Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I currently have many friends who are at roughly the same place in their biblical thinking. They have been challenging several teachings that are, as I see it, basic to Christianity. It is hard, however, to know how to reach out and begin dialogue with them because in many senses we have different worldviews.

I believe that we must begin any discussion with the scriptures. They are axiomatic.  We do not reach the conclusion of the truth of Christianity based on a long series of arguments. We must start with the truth of the scriptures and then begin to think from that point.

For several reasons this has become my conviction. I cant go deep right now, so here is a flyover.

1. God repeatedly says in His word that all wisdom and knowledge begin with the fear of the Lord.
2.  All other attempts to ground our thought (existentialism, empiricism, rationalism) have been shown clearly to be bankrupt.
3.  Internal consistency now becomes crucial in analyzing worldviews and only the Christian worldview, founded on the scriptures, passes that test.

These buddies of mine, while strongly asserting their Christianity, in my opinion have moved to other foundations which don’t allow for the strong assertion of Christian truth. Instead these other foundations basically hamstring any attempt to defend the faith.

Inerrancy

Inerrancy is the belief that in the original manuscripts God so moved as to give us a text that was free from human errors.  Not in the sense that they could not have misspelled a word, or that they could not have written their letters in a misshapen way.  But that the content that they wrote under the inspiration of God’s Spirit was faithful to what God wanted them to write and wholly true.

And upon this point those of us who believe in inerrancy are often charged with a problem.  It is said that the only way for God to accomplish this is by dictation, as if God pushed the little button on the back of our heads that turns us into robots and we just wrote out the bible for him as he pulled our strings.  They say that dictation doesn’t account for all the humanness we see in the bible, with each author revealing their own style etc.

The problem with dictation, from my point of view, is not that it is too controlling, but that it is not controlling enough. From the doctrine of divine sovereignty we can see that God so controls all things in this world that He can adequately shape the heart and nature of a man so that that man will write exactly what God wants him to (yet in his own verbage).  God is in control and man is using his own language.

My friends, coming from different, and i would say non christian, presuppositions, have several issues with inerrancy.

1.  That they cant find a legitimate argument for inerrancy.

2.  They believe there are textual problems in the original text that are unresolvable.

I cant deal with 2 right now but I will address 1.

There is no legitimate argument for inerrancy. True. If by that argument you mean that from the basis of non Christian axioms that there is no way to legitimately argue to an error free text then you are absolutely right.

The problem is that the truth of the Christian scriptures and the existence of the Triune God is not something you can reach at the end of a long syllogism that is rooted in non Christian premises. Classical Christian apologetics has tried to do this and has failed terribly. These truths are axiomatic to true Christianity. They aren’t the end conclusion.  They are the beginning presupposition.

These buddies of mine, upon denying inerrancy and moving to errancy, (the belief that there were errors, to a more or less extent, in the original manuscripts) have found themselves in the same morass as all the liberals that they would so firmly decry. What do I mean?

Once inerrancy falls, and we no longer believe that God preserved His text, the question now becomes, what is a human addition and what is genuinely resulting from God’s Holy Spirit? In the original text, what was genuinely from God? How do we know John 3:16 was God breathed?

We can talk all day about the trustworthiness of God and His intent to preserve His Word etc.Yet all that is is irrelevant to this point. Once we deny that God acted in such a way as to preserve a text without error, the debate shifts to one about the trustworthiness of people, in this case, the people who God inspired. Not sure about you, but I for one don’t trust people to do anything perfectly.

So, what is our basis that John 3:16 is actually God breathed and not a human addition? Pretty much diddlely-squat. We have no mechanism to determine the origin of the words, whether ultimately divine or purely human and thus we have no arguments that can differentiate between the two.  All we have is a text.

The liberals of our day have followed the path of logic my brothers are following, realized there is no real solid standard, and have invented their own standards. The ethic of love.  The hermuenutic of the person of Christ, etc.  Even so, these standards are subjective and not derived from scripture.  If they have indeed lost the confidence to say that scripture is preserved inerrant in the autographs, then the very hermenuetic they have offered could be the result of those danged human verses in the bible. The liberals have arbitrarily invented hermenuetics that seem cool to themselves and are now holding everyone hostage to their personal “super cool” dreams. That is what they are. Dreams! They have entered the dream world and their Christian ethic has lost its connection with reality.

