AHA Takes Me On

Just a quick note. I don’t plan to respond to every crackpot missive the proponents of Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) may pass along to me. I have other topics of interest I wish to explore on my blog, as well as a life to maintain. So apart from a Facebook note I wrote answering some questions, this will be a final response to the group for a while. I can tell here at the outset this post may be a bit lengthy, and rather ponderous, so do not feel the need to slog your way through it all. I figured a lot of folks won’t have the interest in the subject except for those who may encounter AHA on an occasional basis. 

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I want to offer some comments on this post written by an AHA member, Alex Johnson,

An Abolitionist Responds to Grace to You’s Fred Butler 

A couple of thoughts just on the title,

First off, just for clarification sake, though I work for Grace to You, I am not speaking on their behalf. Now, I would imagine everyone I work with at the ministry will agree with the sentiments I expressed in my review of an AHA pamphlet that their members were passing out at our church. However, I was never tasked to speak on GTY’s behalf regarding the group, nor would management necessarily ask me. I just want to make sure no one is confused by the title of the article.

Secondly, the title itself is dishonest. I personally would be for the abolition of abortion. Most Christians would agree abortion is a wickedness our society needs to abolish. Why the title is dishonest is that Johnson is deceptively equating the ideology of abolishing abortion with the group, AHA. They are not one and the same. A person can adhere to abolitionism regarding abortion and have nothing to do with AHA and their church repent project.

Moving along to the introduction.

A fellow named John Reasoner provides a few opening remarks to the post. Let me zero in on the second paragraph,

This radical Dispensational denial of the applicability of over half of God’s Word is quickly becoming the only Theological refuge of the stubborn anti-abolitionist. Furthermore, Fred hides behind all of the typical pietistic arguments of the Evangellyfish American Church culture. When we ask “Do We Love Theology More Than God and Our Neighbor?”, the pietist will answer along with Fred Butler with an emphatic “YES”.

If one were to read my original review, I pointed out that AHA has the bad habit of misappropriating OT prophetic passages that clearly were only applicable to theocratic Israel and claiming they apply to NT churches. The two passages I highlight in my review were Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s pronouncements against Israel immediately before and during the Babylonian exile. Pointing out AHA’s misuse of those passages justifying their habit of standing outside churches to call them to “repentance” is hardly the denial of half of God’s Word. Nor does it have anything at all to do with Dispensationalism or pessimistic eschatology. That’s just reading the Bible correctly.  

It is important to keep in mind that a number of AHA promoters are postmillennial and theonomic in their views of eschatology and church government. Hence the smear about me being Dispensational. For instance, the blog where this response article is posted links as favorite websites, American Vision, Apologia Radio, and Axe to Root, all of which are maintained by postmillennial theonomists. I take it that Johnson falls into that category, like Reasoner.  

On to the main article.

I’ll pull out a few comments and respond,

Already a false accusation. They were out at the local abortion mills and on street corners the rest of the time during that conference. They even met Ray Comfort out there while both groups were preaching. Don’t assume that because they come to visit you that they’ve stopped visiting others.

The false accusation is the fact that a number of AHA members were hassling ShepCon attendees by stopping them as they walked from the parking lots onto the campus. It doesn’t matter if other AHA members were at abortion mills in LA at the same time. There were at least a dozen or more of them, including AHA leader, Toby Harmon, outside of Grace Church confronting attendees about their non-existent apathy toward abortion. That means there could have been at least a dozen other abortion mills covered. Yet the opportunity was missed as AHA members dawdled outside Grace passing out literature that was unnecessary, ignored, or discarded later.

Also a false accusation. Don’t assume church has to be held at a specific hour.

Johnson was upset that I chided AHA for skipping out on worship, and claims churches don’t need a set time of worship. Sure, I guess. Unless you are one of those seeker-sensitive churches that has a Saturday afternoon worship service so as to free up folks to sleep in on Sunday. The reality is that the bulk of solid, Bible-believing congregations in the world, meet early the first day of the week. AHA knows this, thus the reason they were at Grace the Sunday following ShepCon.

We don’t see ourselves as faithful. We too need to do more to stop this slaughter. We see ourselves as guilty as well. Hence, our slogan, Repent With Us. Sanctification is a continual process.

I’ve noticed the recent trend with AHA proponents has moved away from calling churches to repent to calling churches to “repent with us.” We are told that they too need to repent. Some how, that is supposed to make their message confronting our so-called apathy toward abortion more receptive. Problem is: I don’t need to repent of anything. I don’t consider myself apathetic, nor is abortion activism a Gospel issue. It is nowhere commanded in Scripture to pursue.

I understand that when dealing with non-Christians, but you’re dealing with brothers in Christ through Faith alone who are trying to make a case.

Another tactic they employ is to complain that any harsh critics, like myself, who liken them to cultists, are slandering faithful brothers in the Lord. Yet, because the bulk of AHA members do not attend or participate in a visible, local church, and their behavior is, shall I say, cultic, I am under no obligation to believe any of them are “brothers” in the Lord regardless of the so-called orthodoxy of their words.

None of us believe you have to affiliate with “AHA” in order to be “doing it right.” Jesus didn’t wear the AHA symbol. But do get in the fight and do not use compromising tactics

His comment is dishonest. Yes, they do insist Christians must be abolitionists in order to be “doing it right” and they further believe AHA is the gold standard of abolitionism. Ask any AHA member what he thinks of the term “pro-life” or “incrementalism.” In fact, Johnson goes on in this article to disparage the very term. Moreover, Scripture never tells us to “get in the fight” especially social activism. The only warfare that is spoken of in the NT is spiritual warfare, which is a warfare against false worldviews with the the use of God’s weapons of biblical truth.

The point is to show how broken-hearted God is over the oppression happening. Regardless of covenantal views.

There is lots and lots of oppression happening right at this moment all over the world. Wickedness that would stagger the mind. Nowhere in Scripture is the church called out to specifically confront that wickedness in the form of any social activism. Like I stated in my initial review, I believe a result of the Gospel will be a changed culture as men and women in those individual cultures are converted and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Then he cites a quote from Johnny Hauser who was commenting at some forum on my correction of AHA’s misuse of 1 John 3:18,

The remainder of his argument [that’d be me, Fred] is founded on the assertion that because the context specifies material and financial needs, no other needs fall within the requirements of love. Therefore, your sister being raped or your brother being massacred essentially require no response from of you as a Christian. That is, the lesser needs like money are specified so you must concern yourself with them, but no other needs, not even the far greater, critical, life-or-death needs, must be a concern for Christian brothers and sisters.

The apostle John is addressing the marks of genuine love which in the context of his epistle is the way Christians treat fellow Christians. It is a misappropriation to extend that passage to encompass social activism including against abortion as “loving your neighbor.”

