at Grace Church. We also saw it as a godsend, because in light of the shooting at San Bernardino, his disruption also revealed holes in our church security that have since been patched. I explained why that guy was really a false prophet and a liar.

War Room – A Review

warroom

I realize this review is several months too late, but seeing that War Room just released on DVD, I’ll just have to be behind on the uptake.

I wanted to see this film because it was so critically panned by many of the discernment folks who circle around in my immediate theological orbit. Reading all the reviews warning people away from it only raised my interest, and knowing how I am a sap for mediocre, Christian melodrama, here we are.

War Room is the latest offering from the Kendrick brothers film making duo. They have brought us such previous films as Fireproof and Courageous, both of which I also reviewed (and I liked). I will say at the outset, as the Kendricks chug along with their movie making hobby, their work remarkably improves which each new release. The story telling, the acting, and the overall production value continues to get better and better and it shows with War Room.

War Room tells the story about Tony and Elizabeth Jordan, a well-to-do couple living the good life in the South Carolina-Georgia area. Tony has a fabulous job as a pharmaceuticals rep., and Elizabeth is a decent real estate agent. They have an adorable little girl and live in a big, fancy house. The only problem is that their marriage is souring and the two are drifting apart.

Tony is something of a bossy husband, and when he is home, he is focused only on himself. Both of them bicker and snip at each other which only strains their relationship further. Elizabeth is beginning to resent him for it, and Tony is genuinely considering an affair with another woman at the company where he works.

One day, Elizabeth gets called by an older lady named Clara Williams who needs to sell her house. As she shows Elizabeth around, she tells her about each room in the house and what it has meant to her. She then tells Elizabeth to come back the next day and she will show her her most favorite room, and of course, that is revealed as a makeshift closet Clara calls her war room, because it is where she goes to pray and do battle with the devil. She then asks Elizabeth to meet with her regularly and she will show her how to do real battle with her personal enemies.

Elizabeth is initially reluctant to take up Clara’s war room challenge, but as her marriage continues to be strained with Tony, she becomes more serious and turns her clothes closet into her “war room.” As she prays for her husband and marriage, her attitude begins changing toward him. She begins serving him and treating him with respect, and when Tony is fired from his job for allegedly fudging sales numbers, the forgiveness and love she had been showing her husband draws him back to loving her and eventually giving his life fully to the Lord.

prayerContrary to the alarmists claiming the movie teaches contemplative prayer and is filled with mysticism, I thought it was rather good with what it was trying to convey. As I told my wife when the credits began rolling, it was better than I had anticipated.

Now, that is not to say I don’t have my criticisms and concerns, for I most certainly do (and I believe they are important ones as I will explain in a moment), it is just that the movie will not rend your soul in any fashion as was suggested in a variety of hysterical blog articles going after it this past summer. Even the appearance of false prophetess hack, Beth Moore, was underwhelming. The funny thing about her scene is that she plays the boss of Elizabeth and participates in the brief banter with the women talking about how hard it is to submit to their husbands. I snorted at that one.

Honestly, there are a few things commendable in the movie and the message it puts forth. So let me lay out my pros first, and then I will outline my cons.

– First of all, the focus of the film is the urgency of praying. I think the movie provides us a splendid reminder of our need as believers to bring our burdens before the Lord. I know for myself, that was a convicting theme from the film for me, and it is challenging to consider how I need to reignite my prayer life before the Lord praying for my wife, my family, and the ministry God has given me.

– I appreciated the racial harmony the film presents. Even leftist HuffPo recognized the fact that the central cast was a black family. Racial issues was not at all addressed in the movie, but knowing the filmmakers live in Georgia and the racist history of that state, it was encouraging to see black and white folks living together and participating in normal, everyday activities without the discussion of race relations.

– The Gospel was presented well on a few occasions. There is also an emphasis on surrendering to the Lordship of Christ and giving God our all in everything we do.

– I also appreciated the dignified way Elizabeth and her husband Tony confess their sin to one another. When Tony reveals the real reason for losing his job, stealing drugs from his company, he is shown not only just confessing his sin, but returning the drugs to his bosses, risking prosecution.

Now, with those few pros in mind, let me turn my attention to my cons, or better, my concerns with the movie.

– Clara is presented as a mystical, Yoda-like figure who has learned how to tap into a higher, spiritual dimension that provides her a special authority over the spiritual realm. In one scene she stops a mugger in his tracks, scaring him away “in the name of Jesus.”

I thought her character was unnecessarily flamboyant, more of a cartoonish stereotype of how black ladies are often portrayed in cinema throwing out spiritual platitudes and mantras. Like Aunt Esther from the old Sanford and Son television show.

I think it would have been better if she had been portrayed as a gentle, quiet lady who simply walks in the Spirit and disciples Elizabeth in godly femininity.

– The movie shows a territorial view of spiritual warfare. The idea being that devils have created strongholds within homes, neighborhoods, cities, and even nations, and Christians must take those territories back by confronting those devils and driving them away. In the one pivotal scene when Elizabeth realizes her need to take her war room praying seriously, she walks through her house trash talking the devil and casting him out of her house.

That territorial view of demons is probably the worst theology in the movie. The last scene is Clara taking authority over “enemy” spiritual territory by praying up an army of additional war room warriors by misapplying 2 Chronicles 7:14. Ironically, realistic statistics would tell us she and the African-American community would vote for leftist, Democrat politics that would oppose and undermine everything for which she prays.

Territorial spiritual warfare is an unbiblical perspective that only serves to bind Christians to misconceptions against what true spiritual warfare really is. Such things as the importance of crucifying the flesh and thinking upon truth with a sober mind. (BTW, if you want a decent study on the topic of spiritual warfare, see pastor Jim Osman’s book, Truth or Territory).

– There was no mention of human sin or the consequences of our sin nature causing problems in Tony and Elizabeth’s marriage; it was the devil, who had to be dealt with like an invading army.

The devil is viewed as having the ability to genuinely oppose the purpose of God if Christians allowed him. In order for him to be defeated, the devil must be recognized as an enemy combatant who is personally involved with messing up a person’s life. He is blamed for bad marriages, and everything wrong in people’s lives, rather than recognizing the problem is that husbands and wives are probably not saved nor are they walking in the Spirit.

Instead of the scene with Elizabeth trash talking at the devil, I think it would have played better if she was talking to the Lord, confessing her sin of not loving Christ and her husband, asking God for His help, and announcing from that point onward, she wants Jesus in control of her life.

I will admit my points of contention can be considered significant, but I don’t believe they so ruin the movie to make it unwatchable with those who exercise a bit of discernment. I can only hope the Kendricks continue to improve the offerings they bring forth in Christian film. Their productions are a long way from those dreadful Thief in the Night movies.

I am, however, still holding out that they will make a movie addressing homosexual sin and same-sex marriage. The story of a gay man who is “married,” but is gloriously saved, leaves his sham relationship, and marries a woman. Of course that may be difficult seeing that Sony Pictures is now involved with distributing their movies.