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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jensen says

A recent post on another blog by Michael Jensen (son of the Lord High Poobah Jensen...see Matthew 23:5-12) as a comment on a discussion about imputation.

Who is denying imputation? Not me. Not Bird.

But getting it in its right biblical context is vital. As is understanding the texts in their own context and not squashing them into a pre-fabricated theology, which seems to be the go in some Calvinist circles these days.

Michael, how true, how true! I wonder if theistic evolution is a 'pre-fabricated theology'?

Interestingly in this same thread Michael very nicely mentioned that some ['laypeople' I would guess, in counter biblical terminology] can be quite intelligent. ("Far more dangerous to ordinary believers are those bible teachers who enforce a system on the text and force the text to say what it plainly doesn't. So-called 'ordinary believers', who are usually more intelligent than we give them credit for") See Matt 23:5-12 again...Michael.

Just for the record an excerpt of the blog comments, including the comment in point is here

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Christians and slavery

Many anti-Christians love to invent stories about Christians. They also like to perpetuate myths which have long ago been found to be lacking in any real historical substance. The favourite is that Christians invented slavery or, in the very least, are the most culpable because they supposedly propped it up for so long. As we all know, it was Christians who strove to make it illegal. Here's a fascinating video.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's about time!

A couple of recent comments to Neil's recent post point to a factor that might be part of the attraction of theistic evolution in some modern theologies.

If there has been a strong influence from ancient pagan ideas, including both Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, in its various forms, then it is understandable that theistic evolution is, if not welcomed, then regarded as acceptable as a metatheological pathway to regarding Genesis 1-3.

The particular points of possible influence run along the lines of the pagan/Neoplatonic (and Gnostic) disdain for the material and rejection of the idea of the divine having anything to do with it.

Thus, for some lines of thinking, the need arose to separate ‘evil’ from the divine or from ‘spirit’. Ironically, in Christian theology, the problem of evil runs the other way, and it is not the material that is the problem, but the spirit (Jeremiah 17:9)!

For Gnostics this lead to the invention of a demi-urge, a type of sub-god that did the creating that resulted in material, and put the real god at a distance from this distasteful and evil-prone stuff.

Theistic evolution has similar marks to it.

It seems to run from the material in disdain and puts a process between God and his creation that also must push God away from us. This God is no longer close, but far off! It’s akin to pagan gods who are not personable or knowable in love, but distant, remote, devoid of possible relationship and needing to be ‘served’ in all sorts of nonsensical ways.

This theistic evolutionary god is one who doesn’t need to ‘get his hands dirty’ with the mess of creating, but is able to build a cosmos that will run such that a creative outcome results.

But this is not the God of the Bible, a God who is impressively, astonishingly close to his creation, who entered into it by incarnation, and who is separated from his creation not by a great affective distance (or a great time, according to the Bible), but by his creatures’ moral rejection of him.

Indeed, the God of the Bible directly gets his hands ‘dirty’ by making Adam out of soil: if anyone seeks a ‘method’ by which God created (for those unhappy with his word, obviously), then this is it: he formed man by directly acting upon the clay which he also made.

He is also a God who is close to his creatures and concerned for them: he reaches out to them, and meaningfully, not in some mythic manner that pretends to cross the divide of aeons (which the fictional long ages of modern materialism/deism require), but directly, on a time stage that is comprehensible to human history and experience, that makes the personal the core and provides a setting for the formation of covenant between God and man that we can take into our understanding of historical relationships.

A number of theologically interesting avenues of enquiry may be opened by this past paragraph; however, not for theistic evolution, which has already decided that its god is remote and comparatively uninvolved and whose making of a setting for the relationship and covenant is almost an accident of the machinery of some initial creative conditions. This is more like deistic disinterest than a Christian passion for life and redemption. Theistic evolution thus has trouble instantiating the person from which its whole scheme escapes, in idealist rejection of the very material that was expressly created by God; not their god, who is unimaginably and incomprehensibly far away, but our God, who is in consonance with the circumscription of our history for which he formed the setting, origin and end.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

With rhyme and reason, or ‘style with substance’

A while back on this blog, there was a discussion about the use of literary forms to predict the facticity of a piece of writing. To whit, Genesis 1. This arose from an article by John Dickson then a paid Christian of the Sydney Diocese presented at an ISCAST chinwag.

Dickson’s thesis seemed to be that because Genesis 1 was a highly structure piece of writing replete with numbers, literary devices and good spelling and so could not be factual.

Well, some interesting quotes below, admittedly about literature from many centuries after the date of composition or compilation of Genesis 1 (or Genesis 1-3, because it is this unit that fully treats the creation, IMO, but more of that another time), but still long before our modern approach to literature.

