Your session will end in  seconds due to inactivity. Click here to continue using this web page.
Thursday, June 17, 2010 | Comments (81)

Consult the doctrinal statement of 100 churches in America. You’ll probably find this phrase, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” What about the doctrine of creation? Is it essential or non-essential? According to John MacArthur, divine creation is one of the primary doctrines of the Bible.

When considering what church to attend, or college to send your children to, the doctrine of creation becomes vitally important because it’s the foundation of a Christian worldview. Not everyone feels that way—in fact, as John explains, most people don’t. Take a look!

First, watch the video excerpt, then visit the comment thread to discuss the following questions: How should Christians determine what doctrines are essential and non-essential—does Scripture give us any clues?


Make a Comment

Click here to subscribe to comments without commenting.

You have 3000 characters remaining for your comment. Note: All comments must be approved before being posted.

Submit

#1  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 4:46 AM

This is nothing new. The establishment of 'essential' creeds goes back to the 2nd century church at least... probably further. The early church leaders actually did a pretty good job coming up with creeds like the Apostle's Creed, which I think summarizes essential beliefs pretty well.

It seems to me that the best place to look to determine essential doctrines of the church would be the Bible, in particular, the writings of Paul and the teachings of Jesus which never take a position on the literal basis for Genesis, only the theological significance of the stories themselves.

I don't want to sound argumentative, but I have a real concern that John MacArthur really needs a lesson in Biblical hermeneutics. He has demonstrated once again that he does not know how to interpret scripture very well. It is necessary to understand the circumstance under which a particular scripture is written, including the author, audience, genre and theological purpose. It is also very important to understand Biblical inspiration vs revelation.

No one interprets all of scripture literally, and there's absolutely no reason to suggest that all of Genesis should be interpreted that way despite the abundance of Biblical allegory. Everyone agrees that Jesus frequently used mythological stories such as the prodigal's son, to relate theological truths. No one questions the importance of whether or not those stories are literal.

What about Jesus referring to John the Baptist as Elijah the prophet (Matthew 17:11-13)? Is it essential or even reasonable to think that John & Elijah were literally the same person?

By the way... the Biblical basis for belief in a literal Adam comes from the genealogical record contained in scripture, which has a strong basis for literal interpretation.

#2  Posted by El Amigo De La Playa  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 5:03 AM

Very good video ! I couldn´t have said it better (as a matter of fact, I couldn´t have organized my ideas so well as JMA).

1 question: Who is the ministry mentioned on the beginning of the video ?

It could be Mars Hill Church. Please forward this video to Pastor Mark Driscoll, if any of you readers/moderators have a way to do so. Ask him to comment publicly. I enjoy Driscoll´s preaching, but I am deeply disturbed by his "old earth" views...

That makes me think about this week´s decision, in France. The Evangelicals (mostly Pentecostals & Baptists) separated from the historical Protestant Church organization (mostly Lutherans). Basically, Lutherans don´t really take the Bible literally, and are just "cultural Christians", while Evangelicals are very focused on "sola scriptura".

French Lutherans are mocking Evangelicals, as being dumb "American-like" Creationists who start to shake & speak in tongues while a preacher in a white suit makes a ton of money off their back.

Evangelicals say they only read the Bible literally and live accordingly. This is why they "divorced" Lutherans.

Lutherans are ok with homosexuality, abortion, evolution, ecumenism,

note really believing in Jesus and a bunch of other stuff...

#3  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 7:41 AM

Good Morning Folks:

I'm feeling froggie this morning,(can't fly-don't go there). I've had my English muffin, and water with a little PB and honey. Feeling good!

This morning when I got up I turned on my computer and brought up the bible software on it. First thing I read "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled." The context leads me to believe that Christ was speaking specifically the "10" big ones, and generally of the Torah. I ask myself, "If God, who knows the hearts and minds of all men, cares this much about what we would believe to be insignificant, how is it that we think that He would use accommodation in the area of creation?" I can understand when God accommodates man's law regarding ANE contracts - such as in Abraham's case where God's character did not need to change from being true to becoming a liar. He made a covenant with him that was unconditional and he is keeping to that promise. There is no reason to suppose he needed to use ANE cosmologies as a backdrop to give man a canvas for painting a picture of redemption (that is based upon figments of the imagination). Just as he would not have used the creation story of ancient Japan as a backdrop for any biblical truth. I have said it before and I will say it again,"The Word of God was not written in a vacuum, it was not a product of the modern mind, and we are not the first ones to receive revelation from God. Adam knew God in a way we would never have known God were it not for Christ. And part of the assumption of OE/TE is that ancient man was so stupid and unlearned that he would not have been able to handle the truth." We are the ones with that problem, as recent studies have shown in psychology, (recent test results for a large major city in America show that I.Q scores are going lower, not higher. Recent SAT testing scores had to be adjusted due to this dumbing down process that is taking place).It is not necessary take the path of modern "science" and try to mix it with the bible to come up with "truth". God has already done that for us. Besides, since when can you dilute "truth" and get "better truth"? Just a thought.

#4  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 8:49 AM

Dear Joey:

I have to laugh regarding your statement about JM's ability to handle the Word of God. John has probably been studying the Word longer then you have. He reminds me of a preacher by the name of Paul Tassel, a great expositor and one who devoted his life to the truth found in the Word. Maybe you think that John Phillips (he is in his nineties) needs to return to school to learn how to study the Bible, or a host of others who have committed their lives to understanding the Word throughout the centuries. Most of these men would stand shoulder to shoulder with JM.

As to your statement that "everyone agrees that Jesus uses mythological stories"... most of the Christians I know would not call a parable a "myth". To be honest, the word "myth" has too broad a connotation and is a poor word to be used in connection to parables, (it presumes the story is "false" in a non-technical sense, which is the way most of us use the word). You might as well use the term "old wives tales" as to use this term- so please don't.

As to the use of allegory,(I'm sure that Fred or Steve will answer this better then I , but...) The only allegories that I know of are spelled out in scripture, for instance Gal.4:24. The freedom which some use this device equals their lack of hard labor in the Word and an undisciplined mind. It should be a last resort rather then first in biblical interpretation.

Using allegory is kind of like how my dad taught me to cook possum. He said " Take two medium possums, don't skin them. Get the largest iron skillet you have place a bit of oil in the bottom place the possums in the center , and heat over a roaring wood fire. Next get a 5 lb bag of sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, corn and the rest, cook for two hours... after wards throw out everything but the possums, start over again same as before... after a further two hours throw everything away and go to a restaurant and eat stake... cause there is nothing you can do to make a possum taste good and you throw the skillet away cause the iron skillet won't be of any use cause you cooked possum in it. Just a thought.

#5  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 9:39 AM

Paul,

Thanks for your response.

I certainly do not mean to undermine JM’s credentials. At the same time, there are a number of people I acknowledge have (or had) excellent credentials as experts in their field, including Antony Flew, Stephen Hawking, Bart Erhman, William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, etc. Simply having good credentials is not enough to keep one’s ideas beyond the reach of simple scrutiny. In fact, if anyone can honestly say that they agree with all the people I mention based on credentials alone, that person has a lot of explaining to do about their seemingly self-contradicting worldview. My critique is in JM’s approach to Biblical exegesis, which I believe is fundamentally flawed. That’s based on listening to him speak, reading things he has written and even participating in Bible studies using his materials. He simply does not seem to take the time to examine the texts very carefully, using fallacious and eisegetic reasoning, which is exceedingly apparent in this video. In my opinion, he simply does not “correctly handle the word of truth.” But like I said, I don’t mean to pick on JM, I just disagree with his methods of interpretation.

I also must disagree with your understanding of the term “myth.” While you do describe a contemporary colloquial meaning of the term, it is not at all consistent with “myth” as a literary form. Common understandings aside, the only possible way to interpret historical writings, including the Bible is with a firm understanding of the mythological genre. It very much a part of the way the Bible was written and it in no way implies a lack of truthfulness in the texts.

Could you please explain your basis for saying that allegory should be a “last resort” in Biblical interpretation? What should be the “first resort” and why?

I love your Dad’s possum cooking story. I’ll have to remember to use that one sometime!

#6  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 10:08 AM

Joey, we need a baseline here to know where you are coming from. How would you describe your hermeneutical approach?

My critique is in JM’s approach to Biblical exegesis, which I believe is fundamentally flawed.

Ok, but his approach is the standard conservative evangelical approach. So it is the conservative evangelical approach you disagree with?

Could you please explain your basis for saying that allegory should be a “last resort” in Biblical interpretation? What should be the “first resort” and why?

It's one of the most fundamental principles of evangelical hermeneutics. You take the normal literal sense of the text unless there are obvious reasons not to. For the same reason you wouldn't take Exodus 15 as allegorical (I'm assuming), we don't take Genesis 1 as allegorical. See this article for why Genesis 1-3 should be taken as historical narrative.

By the way... the Biblical basis for belief in a literal Adam comes from the genealogical record contained in scripture, which has a strong basis for literal interpretation.

I am really confused by this comment. You seem to be denying the historicity of Genesis, but then you affirm the historicity of Adam. So... can you explain where you are coming from? Are you TE, OEC, something else?

the abundance of Biblical allegory.

Examples?

the writings of Paul and the teachings of Jesus which never take a position on the literal basis for Genesis, only the theological significance of the stories themselves.

Can you demonstrate this? Jesus and Paul appeal to the details of the historical accounts, not the "significance" of the stories.

Everyone agrees that Jesus frequently used mythological stories such as the prodigal's son, to relate theological truths.

Not really. The prodigal son story was a condemnation of the Pharisees, similar to Nathan's story to David regarding Bathsheba. The other parables were meant to hide truth, not explain it. He had to explain the theological truths of the parables (not myths) to the disciples later.

#7  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 10:11 AM

Joey writes,

He simply does not seem to take the time to examine the texts very carefully, using fallacious and eisegetic reasoning, which is exceedingly apparent in this video.

