Michael Boling – How to Approach the Issue of Genesis 1-2 (Part 2)

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)”

Don Batten – Where Are All the People?

Six billion people live on planet Earth. That sounds like a lot of people. Well, I would not want to invite them all to a barbecue at my house! However, they could all fit into an area the size of England, with more than 20 square metres each. Many of us live in cities, so we have the impression that the world is bursting with people. However, much of the world is sparsely populated.

Nevertheless, many wonder at how the population could have grown to six billion from Noah’s family who survived the Flood that wiped out everyone else about 4,500 years ago. When you do the figures, it confirms the biblical truth that everyone on Earth today is a descendant of Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law. Not only that, but if people have been here for much longer, and there was no global Flood of Noah’s day, there should be a lot more people than there are—or there should be a lot more human remains!

Many people have problems understanding growth rates of things. When the population doubles from 16 to 32, it does not seem like much, but when it doubles from three billion to six billion it seems like a lot more. But, it is exactly the same rate of growth. Given enough generations, the number of people being added with each generation becomes astronomical. It’s like compound interest on an investment—eventually the amount being added each year becomes very great.

To illustrate this, think of the story of the inventor of chess. His king offered him a reward, but instead of gold he asked for one grain of rice doubled for each successive square on a chessboard. The number of grains would have been 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc. The 10th square would have 512; the 20th, 524 thousand; the 30th, 537 million. The amount of rice on the last square1 would have been a number so great—vastly in excess of the total world rice harvest at present—that it would have represented wealth far exceeding that of the king. Such is the power of compounding. And population growth is compound growth—that’s why so many people are now being added each year. It’s not necessarily that people are having more children than they once did, or that fewer people are dying.

Continue Reading

Michael Horton – Who Needs Systematic Theology

One subject that brings even fundamentalists and liberals together is the criticism of systematic theology. For instance, many of us were reared to suspect that if someone clearly embraced some particular system (e.g., Calvinist, Arminian, or Lutheran), then that would probably lead to the suppression of biblical teaching wherever specific passages didn’t easily fit into a nice, neat doctrinal package. Others reared in more liberal circles heard the traditional systems ridiculed for their alleged dogmatism and parochialism-for their arrogance in thinking that the Bible actually was true, much less clear enough to have what one could seriously call a “system of doctrine.” How presumptuous for an ecclesiastical group to say, in the words of the Presbyterian form of subscription, that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms “contain the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture”!

These criticisms rightly warn against specific dangers. First, we should have a healthy fear of ignoring some Scriptures in the interest of maintaining our “system.” During every great shift in Christian theology-take the Reformation, for instance-it is always possible to treat the existing system as unalterable. But for we who are heirs to the Reformation, this would be ironic, since the reformers were rightly critical of the notions of an unerring magisterium and irreformable dogmas. In fact, the Reformation occurred because some biblical passages came knocking on the door of the church; and division resulted largely because the late medieval church simply refused to rethink its interpretation of Scripture in the light of clear exegesis. Never mind that dikaioo (Greek: “to declare righteous”) did not mean the same thing as iustificare (Latin: “to make righteous”) or that metanoia (Greek: “repent”) did not mean poenitentium agite (Latin: “do penance”). Late medieval Catholicism was not willing to be altered in the light of careful exegesis. We, as evangelical Protestants, should resolve never to make the same mistake in the way we appeal to our traditions and their confessional teachings. Continue reading “Michael Horton – Who Needs Systematic Theology”

Mathew Sims – The Meaning of Mundane Work

work1-1024x581 In the beginning was work. God orchestrates the ordering of the world and crowns His work by breathing life into dust. “[T]he Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Gen 2:7). And after each working day, God declares, “It is good.”

Now man is not just another creature like the animals. He is made imago Dei. Scripture says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Part of that image can be seen in that God creates us to work like He works. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15).

Many Christians I speak with about work think that work is part of the fall. That work itself is a curse, but work is a reflection of God. Our Father works, so we work. That supercharges our work with all sorts of importance and meaning.

This struggle with the meaning of mundane work especially grows out of the soil of following your dreams. That’s the American theology of work. If you are true to yourself and follow your dreams, your work has meaning. But if you are working a solid job, providing for your family, but your dream is to be the next the Next American fill-in-the-blank you’re a fraud and your current endeavors are meaningless. I’ve seen people make poor decisions about jobs to follow their dreams. I’ve seen families destroyed because one spouse felt like they weren’t being true to themselves and had to follow their dreams. It’s just absurd.

SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO IT

I love Mike Rowe. He’s the guy who hosted the tv show Dirty Jobs and now he’s on CNN hosting Somebody’s Got to Do It. Mike runs a foundation that points people to skill labor and trade work. He pushes back (although without the theological grounding) against the idea of following your dream. Mike says,

“People often ask me if I learned anything from 300 Dirty Jobs. The short answer is this – We are disconnected – profoundly disconnected – from the true meaning of a ‘good job.””

Mike regularly answers fans and critics and these letters are often pure gold. In this one, Stephen Adams from Auburn, AL questions Mike’s advice to not follow your dream. Mike responds,

“Today, we have millions looking for work, and millions of good jobs unfilled because people are simply not passionate about pursuing those particular opportunities. Do we really need Lady GaGa telling our kids that happiness and success can be theirs if only they follow their passion?”

He then points out the absurdity of living by the mantra follow your dreams by looking at American Idol. These people believe in their heart they are following their dreams, but part of the appeal of the show is watching people who have no sense of their ability be shocked when the judges reject them. These people were doubtless told to follow their dreams and can’t believe their dreams didn’t pan out. The judges must have got it wrong. I was following my dream. Mike ends the letter,

“That’s why I would never advise anyone to ‘follow their passion’ until I understand who they are, what they want, and why they want it. Even then, I’d be cautious. Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by. Which is why I’m more inclined to say, ‘Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.’”

Continue Reading

D. A. Carson – Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology

Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology

D. A. Carson

To relate the nature and functions of systematic theology and biblical theology respectively proves distractingly difficult because various scholarly camps operate with highly divergent definitions of both disciplines, and therefore also entertain assumptions and adopt methods that cannot be reconciled with those of other scholarly camps. The permutations from these intertwined variables ensure the widest diversity of opinion; no analysis of the relations between systematic and biblical theology can sweep the field. Some of these difficulties must be explored before useful connections between the two disciplines can be drawn. Because more debate attaches to biblical theology than to systematic theology, and because biblical theology is the focus of this volume, that is where we must direct primary attention.

Biblical Theology
Before attempting to sort out the conflicting definitions of biblical theology, we shall do well to consider the bearing of a number of topics on the discipline.

History of Biblical Theology
Because the history of biblical theology is surveyed elsewhere in this volume, here we may restrict ourselves to a mere listing of some of the turning points that have given rise to different apprehensions of biblical theology.

In one sense, wherever there has been disciplined theological reflection on the Bible, there has been a de facto biblical theology. The first occurrence of the expression itself, however, is in 1607, in the title of a book by W. J. Christmann, Teutsche [sic] Biblische Theologie (no longer extant). The work was apparently a short compilation of proof texts supporting Protestant systematic theology. This usage enjoyed long life; it was alive and well a century and a half later in the more rigorous four-volume work by G. T. Zachariae (1771-75). A century earlier, however, the German pietist P. J. Spener, in his famous Pia Desideria (1675), distinguished theologia biblica (his own use of Scripture, suffused with reverence and piety) with the theologica scholastica that prevailed in Protestant orthodoxy.
Click here to continue reading

Michael Kruger – The Difference Between Original Autographs and Original Texts

If you’re looking for a way to critique the authority of Scripture, there are seemingly endless options. There are historical critiques (e.g., many of these books are forgeries). There are logical critiques (e.g., the Gospels contradict themselves). There are moral critiques (e.g., God is immoral to order the slaughter of entire cities). And there are hermeneutical critiques (e.g., no one can agree on what the Bible means).

In recent years, however, a more foundational challenge has arisen. All of the above critiques are essentially the same; they all argue the words of the Bible are not true. But this newer and more foundational challenge is not about whether the words of the Bible are true, but whether we have the words of the Bible at all.

At the core of this challenge is the fact that we only have handwritten copies of these books we treasure. And, in reality, we only have copies of copies of copies. And given that scribes made mistakes, and that the transmission process was imperfect, how can we be sure that these texts have been preserved? How can we be sure we actually have the words of Scripture?

Bart Ehrman’s best-selling book Misquoting Jesus focuses on this issue as it pertains to the New Testament text:

What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don’t have the originals! We have only error-ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them . . . in thousands of ways.