However, Hauser goes on with the typical argument from AHA members. I’ve encountered it numerous times before on social media, particularly in meme form. That being, if I saw my sister being raped or a brother being murdered, I would most certainly intervene, so why don’t I do it with the slaughter of the unborn? Well, because the slaughter of the unborn, while a wicked sin, is not the same as having the ability to stop a sister from being raped or a brother from being murdered. I would most certainly stop the rapist or murderer from performing their actions even with the means of lethal force if necessary. Would AHA do the same against an abortion doctor? Against the feminist mother treating her child as if it is a colon polyp needing to be removed?

If acting in love is the same as stopping abortion as it is with stopping rapists and murderers, why isn’t AHA doing the necessary duty to stop those abortionists? They would physically stop a rape or a murder from happening if they could, even to the point of lethal force, yet they seem to think holding up graphic signs, passing out literature, and preaching outside abortion clinics is the same thing. It is not.

But loving your neighbor is not applicable only to the Old Testament. Just because the prophets lived under the Old Covenant doesn’t mean we have no reason whatsoever to imitate any of their bold actions.

Their bold actions never engaged in social activism. However, I know AHA apologists will insist the prophets were social activists for rebuking Israel for ignoring widows and orphans and perverting justice. But that was within the borders of a theocratic nation of Israel. They were not rebuked for their apathy against the Babylonians or the Assyrians enslaving other nation states.

After I dealt with AHA’s abuse of Scripture, I moved to addressing the logical fallacies of the pamphlet. My first example was the inaccurate comparison between the message of repentance Jesus gave the scribes and Pharisees and Luther the Catholic Church, with the abolitionists during the early 1800s calling churches to repent of slavery. I pointed out that the first two examples of Jesus and Luther dealt specifically with repentance of a false Gospel message, where as the call to repent of slavery was not a Gospel message issue.

In response, Johnson writes this convoluted comment,

Likewise, so are the souls at the abortion mills, performing the abortions, getting the abortions, supporting the abortions, escorting the women to get abortions, the Roman Catholics who believe works are required to obtain forgiveness, etc.

He seems to miss my entire point. He doesn’t even address the disjointedness between the first two illustration and the third. Oh well.

Okay, you’re an Incrementalist. Thank you for telling us. I was too, for years before I became an Abolitionist. Realize, though, that Wilberforce recanted his incrementalist beliefs that he had held to for years. The Abolitionists of slavery spoke out against incrementalist ideas.

Here we see AHA’s vitriol toward incrementalism begin to surface. Three things, however. First, being familiar with Wilburforces life, he was an abolitionist from the get go. I’d like for Johnson to document when he had an awakening from incrementalism to abolitionism. He always wanted slavery to be abolished. Secondly, how he sought to have slavery abolished was incrementally, toiling to pass laws that eventually ended the slave trade and slavery across the British empire and eventually the United States. Incrementalism, as a legal strategy, is not sinful or even in need of recanting. It is gaining political victory little by little in order to reach the end goal, the abolishing of abortion in society. Third, once again, holding to abolitionist ideas is not akin to being AHA.

Then responding to my rebuttal of the two ridiculous illustrations mentioned in the pamphlet he writes,

Which is worse, people being legally raped or people being legally murdered? Both scenarios are horrible, but the latter is your reality.

Which is more ludicrous, children legally being kidnapped or children legally being murdered? Both scenarios are horrible, but the latter is your reality.

The latter is certainly our reality, but the means that I, or any other non-AHA anti-abortionist, have chosen to deal with that reality, AHA disparages. For instance, raising money for a crisis pregnancy center is an entirely helpful way to combat abortion, but AHA thinks it is apathetic. Voting for pro-life political candidates and pro-life legislation is a legitimate means to combating abortion, but AHA tells me its not enough. Churches and Christians that do confront women at abortion mills, who plead with girls seeking to abort their babies, are still in need of repenting according to AHA propagandists. Why?

The world is the church’s report card. And it looks terrible. The culture itself may look bad, but the culture is made up of millions of souls, most of whom have not heard the Biblical Gospel of repentance and faith alone in Jesus Christ. That also doesn’t look good on our report card. Which is why we call the church to action.

The church has only one mandate from the Lord: to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Engaging in social activism is not on that agenda, and Christians shouldn’t be shamed into thinking they are apathetic because they do not pursue one group’s passion for a particular social issue. Social activism may spring out of a culture where the Gospel takes root and God begins changing lives.

Regrettably, you have missed the vital point we have been trying to make. We’re not claiming to be better than you. For all the criticisms you see Abolitionists make against incrementalism, Romanism, etc., we have a ton more criticisms of each other that you don’t see. We constantly encourage one another to get more active. To reform our doctrine. To make sure not to align with damnable heresy.

His final comment utterly lacks any self-awareness, a recurring characteristic of AHA apologists and propagandists. They most certainly have claimed to be better than everyone else, or their members wouldn’t be standing around outside churches telling the Christians they need to repent for not caring enough like AHA. It is a subtle form of works righteousness, “we care more about abortion than you.”

What AHA has done is to become the self-appointed gatekeepers defining pure and clean abortion activism. Any Christian who does not manifest the same level of passion, zeal, urgency, and mental consumption to combat abortion like AHA, is an apathetic and uncaring person who needs to repent. If my support of crisis pregnancy centers and pro-life causes are apathetic according to AHA, I choose to remain apathetic.

Holy Fraud

miraclesarerealSo I had a critic link me to some web forum comments he made against my posts I’ve been writing exposing the spiritual shamanism of continuationism. I wanted to offer up some responses to various, selected thoughts.

My challenger writes,

Fraud predominates in continuationism, yet Pentecostalism testifies overall being among most committed to holiness and basic doctrines and evangelicalism…

I am glad that my anonymous reviewer begrudgingly acknowledges my thesis. I can understand how awkward it can be to favor a particular theological tradition, yet have to embarrassingly admit that position is for the most part, whacked.

It’s like that one cousin who is just a “hold my beer,” fireworks and gasoline propelled dirt bike stunt away from receiving a Darwin award. “You mean that guy who almost burned his house down with the lighter fluid and the pumpkins? Yeah, he’s my cousin.” The same is with continuationists. “Oh yeah, I believe God does spectacular signs and wonders all the time. Oh, but I don’t believe Christians take trips to heaven or see gianormous angels. That’s the crazy continuationists!”

flamegunMoving along,

…and are more unified in basic beliefs than basically cessationist denominations, and in which liberalism and “sterility” is more likely to be the reality.

I have to wonder what basic beliefs continuationists – in the case provided, Pentecostals – are all essentially unified around? You have all sorts of stripes and flavors of Pentecostals, Assembly of God’s, and other Holiness style groups. If what is meant is that they all affirm Jesus as savior, sure, they are unified. But they are just as equally unified around the idea of the Holy Spirit manifesting unusual paranormal phenomena. Would my antagonist not agree to that? The very name PENTECOSTAL implies the adherents would believe such things.

The rampant fraud in continuationism is inexcusable, as is the liberalism and overall spiritual deadness among those who claim to be Protestant and deny the perpetuity of personal supernatural gifts…

Ah yes, the old “Protestant worship is nothing but boring, dead orthodoxy” argument. Michael Brown threw out this cliche all throughout his Authentic Fire book. He’d write how he would much rather attend a service with pew jumping, running around the building, chandelier-swinging worshipers, than a stuffy, reading from a hymnal, standing still worship service.