Yet my friends still say that they believe that the original autographs were mostly divine, perhaps 99.5% divine. That’s a lot to work with there!  We can build a Christian worldview with a large degree of certainty.

NO.

If I were to say that I actually think that the scriptures were 58.3% divine and that all the verses about Jesus were human additions, upon what basis would you argue for the divinity of those verses? There could be no basis.

But they are Christians. They still follow His Word.  Some of them are very vocal in their denunciations of liberal Christianity along with all the perversions of the secular culture we live in. I praise God for this but wonder why?  They obviously have faith in His Word. They believe that John 3:16 is God breathed and inspired.  Why?  The only conclusion I can reach is just that they have assumed it to be so.  They have assumed the divine origin of most of the Bible, yet disagree with me for the assumption of inerrancy. We are both making assumptions here brothers, let’s get that much straight. The question now is, whose worldview can sustain those assumptions and whose cannot?

I would really appreciate some feedback on this post friends. I recognize my youth and the fact that with these words I am challenging the beliefs of some of those who have served and taught me, and walked with me in my own struggles. I love you guys.

Recently I attended a debate on the topic, “Should Christians trust Darwinism?” Representing the Intelligent Design side was probably its most well known defender, Dr. Stephen Meyer.  Representing the Theistic evolution side was Dr. Karl Giberson, who has written extensively on the topic as well.

The debate was very good, each side representing their positions in a capable way.  All in all I think Dr. Meyer won the debate, though that was largely due to his greater charisma and debate experience.

The debate prompted a lot of thought for me.  This topic used to be my big issue and I gobbled down tons of books from all perspectives for a few years.  As worldview comes in so clearly in this topic there tend to be many arguments riddled with cliche terms and arguments that don’t really connect with the target audience. So I really appreciated learning some new things and hearing some new perspectives at this debate.

Here are some thoughts prompted by the debate.

There are massive worldview issues underneath each camp in the creation/evolution debate.  To not deal with these presuppositions is to miss the most important issue in the debate.  I am taking for granted a young earth view of the scriptures as I believe that is the proper interpretation.  The point of this article is not to challenge the presuppositional nature of the debate, but to point out the weaknesses and strengths the various movements have as they have approached the raw data with their theories.

In every field of science there are theories that are debated. The method that is used to determine the acceptance of a particular theory is to ask how much of the raw data we have is explained by this particular theory.  We have multitudes of little facts about our world that need to fit into a theory.  For instance, the fact that we can get in a plane and around the world is deemed to be a strong argument against the flat earth theory.  That theory cannot interpret the raw data we see in a consistent way.  Thus it falls.  In the area of creation/evolution as well, there are theories proposed and each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.

The view of common descent held by neo-darwinism has been around for several hundred years. I could be mistaken, but as I understand it, neo-darwinism began with the finding of the DNA code by Crick and Watson in the 50’s.  This revolutionized evolutionary biology.  But all the same the basic premises of the theory have been around for several hundred years with more or less acceptance within the scholarly fields.  Darwinism has had time to develop a clear cut theory of how things came to be.  The sheer weight of the volumes that have been written applying this theory to the data we see in nature is astounding.

On the other hand the Intelligent Design movement does not have a theory to apply to the data.  There is very little consensus amongst this movement over what actually happened.  What they do share in common is a distrust of the Neo-evolutionary paradigm.  And in that one area they are very strong.  Their critiques of darwinism are, in my humble opinion, shattering.  But, as they have not proposed a theory of their own (amongst other presuppositional reasons) their cries have gone unnoticed and the army of evolutionary scientists just moves on to damage repair.
And then we have the Creationism movement.  They have a theory to propose but have a long, long way to go in working out the kinks and applying this theory to the data.  The modern movement itself is only 60-70 years old and has been plagued with the normal issues new movements face; lack of direction, lack of deep thorough thinking about the relevant data and much infighting.  Because of these issues and presuppositional differences the modern scientific community scoffs at the YEC movement.  We are beginning to see, however, changes in the movement and attempts to be systematic, to work out solid models and to apply those to the data.