If Ehrman is correct, then he has uncovered the single thread that would unravel the entire garment of the Christian faith. There is no need to critique the content of the New Testament if we don’t even have the New Testament.

But is this argument cogent? I think not. There are two places it can be challenged: (1) the role of the autographs and (2) the degree of corruption in the extant manuscripts.

Continue Reading

Book Review – God’s Battle Plan for the Mind

Battle_plan__38771.1421098002.315.315 The word meditation conjures up a variety of meanings and applications. When some hear this term, they immediately think of New Age or Eastern religious relaxation techniques centered on an effort to achieve a higher level of consciousness, peace, and oneness with the universe. Others think of simply thinking really hard about a subject. This begs the question as to what the biblical approach to meditation is all about and is God’s commands regarding meditating on Him and His Word (and there are many) are similar to the aforementioned efforts. David Saxton, in his excellent book God’s Battle Plan for the Mind, explores the Puritans writings on this subject which are a valuable wellspring of information on biblical meditation.

I am a huge fan of the Puritans. Their writings are something I have become to appreciate more and more, especially when it comes to subjects such as what God expects of us when it comes to being passionate about His Word. The Puritans wrote widely on this matter and Saxton captures their thoughts in His book in an accessible and helpful way. Given the Puritans are at times a more difficult read than more modern authors, having a book that brings their arguably old-fashioned language to the present age is quite welcome and needed.

As Saxton saliently notes in the outset of this book, “We must wholeheartedly integrate doctrine with living. This necessary wedding of doctrine and practice destroys superficial Christianity, but it only comes through a careful and serious consideration of God’s Word.” Such an approach was a hallmark of the writings of the Puritans. This is reflected throughout this book. Not only does Saxton outline what biblical meditation is all about, he also spends needed time noting what biblical mediation is not in a concerted effort to compare and contrast truth from error.

I truly appreciated that Saxton takes the time to properly define the term meditate as it is reflected in Scripture as that is the foundation for truth. It is irrelevant how anyone, including the Puritans define such a term if it is not in alignment with God’s perspective. Thankfully, the writings and approach of the Puritans is biblically grounded in how meditation is noted throughout Scripture. It was very interesting and helpful to read through the definitions of meditation provided by many of the Puritan authors. You can sense the passion they had for this subject just from their effort to define the term.

Throughout this book, Saxton provides the reader with valuable methods by which to practice biblical meditation. He does more than give a bunch of really great quotes from the Puritans as anyone can simply Google such things. What Saxton does is to give the reader the background of the subject and most importantly practical application on how to implement this in their daily regime of Bible study. His approach is truly reminiscent of the Puritan method of stating the doctrine and then heading straight to giving the reader the how to manual.

This is a book I would recommend to all believers as meditation is a practice we must all employ as we study God’s Word. Replete with salient insight from men of God who wrote heavily on this subject, this book will serve the reader well as a valuable handbook on the how and what of biblical meditation. In an age when the counterfeit has become so popular, having a sound reminder of the truth is sorely needed and Saxton hits the mark in that regard, namely bringing us back to sound biblical doctrine in the area of meditation and why it is so valuable for the Christian and their walk with God.

This book is available for purchase from Reformation Heritage Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nicholas Batzig – 5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2013

Just the other day I received a letter in the mail from a medical doctor whom I have never met before. Having told me how he had benefited from some of my sermons and articles, he went on to tell me, “I pray for you. I will be able to do so on a very regular basis now and trust that you will be helped and strengthened in your ministry and family.” This was an enormous comfort and encouragement to me. Contrary to what some might suppose, ministers of the gospel desperately need the prayers of the saints. One of my seminary professors used to tell the student body, “Pastors have a bull’s eye on their back and footprints up their chest.” This is quite an appropriate description of the hardships that God’s servants are called to endure for the sake of the gospel. The flaming arrows of the evil one are persistently being shot at pastors. In addition, the world is eager to run them over at any opportunity. This is, sadly, also a reality with regard to some in the church.

