Archive for the ‘ Church History ’ Category

On Old Earth Presuppositions

I was struck, this morning, by Jamin’s article, also reposted to AOMin. Let me explain. I’m in agreement with Jamin 99% of the time – I even contributed to his book – “The Portable Presuppositionalist”. However, there are some statements in this article that I’d like to address. He has been dialoguing via email to Fred Butler, of Hip and Thigh, and decided to share his recent response as a blog post. In this article, he has the following statement:

We can calculate some numbers back to Adam, and that’s pretty cool. But that in no way results in “inerrancy and old earth creationism can never mix.” Again, must we really take the lead of Morris, Hovind, Ham, Chaffey, and others on the old-earth debate just because they had some good things to say instead of thinking more critically and realizing that the age of the earth just is not a hill worth dying on?

When I examined the article a bit closer, I noticed a few issues.

In his response concerning the uniqueness of the Genesis account, I read this:

A. The primary (e.g. most explicit and obvious) internal structure of the book is the Toledoth formula – “these are the generations of” …, which is mentioned 11 times from 2:4 to the end of the book. This heading not only “indicates a historical impulse” (Introduction to OT, 54), but it encapsulates the whole book into one category…except Gen 1, which is the only chapter in the book not to have this introduction. … Gen. 1 is unique in that respect.

B. The only citation of Gen 1 in the NT is of man being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27 in Matt 19 and Mark 10), a strongly theological point; there is no reference to chronology of Gen 1 in any of the NT, and (as far as I remember) any of the OT. Instead, Genesis 1 has some other literary features and “Hebrew parallelism”:

Maybe I’m missing something… but wouldn’t it be a bit tough to have the Toledoth formula in the chapter where the progenitors of those generations are created? It reminds me (forgive me!) of the argument that is often presented in regards to the period of enscripturation of the NT. It is, by it’s nature, an exception – which leads me to the next point.

Maybe, again, I’m missing something – but isn’t there another formula in Genesis 1 that is inherently chronological? “And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.” That would seem to me the formula that binds this together, and makes it a chronological account, all at once.

But it is to say that if we have a question specifically about chronology, Gen. 2 would probably be the first place we should go, and if we have a general question about theology and the origins of all things – from birds to water – we should probably go to Gen. 1.
So, those are a couple of “the ways” I was referring to, and this is why I am hesitant to say “I’m a literal 24-hr 6-day young earth creationist” even though much of what I believe falls into that camp.

As pointed out above, I think that we’re forgetting something very important here. Morning, evening, day. The context for “day” is clearly presented, by “morning and evening”. So I’m not hesitant to subscribe to my confession at all in the matter of 6-day creationism.

The genealogies provide a reliable chronological line that ruins any assertions of an old man, for the people are the concern of the genealogies, not the earth. Granted, there is a link between people and events in history and areas of the earth, etc., but, again, the primary purpose of genealogies are to show who lived when and from what persons they came. And, you seemed to have missed what I said about time itself being created during the creation account, and how there are countless assumptions about the time-space continuum that we bring to the table when making arguments about time and creation.

Well, for the first point, obviously I agree. That’s really not the point of an OEC, however – a TE, yes, but not an OEC. As for the second – of course people are the focus of genealogies – but the chapter in question is what is the *foundation for* those genealogies. Which really points out the central reason I’m writing this. My concern is for two things. First, whether or not we are examining this with Biblical presuppositions. Second, whether or not we are *truly defending Christianity as a system*, or “as a unit” – NOT in “block house” fashion. My concern is that we are *overlooking* the presuppositions that OEC brings to Scripture, as well as *failing to see* the presuppositions *in* Scripture at this very point. As to the time issue – I think the above also solves that issue. We’re talking days. Evening, morning. Day. God created time, obviously, but finitude requires it – so, as creation begins, time, at that instant, begins.

The next section is where the rubber hits the road for me.

But I challenge you and other Christians to think more clearly about what is more significant; the war we wage is not the age of the earth because there’s no clear, direct line being crossed. Not only is the science under debate, but the Christians of the OT and NT would be rather baffled about how the age of the universe is so central to defending the faith. But, they would, however, give birth to a royal conniption if someone told them “man came from animals and they’re still made in God’s image.”

I would disagree on several points here. First, we’re being given a choice – the age of the earth, or man came from animals, and they’re still made in God’s image. Second, we are told there is no clear line being crossed. Third, I haven’t mentioned a word about science yet, in my response. Fourth, this is a modern debate in this particular context.

