Thursday, March 23, 2017

THEISTIC EVOLUTION AND ITS INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE





Theistic evolutionists (TEs) believe that in order to understand Scripture correctly, we must view it through the lens of modern science. However, this is placing the theory of evolution above Scripture, requiring that Scripture conform to it. To accomplish this, they require that we regard Genesis 1-11 as non-historical.

How do we interpret Scripture? We interpret it the way we do any other form of literature – by the intent of the author. How do we interpret the intent of the author? There is only one way to do it – from the perspective of the ENTIRE body of the author’s work. This is also what it means to interpret Scripture by Scripture.

However, you are interpreting Scripture through a “higher” and more authoritative lens, the lens of the present-day scientific consensus on evolution. For the TE, this lens has become determinative about how Scripture is to be understood, as if the findings and conclusions of this Consensus are more reliable than Scripture.

As such, the TE has imposed upon Scripture an alien taskmaster coercing Scripture to agree with the Consensus.

As a result of the TE is doing what the typical cult leader does. They too claim that the Bible is the Word of God, but they also claim that it can only be understood by using their Key to the Scriptures. For example, the rabbis claim that the real meaning of Scripture is deep and spiritual. It is not to be found on the surface. However, they too claim that they have certain formulas to penetrate into the depths.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A POSITIVE CHRISTIANITY



A positive Christianity is marketable; a negative one is not, and this is what seems to matter today.

One pastor preached on the need for a positive message – that we are worthy of God rather unworthy. He reasoned that positive reinforcement is the key:
·       If you are raised to feel that you are loved, you will also feel that God loves you.

There is definitely some truth to this. I had felt very unloved growing up. Consequently, I felt that, in order to be loved, I had to become a very different kind of person. Even after I was saved, I still felt that God couldn’t or wouldn’t love me the way I was, unless I produced spiritually, big time. However, it became painfully apparent that I couldn’t produce, at least not enough to warrant God’s love.

This, of course, led me into great despair, but it also led me into a deeper study of the Bible, where the Gospel slowly unfolded itself to me by the guidance of the Spirit. Once I began to realize that my life wasn’t about my worthiness but His, I came to know the truth, and the truth set me free from so much that had enslaved me (John 8:31-32).

I also came to a deeper understanding of what God had revealed to Paul:
·       But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

In my weakness and brokenness, God created a surpassing love for His Word and Gospel. I am now confident in the Lord, perhaps far more than those who had come from a positive family.

The pastor went on:
·       If you preach a doom and gloom, fire and brimstone message, people will leave feeling gloomy.

Perhaps some will, and perhaps this might be a good thing. Perhaps we need to be shaken up. However, as the darkness makes the light even more striking, the message of doom makes the Gospel shine more exquisitely. If we only hear the Good News, we may become jaded to the message. It might even become monotonous and meaningless. However, when preceded by the bad news, the Good News assumes fullness of meaning. Besides, can we really take the Good News seriously if the “good news” is all that there is? And will the Spirit validate such an unbalanced message within our hearts? I don’t think so!

Nevertheless, the pastor concluded:
·       Because God had given His only Son, it is not a matter of whether or not I did bad today. Instead, it is a matter of how much I have enjoyed the Lord today.

I began to think, “Will I enjoy the Lord with only a ‘positive’ understanding?” The pastor seemed to think so, even as his congregants slept on.

CAN WE TRUST THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE?





Did the writers of the Bible have a different understanding of history than we do? Was it so different that the history of the Bible cannot be trusted? This is what some, especially theistic evolutionists (TEs) allege.

However, I do not see any basis for such an allegation. For the Biblical writer, writing about history was a matter of truth or falsehood as it is for us. Writing falsely about history was a matter of bearing false witness, something that is uniformly condemned by the Bible. Let’s start with the Ten Commandments:

·       Exodus 20:16 (ESV) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Lying in general had been proscribed:

·       Leviticus 19:11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.”

