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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Church Goes After Jeroboam I

It's been a while since I felt compelled to write but here goes. King Jeroboam I (hereafter referred to as Jeroboam) seems sufficient cause.

Jeroboam's sin was to set up idols at Bethel and Dan for the Northern Tribes (Israel) to worship rather than having them travel to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. His motive was to retain control of his recently acquired kingdom by discouraging the people from travelling through the kingdom ruled by Rehoboam - his adversary.

Jeroboam appointed his own priests who were not of the Aaronic line and established a religious calendar with appropriate festivals. It was all very convenient, one golden calf in the north and one in the south. They were presented as something not really removed from the true worship of God for these were the "gods, Oh Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt." (1 Kings 12:28) Furthermore, the cumbersome and rigid appointment of priests from the Aaronic line was less attractive to the people than Jeroboam's method of appointing priests from every class of people. It was all so easy for Jeroboam to avoid a charge of apostasy from the people.

Jeroboam's actions were an offence to God and the seeds of ruin to Israel. There are firm lessons in all this for the Church today.

As with Jeroboam, compromising religion can be introduced in the name of the true God. Church activities are not necessarily acceptable to God just because they are instituted in His name. Rituals of worship can be convenient, popular and presented under the sacred name of Jesus Christ yet be delusive.

Synchretism of Christian theology and pagan superstition in past centuries by various denominations has been destructive to the Church. A cursory look at what may be described as fervour in evangelical circles today is a poor caricature of the spiritual worship and faithfulness Jesus Christ instituted in His Church some 2,000 years ago. This fact presents important questions. Is the message we preach biblical and faithful to the gospel revealed in Jesus Christ or is it corrupted by worldly ideas which surround us? Do our public services lead people to the true worship of God or are they calculated merely to be aesthetically pleasing and, even worse, just giving some sense of worth to one or more persons with musical interest.

Similarly, presenting to the world a disjointed Jesus Christ who is a miracle worker of the New Testament but a blurred and indistinct Creator of the Old Testament is sure recipe for failure both in understanding of the hearer and blessing of God.

As the example of Jeroboam shows, simply sanctifying religious exercises with the trappings of 'tradition' is not enough. His ridiculous claim that the golden calves were the ancient God of the Hebrews did not make it so. Similarly, we may dress up our professed Christianity today with the nomenclature of past orthodoxy and associate such worthy names as Calvin, Luther and Wesley with it. But would they really approve? Such men laboured and fought to reform the church and conform it to the Scriptures. It is dishonest to wrest their teachings to justify theologies and practices which any honest person should know they would have repudiated. Even worse, to classify semi-pagan theories and practices as 'Christian' is a sacrilegious affront to the Holy Spirit. There is all too much reason to fear that many evangelicals have forgotten Jeroboam and none more so than many within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney today.

Neil

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christianity in a Technology Affluent World

Once again I have been reading through my back issues of the Banner of Truth Journal. I thought readers might be interested in an essay submitted by Maurice Roberts, former Editor of the Journal. Roberts' essay was published in Issue 337 of October 1991 under the heading "Man's Modern Techtopia" It follows herewith:

"Man's technical brilliance is fast producing a society which promises to give birth to a secular paradise. The genius of modern civilisation, if it is allowed to run its present course to perfection, will bring mankind to the point at which there is everything to live with and nothing to live for. Every form of material comfort will be on hand to gratify man's physical needs. But society will have lost its soul, its sense of purpose and the very meaning of existence.

The Western world and its secular way of life is an increasingly lonely place for a Christian to live in precisely because it threatens to kill him with material kindness. There probably never was an age which intruded so benignly on the privacy of the mind and of the soul as our modern world does. The secular view of everything under the sun, thanks to the media, presses in on us, not only in the work-place and in the school, but even in the home and at the sick bed. From early childhood until we reach our dying hour the worldly-wise mentality is fed to us in generous spoonfuls. It is taken in with our mother's milk, copied off the blackboard into our earliest school jotters, learned out of countless newspapers and magazines and, in the twilight of life, fed to us in our eventide homes before we close our eyes in the sleep of death.

The supreme achievement of our age is to have banished God from the universe. No age, not even the age of Paine, Voltaire and Rousseau, did it so successfully. God, to all intents and purposes, is an irrelevance to our modern world. He is not, so we now hear, the Author of our existence, the Creator of our universe, our Father in heaven or our Last Judge. If occasional lip-service is paid in our society to such out-worn remnants of our grandparents' creed it is merely a token gesture with no more conviction behind it than if a lapsed Catholic were to cross himself unthinkingly in a moment of sudden fear.