Huh? John didn't even attempt to exegete a passage in this video. It was introductory material to a larger message. How can you say he is fallacious and eisgetical when there wasn't even a text involved? Can you be more specific?

#8  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 12:34 PM

Joey writes: “I have a real concern that John MacArthur really needs a lesson in Biblical hermeneutics. He has demonstrated once again that he does not know how to interpret scripture very well.”

and

“My critique is in JM’s approach to Biblical exegesis, which I believe is fundamentally flawed. That’s based on listening to him speak, reading things he has written and even participating in Bible studies using his materials. He simply does not seem to take the time to examine the texts very carefully, using fallacious and eisegetic reasoning”

Joey, think about this for a minute. You’re debating over the proper understanding of a parabolic literary device (trying to lump it into the same category as myth), questioning why we shouldn’t interpret Scripture allegorically FIRST, confusing a sermon introduction with actual exegesis and exposition, and you’re claiming John needs lessons in hermeneutics? . . .

I won’t defend John, because his work speaks for itself. The fact we’re having this discussion is one such proof (think about it). John has taken his stand on a truth to which he is deeply committed. He counted the cost before preaching the series and writing the book. In my estimation, the people most irritated by John’s material on Genesis are the very ones whose ideas are most threatened by it. If you’ve been challenged by the sermons and articles presented in this series, that’s a good thing, Joey, and here’s why. Truth demands scrutiny. If your view of creation, origins, evolution, reality, cannot withstand the scrutiny of God,s Word, don’t throw rocks at the preacher, reconsider your beliefs.

A couple of questions for you: (1) Do you have a MacArthur study bible? (2) How much of John’s material have you been exposed to (sermons, books, commentaries)? Just curious, because your accusations and criticisms of John seem sweeping . . . surely you’ve intersected with much of his material to be able to make such claims, right?

One more question. What hermeneutic do you advocate, since you obviously reject, out-of-hand, the acceptable method of interpretation for the majority of conservative, evangelicals.

#9  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 12:36 PM

I love this view given by John D. Morris:

Throughout the Old Testament, God often reminded His children to remember His mighty acts. Is that God commanding us to remember His mighty "myths"? Of cause not.

#10  Posted by Tal Bartelle  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 1:21 PM

I don't just agree with John MacArthur because he's a gifted teacher. I agree with his assertion that the doctrine of Creation is foundational to the Christian worldview because I have done my own independent study on this topic.

As John MacArthur points out so well, creation is the very first thing that God wanted us to know. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". God wants us to know not only that He created it, but the sequence and timing of creation as well.

This video has helped me to realize just how important this foundational issue is. I, for one, will start asking the question to every organization that I may want to be associated with, "Do you believe completely in the literal interpretation of Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2"?

#11  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 1:39 PM

Gabriel,

“Joey, we need a baseline here to know where you are coming from. How would you describe your hermeneutical approach? “

Sure, I use the historical-grammatical method.

“Ok, but his approach is the standard conservative evangelical approach. So it is the conservative evangelical approach you disagree with?”

Hmmm. I need a little more information about what that method entails. On the surface it sounds like letterism, but I don’t want to assume it’s the same thing. I think a large number of “evangelicals” use the HG method. From my perspective, only ultra-conservative evangelicals, or ultra-liberal Christians would tend to disagree with that approach.

“It's one of the most fundamental principles of evangelical hermeneutics. You take the normal literal sense of the text unless there are obvious reasons not to. For the same reason you wouldn't take Exodus 15 as allegorical (I'm assuming), we don't take Genesis 1 as allegorical. See this article for why Genesis 1-3 should be taken as historical narrative. “

Great article! I had to bookmark the page so I can go back and see more of that site. It would seem that the writer(s) agrees with the HG method as well. I do have an issue with the conclusion obviously, since they seem to be basically showing that Genesis 1-2 should not be interpreted as poetry. I agree with that. The problem is that does not mean it must be literal by default. That’s where I have a problem with the approach of “you take the normal literal sense of the text unless there are obvious reasons not to.” I don’t see any reason to assume literalism by default. We would never do that with any form of literature. There are several different literary forms used throughout scripture. I’m not sure what you are getting at with Exodus 15. Most of that is poetry. The events of Exodus 14, on the other hand, I think is best understood as literal. But in that case, there is good reason to interpret it that way. It is written as journalistic and was probably recorded by an eyewitness of the events. There is a specific revelation (the first-hand experience) of the account.

“I am really confused by this comment. You seem to be denying the historicity of Genesis, but then you affirm the historicity of Adam. So... can you explain where you are coming from? Are you TE, OEC, something else?”

I admit that both OEC and YEC to some extent are plausible, but I think TE is much more likely to be accurate based on all the data.

I do not deny the historicity or the divine inspiration of Genesis, just the literal interpretation of stories that obviously predate the written records themselves, as well as the ones who recorded them. One thing, however, is clear about ancient Hebrew culture. They valued their genealogical heritage. It was important to them to know where they came from and to preserve the lineage of their ancestors. I would guess that long before Moses, or whoever collected and/or wrote down the words of Genesis, little Hebrew children learned their genealogy all the way back to Adam as part of their earliest education. As in all cultures, legends undoubtedly arose around the figures of antiquity.

“the abundance of Biblical allegory.”

“Examples? “

In addition to the other examples I have already given (parables, John the Baptist) how about the talk Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15? Jesus was clearly (relatively speaking) using allegory, yet Nicodemus could not get past his literalism.

I may have overstated by using the word “abundance” but my point was that allegory, among many other literary genres are present throughout scripture. The distinctions between them must be more than just arbitrary, as I’m sure you would agree.

“Can you demonstrate this? Jesus and Paul appeal to the details of the historical accounts, not the "significance" of the stories. “

Sure. One example is when Jesus was teaching the disciples privately about the end of the age in Luke 17. Jesus used the story of Noah to underscore the theological truth of “whoever tries to keep his life will loose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” He did this while describing the nature of the “coming of the Son of Man.” There’s no more reason to interpret that as validation of literal interpretation than there is when I say something like, “I ran as fast an Indian Jones did in Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It’s enough to have a familiarity with the story to grasp the significance. A literal interpretation is just not necessary, or even preferrable.

“Not really. The prodigal son story was a condemnation of the Pharisees, similar to Nathan's story to David regarding Bathsheba. The other parables were meant to hide truth, not explain it. He had to explain the theological truths of the parables (not myths) to the disciples later. “

Agreed. I would still call that mythology.

#12  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 2:07 PM

Tommy,

Thanks for your comments.

“I won’t defend John, because his work speaks for itself. The fact we’re having this discussion is one such proof (think about it). John has taken his stand on a truth to which he is deeply committed. He counted the cost before preaching the series and writing the book. In my estimation, the people most irritated by John’s material on Genesis are the very ones whose ideas are most threatened by it.”

Sure, but you could just as easily make this same statement and substitute Richard Dawkins for John MacArthur. What about it then says anything about the validity of his ideas? I will say that JM makes a heck of a lot more sense than RD, but that’s not really relevant.

“If you’ve been challenged by the sermons and articles presented in this series, that’s a good thing, Joey, and here’s why. Truth demands scrutiny. If your view of creation, origins, evolution, reality, cannot withstand the scrutiny of God,s Word, don’t throw rocks at the preacher, reconsider your beliefs.””

I fully agree. I would ask you to do the same. I certainly do not wish to “throw rocks” at anyone. I only want to offer constructive criticism, which I believe is warranted.

“A couple of questions for you: (1) Do you have a MacArthur study bible? (2) How much of John’s material have you been exposed to (sermons, books, commentaries)? Just curious, because your accusations and criticisms of John seem sweeping . . . surely you’ve intersected with much of his material to be able to make such claims, right?”

1) No. I’m not familiar with a JM study Bible.

2) I have read numerous online articles, and have heard a podcast or two. Some of my friends are big fans and we discuss some of his teachings. I was in a small group that used one of his study guides for the book of James. I came to this website based on my familiarity with him. That’s about it.

I wouldn’t characterize my statements are “sweeping criticisms and accusations.” I think that’s somewhat overstated. I would say that I’m familiar enough to offer reasonable critiques.

“One more question. What hermeneutic do you advocate, since you obviously reject, out-of-hand, the acceptable method of interpretation for the majority of conservative, evangelicals. “

Please see my earlier response to a similar question from Gabriel. I would most certainly disagree with you that the method of interpretation represented on this blog is consistent with the “majority of conservative evangelicals.” I would consider these extreme interpretations.

#13  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 2:45 PM

There are several different literary forms used throughout scripture. I’m not sure what you are getting at with Exodus 15. Most of that is poetry. The events of Exodus 14, on the other hand,...

So since "Oh Say, Can You See?" is in the, ahem, genre of poetry, then there was no Battle of Baltimore and certainly no "bombs bursting in air?" (It's that time of year again.)

#14  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 2:45 PM

Joey:

No, Richard Dawkins would actually be an extremely poor choice for comparison. He’s not even on the radar. I’m neither threatened nor challenged by the theories and arguments he advances; I don’t make a habit of reading his books; and I certainly don’t visit his blog (if he has one) to dialogue and argue with his followers. It would be a waste of my time. He’s not even on my map of interest, frankly. See the difference? I’m glad you think John makes more sense, by the way ; )

I'm not picking on ya Joey. I just want you to think about the comments you made. I believe you'd agree that your exposure to John's teachings is relatively minor. The articles you read are no doubt based on Scripture, but probably not sermons, hence the majority of your interaction with John’s material is not expositional in nature. So your accusations come from incomplete and inconclusive evaluation. If you had exposited the Scriptures for over 40 years, and I read a few of your online articles, watched a blog video of about 4 minutes, heard someone teach who used your material, and listened to a podcast or two, then said what YOU said about John’s method of teaching, you’d at least hope I was thoroughly familiar with your material, wouldn’t you? Plus, I don’t think your critiques were “reasonable.” Read what you wrote tomorrow when your mind is fresh—I think you’ll see what I mean.