·       Psalm 5:6 You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

·       Psalm 12:2-4 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

Falsehood was understood as the opposite of faithfulness:

·       Psalm 119:29-30 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.

·       Psalm 119:163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.

There is no reason to believe that the recording of Biblical history would be exempt from such prohibitions. Instead, truth was the ideal, especially when it came to the Scriptures:

·       Proverbs 3:3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.

·       Proverbs 12:17-19 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

·       Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

This is why Isaiah had warned that the Word alone was the model of truth:

·       Isaiah 8:19-20 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

It is pointless to go further. The uniform testimony of Scripture favors truth over falsehood in all areas of life, even in the inscribing of history. Consequently, we find that the Hebrew scribes were meticulous in copying their Scriptures. Evidently, they had been fanatical about getting it right, even when they didn’t like what they had been copying, and their Scriptures said many demeaning things about the Jewish people.






THEISTIC EVOLUTIONISTS MINIMIZE APOLOGETICS, THE SUPPORTIVE EVIDENCES FOR THE FAITH





My Response to a Biologos Foundation “Moderator”:

“Thanks for your response, especially in light of the fact that what I had written was deeply cutting. However, I have had many exchanges with theistic evolutionists (TEs) and believe that my remarks are warranted.

For one thing, the TE cannot expect to deprive Genesis 1-11 of its historical content and still retain a viable faith. Consequently, the TEs will also put themselves in opposition to the rest of the Bible, which regards these chapters as history. It is therefore not surprising that you write:

·       None of the most important truth claims of the Bible (which I believe, by the way) can be proven with reference to historical or scientific facts.

Of course, if you dismiss the Bible’s historical testimonies, you cannot consistently use them. You later cite WL Craig. However, he uses the historicity of the resurrection as one of his key proofs for the Bible and the Christian faith. If we have no convincing proof that Jesus rose from the dead, we have little compelling rationale to believe what He taught and how He affirmed the Scriptures. In contrast, you have written:

·       This idea that the gospel is dependent on fact-checking the Bible and the Bible passing with flying colors just doesn't ring true to me. The gospel depends on God being a trustworthy person whose revelation of himself in Scripture and in Jesus and by his Spirit is true. God is the source of truth. That is why the gospel is compelling.

While you are correct that we must believe that God and His revelation are trustworthy, we also must know WHY they are trustworthy. However, once you reject the history of the Bible is trustworthy – that the ENTIRETY of the Bible is “God-Breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) – it then becomes very difficult to believe that what remains of the Bible’s revelation is trustworthy. If we refuse to believe what the Bible very clearly teaches as history, how are we to believe what the Bible teaches as theology?

However, you have written:

·       The authority of Scripture comes from God, not from some one to one correspondence with Scripture and facts. All throughout the New Testament what is held out as the basis for the authority of the message (whether it is being preached by Jesus, or the disciples, or the apostles) is the demonstration of the Spirit's power.

However, “the demonstration of the Spirit's power” was performed historically, as the OT and NT has often affirmed, but the TE does not receive His testimony:

·       2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The entire Bible receives the testimony of the Spirit in Scripture as history, but the TE does not. Jesus so clearly quoted Genesis 1 and 2 as history:

·       Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

However, the TE rejects Genesis 1-11 as history, contrary to the uniform testimony of the rest of the Bible. Consequently, if we refuse to believe what the Bible teaches as history, how are we to receive what it teaches as theology?

In fact, these two aspects of Scripture cannot be separated. We cannot separate the theology of the Cross from its history -- that Christ historically died for our sins.

You claim that “at the end of the day, it's Jesus only Jesus.” While I do not doubt your sincerity, I would like you to see that you have begun to descend on a slippery slope that can only take you away from the Jesus of the Bible.