I am a young earther.  This is because I think this is the natural reading of many biblical texts.  Yet, I still think the YEC movement is riddled with issues and I disagree with a lot of their “scientific” argumentation. There are many areas we need to work hard on.

As I see it, the darwinist camp has a several hundred year jump on us on working out the kinks and working thru the data.  We are the young David marching on to the field to face off with the huge Goliath.  The giant has been dealt a death blow by the ID crowd and he is teetering.  But there is some fight left in him.  We have a long ways to go.

My wife and I have had a rather interesting experience in the Healthcare arena.  For those that do not know Gennavieve has a chronic health condition that will likely be with her the rest of her life. As believers we really don’t agree with the direction our country has taken over the past 60-70 years regarding welfare.  But circumstances have at times thrown us into a position where we needed to accept the government’s help with her health.

When we were newly wed I began to make phone calls to find out how much it would cost to get health care just for Gennavieve.  The quotes I got were in the 1800.00 dollar range per month.  Needless to say, that wasn’t affordable for us.  We also called the Christian Healthcare sharing groups but found we could not join because of the pre-existing condition.

Then we got pregnant and found that there was a government program that offered free healthcare for pregnant women.  Our income was low enough to fit in the acceptable brackets.  We needed something and finding nothing else had to march down the welfare road.

So the dilemma I found myself in was this.  I am a young man who has a lot of business ideas that I am delving into and preparing.  But, if I were to succeed in these ventures I would soon be making too much to qualify for these medical programs and yet far too little to afford the healthcare or insurance.  It was a pretty pickle.  Pursue responsibility in providing for my family and sacrifice their health or drop the business plans and intentionally make less money to qualify for healthcare.  For a while it was a real problem and I saw no real way out.

In God’s grace a way was opened up for us.  My job situation changed and I was able to get healthcare through work.

But I keep thinking about the system that brought us down this path.  We are christians who are really trying to live as we should and even in our place the choice to make less money to keep healthcare was an enticing one.  How much more so for all the millions of Americans without our creed? For the single moms and all those who are in that poverty bracket?  Our government and economic situation incentivises poverty and discourages rising out of your hard economic situations.  How awful is that?

The problem of evil is often said to be the strongest argument against Orthodox Christianity.  While this could very well be the case, it is not my intent to delve into that.

The “other” problem of evil is rarely talked about.

Perhaps it is because we are so focused on the god of self.

Perhaps it is because we don’t think very deeply or consistently these days.

Perhaps it is because we in the west have, for the most part, lost sight of proper biblical categories and doctrines.

I suppose it is some combination of the three (among others).

The Scriptures reveal God and His rescue of humanity as a central theme woven throughout the Old and New Testaments.  God is revealed in full trinitarian nature with the incarnation of Christ and the founding of the church.  Christ is shown to be fully human and fully God and to have dwelt with God the Father since before the world was created.  “…O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” John 17:5  We see the perfect unity of the Godhead in the redemption of the church as the members of the Trinity work towards and accomplish salvation together.

The climax of salvation comes with a bloody Savior nailed to a tree, cursed by men and God alike.

Enter the “Other” problem of evil.

How could the good God we see in the scriptures have ordained and brought about the mocking, scourging and crucifixion of His innocent Son?

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”  Acts 4:27, 28

What can we gather from these verses?  That God predetermined and brought about the crucifixion of the spotless lamb through the actions of men.

Hang on, weren’t these sinful actions?

Yes. In a very real way the crucifixion of God incarnate was the deepest, darkest sin in all of history.  We killed our maker.

So God decreed and brought about the monstrous slaughter of a completely innocent person, His own Son.

I don’t think we often realize the full gravity of what God did.  The cross is talked of so much that it becomes familiar and we lose sight of the awesome and terrible nature of what happened.  It is as simple as the following: God is utterly good. God brought about horrible evil.