First: Is it our goal, as Covenantal Apologists, to argue on this level? Don’t we have to look at the *presuppositions underlying the assertion*? Here’s the deal – and this is where I want the reader to pay attention, if they’ve been on cruise control thus far. The underlying presupposition of *both* Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism is that autonomous man is the primary authority on matters of empirical/natural science. There is no reason that I can see to assert an old earth, whatsoever, apart from naturalistic assumptions. The same assumptions, I’d assert, that are *more consistently* applied by the TE advocate, and even more consistently by a secular naturalist. The assertion is human autonomy, and it regulates the pages of Scripture.

“The relation between science and Scripture is not one of synthesis between two tentative theories; rather, it must be one of subordination. If science is not subordinate of Scripture, then Scripture must be subordinate to science and science itself will be autonomous. If science is independent of revelation, then nature must be assumed to be self-sufficient and containing in itself the principles for its own interpretation. Thus God is either identified with nature (the error of pantheism) or is shoved out of the picture altogether (the practical result of deism). Either God is God, or science deifies itself.”

~Greg Bahnsen

While Van Til notes, of course, that unbelievers are “in principle” autonomous, while believers “in principle” think God’s thoughts after Him; in practice, we are inconsistent. What we’re seeing here is either more or less “in practice” denial of the principles of believers – in favor of the practical adoption of autonomous principles. In this area – and remember, we defend Christianity as a unit – they have atomized their position, and are standing on enemy ground in their examination of Scripture. Since this is the case – be it severe, in the case of the unbelieving evolutionist, great, in the case of a theistic evolutionist, or small, in the case of an Old-Earther, the principle is the same. The extent of consistency to be found is the difference we see here.

Second, the line is clear, and has been crossed. The line, however, is not the age of the earth, it is the dividing line between man’s theology and God’s. In one case, we are affirming that the earth is relatively young, because we have the history of that relatively young earth in our hands, in the Scriptures. In the second, we have naturalistic principles being used as the “colored glasses” through which we see the world. We have God as center, and we have man as center – I would respectfully submit that the central issue is one of presupposition – and that brings OEC into a light other than that presented in this article.

Third, the problem is the naturalistic assumptions which underpin the desire of the OEC advocates to *adhere to this stance in the first place*. The desire is, as Bahnsen pointed out earlier, to “synthesize” science and Scripture. What ends up happening, however, is that Scripture is *subordinated to* science. This is, as I’ve pointed out, the *same presuppositional issue* found in TE. The difference is in their level of consistency.

Fourth, would Jamin make this same argument concerning the ECFs not addressing later controversies? Since this is a modern argument, we won’t find it addressed in history in the context we are in today. Every generation has it’s own apologetic context in which it has to give an answer – and, as I’ve argued, the central issue is *the* central issue of our apologetic and the theology from which it springs – who God is, and what He has revealed about Himself and His creation. Is our view on this subject God-centered or man-centered? A subject similar was addressed by Augustine, as has been argued ad nauseum elsewhere thus won’t be detailed here, but it was not the same context at all.

And that is, indeed, the true line that is being crossed with theistic evolution, and as such, it is where our attention should be directed. The BioLogos forum needs to be held accountable not for their standard evolutionary view of the age of the earth, but for their anti-Christian view of God’s images. Even though some more popular apologists, thinkers, and Christians are finally waking up to the sheer absurdity of this primary thesis of BioLogos, I am still surprised more Christians aren’t as upset and aren’t more proactive in trying to set up a moderated debate with someone from the BioLogos Forum over this issue.

Here’s where I’d like to point out that the line being set is a bit arbitrary. I agree that the problem is not the age of the earth – but once again, I think this article has mistaken the correct focus of the debate. It is not on the age of the earth – but on the presuppositions underlying our position on the age of the earth. The image of God in man is our point of contact with the believer, yes? Well, since when are we saying it’s satisfactory to give into the presupposition that naturalism can be the interpretive grid by which we exegete Scripture? The extent of consistency to that position is less than the TE would go, true – but is it not the same presupposition? When we say that man’s autonomy, presuppositionally, is the root – we can, to some extent, “prioritize” – but I don’t see the root issue as anything other than the same root issue of Arminianism, evidentialism, or other topics we’re more than happy to address, and spend a great deal of time in so doing. Van Til, as I’m sure Jamin knows, spent an extensive amount of time tracing down autonomy as the root for a great number of issues – and this fits that pattern like a glove.