The former co-head of Biologos, Karl Giberson, describes this slope:

·       “Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science….[Darwin’s] acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (Saving Darwin; 9-10)

He then assured us that the acid would dissolve no further. However, we later find that Darwin’s acid had also dissolved the God of the OT. I also find that this acid has dissolved away huge chunks of the Christian worldview of the many TEs with whom I have had exchanges. For example, I haven’t found one who is against same-sex marriage. You can easily prove me wrong here.”

HERE IS MY RESPONSE TO HER NEXT RESPONSE:


“Thanks again for your patience with me. You responded:

         If WLC told me he based his faith on the historical evidence for the resurrection I would tell him he is misguided.

Would you say the same thing to doubting Thomas who had been persuaded by the evidence?

         A person could live their whole Christian life completely ignorant of any evidences for the historical reliability of the gospels and it would not effect their salvation in the least, because salvation depends on faith in Christ. (Christy)

Without having a sound cognitive basis to believe, the Christian will live a very truncated, uncertain, and defensive life, one that will remain highly vulnerable to attack, for example the false assertion that our four Gospels found their way into our Bible because of Constantine.

Consequently, I have often observed that Biologos and its followers are very reluctant to witness to the many professedly non-believers who feel very at home with their blogs.

When I stated that “the ENTIRETY of the Bible is “God-Breathed (2 Timothy 3:16),” you retorted:

         What does God-breathed-ness accomplish? It makes God's word useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…It doesn't make Genesis into a historical record that follows modern standards of objective reporting.

Had the rest of the Bible never referred to Genesis 1-11, you might have a point. However, the Bible does refer to these chapters as history, and its theology is often inseparable from its history. For example, Peter, in proving that the coming judgment is not just a scare-tactic or myth, invoked God’s HISTORICAL judgments in support:

         2 Peter 2:4-9 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

If this argument does not rely on actual history, then there is no reason to believe that a future judgment will also be actual. Let’s now turn to:

         2 Timothy 3:16-17 ALL Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

First, ALL Scripture is God-breathed. Consequently, it is all “profitable.” However, the TE insists that they believe this way also, but they simply interpret it differently. Yes, they do interpret differently, disqualifying its historicity and the Bible commentary affirming its historicity.

This represents a major departure from Scripture, much like Mary Baker Eddy’s departure. She too insisted that Scripture is all correct as long as long as it is rightly interpreted.

Let’s now apply this to the Petrine verses above. By separating the Bible from its history, Peter’s argument collapses entirely. It means that these judgments didn’t take place, and if these didn’t take place, there is no reason to anticipate a future judgment.

Would you (or anyone else) care to comment on same-sex marriage?”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A ZIONIST RELUCTANTLY COMES TO THE MESSIAH



As a first grader, I would sneak into my bed at night, clasp my hands together, recite the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, and pray in Jesus’ name, just as I had learned in public school. I had received some incredible prayer answers, but when I was eight, I learned that I was being Jewish meant and that Jews aren’t supposed to do such things. Unfortunately, I put my ethnicity above my childlike understanding of a God who answered my prayers, and thus quit praying. This one decision condemned me to a life of sorrow, loneliness, and nihilism.

In fact, I became defiant of anything “Christian”. During Christmas school concerts, I would stand alongside my classmates, arms folded, refusing to sing the Carols.  Even my younger brother would taunt me by waving a red ‘45’ of Silent Night in my face. I was convinced that it should have no place in our Jewish home and repeatedly tried to find and destroy it.

At the time of my Bar Mitzvah, my father took me to the synagogue to see the rabbi. We passed a room where a minion of men were davening (praying).   Strangely drawn, I longed to join them but dared not say anything to my father.

I also became well-acquainted with anti-Semitism and its bullying during Junior High. I couldn’t fight every anti-Semite, but I could hate them, and that’s just what I did. The hatred then exploded into disgust for the surrounding “Christian society,” so much so that I sensed that the Gentiles had a repugnant odor.