Also, I’m not sure how your friend used John’s material from James, but the MacArthur New Testament Commentary is an outstanding resource for studying that epistle. I’m currently using it myself. Also, you should obtain a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible, even if you don’t agree with John’s position on Genesis 1-2. The value of over 33,000 explanatory notes spanning 50 years of ministry is priceless.

It’s on sale for $26.25 right now on this website :) Try this link: http://www.gty.org/Shop/Bibles/44NKJHC_NKJV-MacArthur-Study-Bible-Hardcover

#15  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 2:49 PM

Joey, would you subscribe to the JEDP theory and historical critical methods? Do you subscribe to inerrancy and infallibility?

I’m not sure what you are getting at with Exodus 15.

Haha... I randomly chose that chapter knowing that Exodus is mostly narrative. Oops. Present I said Exodus 14.

I do not deny the historicity or the divine inspiration of Genesis, just the literal interpretation of stories that obviously predate the written records themselves, as well as the ones who recorded them.

Ok, if Genesis records true history, and it is divinely inspired which means that God superintended the authors to write the truth (not legends), then why shouldn't we take it literally?

I don’t see any reason to assume literalism by default.

Because the Bible presents itself as literal history. Sure it has a number of different genres, but Genesis 1-3 (as you saw in the article) are historical narrative which means, according to normal rules of interpretation, that we must take it literally. What do you think should be our default and why?

I would guess that long before Moses, or whoever collected and/or wrote down the words of Genesis...

I'm not really interested in your guessing. On what authority do you believe this?

little Hebrew children learned their genealogy all the way back to Adam as part of their earliest education.

Except there is no indication that this went on. This concept is out of this air... the kind Mormons would believe (with their preoccupation with genealogies. If Genesis 5 & 11 are inspired, why do you have a problem with God revealing that to Moses?

In addition to the other examples I have already given...

The parables are not myths. Any basic hermeneutic class will teach you that. The John the Baptist and Elijah issue is not a myth, John the Baptist fulfilled a prophecy from the Old Testament. Jesus did not use allegory when talking to Nicodemus, he used illustrations or object lessons. You either have an extremely broad definition of allegory, or you aren't familiar with the most basic principle of hermeneutics

Jesus used the story of Noah to underscore the theological truth

Being that we see Noah as a historical figure (represented as such in 1 Chron. 1:4; Isaiah 54:9; Ezekiel 14:14, 20; Matthew 24:37, 38; Luke 3:36; 17:26, 27; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5), you won't find sympathy for your view here. You can deny the historicity of Noah if you like, but you need to give exegetical reasons why Noah should be interpreted as a myth and not history.

I ran as fast an Indian Jones did in Raiders of the Lost Ark

The author of Indiana Jones represented the story as fiction. Such is not the case with Genesis 1-3 or 6-9.

I would still call that mythology.

Do you know anybody else that does? On what authority do you do so?

#16  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 3:30 PM

Tommy,

“Richard Dawkins would actually be an extremely poor choice for comparison.”

I agree completely. I would never compare JM to RD. My point was that your comments about JM were irrelevant to the discussion about the validity of his ideas, and I used the fact that you could substitute RD to demonstrate as such.

“He’s not even on the radar. I’m neither threatened nor challenged by the theories and arguments he advances; I don’t make a habit of reading his books; and I certainly don’t visit his blog (if he has one) to dialogue and argue with his followers. It would be a waste of my time. He’s not even on my map of interest, frankly.”

Me either, but I am concerned that so many people in today’s culture are buying into his nonsense. I would be interested in finding out they dynamic behind that, notwithstanding the obvious spiritual warfare involved.

“I'm not picking on ya Joey. I just want you to think about the comments you made. I believe you'd agree that your exposure to John's teachings is relatively minor. The articles you read are no doubt based on Scripture, but probably not sermons, hence the majority of your interaction with John’s material is not expositional in nature. So your accusations come from incomplete and inconclusive evaluation. “

I don’t feel picked on in any way. I stand behind my critiques as both reasonable and valid based on my observations, which are more than just casual, they are based on multiple instances. Still, I completely accept that my opinions are somewhat prejudicial. Maybe I’ve got the completely wrong idea… but maybe I don’t. Frankly, there are several well-known authors and teachers I would like to hear more about what they have to say and hopefully learn from, and JM is probably ‘still’ on that list, but he is sliding down it. Today’s video took him down another notch or two.

“… but the MacArthur New Testament Commentary is an outstanding resource for studying that epistle. I’m currently using it myself.”

Great! I might be willing to take a look at another study book or two. At this point, I don’t have enough confidence in the source to warrant getting the Study Bible, but my mind might be changeable I think.

#17  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 5:01 PM

Gabriel,

“Joey, would you subscribe to the JEDP theory and historical critical methods? Do you subscribe to inerrancy and infallibility?”

I tend to disagree with JEDP theory, although I think there are likely multiple authors in places, the majority of the Law books, I believe, were probably recorded under Moses’ authority.

I believe God’s Word to be inerrant. Take that for what it is worth. The popular line to church’s statements of faith today is something to the affect of, “We believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God in the original autograph,” acknowledging that some errors are present, even in the earliest copies we have. The issue itself can get quite complicated. Perhaps we can discuss that in detail some other day.

“Ok, if Genesis records true history, and it is divinely inspired which means that God superintended the authors to write the truth (not legends), then why shouldn't we take it literally? “

I think the question should be, why should we take it literally? I mentioned earlier the distinction between Biblical “inspiration” vs “revelation.” Clearly, if we both agree that all of the Bible is inspired, then we have to use all of the Bible to understand what inspiration means, right? How do you interpret 2 Peter 1:19-21? Would you suppose that Bible authors wrote anything without knowing what they were writing about? They may not have understood the true significance of their writing, but they must have had knowledge of it. The knowledge comes through revelation, but the significance through inspiration.

The fact that there is no record given in scripture of a specific revelation to Moses or any of his contemporaries about the events recorded in Genesis is one of the best reasons to conclude that the record is not of a journalistic nature. Maybe there was such a revelation given to Moses, but since it is not recorded, we certainly can’t just assume that there was.

“Because the Bible presents itself as literal history.”

I disagree.

“Genesis 1-3 (as you saw in the article) are historical narrative which means, according to normal rules of interpretation, that we must take it literally. What do you think should be our default and why?”

Like I said before, I did not get that from the article. It’s focus was on disproving it was poetry genre.

I don’t think there should be a “default” interpretation method. If you go through your daily mail, would you just assume everything must be junk mail before looking at it to see what it really is? Each text must be examined for what it is before assigning it to a category of genre.

“I'm not really interested in your guessing. On what authority do you believe this?”

Well, you got me there. I openly admitted this was my conjecture. Seems reasonable though, especially considering the frequent reference to genealogies recorded in scripture. Perhaps I’m off on this… or perhaps I’m not.

“The author of Indiana Jones represented the story as fiction. Such is not the case with Genesis 1-3 or 6-9.”

How exactly is Indiana Jones “represented as fiction” in a way that could not also apply to those Genesis accounts? I've seen those movies several times, and I ahave yet to see a caption that reads, "This is a work of fiction." I’m using the term ‘fiction’ loosely understanding that there really is a difference between fiction and mythology.

“Do you know anybody else that does? On what authority do you do so?”

You may have a point there. I got a little off track by lumping parables in with mythology. They are actually two different, albeit somewhat similar genres. I don't interpret Genesis 1-2 as a parable, and I don't think anyone else does, but do you admit that hypothetically speaking 'if' someone did interpret it as a parable, and not literal, it would be consistent with an inspired and inerrant view of the Bible?

#18  Posted by Brian Popp  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 7:05 PM

Hey El Amigo De La Playa

Your comments about Lutherans believing in "homosexuality, abortion, evolution, ecumenism,

note really believing in Jesus and a bunch of other stuff.." is a reckless and hurtful statement. I'm a Missouri synod Lutheran, and I can tell you that your statement is a complete falsehood. You need to do your homework before saying damaging things like that. Please recant.

#19  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 7:12 PM

“That betrays a lack of fidelity of the scriptures”

Fi-del’i-ty, n. [L.fidelitas, from fidelis, faithful, trusty, from fides, faith, trust.]

Faithfulness; careful and exact observance of duty, or performance of obligations; good faith.

The above is from the Latin. The study of the Greek reveals the interrelatedness of faith, trust, reliance upon, putting confidence in, entrusting, believe, obedience, etc.

A lack of fidelity to the scriptures betrays a lack of faith. You cannot reject the testimony of God regarding creation and at the same time entrust your soul to a faithful Creator. You might believe but need help with your unbelief (see Mark 9:24), but you cannot “have faith” and at the same time “not believe”, nor can you “have faith” and not trust. You cannot “be saved by grace through ‘faith’” and at the same time be ashamed of His Word “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing [reading] here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:26,27).

OBJECTION: I am saved! I believe that Jesus is Lord! But I also believe in evolution! You have no right to tell me that I am not a Christian! Judge not lest you be judged!

ANSWER: To the Law and to the Testimony. “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless (James 2:20)”? What examples of faith does God give us to test our own faith to examine weather or not our faith is a saving faith? God gives us the example of Abraham offering up Isaac his own son on the alter (see James 2:21-24). For Abraham to obey God in this matter He had to believe all of the revealed word of God and then some. He had to believe and rely on the promise of God that Isaac was the son through which the promise was to come. He had to believe that God was to be feared and obeyed. He “added up” all that was revealed about God and concluded that God was able to raise Isaac up even from the dead; from which also he received him back as a type (see Hebrews 11: 17-19). At this point in the history of mankind no one had ever been raised from the dead. Which is a greater faith, believing that God merely spoke everything into existence out of nothing in six literal 24 hour days or Abraham believing that God would raise his son even from the dead? Your faith doesn’t measure up and your blasphemy will not be brushed aside! At best you might be an “Almost Christian” but if you should die in this condition you will certainly perish!

