Archive

Archive for July, 2013

The Significance of Both Creation and Last Things (Eschatology)

July 30, 2013 8 comments

Occasionally I come across statements, such as from individuals involved with Creation ministries, from those who hold to young earth creation but are not consistent in their end-times position.  As someone well observed in an online discussion recently, “obviously Creationists are not necessarily dispensationalists when it comes to prophecy; but there are far fewer non-literal-Creationist dispensationalists than 6-day-Creationist-CT/NCT people around.”

I previously referenced this over a year ago here (this post) in reference to (Answers in Genesis) Ken Ham’s statement, that he thinks creation and eschatology are somehow different and unrelated.  His reasoning:  we also have the scientific physical evidence for creation, and the creation compromises came about from people responding to external ideas about evolution and old-earth. Whereas, he claims, eschatology is only dealing with the words of scripture themselves, apart from any external ideas.

His first point, about scientific evidence, of course overlooks the issue of presuppositions.  Unbelief will compel an old-earth scientist to come up with explanations for observed data that “fit” his own presuppositions; physical evidence does not of itself “prove” anything.  His second point ignores the clear hermeneutical issues and the history of the development of amillennialism and replacement theology through those who embraced the allegorical, spiritualizing hermeneutic instead of the literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic.

In online discussion someone recently posted this link from Creation.com, in which the writer responds to a church-goer’s question about her pastor’s post-modern approach to God’s word.  Here the reasoning is that somehow creation is a more important doctrine than eschatology: The issues regarding Genesis are in a quite different league to those concerning prophecy, we would submit, because they are foundational to, and woven throughout the fabric of, the very Gospel of salvation itself.

Really? A closer look shows us that errors in creation and eschatology have several features in common, directly attacking central biblical teachings concerning the attributes and character of God, the authority of God’s word, and understanding of our salvation:

Concerning the Character of God:

       Doctrine of Creation

  • a liar, whose word cannot be depended on: that He did not really create the world in six literal, ordinary days as He said (even directly inscribed in stone tablets by God, on Mt. Sinai; reference Exodus 20:11, the Ten Commandments)
  • a cruel God whose idea of “very good” before the fall was actually a creation already cursed and experiencing death long before Adam fell.

      Doctrine of Eschatology / Last Things

  • A Bait-and-Switch God whose word cannot be depended on, who gave one set of promises to one group of people but later changed both the promises and the recipients.
  • A Pelagian-salvation God: Israel lost their promises due to their apostasy, and blew their chances due to their fall.  How, then, do we have any assurance that God will not also give up on us (Christians in this age) and reject us after all?

Concerning the Authority of God’s Word

The above-mentioned writer continues:   That does not mean that one can’t be terribly inconsistent and be saved in spite of disbelieving what Genesis teaches, but it has serious ramifications in church, culture, and society, and in the lives of many individuals—as well as for our effectiveness in evangelism, if the authority of the Word of God can be so cavalierly evaded in such a plain, straightforward matter.

Substitute “premillennialism” for “Genesis” above, and the meaning is the same.  Our understanding of the church (ecclesiology), and culture and society is DIRECTLY affected by our millennial view.  Errors here have brought about misguided ideas such as postmillennial dominion theology and “Christian America,” over-emphasis on the Church age (falling into the very error the apostle Paul warned against in Romans 11), and seriously hampered evangelism efforts among the Jews — and any unbelievers who read the Bible without awareness of Covenant Theology’s allegorical hermeneutic.  (Try explaining to Jews that all of their prophecies about Christ’s First Coming were literally fulfilled in Christ, BUT the prophecies about His Second Coming are instead spiritualized to mean something else, blessings to the (Gentile) Christian Church).

Creation AND Eschatology (the future), unlike all other scriptural teaching, are both areas unknown to mankind apart from Divine Revelation: we weren’t there at the beginning, and we don’t know the future.  Underlying both of these teachings are major, fundamental issues concerning the character of God and the nature of salvation.  Whether said by the leaders of various creation ministries or not, whatever “reasons” to justify the preference of one teaching over the other, the reality is that the doctrine of creation is not at all “in a different league” from the prophetic word.