Our modern civilisation is cruel to the Christian by its very kindness. There are no fires or faggots any more with which to burn the devout believer. A lavish toleration is allowed him. But the secular hand strokes the believer's cheek with every breath he breathes. Sensuality and scepticism caress the Christian's mind wherever he turns. Mammon frowns upon him in the streets of the town where he lives and godlessness licks his hand like a lap-dog whenever he sits down to take a moment's relaxation. The secular spirit blows upon us at all seasons like a prevailing wind and its dust settles on our minds like the fall-out from a factory chimney. The siren-voices of our age are singing in unison and their song beats relentlessly on our weary spirits with the message that we ought to forget God and live only for today

As surely as our civilised world has opted not to retain God in its knowledge, so certainly has God righteously given men over to believe the secular lie. God is not in all men's thoughts. Society is hungry and thirsty for things which belong only to this present life. The consequence is that we are now cursed with a fascination and a fixation for the things which all belong to this passing world. The words of the psalmist receive their tragic fulfilment today once again: 'He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul' [Psa. 106:15]. The general wish is that there should be no God; and so God has hidden himself from men as a just judgment on them. The penalty fits the crime. God has paid us back in our own coin. The living God is outlawed and banished from our man-made society. To refer to him in public is an unpardonable breach of etiquette. And God, for his part, is silent. His arm is not shortened nor his ear heavy but our sins have made it necessary that he should hide himself behind the thick cloud till society comes to its senses.

One cannot help being impressed with the exchange we have made as a world since the days of our Christian forefathers. They had humble houses, hard chairs, long working hours, small wages, frequent illnesses and often short lives. But their recompence was to have also well-worn Bibles, well-attended churches, believing hearts, grateful voices, loving families, hospitable homes.

Today's society has (or, at least, aims to get) television and refrigeration, fast cars and warm homes, well-stored larders and plentiful wardrobes, a confident manner and an affluent air. But at what price? It is not, of course, that these things are wrong of themselves. But they are no better than a bubble if they are sought in exchange for the higher treasures which our fathers had. The Christian sighs, not because he resents society's desire for plenty, but because our civilisation is profane like Esau and has sold its heritage for a mess of pottage. What sort of society have we become if in reality our god is our belly and if we spend all our strength for the bread which perishes?

The time was when it was a man's ambition to be mighty in prayer and in the Scriptures, when it was a shame to have uncatechised children and an irreligious Sabbath, and when a man's name was honoured because he was the conscience of his community The day has been known in our nation when education's first goal was to know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when to prepare for eternity was widely held to be man's first and greatest need, and when men's acknowledged ambition was to die well after an honourable lifetime toiling to glorify and enjoy God.

In our present-day Utopian society we have made provision for everything but the soul and have made preparation for everything but the hour of death. Our high-streets are a witness to our secular spirit in that they have become a market-place where everything is sold except the truth of Christ, and where men want to buy everything under the sun, but not the salvation purchased by Christ. Hence life has lost its meaning for the multitude who live in this twentieth-century Vanity Fair and woe betide the pilgrim who passes through and shows that his eyes are on a Celestial City not made by man's hand! They will laugh him to scorn and separate from his company as if he were a leper.

All through history men have dreamed of some Utopia, or ideal society on earth. Several famous and important writers have put their ideas for a perfect human world-order into book form. Plato, the Greek thinker, was perhaps the first we know of to write about an ideal state. He was followed by his pupil and rival Aristotle. Much later the idea was taken up by Sir Thomas More and then by Francis Bacon. Karl Marx and his associates did much the same in the last century in their endeavour to achieve a 'classless society'. In recent times George Orwell in his popular novel 1984 rewrites the theme with the well known character of 'Big Brother' ominously present as the observer of all men and with the sinister threat of the 'thought police' ever in the background.

All visions of an ideal world for man and his world suffer from the same sins of omission. They all leave a sovereign God of justice and mercy out of their reckoning. They have no hope of a glorious life in heaven after this one. And they have no place for a Messiah or Redeemer for mankind who dies for them and brings them salvation. We are grateful beyond all words that men's Utopias have never been permitted by God to succeed. All human kingdoms and civilisations have been transient and our own will be no exception.

Only one kingdom is eternal and its 'blessed and only Potentate' is the Lord our God. To every true Christian it is bliss to recall this fact frequently in our modern world. We are grateful to God for the comforts and conveniences of modern life. But they are no substitute to the Christian for God himself. In this the children of the world are opposite to the children of God, in that the former would do anything to make a happy world without God, whereas the latter would cheerfully do without everything this world offers if they could only have God himself The language of the believer is that God is his heaven and to be without the enjoyment of God's favour and fellowship is a veritable 'hell on earth', whatever the material comforts he enjoys.

It is for this very reason that the Christian sighs and groans so often in this modern world. The godless men of our age are straining every nerve today to turn society into a market of pleasures. The Lord's people, on the other hand, long to see it become a garden where men will once again walk with God and a sanctuary where worship and spiritual teaching are given first place in men's lives.

The believer cannot but mourn and weep today because society has made a conspiracy of silence against God. His house is largely shunned. His Word is ignored. His day is profaned. His gospel is scorned. His grace is rebuffed and his mighty deeds are culpably forgotten. In a word, all that the Christian loves is today trampled in the mire of the streets, and men love to have it so.

