Posts Tagged ‘creation’

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1 ESV)
There is so much here about Jesus. So much to think about and enjoy. So much to taste and see. So many ways to involve the senses and not just see words splatter on parchment.
 
There's God speaking. Who can hear? Who is listening? He spoke in the past, he spoke in the present. He spoke to many in many ways; now he speaks uniquely through One. And if we are wise, we listen to Jesus God's last voice to us. I am always skeptical when I hear people talking about how they have heard from God in an audible way because I'm just not certain we need to hear anything more than what he has already said in Jesus: In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.
 
There's God's radiance. Who can see God's glory? God's glory! I mean, shining, radiating, illuminating, and filling the universe! It's grand! It's magnificent. It's…glorious! And sometimes I hear people saying they need to see this or see that and here in these last days God has shown us what we need to see: His glory in Jesus!!
 
There's God's sacrifice. Who can feel the pain of his death? Who can smell the stench of dying men, the fetid odor of blood and violence spilled all around that hill outside Jerusalem? Who can feel the the cleansing, the purification, the overwhelming power of sin's grip being loosened and sting of its corruption being vanquished? And there is Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. God has shown us the finality of Jesus' work on our behalf and in his presence.  Nothing more to add. Here is the Majesty of God on display in the person of Jesus.
 
All of this leads up to this spectacular finish (vss. 5-14) where it is so easy to get caught up in ideas about angels. I think his whole point is something like this: Forget about angels! Forget about miracles! Forget about power! Forget about sacrifice! Instead: Here is our King!! Here is Jesus! Think about Jesus. Forget about the kings of this world! Here is Jesus: God's voice, God's radiance, God's sacrifice, God's King! Everything we need to understand and know and feel and be and smell and see and hear is found in Jesus.
 
I love that the book of Hebrews opens the way the book of the Revelation does: with a grand sweeping vision of Jesus. Here in Hebrews 1 it's all about what the world looks like right now: Jesus is God's anointed (Psalm 2); Jesus is God's king (Psalm 2); Jesus is God's champion. All of the hopes and dreams and plans God has for this world, for this people, for his creation are summed up in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
 
So why oh why do we spend so much precious time searching for these things in other people and places? Why do we worry: "He upholds the universe by the word of his power." Oh, I want to be on the side with that sort of power: power to make the universe (1:2, 10), power to control the universe (1:3), power to rule the universe (1:8), power to bring the universe to its appointed end (1:12), and power to remake the universe, under Jesus' rule, (1:12).
 
And if God can do all that with this universe, with this world, how much more will he do so with us, his people?  Think about it. No one else and no thing else has that sort of power.
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Four-Views-on-the-Historical-AdamTitle: Four Views on the Historical Adam

Authors:

Publisher: Zondervan

Year: 2013

Pages: 289 (e-book)

Additional Information:

Counterpoints: Bible & Theology Logos Software

General Editors: Ardel B. Caneday | Matthew Barrett

[I was provided with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased and fair review. On another note, the government spends too much time worrying about what books I read and get for free. Thank you.]

I have provided plenty of links for you, the reader, to do your own research into this book because I have a particular point of view on this sort of work that may or may not be particularly helpful. To be sure, I read an 'uncorrected proof for review purposes' which is a bit frustrating because page numbers in references appear as (ooo) which is kind of annoying.

The book is laid out in a fairly manageable format. There is a lengthy introduction by the series editors (Barrett and Caneday) which explains the format and lays out some preliminary observations such as historical background, history of debates, and the various points of view that the authors will subsequently take up in the bulk of the text. Next comes the presentation of the four authors' points of view. Each author presents his view which is followed by responses from the other three authors and, finally, a rejoinder from the original author. I'm not sure if there was a reason for the order in which the various views are presented but they seem to follow from the most 'liberal' (Lamoureux) to the most 'conservative' (Barrick) with the two 'fence straddlers' (Walton & Collins; it's probably unfair to call them 'straddlers'; their positions are as robust as the others) resting in the middle of the sandwich. Finally, pastoral reflections are offered (Boyd & Ryken) representing a broad spectrum of opinion of how these various points of view might affect the church. Surprisingly, this is a debate left entire to the male point of view–that is, no women have left their mark on these pages. Not surprisingly, Boyd takes the more 'liberal' post and Ryken the more 'conservative.'

I should start off right away by noting that Lamoureux's point of view holds no sway with me whatsoever. When an author has to continually defend himself against the charge, imagined or otherwise, that he is saying 'God lied' or that 'Scripture cannot be trusted' then there is a serious problem. On the other hand, Lamoureux, out of all the authors, probably holds to the most literal reading of the book of Genesis even though he doesn't believe a word of Genesis 1-11 to represent anything close to a historical record. This is strange. I never cease to be amazed at those who hold to evolution as a means antithetical to pure ex nihilo creation. They always remind us that they find the evidence 'for evolution is overwhelming' (40). What is amazing is that so many equally trained theologians and scientists find the evidence underwhelming. Frankly, I decided a while ago that I will no longer live in fear of evolution or those who teach it. In my opinion God is a big God and doesn't need me to get all worked up about defending him or what he has done. I'm fairly certain Lamoureux is the only author who felt the need to talk about his academic credentials and, to be sure, much of his article is autobiographical–another defense mechanism.

I think the problem, for me, is that Lamoureux believes that Genesis 1-11 is merely indicative of the way God talks to humans. His evidence is that this is how Jesus talked to his disciples: "The Lord himself accommodated in His teaching ministry by using parables" (54). Honestly I think this is a rather poor understanding of why Jesus spoke using parables; furthermore, the parables were not merely "earthly stories [meant] to deliver inerrant heavenly messages" (54). This is a shallow and rather naive way of understanding parables and, to be sure, has nothing to do with the way God talked to people through Genesis. What I find amazing is the utter lack of faith Lamoureux has in Scripture. This is evident in that he really doesn't seem to get that the Holy Spirit had quite a lot to do with the actual final composition of the original autographs and, I would venture to assume, their translation and transmission to future generations. I'm not sure he gets this or if he does if he just rejects it as more unreliable biblical rhetoric. It is hard to tell at times.

 At the end of each author's presentation there is a hefty response from the other writers of the book. It's all fairly typical, as one might expect, with this type of book. Of course every author has a point of view, of course he defends it, of course others tear apart his arguments, and of course there's all sorts of moving 'what-a-great-guy-he-is' kind of comments. There is much mutual respect, in other words, except that there is some obvious tension between Lamoureux and Barrick. This is how it goes page after page. Honestly, the four points of view are not terribly difficult to understand and the responses are largely predictable. And even though the book is about four views of the historical Adam when it's all said and done there's really only two: you either believe he was a real, historical figure; or you don't. The book really revolves around the points of view concerning creation mechanisms (and various theories about the 'days' in Genesis) and how these points of view impact readings of later Scripture.

I enjoyed reading the responses from the pastors at the end of the book the most and I enjoyed Greg Boyd's best of the two if for nothing else because I think it captured the spirit of his assignment ('pastoral reflections') the best. Ryken wrote a fine reflection, but I thought he focused less on the pastoral implications and more on the theological implications of whatever view one chooses to adopt. 

Every author has something to contribute to the discussion (even though Lamoureux's view, in my opinion, lacks teeth). No one has it perfectly right and no one is absolutely wrong–which is evident by the responses. Frankly, there is a lot of agreement among the authors and this is healthy. It shows that the debate isn't as scary as one might think. It demonstrates that there can be a variety of orthodoxy amongst Christians and that satisfying and healthy debates are indeed possible. It seems to me that any of these men would stand up for one of the others if the debate were to include a die-hard, dyed in the wool atheistic evolutionist. Of this I have no doubt.