Advertisements

Creation Material: Free Online Books

July 25, 2013 4 comments

Following up on recent posts, here are links to several good online books concerning creation:

Available in PDF Format:

Creationism.org has a Books Section page with links to many books of varying lengths and topics.  From this list I recognize one book I bought around 1990 (It’s a Young World After All), and their link to the online text “After the Flood” (see my recent review).  The titles include some from the early 2000s back to the 1980s, as well as earlier 20th century and earlier public domain books.  Especially interesting titles here include the classic “The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch (1966)” by Donald W. Patten. and “In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, 7th Edition (2001)” by Dr. Walt Brown.

Available for viewing on the web, Answers in Genesis has a large collection.  A few of these books deal with worldview, or specifically address parents or college-bound students.  Some titles look at the lie of evolution, while several others focus specifically on particular topics of creation history and creation science.  Authors include creationists Terry Mortenson and creation scientists Jason Lisle, Gary Parker, plus several others.

Biblical Creationism: The Genesis Toledoth

July 23, 2013 2 comments

I’ve started reading Biblical Creationism (by Henry Morris), a good biblical commentary on all the scriptural references to the doctrine of creation: an extensive study going way beyond the obvious texts such as Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 104.  Read it free from the PDF online).

The very first chapter introduced an unfamiliar idea (to me), and thus prompted a little background study before continuing forward.  Having always heard that Moses authored the Pentateuch, the five books of the Bible, I never considered further details of how Genesis was written, but just assumed that the material was given directly to Moses by God.  Yet Morris refers to Adam writing a few chapters, and then Noah and so forth, with reference to the “book of the generations of Adam,” as meaning the previous chapters (not what follows immediately after Genesis 5:1).  The first endnote gives a little more explanation:

The archaeologist P.J. Wiseman was apparently the first to call attention to this “tablet theory” of the original writing of the records in Genesis that were eventually compiled and edited by Moses. A number of later Old Testament scholars (e.g., David L. Cooper, founder of the Biblical Research Society) have adopted it, and I consider it the only theory that fits all the facts. For a summary of the evidence for this theory, see my commentary, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 22–30.

This online article explained the matter: the meaning and usage of the Hebrew word translated “generations” (toledoth) and the tablet theory. (See also this article for further reference.)  These articles and Henry Morris reference the initial work done by archeologist P.J. Wiseman in the 1930s.  The Hebrew word toledoth (generations) is also considered a “colophon phrase,” something put in ancient documents AFTER the material it refers to:

Many Bible scholars have long considered the toledoth formula  “the book of the generations of” to be the introduction or heading to what followed. However, in more recent years they have come to realize that the toledoth is, in fact, a colophon phrase. That is, this phrase when used in Genesis is used “to point back to the origins of the family history.” According to Damien F. Mackey this was a common practice in Mesopotamia where “It was customary for the ancient scribes to add a colophon note at the end of the account, giving particulars of title, date, and the name of the writer or owner, together with other details relating to the contents of a tablet, manuscript or book.” …”in ancient documents the colophon with its important literary information was added in a very distinctive manner.”

Learning this, I immediately thought of another of these toledoth usages that had puzzled me, that suddenly makes a lot more sense:  the statement at the beginning of Genesis 37 (which begins the story of Joseph), verse 2: “These are the generations of Jacob” (ESV) or “These are the records of the generations of Jacob” (NASB).  Referring to the previous material, Jacob’s story, that statement makes a lot more sense than saying that Jacob is telling Joseph’s story.  The first chapter of Morris’ Biblical Creationism now makes much more sense, and I’m continuing on to further chapters in this creation commentary, already learning interesting things about biblical creation — from the human means of written records from early history.