Not only do I have a right to tell you that you are not a Christian and that you are yet in your sins but I have a duty to tell you these things. I have a duty to warn you so that I can now, with a clean conscience, say I am innocent of your blood (see Acts 18:6), and I have a duty to warn you in this public setting so that others will not be tempted to travel this same road of destruction. To those of you who are undecided, I solemnly warn you “Be saved (escape) from this perverse generation! Am I seeking the praise of man? God forbid! -His Unworthy Slave

#20  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 8:30 PM

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God…and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.” (See 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5)

I recently addressed those who claim to “believe” but reject the testimony of God about Creation. These people are “honest” about their “rejection” of God’s word. True, they trivialize their unbelief and call it by different names thereby deceiving themselves and deluding the Biblically illiterate and undiscerning but they do possess a certain degree of honesty.

There are many others however who “believe” God’s testimony of Creation and no doubt would claim to “believe” the rest of the scriptures. The scriptures claim to be alive and active. They claim to be sharper than any two edged sword. In fact they claim to be so sharp that they pierce as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow. I cannot comprehend the exactness of such a division! They even claim to be able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Imagine that! What a powerful weapon it is! (Hebrews 4:12) “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4) Notice that Paul says that they are divinely powerful. If the scriptures are true then why is it that so many of you resort to so many persuasive words of wisdom and quote this expert and that expert looking to the authority of “Christian” scientists etc. Please show me your faith by your works.

There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:13) Brethren, let us reverence Him. Brethren, let us trust Him. Brethren, let us honor Him by using the weapons that He has provided so that He might have the glory that is due Him. Let us put away our childish sticks and plastic playthings and take up these divinely powerful weapons and prove the truthfulness of His Word. To Him be glory both now and forevermore. –His Unworthy Slave

#21  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 9:14 PM

They are actually two different, albeit somewhat similar genres. I don't interpret Genesis 1-2 as a parable, and I don't think anyone else does, but do you admit that hypothetically speaking 'if' someone did interpret it as a parable, and not literal, it would be consistent with an inspired and inerrant view of the Bible?

No. That would be a smoke-screen.

#22  Posted by Ronald Kavanaugh  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 10:20 PM

Joey....this may jolt this blog on some level, but the so-called rules of exegesis and hermenuetics are fundamentally relative. Consequently, no one has cause to claim they can extract absolute biblical truth by the use of these generally accepted principles. This is simply consensus that likely carries veracity as evidence of fact, but its still relative since their is no such representation made in the sixty-six books of the Bible. That makes your method, my method and JM's method all relative and yet as I understand all three of us would say the Bible is inerrant and authoritative. It seems clear to me that the first rule of communication must be take someone or something literally. That must be the first context considered, because otherwise oral or written communication makes no sense and you are then mocking what God has clearly purposefully made in order to establish order amongst the creatures of His creation. I believe it is accurate to say that John would interpret over 98% of the Bible literally, and I rightly so I think, because it is logical God would communicate plainly. This is the case with the creation account as well. So, while I personally value good exegesis because it enhances what God wants to reveal to the seeking soul, all these people and all these methods are really quite irrelevant at the end of the exploration. In my view, the rules of bibilical interpretation should be fixed to the principle of literality. Orthodoxy and notions of "essential" and "non-essential" doctrine are clearly relative concepts as well. You can say that certain doctrine is more significant by virtue of its apparent weight in the Bible. However, if these words are from the mind of God then I submit that each word carries the same value; all are equally true. It's only the creature Christian that places more significance on certain words and doctrines because of what it means to him or her. So, you can throw all the names around you want...it is irrelevant and actually confuses the Body of Christ in my opinion. A communication from the Bible or from another source must be first considered in its literal context. If you can disprove the literality of the communication, then you have license to go to metaphor or allegory. I think it is very clear in the Bible when literality is unintended and inappropriate and those who do not recognize this I will venture to say have determined, as I beleive John M would say, like their sin and this causes them to view Scripture inaccurately.

#23  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 10:27 PM

Hey Joey: Bet you never had so much mail!

Maybe to clear things up a bit- let me quote Bernard Ramm's Protestant Biblical Interpretation, put out by Baker Books. This is generally regarded as a good source by HG methodist. "The etymological meaning of the word "parable" is "a placing alongside of" for the purpose of comparison." He goes on to quote Dodd by saying that his definition "at it's simplest...is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life,..." And further ... " it differs from a fable in that it is neither trivial nor fantastic; from the MYTH in that the parable is not a creation of popular folklore; from ALLEGORY which finds meaning at many points in the narrative." He concludes that a parable is a metaphor of simile.

A second point is also in order: While I have had some interaction with Dr Bart Erhman. He is a good example of what you are talking about. He is a nice enough fellow and one who you are able to carry on a conversation with, but Bart is an apostate. He does not follow Christ. The others you mention in your blurb do have credentials, but that is not what I was speaking of. My point is that the folks I mentioned are Orthodox, any degrees aside. If JM had no graduate or post graduate degrees the only thing that would change is that he would use the English Bible and reference the Greek and Hebrew a little differently. He is Orthodox, John Phillips is Orthodox, Paul Tassel is (really) Orthodox. And they did not need a degree to prove it. It is not their protestant background, or their Baptist background, or their PB background that makes them so, it is how they handle the Word of God. Just a thought.

#24  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 10:33 PM

The fact that there is no record given in scripture of a specific revelation to Moses or any of his contemporaries about the events recorded in Genesis is one of the best reasons to conclude that the record is not of a journalistic nature.

The problem, and I've discussed this recently with someone else, is that there is zero evidence to suggest an oral tradition, or that Moses made up the story, or some other concocted theory. On the otherhand, there is consistent evidence that much of what Moses wrote was direct revelation. So on the basis of consistency, it makes sense to say that Genesis 1 through Exodus 2 was direct revelation because so much of Exodus through Deuteronomy was. It's not a closed case, but the direct revelation view is the only view with actual support. Your argument from silence is no argument at all.

Would you suppose that Bible authors wrote anything without knowing what they were writing about?

The only biblical evidence of this relates to prophecy, not history (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Like I said before, I did not get that from the article. It’s focus was on disproving it was poetry genre.

Trust me; if you were to ask Dr. Boyd, he would definitely confirm that historical narrative necessitates literal interpretation except where the text makes it explicit that is it not (Nathan's story to David).

I don’t think there should be a “default” interpretation method. If you go through your daily mail, would you just assume everything must be junk mail

Without a starting point everyone is left to their own imagination. It is a standard method of communication that there is a default starting point. The junk mail illustration doesn't work because that is mistaking value with meaning. Junk mail intends for you to take the words literally, we just don't value it.

Each text must be examined for what it is before assigning it to a category of genre.

I agree with you there, but the genre is what determines our starting point. Since Genesis 1-11 is by and large historical narrative, that genre means that literal interpretation is the starting point. Psalms 104 is poetry, so we shouldn't try to get a historical chronology of creation from it.

How exactly is Indiana Jones “represented as fiction” in a way that could not also apply to those Genesis accounts?

The author himself put it in the fictional genre. Since Scripture is inspired by God, He is the one who should tell us the genre, and there are a multitude of passages all throughout Scripture that refer to Genesis 1-11 and beyond as literal history.

I’m using the term ‘fiction’ loosely understanding that there really is a difference between fiction and mythology.

Can you explain that to me? How is mythology not fiction? Fiction is used to teach a lesson, so is mythology. What's the difference, other than spelling?

especially considering the frequent reference to genealogies recorded in scripture

I'm uncertain how frequent references to genealogies indicates that there was an oral tradition. Who, other than the Mormons, teaches children their genealogy?

do you admit that hypothetically speaking 'if' someone did interpret it as a parable, and not literal, it would be consistent with an inspired and inerrant view of the Bible?

Definitely... not. Scripture is crystal clear that Genesis 1-11 and beyond is history with historical people. The prophets, gospel writers, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter (if not more) all referred back to Adam and Eve, Abel, Noah, and others as historical people by placing them alongside other uncontested historical people.

Would you describe yourself as a bit of a maverick in interpreting Scripture? I get the sense that you kind of shoot from the hip.

#25  Posted by Nathan Seymour  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 11:05 PM

It's funny to think that in our bible we read about creation before we even read about Jesus and yet churches want to rearrange the importance of the Word of God. I was watching the history channel the other day, which is a good way to learn what we must prepare ourselves to defend against, and they were telling of how the story of a garden and a snake was around long before the old testament. They made this seem like a defense against the bible yet I just wanted to jump right into the narrative and say "of course the story was around, but God wanted the people to have the 'once and for all' story so this can be settled and moved on with."

We are in a dangerous era where it has, once again, become God's people who are causing more and more people to slip away from the Truth. Remember, it was the Pharisees who caused more people to follow the wrong path, and it was God's chosen, in Ezekiel, who were considered worse than all the gentile nations combined... 3:4-7 "Then He said to me: "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted."

We, as christians today, do not realize that we become more and more like the Pharisees when we take the Word of God and use it to defend that which we believe it should be and not for what it actually says. God is not trying to trick us but His Word says what it means!!

#26  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 11:20 PM

Hi Folks,

I was reading Black's intro grammar tonight, he has a chapter on "aspect" (26 I believe) which mentioned Col.1:16 "For by him were all things created..." I know that this has been alluded to before, but it seems so clear. Prior to God creating the so called "natural processes" there were none, nada, nothing. It would therefore all have to have been Ex Nihilo creation, all of it. There is no room for evolution to exist there. Just a thought.

#27  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 1:44 AM

What an awesome man of God. (Douglas Grogg).