Sober-minded worship is hardly a sign of “dead orthodoxy.” When a church sings out hymns that tell of the glory and power of the awesome God we serve, that is true worship in my mind. The running around the building and swinging from the chandelier service is not spirit-filled, but utter flesh-driven foolishness that mocks Christ.

Moving along,

Missing between the extremes is an objective examination of the issue of whether personal supernatural gifts are available today, which I believe Scripture supports, but not the aberrations.

The word “supernatural” has to be defined. I, as a non-continuationist, believe in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. Of course I define the concept of “supernatural” and identify spiritual gifts much differently than continuationists. For instance, I believe teachers, preachers, evangelists would be spiritual gifts to the church (Eph.4:8-12), as well as individuals who are blessed financially and are moved to give generously to God’s people (Rom.12:6-16). And certainly, eternal salvation is God’s ultimate gift (Rom.6:23).

Continuationists dismissively wave off my definition of supernatural. Those examples are the non-spectacular kind of gifts and don’t really count.

But honest question here: How exactly would the aberrations my contender notes be identified from the genuine Holy Spirit given signs and wonders gifts?

What is often the norm witnessed and observed among continuationists would never qualify as the supernatural gifts defined in the New Testament. Tongues are wild, cacophonous free for alls, so-called healings are extremely questionable, even outright lame, and the amazing urban legend like stories that often abound among the congregations are unverifiable hearsay. The same goes for stuff Keener supposedly documents in his two big volumes on miracles.

Moving along,

What is needed is more genuine evidences of the resurrection power of Christ, not only in the profound transformative effects of true regeneration, but in other miracles (which have strong testimonies thanks to be God), including via personal spiritual gifts.

Yes. Those two evidences would certainly help the cause of the continuationist claims of extraordinary supernatural gifts in the church. In fact, seeing that the marks of true regeneration are tragically absent in the personal character of  many of the continuationist preachers that dominate the internet and “Christian” TV, I would think that would be the priority.

But as I have written elsewhere, continuationists also have a signs and wonders problem. I don’t consider neck pain, bad backs, and ankle strengthening to be rather spectacular. Restoring the scarred flesh of an Iraqi war veteran’s severely burned arms or a paraplegic’s severed spine to full functionality like Jesus and the apostles did, however, is a radically different story.

My challenger then provided a series of statistics believed to be positive for continuationists. Allow me to respond to a select few,

Only 10 percent of adults in Pentecostal churches do not identify as born-again or evangelical.http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/may/pew-evangelicals-stay-strong-us-religious-landscape-study.html 

I am not entirely sure why that is important to the case of solid Pentecostals. If a person reads the linked article, he will see that the general thrust was a positive report on evangelicals in general. Evangelicals, unlike mainstream, more liberal denominations, are not hemorrhaging members, and in fact are gaining in numbers. That was an odd mention of a statistic for his argument.

73% (highest) of Pentecostal/Foursquare believers strongly affirm that Christ was sinless on earth, with CatholicsLutherans and Methodists being tied at 33%, and the lowest being among Episcopalians with just 28% 

So… what exactly? I imagine we could poll a whole lot of the same Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists, and they’d affirm the Trinity, or even the Resurrection.

What that statistic doesn’t tell us is that those same 73% of Pentecostals will also more than likely affirm the false doctrines of “sinless perfection” or “entire sanctification,” the idea that Christians can be fully sinless here on earth, and that a newly baptized believer will speak in tongues. Both of those teachings are erroneous and have messed up the lives of countless believers who have appropriated them for their lives.

Bible Reading: the highest was 75%, by those going to a Pentecostal/Foursquare church who reported they had read the Bible during the past week (besides at church), while the lowest was among Catholics at 23% – http://www.science20.com/print/972444

Again: so, what? It is one thing to read the Bible. It is entirely another thing to understand it, believe it, interpret it properly, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, apply the theology and doctrine to one’s life. Pentecostals may read the Bible a lot, but that doesn’t mean anything if what is found in the Bible has no profound or lasting impact on people’s lives. It is my experience that those same Pentecostals, even though they may read the Bible more than those Catholics, have about the same level of depth in understanding the Bible as those same Catholics. Simply put, there is a reason why continuationist/charismatic/Pentecostal churches are scandal plagued.

shallowdiving

16% of the country’s white Protestant congregations are Pentecostal, compared to 65% of the Protestant churches dominated by African-Americans [black churches make up about 6% of evangelicals].

I don’t necessarily see that 65% of African-American churches are Pentecostal as a good thing. The reason I say that, and at risk of being swarmed by BLM sympathizers, is the terrible dysfunction found in the black community. Those same Pentecostal African-Americans swear allegiance to a political party that stands vehemently opposed to the holiness their Pentecostal denomination allegedly teaches. You cannot possibly claim to be a person committed to holiness and reading the Bible and remain beholden to a political party that openly advocates wicked sin like abortion, the most of which take place in African-American communities.

76% say they have experienced or witnessed a divine healing, and 70% of those from the Global South say they have witnessed the devil or evil spirits being driven out.

Okay. Let us say 76% have experienced or witnessed a divine healing and another 70% witnessed exorcisms of some sort. Going back to a few things my antagonist acknowledged, if fraud is rampant among Pentecostals, how exactly do we determine if those are fraudulent accounts or genuine? That 76% is a rather impressively large figure, but if what is being affirmed is that fraud is rampant among Pentecostals, even my challenger would have to say that figure is a bit skewed, maybe even wildly exaggerated.

But that leads me to a larger question. Going back to the opening statement, if rampant fraud predominates continuationism, how can they be committed to holiness? The very fact that continuationist are willing to perpetrate fraud from the pulpits and believe the fraud while sitting in the pews, strikes at the heart of what it means to be holy.

If there truly was a commitment to holiness among Pentecostals, charismatics, and the wide tent of continuationism, self-appointed con artist prophets and preachers would not be prowling the earth promoting their spiritual fraud and devouring men’s souls, and the congregations would not be willingly lapping up the spiritual fraud that is fed to them.

Ezekiel 18 and the Imputation of Adam’s Sin

adam eating fruitI had occasion recently to engage some individuals who deny the imputation of Adam’s sin. This of course was on Facebook; a place that can be dank at times, filled with many dark corners occupied with the cages of every theologically foul bird imaginable.

One of the key arguments my antagonists used to make their case was an appeal to Ezekiel 18 as proof against the doctrine of imputation. The prophet Ezekiel, they claim, demonstrates that each individual person is responsible for his own sin before the Lord. Hence a son can never be held accountable for the sins of a father nor can a wicked father pass the guilt of sin upon his son. Ezekiel’s words demonstrates that the idea of Adam’s sin imputed upon all of humanity is a false doctrine.

I was challenged to provide a response, so I thought I would write up a rebuttal to this sloppy heresy.

Let’s outline the particulars first.

