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Posts Tagged ‘doctrinal error’

Challies’ 2017 Reading Challenge: Scripture’s Attributes and Importance

July 7, 2017 2 comments

In doing the 2017 Challies reading challenge, I’ve been going through my inventory of various free and low-cost books I have acquired over the last few years.  These include a free audio recording of Kevin DeYoung’s “Taking God at His Word,” a past selection from Christian Audio’s monthly free downloads (the Kindle version is currently on sale for $3.99); a recent Christian Audio free offer (The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd Jones, by Steven Lawson); and a Kindle book that was free at the time of its publication a few years ago, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism.  From reading these three books, plus the latter part of Iain Murray’s The Forgotten Spurgeon, I notice one common theme, expressed in different ways: the importance of Scripture.

Kevin DeYoung, Taking God at His Word:  I had occasionally read blog posts from DeYoung, but not any books from him yet.  The reading style is easy and straight-forward, and the introduction gave me the impression of a too-easy, too-light book.  Yet the chapters of the book – though for a general  layperson audience — provide solid material, a good overview of the Attributes of Scripture.  I especially like his acronym SCAN:  Sufficiency of scripture, Clarity (or perspicuity), Authority, and Necessity.  Four different groups of people show a weakness in one of these attributes:  Sufficiency – the “Rank and file Christian;” Clarity – Post-Moderns; Authority – Liberal Christians; and Necessity – Atheists and Agnostics.  DeYoung’s popular style relates important ideas and responses to criticism of specific scripture accounts  with current-day analogies, including reference to popular fiction such as the characters from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  A notable example here is the book of Jonah, which Jesus refers to in statements that make it clear that Jonah was not merely a nice, moral literary story, but refers to actual historical events.

Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd Jones:  The latter part of The Forgotten Spurgeon addresses the downgrade controversy and the issue at stake — the authority of the Bible and the attack from increasing liberalism/modernism.  Lawson’s The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd Jones, in dealing with London during Lloyd Jones’ preaching ministry in the mid-20th century, serves as a type of sequel to the condition of churches in London, the result several decades after the downgrade controversy that had begun in the late 1880s.

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism focuses on a quite recent attack on scripture, this one especially concerned with the sufficiency of scripture.  Specifically, this book is one of several from the last few years that address the error of fallible prophecy, promoted by Wayne Grudem.  A detailed and informative book, it considers several scriptural passages and interacts with and responds to Grudem’s errors regarding Agabus as well as many other problems with Grudem’s handling of scripture.  The New Calvinist continuationist view, with new revelation that is vague and unclear, “fallible prophecies,” considers scripture as insufficient in itself.

 

Inductive Reasoning and Doctrinal Error: The Mosaic Covenant

April 19, 2017 2 comments

I have appreciated recent books from covenantal premillennialist Michael Barrett, and so now I’m listening to some of his lessons available on Sermon Audio.  Currently I’m going through his 10-part series, “Refuting Dispensationalism.”  This series was done in the 1980s, and so he interacted with the classic and revised dispensationalism of that time, particularly quoting from Charles Ryrie as well as Darby and the Old Scofield Reference Bible.  The issues dealt with are the ideas that originated with dispensationalism, such as the two peoples of God, the law of God versus law of Christ, and the postponement theory of the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

The second lesson brings out an interesting point, which really goes back to the problem of inductive reasoning:  reasoning from a specific case to a general conclusion.  In the case noted by Barrett: the idea, taught by Scofield and others (including full NCT in our age), that the Mosaic law was a “works covenant” that Israel was placed under, as works-salvation with stringent focus on keeping the law and the ceremonial observances; therefore, per this reasoning, since all of this law was a works-salvation for them, none of it is relevant or applicable to us today; we in the church age are under the “law of Christ” which is different from the law revealed in the Old Testament era.

This idea (Israel placed under a works covenant) comes from something else that is true:  many Jews, in the apostle Paul’s day as well as previously, did view the Mosaic covenant as something external, to be kept and performed as a means to salvation.  As Dr. Barrett points out here, though: just because some people believed that a certain thing to be true, and believed that the Mosaic arrangement established by God meant works-salvation–does not mean that God actually intended it that way.  And numerous passages throughout the Old Testament prophetic books make it clear that God was not at all pleased with the Israelites’ external, outward compliance with the Mosaic rituals and ceremony–it was always about the heart intention, not merely the outward observance.  Here, as Barrett points out, a similar comparison could be made in our day.  Some people in our age really do read the Bible (misread it) and think that salvation is based on some type of works, what they do and what they contribute to their salvation.  Yet, just because some people believe that, does not make the actual idea, of actual salvation by works, true.  Both of these could be considered examples of inductive reasoning—reasoning from a specific case (what some people believe about a particular teaching) to the general, and thus concluding what the general, true belief is, based on what some people erroneously think.

Another, similar case I recall — a Bible teacher who reads Acts 8, the account of the Ethiopian Eunuch, including the man’s question to Philip about what he is reading in Isaiah 53 – who was the prophet referring to, himself, or someone else?  — and has concluded that because the Ethiopian eunuch (a specific case, a specific individual) did not understand Isaiah 53, that therefore all people in the Old Testament age (a general conclusion), all those people who lived before the New Testament age (which made everything clear), were all just as confused and unable to understand Isaiah 53, no different from the Ethiopian eunuch. But nothing in the Acts 8 case demands such a general, widespread conclusion; it simply recognizes that this man was studying the text and was still confused.  Other New Testament texts — notably, 1 Peter 1:10-11 — make it clear that in the Old Testament age at least some of them, by “the Spirit of Christ in them”  recognized “when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories

In a post several years ago, I referenced S. Lewis Johnson’s observations regarding the problem with inductive reasoning.  His point was particularly in reference to an appeal to science, and how inductive reasoning will fail.  The same points made here, though, apply to any case of inductive reasoning:

You can never know anything from induction.  In fact, science has done such a great job of propaganda that people say, the way to study the Bible is by inductive Bible study.  Would anybody question that?  Well, they ought to.  You can never know anything by induction.  You can never actually know anything by induction.  In the first place you can never know you have all of the facts necessary for the induction.  You can never know that your hypothesis is the hypothesis that explains the facts as you see them.  So, you can in never know that your hypothesis is the only possible hypothesis.  You can never know anything by induction.  People ought to know things like this, but they don’t, unfortunately.

 

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.