With so much opposition and difficulty within and without, pastors constantly need the people of God to be praying for them. The shepherd needs the prayers of the sheep as much as they need his prayers. He also is one of Christ’s sheep, and is susceptible to the same weaknesses. While there are many things one could pray for pastors, here are five straightforward Scriptural categories:

1. Pray for their spiritual protection from the world, the flesh and the Devil.

Whether it was Moses’ sinful anger leading to his striking of the rock (Num. 20:7-12), David’s adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11), or Simon Peter’s denial of the Lord (Matt. 26:69-75) and practical denial of justification by faith alone (Gal. 2:11-21), ministers are faced with the reality of the weakness of the flesh, the assaults of the world and the rage of the devil (see this article). There have been a plethora of ministers who have fallen into sinful practices in the history of the church and so brought disgrace to the name of Christ. Since Satan has ministers of the gospel (and their families) locked in his sight—and since God’s honor is at stake in a heightened sense with any public ministry of the word, members of the church should pray that their pastor and their pastor’s family would not fall prey to the world, the flesh, or the Devil.

Continue Reading

Michael Boling – Reflections on Numbers 8-10

quotescover-JPG-42

Numbers 8-10

God spoke to Moses and told him to have Aaron set up the lamps in the tabernacle. Aaron did as God had commanded. The Levites were also commanded by God to be set apart for service to God and the tabernacle. As He had stated in Leviticus, God provided instructions on the purification of the Levites. Now those commands and instructions regarding their purification were obeyed and acted upon. All Levites twenty-five years old or more were to take part in the duties of the tent of meeting. At age fifty, they were to retire from active service. They may assist the other Levities with work; however, they were to not be responsible for the preponderance of the duties. This was the Levitical “retirement plan”.

The people also celebrated the Passover at the appointed time as God had commanded. Now some could not celebrate this Feast of the Lord on the appointed day due to their uncleanness. Moses went to God with the question the people had as to why they should be kept from celebrating this special time of remembrance due to their uncleanness. In response to the people’s inquiry, God provided an alternate “make-up” date if you will to celebrate the Passover that was strictly applicable to those away on a journey or who were ceremonially unclean. Even though they were not celebrating Passover on the same day as everyone else, they were still to follow the specific regulations governing its observance.

A cloud covered the tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire covered it by night. When the cloud lifted from the tabernacle, the people broke camp and moved on. When God commanded them to stop and camp, they did just that. If the cloud lifted, whether it was during the day or during the night, the people broke camp as God commanded.

God spoke to Moses and commanded that two silver trumpets be made for the purpose of calling the assembly of the people together and for having the camps of the people set out in order to travel. When both trumpets were sounded, the people were to gather at the entrance of the tent of meeting. When a trumpet blast was sounded, the tribes to the East would set out. At the sound of the second blast, the camps on the south would set out. The sons of Aaron were responsible for sounding the trumpets. These trumpets were also commanded to be sounded at the outset of the appointed festivals and New Moon feasts.

On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year since their departure from Egypt, the cloud lifted from the tabernacle and the people set out from the Desert of Sinai and journeyed until the cloud once again set down on the tabernacle as they arrived in the Desert of Paran. The ark of the covenant went in front of the people as they journeyed.

Dr. Danny Faulkner – Universe by Design: Twentieth-Century Cosmology

Modern Physics
For two centuries Newtonian physics had successes unparalleled in the history of science, but toward the end of the 19th century several experiments produced results that had not been anticipated. These results defied explanation with Newtonian physics, and this failure led in the early 20th century to what is called modern physics. Modern physics has two important pillars: quantum mechanics and general relativity. Quantum mechanics is the physics of small systems, such as atoms and subatomic particles. General relativity is the physics of very high speeds or of large concentrations of mass or energy. Both of these realms are beyond the scope of everyday experience, and so quantum mechanical and relativistic effects are not usually noticed. In other words, Newtonian mechanics, which is the physics of everyday experience, is a special case of modern physics.

Some creation scientists view both quantum mechanics and general relativity with suspicion. Part of the suspicion of quantum mechanics stems from the Copenhagen interpretation, a philosophical view of quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, the solution that describes location, velocity, and other properties of a particle is a wave function. The wave function amounts to a probability function. Where the value of the wave function is high, there is a high probability of finding the particle, and where the value of the wave function is low, there is a small probability of finding the particle. This result is pretty easy to understand when one considers a large number of particles—where the probability is high there is a greater likelihood of finding more particles.

However, how is one to interpret the result when considering only a single particle? The Copenhagen interpretation states that the particle exists in all possible states simultaneously. The particle exists in this weird state as long as no one observes the particle. Upon observation we say that the wave function collapses and the particle assumes some particular state. If the experiment is conducted often enough, the distribution of outcomes of the experiment matches the predictions of the probability function derived from the wave solution.

Continue Reading