The earliest doctrinal statement, apart from Scripture, affirming the imputation of Adam’s sin is of course the Council of Orange in 529 AD. That is where the heresy of Pelagius was condemned and the doctrine of Adam’s sin defended and defined more concisely.

Canon 2 provides the relevant definition to my discussion here,

CANON 2.  If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him
alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he
declares that it is only the death of the body which is the
punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death
of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race,
he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who
says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because
all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).

In other words, the Bible clearly teaches that when Adam sinned, he imputed his sin of disobedience to the whole of humanity. Meaning, every person, both man and woman, born after his fall into sin, were born sinners, incapable of saving themselves apart from God’s grace. Furthermore, all humanity bears the full guilt of Adam’s sin in that they are born under the curse of God, separated from God, and judicially under His judgment. The exegesis of all the necessary Scriptures that speak to Adam’s sin only confirms that truth.

So how exactly does Ezekiel 18 fit into the debate?

Ezekiel was an Exilic prophet. He was more than likely taken captive with 8,000 other Israelite in 598 BC by the Babylonians. He was called to a specific prophetic ministry to those captives before Babylon utterly leveled Jerusalem in 586 BC.

During his ministry to those captives, Ezekiel confronted the erroneous idea believed by his fellow countrymen that the reason why they were in their circumstances languishing in captivity had to do with the sins of the previous generation. In their minds, the people believed they did nothing wrong to feel guilty about and so denied any responsibility for the judgment they were experiencing. As far as they were concerned, they were innocent. Chapter 18 rebukes that false belief.

With that bit of background in mind, let me briefly sketch out what Ezekiel 18 is and is not saying.

First, it needs to be known that the use of chapter 18 against the doctrine of imputation is something of a novel idea. That “interpretation” has only been seriously considered within the last 200 years or so with the emergence of higher critical views of the Bible, as well as among unorthodox groups who hate the doctrine of imputation. That has not been the view of the historic, Christian church.

Secondly, Ezekiel is not rebuking once and for all the notion of transgenerational punishment as some modern commentators suggest. Moses was clear in Deuteronomy 24:16 that fathers were not to be put to death for the sins of their sons, nor the sons for the sins of their fathers.

Thirdly, Ezekiel is not teaching that individual salvation can be lost, another false notion about the content of chapter 18.

Fourth, Ezekiel is repudiating the doctrine of retribution. That is the idea that if a person does enough good, God will honor his good deeds, but if he has unconfessed sins, God will bring disaster and misfortune upon his life. That is what Job’s head-wagging friends suggested was the reason for his personal calamity and trials. They were wrong.

Fifth, Ezekiel also repudiates the false belief that a person can be held responsible for the past sins of loved ones, or generational curses. The prophet’s words are a direct refutation to the charismatic teaching of generational curses that are passed down from family member to family member.

What Ezekiel 18 does tell us is, according to verse 3, that the people of Israel are the focus of God’s rebukes. Meaning, the primary audience is the nation of Israel in judgment and captivity.

Rather than this chapter teaching us about extreme individualism as those who are opposed to the doctrine of imputation want to believe, Ezekiel rebukes that false belief and reminds the people they are in their circumstances because ALL of them as the collective nation share in the responsibility of committing those sins listed throughout the chapter. Adam, for example, blamed Eve for his disobedient act, who in turn, blamed the serpent. Yet all of them shared in the sin for which they were judged. The same is with the nation of Israel.

God reminds them through the words of the prophet that even though they all share in the guilt of Israel’s sin, God is not unjust and will judge everyone according to their obedience to the law. A law-breaking father is responsible for his law-breaking alone and his children will not be held accountable for it. Just as a faithful, law-keeping father is not held judicially responsible for his law-breaking son.

Additionally, God makes it clear in verses 21 and 22 that a wicked man who is a law-breaker who turns from his wicked way and now obeys God’s law, will not have his past sin of law-breaking held against him. God forgives and does not remember his past disobedience. In like manner, God states that a righteous man who turns from his righteous ways to live out the rest of his life as a law-breaking, defier of God’s ways will be judged for his sin and not his past righteousness. His apostasy is described as treachery in verse 24 and for it he will die.

The prophet concludes his words by proclaiming God’s heart who wishes none to perish, but that all of them would do right and live. That would entail them recognizing their collective sin against God’s covenant, their repentance to no longer be law breakers, and their return to obeying God’s commands.

So, rather than this chapter being a treatise that rejects and refutes the biblical doctrine of imputation, it is a specific word to the people of captive Israel to turn away from the law-breaking that brought them to their circumstances, return to God, and live.

 

 

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.

Religion in Star Wars

Star WarsSo. The latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, was finally released and it, shall we say, awakened the millions of fans who were enthralled with the original series back some 35 years ago. (I’m not counting the terrifically bad episodes 1-3 when I say “enthralled).

Latched onto all of the pop culture excitement for the new movie like mynocks sucking on power cables are Christian fundamentalist types wagging their fingers and earnestly lecturing us how Star Wars is nothing more than New Agey propaganda that is a Jim Bakker CERN particle accelerating portal to unleashing devil worshiping all over the world. If kids go watch Star Wars, by golly, the next step is Ouija boards, consuming Monster Energy drinks, and a spiraling descent into a hellish, Chick tract witch coven nightmare!

Over the weekend of the movie’s release, I got into a tussle with one of those finger-wagging religious moralists at a FaceBook group. He had posted a link to a lecture railing against Star Wars as New Age/Devil unleashing propaganda. The speaker is the pastor of a KJV Only church in MN (Of course!) who also has an audio catalog of sermons and podcasts crying out against the hidden evils of Christmas and CCM. The guy reminds me of a watered-down version of barefoot runner, Steven Anderson.

At any rate, my FB antagonist insisted that George Lucas had filled his movies with thematic elements pulled from a number of eastern, mystery religions and ignorant Christians gleefully lap up those hidden demonic messages all for the sake of entertainment. They are being duped by the devil into a life worldly compromise and devil worship.

Well of course I agree that “spiritual” themes exist in the Star Wars movies. I certainly don’t deny that. Obviously an universally transcendent “force” that a person can tap into and manipulate for either good or bad purposes is new agey. I mean, the whole idea of a Jedi order that demands a loveless commitment to a life of singleness and celibacy reeks of the monastic lifestyle promoted in many religious sects.

But do those religious themes mean that Lucas intended to make a series of movies filled with hidden spiritual undertones for the purpose of promoting a religion that the devil will use to bankrupt the Christian faith?

Good grief! Of course not. Do you seriously think that neck-bearded, flannel-wearing toy salesman created his cinematic universe for the purpose of introducing generations of children and then their children to religion? No! He wants to sell toys. Lots and lots of toys.

Sure, Lucas pulled from Joseph Campbell’s works regarding how hero journey myths weave themselves through various cultures, but to conclude it was for the purpose of creating a new religion in order to fool people into becoming New Agers is patently absurd. There was good reason Lucas insisted on maintaining the merchandising rights to his movies. It’s the reason why you can get a set of Dengar and Bossk plush toys,

dengarbosskBut let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Lucas has intended to make disciples for his oddball Jedi religion with his movies. Does it really matter? Seriously?