112: Manilius wrote, between AD 10 and c. 16, a poem on astrology, stressing throughout Divine Providence and the role of Fate. Unlike Virgil’s Georgics, it is a true didactic poem, that is, it is meant to give a thorough and reliable account of the subject in an attractive format. In that sense it is the verse equivalent of a prose text-book

119: Virgil’s intimate love of country life led him to follow the Eclogues with a more elaborate and more ambitious poem in four books on husbandry (the Georgics), which he composed between 35 and 30 BC [they counted backwards in those days]. Once again he chose a Greek model. About 700 BC Hesiod had written down a collection of Greek hexameters which contained much traditional lore about agricultural tasks and when they should be performed (Works and Days). The poem was intended to be of practical value: poetry is much more memorable than prose, and didactic advice can be conveyed more easily to a wider audience by that medium.

from Ogilvie, Roman Literature and Society, Harvester Press, Brighton, 1980.

The conclusion that one could explore from these quotes is that if an ancient work has highly refined literary structure, and wants to instruct, then it is probably factual, contra Dickson, who, surprisingly is a PhD in ancient history!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Idea

There's a series of posts on the way over at Question Darwin on the Darwin's Big Idea exhibition in London. Notice how, on the one hand the SADs think that questions of origins are minor and do not have significant religious implications (so what Bible do they read?) and that the question is really a 'non-issue'; and on the other, the year of Darwin is being hailed as a great step forward in modern western rejection of a religious understanding of humankind! I don't remember any similar great noise being made about Kepler, or Copernicus or even Newton...because their discoveries did not establish the alternative religion of modern materialism!

So off we go, Connect09-ing answering questions that no one is asking, while we let the most dominant challenge to Christian belief slide by in spades. Half-witted at best.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Darwin did it

I liked the post on Science and Values recently. Its one of the blogs we watch (in the side column), but I thought I'd post up this quote from the linked piece:

"Appleyard comments that Le Fanu considers that Darwin is directly implicated in a contemporary cultural malaise: “He changed the world fundamentally. Along with those now fallen idols Marx and Freud, he accounts for the secularisation of western society. Darwinism is the foundational theory of all atheistic, scientific and materialist doctrines and of the notion that everything is ultimately explicable and that there is nothing special about it – the self-denigration and self-hatred, the great ‘nothing but’ story.”

Check out the whole story.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Leupold Genesis part 8

It is rather a straightforward, strictly historical account, rising, indeed, to heights of poetic beauty of expression in the Creation account, in the Flood story, in the record of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, in Judah's plea before Joseph, and the like. But the writer uses no more of figurative language than any gifted historian might, who merely adorns a strictly literal account with the ordinary run of current figures of speech, grammatical and rhetorical.

The various other types of construction put particularly upon the patriarchal stories, like the tribal or ethnological theory; the astral myth theory; the purely mythical theory, and the like are evaluated at the beginning of the patriarchal record (Gen. 12).

Rather closely tied up with the question of history is that of chronology. The prevailing attitude on questions of chronology is to discard the Biblical data and to accept as authoritative the far more difficult and uncertain Babylonian and Egyptian systems of reckoning, as they are computed in our day. Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, (Philadelphia, 1937), p. 56-61, gives the beginner a good idea how these computations are made and how far back they reach with a fair measure of accuracy. But it must be said with emphasis that the Biblical chronology excels all others in completeness, simplicity and accuracy; and, though, indeed, there are unsolved chronological problems, the Biblical chronology deserves our fullest confidence also for the pre-Mosaic age and for the earliest history of mankind. Michell, The Historical Truth of the Bible, (London, 1926) shows excellently how Babylonian and Egyptian chronology, rightly construed, agrees with the Biblical system of chronology.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sydney Anglicans' Embarrassing Discovery

I am reliably informed that a couple of decades ago groups of Sydney Anglican clergy and parishioners would troop off to the USA to some large and seemingly Lord blessed Baptist Churches for conferences. What the USA churches thought of Sydney Anglicans is cause for wonder given the theological and moral decline of the USA equivalent of the Anglican Church. Best to leave it that there would likely be some serious suspicion.

Anyway, one of the Baptist Churches attended was Grace Baptist Church, Los Angeles, pastored by John MacArthur jnr. Whether the subject came up during the conferences, I am not sure, but if John MacArthur jnr had been given the opportunity to speak on the matter of origins I am confident he would have caused distress to most Sydney Anglicans present.

I provide herewith an extract of a sermon given by John MacArthur jnr in later years. Let there be no doubt, this sermon, if delivered in the hearing of most Sydney Anglicans would have had them quivering and looking for the next flight out of LA.