I've spent hours upon hours reading scientifically "proofs", and realizes there is no undeniable proofs for anything using science.

It ends up with a selection of what seems most reasonable. Just like using statistics. (Put your head in the freezer and your feet in the oven, and then you have it the average very good).

But God is true in every word. Is it hard to understand his clear words? Do I hear His words because I belong to Him? (John 8:43-47)

That is truly a matter of life or dead.

#28  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 7:15 AM

Well, that's an interesting perspective you have there Doug Grogg.

So if someone honestly wrestles with the text, tries his best to understand it with the help of the mind God gave him and the Holy Spirit, and comes to a different interpretation than you, then even if he claims Christ alone as his Savior, he goes to hell?

Is this what Christ sought to build on Simon Peter's faith or is this just hubris?

#29  Posted by Courtney Jarmon  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 7:54 AM

I may not be the best person to speak on this, so I will speak this with all the humility and respect I have, since I am a sister addressing brothers. I've read the comments concerning this particular piece, and I admit I'm rather troubled.

I believe we all agree with the statement "All Scripture is breathed out by God..." (2 Timothy 3:16) What concerns me is the sheer number of different "opinions" as to what is literal and what is parable. Does it matter this much? Are we all not suppose to be "of like mind" and "of one accord???"

From my own studies, (and again, I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination) Genesis 1-3 is a literal recount of how and why God created man, and man's subsequent fall from grace. Speaking from a writer's point of view, with the detail given in the recount, it just seems sensible to take the account as literal.

As far as Bro. MacArthur's teaching methods, I'm not a minister, so I'm not really sure what you brothers mean by hermenautics, but I do know what exegesis means, and I do believe Bro. MacArthur does an impressive job at "rightly dividing the Word of Truth." Speaking from someone who has grown up in church, and came to realize much of what I was taught when I was young was incorrect, I now have a better appreciation for those who do at least make a reasonable and noticeable attempt at studying the scriptures. I believe Bro. MacArthur does just that. And while I don't agree with everything he says, he does encourage me to go behind him and search the scriptures for myself, and get an understanding for myself, and I do believe this is his purpose for these lessons.

To Bro. Joey, if I may offer this piece of advice to you: continue to study, study, study! Not everything that is being taught by any man is going to always be correct. But this is why God holds us as individuals accountable for our own soul's salvation. This is also why the Bereans "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11) If we don't study to see if what we are being taught is true, we will still end up losing our souls.

I mean no disrespect to any of you brothers with my comments...I just felt compelled to, hopefully, offer a decent response to the comments I was reading.

#30  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 8:27 AM

Ronald,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my comments.

“the so-called rules of exegesis and hermenuetics are fundamentally relative. Consequently, no one has cause to claim they can extract absolute biblical truth by the use of these generally accepted principles.”

That was my point from the beginning. JM seems to disagree with you based on this video.

“It seems clear to me that the first rule of communication must be take someone or something literally.”

I don’t think that you can maintain that position in real life, at least and maintain intellectual honesty at the same time. In truth “communication” is rarely literal. We rely on sounds, symbols, body language, numbers, etc every day, throughout our day. If anything is presented to us as directly journalistic, then sure, it makes sense to interpret that literally, but that is only a fraction of the overall communication we deal with.

“it is logical God would communicate plainly.”

I don’t see where you can say that is “logical” for God to communicate plainly. Not only is there no logical basis for that assumption, it is at odds with scripture. How is the death of Judas communicated plainly, when there are two seemingly contradictory accounts in Matthew and Acts of how it happened? What about the seemingly contradictory accounts of Jesus birth in Matthew and Luke? It would seem to me you would either have to give up the “plainness” of scripture or the “inerrancy” of scripture to avoid self-contradiction. Which one is it?

“I think it is very clear in the Bible when literality is unintended and inappropriate and those who do not recognize this ... …causes them to view Scripture inaccurately.”

I could not have said it better myself!

#31  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 8:31 AM

Hey Paul,

“Bet you never had so much mail!”

Ha! If only that were true! I really appreciate the discussions though.

“I have had some interaction with Dr Bart Erhman. He is a good example of what you are talking about. He is a nice enough fellow and one who you are able to carry on a conversation with,”

Yes. I would love to meet him sometime. I’ve heard him debate Bill Craig and even another atheists (one who claimed Jesus never really existed.) He seems like a very nice guy.

“but Bart is an apostate. He does not follow Christ.”

Yes, and to hear his story of becoming a Christian, and committing his life to study of scripture and subsequent rejection of it all is truly one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.

“It is not their protestant background, or their Baptist background, or their PB background that makes them so, it is how they handle the Word of God. Just a thought.”

That’s exactly my point. Credentials are not that relevant. Maybe it has just been the few times I have read/heard JM that he has dropped the ball in that area. Perhaps the rest of the time he’s spot on. We'll have to wait and see if that's the case.

#32  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 8:36 AM

Gabriel,

“The problem, and I've discussed this recently with someone else, is that there is zero evidence to suggest an oral tradition, or that Moses made up the story, or some other concocted theory. On the otherhand, there is consistent evidence that much of what Moses wrote was direct revelation. So on the basis of consistency, it makes sense to say that Genesis 1 through Exodus 2 was direct revelation because so much of Exodus through Deuteronomy was. It's not a closed case, but the direct revelation view is the only view with actual support. Your argument from silence is no argument at all.”

Interesting. I’d like to hear more about your discussion, in particular what you consider “consistent evidence” for “direct revelation.” In my experience, that position is the one with zero support. I’ve never heard anyone present any such evidence. Sure, the idea of oral tradition is unproven, but that doesn't mean it's not reasonable to assume there was one. Or do you think it is more reasonable to assume that before people started writing things down that they just stood around and looked at each other? If you suggest there wasn't an oral tradition, you carry an onus of proof with that claim. Even if you were able to provide such evidence, all you would really be proving is that there is no real basis for a literal Adam.

" The only biblical evidence of this relates to prophecy, not history (1 Peter 1:10-12)."

Right, and in prophecy there is clearly a revelation given to the prophet. Where is the revelation of prehistoric events given to Moses (or anyone else?)

" Trust me; if you were to ask Dr. Boyd, he would definitely confirm that historical narrative necessitates literal interpretation"

I'm sure, but that changes nothing about the data presented in the article. The data points to non-poetry. It is purely a speculation added at the end that this implies literal interpretation. Good data... bad conclusion.

“Can you explain that to me? How is mythology not fiction? Fiction is used to teach a lesson, so is mythology. What's the difference, other than spelling”

Fiction doesn’t have to teach a lesson. Fiction can be purely for entertainment. Fiction can be intentionally misleading. Mythology does not originate strictly from imagination, it is the product of culture, the personification of nature and events, etc.

You should read this article on the nature of mythology and how to recognize it in ancient texts. It's very interesting.

http://biologos.org/blog/the-second-creation-story-and-atrahasis/

" there are a multitude of passages all throughout Scripture that refer to Genesis 1-11 and beyond as literal history."

Name a few passages that you think would not stand as valid even if the Genesis references were myth.

" The prophets, gospel writers, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter (if not more) all referred back to Adam and Eve, Abel, Noah, and others as historical people by placing them alongside other uncontested historical people."

Well I suppose that's more reason to believe the genealogies are literally accurate, huh?

" Would you describe yourself as a bit of a maverick in interpreting Scripture? I get the sense that you kind of shoot from the hip."

I do not consider myself a exegetical maverick of at all. I study the interpretations of people like Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, and even folks I have fundamental differences with like Hugh Ross and John MacArthur from time to time.

I do believe that ultimately, I am responsible for how I handle the truth of God's Word. I cannot hide behind someone else and say something like, "I believed and taught a literal interpretation of the creation account because John MacArthur said I should." I must consider what I honestly believe to be the best interpretation of scripture, no matter who that might offend. If that gets me labeled as a 'maverick' then so be it.

#33  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 8:38 AM

Courtney,

Thanks for the excellent advice and I assure you will be well heeded!

#34  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 10:52 AM

I’d like to hear more about your discussion, in particular what you consider “consistent evidence” for “direct revelation.”

Well, click here for search results of "Lord spoke to Moses". You get double the results if you also search for "Lord said to Moses". Then there is also Exodus 33:11 and Deuteronomy 34:10 that refer to the nature of their communication. Exodus 24:4 refers to Moses writing down "all the words of the Lord." Again, there is a mountain of evidence for direct revelation. Sure, there is no explicit reference to God directly telling Moses the events of Genesis 1 - Exodus 2, but with the extent that the Lord had direct communication with Moses, it seems to be the most logical conclusion (assuming one takes Mosaic authorship).

If you suggest there wasn't an oral tradition, you carry an onus of proof with that claim.

Based on ANE myths, it is obvious that over time demonic distortions of history were passed down. But there is no extra-biblical evidence that anything like what we have in Genesis was passed down.

It is purely a speculation added at the end that this implies literal interpretation. Good data... bad conclusion.

The application of standard rules of hermeneutics is not speculation. Subjective rejection of hermeneutics is.

Fiction doesn’t have to teach a lesson. Fiction can be purely for entertainment. Fiction can be intentionally misleading. Mythology does not originate strictly from imagination, it is the product of culture, the personification of nature and events, etc.

Who says myths have to teach a lesson? Just because fiction doesn't have to teach a lesson, it doesn't make it inherently different than a myth. Fiction is also a product of culture and the personification of nature and events. The two are not mutually exclusive. If you wish, you could say that fiction is a sub-genre of myth, but myths, by definition, are not factual, which makes them fictional.

You should read this article on the nature of mythology and how to recognize it in ancient texts. It's very interesting.