Here’s a great illustration from Van Til. If they are, as I claim, embracing autonomy on this point – “…the… apologist would not be in a position to wipe out any of the signs that point in the wrong direction. An… apologist meeting the natural man as both stop at one of the service stations is in a strange predicament. Since he is a Christian, he should really speak to the natural man about the fact that he is following the wrong signs. But since he himself holds to a measure of autonomy for man, and since this undermines his own belief in creation, he can at best say to his friend that is it doubtful which signs are right. Then as far as his “neutral” apologetic method is concerned, … in the interest of getting his friend to go in the right direction, admits that the signs that point in the wrong direction are right. He himself goes in the wrong direction for some distance too with the natural man. He fully agrees with the natural man when together they start on their wrong course, and he still fully agrees on the way to the city of destruction. Then suddenly he puts on the brakes and turns around, expecting his friend will do the same. Thus in the whole business he has dishonored his God (a) by practically admitting that his revelation is not plain and (b) by himself running away from God in his interpretation of natural revelation and in his subjection of supernatural revelation to the illegitimate requirements of the natural man.” (Defense of the Faith, pg 135)

Just to note something interesting – and a bit providential – just moments before the link to this posted in #pros, I was reading an article on Justin Taylor’s blog touting Tim Keller’s “Reason for God” DVD. Nic had posted a comment related to whether or not something Dr. Keller said in that trailer was a violation of the myth of neutrality. We were discussing that issue, and I was posting a comment to Dr. Keller right then. Like you, I would be glad to see a debate with BioLogos – but I’d also like to see a more presuppositional tack – and heat – applied to the OEC position, as well. He replied, incidentally, and my response was to ask him whether his naturalistic presuppositions were capable of providing him a consistent position from which to defend.

While I understand your approach to priority, I disagree with the emphasis. I’m concerned with the presuppositions they are bringing to the table by embracing OEC; since, as I’ve argued, they are the *same* presuppositions the naturalist, be they secular or theistic, bring to the table. As you and I both know, inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument – my intent here was to point out that the same root issue is beneath OEC that is under Arminianism, Roman Catholicism, Evidentialism, and a host of other man-centered movements and positions – autonomy. Thank you for your patience in looking through my response.

~RK

Addendum: I’ve had one criticism thus far, and they say about my post, “it reads like a criticism of Hubner over Old Earth creationism”. While it is, in a sense, it’s a criticism of his position concerning challenging said OEC position. The criticism is of OEC, yes – but to point out how it’s presuppositions are the same as TEs, just not taken as consistently – and that, in order to point out that it should be critiqued on the same basis as TE. Whatever view the critique’s author holds (and he doesn’t say, other than to tell us that this doesn’t apply to him), he is left with the same dilemma as always. He can say that man is old – which Jamin specifically rebuts: “The genealogies provide a reliable chronological line that ruins any assertions of an old man, for the people are the concern of the genealogies, not the earth.” Or, he can appeal to “days” not being “days” (which seems to be his tack, given this quote: “the age of mankind and the age of the earth are not the same thing”). In that case, I refer him to the confession he claims to subscribe to, which specifically states that “In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible,in the space of six days, and all very good.” I don’t see how he escapes the dilemma of subverting Scripture’s statement that creation was in 6 days, save by the presupposition of naturalistic presuppositions. He says that is not what he has – and says that he does subordinate science to Scripture – but how do you do such a thing when Scripture *says otherwise*? In any case, I note that he accedes to my argument, as stated, and as directed. “For those Old Earth creationists who do this (and I think that the majority of them do; e.g., Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe), the criticism Whipps raises is spot on.”

Glenn Beck – Mormon Historian?

I was listening to Glenn Beck’s show this morning, and heard this discussion:

(Note: This may be a first, me linking to Media Matters – but they have the relevant clip)

Here’s a transcript:
22:40: Glenn: “…the Dead Sea Scrolls, you know what they are? Stu, do you know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are?
Stu: Well, of course I do…
Glenn: Now, c’mon, most people don’t.
Stu: Well, I heard of them, I don’t really know
Glenn: You don’t really know. You have no idea why they were there. Sara average person doesn’t know. Any idea, take a guess on why the Dead Sea Scrolls were there, or anything else.
Sara(?): Something religious.
Glenn: Okay, good. Even though I’ve explained this on this program a couple of times, I’m glad to see that even the people that work with me don’t even listen.
So here’s what happened. When Constantine decided that he was going to cobble together an army, he did the Council of Nicea, right, Pat?
Pat: Yea.
Glenn: The Council of Nicea, and what they did is brought all of the religious figures together, all the Christians and then they said, “Ok, let’s put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s you know, you guys do it.” So they brought all their religious scripture together, that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else. And then they said, “Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!” Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time that they said, “They are destroying all of this truth.” Whether it’s truth or not is up to the individual, but at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved and so they rolled up the scrolls and put them in clay pots and they put them in the back of caves where no one could find them. They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicea and Constantine. That’s what those things are.” 24:37

Okay, let’s count the problems.