All over the world, however, there are men and women of God who are weary of the secular spirit of our age. Their tears are in God's bottle. Their sighs are in his book of remembrance. They are the Simeons and Annas of our time, who look for the consolation of Israel [Luke 2:25] and dream of the day when God will rise up from his long sleep like a giant refreshed by wine [Psa. 78:65]. Today they go in the bitterness of their soul because they see Zion languish and her walls turned to ruins. They have seen visions of a God who hears prayer and they pour out their complaint into his bosom.

The day will certainly dawn when the Lord our God will say to his church, 'Awake, awake, 0 Zion' [Isa. 52:1]. It is our absolute confidence that he will not retain his anger forever. Man's modern 'Techtopia' is but another edition of the tower of Babel. It will crumble and fall and be superseded—Oh! may God hasten the day!—by a better and a more spiritual age. Judgment will then return to righteousness [Psa. 94:15]. The promises of God are not yet exhausted. On the ashes of man's corrupt civilisations will be reared up the ancient kingdom of Christ in its glory once again. The 'wilderness will be a fruitful field and the fruitful field be counted for a forest' [Isa. 32:15;.

Let the darkness that surrounds us cause us to cry out to God all the more: 'God of our fathers, rise up again 'in majesty!'
"

Nearly twenty years later, with more advanced technology, with greater hedonistic pursuits and Maurice Roberts' essay resonates all the more strongly.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 40 verse 10

10. And God called the dry land earth and the collection of waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

The meaning of the word "earth" was discussed under v. 1. The propriety of the use of the term "sea" Was treated just before this verse. What God's calling signifies was shown in connection with v. 5.

Here is the place for discussing what reasonable explanation may be offered for the fact that at the conclusion of the work of the second day the customary approval of the Creator is not recorded (v. 8); but that it does appear now at the conclusion of the work of the third day (v. 10). As was shown at the beginning of the explanation of v. 9, the work of the second day reaches back and completes the work of' the first day from one point of view. In a more decided sense the work of the third day reaches back and completes the work of the second in reference to the separation of water. The second day merely raises the surface fogs making them clouds, but the earth waters are still entangled with the solid matter. So the work of the second day was relatively incomplete, so much so that the divine approval, "it was good," was withheld, but it is in reality included in the approval bestowed upon the third day.

Note the chiasmus of v. 10: verb, object--object verb (K. S. 339 o).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jensen 'isms' again

The title? Apologies to William Burroughs, for the cognoscenti.

Just caught this post by Critias at Jensen's blot:

Michael, I note with some mirth that you distance Sydney Anglicans from '6 day creation' but side with both Luther and Calvin, who recognised what the Bible had to say on the matter! [6-day creation, that is - Eric]

Sydney Anglicanism is far from 'fundamentalist' indeed! It is becoming a hot bed of neo-orthodoxy with a flexibility in its approach to the scriptures that speaks more of contemporary convenience to avoid the anguish of being regarded as fundamentalist than the need to be instructed by the Bible.

So, fundamentalism has become a vague label flung around by journalists...so who cares? Does it get in the way of the gospel? I doubt it, because most people are so disdainful of most church practices that the church has lost its public voice.

I guess, the more it denies that the Spirit of God can speak clearly, the more it will find itself with nothing to say.


Now, I repost it here in case Jensen kills it, in the spirit of true Anglicanism.

2 ways to have a laugh

Overheard: a couple of younger men discussing 2 ways to live on the way to work: one has had it 'done' to him, and he was chuckling about the 'stupid pictures' and the guy presenting it using them to talk to him; he clearly found the whole experience laughable and underwhelming. The other guy he was talking too was in disbelief that anyone would seriously think of this approach to an adult conversation.

So, I wonder if the 2W2L crowd did any market testing (you know, focus groups) to see what people thought of it....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More on Evangelical Declension (Part 2)

What follows is the completion of the article written by Gordon Keddie in the June 1970 edition of the Banner of Truth Journal on the subject "Towards a Christian View of Science."

What Gordon Keddie had to say some forty years ago remains strictly relevant today.

I was impressed by the comment of correspondent John who mentioned a schizoprhenic approach to the issue by evangelicals today. It was as if John and Keddie have seen things the same now and then, respectively. I allow Keddie to complete his article herewith:

"(d) A schizoid approach. The neo-evangelical solves this problem first by making the Bible and science complementary and then by separating the two so that each is supreme in its own sphere with hardly even an overlap. This position is basically schizoid since the authority of the Bible is only applicable to the sphere of faith, while the sphere of physical reality is the domain of science alone.21

The practical consequences of this view are exemplified by the dichotomy in the published writings and utterances of F. H. T. Rhodes, Prof of Geology at Swansea and a well-known evangelical Christian. As an evangelical believer, on the one hand, he has addressed conferences of evangelical scientists on the relation of the Bible to science,22 while, on the other hand, he has written a popular textbook on evolution23in which there is not a single reference to God and where the only reference to creation describes the Biblical teaching on creation as something we 'now regard as a naive concept.'24 The account of evolutionary development would do credit to the most ardent evolutionist.