"Now when you talk about origins you're going to have to go back to Genesis. This is a book of origins. And let me put it again on the line where I put it last Lord's day. Either you believe Genesis or you don't. It's that simple. Either you believe what Genesis says about all of those origins or you don't. And that would include either you believe the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 or you don't. And if you don't believe the Genesis account, then I just...I have to tell you, you have no hope of coming to the truth. You're not going to discover it. Unconverted scientists aren't going to discover it. You either believe Genesis or you don't.

And what is really intolerable is to say you believe the Bible but not just the Genesis creation account. You believe Genesis, you believe about the origin of sin, you believe chapter 3 on maybe. Or maybe you're not sure about that because you don't really believe there was an actual Adam and an actual Eve. You've got a small problem because, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive," and there was a real Christ, so you can be sure there was a real Adam. But just in case you don't believe in a real Adam, maybe you don't sign on until chapter 6, maybe you just believe the Flood. Well, maybe you don't believe that, maybe you believe when the Tower of Babel is described later on in chapter 11, or maybe you don't believe that. Maybe you don't check in until Abraham shows up in chapter 12. Pretty ridiculous, isn't it? Who are you to be sitting in judgment on Scripture?

You know, I'm never going to get caught in the trap of trying to prove to you that Genesis is true by science. I'm just going to proclaim to you what Genesis says and let science bow its knee to that explanation. As you will see, it will do that.

All you can know about how God created is what He said. That's all you can know. And if you don't believe what He said about creation, what kind of precedent have you established for the rest of the Bible?

And what about the end? Do you know how all of redemptive history ends? You know how the whole story of humanity ends? It ends according to 2 Peter when the Lord uncreates the universe, I like to use that word. The elements melt with fervent heat. There's some kind of a...literally an implosion as the nuclear structure, the atomic structure of the universe literally is totally turned against its existence and takes it right back out of existence when He uncreates, when the elements melt as with a fervent heat in that kind of nuclear holocaust that ends human history.

And immediately after that it says in Revelation that He creates a...what? A new heaven and a new earth. Let me ask you this, do you believe He can do that? Or is that going to be another umpteen billion years of evolutionary process to get the new heaven and the new earth cranked up? Is it going to take billions of years to evolve the new heaven and the new earth, or do you really believe God might be able to do that just by fiat, just by making the statement and calling it into existence? If you believe that, then what's your problem in Genesis?

If God can wipe the entire universe out in a split second, if He can dissolve the whole thing, if He can send it reeling in the time of the Tribulation and refurbish it during the time of the Kingdom and then totally uncreate it at the end of the thousand years, if He can do all of that then I don't know why you have a problem with Him creating it all in six days. You see, the implications of rejecting the account of Genesis are profound.

And listen to me because what I'm going to say is very important. It is not necessary to reject the six-day creation. It is not necessary. We have yielded up territory to evolution without cause. Science knows nothing. Science proves nothing that contradicts a six-day creation...nothing. In fact, science as it keeps advancing makes its own claims to evolution ridiculous, more ridiculous all the time.

You know, and having a perspective on this is very important. We've caved in to the scientists too long and it's time to stop. If you want to do some reading on this, get Philip Johnson's book Darwin on Trial, it just devastates the scientific perspectives. Christian people literally accepting the scientific descriptions of origins and come out of an evolutionary bias as if somehow they've been proven and somehow the Bible is going to have to give at that point because a six-day creation is not scientifically possible. That is just not true. But the results are staggering.

Master's College, for example, is a member of the Christian College Coalition. It's a coalition of Christian colleges across America of which there are about 110 colleges. Of the 110 Christian colleges in the coalition, six that we know of believe in the creation account in Genesis. Six out of 110 Christian colleges, that's a small, small fraction. And most Christian leaders and most Christian educators have allowed the teachings of evolution to one degree or another to be added to the Bible. They sort of stuff evolution in between the verses in Genesis. Most Christian leaders have accepted the fact that the universe is billions of years old. Yet clearly from the words of Scripture, God created the universe in six literal days. And Christian leaders can't deny that that's what it says cause that's what it says. You can translate it any way you want, it all comes out...the word yom means day and you have six of them.

But they believe somehow that scientists have proved that the age of the earth must be billions and billions and billions of years old. So they believe you've got to go back to Genesis and fix it. And in so doing they have allowed the authority of the Bible to be undermined, right? It's serious stuff.

If the words of the Bible means six days, and you conclude...but so-called science says that's not true...then science is right and the Bible is wrong. Now if you can't trust the words of Genesis, when do you start trusting the Bible? It's a sad indictment of the church, isn't it? And the humanists even use the compromising the Christian leaders to further their cause to undermine Christianity. And what we have is a kind of Christianity today that loses its absolutes in Genesis 1. That's sad.