The evolution/creation debate is interesting and, sadly, ongoing. There will never be resolution to this discussion this side of the new heavens and new earth. The main question of this book is: does there need to be a real historical Adam in order for the Bible (Lamoureux believes 'real' biblical history starts in Genesis 12) to be true with respect to redemptive history? According to the book, yes and no. Whatever side of the debate the reader happens to side with, this much is true: all of the authors point us to Jesus. We may not necessarily agree with the path they take through Scripture to arrive at Jesus, but they all get there. For this I am glad. At times, however, I do wonder if perhaps we have carried on this debate long enough. It could be that it is time to move on to weightier matters and perhaps see how it is that we can take care of the earth we have been given whether by a Creator or through evolution. That is a different paper altogether.

This is a helpful volume. I don't think it adds anything new to the debate (as far as evidence, one way or the other, is concerned) and those who are well versed in the history and literature of the creation/evolution debate will find the book rather redundant and tired at points. Newcomers to the debate will find this a worthy volume that will help them sort through some of their early questions (about the debate) and develop some clear thinking on certain issues (such as the theological implications of there not being a historical person named Adam). They might even be persuaded to change their minds at certain points. Seasoned readers probably won't find much challenging and will probably only find their a priori arguments bolstered by fresh looks at Scripture (esp. Genesis; I think all four authors contributed some stunning ideas about Genesis even if, again, I didn't happen to agree with all the conclusions they arrived at from the evidence) and repetition of old arguments.

I give this book 3.5/5 Stars and recommend it for readers who are newer to the conversation.

*My page numbers may not align exactly. I read an draft version (.pdf) on my Nook and sometimes the pages and numbering are adjusted later.

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Four Views on the Historical Adam

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

There has always been, at least for a great many years, in the history of mankind, a terribly large and unhealthy debate about creation. One the one hand, there are some who are absolutely convinced beyond doubt that we have, gradually, over time, evolved from or at least share common ancestry with other species of life on earth. On the other hand, there are some who dismiss all of these sorts of mechanisms and accept by faith that God, in the beginning, created the heavens and the earth. It’s a fun debate and one that I am certain will not find any resolution this side of divide.

There’s another debate, however, that we rarely hear anything about at all. Well, ‘debate’ is not really the right word, but it seems that Christians, in their zeal to defend a literal 6, twenty-four hour day, creation cycle get caught up in a debate that prevents them entering into a discussion concerning creation that carries far more weight and as infinitely more important. Frankly, even though I happen to believe Genesis is true, I’m not so much interested in the old creation as I am the new creation. Paul wrote as much in Galatians 6: What matters is the new creation.

I mean, the old creation is fine and fun and to an extent theological necessary, but even that creation is going to prove futile. NT Wright wrote, “When the final resurrection occurs, as the centerpiece of God’s new creation, we will discover that everything done in the present world in the power of Jesus’s own resurrection will be celebrated and included, appropriately transformed.” (Surprised by Hope, 294)
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The next seven Sundays are considered Easter, meaning Resurrection. Thus seven Sundays between Resurrection and Pentecost. Today is the second.

John began his Gospel with words that recall the book of Genesis and that initial act of creation by God: “In the beginning…” In Genesis we are told “In the beginning God created…” John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word…” Clearly he wants us, at the beginning of his Gospel, to think about what happened at the very beginning.

We stroll through chapter 1 and we see John continuing to recount the Genesis narrative: The next day John was there again…The next day Jesus decided to leave…On the third day, Jesus went to a wedding…and the days keep on rolling. John picks up this theme again in John 20, except that it’s a little different.

In John 20:1: “Early on the first day of the week…” Then again in John 20:19: “On the evening of the first day of the week…” Again in John 20:26: “A week later…” which a week earlier was, clearly, the first day of the week.

The point is simple: The Resurrection of Jesus has ushered in a new day, a new beginning, a new creation. And he has invited us to participate in this new day, this new creation. His resurrection marks a new ‘in the beginning.’ New life. New hope. Again, as NT Wright notes, “The claim advanced in Christianity is of that magnitude: Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply a new ethic or a new way of salvation, but a new creation.” (Surprised by Hope, 67).
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So the first new day draws to a close. “On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said.”

Jesus stood among them. John also told his readers, in the Revelation, that there were seven lampstands and that ‘among the lampstands was someone like a son of man…’ Jesus is not afraid to stand among the churches, he is is not afraid to stand among his people…even in his gloriousness…he is not afraid to stand among us and dispel whatever fears we have.

Fears of people! Then he said ‘Peace be with you.’ Then John tells us this interesting little note, “After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.” In other words, peace because he triumphed. Peace because he resurrected. Peace because he was victorious. Oh, be certain of this: the world conquered for a little while—see the hands? See the side? Yes. For a little while the world has its way. But the disciples were overjoyed because ‘they saw the Lord.’

This resurrection of Jesus ushers in a life of vindication. Out with the old peaceless, fearful, comes the new resurrection, peaceful, fearless overwhelmed with joy life of the new creation. Yes there are wounds. Yes there are scars. But the other side of Good Friday is Easter; the other side of death is life; the other side of fear of humans is the peace of Christ; the other side of defeat by the world is vindication by God!
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Then Jesus said to them again: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” We go out in peace. We go out without fear. We go out by order of Christ. We go out…with orders by Christ.

So we look at what Jesus did while he was out. What did he accomplish? What did he do? He gives them, in other words, a new purpose, a new responsibility, a new reason to live and exist and work and serve.

Our work in Christ, our work in obedience to Christ, is no longer futile. But you will recall the old creation and what God said to Adam just before Adam was cast out of the new creation and into the wilderness, and barrenness that is not Eden: “Cursed is the ground because of you: through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

But here Jesus removes the essence of futility by giving us work that is not bound up in the flesh even if it is done in the flesh. This is not merely to spiritualize all the work we do; not at all. It is, however, to transform the nature of that work. We serve a risen Savior who’s in the World today.

This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. After telling all about the defeat of the cursed world, and the flesh, and death, he merely writes, “Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Go out and be agents of peace, and forgiveness, and hope, and new creation, and love, and mercy, and grace, and forgiveness. Go out and bear fruit…not the fruit of cursed, dead soil, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of new creation, the fruit of Resurrection. By his resurrection, on this new day, we have new work to do in Him and because of Him; and He himself continues this new work through us.

In Genesis he said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” Now Jesus says, “I am sending you.” He sent us.
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And then Jesus did something that I wonder if the disciples weren’t a little shaken by. Jesus continued his re-enactment of Genesis by imitating the actions of God himself, “He breathed on them” and he spoke. “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This is Jesus, after His resurrection, not only recreating our purpose, triumphing over the old creation, but recreating humanity and breathing into them his own Holy Spirit. He himself has empowered us to go about doing what he has called and commanded us to do. He himself has empowered us to continue his work. He himself prepares us to be people through whom he can continue his work.

And to the world, and to us, what Jesus has empowered his people to do is simply out of control. Frankly, what he has empowered us to do is the last thing we want to do and the last thing we are capable of doing. But the new creation is marked by this: Go and forgive. Jesus makes perfectly clear the point of being in possession of the Holy Spirit: Go and forgive.