(e) Implications for evangelical theology. The implications of the neo-evangelical recension of the doctrine of creation for the Reformed system of theology have received scant consideration. There are a number that might be mentioned,25 but we shall confine our attention to one that is of crucial importance - the creation of man.

If, as Bube et al,26 Kuitert27 and Jeeves28 have suggested, 'Adam' was not necessarily the literal first human being created out of actual dust, how are we to interpret such clear comparisons between the first Adam and Christ, the last Adam? as we have in Rom 5 and 1 Cor 15.22, 45? Dr Gleason Archer, Prof of Biblical Languages at Fuller Theol. Seminary states that,

'it is virtually impossible to accept the authority of Romans 5 . . . . without inferring that the entire human race has descended from a single father.'29

Archer further affirms that,

'the inspired record tells of a literal Adam and Eve, and gives no indication whatever that the account is intended to be mythical. It was certainly taken as historical by Christ and the apostles.'30

Surely it is the heart of the gospel that is being hazarded in the attempt to remove interpretations objectionable to modern science. If Adam is merely a hypostatization of sinful mankind in general rather than the actual federal head of the human race who fell into sin for himself and his descendants, then how can we comprehend the work of Christ in the new covenant if by no one man death reigned, then what assurance have we that through Christ's death many shall have eternal life ? What sort of soteriology do we have left?

The implications for theology do not stop at the rejection of an old 'literal reading of the creation account.' Why ? Because the science of theology reveals the system of truth in Scripture and if a system is more than the sum of its parts - it is an integral and interdependent whole reflecting the self-consistent nature of God - then any undermining of the foundations must eventually have profound consequences for the whole body of doctrine. The above example serves to emphasise the present necessity for Christians to examine, in faith, the foundations of their belief and to cast themselves on Christ, putting their trust in His Word as their sufficient authority in all things.

IV CONCLUSION - EVANGELICAL DECLENSION

It is the contention of this paper that the neo-evangelical 'trend' is a down-grade movement from truly evangelical Christianity. We shall briefly summarise the characteristic views of this group and comment thereupon by way of conclusion.

1. Scripture, while held to be divinely inspired and infallible, is nevertheless handled in such a way as to subordinate it to modern science where the Bible speaks on topics common to theology and natural science. [e.g., creation, miracles].

(a) The Bible is assumed, a priori, not to reveal 'scientific' information, that not being the purpose of special revelation.

(b) General disregard for strict exegesis of the Scripture is evident. This also holds for the practice of comparing Scripture with Scripture before arriving at any interpretation.

(c) There is increasing use of the inductive method of studying Scripture - a methodology inconsistent with the Biblical doctrine of inspiration.

2. Science, in its widest sense, is regarded as complementary to the Bible in contributing to a view of reality. The two are independent but interdependent. Thus science is autonomous and speaks for the realm of nature as the Bible does for that of faith.

(a) Modern science is regarded as the study of natural revelation and its best authenticated results [according to its own standards of course!] are considered to represent a valid picture of that revelation.

(b) Any conflict between 'traditional Biblical interpretation' and modern scientific discoveries must result in a re-examination of the former with a view to reinterpretation.

(c) No distinction is recognized in principle between the science practised by Christians (true science) and that of unbelievers (apostate science). There is no consistently Christian philosophy of science.

In practice, this unscriptural dualism divests the Scriptures of their absolute authority in all matters of faith and life. The announcement that they are inspired of God and therefore infallible becomes a hollow assertion when the plain teaching of the Bible is sidestepped to accommodate the most recent discoveries of science. Not that all neo-evangelicals deny, for instance, the historicity of the first Adam -there is considerable variance in views held - but all take the creation account out
of history and either use it as a literary framework on which the process of evolution, euphemistically termed 'progressive creation', is worked out (Ramm, N. H. Ridderbos, Lever, Henry) or reduce it to a few grand theological statements about God, man and the universe [Bube et al, van de Fliert, Kuitert]. Thus the conflict between the Bible and (apostate) science is neatly circumvented. Hear the words of Carl F. H. Henry, 'If by the evolutionary fact is meant that the universe is billions of years old, and that millions of years were required for the development of all the various species of plant and animal life, and that the antiquity of the human race is somewhat greater than the brief span of six thousand years assigned by scientists and theologians alike a few centuries ago, then warfare between science and Christianity is at an end.31

Henry is quite correct if he means neo-evangelical Christianity - obviously the war is over when one side has capitulated! The above statement has the ring of an epitaph. No more do we need to contend for an embarrassingly realistic Genesis account of creation! It is now dead and buried! We have reinterpreted the Light of the Word of God in the light of evolutionistic science!

The words of the apostle Paul are surely apposite here, 'O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith' (1 Tim 6.20-21a)."