I asked my FB debater to tell me how many folks he knew who watched the movies and then left the theater thinking, “I really want to know more about that dark side of the force thing,” and before you know it the person has created the church of the Sith that is rapidly growing in popularity.

He had to say he knew of none, which is true. There aren’t any. Oh, I know somebody can maybe find a few anecdotal examples from around the world somewhere. But I bet genuine examples will prove as difficult at conjuring up than the stolen data plans of the Death Star.

Most normal people are like me. They grew up loving the movies. Perhaps collected the toys and action figures and replayed the various movie scenes with them. My kids currently do the same thing. They build the Lego ships and swing their plastic light sabers around at each other.

bibBut eventually they will grow out of the toys, and maybe they’ll be like me, a fan that maintains a nostalgia for the original movies so that I have a talking wampa on my desk sitting next to a Admiral Ackbar action figure caught in a mousetrap as part of my “geekosphere.”

Apart from the middle-aged weirdos who dress up like Bib Fortuna for Comic Con, I don’t know of anyone who even cares about alleged religious themes in Star Wars.

Honestly, the real hidden agenda of the devil, if we even want to call it that seeing that his agenda is clearly discernible, is to get conspiracy mongering Christians to obsess on silly things like demonic mysticism in the Star Wars movies, rather than focus upon those elements that do enslave the souls of men.

The biggest example being the shallow, spiritless preaching and fleshly entertainment that comes from the pulpits of the vast majority of Churches in the US that has only led to millions of false converts. 

Or what about the horrendous theology being taught, like the influence of the stealth atheism of Biologos in churches, or the man-centered apologetics that has created apostates to Catholicism. Worst of all is charismaticism that has been a devastating, negative force on Christians throughout the Church worldwide for the last 40-plus years.

That is where our attention should be focused regarding biblical purity, doctrine, and spiritual compromise. Not upon some misguided conspiratorial alarmism about a series of popular movies.

BTWN Interview on KJV Onlyism

So I had the privilege of being interviewed by the hosts of one of my absolute favorite podcasts, The Bible Thumping Wingnut. We talked about a lot of fun stuff, but focused upon the issue of King James Onlyism.

BTWN Show 124, Fred on KJV Onlyism

We did a Google Hangout, and then it was posted up on You Tube. If you watch the You Tube version, you can see me waving my hands around a lot and hear me tell a funny John MacArthur factoid when Tim’s audio dropped.

12 Atheist Statements

From the Hip&Thigh Archives

possumpicSo. In order to prevent folks from thinking Christian doctrine is only believed by hicks and I cannot offer good answers to those statements in my last post, see HERE, I will respond to each of them in turn. The original comments will be in Blue Bold.

To believe your bible in any translation(or original manuscripts) is inerrant & god breathed, here is what you must believe.

#1.A snake can talk remember the snake was cursed to crawl on it’s belly & eat dust.
#2.A donkey can talk.

#9.You have to believe god made the sun stand still when it already stands still or believe god stopped the rotation of the earth which anyone should know would be a disaster in many ways for earth.

#10.You have to believe Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt which is unbelievable.

I took those statements out of sequence because they specifically deal with miraculous interventions and extraordinary acts of providence by God.

Biblio-skeptics tend to ignore the fact that the Bible presupposes the existence of God who has directly intervened in human history past. Because the writers of the Bible treat their writing as a historical record of God’s divine dealings with humanity, particularly God’s redeemed people, I would only expect to read about extraordinary acts of God.

In fact, if the Bible claimed to be a book recording the revelation of the divine, Sovereign Creator, yet contained no record of miraculous works by that Creator in order to establish His divinity, then wouldn’t it raise suspicion in the minds of its critics? Yet, my antagonist would just as easily hammer that point as a means of mockery.

The Bible claims to be a supernatural book with its source being from the mind of our Creator. I expect it to tell of supernatural events. Why is that hard to believe unless you are unwilling to submit to the Creator who produced those supernatural events?

Looking at each point in turn.

#1 – First off, the Bible says it was a serpent. The text is unclear as to what sort of animal that was. The idea of a snake is from the modern day and my antagonist is reading the concept of a modern day python back onto the text. Second, the serpent was satanically controlled. Third, it was cursed AFTER it talked, not before. And fourth, this was an unique, one time event never to be repeated.

#2 – Similar points apply with Balaam’s donkey as with the snake. The Angel of the LORD (who I believe to be Jesus appearing preincarnate) was present when the donkey talked, even giving it the ability to rebuke Balaam.

#9 – Again, similar points apply as with #1 and #2. This was a one time event of extraordinary providence. If our Creator can create His world, He certainly can protect it from disaster when He reveals Himself in a miraculous, cosmological display, so as to deliver His people and bring a crushing blow against their enemies.

#10 – Again, similar points apply here as with the previous three. There were supernatural events that took place in the historical past which show forth God’s character as revealed in judgment, wrath, and even mercy.

Additionally, the description being recorded here may be a metaphorical description explaining how Lot’s wife was merely destroyed in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah because she tarried behind Lot. The text is not clear how far behind she may had been. Because she refused to take seriously the warnings of judgment delivered by the angels, she was overcome in the cities’ destruction.

#3.That man was so stupid back then that he actually thought he could build a tower to heaven.

Nothing in the text suggests they were building a physical tower that was intended to go into heaven, as in allowing people to ascend into the atmosphere and beyond. The text says the people acted as one in rebellion to what God had commanded when he told humanity after the flood to spread over the earth.

Instead, they worked together to build a great city with a tower with its top in the heavens. Basically a grand skyscraper probably constructed for the worship of false gods. There is nothing stupid about this given the fact the similar relics of ancient societies still exist today like the pyramids and ziggurats.

#4.You have to believe against any logical thinking that all those animals,incl,snakes & all different kinds of insects and enough food to feed all of them(different kinds of food)for almost one year would fit on an ark that size,which is impossible.
#5.You have to believe there was food for them to eat when they came off the ark even though the whole earth was supposedly covered in water.

noahsarkThe subject of the ark’s dynamics and physical feasibility to accomplish what it did according to the biblical record of Genesis 6-8 is vast. There have been countless studies done and papers/books written demonstrating that the ark could carry all the animal kinds (not the entire species we see today), as well as enough food to feed them for a year. The statement is made from a position of scholarly ignorance by a person who is a Christian bigot.

Answers in Genesis also lists a plethora of articles detailing the physical reality of Noah’s global flood and the feasibility of the ark. Of course, the skeptic automatically dismisses anything AiG says, because they claim they are biased, stupid, or whatever. That’s how an atheist shores up his ignorance, by automatically poisoning anything his critics and opponents write. So much for free thinking and doing your homework and all.

#6.You have to believe in a flat earth because these supposedly inspired by god people said so back then.

Nothing in the biblical record suggest the earth is flat. No one claimed as much or believed it. That is anti-biblical urban myth.