I did, and also the article regarding Enuma Elish. Reading articles on BioLogos is like watching TV specials on Jesus before Christmas. All sorts of different scholars go on and on basing their interpretations and beliefs on liberal presuppositions. Peter Enns adopted liberal dating and source critical ideologies in writing that article. Comparing doctrines of demons (ANE myths) with Scripture is a lost cause. It doesn't help us understand Scripture one iota. Looking at BioLogos as an example, what contribution has ANE myths made to strengthen the veracity, sufficiency, inspiration, and inerrancy of Scripture? None. It has only done the opposite.

Name a few passages that you think would not stand as valid even if the Genesis references were myth.

Genesis 4:1, 25; 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Luke 3:38; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45; Jude 14; just to name some.

Well I suppose that's more reason to believe the genealogies are literally accurate, huh?

You continue to confuse me when you seem to affirm the historicity and veracity of the genealogies, but then say that the persons themselves are myths. Can you enlighten me a little bit?

I cannot hide behind someone else and say something like, "I believed and taught a literal interpretation of the creation account because John MacArthur said I should."

Agreed. Not that you're necessarily accusing me of that (though implicitly it seems like it), but notice that I have not once quoted or referenced John MacArthur as a reason to believe anything. I continue to give biblical arguments (from specific biblical references), and you have yet to give me a single biblical text to support your interpretation of Genesis.

#35  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 11:11 AM

Ronald says:

“This may jolt this blog on some level, but the so-called rules of exegesis and hermeneutics are fundamentally relative.”

Ronald, I think I understand the point you’re trying to make, but the remainder of your comments clearly calls into question your original claim. I think you inadvertently demonstrated the need to employ an obvious set of guidelines when seeking to determine the meaning of Scripture.

Consider the statements you made AFTER claiming the rules of hermeneutics are fundamentally relative. Note especially how you use words such as, “must; should; logical; clear” etc…

You said:

“It seems clear to me that the first rule of communication MUST be take someone or something literally. That MUST be the first context considered, because otherwise oral or written communication makes no sense . . .”

“It is LOGICAL God would communicate plainly. This is the case with the creation account as well.”

“In my view, the rules of biblical interpretation SHOULD be fixed to the principle of literality.”

“A communication from the Bible or from another source MUST be first considered in its literal context.”

“IF you can disprove the literality of the communication, THEN you have license to go to metaphor or allegory.”

“I think it is VERY CLEAR in the Bible when literality is unintended and inappropriate…”

You laid down some very nice rules of hermeneutics. Theoretically, it sounds nice to say the rules for hermeneutics and exegesis are fundamentally relative; but when you come to the text, reality sets in.

That’s the reason why the method of interpretation you see practiced by John MacArthur is so popular among Bible teachers—not because John uses it, but because it gets the meaning right.

#36  Posted by Garrett League  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 1:20 PM

*****ATTENTION ALL***** Saturday, June 19

8:30am - 9:40am (ET) with Albert Mohler

Why Does the Universe Look So Old?

Watch live stream here: http://www.christianity.com/ligonier/

#37  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 1:25 PM

Gabriel,

Okay, we both seem agree that that God did speak to Moses directly, but there is no reference to any revelation of prehistoric events, right? If that’s true then I believe we have both made our points and we can move on, okay?

“Who says myths have to teach a lesson?”

I was referring to your words.

“myths, by definition, are not factual, which makes them fictional. “

Incorrect.

Please see Websters definition for myth:

http://mw4.m-w.com/dictionary/myth

Sure myth ‘can’ mean not factual, in a colloquial sense but that is by no means the classical, most commonly understood in literature, meaning of the term.

I would not expect you to agree with the articles on BioLogos, but I didn’t hear you bring up a single point that refutes the data you read there. I just hear language seemingly to incite like “liberal dating” and “lost cause.” I don’t see any reason to respond to hallow arguments. If you have an issue with anything you read there specifically, we can certainly discuss it. I don’t have a problem picking them apart if need be.

“Genesis 4:1, 25; 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Luke 3:38; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45; Jude 14; just to name some. “

I don’t really see how these scriptures would be invalidated by some of the stories in Genesis being mythology. I do see a small problem with the 1 Corinthians 15:22 theologically, but that problem is pretty easily overcome. If one interprets Adam as literal, as I do, then there is no problem, but even if Adam were simply symbolic, the idea that men were sinners before recorded history is axiomatic, and thus the theology stands. I’m interested in your reason for posting the reference in Jude to Enoch’s prophecy. That’s not a reference to anything from the OT, but from the Book of Enoch, which is universally rejected as scripture. So in a sense the source has already be dismissed, yet you still consider the words of the book of Jude as inspired and inerrant, right? Why then can you not accept that the rest of scripture is sufficiently valid despite a variety of interpretations from Genesis… even ones that don’t even come close to rejecting it?

“You continue to confuse me when you seem to affirm the historicity and veracity of the genealogies, but then say that the persons themselves are myths. Can you enlighten me a little bit?”

Persons??? I didn’t think I had made a distinction between genealogies and persons… it was between genealogies and events. I’m sorry, I thought we had cleared that up. I suspect (suppose, imagine, guess, or whatever term you want to apply) that they are accurate. It would be consistent with the rest of scripture, the way the accounts read, and simple reasonableness. If my guess is wrong, then it does little to undermine the foundations of my faith, which consists of things like, the sovereignty of God, the atonement of Jesus’ sacrifice, the reliability and authority of God’s Word, etc.

“Not that you're necessarily accusing me of that (though implicitly it seems like it),”

You were right the first time. I only was thinking of my own responsibility at the time. No veiled accusations intended.

“ I continue to give biblical arguments (from specific biblical references), and you have yet to give me a single biblical text to support your interpretation of Genesis.”

Of course not. My position is that there are no Biblical texts to support any particular interpretation of Genesis other than itself.

#38  Posted by Edward Howell  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 3:11 PM

I have been following along for awhile and just had to jump in here with my two cents. Someone has well said "God said it, I believe it and that settles it". It is hard for me to understand how a person can say he/she is a Christian who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit read the Genesis creation account any other way than literal. While claiming to believe in the inerrancy of scripture deny the miracle of creation. That is God said he spoke the world into existence. But as far a this topic goes I think we have jumped the gun. How did everything get here to start with, eternal dirt or eternal God. How did life start other than by God because there is no other way for it to have happened. Check out Answers In Genesis website to get the biblical true story. By the way ever hear of Borel's Law. Here is an excerpt from a website I found.

Borel's law

Forget about any fundamental flaws in the evolutionary model such as violation of the second law, sheer complexity of DNA, and no record of a genetic mutation ever causing an improvement. Let’s just look at some numbers. No biology. No chemistry. Just math.

Emile Borel is a famous mathematician and one of the world’s foremost experts on mathematical probability. Borel’s law states that the occurrence of any event, where the chances are beyond 1 in 10 to the fiftieth power, is an event that we can be certain will never happen no matter how much time is allotted and no matter how many conceivable opportunities could exist for the event to take

place. To put that in perspective, 10 to the fiftieth seconds is well over 3 trillion years.

Harold Morowitz is a former professor of Biophysics at Yale University. He estimated the probability of formation of the smallest, simplest living organism to be 1 in 10 to the 340 millionth power. I don’t know if he’s even close but he’s an expert and he’s infinitely less probable than what Borel says is already a mathematical impossibility. If you do the math, anyone who accepts the theory of evolution as fact must, by definition, believe in miracles.

#39  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 4:53 PM

I would not expect you to agree with the articles on BioLogos, but I didn’t hear you bring up a single point that refutes the data you read there.

First, it should be noted that the articles are pure speculations of the relationship between ANE myths and Genesis 1-9. Second, when Peter Enns refers to biblical scholars he primarily refers to liberal scholars. Third, the development of the two creation accounts is fabrication on the part of those liberal scholars. Fourth, though the article claimed that making comparisons helps us mine the theological depths of Genesis, none were provided. Fifth, Enns' idea that the creation of Adam is symbolic of the creation of Israel is contrived and not validated by Scripture. Sixth, Enns doesn't say a word about why examining clearly demonically influenced myths helps us understand Scripture.

Over the last few weeks I've read a number of articles on BioLogos and they have demonstrated their complete ambivalence to the text of Scripture. They outright deny inerrancy and do not distinguish between biblical Christianity and heretical Christianity. There is no commitment whatsoever to the text of Scripture. So it makes it difficult to respond to particular arguments because the entire superstructure of their thinking is a worldview different from mine.

I don’t really see how these scriptures would be invalidated by some of the stories in Genesis being mythology

Where else does Scripture use historical people in mythical stories? You need to provide evidence for literal people in mythical stories. Regarding 1 Corinthians 15:22, Adam needs to be more than literal. He needed to have actually done what Genesis said he did, and God needed to say exactly what Genesis said He did in order for 1 Corinthians 15:22 to hold. Why? Because the text places the life in Christ on the historical actions of Christ on the same par as the death in Adam on the historical actions of Adam.

I mentioned Jude 14 because it validates the genealogy in Genesis 5 and makes Adam as historical as Enoch. Of course the genealogy of Genesis 5:1-5 verifies the historicity of Genesis 1-3.

So in a sense the source has already be dismissed, yet you still consider the words of the book of Jude as inspired and inerrant, right?

The words of Jude, where he referenced the Book of Enoch, are inspired. No Scripture references or quotes ANE cosmology myths.

Of course not. My position is that there are no Biblical texts to support any particular interpretation of Genesis other than itself.

Wow... so you ignore the testimony of all the inspired writers who put the events of Genesis 1-9 on the same par as events related to Abraham, David, and others. You have yet to demonstrate how the OT or NT represent Genesis 1-9 differently than any other portion of Scripture.

You can deny that Scripture validates the historicity of Genesis 1-9, but then you'll also have to deny that Scripture validates the historicity of Moses, Abraham, David, Jesus, Paul and everyone in between. If the only way to know if biblical characters were historical is if they are mentioned in extra-biblical texts, then we have an extremely insufficient Scripture. Perhaps a good question for you is, "What would validate the historicity of Adam in the biblical text? What would you want to see?"