In 1967, I was a confused and vulnerable student at UC Berkeley, where I ingested a lot of radical talk. But it was also the time of the Six-Day War.  Divergent reports were coming from Israel and the Arab world, which claimed that they were at the point of crushing Israel. Finally, it was confirmed – Israel had crushed the combined air and ground forces of the attacking nations.  A sigh of relief went up from the Jewish students, who then returned to their classes, but I remained crying with head covered.

I became a committed Zionist and left for Israel with a one-way ticket where I lived for two years. Israel became my reason-for-being, but this was where my search for God began. My five highly recommended psychotherapists had utterly failed to make a dent in my chronic depression. Meditation never worked, and no other self-help possibilities were in sight. That left God. Whenever I heard about a Jew who had a relationship with God, I pursued him with a series of questions. Finally, one friend suggested that I visit Kfar Chabod (Lubavitcher Hasidism), where I stayed for a week, asking my array of questions, but never receiving satisfying answers.

One evening while at Kfar Chabod, a young American Jewish man approached me:
·       “Daniel, last year, I was right where you are now. But there’s a Tzaddik (the holiest of rabbis) in Tel Aviv, who can demonstrate to you, beyond a doubt, that the Tanach (the Hebrew Scriptures) is the Word of God!”

The next evening, we were in Tel Aviv, where my friend had arranged a private consultation with the Tzaddik. At first, he studied me intently with his penetrating, deeply set eyes. Then, he began shaking his head: “You are not ready to study Torah. There is too much confusion and tension in your life. Go find yourself a good Jewish community to live in. Follow their program and come back in a few months, and we’ll talk again.”

“Talk?” I hadn’t even opened my mouth up, and he had already pronounced judgment! Essentially, he was saying that I had to first get my life together, before God could be of any use to me. But this was why I had come to him! I couldn’t get my life together! God seemed to be my only hope, but the Tzaddik was telling me that God couldn’t help me unless I first helped myself. I left feeling rejected by life itself. However, in my heart-of-hearts, I knew he was right. Somehow I was a looser.

What a contrast with the God of Scripture who has proved His words to me:

  • Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Several years later, after trying various Kibbutzim, I returned to the States, with a wife and infant daughter. We found an Appalachian hill farm at the end of a dead-end road, hoping that if we’d live in harmony with nature, we would experience the peace of nature. One day, after my wife went to town, I had a life-threatening chainsaw injury. Through my clumsiness, the chainsaw bucked back and struck me in the head. In terror, I lifted my hands to my skull to see if it was still in one piece, or if I would have to push my brains back into my head. When I lifted my hands, I saw that one of my hands was hanging half off with the blood squirting out like a fire hose.

Laying in a pool of blood, thinking that any moment would be my last, having lost so much blood, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t alone. I knew that God was with me, and I was filled with intense feelings of love, ecstasy, and peace. I knew that God loved me and that He’d protect me. Even if I died, I would still be with Him forever. After a miraculous rescue, this experience prompted me to search for Him, whoever He might be, but the last place I had wanted to look was Christianity. I had been interested in God, but He had to conform to my specifications. Now I was willing to encounter Him on His own terms.

But perhaps this “encounter” was just the product of having lost so much blood in the midst of a NDE. However, I knew otherwise. Ten years earlier, while I was studying for my finals in my freshman year at UC Berkeley, I put my exhausted head down in my hands and closed my eyes. Some minutes later, when I lifted my head, it seemed that everything was different. I was filled with the same ecstatic love, joy and peace. I even loved myself, but I had no awareness of the presence of God.

As hard as I tried to hold on to this mysterious visitation, I couldn’t. I had been intensely interested in the occult - mind-over-matter. But the occult was clearly about learning techniques and rituals in order to plug-in. However, I had done absolutely nothing to bring about this experience! It came from nowhere, and it didn’t seem to lead anywhere. It just left me with a profound sense that there was something out there far greater than the occult, but I was clueless about what it was.