#7.You have to believe the earth is 6 to 10,000 years old despite overwhelming proof it is much,much older,even if not 4.5 billion years old.

And what exactly is that overwhelming proof? The variety of radioactive dating methods are wildly inconsistent with each other when tested on just one sample. Moreover, dating methods are subject to speculative interpretations, interpretations that are driven by particular presuppositions.

Again, AiG has a list of technical articles dealing with the issue, but remember, most skeptics refuse to interact with the data and information, but instead choose to attack ad hominem straw men versions of their critics whom they do not respect.

#8.You have to believe all those heavenly bodies out there that they are still finding were created in one literal day(morning & evening)that is despite the fact that even now they are finding suns,stars just now begining [sic] to form.

Usually the person who makes statements invoking the authority of modern day evolutionary cosmology are generally ignorant of the problems inherent to modern day evolutionary cosmology. He is also blissfully unaware of the in-fighting that exists between various proponents of various theories and models that are dreamed up to help explain away those problems.

For example, note the contradiction in his original statement. In #7 he speaks about the earth being 4.5 billion years old. The so-called billions of light years (a “light year” being a measure of distance, not time, by the way) are considered one of the reasons we believe in an old universe. However, in #8, it is suggested one solar day is way too short a time for suns and stars to form, especially now that we are finding stars just now beginning to form. OK, how exactly would we see their light if they are just now beginning to form?

Discover magazine did an article on the youthful galaxies located by the Galex telescope that are 2 to 4 billion light years from earth, but began forming just 1 billion light years ago according to the telescope observations. In the March 2006 issue, a thoughtful reader wrote a letter to the editor expressing curiosity as to how we could even see their light? He writes,

“If the youthful galaxies located by the Galex telescope are 2 billion to 4 billion light-years from Earth but started forming less than 1 billion years ago, how can they be observed at all?”

In other words, it should have taken the light from those 1-billion-year-old galaxies 2 to 4 billion years to reach us. The editors at Discover responded thus:

Your question cuts right to one of the trickiest problems in cosmology: how to refer to the timing of events when there are many different ways to describe them. The conventional solution is to describe everything from the way we perceive it. In this case, that means that when we say that the galaxies started forming less than a billion years ago, we mean that the galaxies AS WE SEE THEM TODAY appear to have started forming less than a billion years ago. Put another way, when their light started heading toward Earth 2 billion to 4 billion years ago, these objects were less than a billion years old. That convention may seem confusing, but the alternatives are even more puzzling. For instance, it would be more comprehensive to say that these galaxies, located 2 billion to 4 billion light-years from Earth, appear to have begun forming less than 3 billion to 5 billion years ago, and then their light spent 2 billion to 4 billion years traveling toward us. More comprehensive, yes, but even harder to follow!

In other words, its a mystery that doesn’t fit into the prescribe view of evolutionary cosmologists.

#11.You have to believe Lot had intercourse with 2 of his daughters on 2 different nights and knew it not.

That comment is strange. The text clearly states he was drunk out of his mind and unaware of what happened. Why is that hard to believe? Such things happen in Las Vegas all the time between total strangers.

#12.You have to believe Jesus was concieved [sic] without human intercourse this despite the fact that at least 20 other dying & resurrecting savior sun gods had this claimed of them long,long before the supposed time of Jesus,you claim them a myth but the same tale about Jesus true.

That comment is a woefully ignorant exaggeration of historical fact. In all of my private email interchanges with my antagonist, he always returned to cut-and-pasted articles from non-scholarly, atheistic websites that try desperately to tie Jesus to some ancient myth.

Mithra is the favorite these days. J.P. Holding of Tektonics has done some extensive research debunking these claims, even interacting with the world’s literary experts on these various myths who also deny the connection between the alleged myth and the historical Jesus.

However, just like he rejects AiG out of hand, my antagonist also rejects J.P. Holding because, a) “J.P.” still goes by the alias he gave himself for security reasons when he worked with hardcore criminals in the state penitentiary where he was employed, and b) he was too mean and direct with my emailer when he was hassling him. Once again, such self-imposed blindness only reveals a heart angry at the God of scripture and who truly doesn’t care for the truth.

So there you have it. I responded to each one of his charges and none of them disprove the inerrancy of the Bible. All we have are baseless charges just like they were asked decades ago, but have once again been proven wrong.

A Christian Response to the Parents of a Transgendered Kid

Dear Mrs. McLaren,

My name is Fred Butler and I recently read your open letter to Christians posted at Huffington Post. I am one of those “Christians” you attempt to shame regarding how your gender confused son has allegedly been treated.

Honestly, I am not someone who frequents HuffPo. I was linked to your article from a different page.  I don’t visit HuffPo primarily because many of their posts are on topics I find sophomoric and immature, if not troubling and at times demeaning. For instance, the day I read your letter, linked in the sidebar was an article called “19 Women on the Best Things about Their Boobs.”

Really?

I hope you can appreciate the irony of your letter demanding Christians respect your transgendered kid’s sexual orientation linked along side another article sexually objectifying women’s breasts. And that on a leftist website that pretends to champion women’s rights. It’s that kind of reporting that turns me away from the website in the first place. I would imagine most God-fearing Christians you intend to reach with your letter believe the same way as I do, so more than likely you’re merely preaching to the choir with your open letter. Judging by the fist pumping cheerleaders in the comments that sounds exactly like what is happening.

But let me move on.

Before I begin, It may be helpful to clarify what it is a Christian actually believes. When I read your little jab about “buffet-style Christians,” I am working from the assumption you have been told that belief in Christian doctrine, particularly doctrine that defines human sexuality, is often maligned with misinterpretations from cherry-picked passages. If that is what you think, you have been sorely misinformed.

But please forgive me if I am being presumptuous. You may very well know standard Christian theology and doctrine. However, it is just in my experience with individuals critically hostile toward Christianity, especially individuals like yourself willing to publish an open letter taking us to task for our convictions, that I find those folks woefully ignorant when it comes to the Bible or basic Christian teaching. They tend to burn strawmen built from secondhand critical sources that are just as equally ignorant. Rarely have I encountered a critic writing open letters against Christians who accurately reflects what it is they believe. I sincerely get that sense from you when reading your letter.

As a Christian I believe that God exists and that He revealed Himself through His prophets and apostles in the pages of Scripture. I believe Scripture is God’s Word and that means it is infallible and inerrant in all that it records with both history and spiritual truth. (Yes, I realize the internet is filled with cranks and other self-appointed “experts” who have multi-paged websites supposedly refuting my assertion about the Bible, but a serious evaluation of their charges will easily debunk them).

I further believe Jesus was the Second person of the Trinity come in human flesh. He lived a life obedient to God the Father, was predestined by God to be crucified at the hands of both the Romans and the Jews, and then rose again to life three days later to secure eternal salvation for a redeemed people.

I believe all men and women without exception are born in sin, separated from God. That does not mean that all people are entirely given over to wicked depravity, but that their core, spiritual being is naturally hostile toward God and His law. All men are sinners, but they all may not live as sinfully as they could.