In a different book, Tom Wright notes, “The point [of receiving the Holy Spirit] is so that they can do, in and for the whole world, what Jesus had been doing in Israel.” (John For Everyone, 149) He has sent us out into the harsh and terribly world, recreated, repurposed, and in the new day free to forgive in the Name of Christ.

So I don’t know that this is entirely personal. I don’t know that this is only about learning how to forgive those people who personally crush and bruise you. It could be that Jesus is concerned that we spread the fragrance of forgiveness is spread far and wide and to as many people as possible in as quick a time as possible. I think we should be as generous with forgiveness towards people as he was with us. Grace freely received and grace freely given.

“But,” you might say, “I cannot forgive. Some people are too consumed in their flesh. I must make all sorts of demands upon them before they can be forgiven.” But Jesus thinks you can forgive and he has made certain that you are able to by giving you His Holy Spirit. When he breathed new life into you, as he did the apostles, he gave you power to forgive.

So if we find ourselves in a situation where we say something silly like, “I cannot forgive…” well, there might be a couple of things in play in our lives. First, we might simply be disobeying the commands of Christ. Being unforgiving is simply not an option when it comes to Christians. Second, we might simply be denying the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That is, we might be saying that we don’t want the Holy Spirit to work in our lives—we are quenching the Spirit.

Or third, we might be, shudder the thought, un-regenerate. That is, if we can muster up the nerve to say that someone has done something in the world that we cannot forgive…shudder the thought…we might not even have the Holy Spirit to begin with. I shudder to think that the words ‘I cannot forgive’ can come out of the mouths of people who claim to be empowered by the Holy Spirit of Christ.

Disobedience. Indifference. Or unregeneration. Yet I suspect that since Jesus empowers us to be forgiving by the power of his spirit, I don’t suppose it matters all that much if it is disobedience, indifferent, or unregenerate: It is all wrong and a denial of the work of Christ in our lives.
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This is the morning of resurrection. This is the new day. This is the ushering in of all newness and hope and grace. This is the end of law and the beginning of freedom. This is Christ remaking each of us and thus remaking the world. This is Christ the firstfruits of resurrection resurrecting each of us now.

I don’t know if those disciples, locked behind doors as they were—because of fear—had any idea what the first day held for them. As they slept off the failures and unforgiveness of the days before, as they limped along in the old creation, as they went about under their power…who knows what was going through their minds. But it wasn’t resurrection: Jesus’s or their own.

Jesus arose, resurrected, cracked the stone table of death and resurrected, bringing with him the dawn of the True First Day, opening our eyes to the beginnings of the New Creation: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

Frederick Buechner wrote, in his book The Alphabet of Grace,

To wake up is to be given back your life again. To wake up—and I suspect that you have a choice always, to wake or not to wake—is to be given back the world again and of all possible worlds this world, this earth rich with the bodies of the dead as our drams are rich with their ghosts, this earth that we have seen hanging in space, our toy, our tomb, our precious jewel, our hope and our despair and our heart’s delight. Waking into the new day, we are all of us Adam on the morning of creation, and the world is ours to name. Out of many fragments we are called to put back together a self again. (Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace, 22)

The problem is that some get stuck between Good Friday and Easter and never wake up. The problem is that some are so concerned about the Old Creation that we are thoroughly unconcerned about the New. The problem is that some are so concerned about their own resurrection that they have no interest whatsoever in waking others by offering them the same forgiveness.

Resurrection is a call to wake up and taste the day. Resurrection is a call to live now on the way to then. Resurrection is the first day of the rest of your life. Resurrection is not just something we hope for, it is something that defines us: We are a live now and Christ has given us peace, power, and purpose to show the world a new creation, and be a new creation, and not just talk about it.

Soli Deo Gloria!!

Rivers & Marriage
Genesis 2, Luke 3

I’d like to continue my thoughts from yesterday by focusing on the reading from Genesis. I think too much anxiety exists in the world, in the church, about the purpose of the book of Genesis. It’s easy to do that. I have learned to be patient when trying to understand the book; even more patient when trying to discuss it. I have had to in the past avoid discussions of the book because I don’t like arguing about it. Genesis is a beautiful book; the first two chapters are grand.

Notice a couple of features in chapter 2. The first feature I notice is the water. If light played an important role in chapter 1, water plays an important role in chapter 2. It’s kind of strange, I suppose, that of all the things God could have inspired the author to tell us about he chose to inspire him to write about the river that flowed in Eden and the rivers that flowed out of it into the lands beyond Eden. So important was this feature that he names the rivers. This locates the rivers in geography. Gives those who knew them an idea of their significance: they are named in Scripture!

I don’t want to make more of these rivers than is necessary, but I notice that one unnamed river flowed out of Eden and then split into 4 other named rivers that spread throughout the lands outside of Eden. Eden was the place where there was fellowship and grace and provision and life. Eden was the place we are told that God walked with man and man walked with God. Out of Eden this one unnamed river flowed and provided the water for four other rivers. We are not told where this river had its source, just that it flowed out of Eden.

I picture this as God’s provide-ance. It is a picture of the God whose grace is so expansive that he sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike. This one unnamed river that watered Eden also watered other parts of the creation too. There is another time when we are told about a name-less river that flows and provides grace and healing and life. It is in Revelation 22: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.” He talks about the trees, as did the author of Genesis; he talks about the removal of the curse, the curse we learn about in Genesis. Once again a river of God’s grace flows, but now its source is named: The throne of God and the Lamb! Then, a garden; now, a city: both supplied by the gracious river of God’s life. I suspect that as he is the source in Revelation, so also is he the source in Eden.

There’s another image in Genesis 2 also that stirs me to wonder. It’s the picture of a marriage between a man and a woman. It is amazing that of all the things God could have decided to tell us about the beginning that one of the things, besides rivers, was marriage. To be sure, it’s a marriage unlike any we might imagine. No clergy. No legal documents. No Blood tests. No bridesmaids. No mothers. No controversy. Just a man and a woman, united in one act of physical unity; one flesh. Times were much simpler then, I suppose.

I’ve always found it odd that God created man and then decided that something was ‘not good’ after 5 straight days of ‘good.’ It was ‘not good’ for man to be alone. Man had the fullness of fellowship and communion with God and yet man was ‘alone.’ The presence of God did not satisfy man. The presence of animals did not satisfy man. Man by himself did not satisfy man. So God creates someone who would fill the glaring void in man’s life: He gives him his wife. Man thus understands her importance: She satisfies a need in man that God, by his own admission, could not.

Our history begins with a marriage—a beautiful consummation of love and life and flesh and the destruction of alone-ness. But it also ‘ends’ there too. Again, I go to the Revelation, chapter 19:7: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” In the beginning, the marriage was given as a ‘cure’, as it were, to heal our alone-ness; to give us completion; to perfect the image of God on the earth. I suspect the point is no different at the end.

Both images, the River and the Marriage, show us that we are dependent beings. We are dependent upon God’s provision of grace, life, and companionship. We are dependent upon one another in order to complete the purposes for which we were created: To be fruitful, to multiply, to bear the image of God.

It’s beautiful to know that ultimately both of these images, the River (grace) and the Marriage, will be satisfied fully (perfected) in Jesus Christ.

God’s Image and True Humanity
Proverbs 1, Genesis 1

I love the book of Genesis. It is first, foundational. It is where our faith story begins. It introduces us to God and God’s intentions. I think it is not surprising at all that the history of human redemption begins in the book of Genesis.