Additional resources:

P.J. Wiseman – Free PDF book “New Discoveries In Babylonia About Genesis” (4th Edition, 1946)

Other article links:

The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship

Review of Wiseman’s “Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis”  (out of print; no e-book available)

Common Grace and Efficacious (Irresistible) Grace: S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology Series

July 19, 2013 Leave a comment

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology series, soteriology section, a summary of several good points concerning common grace and Irresistible/Efficacious Grace.

From these messages (Believers Chapel MP3 #43 and lesson 44, transcripts #83 and #84):

Common Grace operates in three categories:

1.  General blessings to all creatures, even animals

2.  General operations of the Spirit by which He, without renewing the heart, exercises moral influence through His revelation.  He curbs sin.  He promotes order.  He promotes civil righteousness.

3.   Operations of the Spirit by which He influences men toward redemption, even though He does not secure their redemption.  Here reference Dr. Johnson’s message from John 16:7-8 (this previous post) , and 1 Corinthians 7:14 (about the unbelieving husband and children being sanctified by the believing wife).  As S. Lewis Johnson here notes, you can be sanctified (set apart, experiencing the influence of God in that family) before you’re saved, if one or both of your parents are saved.

The means of Common Grace:

1.  Creation: Romans 1:18-23.  His eternal power and deity can be known from the Creation.  In the religious sphere we do not have evolution but devolution. So man has the light of the creation, and through the creation by God’s common grace, he is able to see his eternal power and divinity but he has turned from it. 

2.  Light of conscience

3. Restraint of human government

4.  Public opinion, which is formed by the above three things.

The Fruits of Common Grace:

1. God’s wrath is postponed

2. Sin is restrained

3. Human possession of the sense of morality and spirituality.   Paul noted to the men of Athens, that they were very religious.

4. The performance of civil righteousness and outward good.

Differences Between Common Grace and Efficacious Grace (aka Irresistible Grace, the Grace that brings us to salvation)

1.  The Subjects:  all are subjects of common grace.  The elect alone are the subject of efficacious grace.

2.  In their nature: common grace mediated through truth (of creation, the word of God).  Efficacious grace is immediate, directly given, by the Spirit.   2 Thess. 2:13 God has from the beginning chosen you, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth.  1 Peter 1:1-2

3.  In their effects:  Common grace gives superficial knowledge of God, and superficial restraint of God.  Yet this is only restraint, not removal, and transient.  Here I recall 1 Kings 21 (from recent Bible reading), the temporary repentance shown by Ahab after Elijah confronted him about his sin against Naboth. Yet within three years, when the next chapter tells of Ahab’s end, Ahab is back to his old wicked self.  Efficacious grace is deep and permanent; it brings possession of life, and we have that life forever.

Creation Apologetics: After the Flood (Book Review)

July 15, 2013 2 comments
After the Flood

After the Flood

Mentioned in Bill Barrick’s recent creation lectures, After the Flood: The early post-flood history of Europe  (online text available here) is a great resource concerning biblical creation, specifically looking at the early writings of ancient Europe.

Bill Cooper’s purpose is to respond to the modernist view of man’s origins (old earth evolutionary view), by looking at the earliest available documents from European history, to see if these documents line up with the Genesis account, the “Table of Nations.”  The documents he references include Geoffrey of Monmouth’s translation in the 12th century of an earlier work, and an earlier work by Nennius in the 9th century, plus earlier available documents. The findings include those presented by Flinders Petrie in the early 20th century, as well as other features (of the same documents) not noted by Petrie.  This work shows that, indeed — just as we know that every ancient society in the world has a worldwide flood story (though distorted from the Genesis account) — ancient societies, before any contact with Christianity, had knowledge of our common ancestry through Noah and back to Adam: evidence which obviously conflicts with the modern old earth evolutionary worldview.

In the first chapters Cooper establishes the credibility of these documents, as originating in pre-Christian, pagan times – important for answering the skeptics’ charge of “pious fraud” later perpetrated by overzealous Christian monks.