Sam Drucker

References (cont. from previous post)

21. The Bible is not a 'textbook' of science (nor even of theology) - rather it is the ultimate primary written source of information - it is given. When the Bible speaks on any topic, therefore, it is authoritative in an ultimate way. Thus statements bearing on scientific subjects are normative for the prosecution of the science concerned. (See note 19.) The precise nature of such statements is to be decided on the basis of faithful exegesis of the best texts available.

22. See IVF Symposium, Christianity in a Mechanistic Universe [D. M. Mackay, ed.] and Jeeves, op. cit., p 164.

23. F. H. T. Rhodes, The Evolution of Life, London, Penguin Books, 1962, pp 302.

24. ibid., p 276.

25. e.g.. The questions concerning many miracles, the resurrection, the nature of history in the Bible.

26. R. H. Bube, op. cit., p 105.

27. M. H. Woudstra, op. cit.

28. Jeeves, op. cit., p 108.

29. G. L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Chicago, Moody Press, 1965, p 190.

30. ibid., p 191.

31. In R. Mixter [ed.]. Evolution and Christian Thought Today, London, Paternoster, 1961, p 219.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What a novel idea: something from nothing

An 'interesting” letter appeared in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald. It was written in response to someone else's criticism of Stephen Hawking's incredible claim that the universe's existence comes down to nothing more than one very big accident or an almost infinite series of chance events. The writer, someone so obviously unexposed to, let alone actually trained in, even the most elementary philosophical principles, objected to the earlier writer's judgement that it was unreasonable to argue for the universe's coming into existence without a Designer. Here is what he – oh heck! let's call him, say, Ian Stewart of Davidson - claimed: “You just have to get your head around the idea of nothingness. Then it's quite easy. There was nothing, then the universe created itself spontaneously.”

My first impression was that this was a superb piece of mickey taking – you know, ostensibly quite serious, but really a parody in order to expose one's opponent's truly weak argument. However, reading further and seeing Ian Stewart of Davidson's unequivocal religious belief in the non-existence of God, I could see Ian Stewart of Davidson was writing a spoof-free letter to the editor and was actually presenting the idea that an ontological nothing can produce an actual something, that something in fact being a universe! When put so straightforwardly and unencumbered by technical jargon, this snippet of paralogical nonsense would surely leave even the most dogged atheist philosopher embarrassed and speechless.

Universities full of philosophers, for millennia, have scorned such unmitigable obtuseness, so I won't add anything except to say this. If an actual nothing, a zero, can produce a yet-to-be-fully-measured universe, then why on earth am I putting all my money into a bank? Surely the best thing I can do is to spend, spend, spend until my balance is nada, and then patiently wait until it begins to go back into the black....all by itself. You know, before long, on Ian Stewart of Davidson's philosophical outlook on reality, I won't have to invent Windows or Cochlea Ear Implants to become the richest man in the universe – chance and time will take care of that!

Evolution says much the same thing: no genetic information in the beginning is able to produce whole libraries full of the weightless "stuff" all obeying an “invisible” code. Or more simply, non-life is able to produce life, without so much as a skerrick of empirical demonstration.

It seems like the world is full of Ian Stewarts. How sad then that the Sydney Anglican Diocese encourages the Ian Stewarts of this world to flourish by subscribing to an evolutionary worldview.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More on Evangelical Declension (Part 1)

In response to recent comments by Eric I thought it relevant to reproduce an article written by Gordon Keddie in the June 1970 edition of the Banner of Truth Journal on the subject "Towards a Christian View of Science." The article is a continuation of the subject first addressed in the May 1970 edition of the Journal. Because of its length I will divide the article into two instalments separated by a few days. Keddie uses italics in several instances to emphasise points so, to retain his emphasis, I will not put the whole article in italics as I usually do when reproducing an article.

It is interesting to know the strength of argument against the trend within the evangelicalism to adopt evolution some thirty years ago. The increasing strength of argument today makes only for an increasingly uncomfortable time ahead for evangelical cowards.

What follows is my Part 1 of Gordon Keddie's article of June 1970:

"111 'NEW EVANGELICALISM - THE NEW DUALISM?

1. Proposition.

The neo-evangelical understanding of the relationship between the Bible as the special revelation of God and science as the legitimate investigation of His general (nature) revelation in the works of creation and providence closely resembles the dualistic thought of Thomas Aquinas, the mediaeval scholastic who gave the world the so-called Thomistic philosophy, still fundamental to modern Roman Catholic philosophy. This is an unscriptural position which has far-reaching consequences for evangelical theology, philosophy and special science.