I also believe the Bible has a lot to tell us about sexual matters. God is our creator and His original creative design was one man and one woman for marriage for life. Jesus Christ, who is God and thus our creator, affirms in the four Gospels what Genesis 1 and 2 teach us about men and women and marriage. In fact, the NT writers also affirm the same truths. I also completely recognized that the entrance of sin into the world ruins God’s original intent with men, women, sex, marriage and the family. That is evident by the history of abuse, sexual sin, adultery, divorce, fornication, and  yes, homosexual behavior.

Now, coming back to your letter.

You express anger with the name calling and ugly words people have thrown your way regarding your transgendered child. You go onto complain how the worst culprits in your mind are Christians, because Christians are supposed to be loving, compassionate, and non-judgmental to the “least of these” misunderstood people like you and your family, particularly your child.

But given what I just outlined above with basic Christianity, do you understand why Bible-believing Christians would not be so “accepting” of your life choices you are encouraging with your child? In order for me to be “affirming” of a boy becoming a girl, I would have to deny the fundamental truths of Scripture and change the theological commitments of my Christianity.  Not only that, I’d have to deny the fundamental truth of reality that a man cannot become a woman no matter what he “feels.” The Bible is only affirming the truth of reality, and I’m sorry, but those are truths I will never relinquish.

As I pointed out above, you ridicule the “buffet-style Christians,” but why am I, the guy who affirms what has been the conviction of the historic, Christian faith regarding sexuality for the last 2,000 years, the so-called “buffet-style Christian,” whereas the new revisionists who want the Bible to openly affirm homosexuality are not? They are the ones who are truly picking and choosing the verses they want to highlight, or ignore, rather than taking the Bible as a unified, divinely inspired whole in the entirety of all 66 books.

But I think most Christians are disturbed that you want us to accept a transgendered NINE YEAR OLD! Even more to the point, you recount the story of when your son was five, he pitched a fit in the car one day crying that he was really a girl and after a little bit of soul searching and visits with therapists, you have been encouraging your son to be a girl ever since. If he is now nine years old, that means this transgendered fantasy has been going on for like FOUR YEARS! Can you not understand how any sane thinking person, not just Christians, see this as madness! I as a father of five children myself would even say it is parental abuse!

Mrs. McLaren, I honestly think the Christians you are encountering who have a gut-wrenching aversion to your son’s situation are responding not out of hate because they think your family is “icky,” but out of love and concern.  You have only willfully blinded your eyes to the truth.

Ma’am, your son, no matter how much he may protest and claim he “feels” like a girl will never be a girl. He will never have a uterus or ovaries. He will never ovulate and have a period. He will never experience menstrual cramps or what it is to be pregnant and birth a baby. To cultivate his delusion will only serve to set him upon a course of self-destruction.

What is more, you have been feeding this lie for FOUR YEARS with a son who is now NINE YEARS OLD! He hasn’t even reached puberty yet! And all because he had an episode once when he was five insisting he was a girl. It never once occurred to you to tell him he is wrong? To actually pursue therapy? Instead you start calling him a “her,” telling everyone he is your “daughter,” and dressing him like a living doll? What on earth!?

What I find distressing, however, is that you are engaged with perpetrating what I consider to be the cruelest emotional and mental abuse upon your son and I, the Bible-believing Christian who believes God has established marriage between only a man and a woman and that people can never swap genders no matter how they “feel” about it, is the bad guy. Even more grievous is that our society pats you on the back and applauds your abuse. It truly is a twisted world we are living in these days.

Now. I understand what I wrote is blunt. You are more than likely disgusted with me right now. I am nothing more than another hater cursing your family. I also know there will probably be people coming to you later after they read this letter apologizing to you and telling you that I “don’t represent true Christianity” or that I am a fundamentalist that can be ignored or waving me off in some dismissive fashion.  When they do, know that they are liars and do not love you. Contrary to what you may be thinking about me right now after reading this, I do care for you. I am grieved for your situation and indignant that no one has apparently taken the time to outline the truth of the matter to you.

My prayer is that God’s Spirit will break through to the hearts of your family and bring you to salvation. He can do such a miracle. Your son does not have to be enslaved to his fantasy like he is now. That is the reason Christ came to dwell among us. He, being the God-man not only restores our sin broken relationship with God the Father, but He redeems people to live life as God intended to live. Christ can redeem your son as He can redeem everyone in your family. He is a saving God who grants not only eternal life, but deliverance from sin and inordinate affections.

Inerrancy from the Peanut Gallery

galleryI had a commenter leave a few challenges against the doctrine of inerrancy under a recent post of mine. He asked in such a way that he comes across pious and reverent of God’s Word, but I believe he is insincere.

Knowing that many readers will encounter similar individuals, I thought I would offer my responses here on the front page of the blog. I won’t respond to everything, but here are some selected comments.

It might be helpful for you to define what you mean by “inerrancy”?

I thought I provided a clear enough definition in my posts, but if a formal definition is required, inerrancy would simply be “The Bible is without error.”

Knowing that my detractor will be far from satisfied with such a simplistic and easy definition, I will expand upon it a bit more by citing Wayne Grudem. He writes at great length on the attributes of Scripture in his systematic theology [chapters 2-8, 47-140], and sums up the doctrine of inerrancy by stating,

We will not at this point repeat the arguments concerning the authority of Scripture that were given in chapter 4. There it was argued that all the words in the Bible are God’s words, and that therefore to disbelieve or disobey any word in Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. It was argued further that the Bible clearly teaches that God cannot lie or speak falsely (2 Samuel 7:28; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, all words in Scripture are claimed to be completely true and without error in any part (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 12:6; 119:89, 96; Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 24:35). God’s words are, in fact, the ultimate standard of truth (John 17:17) [Grudem, 90].

The doctrine of inerrancy is brought into focus as we consider what the whole of Scripture teaches about itself. Inerrancy, then, does not exist as a stand alone doctrine, but is supported by the doctrine of inspiration and infallibility, doctrines affirmed throughout the entirety of the Bible. An inspired, or God breathed revelation, will be both infaillible and inerrant, because it reflects the character of the holy, truthful God who breathed out Scripture.

The Bible makes zero claims to inerrancy. Not one. Not for “the Bible,” not even for “scripture.” The claims to “inerrancy” are a human construct, not a biblical one. Not something “from God…” at least not in any direct manner. It is, at best, a belief reached using human reasoning, extrapolating the idea from (very little in) the Bible.

That is a typical claim by biblio-skeptics. Jack Rogers, who once fought against Harold Lindsell over the authority of Scripture, popularized the urban legend that the concept of inerrancy was an invention by Fundamentalists in the late 1800s and early 1900s when they were battling modernistic creep in the church.

But anyone who is just the wee bit familiar with church history knows that Christians have always believed in inerrancy because the Bible affirms it. The claim made by my detractor, that the Bible “makes zero claims to inerrancy,” causes me to wonder how much of the Bible he has actually read, or at least, paid attention to when he read it.