Clearly, none of all this is attributable to the nefarious work of early Christian monks who were seeking to foist upon the world a contrived but pious history, for all the material that we have considered in this chapter pre-dates the coming of the Christian faith to the early Britons by at least a hundred years, and certainly by up to a thousand years and more. In other words, the now wearisome modernist charge of pious fraud falls flat.”

This aspect of the book reminded me of the apologetics issue regarding the differing eyewitness accounts in the gospels concerning Christ’s resurrection:  when different accounts are not exactly the same but show apparent slight differences, that actually is stronger proof of the same event being observed by different witnesses.  Among some of the interesting finds here are early Briton accounts describing the Roman conquest of Britain, but with details that differ from the well-known Roman account.

Important concepts brought out in this book:  ancient pagan groups thought of their genealogies as sacred.  They worshiped and deified their ancestors, and were very interested in their pedigree. Contrary to modernist ideas, ethnic groups even after Christianization still held these genealogies as important and would not take kindly to any “christianizing” alteration of their documents. One example of this is the case of 9th century Saxon king Alfred, a Christian king whose translation of Bede’s work into old English suppressed the title Rex Gewissorum (due to its pagan connotations), yet nonetheless in his authorized biography listed the same pagan Gewis in the line of his ancestors. Cooper also cites the flawed reasoning of 20th century modernist authors who attempted to associate the genealogies in early Christian-era documents with their supposed reference to the New Testament genealogy in Luke’s gospel (and thereby “proving” their lineage to Jesus Christ) instead of the original Genesis account.  Yet as well noted, these genealogies only agree with Luke in the section from Noah back to Adam.  Surely if they had wanted to create a “pious fraud” claiming descent related to the Jewish line their genealogy would show the Semitic line AFTER Noah.  And it is well-attested that the Saxons (and other medieval European Christian groups) were quite anti-Semitic (started way before Hitler, Cooper notes), so the LAST thing they would have done in any “pious fraud” would have been to construct a Semitic genealogy for themselves!

We are presented with the simple question as to why a two thousand year recorded history has been so pointedly ignored by modern scholars. Why is it that the history of Britain is an entirely blank page before the year 55 BC in any conventional modern history book when such an easily accessible and informative record is at hand? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Britons traced their ancestry in these pre-Christian records back to patriarchs that are known to us from the Genesis record but of whom the Britons should have known nothing in their pre-Christian culture if what the modernists have always told us was true?

As noted by an Amazon reviewer, this book is important for study of the overall subject, though Cooper’s research may be inaccurate in some points — the limitations involved with anyone doing research with primary documents; see his review and follow-up comments for more regarding the finer points.  For mainstream Christian readers this book may be tedious at times, with all the non-English names, old English spellings and references to medieval and earlier history.  I found especially helpful my own previous study (about 6 years ago) of medieval history, including reading of Bede’s History of England and the Saxon period of English kings including the life of King Alfred — a good reference point on which to “hang” this new information.  Readers with less historical knowledge may struggle a bit more, but should still be able to understand the main points and findings of this book.  Two later chapters also cover a subject of more general interest to many: the references to dragons (dinosaurs) in early (and in not so long ago) European literature.  I highly recommend this work as an important part of overall study of biblical creation.

The Shield of Faith: The Shield Metaphor (Spurgeon)

July 10, 2013 1 comment

From my recent Spurgeon sermon reading, an overview of sermon #416, “The Shield of Faith”.  From the text Ephesians 6:16, Spurgeon looked at several aspects of the shield as a metaphor for our faith.

One interesting point (new to me) is that the ancients used many types of shields, but that the shield in view here is a full-size one able to completely cover a man.  Often I picture the sword fighting scene in the modern-setting “Pilgrim’s Progress” movie and the relatively small shield that Christian holds in his hand; but the shield Paul was thinking of was much larger:

Different kinds of shields were used by the ancients, but there is a special reference in our text to the large shield which was sometimes employed. I believe the word which is translated “shield,” sometimes signifies a door, because their shields were as large as a door. They covered the man entirely.