2 Dualistic thought.

In this system there are two means of achieving a knowledge of absolute truth. One is using 'reason' - the so-called 'light of nature'. The other is by means of revelation from God's Word - this is 'grace'. These two aspects, nature and grace, are quite separate and independent means of learning truth, and so the system is said to be dualistic.1

Dualism considers the facts or findings of the sciences to be philosophically and theologically neutral, and so may be known as true by believer and unbeliever alike without reference to God. The facts may be apprehended by reason [nature] without any recourse to grace. (This is an over-simplification since obviously many facts can only be obtained by faith. The dualism extends in Romanist thought to two classes of fact - the natural order and the faith order. The point is that faith is not required prior to understanding truly facts of the natural order. This is in contradistinction to the Calvinistic view.) Thus it is claimed that the non-Christian can know some ultimate truths about the universe without first understanding them as facts made and interpreted by God. Facts, that all may know by use of reason alone, are assumed to be autonomous and reality is viewed as a 'sea of factuality' over which may roam with equal facility, theist and anti-theist alike.2

3 A Reformed evaluation.

Professor Cornelius Van Til has asserted that the dualistic view of facts as neutral 'brute facts' is tantamount to denying that God created the facts and even now sustains them. It denies the centrality and absolute sovereignty of God.3

Central to the Reformed system of truth, argues Herman Dooyeweerd, is the basic ground-motive of the sovereignty of God in creation, fall and redemption.

[i] God created all things ex nihilo, with the crowning act of creating man in His own image as a perfect and free moral being.

[ii] The fall of Adam [a literal first man] into sin whereby all men become totally depraved and are blinded to the truth of God.

[iii] The redemption through the blood of Christ of an elected people, who by the grace of God are saved through faith in Him.4 These regenerated people recover, in principle, the perfection of Adam as created, so that they can now see the Truth i.e., are no longer spiritually blind.

(a) Sin and the apostate scientist. Sin is a vital issue in the whole discussion, for it cuts off men from God and a knowledge of the truth.5 Professor Nigel Lee, in his recent Calvin on the Sciences, writes,

'In fact, the results of sin are of cosmic proportions, for "the condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and on the earth, and on all creatures" ' (quoting Calvin, Comm. on Rom 8.19)6

The non-Christian, consequently, always, in principle, views the facts from a standpoint antithetical to that of the Creator of these facts. Whenever any facts impinge on religious and philosophical questions, they will be interpreted according to the anti-theistic ground motive of the fallen man, i.e., in terms of justifying his continued rebellion against God.7 A scientist who is an unbeliever is therefore an apostate scientist in principle and his science is accordingly apostate science.

(b) Common grace and the apostate scientist. One may justifiably wonder if what has just been said is not too extreme. Is it not saying that it is impossible for the non-Christian scientist to find out anything that is really true? Is it not also an easy way out - whereby any scientific findings that conflict with our own views are rejected as fictions because they are the products of unbelievers? Certainly not! Calvin, as noted above, emphasised the disastrous effects of sin but he also recognized that in spite of sin God was still immanent in the world of men and actively sustaining the order of creation by means of common grace. Calvin asserts that God has been 'pleased to assist us (Christians) by the work and ministry of the ungodly in physics . . . .' and describes the work of unbelievers as a gift of God.8 This means that although the theoretical thought of the apostate scientist is anti-God, his actual scientific work, to a degree dependent on the common grace of God, may be based on Christian principles of which he is not aware.9 The apostate scientist 'possesses goods as a thief,' the goods being made available solely by the grace of God.10

In passing, we should also note that the fruits of the work of the ungodly will accrue to the redeemed and to the Lord's glory and that although that work may be uncovering ultimate truth, the unbeliever is never in a position to recognize God's interpretations of the facts for what they are. It follows that it is incumbent on Christians to use the fruits of unbelieving scholarship and show how they reveal the glory of God. This is part of the cultural mandate of the believer (Gen 1.28). To lapse into anti-intellectual obscurantism is simply sin.11"

(c) The nature of true science. As we noted earlier, neo-evangelicals have a penchant for viewing modern science as the valid study of God's natural revelation. This naturally begs the question, 'Is modern science in fact the God-ordained study of the works of creation that it should be?' Is it true science or just a counterfeit ? What is true science and who are its rightful practitioners ?

The Christian philosopher, Hendrik Van Riessen, has given us a definition of true science. He writes,

'Inherent in the vocation of men on earth is the goal of knowing God through His creation. That is the area of inspiration for science. The general goal of science is to know God's creation through the laws by which God reigns and which enable every creature to walk on earth with trust. God is trustworthy. This is the sole basis for every scientific effort.'12

Science should never be thought of as independent of God. Christ is the Lord of science and He desires that men acknowledge Him in their scientific labour and knowledge.13 All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Him and so only through Christ may we in our science come to know any of that truth for what it really is.14

Prof Nigel Lee reminds us that Calvin emphasised that.