Christian leaders might not sign on, of course, to humanistic evolution. They would say, "Yes, there's a God and somehow God's involved in the evolutionary process," that's called theistic evolution, sometimes called progressive creationism, a term developed by Russell Mixter(?) in the science department of Wheaten College a number of years ago. But they would say, "No, there is a God and God is...sort of injects Himself at points at theistic evolution." Says, "God launched it and started it." Progressive creationism says, "He jumps in along the way but it still took millions and millions and billions of years for it to happen." These people call themselves believers in God. They probably would say they believe the Scripture. But they don't want to allow for a six-day creation. This poses immense problems...immense problems.

Here's one of them, I'm not going to give you all, but here's one...just strikes me as a serious problem. If man is created at the end of the evolutionary process, whether it's a naturalistic evolutionary process, or it's a theistic evolutionary process launched by God which some Christians think they have to affirm in order to pay homage to science, or if it's a progressive creationists view where God injects Himself along the way, the problem you've got is evolution is a process...listen carefully...evolution is a process by nature of death. It's a process known as the survival of...what?...the fittest. It's a process of violence. It's a process of bloodshed. It's a process of suffering. It's a process of disease. It's a process of death as the order rises higher and higher and higher until it gets to man.

Now here's a serious problem. You don't have man until billions of years and when man appears he is perfect and he is sinless and there's no such thing as death. Death doesn't even come in to the picture until man does...what?...sins. How can you have death before the Fall? You don't even have a cursed earth. The whole...the whole of the Genesis record is stood on its head. If there's been all kinds of death in this billions of years of evolutionary processing, then what did sin do to the world that hadn't already been done? And how could God who looked over this whole evolutionary deal when it finally reached its completion in man and said, "He saw it and He looked at it and He said it is good." How could God say that?

You see, then the sin of Adam and the curse of death is meaningless because there's been death for millennia and for billions of years, just convolutes all of the biblical record. Cause what you have in Genesis is a perfect world until Adam is confronted by the serpent and falls into sin and God curses the universe and then comes death and disease and suffering and violence and bloodshed and not before. Evolution makes no sense in that perspective.

You know, I...Christians will get out there, you know, and they'll say, "Boy, we're against abortion and we're against homosexuality and we're against Jack Kivorkian(?) because he's murdering people and we're against euthanasia and we're against genocide and, you know, we're against the moral evils of our society, etc., etc., etc.

Why are we against those things? Can you tell me why? Why are we against those things? Give me one reason. Here it is, because they're forbidden in Scripture, is that not true? The only reason we're against abortion is because God's against it. How do we know that? Because it's in the Word of God. The reason we're against homosexuality, adultery, etc., etc., is because of the Bible. You see, we stand on the Scripture.

But the problem is we don't want to stand on the Scripture in Genesis. So we equivocate on whether or not the Bible is an authority at all. What do you think the watching world thinks about our commitment to Scripture? Pretty selective, isn't it? And again I say, such capitulation to evolution is completely unnecessary. Nothing requires evolution. In fact, evolution cannot can't happen."

Enough said. John MacArthur jnr goes on to quote eminent scientist A.E. Wilder-Smith's account of how the evolutionary model fails to adequately explain the emergence of life on earth.

As far as I can tell, Sydney Anglicans no longer attend conferences at Grace Baptist Church, Los Angeles. Is it because John MacArthur jnr's faithfulness to the Word of God is an embarrassment to Sydney Anglicans' worldly view?


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Leupold Genesis part 7

A proper evaluation of the facts enumerated above leads definitely to the conclusion that Genesis gives a sober, accurate, historical account of the events that led to the separation of Israel from among the nations and to her establishment as a new nation with a divinely given destiny. If the other nations of this period are known to have had no records that for accuracy and sound historical pragmatism can begin to compare with the Biblical accounts, that cannot in any wise impugn the singular merit of the latter. Criticism has shown itself singularly weak in the direction of evaluating comparatively the merit of Biblical history. Attempts to cut everything of superior merit found in Israel's Sacred Writings down to the level of contemporary literature is still the bane of scholarship in the Old Testament field.

We may at this point take issue with the claim commonly raised in our day that Genesis, as to its contents, as well as other older Biblical books falls in the category of poetry rather than history. Apparently, they who take this position are reluctant about claiming that such books are legendary in character. That would seem derogatory to their distinctive character. Yet they would prefer not to be bound to accept the Creation account, the record of the Fall, and the like as literal history. Then these ancient tales would be a grand poetic conception, involving a deeper view of truth yet allowing for a great variety of interpretations such as may be suited to the fancy of the individual. We are utterly out of sympathy with such an attitude; for it does not conform to the facts of the