1) “When Constantine decided that he was going to cobble together an army, he did the Council of Nicea”

Really? Wasn’t Constantine’s formation of an army well prior to Nicea? Was there an army at Nicea at all? For information about Constantine, from a real historian, see here.

2) “then they said, ‘Ok, let’s put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s you know, you guys do it.'”

The Apostles Creed is from the century after Christ.

3) “So they brought all their religious scripture together, that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else”

See this article, discussed later. The first Bible was bound there? Really? I’d love to see some documentation of that. Was there any canon discussion at all? I’d love to see some proof of that, as well.

4) “then they said, ‘Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!'”

What went on at Nicea is well-documented here. The canons of Nicea are available online, as well. No historian I know of has ever produced a shred of evidence that there were beheadings or executions at Nicea.

5) “Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time.” “but at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved”

What time is that? As noted on this site, they are dated from anywhere from the third century B.C. to 68 A.D. Glenn is off by at least 250 years.

6) “They are destroying all of this truth.” “They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicea and Constantine.”

First, who? Second, these are the Dead Sea Scrolls. Wrong century. Wrong people. WRONG PLACE. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found where? Khirbet Qumran, near Kalia, a modern Jewish settlement. Nicea is where? Present-day İznik – Turkey.

7) “Whether it’s truth or not is up to the individual”

Very postmodern of him. However: “I was answered that I must join none of them (Christian Churches), for they were all wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).

Folks, practically everything in this explanation is wrong. It’s mind-boggling. Immediately, I tried to call the show, but the lines were jammed, so I didn’t get through. I did send him an email, however, with a very short list of factual problems with this section above, with my cell #, just in case he wanted to contact me.

In that email, I provided this link: What Really Happened at Nicea? In this article, Dr. White explains the history and proceedings of the Council of Nicea (which was in 325, not in 378, as a Media Matters commenter claimed).

Now, I listen to Beck for a simple reason. He’s a Mormon, and his worldview “bleeds through” quite frequently – and I find it interesting. Especially when, as is more common lately, he speaks about faith and religion. He frequently refers to himself as “Christian” – when he is nothing of the sort. For instance:

Glenn Beck – Satan vs Jesus

The section I’m most interested in is here:
“The enemy of Jesus is not a government. It is the capping of individuals. It is the stopping of people understand what the power inside of you is. The ability to choose between right and wrong. Jesus never took anybody and waterboarded them and told them ‘accept me, accept me, accept me’. He never did that. Religions, when they became about politics, did that. Jesus said ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do’. Jesus said ‘do you not yet understand all this and more you can do’. It’s individual rights. It’s a war that has been going since before time. I’ll save em. I’ll save em all. Just give me the credit, I’ll save em all. I’ll make the choices for them so no one can fail. No, no, no. Let men fail – and I will send a Savior, and He will redeem them for the price that they cannot pay. But let them fail.”

An observer who isn’t familiar with Mormonism might miss this. Check out Moses 4:1 in the LDS scripture. Sound familiar? Look at their teaching on this subject in “The Pearl of Great Price“.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Note: Lucifer’s plan has often been compared, negatively, to Calvinism – which, ironically, is what a Presbyterian is. Like… the Presbyterian author (and seminary president at WTS) he approvingly endorsed earlier in that same show!

So, we’ve established two things.

While Glenn might consider himself a good historian on the founding fathers, he should stick to things he has actually studied.

Glenn’s Mormon presuppositions slip through, and color his viewing of history as well his statements about faith.

Of Exposition and Pastoral Ministry

Pastor Camp,
Well sir, I do appreciate you answering my questions, even though I don’t believe they fully answered the questions I brought up.

I would like to address a few things, if I may:

1) When you are making an objection, I would offer that the burden of proof lies on you to state your case, and then argue it. As it appears to me, you have stated a general principle, told us that certain men violated that principle, and then assumed it from that point forward. When asked concerning specifics, the response has been restatements of that principle. I understand that this is what you believe – but only in a very general way, and not with precision in your definition.

2) When you are responding, you seem to be reading past a good many things that give context to the statements I, at least, am making.

For instance: if what we’re getting from your position is what you’re really saying seems to taken as “this is what you said”. If you notice, I carefully worded it so as to give you a chance to explain where you are coming from. Most of my questions were designed in order to give you that opportunity. Instead, I am being informed of what the Word says re: preaching. I’m well aware of what it says. My questions had to do with what else a pastor does. You seem to be begging the question in this regard.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that I have some small familiarity with presuppositional apologetics. However, practicing apologetics, first, learning apologetics, second, teaching apologetics, third, cannot be done solely in an expositional manner. I am able to exposit passages to teach the general principles of the method – but teaching the method itself _cannot_ be expositional – neither can practicing it. I know for a fact that Bahnsen exposited Acts 17 to demonstrate this – but exposition of a specific text was not what he did to teach it.