How is that for a moral conundrum? How can we reconcile these truths?

I am convinced that the only way to do so is to delve back into those old truths that by and large we have lost.  The truths of imputation, the covenant of redemption and federal headship

Imputation: To charge somebody responsible for another’s crime: to bring legal charges against somebody because a person that he or she is responsible for has committed an offense, in this case, Christ charged for our crimes.

Covenant of redemption: This is a term for the decision made by the Triune God in eternity past to come and save a people.

Federal Headship: The doctrine that God as creator and ruler can appoint a human to represent other humans. The others would be effected by this persons actions as he or she is their representative.

As I see it, the only way to reconcile the truths that God is good and He brought about evil are as follows.

Our triune God decided to redeem a bride from among fallen humanity.  God the Son was appointed as the federal head of this bride. He represents them by bearing the imputed penalties for their crimes against Law.  God the Father would bring this penalty down on the Son. God the Holy Spirit would regenerate and guide this bride.

Christ came and walked this earth.  He willingly went to the cross, bearing my sins (which were imputed to Him) and there He bore the full weight of the wrath of almighty God.  God “crushed the shepherd”, as it says in Isaiah.  God could crush the perfect, spotless lamb of God because He bore the sins of His people.  Because He was accounted among the transgressors, by both God and man.

The men who actually drove the nails were used by God, but their motivations were entirely different.  Pontius Pilate and Herod were used by God to bring this to be. They bear their sins. What God the Father did was absolutely pure and there was no crime committed by God in that act.

Unless, of course, we remove these doctrines and deny that God can use evil actions.  Then we are back in the moral conundrum and there is no way out.  The insanity of our day is seen clearly when we throw out the old biblical doctrines and proclaim a loving, gushy teddy bear god but are then left with a god who murdered Jesus.

In closing, I’m aware that there are other doctrines that come into play here, doctrines that I have not touched on.  I’m aware that I skimmed over the ones I did touch on in a shallow way. I believe it was a truthful way though and I hope this blog will produce some helpful thinking and some good dialogue.  Feel free to ask and debate in the comments.

I’m Still Alive

It’s been a while folks.

1374275_10151933947610883_2020400010_n

A very long time.

1619476_10202581200365341_777305310_n

We at the Little Green household are going to buy a laptop in the next couple weeks and hopefully at that point I will start writing again.

God bless!!!

The prayer of faith

These verses are a good antidote to the self-centered prayers we often slip into. May God be glorified in our prayers!

David M’Intyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer: The Lifeblood of the Christian (original, 1891), chapter 6:

It is a divinely-implanted persuasion, the fruit of much spiritual instruction and discipline. It is vision in a clearer light than that of earth.

The prayer of faith, like some plant rooted in a fruitful soil, draws its virtue from a disposition which has been brought into conformity with the mind of Christ.

  1. It is subject to the Divine will—”This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14).
  2. It is restrained within the interest of Christ—”Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
  3. It is instructed in the truth—”If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
  4. It is energized by the Spirit—”Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).
  5. It is interwoven with love and mercy—”And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).
  6. It is accompanied with obedience—”Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
  7. It is so earnest that it will not accept denial—”Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).
  8. It goes out to look for, and to hasten its answer—”The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working” (James 5:16, RV).

All of life in Exodus 20

In this post I will be articulating several things that I think the first 3 commandments to be teaching.  I want to preface this by saying that many of the things I say I know to be foundational biblical truth.  However a few of them I am still working thru and may not be very solid.  Critiques are, as always, desired.  Even more so on this post, as I am learning this and desire to hear the thoughts of the saints.

Exodus 20:1-7

And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

The first three of the ten commandments.  When I first heard these, as a young child, the whole list just seemed to be a series of do’s and dont’s.  I did not see the differences that I saw later, between the ones that are directed Godward, the first four, and the ones that are between men, the last six.  But as time went on I learned this.  Later still I learned that there is a greater depth to the concept of the name of God than I previously understood, but that I will articulate further below.

Just today, while mulling over the word, some things began to click together in my head and I want to lay them out here for the saints to be edified if they are correct, but also so that if I am wrong in this, God, via His church, can rein me back in.

