I’m mystified by the opening sentence of an article in Friday’s Union Tribune (October 25, 1996). It says, “In his most comprehensive statement yet on evolution, Pope John Paul II insisted that faith and science can co-exist.”
So far, so good. I agree with the Pope wholeheartedly on this first point. If you heard my opening address at our conference on Science and Faith, you’d know why I think they can co-exist if they are properly defined. (How science and faith are defined is an important part of answering the question.)
I part ways with the Pope in his next statement. He said that “Charles Darwin’s theories are sound as long as they take into account that creation was the work of God.”
That’s an odd thing to say, it seems to me. I mean no disrespect here at all to Pope John Paul II. But doesn’t that strike you as odd? It seems to me that Charles Darwin’s theories–scientific theories, theories about the origins and development of things–are either sound or not sound. If they’re not sound, you can’t baptize them by bringing God into the picture and miraculously make them sound. And if they are sound in themselves, then you don’t need to add God to make them work, do you? It’s already doing fine on its own. Which is the point of evolution: mother nature without father God.
I don’t think evolution works at all. I don’t think Charles Darwin’s theories are sound, so I’m not in the least bit tempted to baptize them with some form of theistic evolution. Continue reading “Greg Koukl – Evolution: Philosophy, Not Science”
by Anthony Buzzard
“Heaven in the Bible is nowhere the destination of the dying.” — Cambridge biblical scholar, J.A.T. Robinson
“No Bible text authorizes the statement that the soul is separated from the body at death.” — the celebrated Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 803)
Why do we Christians talk such nonsense about our Christian destiny? On every hand we hear talk of “going to heaven when you die,” “gaining kingdoms in the sky” and “passing away” or “passing on” at death. With all this familiar language we comfort ourselves with the belief that the dead have departed to be with God in His heavenly realm. We hope to survive death and join them there.
Shouldn’t we pause a moment and ask ourselves reflectively: Where does all this “heaven-going” language come from?
Certainly not from the Bible. What, for example, did the prophet Daniel, one of the heroic, faithful men of God, expect at death? The angel told him:
“Go your way to the end of your life; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age” (Dan. 12:13).
Death for Daniel was to be a rest in the dust of the ground (see Dan. 12:2, where the same divine messenger described the condition of the dead as “sleeping in the earth”) followed by a rising, that is, resurrection “at the end of the age.”
There is no word here about Daniel’s soul going to heaven to be conscious in heavenly bliss. Instead Daniel was to repose in death and eventually, at the end of the age, to arise to new life. But for what purpose? Continue reading “Anthony Buzzard – Christians and Heaven”
If contemporary secular society has retained a flicker of interest in any department of religion, it is surely in the question of life after death—if only to provide answers for inquiring youngsters. Faith in the reality of life beyond the grave seems to be faltering, since an article in the NOW magazine of
December, 1979 quoted the astonishing statistic that 50% of those who claim to be Christians and churchgoing members of the Church of England do not believe in an afterlife! And yet, in New Testament terms, Christianity without a belief in the afterlife represents an absurd contradiction. Indeed, the tendency to doubt the future resurrection of the faithful called forth some of Paul’s most forceful words. To the church at Corinth he wrote:
First and foremost, I handed on to you the facts which had been imparted to me: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the
Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter] and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. In the end he appeared even to me…This is what we all proclaim,
and this is what you believed. Now if this is what we proclaim, that Christ was raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there be no resurrection, then Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, then our gospel is null and void, and so is your faith; and we turn out to be lying witnesses for God, because we bore witness that he raised Christ to life, whereas, if the dead are not
raised, he did not raise him. For if the dead are not raised, it follows that Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, your faith has
nothing in it and you are still in your old state of sin. It follows also that those who have died within Christ’s fellowship are utterly lost. If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all men are most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:3-8, 11-19, NEB).