#40  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 5:31 PM

Dirk #28 “So if someone honestly wrestles with the text, tries his best to understand it with the help of the mind God gave him and the Holy Spirit, and comes to a different interpretation than you, then even if he claims Christ alone as his Savior, he goes to hell?

Is this what Christ sought to build on Simon Peter's faith or is this just hubris?”

Dirk, Salvation is not a matter of a person being sincere or trying hard enough, nor is it a matter of relying on the mind that “God has given him”. Every part of man is corrupted by a sin nature. Man is by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and until a man is born again or literally “born from above’ as the Greek reads in John 3:3 and John 3:7, he can do nothing but sin. Unregenerate man’s view of the Holiness of God is woefully inadequate, that also is an aspect of the depravity of man. You mention Simon Peter’s faith. When Christ first called Peter in Luke 5:8 what was the response of Peter when he saw the miraculous catch of fish? He fell down at the knees of Jesus and said what? “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” We see a similar response in the tax collector. Unwilling to even lift up his eyes towards heaven and beating his breast, he said what? “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13) In regards to the process of the new birth, before God gives His “new creation” a heart of flesh, He first removes their heart of stone (see Ezekiel 36:26). Before a person is born again they must first be brought to the end of self. In fact, the very act of being baptized is a public testimony to the fact that the person has “died” and has now become a “new creation” in Christ.

I’m not sure what you mean by Christ seeking to build on Simon Peter’s faith. If you are referring to what people call his “confession of faith” in Matthew 16:16, then be sure and recognize this; Peter had to be brought much lower than he was at this time of his life. He had not yet been brought to the end of himself. This was accomplished through his denial of Jesus after His arrest. He was made to see that he could no longer rely on self. If you are referring to his “confession of faith” as being the rock on which Christ builds His church, then I would caution you against putting the confidence of your salvation in such a thing. The only thing which we dare put any assurance of salvation in, is the actual work of regeneration which God Himself has done on the inside of us through the incorruptible seed of the living and abiding word of God (see 1 Peter 1:23). If He has started a true work of regeneration in someone He will also finish that work (see Philippians 1:6). If it is the work of the flesh (our own doing) or the work of man it is sure to fail (see John 1:13). Furthermore; the rock which Christ builds His Church on, is in fact a firm, immovable foundation. That foundation is none other than Christ Himself. There is no magical incantation in Christianity. That is pure religious superstition. He alone can save. He alone is worthy. To Him alone be glory, power and honor, both now and forevermore. –His Unworthy Slave

#41  Posted by Ronald Kavanaugh  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 9:30 PM

Thanks Tommy...your right, my stated position moved towards principles; and hermeneutics is a set of principles. It probably means that I inherently accept the modern guidance of biblical interpretation. All Scripture must be viewed in its proper context and I would assert that proper context is generally derived out of literal understanding of the communication, exceptions noted.

My point was that the Bible (the original autographs if you prefer) is the only thing in time and space that is in substance an absolute truth. I maintain this in view of it being God's declaration of reality and how things truly are. Anything else, including man's development of exegesis and hermenuetics is not. That does not mean that is not good, it means its not from the only Holy One. I then proposed that in view of the abiding relationship between the Christian and Christ, it is logical that God would communicate plainly. Joey seems to think that the biblical record is evidence that is an unjustified assertion. I disagree and I will leave it at that.

Generally accepted Christian exegesis and hermenuetics are the result of an incredible historical evolution of concepts. They are of immense importance and value, but they cannot be viewed as absolute. Only the sixty-six books of the Bible are absolute. To the extent that the Bible interprets itself, such interpretation is absolute. What God has done must be clearly distinguished from what mere men have done. They have nothing to do with each other, with the exception of the works of the God/man Jesus Christ.

The only other thing I would say is that systematic theology does not recognize, as far as I know, the work of the Spirit in the Christian to see and understand God. If a Scripture should be taken literally, I believe the Spirit will tell me so. (1 Corinthians 2:12). If a Scripture is allegory the Spirit will tell me. Furthermore, I will rightly conclude that which is heresy. Ultimately, me dependence is on my Father and no other. It seems strange to have to say that.

John Mcarthur is an outstanding proselityzer of the Word. That's why I'm here, and I am able to recognize that without ever having attended a seminary class.

#42  Posted by Ronald Kavanaugh  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 10:03 PM

Joey...you have alot of balls in the air with all the responses...I hope your careful and considered about how you respond in respect of such an important topic.

I don't believe John is in disagreement with me as you infer and I believe I stated that. Scripture should be interpreted in context and that context is generally interpreted literally in my view as the writer intended, exceptions noted.

Your statement "communication is rarely literal" is simply a denial of the facts. If you won't accept that literal communication is a logical means of thought conveyance when someone is trying,therfore their objective is, to communicate who they are and what they are doing, then your simply in denial. Your reference to sounds, symbols, body language as a primary means of communication is not tenable and is not applicable to the biblical record with the exception of symbols, and even then the Bible is stating the literal symbol it wishes to communicate, however the meaning must be unearthed in context.

The Bible is God's eternal Word. Therfore, your view that it contradicts itself in the Judas account and the virgin birth is accordingly impossible. God cannot contradict himself. Your only other option is that you do not believe the Bible is God's Word, or some portion thereof. In any case, your "contradiction assertion" is an unproven relative one. My position is unimpeachable only because it places its full reliance on what God has stated is the absolute truth. Your argument is with the Scripture and what it clearly claims it is, not me.

#43  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 3:07 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#44  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 5:49 AM

Garbiel,

“when Peter Enns refers to biblical scholars he primarily refers to liberal scholars.”

Which scholars are you referring to? Are you classifying anyone as a “liberal scholar” just because you do not like what they say? Trust me, I’m familiar with some real “liberal scholars” and they would never approve of the things written in BL to begin with. BL is much more about mainstream Biblical scholarship whether you agree with it or not.

“the development of the two creation accounts is fabrication on the part of those liberal scholars.”

Where is you evidence for this?

“though the article claimed that making comparisons helps us mine the theological depths of Genesis, none were provided”

Well one was provided, but just not a very good one, in my opinion. But that’s okay since it is apparent that the author’s intent was to encourage a more in-depth study of the texts on a theological basis.

“Enns doesn't say a word about why examining clearly demonically influenced myths helps us understand Scripture.”

Reductio Ad Absurdum

I think you are reading a lot into 1 Corinthians 15 that isn’t in there. The context is the debate over the resurrection of the dead. Adam is mentioned only as the firstfruits of death. Since I agree that Adam literally existed, undoubtedly literally sinned and undoubtedly literally died, there’s no problem. I think one could argue that the theology is equally valid even if Adam were some kind of allegorical figure, but since that’s not my position, I don’t feel obligated to defend it.

“Perhaps a good question for you is, "What would validate the historicity of Adam in the biblical text? What would you want to see?"”

That’s a fair question. First, I’m going to assume that you mean the historicity of the Garden story, not simply the historicity of Adam, which I’ve already said I agree is a historical figure. Ideally a first-hand written account of the events would be ideal, but that’s somewhat unrealistic, I understand. Like I’ve already stated, any text that directly states how the Hebrew writer, most likely Moses, received any kind of revelation about the events, would go a long way toward validating them as historical. Any Biblical text that shows favor of a literal interpretation OVER a non-literal one would also make a difference. Simply eisegeting a literal interpretation of Genesis into NT text is not sufficient, which is all I've seen you or anyone else do so far.

#45  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 6:13 AM

Ronald,

I don’t mean to make light of your response, BUT, if you are trying to argue that one should take a literal interpretation by default, then perhaps you shouldn’t let the first line of your post be, “Joey...you have a lot of balls in the air with all the responses.”

Really? I literally have a lot of balls in the air? Really???

I kid of course… but I thing my point is somewhat made.

“Therfore, your view that it contradicts itself in the Judas account and the virgin birth is accordingly impossible. God cannot contradict himself.”

Be careful with straw men. I never stated that the Bible contradicts itself, only that it “seemingly” contradicted itself if you hold to the principle that you stated, “it is logical God would communicate plainly.”

I certainly do not believe there is any contradiction in scripture, except on a purely semantic level, which even the most conservative of Bible scholars agree exists. There are however, problems with various interpretations that must be overcome. The account of Judas’ death is one such problem.

Also the problem with the accounts of Jesus birth has nothing to do with it being a “virgin birth.” The problems arise from the time period given in Luke vs the one given in Matthew, as well as where Mary & Joseph lived prior to his birth and how they came to settle in Nazareth.

#46  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 7:36 AM

Which scholars are you referring to? Are you classifying anyone as a “liberal scholar” just because you do not like what they say?

No, I'm referring to anyone who rejects Mosaic authorship and dates the Torah to 500's B.C. has rejected longstanding conservative scholarship that says Moses wrote the Pentateuch, starting at Mount Sinai and on through the rest of his life.

BL is much more about mainstream Biblical scholarship whether you agree with it or not.

Mainstream tends to be left of center (think of mainstream churches).

Where is you evidence for this?

First, the fact that no one has ever thought that until source criticism was invented which presuppositionally rejected inspiration and inerrancy. Down through the ages (and I mean ages), Genesis was attributed to Moses, not later scribes. Second, there is as much evidence for this development theory as for JEDP. It is contrived and made up according to false assumptions. If you look into the theory, you will see that the evidence in favor of it is a cloud of smoke. There is none (I'd encourage you to look for it). Fourth, if you read Enns' description of the development, I just don't see how that can fit any definition of inspiration at all.

Ideally a first-hand written account of the events would be ideal, but that’s somewhat unrealistic, I understand.

Unless you deny inspiration, you have a first-hand account.

Simply eisegeting a literal interpretation of Genesis into NT text is not sufficient, which is all I've seen you or anyone else do so far.