In all likelihood, I have missed the greater importance of the first chapter of Genesis in the past because I have minimized its import to the faith story. Don’t get me wrong: I still believe that much hinges on whether or not Genesis 1 is true, that is, on whether or not God actually created the heavens and the earth in all their vast array.

In recent days, however, I have started to look at Genesis deeper. I have written elsewhere that we probably miss a great deal of the importance of chapter 1 when we miss that we were created to live in relationship with God. He created us for fellowship. He created us to live with him, for him, and dependent upon him. Learning to live this way all over again, in Jesus, is a major aspect of our faith journey.

But we also learn about much about the God who created. We learn that in the beginning God created all things good. I take this to mean, since I’m reading English and not Hebrew, that he made all things perfect, incorruptible, and exactly the way they were meant to be. They lacked nothing. They were created in the fullness of a complete God. God didn’t create an incomplete or imperfect world.

We also learn that God created variety. I don’t happen to think that God is satisfied with a monotone, monochromatic world. He created trees and plants and animals in all sorts of variety. This is not a dull God. This is a God who will eventually draw unto himself people from every tribe, and tongue, and nation, under heaven.

We learn that God created order. This has been brought up by others so I won’t belabor the point here except to say: The world apart from God was chaos. It was madness. There are many forces in the world (sin, evil) that seek to return God’s created order back to a nonsensical chaos. God brought into being a world of peace that could be inhabited by creatures bearing his image.

There’s one other aspect I’d like to note about this creation account, the creation of light. Again, I’m reading English and not Hebrew, but if the English is anything close to the Hebrew then ‘light’ is mentioned 13 times. Interestingly enough, we first learn about the earth as a place of darkness, formless and empty. So the first thing that happens is God creates light. Presumably God did not need light to see. I assume he could ‘see’ even when the earth was cluttered with darkness and formlessness. So why did God create light? Well I think he created light so that we could see. God wanted us to be able to see all the good that he had created, what was impossible to see so long as the earth was shrouded in darkness. We need light to see.

In the light we are able to see the creation as God created it to be: Good, perfect, complete. It’s probably not ironic then that when the Gospel writers tell us of the death of Jesus they tell us that darkness covered the land for 3 hours (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33). The crucifixion of Jesus returned humanity, for a time, back to the pre-creation days when chaos and darkness covered the land; the world without Christ is chaos. Resurrection Sunday is like the dawn of a new day; morning when light breaks out all over again.

In the light we can also see that we have been made in his image. This is no small thing. We are made in his image and then we are charged with the responsibility of doing god-like work: Subduing the earth, ruling the creation, continuing the creation process by ‘being fruitful and multiplying,’ that is, filling the earth with more and more and more of God’s image bearers. We are his image, we are to perpetuate His image in this creation.

I think Jesus came to restore that purpose in us. Granted, it is far more complicated than just that. But part of the loss of innocence, so to speak, was a loss of purpose. God had instilled in us that purpose at the beginning: Bear His image, be fruitful, multiply. We lost that in sin. When Jesus dealt with sin, he restored our purpose: once again, we can be image bearers of God, we can fruitful, we can multiply. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus told us to do: “Go into the world, make disciples of all nations…and surely I am with you always.” This sounds just like the creation mandate: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ becomes make disciples’; ‘bear my image’ becomes ‘I am with you always.’

Part of making disciples is restoring to them purpose and image. This is the work of the Gospel. “But you are a people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who call you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) In other words, we are truly human inviting others to fulfill their created purpose in Christ.

Friends,

This is the manuscript from part 6 of the series. We are reading through the Bible in 90 Days and at this point those who are participating are midway or so through the Psalms. This sermon, from Isaiah 60-66, is fairly simply and makes three major points–derived by scanning the entirety of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. One, that the new heavens and the new earth and their creation are something that God is about the business of doing. It’s not, no matter how much we are Advance Signs, something we can accomplish on our strength. Second, that there is necessarily a future element to this work. You will notice as you read through these chapters in the Prophet that he continually uses the word ‘will.’ Not everything is accomplished now, which is one of the paradoxes of Christian faith. Furthermore, I might add as a side note, just because we are doing things now as Advance Signs, just because our work now gives hints and clues of what God will do, this doesn’t necessarily translate into an exact representation of what God will do. For that matter, it doesn’t necessarily mean that God is even involved in what we are doing. We give hints, glimmers, sign-posts, but we are shadows. God is the Real and His plans for the New Heavens and the New Earth are likely vastly different than ours. Finally, I will conclude the sermon by noting that what God has done and will do have been inaugurated and completed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus uttered those word ‘it is finished,’ and we sense in those words a finality and Luke tells us in chapter 4:18-19 that Jesus said these words of Isaiah were fulfilled in him! Yet Luke, when he begins the book of Acts, tells that he wrote the first book (Luke) to tell of all that ‘Jesus began to do and teach.’ This leaves us with the distinct impression that his second book (Acts) is about all that Jesus continued to do and teach by His Spirit through His disciples. So God has done it; God will do it.  Admittedly, I have too much text. The idea, however, was not to exhaust Isaiah’s vision, but, much like we are to the world, to give just a hint, a glimmer, of what he was pointing us to and we see completed in Jesus. Then we ask: Is Jesus enough? jerry

90 Days with Scripture

Week 6: November 2, 2008

Isaiah 60-66

Introduction

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the LORD rises upon you

and his glory appears over you.

“Chapters 58-66 begin, as does the book as a whole, by exposing hypocritical and manipulative approaches to worship that insult the glorious God whom Isaiah has so powerfully portrayed. If the worship that is supposed to restore and sustain fellowship with God is itself sinful, how can the barrier of sin between God and his people be removed? The answer lies in God’s commitment to his purpose and in his creative power. The God who created the world will not cease to work until he has defeated sin, turned hearts to him, and established new heavens and a new earth. All that remains is for people to recognize the true nature and work of God and to respond to him in faith.” (109, Briley)

________________

I suppose that we cannot really begin to describe what that time will be like. I can’t even begin to imagine what that place will be like. Sure we have ideas and notions, but they are only ideas and notions; premonitions perhaps. I don’t know really. All I have to go one is Scripture. All I can do is take Scripture at its word and trust that God will make good on his Word.

Some say that we currently are involved in the process of making things better in this world. We are, they say, Advanced Signs of what God is doing or will do. Those who live out their faith in practice are ‘making this a better place’ or at least showing the better place it will be when God finally finishes the work he has said he will finish. We are workers for justice, among other things, but we are we really? I know we are supposed to be working for justice and for freedom and shining our lights before men…but is man realistically speaking capable of such a thing?

Admittedly, I have too much text for today, but if I learned any one thing out of all that I learned this: What Isaiah was prophesying, what he was pointing to, what he was directing our attention to, what he was promising-is that what needs to be done on the earth, even if we are Advanced Signs, needs to be done by God. So consider what led into this chapter:

He saw that there was no one,

he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so his own arm worked salvation for him,

and his own righteousness sustained him.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate,

and the helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on the garments of vengeance

and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

According to what they have done,

so will he repay

wrath to his enemies

and retribution to his foes;

he will repay the islands their due.

From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD,

and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.

For he will come like a pent-up flood

that the breath of the LORD drives along.

“The Redeemer will come to Zion,

to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”

declares the LORD.