Spurgeon also references the psalmist’s idea, “You, Lord will bless the righteous, with favor will You compass him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12).

Faith is like a shield in the following ways:

  •  A shield protects us from attack

The large shield covered the whole body: it guards the head and the heart, and protects the armor. Similarly, faith guards the head, the heart, and our armor.

  •  Receives the blows which are meant for the man himself

Why enlist, young men, if you are not needed to fight? What is the good of a fair-weather soldier—one who stays at home to feed at the public expense? No, let the soldier be ready when war comes; let him expect the conflict as a part and necessary consequence of his profession. But be armed with faith—it receives the blows! So must our faith do—it must be cut at, it must bear the blows.

Spurgeon has strong words regarding the cowards who do not receive the blows, the persecution, as they ought to.

Ashamed of Christ they make no profession of Him, or having professed Christ, ashamed of the profession, they hide themselves by deserting their colors, by conformity to the world. Perhaps they are even called to preach the Gospel, but they do it in so quiet and gentle a way, like men who wear soft raiment, and ought to be in kings’ houses. Unlike John the Baptist, they are “reeds shaken with the wind.” Of them no one says anything bad because they have done no ill to Satan’s kingdom!  Against them Satan never roars—why should he? He is not afraid of them, therefore he need not come out against them.  “Let them alone,” he says, “thousands such as those will never shake my kingdom!”

  • It has good need to be strong

A man who has some pasteboard shield may lift it up against his foe, the sword will go through it and reach his heart. … He who would use a shield must take care that it be a shield of proof. He who has true faith, the faith of God’s elect, has such a shield that he will see the swords of his enemies go to a thousand shivers over it every time they smite the shield of faith!

  • It is of no use, except it is well handled.  A shield needs handling, and so does faith.

So there are some silly professors who have a faith, but they have not got it with them when they need it. They have it with them when there are no enemies. When all goes well with them, then they can believe; but just when the pinch comes, then their faith fails.

Spurgeon then suggests three practical ways to handle the shield:

  1. Quote the promises of God against the attacks of your enemy
  2. With the doctrines.  Handle the shield doctrinally.
  3. Experimentally:   we remember how God has helped us in the past
  • Like in olden times and days of chivalry, the shield (our faith) carries the Christian’s glory, the Christian’s coat of arms

what is the Christian’s coat of arms? Well, good Joseph Irons used to say it was a Cross and a crown, with the words “No Cross, no crown”—a most blessed coat of arms, too! … Some of the old Reformers used to have an anvil for their coat of arms ,and a significant one, too, with this motto, “The anvil has broken many hammers.” By which they meant that they stood still, and just let men hammer at them till their hammers broke of themselves!

How and Why Do We Come to Christ? The Different Answers

July 5, 2013 5 comments

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology series, this message provides a good summary look at how different groups answer the question:   How and why do we come to Christ?  Herein we see the distinctions between Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Arminians and other variations of belief.

Pelagians:  We come by ourselves.

  • Attributes salvation to our human will and denies total depravity.  S. Lewis Johnson observed “Adam when he fell was the first Pelagian.”

Semi-Pelagians:  I wanted to come, and God helped me.

  • Denies prevenient grace (grace exercised by God on us, before we come to Christ), but admits “cooperative grace” occurs if I choose to come.

Arminians:  God gives me sufficient grace to come, because Christ died, and I cooperate.

  •  Believes that men are depraved.  But Jesus Christ in His death provided sufficient grace for men — which becomes efficient grace when we cooperate with it.

Lutherans:  God brought me and I did not resist.

  • This variation believes that men are totally depraved, but thinks that God’s grace is resistible.  When a  man comes to Christ, he comes by virtue of God’s grace. But if he does not come it is because he resists God’s grace.

Calvinists: God brought me to Christ.

  •  As expressed by Jonah (Jonah 2:9), Salvation is of the Lord.

For all of these differences in the theology, we note, though, that “in a practical way, most genuine Christians respond the same way to the life of God.”  We pray to God believing He is able to do something.