'. . . . special grace [and its resultant faith in Christ] is not only indispensable to salvation, but that it is also essential for the pursuit of true science.15

Calvin further stated that a true scientist was one who was born again to life in Christ and, while highly intelligent, submitted himself to the Word of God in general and 'the foolishness of the cross' in particular.16

What of modern science and scientists ? Ever since Laplace assured Napoleon that the successful pursuit of science did not require the 'hypothesis' of God,17 the presuppositions of the mass of scientists have rendered any supernaturalism quite irrelevant in this sphere. It should appear obvious that a scientific method which presupposes no God and no supernatural can only produce 'findings' which support these original presuppositions. Basic naturalism will not produce a picture of the glory of God in nature. Modern science, affirms Prof Van Til,'assumes that what Christianity teaches with respect to nature cannot be true.' The ideas of creation and a controlling providence are 'assumed to be intolerable.' On the contrary, it is claimed that the 'order of nature .... is what it is because of an impersonal unchangeable regularity.18'

Modern science as a whole is not true science. In essence, it is apostate and, as such, needs to be redeemed to the service of God. The Christian engaged in scientific work should be a true scientist, i.e., one who investigates nature with Biblical presuppositions and in accordance with Biblical norms.19 Modern science needs a reformation. Considering its present status, the Christian believer has no warrant to assume that it is a valid study of God's natural revelation producing results which bear some correspondence to that revealed truth. In principle, the opposite is the case as sinful men turn the truth of God into a lie (Rom 1.25). It should be noted, however, that the unbelieving scientist is better in practice than his basic presuppositions in principle allow. This is due, as we noted earlier. to the 'common' or temporal conserving grace of God20 overruling the apostasy in order to the fulfilment of His will. Conversely, the believing scientist is worse in practice than in principle, because the depredations of indwelling sin tend to draw him into conformity with the worldly pattern of the apostate. The distinction is not a simple case of black or white. Rather the situation is a dynamic one with a whole spectrum of inconsistencies between the two principal extremes. Notice also that science can never be neutral, for however inconsistent a man may be he is always governed by the god of his camp - either the living God or the god of this world.

Neo-evangelicals consistently treat modern science as if it were true science. They do so by ascribing neutrality to the scientific enterprise on the basis that the facts of nature are themselves neutral (See see. 111 [2]). Having thus accepted the findings of a science inimically disposed to the Biblical view of nature that they are attempting to defend, they are faced with the colossal and somewhat embarrassing problem of synthesising two irreconcilables into a meaningful whole.

To be continued

Sam Drucker

References (My numbering, not Keddie's)
1. E. L. H. Taylor, The Christian Philosophy of Law, Politics and the State, Nutley, N. J., Craig Press, 1965, pp 142 ff.

2. C. Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, Philadelphia, Pa., Presb. & Reformed, 1967, pp 67 ff.

3. C. Van Til, Christian-Theistic Evidences [Syllabus], 1961, pp 85-86 ff.

4. H. Dooyeweerd, The Secularisation of Science, A.A.C.S. [mimeo] n.d., pp 3 ff.

5. Isa., 59.2-8.

6. F. N. Lee, Calvin on the Sciences, S.G.U., 1969, p 15.

7. Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p 48.

8. J. Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion [Beveridge trans.] II, 2.16.

9. Lee, op. cit., pp 16-19, cf. Taylor, op. cit., pp 46 ff.

10. R. J. Rushdoony, By What Standard?, Philadelphia, Pa., Presb. & Ref., 1965, p 24. See Rushdoony, Van Til (Modern Thinkers series, P & Ref.) for an analysis of Van Til's thought on this point, pp 16 ff.

11. C. Van Til, Particularism and Common Grace, L. J. Grotenhuis, n.d., p 15.

12. H. Van Riessen, The Christian Approach to Science, Hamilton, Ont., A.R.S.S., 1966, p 58.

13. H. Van Riessen, The Society of the Future, Philadelphia, Pa., Presb. & Ref., 1952, p 137.

14. Col 2.3.

15. Lee, op. cit., p 20.

16. ibid, p 20.

17. R. E. D. Clark, The Christian Stake in Science, Exeter, Paternoster, 1967, p 29.

18. C. Van Til, The Doctrine of Scripture, [Syllabus] den Dulk, 1967, pp 48-49.

19. The Bible is to be understood as being normative for science (and all things). For instance, the Biblical fact of miracles means that our science must never rule out the possibility of the miraculous, i.e. the intervention of God in the world in such a way as to use means other than the natural laws that He has established. Modern science consistently denies this normative principle.

20. Taylor, op. cit., p 60.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Yet I Reserve Seven Thousand in Israel ..."

Declension in the Church has never gone unnoticed and without rebuke. This was just as much true when Darwinism commenced its onslaught on the public and Church scene in the Nineteenth Century. The following is an extract of a sermon preached at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, England, on 9 December 1860 by John Bergon, just thirteen months after the initial print of "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" by Charles Darwin.