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

I think history demonstrates rather conclusively that human beings are not that good at fixing things. We really do want things to be better, but we have only a marginal notion of what ‘better’ even means and an even worse idea of how to accomplish that. It’s a terrible way to live, really, but we seem to take some comfort from the fact that every now and again slight progress is made. I have to be honest with you though, I’m not particularly interested in the sort of world that man makes better.

It’s not that I am a fatalist or anything. I’m a realist. I know who I am: I know what I think is a better world necessarily conflicts with what 90% of the population thinks is a better world. Faith then consists of the willingness to allow that God’s version of what is a better world is necessarily right and that my conception is necessarily right.

This takes us back to Genesis 3 where we started all this. It was there that man had the silly idea that having knowledge of good and evil was a good idea. It was there that man said, I want to be the creator of life, the creator of destiny, the creator of a standard of living. We have lived content in that place for a long, long time, scarcely acknowledging that God’s way is right, that his judgment is just, that his creation is good and ours is not.

God, however, does not just take us back to Genesis 3; he takes us back to Genesis 1. The opening verses of today’s sermon reflect that:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the LORD rises upon you

and his glory appears over you.

Here it is, then! Darkness covers the earth; thick darkness covers the people. And what sort of light to we want to cover the earth and raise our hopes? Artificial light? Fake light? Do we want light that man creates out of his conception of good and evil or do we want light of the glory of God? Well, truthfully speaking, we probably want the light of men. We are still likely convinced that man can solve all the problems that man has created.

I’m not so optimistic. I want better solutions. But the solution is not merely a solution. The solution is God. This is not about God setting the world right by our standards of good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about God setting the world right by His standards.

” ‘Hear the word of the Lord,

you who trembled at his word:

‘Your brothers who hate you, and

exclude you because of my name, have said,

“Let the Lord be glorified,

that we may see your joy!”‘

_____________________

And God is not cautious in his description of what he means to do, in what he is already doing, in what he means to finish. But he does speak in futuristic terms. If it is something God does, it is something God will do, and something we will participate in.

  • You will look and be radiant.
  • Your heart will throb and swell with joy.
  • I will adorn my glorious temple.
  • Foreigners will rebuild your walls.
  • I will show you compassion.
  • You will be called priests of the Lord
  • You will be named ministers of our God
  • I will not keep silent till her vindication shines out like the dawn
  • You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand.
  • I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds
  • But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
  • They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain
  • See I will create new heavens and a new earth, the former things will not be remembered.

And there is more. All I am saying is that we may see Advance Signs now, we may be Advance Signs, but there is still an aspect of it that even we are looking forward to. In the meantime I believe we will find it terribly difficult at times to wait. We have to be ready, we have to be patient, we have to be busy. But we have to wait. It’s not all here now, even if it has been inaugurated.

Well, it will be a grad and glorious thing when it happens. He uses imagery that we can understand and relate to, images like weddings, wealth and prosperity, new clothes, great beauty, war, abundance, birth of a child, and more. He points us back to the beginning when God saw all that he had made and it was good. He tells us these days will be like those days of the Exodus when Moses led the people out of captivity. It will be a time marked by peace and joy and abundance and good food and justice and righteousness and peace (‘no longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates praise.’) He goes on:

“Then will all your people be righteous

and they will possess the land forever.

They are the shoot I have planted,

the work of my hands,

for the display of my splendor.

“The least of you will become a thousand,

the smallest a mighty nation.

I am the LORD;

in its time I will do this swiftly.”

_______________________

Finally, this work, this mighty, mighty work, was announced in Genesis 3: You will strike his heal, he will crush your head. It was set in motion in Genesis 12: You will be a blessing to all nations. It was inaugurated in Jesus of Nazareth when he quoted Isaiah 61:1-3 as recorded in Luke’s Gospel:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,

because the LORD has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion–

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the LORD

for the display of his splendor.

Jesus said, after reading this Scripture: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Today? Fulfilled? Already? In Jesus? You mean we are already living in the time when God has begun his work of renewing, restoring, and re-creating? Jesus announced the beginning and ending of Scripture’s fulfillment. Jesus did. No one else makes that claim, only Jesus of Nazareth. And should we be so disappointed then when he is found at Calvary?

What I love about these verses here in Isaiah is that by and large, far and away, they are mirrored in the book of the Revelation. And Luke, combined with John’s portrait in the Revelation, demonstrate to us that God’s plan has not changed. In Jesus we see an inauguration and an acceleration of the plan, but not a change in his plan. This is what Jesus came for, this is what God is working towards, this is the fulfillment of all things: A New Heavens and New Earth. A new life that is free from the tyranny of the urgent, free from the tyranny of tyrants, free from the tyranny of obligations to anyone but God Almighty Himself. As Cottrell notes, “What this means is that heaven is not the elimination of time itself, but the elimination of time limitations. No more deadlines! No more expiration dates! No more having to quit before the job is done! No more, ‘I just ran out of time’!”

Should we then be so surprised and shocked that this work of God involved the cross?

Jesus makes a bold statement. He says: I am the fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah. He says, “I am the one whom the Lord has sent to start and finish this work.”

__________________

But as I noted at the beginning:

“All that remains is for people to recognize the true nature and work of God and to respond to him in faith.”

So I am asking: Where is your faith? In whom have you placed your trust? I suspect that many of us live with some sort of apprehension or anxiety about today or tomorrow or Tuesday. Where is your faith? Do you have confidence that this God who began a good work in you can and will finish it?

I don’t need to be complicated this morning, and I don’t need to go deep. I just need to ask you: Where is your faith? Is your faith in the One who certainly cannot fail because He spared nothing, even giving his own Son to die? Is your faith in the world which is bound over to destruction? Is your faith in the One who has guaranteed His promise in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth? Or is your faith here in the place and in the ones whose worm will not die, whose fire is not quenched?

Yet:

18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Christian posted a short exercise in theology at Church Voices a few days ago. That I think you should take 60 seconds of your time to read.

He wrote:

I’m currently reading the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey.  In it she proposes Creationism as foundational to communicating the gospel. I have to agree. The story of Jesus’ death on the cross only makes sense in light of creation. Which is why it can be difficult to evangelize in cultures (such as ours) that declare that we are only a part of nature which has it’s roots in itself (Darwinism is a form of this naturalistic worldview).

He’s right. To further the problem is that many preachers are simply terrified to preach it (creation). To make matters worse, those who do preach creation (that is, Genesis 1 & 2 as historical accounts of human origin and not, necessarily, the popular creationism so often mocked by the secular humanists of our culture) simply do not understand the profound theological ramifications of Genesis 1 & 2 (and 3-50!) so they preach Creation not as something historical, but as a mere poem or an allegory or something merely polemical. But as my professor stated so beautifully, there can be no true doctrine of atonement apart from a doctrine of creation that begins in Genesis 1.

In fact, 3 of the four Gospels understood this all too well and began their Gospels in this way (Matthew, Mark & John), that is, by referring us back to creation before pointing us forward to Jesus. Their understanding is that the person and work of Jesus are only properly understood when the world belongs to God and is His to redeem. To take it a step further: they understand that the work of Jesus actually began at the creation. Apart from this, Christianity is yet one more myth among myths (and likely not a very good one). But creation is also foundational to the writings of Paul (see in particular Colossians and Romans), John (the Revelation), and Peter (see 1 & 2 Peter).

In fact, a careful reading of the Bible demonstrates that what took place at the beginning, the record of which is found in Genesis, is crucial to every page of the Bible. Creation permeates the Psalms, is underscored by the Prophets, and is the foundation of the Law. It is hard, difficult, impossible to understand the 66 books that make up the Christian Scriptures apart from understanding the very first verse.