While it is true that the exact word “inerrancy” is not directly used in the Bible, the Bible presupposes the doctrine of inerrancy throughout its pages, and appeals to it as a final, infallible source of authority. Both Jews and Christians have historically affirmed that presupposition.

Time prevents me from fleshing this out in full, but to highlight a handful of significant truth:

The biblical writers, both in the OT and the NT, refer to the Bible as the “Word of God” or the “Word of the LORD,” and when speaking to the authority of Scripture, use such expressions as “it is written,” and “thus saith the Lord” hundreds of times. Also, the Scriptures are called “the law of the LORD,” “the testimony of the LORD,” “the commandments of the LORD,” and “the judgments of the LORD” throughout the Old Testament. In fact, Psalm 119, the longest Psalm that specifically exalts the authority of Scripture, describes the Bible multiple times by repeatedly using those descriptors and variations.

Coming to the NT, Jesus had an extremely high view of Scripture’s authority, infallibility, and inerrancy. He held the OT to be historically true, completely authoritative, and divinely inspired. He believed that the God of the OT was living, and the OT Scriptures were the teachings of the living God. When Jesus taught, it is clear He believed what Scripture said is what God Almighty had said.

Consider that Jesus treated the OT as genuine historical narrative, not allegory or moral tales. The Bible for Jesus recorded history that really happened in time and space. He refers to Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah (Matthew 24:37), Abraham (John 8:56), Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24), Lot (Luke 17:28-32), Issac and Jacob (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28), the giving of manna (John 6:31, 49, 58), The serpent on the pole (John 3:14), David (Mark 2:25; 12:36; Luke 6:3-4; 20:42), Solomon (Matthew 6:29; Luke 11:31), Elijah (Luke 4:25-26), Elisha (Luke 4:27), Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32) and Zechariah (Luke 11:51).  In fact, in Luke 11:51, Jesus had a clear sense of the scope and unity of biblical history when He says, “From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”

Moreover, Jesus repeatedly refers to Moses as the law giver, (Matthew 8:4; 19:8; Mark 1:44; 7:10; 10:5; 12:26; Luke 5:14; 20:37; John 5:46; 7:19) and the historicity of the OT events. Jesus even appeals to Genesis 1 and 2 as the authority on what God has said about marriage and divorce. Additionally, he speaks of Noah and the worldwide flood (Matthew 24:37), the divine destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 11:23-24), and notes the demise of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:26-32).

He also held high the infallible authority of the OT to correct the Pharisees and Sadducees when they attempted to challenge Him, appealed to the OT as a guide to ethics, refuted the devil by appealing to the OT, and when Christ appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke says that “beginning with Moses and all the prophets,” (Luke 24:25-47), He showed how all the OT Scripture pointed to and were fulfilled in Him. All of those conversations would be questionable, if not entirely in doubt, if Jesus did not believe the Bible was inerrant.

The NT writers also had an equal view of the OT being their supreme authority. Without having to recount the many citations of the OT found in the key epistles of the NT, it is clear that all the apostles recognized the Scriptures were sufficiently inerrant as they recounted history and ethics.  They were considered the “very words of God,” (Romans 3:2).

Take for example Paul’s well-known proclamation about the Scriptures in his second letter to Timothy where he writes, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If the Scriptures are errant, there is no point in appealing to them in the fashion that Paul did. An errant Scripture has no real authority to offer any meaningful correction or training in righteousness because it is constantly in doubt.

The Bible is a human compilation. Humans decided that this Protestant collection of 66 books are “as Scripture” for us and we hold them to be sacred texts.

Regrettably, that comment is typical of many churched individuals in our day, and demonstrates a profound ignorance of church history throughout many so-called evangelical congregations.

The key problem with the objection, and coming from a person who insists he loves the Bible and has read and studied it for decades, is how the divine element involved in the formation of Scripture is absent or intentionally removed out of the discussion. If the Bible is God-breathed, as I just noted above, then God’s fingerprints are on the development, collection, transmission, and even preservation of those documents that are Scripture. God would hardly breathe out Scripture, and then allow it to fall through the cracks of time, becoming corrupted and thus uncertain or lost.

The objection merely fixates upon the fact men were involved with identifying the books that form the canon of both the OT and the NT. Yet it is seen in the very pages of Scripture that while men were the instruments in proclaiming and then documenting the Word of God that became what we know as Scripture, God’s Spirit was always involved in the process of its writing, and then its identification, and eventual transmission.

God wanted to communicate with His redeemed people, and He specifically brought them to be a “people of the book.” That is true both in the OT as well as in the NT. Paul says for example in Romans 3:2, that Israel was entrusted with the oracles of God. An entire scribal class within the tribe of Levi was developed that maintained the writings of the OT. The Levitical priests were to read and teach the Scripture to the people.

While the formation of the NT may had been slightly different, the Christians in the early church were also a people of the book, and they began gathering the writing of men they knew were apostles. Within the first century, Christians were collecting the writings of Paul, the four Gospels, as well as other epistles, and circulating them among the various churches where groups of Christians would also copy those letters. Those collections became identified as the beginnings of what is today our NT.

There has been much written on the subject of the canon, but I am not surprised that my detractor seems oblivious to those studies, because he has such a low view of the doctrine of infallibility. Those who are interested, will benefit greatly from Michael Kruger, who is probably one of the leading authorities on the development of the canon. As an introduction for those wishing to have a better grasp answering objections about the canon of Scripture, Dr. Kruger has written a series of ten articles addressing misconceptions about the NT canon. Those who wish to dig deeper into this topic will greatly benefit from his book, Canon Revisited.

Moving to one final response,

I had written in this post the following statement,

durstGod safeguards the transmission of His written revelation through the thousands of copies handwritten by His people, both during the time of the OT and the time of the NT.

My detractor, writing in rebuttal stated, Can we agree that this is an unsupported human opinion, not a fact, and not in any way at all directly biblical?

It is not entirely clear what he believes is “unsupported human opinion.” Is it my assertion about God safeguarding the transmission of His revelation? Is my detractor now saying God doesn’t, or is perhaps powerless to, safeguard the transmission of His revelation? Or is it that he doesn’t believe God did it through the means of thousands of copies handwritten by His people?

I would firmly maintain that God most definitely has the ability to safeguard the transmission of His revelation. I mean, if we acknowledge that God is our sovereign creator, sustainer, and savior, He most certainly has the power to keep His divine revelation as contained in the pages of Scripture in the hands of His people down through the course of history.

Additionally, I further maintain that God used the means of His people to faithfully copy His revelation during the time of the OT and NT. And, as anyone knows who has the least bit of familiarity with textual criticism, the people of God who made those faithful copies did a remarkable job – dare I even say “miraculous” like there was a divine hand directing the process. The copying was so complete and well-done that even with the numerous, but inconsequential, textual variants, we can know with 100% accuracy what God originally stated.

Now does that mean there are no variants that are problematic and are debated among Christians over the centuries. Of course not. But it does show what I originally asserted: God has safeguarded the transmission of His revelation as it is contained in Scripture, and He has done so faithfully over the course of many years with the use of people copying thousands of manuscripts.