What I am going to put forward is that these three commandments  are not just intended to give three do’s and dont’s.  They are intended to establish the boundaries of a worldview.  They are intended to address all of life.

#1  I am God, you shall have no other.

The ten commandments were not just random, because our God is not random.  All that He does He does with purpose originating in the only perfect mind there is.  So, God, in His perfect will chose to start His law with a declaration of His own deity and His exclusive rights to that title.  This command is a proclamation to humanity that God is God.  There is no attempt at any justification of this statement, or any reasoning up to it.  Just a simple declaration of Deity.  God does not at any point thru scripture stoop down and try to prove to fallen man that He is God.  He states it clearly, and His creatures are under obligation to believe and act accordingly.

“You shall have no other gods before me”, is a claim of the exclusive rights of God.  There are no others so you are not to live as if there are.  He alone is God and commands that we are to acknowledge this in our thoughts and lives.

#2 You shall not make an image for worship. Not a likeness of anything in …heaven ….earth… or… water.

This condemns the constructing of any images of any sort to any created thing with the intent of worship.  Idolatry in its most obvious form is here explained and forbidden.  The creating of a physical idol is making outward an internal act of idolatry.  God has already been deposed and a created thing placed on that throne.

Now, of course every act of idolatry outwardly directed toward something outside of the person has its origin in an act of idolatry within the person.  Already the person has exalted Himself in His own mind to sit and judge over God.  He, the person, has determined that God is not to be worshipped as God, thus exalting His own mind to the idolatrous position of being in judgement over God.  Romans 1 is clear that fallen man knows of “His eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse”.  Even those within false religions have been clearly shown the truth… but… “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  They may not necessarily at the present time be conscious of the fact that what we proclaim to them is true.  Still, their idolatry is without excuse.

There is another point to be made out of this command.  God phrases this command in such a way as to make the Creator/creature distinction very clear.  He went thru the list of things in heaven, earth and water to make a point.  Everything here, everything on this earth, everything not God, is NOT to be worshipped.  Why?  Because it is not God.  It is created.  It is distinct and different from its creator and it would be idolatrous for us to worship anything this side of the Creator/creature distinction.

#3 You shall not take God’s name in vain.

Men with far greater wisdom than I have written very well on this command.  I recommend you go and read some of them.  But still, I need to address it as well.

Very often we read this and assume that it merely means we are not to use God’s name as a curse word.  This misses most of the point.

When a Hebrew thought of someone’s name, it was not limited to the vocal or written construct that signified that person.  It identified all that that person was. Their worth, reputation, and honor were all tied up in their name.  Furthermore, there was a sense in which when wrongdoing was done by a member of a particular family or tribe, it brought dishonor on the name of that family or tribe.  If a jew were to commit a terrible crime that would bring dishonor to the name of His tribe and family.  It would entail a deep lack of respect for the dignity of those dishonored.  It was to diminish them in the eyes of others, to pronounce them as unworthy of respect, honor and obedience.

When God says not to take His name in vain, there is nothing there in to indicate that this is speaking of something merely verbal.  It is saying that if we are taking on the name of God, proclaiming we are His servants, we are to behave in a way befitting that claim of allegiance.  We are to honor God, and not take up His name in a trite, or vain manner.  We are to be serious about the fact that we, as followers of the one true God, have taken up His name and His honor in the eyes of the world is in a sense tied to the way that we behave.  We represent Him.  In essence, do not think of God as trivial when you claim to be His, but live according to His ways and thus glorify Him.

 

These three commands seem to me now to be so much more than just a few do’s and dont’s.  They provide the foundation for all of life.

#1 God and God alone is Deity.  Only recognize Him as Divine.

#2 No created being is Deity. You may worship none of them. 

#3 Do not defame the character of this God.  Do not take up His cause lightly.

 

These truths are absolutely foundational.  Bank on them.

I would greatly appreciate feedback, especially from those older and wiser than I.  Am I accurately bringing up the underlying points to these commands?  Am I taking some too far?  Am I not taking some far enough?

God bless!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,276 other followers