Additionally, I find it rather strange that you would resort to comments like “nice try”. Sir, I quite understand that you are quite a bit older than I am. I would appreciate it if you would at least respect the fact that I cared enough to ask you these questions, however. Recall, sir, that we are to respond with gentleness and reverence. Humility as well as boldness. I haven’t said anything similar to you, and I’ve attempted to be irenic in my interaction.

I’ve asked some specific questions, with context provided for them just in case I was being unclear. The context I gave seems to have been passed over, in many respects. When I give specific situations that are the concern of myself and other brothers, only small excerpts are addressed, and the most general comments, rather than the most specific. What we’re asking for is specificity in your objection. I’m aware of what the general objection is. I would like to know what, precisely, you objected to, and from what standard you do so.

For instance – do you object to Dr. Duncan teaching the assembled pastors about the history of the church? That is not exposition, and seems to fall under your objection. What, precisely, do you object to? Whose talks do you object to? What about what they said is objectionable? Why is this objectionable? How do you get this objection from Scripture? As the objector, it would be eminently helpful to detail what you objected to – so as to know what we have to either answer, or agree with – as I’ve said previously. I understand the general gist of your objection – just not:
1) The extent to which you object (how far does the objection that exposition is required go? In every situation whatsoever?)
2) The object of your objection (Who, and what – and please be specific)
3) The grounds of your objection – specifically. We’re all aware of the Biblical injunction to preach the Word in and out of season, of course. However, on what Biblical warrant do you ground your objection that you provide the extent of, above? Please be specific.

I know that you’re making these comments on your own blog – I fully understand that. However, when you make a serious objection – calling what was done, sin – it would be eminently helpful to let us know *what* was sin. Which is why I’m now addressing this on mine. I gather that you don’t consider me to be lucid – I can accept that. I’m often not. However, I’m afraid that I would also consider your objections thus far to be lacking in clarity. I’m still wondering what, precisely, was considered sinful? Is a lecture sinful, if not expositional? Is teaching on historical subjects sinful, if not expositional? Is teaching on other, antithetical worldviews sinful, if not expositional – such as what Dr. White, or I do in our apologetics conferences or classes? How are you defining “expositional” in this context, if any of the above are rightly your assertions? I’m really, really not trying to be difficult. I’m not. I just really do not know what you are objecting to, and what, precisely, your objection is meant to consist of.

When I’ve asked you about these specific things, I haven’t received specific answers. While this can be frustrating, and it has been, I really want to know – because I think the answers will reveal what the presuppositions you are operating from are, and can thereby be addressed – perhaps I’ll even discover I shouldn’t have been disagreeing with you after all!

However, when what you are saying seems to be (and there are no few that have come to this conclusion thus far – perhaps we’re all poor readers) that whenever a pastor opens his mouth, under any circumstances, it must be expositional preaching, I’m left with a dilemma. Who in the history of the church has ever done this? Where in Scripture is this commanded? Please, disabuse me of this impression, because that is what I have gathered from your answers thus far – and why I am seeking to gain clarity that I may be lacking.

Before we answer your objections – or your questions – we need to know what ground you’re standing on to make those objections, or ask those questions. I’m sure you know that particular element of presuppositionalism, and I’m sure you see how that applies here. We need to know what *exactly* you’re objecting to, from what standard you are objecting from (how do you define the extent of the command to Timothy you brought up earlier, for example?), and the like.

Understand, however – I am asking these questions for the sake of clarity, and because I am concerned about the unintended consequences of what I believe your position to be from what you have said thus far – and whether it is based in Scripture or not. As with another recent discussion we had, my concern is also whether there is a lack of balance in your position – of adequately addressing the whole counsel of Scripture concerning this subject. Understand, I’m not attacking – I’m asking. I genuinely want to know, as I may not have read you correctly.

Grace and Peace,
~RK

Church History Class Links

Church History Classes:

Week 1
Week 2
Weeks 3-5
Week 6
Weeks 7-8
Week 9
Weeks 10-11
Week 12

Chap. V. – The Manners of the Christians.
“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. (Comp. 2Co_10:3) They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. (Comp. Phi_3:20) They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. (Comp. 2Co_6:9) They are poor, yet make many rich; (Comp. 2Co_6:10) they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; (Comp. 2Co_4:12) they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.”

Chap. IX. – Why the Son Was Sent so Late.
“As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food.”