The Old Testament in Paul
Paul’s letters contain about 100 explicit quotations, concentrated in Romans (60), Corinthians (27) and Galatians (10). There are also five quotations in Ephesians and two in the Pastoral epistles but as many scholars think these were written in Paul’s name, they will be treated separately. It is of some interest that there are no explicit quotations in Philippians and Thessalonians, though they are not devoid of allusions (e.g. Phil 2.11). The most frequently quoted books are Isaiah, Psalms, Genesis and Deuteronomy. In the analysis below, I have attempted to group the quotations under the following headings:
God’s plan to include Gentiles
The faith of Abraham
The mystery of election
The character of God
The Christian life
New and old
This gives a good sense of the themes treated by Paul but it is also important to read through Romans, Galatians and Corinthians to see how they the quotations sequentially, as the argument unfolds. Because we are dealing with a large number of quotations, we will not have space in this chapter for a separate section on allusions. We will, however, comment on a number of allusions as they effect the argument of particular books (e.g. the references to Adam). Continue reading “Steve Moyise – The Old Testament in Paul”
We are entering a new phase in the battle over the Bible’s truthfulness and authority. We should at least be thankful for undisguised arguments coming from the opponents of biblical inerrancy, even as we are ready, once again, to make clear where their arguments lead.
Back in 1990, theologian J. I. Packer recounted what he called a “Thirty Years’ War” over the inerrancy of the Bible. He traced his involvement in this war in its American context back to a conference held in Wenham, Massachusetts in 1966, when he confronted some professors from evangelical institutions who “now declined to affirm the full truth of Scripture.” That was nearly fifty years ago, and the war over the truthfulness of the Bible is still not over — not by a long shot.
From time to time, the dust has settled in one arena, only for the battle to erupt in another. In the 1970s, the most visible battles were fought over Fuller Theological Seminary and within the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. By the 1980s, the most heated controversies centered in the Southern Baptist Convention and its seminaries. Throughout this period, the evangelical movement sought to regain its footing on the doctrine. In 1978, a large number of leading evangelicals met and adopted a definitive statement that became known as “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.”
Many thought the battles were over, or at least subsiding. Sadly, the debate over the inerrancy of the Bible continues. As a matter of fact, there seems to be a renewed effort to forge an evangelical identity apart from the claim that the Bible is totally truthful and without error.
RELATED POSTS by Dr. Albert Mohler
– The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism (Audio)
– John F. Kennedy in Houston, Fifty Years Later
– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Authority of Scripture — We Must Choose Between Two Positions
– Theology Lectures on the Sufficiency of Scripture
– The Bible Cut Down to Size — Scripture and the Modern Attention Span
Recently, Professor Peter Enns, formerly of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, has argued that the biblical authors clearly erred. He has argued that Paul, for example, was clearly wrong in assuming the historicity of Adam. In Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, published in 2005, he presented an argument for an “incarnational” model of biblical inspiration and authority. But in this rendering, incarnation — affirming the human dimension of Scripture — means accepting some necessary degree of error. Continue reading “Dr. Albert Mohler – The Inerrancy of Scripture: The Fifty Years’ War . . . and Counting”
This is the new shape of the debate over evolution. We now face the undeniable truth that the most basic and fundamental questions of biblical authority and gospel integrity are at stake. Are you ready for this debate?
The debate over Darwinism rages on, with almost every week bringing a new salvo in the Great Controversy. The reason for this is simple and straightforward — naturalistic evolution is the great intellectual rival to Christianity in the Western world. It is the creation myth of the secular elites and their intellectual weapon of choice in public debate.
In some sense, this has been true ever since Darwin. When Charles Darwin developed and published his theory of natural selection, the most obvious question to appear to informed minds was this: Can the theory of evolution be reconciled with the Christian faith?
The emergence of evolution as a theory of origins and the existence of life forms presented a clear challenge to the account of creation offered within the Bible, especially in the opening chapters of Genesis. At face value, these accounts seem irreconcilable.
RELATED POSTS by Dr. Albert Mohler
– No Buzzing Little Fly — Why the Creation-Evolution Debate is So Important
– Christianity and Evolution — Seeing the Problem
– NPR Forum on “Evolution and Religious Faith”
– The Futility of Theistic Evolution (Audio)
– We Are Not Alone — Orthodox Judaism and Evolution
There were a good many intrepid and honest souls in the nineteenth century who understood the reality that, if evolution is true, the Bible must be radically reinterpreted. Others went further and, like the New Atheists in our time, seized upon evolution as an intellectual weapon to be used against Christianity. Continue reading “Dr. Albert Mohler – Creation vs. Evolution: The New Shape of the Debate”
Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
As Reformed Christians we have a special stake in the creation/evolution debate. With our high view of Scripture we are pre-committed to the integrity of the word of God in all areas of life. Unfortunately, much of Reformed theology writes off six-day creation as naive fundamentalism or gross bibliolatry. Though most Reformed scholars would decry evolutionism, they often capitulate to the evolutionary elite, being pressured to re-interpret Genesis in order to maintain academic credibility. This is a tragic surrender of orthodoxy to the reigning cultural mythology of our day: chance-oriented, naturalistic evolutionism.