Indeed, I agree with Christian (and his wise 4 year old daughter): When it comes to our preaching and teaching: Let’s begin at the beginning.

Always For His Glory!

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Friends,

I found this somewhat amusing. Enjoy. I have no idea who produced it or anything. It is just well done and amusing.

HT: Copache (Although, only go here if you have a strong stomach and are interested in the same tired regurgitated Darwinist propaganda and nostalgia.)

jerry

Friends,

I subscribed to three or four new magazines and journals this year. Two of them are my concern with this post.

The first is Salvo. I thought it might be fun and some challenging, critical reading. The first issue I received, issue 4, Winter 2008:  ID (as in, Intelligent Design).

The second is The Christian Century. This was a trial four-week subscription. The first issue I received, volume 125, no 3. The cover: Faith after Darwin and A Visit to the Creation Museum. (I have already cancelled my trial subscription.)

The problem with both of these journals is that they purport, in some way or another to have some ties to the Christian community. Salvo is from the ‘Fellowship of St James.’ Christian Century…well…Christian sort of gives it away doesn’t it?

In The Christian Century Jason Byassee wrote, “Reconciling Christian claims about God, creation and humanity with the findings of Darwin and his successors is an important and daunting task, one that mainline theology has still not satisfactorily accomplished. AiG [Answers in Genesis; he is review the Creation Museum] can hardly be faulted for attempting the task, though its effort is a spectacular failure.” (26)

The problem here is that Mr Byassee thinks that Christianity needs to reconcile with the world and that the Scripture must be wrong. He builds on the assumption that Scripture is not accurate and that its claims are not truth. He also seems to disregard entirely the notion of the God-breathedness of Scripture. The Scripture does not need to be reconciled with the ‘findings of Darwin’ (which are the spurious rantings of an apostate). Rather, Darwin needs to be reconciled with Scripture. If the finding is not in accord with Scripture, the ‘finding’ must be flawed.

In Salvo, (pages 10-11) there is a list of words that must be defined in order to understand the issue. One of those words is ‘Creationism’ (which is just as pejorative as Darwinism): “A literal belief in the account of creation provided by the Bible. Creationists insist that each of the various animals present today on earth was created separately by God. They are thus opposed to the theory that humans and other species descended from common ancestors. Creationism, which also assumes a young earth, should not be confused with the theory of intelligent design.” [!]

The problem is not with the definition as such, but with the portrayal of those who believe in Genesis 1ff as mere Creationists. The problem is with the idea that those who believe in the literal account of the creation must be somehow not quite as caught up as those who believe in the grand theory of ID or Darwin. If I understand this, ID is little more than an attempt to mingle the two, God and Darwin, so that the best of both worlds can be had.

It’s not just Genesis that speaks of God as Creator: It is the entire Bible! Will those who write off Genesis 1-3 also write off Job? How about Colossians? How about John’s Gospel? How about Hebrews? How about the Psalter? How about Isaiah? How about Romans? How about the Revelation? How about statements made by Jesus himself where he specifically references Genesis as history? Are we to write those off as well? You see it is a slippery slope because once Christians write off the most fundamental statement of faith, ‘In the beginning God created…’, then it becomes easy to write off the rest of the Scripture too; which is exactly what Darwinists do.

The problem here is not with ID or with Darwinism as such. The problem here is with Christians who simply will not accept the testimony of Scripture. I think ID is a wonder mechanism for showing the distortions and flaws of Darwinian evolution, but to the extent that it refuses to accept Biblical testimony it is no better than Darwinism. If we cannot accept that it was God who made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, then how can we ever expect God to be powerful enough to recreate this world when Christ returns? If God is not powerful enough to Creation, then how can God be powerful enough to Redeem? For that matter, if God did not Create, then why would he Redeem?

This simply cannot be both ways: One cannot have Darwin and God. God either Created or He did not. Atheists and Darwinists are convinced he did not. So why would Christians reject Scripture and align themselves with those who do not believe? This is, at its very core, a battle over whether or not Scripture is Truth. This is a problem for Christians right now who feel the need to abandon Scripture and compromise and fornicate with the world’s gods. (I’d like to use stronger language here, but I’ll be respectful for now.) This is about Christians, not Darwinists or atheists, who have abandoned the Word of God. Byassee may mock those of AiG, but they are right. Salvo may have no use for those who believe in the mere literal understanding, but if Genesis is not literal then how can anything else be literal in Scripture?

I should have more to say about this later, but for now I’ll leave you with this thought. The compromise Christians are making in this area is terribly damaging. Christianity is really one short step away from abandoning its entire belief system because we have rejected our Creator. Is this not what the apostle said Romans?

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

It does matter what Christians believe about the Scripture. So mock away, I will take Christians who believe in Scripture over those who don’t any day of the week. And in the end, I suspect the Lord will too.

Soli Deo Gloria!

ps–clearly the issue here is that neither the Salvo issue on ID (Intelligent Design) nor essay in The Christian Century deal adequately with Scripture. I know ID is not trying to and I know that is not the point of ID. Still both issues Salvo and TCC at best mock those who do contend with Scripture. AiG may not have everything right, but being right on all counts is not the issue. The issue is, rather, what point of view does one have of Scripture? AiG takes a high view of Scripture which means, at worst, they take God at His Word so that all that follows Genesis 1:1 is also taken at face value and as Truth. I don’t see such a high view of Scripture coming from either of the other two examples I have referenced.

pss–this post is not about evolution, ID, or Creation as such. It is about the point of view Christians have of Scripture. So please spare me all the atheistic rants about evolution’s proof, and Darwin’s godlike status, and the sanctity of the Natural History Museums in the world.

Friends,

I have posted many thoughts about evolution and its impact on the general population of the world. I’d like to share someone else’s thoughts tonight. These thoughts concern how replacing the Creator with evolution has destroyed our understanding of sin. Consider:

The basic reason why our modern Western culture has lost the concept of sin is that the reality of the true Creator-God has been abandoned. The basic reason why all nonbiblical philosophies and religions lack a true concept of sin is that none includes the concept of a Creator-God whose will is law. The doctrine of ex nihilo creation and the doctrine of sin are thus inseparable; sin is a meaningful concept only in the light of the fact of creation. (Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, 168)

. . .

Why is the denial of personal guilt such a widespread phenomenon today? As we have noted, the very idea of sin presupposes the existence of law, which presupposes the existence of a transcendent Creator-God; it also presupposes the reality of human free will. But these are among the very things that are most frequently attacked and denied in our modern world. The Creator-God is replaced by chance evolution, and various forms of secular determinism are constantly used to cancel man’s responsibility for his antisocial behavior. For example, son say that such behavior is due to childhood trauma and other forms of negative environmental conditioning. People are not sinners; they are victims. Others attribute it all to quirks in one’s genes or chromosomes or brain structure; thus we have ‘natural-born’ killers, alcoholics, homosexuals, and adulterers. (Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All, 193)

What’s worse is that this is how we train children from day one. Then we act shocked when they live out the realities of a life of no accountability to anyone other than themselves. But we should probably continue teaching children that they are nothing more than the chance configuration of randomly mutated selfish genes (uh, sarcasm alert.)

What I wonder is, how can children be taught accountability (to something higher than the pathetic standards of mere humanity) when they are deliberately not taught about God and are deliberately taught atheism (either by omission or commission.)