Chap. X. – The Blessings That Will Flow from Faith.
“If you also desire [to possess] this faith, you likewise shall receive first of all the knowledge of the Father. For God has loved mankind, on whose account He made the world, to whom He rendered subject all the things that are in it, to whom He gave reason and understanding, to whom alone He imparted the privilege of looking upwards to Himself, whom He formed after His own image, to whom He sent His only-begotten Son, to whom He has promised a kingdom in heaven, and will give it to those who have loved Him. And when you have attained this knowledge, with what joy do you think you will be filled? Or, how will you love Him who has first so loved you? And if you love Him, you will be an imitator of His kindness. And do not wonder that a man may become an imitator of God. He can, if he is willing. For it is not by ruling over his neighbours, or by seeking to hold the supremacy over those that are weaker, or by being rich, and showing violence towards those that are inferior, that happiness is found; nor can any one by these things become an imitator of God. But these things do not at all constitute His majesty. On the contrary he who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbour; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, whatsoever things he has received from God, by distributing these to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive [his benefits]: he is an imitator of God. Then thou shalt see, while still on earth, that God in the heavens rules over [the universe]; then thou shall begin to speak the mysteries of God; then shalt thou both love and admire those that suffer punishment because they will not deny God; then shall thou condemn the deceit and error of the world when thou shall know what it is to live truly in heaven, when thou shalt despise that which is here esteemed to be death, when thou shalt fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who shall be condemned to the eternal fire, which shall afflict those even to the end that are committed to it. Then shalt thou admire those who for righteousness’ sake endure the fire that is but for a moment, and shalt count them happy when thou shalt know [the nature of] that fire.”

~The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, circa 130 A.D.

“To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one [of you] from your iniquities.” ~ Acts 3:26

Remember: We give thanks to the One from whom all blessings flow.

“From the God of your father who helps you, And by the Almighty who blesses you {With} blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.” ~ Gen 49:25

Finished!

God be praised, we made it, even though it went until 3:15am for me! If I recall, that was 4:15 for poor Mitch.

I’ll likely repost the transcript here tomorrow, with the Q&A, and a few more comments of my own – but I think it went very well.

Here’s the Urban Philosophy debate transcript!

Soli Deo Gloria!

A Unique Opportunity: Part II

I returned to speak to the Jehovah’s Witness elder, as I mentioned in a previous post. It did not go as expected, for either of us – but God was, I think, glorified.

I believe that I was not, perhaps, honestly represented to this man by the people I talked to previously – so he got something unexpected, as well. He seemed to be under the impression that I was there to confront him about my children being part of his religion. There is an element of that, to be sure – but my primary goal was to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to their teacher. I was asked to speak to the young man previously – as I was asked to speak to this elder. My goal was, first and foremost, to faithfully present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hopefully, I was able to impress that point upon him during our conversation, which only lasted about 45 minutes. I hope and pray that God was glorified through it.

I started out with a summary of JW doctrines I requested from Dr. White some time back, which reads as follows:

There is one true God, Jehovah; He is eternal and unchanging. His name is very important to know, and to use. He has revealed Himself in Scripture as Jehovah. His first and greatest created thing is Michael the Archangel – in fact, Michael is the one through whom all other things are made. He is the master worker. He is the only direct creation of Jehovah God. It is only through Michael that all other things have been created. Michael then becomes the man Jesus Christ.

The man Jesus Christ does not have a spirit, in the sense of some other spiritual component. We possess a soul, that is the life force within us. It does not survive death as a disembodied spiritual essence. This one, Michael, becomes Jesus of Nazareth, who gave his life on a torture stake as a corresponding ransom for the sins of Adam, and he is one of the 144,000. The 144,000 are those who will be with Jehovah in heaven, and Jesus is one of that anointed class. The rest of God’s faithful servants are known as “the great crowd” – they have not what is called a “heavenly hope”, as the 144,000 have, but what is known as a “earthly hope” – they hope to live on a paradise earth. The Bible teaches that God created the earth to be inhabited, and after it is cleansed, this will be the place where the great crowd will live.

Those who are in heaven, are in the new covenant, and those who live on earth receive the benefits of the new covenant only in and through their obedience to and fellowship with the anointed class. Once a year, the witnesses gather together for the memorial supper, and during that memorial supper, the elements are passed throughout the room in remembrance of Jesus – yet in the vast majority of congregations, no one will partake. Only those who partake are those who claim to be of the heavenly, or anointed class, and those who partake are demonstrating that they are part of the new covenant. All others in the great crowd let it pass by, because they are not a part of the new covenant.