Four years later, I was on a train, traveling from the north – Nahariya to Tel Aviv. I was reading a story in the Jerusalem Post about a Californian who had an encounter with God. In response, he built a boat and brought his entire family to Israel. They had just arrived in the port town of Haifa that day, after a two year voyage. However, he had entered illegally and was being held in the Coast Guard area until a determination could be made about his entering Israel.

Meanwhile, passing through Haifa, I decided that I had to find out how he could be so certain that his God had called him to Israel to spread his Jesus drivel. Initially, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to see Mr. Harrison (I don’t remember his name.) because the Coast Guard area was off-limits to civilians. However, amazingly, I found the station-master, and he called the Coast Guard and got approval for my unusual request.

I spent the afternoon with Harrison on his boat, as his wife and five little blond-haired children walked the wharf. I asked him a series of question, mainly concerning how he could be sure about God and His will. However, he would merely answer me with Scripture. I complained, “You’re wasting time quoting Scripture. I don’t believe it, and therefore it’s meaningless to me,” but it seemed that that was all he was able to do.

After it got dark, I arose to leave. He asked if he could pray with me. I acquiesced. He had kindly spent hours fielding my critical questions. This was the least I could do. Afterwards, I walked off into Haifa’s night, not knowing where I’d spend the night, but I soon realized it didn’t matter. I was once again in ecstasy by the strange visitation.  Each stranger’s face became an object of intense love, so much so that I had to lower my head, lest the passers-by would see my tears. Every flower had a message, every street a story to tell. Everything pulsated with life!

What had happened to me? Well, it seemed that it had something to do with my meeting Mr. Harrison. Perhaps his enthusiasm had gotten to me? However, never once did I connect this encounter with his prayer. I had thought that I was a truth-seeker, but my search boundaries were very confined.

Six years later, I was once again overtaken by the same experience, while my blood generously flowed, but this time there was one significant difference. I was left with no doubt about my Benefactor. I knew that it was about a God, who had been mysteriously wooing me for years, but I had not been aware of it.

Why did He wait so long to reveal Himself? Why does the fisherman allow his catch to tire itself before reeling it in? Perhaps I first had to exhaust every other possibility and to spend all of my reserves on false hopes? Perhaps only in a prostrate position would I accept what I had always regarded as abhorrent?

The chainsaw encounter alone didn’t bring me to a faith in Christ, but just an uncomfortable feeling that the One whom I had always detested, was involved. This threatened my Jewish identity. I had held Christianity in utter contempt. Too many Jews had been killed in the name of Jesus.

However, my bloody chainsaw encounter brought me to the point of crying out to my, as yet, unknown Benefactor: “I don’t care who You are. I just want to know the truth about You!” And I meant it! I knew that there was nothing more important than to find out His identity, whatever that identity might be.

I was convalescing in the hospital for four days. Meanwhile, the people who had rescued brought me books to read. They were very elementary, but they talked about an all-powerful God of love and forgiveness who intervened in our lives. The conviction that my Benefactor was Christ began to grow. I resisted this awareness, but I had made a vow. For the first time in my life, I was determined to know the truth, even if it would cost me my strongly held identity.

However, faith did not come easily. I was100% skeptic! While I would experience a joy in believing, I would then tell myself:

  • This is ridiculous. How can I believe that somebody died on the cross, and magically, God loves me?

I needed more. I joined a home fellowship group where they were studying messianic prophecy. While I found some of the material convincing and even satisfying, the skeptic in me continued to say “no.”

I cannot say when exactly I came to faith. It was a slow and arduous process. The old leaven had to be burned away. God humbled me exceedingly so that I could receive His Word and blessings (1 Peter 5:6).

Now, 40 years later, I can say as David did:

  • It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. (Psalm 119:71)

Never would I have believed that, one day, I would be ministering a Message that I had once despised.