"Learn to put away from your souls that vile indifferentism which is becoming the curse of this shallow and unlearned age. Be as forgiving as you please of indignities offered to yourselves; but do not be ashamed to be very jealous for the honour of the Lord of Hosts; and to resent any dishonour offered to Him, with a fiery indignation utterly unlike anything you could possibly feel for a personal wrong. Attend ever so little to the circumstance, and you will perceive that every form of fashionable impiety is one and the same vile thing in the essence of it: still Antichrist, disguise it how you will. We were reminded last Sunday that the sensualist, by following the gratification of his own unholy desires, in bold defiance of God's known Law, is in reality setting himself up in the place of God, and becoming a God unto himself. The same is true of the Idolatry of Human Reason; and of Physical Science: as well as of that misinformed Moral Sense which finds in the Atonement of our Lord nothing but a stone of stumbling and a snare. It is true of Popish error also; for what else is this but a setting up of the Human above the Divine - [Tradition, the worship of the Blessed Virgin, the casuistry of the Confessional, and the like] - and so, once more substituting the creature for the Creator ?-What again is the fashionable intellectual sin of the day, but the self-same detestable offence, under quite a different disguise ? The idea of Law - [that old idea which is declared to be only now emerging into supremacy in Science] - takes the hideous shape of rebellion against its Maker; and pronounces,' now Miracles, now Prophecy, now Inspiration itself, to be a thing impossible; or is content to insinuate that the disclosures of Revelation are at least untrue. What is this, I say, but another form of the self-same iniquity - a setting up of the creature before the Creator who is blessed for evermore; a substitution of some created thing in the place of God!

The true antidote to all such forms of impiety, believe me, is not controversy of any sort; but the childlike study of the Bible, each one for himself - not without prayer. Humble must we be, as well as assiduous; for the powers of the mind as well as the affections of the heart should be prostrated before the Bible, or a man will derive little profit from his study of it. Humble, I repeat, for mysteries (remember), are revealed unto the meek; and the fear of the Lord is the begiiming of Wisdom; and he that would understand more than the Ancients must keep God's precepts; and it is the commandments of the Lord which give light unto the eyes. The dutiful student of the Bible is permitted to see the mist melt away from many a speculative difficulty; and is many a time reminded of that saying of his Lord, 'Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God ?' . . . The humble and attentive reader of the Bible becomes impressed at last with a sense of its Divinity, analogous I suppose to the conviction of Eleven of the Apostles that the Man they walked with was none other than the Son of God
."

Theistic Evolutionists neither know the Scriptures or the power of God.

"Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." (1 Kings 19:18)

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 39 verse 9

9. And God said: Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so.

The second day's work may still be regarded from one point of view as being connected with the work of the first day. The light of the first day requires a free space, the clear atmosphere, in order that it might make its life-giving work felt upon plants and upon man. So "the heavens" (v. 6-8), i. e. the firmament, aids in the distribution of light. But three of the deficiencies noted under v. 2 still prevail. The tekom is now to be disposed of in the work of the third day.

The expression "waters under the heavens" must be taken in the light of the preceding division made on the second day. The "waters above the heavens" are the clouds. The waters on the unformed surface, perhaps seething and surging as tekom suggests, are here under consideration. Waters are to be gathered together to be by themselves; dry land is to assemble by itself. If the waters are to be gathered together "unto one place," this expression may be regarded as sufficiently general to cover all oceans, or "the seven seas" for that matter. These water are by themselves; that is their "one place." So again "the dry land," hayyabbashah, literally: "the dry," involved a limitation in the figure of synecdoche; the term really means continents, but continents are primarily "dry land." The verb "let be seen," tera'eh, is an imperfect used as an optative (K. S. 183 b).

The verse concludes with the customary "and it was (or became) so" to indicate that which is bidden to come into being at once forms itself.

As to the method followed in the separation of dry land and water we can Say little, Did depressions form and the waters rush down into them? We might think so. Or did elevations and mountains thrust themselves upward in the process of the congealing of the-dry land and shed the waters as they rose? (Ps 104:7-9), in describing the work of this day, seems to imply the latter Course, though the expressions used may be poetic rather than exact. No one, it seems, will ever be able to speak a final verdict in regard to this question.

But, surely, in the course of these gigantic, upheavals, not catastrophic in nature because they involve organization rather than disruption, there was a tremendous amount of geologic formation. In fact, it would be perfectly safe to assume that all basic and all regular, formations were disposed of in this day's work. As a result, indeed, no record of the rapidity with which, certain formations took place is written upon the various formations, for vast as these formations were, they were controlled by the orderly operations of divine omnipotence and by these potentialities, no doubt, which the Spirit "hovering over the face of the waters" had implanted. Even these basic forms might, therefore, offer to him who acts on the assumption that there never were any accelerated formations the appearance of things laid down by the slow process of nature that we see in operation at this late day. But this ninth verse surely teaches that what we call geologic formations took place in titanic and gigantic measure at a vastly accelerated pace in a truly miraculous creative work as astounding as the rest.

As far as the expression yammim, "seas," (v. 10) is concerned, it must be noted that it is used in a loose sense so as to include every body of water, like inland lakes and also `the rivers. But since the area of the seas is vastly in excess of that of the smaller bodies, the name is taken from the outstanding part, a parte potiori.

Just because the Greek translators misread the word miqweh, "collection," for the word maqom, "place," that does not give any better reading or occasion for a textual change (Kit.). To call the newly assembled waters "the collection of waters" is most appropriate (v. 10); to say that they are to collect in "one place" is equally appropriate (v. 9). The clause added by the Septuagint is a pedantic attempt at improvement.