A day is coming when Armageddon will take place, the faithful will be removed from the earth, God’s wrath will fall upon the earth, and those who have not followed Jehovah’s ways will be destroyed. Then a millennium is ushered in where those who have died before this time period will be resurrected, and they are taught the ways of God. This is not a sudden resurrection, but a resurrection over time. The servants of God will teach them the ways of Jehovah, and at the end of that time, there is a test. Even the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses who are on earth at that time will be tested. Those who do not pass the test of faithfulness will be destroyed.

There is no conscious punishment for sin, there is simply destruction, or annihilation. Those who pass the test will live forever in paradise on earth – even though, the option is held open that if ever evil is found among those on earth, they will be very quickly destroyed, that this evil does not spread. Jehovah’s witnesses are very focused upon evangelism, very focused on going door to door, in obedience to the commands of Scripture. There is one organization that speaks for Jehovah today. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, centered in Brooklyn, New York, directed by the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – the “faithful and discreet slave”, that gives meat in due season to the members of the household, and one only finds true spiritual nourishment by listening to what is given them by the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There were 6 things objected to in that summary, which I hope to rectify soon. Those were:
1) “The man Jesus Christ does not have a spirit, in the sense of some other spiritual component. We possess a soul, that is the life force within us.”
2) “and he is one of the 144,000…and Jesus is one of that anointed class.”
3) “The rest of God’s faithful servants are known as ‘the great crowd'”
4) “the faithful will be removed from the earth”
5) “even though, the option is held open that if ever evil is found among those on earth, they will be very quickly destroyed, that this evil does not spread.”
6) “There is one organization that speaks for Jehovah today. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, centered in Brooklyn, New York”

I’ll address what I’ve discovered as to the possible inaccuracies in that statement, perhaps in a following post, but I wanted to share the fruit of that discussion.

As we continued to speak, I asked him to tell me what the Gospel is. I was given the predictable response “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – which, while true, is not the entirety of the Gospel. I then responded by asking if I could give him what I had just taught the children in my 1-6th grade class concerning the Gospel.

A) Man is sinful, God is Holy! (Lev 11:44-45; Gal 3:11)
B) Man is cursed with sin, due to the Fall of Man in Eden. (Gen 2:16-17) Man’s nature is such that he cannot do good.(Eph 2:3)
C) God, however, has a Perfect Way to satisfy His wrath (Rom 1:18) toward sin, and to proclaim His glory (rom 5:2, Rom 15:7).
D) God promised a Redeemer, from the very beginning. (Gen 3:15) The law, and the prophets all point to Him (Rom 3:21)
E) That Redeemer was born to a virgin (isa 7:14), and lived a perfect life in obedience to the law(Heb 7;28)
F) That Redeemer was crucified by the Jews on a Roman cross,(Acts 2:36) in propitiation for – in substitution for (2 Co 5:21)- our sins (1Jo 4:10)
G) That death was the satisfaction – the payment for – the wrath of God. (Rom 3:25) All who believe on Christ will be saved from the Judgement to come. (Rom 5-9)
H) That Redeemer defeated sin, overcame death (Rom 8:3) and proved the reality of His sacrifice’s power by raising Himself from the dead (Acts 17:31; John 2:19)- and now lives always to be the intercessor for His sheep (Heb 7:25)
I) Men come to Christ by the power of God (John 6:44) – by being born again of the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Pe 1:3), by the Repentance (Acts 5:31) and Faith (Rom 12:3, Phil 1:29)that both come as gifts from God – and are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified by the power and for the glory of God. (Rom 8:28-37)

I think I was able to present most of it – and as we talked, he tended to try to direct the conversation to the Trinity argument – which I answered, and then returned to my presentation.

When we got to propitiation, we had a discussion of the atonement, justification, and the nature of man’s sinful state before God that I truly hope was extremely valuable to him. We discussed why the sacrifice had to be God, that there were two essential doctrines that the JWs truly do not properly recognize – sin, and the need for atonement from it. Personal atonement, for personal sin. He brought up the Trinity once, in relation to the early church’s witness – and I shared with him a bit of background concerning their supposed citation of Tertullian, in their book “Should you believe the Trinity?”. I’ve been working on a selection of quotations from those various Fathers, demonstrating that Trinitarian belief was something every major writer affirmed – albeit with lesser or greater degrees of accuracy. I’m also going to send him a rewritten summary, to see if he would consider that unobjectionable.

Hopefully, we can stay in contact – and he looked to be very interested in doing so. May God bless these opportunities in the future 😉

Church History – Week 12

Went over a large-scale overview of Baptist history

Week 12 – Baptist Historynotesaudio

Next Week: That’s it! No more. All 12 weeks complete. I’ll have a “home” post for my church history series up soon. Thanks for listening!

SBC Schizophrenia and Salvation.