In this article I will provide a summary of the evidence from Scripture and the Westminster Confession which demands a literal, six-day creation position for Reformed Christians who operate under the Westminster Standards. I will also incorporate some subsidiary themes illustrating the necessity of the standard historical-grammatical approach to Genesis. Let us begin with our confessional position.
The Language of the Confession
Some Reformed Christians deny that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days. This denial brings them into clear contradiction with the Westminster Standards, which teach that the Lord God created the heavens and the earth “in the space of six days” (WCF 4:1; LC #15, SC #9).
It is important to note that here the Confession is not merely picking up the language of Scripture and quoting it, thereby leaving the language open to interpretation. The six-day statement is not a catch phrase. The Assembly very clearly speaks of a literal, six-day creation, when it states in WCF 4:1: “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” The phrase “in the space of” demonstrates their concern with the temporal time-frame of the creative process. Continue reading “Dr. Kenneth Gentry, Jr. – Reformed Theology and Six Day Creation”
The inspired Word of God begins with the doctrine of creation; that is the foundation of the whole book of redemption. A straight-forward reading of the Holy Bible clearly teaches that God created all things in the space of six days, and ‘all very good’.
The prologue to John’s Gospel teaches that our Lord Jesus Christ was the very agent of creation (cf. John 1:3). Revelation 4:11 shows the saints and angels in heaven praising Christ for his work of creation: ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 5:9 goes on to praise this same glorious Christ for having redeemed with His own blood the fallen creation.
It does strike me as strange that the praises of heaven are so full of the honors Christ deserves as agent of creation, while much of the modern evangelical church seems hesitant to make any serious reference to his divine creation. If heaven so glorifies Christ for the wonders of creation, why do so many Christian scholars today seem embarrassed by it? Continue reading “Dr. Douglas Kelly – Creation: Foundational Doctrine of Scripture”
How to Approach the Issue of Genesis 1-2 (Part 2)
Now we must approach the discussion of why some many in the evangelical community today seek to interpret the Genesis creation account in a manner other than an affirmation of the literal reading of the text. This has long puzzled me as I have sought to understand why there is so much debate over this aspect of Scripture when other seemingly even more miraculous events in the Bible are not debated at all as to their historicity. One individual, who will remain nameless, alluded to me recently in a discussion on this very topic and I quote:
“There is an easy answer to this question. The Bible explicitly tells us that Jesus was born of a virgin. It explicitly tells us that He was raised from the dead. It explicitly tells us that God performed supernatural feats. The Bible DOES NOT explicitly say that He created the world in six 24-hour days. Instead, it is only a particular INTERPRETATION that says the days were 24-hour days. It is an interpretation I agree with, but it is an interpretation nevertheless. The OECs have a different interpretation, and they can muster some legitimate arguments for their interpretation. This is why the church has never been unified on the creation account – specifically because the Bible is not clear on the matter.”
Really? The Bible is not clear on the matter? Is this just really a matter of two different yet equal scriptural interpretations? That seems rather odd since the Genesis account is written in such a manner as to be nothing but clear. This urged me to do further analysis of what Scripture says outside of the Genesis creation account in relation to a 6 day creation. A quick use of the great website tool www.biblos.com was very revealing. A number of verses either outright mention or clearly allude to a 6 day creative effort by God. Even more interesting is a number of these verses connect God’s rest after his creation with the Sabbath rest commanded by God in Exodus 20. Below are a list of relevant verses I discovered.
Exodus 20:11 – “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Exodus 37:17 – “It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.”
Hebrews 4:4 – “For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
These three verses clearly link a 6 day creation to the Sabbath. I wonder if the Israelites when they heard the word of the Lord and passed it down to their progeny understood God to have created the universe in 6 days. Of course we can merely speculate on that to some degree; however, when we look at how the Sabbath day of rest, something which they faithfully followed, is connected to a 6 day creation, one must wonder. The Bible seems to clearly establish not just the need for the Sabbath but support for a literal 6 day creation week which concluded with God resting from his work. Continue reading “Michael Boling – How to Approach the Issue of Genesis 1-2 (Part 2)”