One wonders. Or not.

jerry

Friends,

Those of you who are interested might trying visiting the new blog Design of Life. Lead blogger is Denyse O’Leary who also blogs at PostDarwinist and Uncommon Descent. I have added this blog to my blogroll as well. Here’s a sampling from one of her first posts. It concerns several myths that are currently propagated by the materialist culture:

– Humans and chimps are 99% genetically identical?

– Christian Europe believed and promoted the idea that the Earth is flat? Debunked here. In reality, the old cosmology pictured Earth as a sphere.

– The US government denies the age of the Grand Canyon? Believe it or not, someone at TIME Magazine was promoting that one. Remember that when you get the subscription renewal notice.

– Oh, and here’s a good one: Religious folk opposed anesthesia in childbirth?

– Isaac Newton was the soul of materialism? Wait till you hear what he had to say about the end of the world …

– And lastly, Charles Darwin invented the idea of evolution? What he invented was unguided materialist evolution. We explain that clearly in The Design of Life. (Prediction: You will soon be awash in nonsense because of the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.)

O’Leary writes:

If you enjoy The Design of Life, we are sure you will enjoy the blog too. And, if you enjoy the blog, the book will help you get up to speed on the reasons we have started this blog. Here you will read the news about evolution that does NOT support the propaganda that is – increasingly – legislated as the only information you or your kids or grandkids are allowed to learn in tax-supported schools. Why do we call it propaganda? Well, let’s start with the fact that the history of life has – so far – proceeded entirely differently from what Darwin’s theory of evolution would reasonably suggest.

Now, to be sure, I don’t buy the notion that the earth or universe is as old as O’Leary believes (millions upon millions) because I believe in a literal reading of Genesis (without the constraints of misinterpreted genealogies to set dates), but I do think there is something to be said about her careful observations concerning the logical inconsistencies and materialist underpinnings of Darwinian evolution. I think this new blog deserves a chance to get going assuming it will be something substantially different from the (at least) two other blogs she contributes to.

On another note, I read this short article about 10 days ago and forgot about it. Turns out that evolution in humans has been advancing rather more rapidly than scientists had previously thought:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Human evolution has been moving at breakneck speed in the past several thousand years, far from plodding along as some scientists had thought, researchers said on Monday.

Then there is this:

For example, Africans have new genes providing resistance to malaria. In Europeans, there is a gene that makes them better able to digest milk as adults. In Asians, there is a gene that makes ear wax more dry.

The changes have been driven by the colossal growth in the human population — from a few million to 6.5 billion in the past 10,000 years — with people moving into new environments to which they needed to adapt, added Henry Harpending, a University of Utah anthropologist.

“The central finding is that human evolution is happening very fast — faster than any of us thought,” Harpending said in a telephone interview.

“Most of the acceleration is in the last 10,000 years, basically corresponding to population growth after agriculture is invented,” Hawks said in a telephone interview.

Kind of makes you wonder what else scientists have been wrong about, doesn’t it? Oh, yes, I know. All this shows is that science is self-correcting. And I am glad they are. It is amazing to me that science, as it continues to improve and correct, keeps coming closer and closer to the Scriptural revelation. I wonder how many years it will take for science to evolve out of the silly idea of Materialist Darwinian evolution?

Isn’t it amazing how much we have changed in the past 10,000 years since God created us?

jerry

PS–BTW, I accidentally watched this last night. I thought you might like to see one of the proponents of Darwinism:

Perhaps we can all learn a little wisdom from Phoebe in these scenes. But it is funny how she puts Ross in his place. (I can’t believe I’m putting a Friends video on my blog.)

Friends,

I haven’t yet figured out this fella named Dinesh D’Souza. He seems to be all the rage nowadays among certain wings of churchianity. However, I came across this little essay he wrote and published at Townhall.com and I thought it was a rather interesting piece: Are Atheists the New Gays? Mr D’Souza spends the majority of the short essay mocking Richard Dawkins (which is fine as far as it goes) because of his campaign to style the atheists of the world as the ‘new gays’ (as if atheists have to go through all the terrible ordeals that homosexuals have to go through, like getting married, and suchlike. Imagine how tough it must be for a homosexual atheist to get married! Just kidding. Sort of.) Anyhow…Mr D’Souza writes:

Dawkins has also suggested that atheists, like gays, should come out of the closet. Well, what if they don’t want to? I doubt that Dawkins would support “outing” atheists. But can an atheist “rights” group be far behind? Hate crimes laws to protect atheists? Affirmative action for unbelievers? An Atheist Annual Parade, complete with dancers and floats? Atheist History Month?

Honestly, I think the whole atheist-gay analogy is quite absurd. It seems strange for Dawkins to urge atheists to come out of the closet in the style of the all-American boy standing up on the dining table of his public high school and confessing that he is a homosexual? Dawkins, being British, doesn’t seem to recognize that this would not win many popularity contests in America.

He also writes about Dawkins’ ongoing attempts to re-tool the whole atheist movement by giving atheists a new name: Brights. (I like the name the Bible gives them in Psalm 14:1.) Whatever. Does it really matter to most atheists what they are called? Does the change of the moniker really change the identity or belief? Will putting a positive spin on un-belief really change the general conception of atheists in this world? (Uh, no?) I suspect that some atheists would be content to be called Happy, Beer Drinkers, Liberals, or Red Sox Fans.

But here’s the part of the essay I like the best because it addresses some of those assumptions that people make that really irritate me. Mr D’Souza wrote:

Basically Dawkins is saying if you are religious, then science is your enemy. Either you choose God or you choose science. No wonder that so many Americans say they are opposed to evolution. They believe that evolution is atheism masquerading as science, and Dawkins confirms their suspicions. Indeed Dawkins takes the same position as the most ignorant fundamentalist: you can have Darwin or you can have the Bible but you can’t have both.

Oh, but here, ironically, I agree with Dawkins far more than D’Souza. Fact is, you cannot have both Darwin and the Bible. This is a serious issue and for as much as D’Souza seems to be bright, he has missed the mark here. I might suggest there is a difference between what he refers to as an ‘ignorant fundamentalist’ and a ‘by faith we believe that God made what is seen out of what is unseen evangelical Christian’ who accepts Genesis as an accurate reflection of history, and the foundational substance for evangelical theology. In this case, I agree with Dawkins and, in my opinion, D’Souza loses big time precisely because he seems willing to exclude faith (I could be reading him incorrectly.) He evidently misunderstands the troubling tension that exists between these two fundamentally discordant world-views. I haven’t read enough of D’Souza’s work to know if this is what he thinks, but if I take that last sentence at face value, he has lost me as an audience already because I reject out of hand that faith and reason stand opposed to one another as Darwin and the Bible do.

One cannot have both. I agree with Dawkins 100% on this because the entire premise of Darwinism is that it does not need God, god, a god, Zeus, Thor, Mars, or gods to work (unless, of course, natural selection or selfish genes are divine.) Why would the Darwinist concede to theistic evolution when it would defeat the entire premise to Darwinian evolution? I’ll go ahead and say it for the record: You can’t have both. To my knowledge, Darwin made no concessions or room for the ‘theistic’ in theistic evolution. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

But I understand. There are certain people in the world of churchianity who are terrified to let Genesis stand on its own. They are horrified at the thought of being labeled unthinking rubes who rely on faith in order to believe in fairy-tales. They are terrified to admit to the unbelieving world that they have a simple faith and trust that ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ Here’s what it is: They are so consumed with the idea of silencing the Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ of the world that they have to resort to arguments that lack faith instead of promote it lest they be accused of being little more than those dunderhead, ignorant fundamentalists who actually believe what Scripture says. In their attempts, in other words, to undo the ‘brightness’ of the Brights, they fall into the same error as the Brights by dismissing faith as compatible with reason and relying soley on reason to accomplish their task. It’s not that we (Christians) need Darwin and the Bible to be compatible, that’s not the error because we know they are not, and trying to make them compatible (through things like theistic evolution) does not advance the cause of Christ. (And this is a matter of the Cause of Christ.)