Why is it that we can hear a sermon about the Sovereignty of God in salvation one week, then hear about making a decision for Christ the next? Why can we hear about the Sovereignty of God in granting faith to a sinner in the same sermon that we are told that Jesus is knocking on the door to our heart? Why is it that we are exhorted to trust in the Sovereignty of God in salvation, and His unmerited grace toward sinners, in His regenerating power – in the same service that the pastor pronounces a person “part of the family of God”?

Schizophrenia. I don’t think it’s purposeful. I don’t think it’s an intentional compromise. It is, pure and simple, simple inconsistency, and perhaps a lack of examination concerning our methodology in our services compared to the theology we present. I’m not trying to be simply critical. I’m trying to understand why it is we do these things. Why do we present these contradictory viewpoints? Why do we offer an altar call and a decision – but yet proclaim the Sovereignty of God?

“…everybody is lamenting the fact that this country believes it’s saved, when it’s no more saved… it’s as lost, as they say in Alabama, as a ball in tall grass. But no one wants to point to what the problem is – and the problem is even when we preach the gospel correctly, we go to this thing of how to invite men that is neither Biblical not historical, we get them to jump through some Evangelical hoops, and say yes to the appropriate questions, and we popishly pronounce them to be saved. And when they believe that false, religious lie, given by a religious authority, when someone comes along later to preach the gospel to them, because they’re living in the world, they won’t listen. Because a religious lie has so much power.”

“…then afterwards, often after a person prays or is led in a prayer by the evangelist, he or she is assured that if they were sincere, then Jesus has definitely come into their heart, because He promised he would, and if He didn’t come in, He is a liar, because they were sincere. How many people do you know believe they are going to heaven because they are not so much trusting Christ, but in the sincerity of a decision they made a long time ago. Often times, after a few minutes of counseling, they are immediately presented before the church and welcomed into the family of God. Now, you tell me I’m wrong. They come down front, I’ve seen it so many times, they’re given over to a counselor, who’s been trained in a package counseling form, they’re talked to for about 5 or ten minutes while the invitation rolls on, and immediately they’re presented before the church, our ‘new brother or sister in Christ’. That’s the last most of them will ever, ever hear of conversion counseling. And then what will happen? If they never grow, or if they doubt their salvation, they are taken again back to that day when they prayed, and questioned as to the sincerity of their decision. If they ever come to the pastor again, doubting their salvation, he’ll take them back to that day again and say ‘did you ever pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Were you sincere?’ ‘I think so.’ ‘Then it’s just the devil bothering you.’ If they never grow in the things of God, their lack of growth is attributed to the lack of discipleship, or the belief in the doctrine of the carnal Christian. One convention that I know of came to the conclusion that 60% of their converts never came to church. Their answer was that they had to do a better job of discipleship. No – Jesus? His sheep? They hear his voice. And they follow Him! Whether you disciple them, or not. Now, we ought to do discipleship. My friend, back in the 70s, discipleship became the big thing. Personal discipleship. We have just as many people leaving by the back door as are entering in by the front door ofthe church because we’re not doing personal discipleship. No! It’s because we’re not preaching the gospel correctly, and we’re pronouncing people converted that are not converted – and they went out from us because they never were of us. Now, you’ve got to understand this. We deal 5 MINUTES with a person on their conversion, and then we spend 50 years trying to disciple a goat into a sheep.”
~Paul Washer, “Regeneration v. The Idolatry of Decisional Evangelism”

I’m not trying to make a slam on anyone. I’m trying to understand why – why the schizophrenia? Our local church is at least a nominally Reformed church. Why doesn’t our practice match our preaching? Why aren’t we seeing the traditions of men for what they are? Why do we take a methodology that doesn’t match our theology, and use it as if it were? What practical necessity is present for us to use such anti-scriptural methods when it comes to the eternally significant care of a soul who is present before us, and under the apparent conviction of the Spirit? Do these practices line up with the NT? Do they have any precedent in the history of the church prior to, to be generous, a couple of hundred years ago? What then must we do? Repent, and believe. Both gifts of God. What about our heart? The untrustworthy, deceitfully wicked heart? Does Christ knock at the door to it? No. Christ does not knock at doors. He appears in their midst. He removes the heart of stone, and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Christ is not a supplicant. He is not a beggar. He is Lord, and we must fall on our faces in repentance, fear, and adoration of this risen Lord. Easter is not a “time of decision”. It is a time of regeneration. Salvation belongs to the Lord, not to the sincerity of men.

Church History – Week 10

Went over Tyndale, a bit more about heresies, Romanism, Thomas More, and a few other topics.

Week 10 – The English Reformation I – William Tyndalenotesaudio

Next Week:

Week 11 – The English Reformation IInotes

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