The error he makes, rather, is in assuming there is no compatibility between Faith and Reason, as if they stand in opposition to one another! Nothing could be further from the truth. This is D’Souza’s error. He evidently thinks that those who believe in Genesis do so without Reason, that they rely too much on faith (as if!), and that faith and Reason are incompatible (this was also Stephen Jay Gould’s error in Rocks of Ages.) Christians are not unthinking people, nor are we un-Reasonable people. The very fact that we cling to a book (that contains letters (and numbers), words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books of varying style and genre) is evidence that we are thinking, Reasoning people. We do not serve a God who is unreasonable either. He tells us: Count the Cost of being a disciple. He says, “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1). Frankly, no reasonable person is going to become a disciple without counting the cost.

PT Forsyth wrote,

“If we have any sense of judgment we have much reason to fear. I cannot understand how any one with a sense of judgment can discard the atonement and live without terror. But, if we have the sense of the holy and the faith of judgment, the faith that Christ took God’s judgment on the world, we must be of good cheer. The world is judged for good and all in Christ. The last judgment is by. All our judgments are in its ascending wake” (The Justification of God, 221.)

Thus we come full circle. It is not the Christian who lives in opposition to reason, and it is not faith that stands opposed to reason, it is the atheist: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Who is opposed to reason but the one who rejects God?

To be sure, I’ll need to read some of D’Souza’s work before I know if this is really how he thinks about us ‘ignorant fundamentalists.’ But for the time being, isn’t it rather ironic that ‘ignorant fundamentalists’ and Richard Dawkins actually agree on something?

jerry

UPDATE: I just came across this: Militant Atheism Gives Rise to Christian Apologetics.

“[I]f people look at science, they will find faith and they will find reason; the two cannot be incompatible and they have one author, namely God,” said Midland theologian Norbert Dickman, who was scheduled to present what the Christian response should be to the rise of the atheist voice at an Illinois church on Tuesday.

Friends,

Imagine this. Every day, somewhere in the world (but mostly in the USA) some preacher gets the idea to build a megapolis to his own honor (usually, called a ‘megachurch’.) They use fancy sounding phrases like ‘this will enable us to better meet the ministry needs of our community’ and things like that. A while back, someone had a different dream. They said, “Let’s build a museum dedicated to the idea that God’s Word is actually telling the truth about our origins and our destiny.” Then they built it.

Well, I wonder if the reported $27 million that Answers in Genesis spent constructing the Creation Museum was a good use of money? Imagine, a museum dedicated solely to the proposition that God’s Word is true from the first verse to the last. Imagine, they have already surpassed their year long goals within the first six months! Imagine, something was built that had nothing to do with a pastor’s ego, the ‘needs’ of the community (except the need to hear the Word of God), or the ongoing quest for ‘relevance.’

Congratulations to Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. It is refreshing to know that someone in this world still believes that the Bible is telling the Truth about God, His Son Jesus Christ, and what He has done for us. Good Job!

jerry

Friends,

I think you will appreciate this: Is Belief in Divine Creation Rational? This is a lecture by David Anderson. I’m piggybacking on a post by William Dembski at Uncommon Descent. I  listened to about the first 15 minutes online then downloaded it to my mp3. So far, I’m impressed. I think you will be too.

You may also want to read this: Evolutionary Hymn by CS Lewis.

And I know you will find this intriguing: If Neo-Darwinism Fails, then What? I too hope they put this online as mp3 or transcript. Good Luck!

For some evolutionary humor, check out this Playground Slide Recall.

How about an interview with Anthony Flew?

Finally, Can Public Schools Be “Neutral”?

Have fun with all this. Hmm. Perhaps the atheist and the Darwinist do not have a monopoly on knowledge after all.

jerry

Friends,

A while back I made quick reference at this blog to an essay published by Scientific American written by Michael Shermer: Darwin on the Right. It’s an older essay (published September 18, 2006), but I think the points he made then still need to addressed by thinking people who refuse to just give up. The overall tone of the essay, brief as it is, is just that: Christians ought to just give up the fight because, according to Darwinists, there is such a preponderance of evidence for Darwinian evolution that it seems silly for anyone to argue against it. Shermer writes:

According to a 2005 Pew Research Center poll, 70 percent of evangelical Christians believe that living beings have always existed in their present form, compared with 32 percent of Protestants and 31 percent of Catholics. Politically, 60 percent of Republicans are creationists, whereas only 11 percent accept evolution, compared with 29 percent of Democrats who are creationists and 44 percent who accept evolution. A 2005 Harris Poll found that 63 percent of liberals but only 37 percent of conservatives believe that humans and apes have a common ancestry. What these figures confirm for us is that there are religious and political reasons for rejecting evolution. Can one be a conservative Christian and a Darwinian? Yes. Here’s how.

Now, I realize these figures are severely outdated, and that Shermer’s essay is over a year old, but I doubt the figures have changed much. Shermer’s approach is kind of a ‘Awe, com’on you silly Christians (and Conservatives!) get with the program!’ He also seems to think that believing in evolution (or at least making it compatible with biblical Christianity) is a rather simple thing to do: “Just follow these six easy steps and, Presto! as if by magic the synthesis will be complete.” But is it really as easy as Shermer would suggest? I think not. I’d like to take his points one at a time which means that these posts may run a little longer and may, in fact, be broken up as I address each of his six points.

First, Shermer writes that ‘Evolution fits well with good theology.’ He writes:

Christians believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God. What difference does it make when God created the universe–10,000 years ago or 10,000,000,000 years ago? The glory of the creation commands reverence regardless of how many zeroes in the date. And what difference does it make how God created life–spoken word or natural forces? The grandeur of life’s complexity elicits awe regardless of what creative processes were employed. Christians (indeed, all faiths) should embrace modern science for what it has done to reveal the magnificence of the divine in a depth and detail unmatched by ancient texts.

Well, in fact it does matter a great deal–theologically speaking, and for a few reasons at least. First, because, as I have stated elsewhere, the premise of Darwinian evolution is that it does not require any god to be involved. (I sometimes think Richard Dawkins carries more dislike for theistic evolutionists than he does for Creationists.) The whole idea then that Christians should accept a system of belief that does not require God, even the God of Scripture, is absurd. Second, because the Scripture says that God Created the world by his Spoken Word! The Scripture does not say that God used ‘natural forces’ (whatever that means). Genesis 1 is ample testimony that God spoke the world and the universe into existence. Colossians 1 is further evidence. But there is also Hebrews 11:3: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (And, please, spare me the drivel about creationism being only a matter of faith because evolution is no less a matter of faith!) 

Third, ‘modern science’ is not rejected! This is the straw-man that Darwinists continue to lob out at Christians. Christians do not reject science; we reject materialistic Darwinian evolution and those ideas and beliefs that reject the Word of God as true.

Fourth, it (evolution) is not good or even bad theology or even compatible with good theology because Darwinian evolution is not any sort of Continue Reading »