I haven't heard "Scripture interprets Scripture" eisegesis before, but perhaps we have different working definitions. So far you haven't put forth any exegetical biblical arguments at all. I'm not offended that you say I'm eisegeting, but it would be easier to swallow if you presented some exegesis. So far we've talked to different sides; I've attempted to give a lot of biblical evidence that I think clearly points to a literal interpretation, and you've given no Scripture and no exegesis to make your points.

I'll ask you again: how does the OT and NT treat the events of Genesis 1-9 any differently than it treats the rest of the OT and Gospels? How can you tell, from Scripture, was is history and what is myth?

For example, Paul refers to Jesus a few times (!), but Paul was not an eye witness of Jesus' life. Sure, Paul had access to the eye witnesses, but the Bible doesn't explicitly say that they told him about Jesus' life. In Acts 20:35 Paul quotes a saying of Jesus that we have no account of anywhere. We also have no indication of how Paul knew that. So how do you know if he was referring to a mythical saying or a historical saying? If you're willing to say that most likely the disciples told him that, then why couldn't God just as easily have revealed Genesis to Moses since they talked one on one quite a bit?

#47  Posted by Jeremy Miller  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 8:14 AM

I'm not sure where all the criticism of John MacArthur is coming from. He has dedicated over 40 years to studying the scriptures and his interpretations are very accurate accounts taken from biblical accounts. He is not trying to preach a feel good message and he acknowledges he will chase a lot of people away as a result of this. His goal is not to build a large church with the 5 easy steps to be a a sinner and make it to heaven. He tells you the way it is - plain and simple.

How many preachers do you hear that are not afraid to call out other preachers who are teaching hypocrisy? John MacArthur is someone I could call a true shephard to his sheep. I deeply appreciate his dedication to scripture and study...he's not one to tell you that you can make it to heaven by the wide path. I discern everything he says and test it against scripture. He is RIGHT on from all the preachings I have listened to him preach.

#48  Posted by Ronald Kavanaugh  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 10:10 AM

Joey,

"I don’t mean to make light of your response, BUT, if you are trying to argue that one should take a literal interpretation by default, then perhaps you shouldn’t let the first line of your post be, “Joey...you have a lot of balls in the air with all the responses.”

Really? I literally have a lot of balls in the air? Really???"

Actually, in my understanding, you just proved my point, you considered the phrase as a literal statement first, then, secondly, you determined in context it held non-literal meaning as a metaphor or manner of speaking.

The Bible is no different after taking into account it was written in a cultural paradigm from two thousand years ago. Their is no logical or hermeneutical reason for departing from the literal account of Genesis 1 and 2 in context that I have heard. In addition,as John M points out there are severe implications from such a departure to the continutiy of Scripture and the implied nature of God. But, as I have previously stated, that is a relative argument that I cannot claim is absolutely true. And yet it is an objective assertion that since God exists and has created men and women and revelation that such revelation would serve to convey clear understanding. Your suggesting, in light of these conditions, that the "possibility" exists for contradiction.

The truth is clearly knowable, and God does exist, so "men are without excuse."

#49  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 2:15 PM

Gabriel,

Since I don’t know exactly which scholars you are referring to as they relate to the article, I can’t really respond to that, BUT do I tend to agree with your stated generalization of liberal scholarship. That’s still the mild flavor of liberal though. There are certainly some much more liberal scholars out there.

“Unless you deny inspiration, you have a first-hand account.”

This is a non sequitur. What does inspiration have to do with first-hand accounts? Revelation would be a first-hand account. I deny revelation, but fully affirm inspiration.

“I've attempted to give a lot of biblical evidence that I think clearly points to a literal interpretation”

Sorry, but in my opinion, your examples fail to support the literalism you imply.

“and you've given no Scripture and no exegesis to make your points”

Go back and read post #1 and post #11 where I did just that. I could give more, but those are probably among the better ones. If you reject those, then I guess we’re at a stalemate since as I just stated, I reject your examples as well.

“I'll ask you again: how does the OT and NT treat the events of Genesis 1-9 any differently than it treats the rest of the OT and Gospels?”

It doesn’t. Why should it?

“So how do you know if he was referring to a mythical saying or a historical saying?”

I don’t know, and neither do you. You have to make assumptions like everyone else.

“If you're willing to say that most likely the disciples told him that, then why couldn't God just as easily have revealed Genesis to Moses since they talked one on one quite a bit?”

He very well could have, but without any data to support it, we can’t just assume that’s what happened. I think it makes more sense to interpret the text as written.

#50  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 2:41 PM

Hi Ronald,

“you considered the phrase as a literal statement first, then, secondly, you determined in context it held non-literal meaning as a metaphor or manner of speaking.”

Uhh… no I didn’t. I looked at it and immediately recognized it as non-literal.

“Their is no logical or hermeneutical reason for departing from the literal account of Genesis 1 and 2 in context that I have heard.”

There is no logical or hermeneutical reason for inferring a literal interpretation to start with.

“it is an objective assertion that since God exists and has created men and women and revelation that such revelation would serve to convey clear understanding. Your suggesting, in light of these conditions, that the "possibility" exists for contradiction.”

Still playing with a little straw man there. I never suggested there was a ”possibility” of contradiction. There are “problems” that both you and I are faced with by holding to Biblical inerrancy. The answers are not simple.

Here are a few:

1. When was Jesus born?

2. Where were Joseph and Mary living up until the time Jesus was born?

3. How did Judas die?

“The truth is clearly knowable, and God does exist, so "men are without excuse."”

Very true my friend.

#51  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 2:55 PM

What does inspiration have to do with first-hand accounts?

Inspiration means "God-breathed", therefore what we read in Scripture comes from God--directly through words attributed to Him, or indirectly through everything else. In Genesis 1-3 we have a mix of the direct and indirect; all of which proceed from God. Since God was there, and Scripture ultimately comes from God, it follows that Genesis 1-3 is a first-hand account.

Another question: is there any other mythical account in Scripture where God is the main character?

Go back and read post #1 and post #11 where I did just that.

Your citation of Elijah/John is in no way relevant to this discussion. Your point was that since John isn't Elijah, we shouldn't interpret the text literally. What does that have to do with Genesis? Also, When Jesus refers to Noah, he is referring to a historical event (obviously you disagree with that). In using that example, you are assuming what has yet to be proven.

Again, you have given no Scripture and no exegetical arguments for why we should take Genesis 1-9 as anything other than literal. To do so, you need to use Scripture that refers to that text in a non-literal way, or affirms the proposed theology of that text to the exclusion of a literal interpretation.

It doesn’t. Why should it?

Because otherwise there is no way to know what is historical and what is fictional. Was Ruth real? Was Esther real? Was Ezra real? Who knows? I do. They were real. Scripture affirms they were real. You have proven my point that once you reject the literal interpretation you are left with the "everyone does what is right in his own eyes" approach. BioLogos is the case in point.

I don’t know, and neither do you. You have to make assumptions like everyone else.... He very well could have, but without any data to support it, we can’t just assume that’s what happened.

Which is it? Can we assume, or can we not assume? You deny my conclusion in the absence of an explicit reference, but you affirm your conclusion on... nothing.

I think it makes more sense to interpret the text as written.

It is written as historical narrative. By definition a literal interpretation according to any standard principles of hermeneutics is the starting point for historical narrative.

Can you cite any book or articles on biblical hermeneutics that rejects literal interpretation as the starting point for historical narrative? In other words, other than your own personal opinion, why do you believe that? Did someone teach you that?

#52  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 3:20 PM

I know you were replying to Ronald, but you're missing the point:

Uhh… no I didn’t. I looked at it and immediately recognized it as non-literal.

Actually, when you first saw that the comment was there, you assumed what he was going to say would require literal interpretation. But then you saw he used a figure of speech, so you interpreted that part--and that part only--figuratively.

When you pick up a history book, you assume from the outset it is literal history. When you pick up a poetry book, you assume even before reading the first line that it is figurative in some way. When you pick up Thomas Jefferson's letters, you assume you will interpret it literally even before opening to the first page.

Each book of the Bible is like each one of these. Even before opening to a book of the Bible, because of your familiarity with it you have a starting point hermeneutic. You don't open to Psalm 41 looking for history or 1 Samuel 5 looking for poetry. The starting point for the historical books (Genesis - Esther) is literal interpretation.

There is no exegetical, grammatical, or linguistic reason for taking Genesis 1-3 as non-literal, departing from the original starting point. If you are going to depart from a literal interpretation, you need to have a textual reason for doing so.

#53  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 3:51 PM

Gabriel,

(hopefully I’ve gotten my HTML tags right. This is the first time I’m trying them out. )

Obviously, we disagree on the basis of what inspiration means. Your conclusions do not follow from your premises. I don’t see how you can maintain your position without contradicting yourself, especially when you consider verses like 1 Corinthians 7:12. How do you deal with scripture like that?

Another question: is there any other mythical account in Scripture where God is the main character?

Does there need to be? What difference does that make? It would seem you are grasping for explanations there.

Your citation of Elijah/John is in no way relevant to this discussion. Your point was that since John isn't Elijah, we shouldn't interpret the text literally. What does that have to do with Genesis?

It’s relevant to the question of the use of non-literalism in scripture. You are asking me to disprove a negative, which is unreasonable. You are claiming that other parts of Bible support a literal interpretation of Genesis. I’m claiming they do not. How am I supposed to provide Biblical evidence to support the claim that there is no Biblical evidence to support a literal interpretation any more than I can provide Biblical evidence that the Bible doesn’t contain a great recipe for spaghetti, other than to simply say, I've read it and it ain't there?

you need to use Scripture that refers to that text in a non-literal way, or affirms the proposed theology of that text to the exclusion of a literal interpretation.

It would be great if such scripture existed. The burden of proof you require is far too high. Its unrealistic.

otherwise there is no way to know what is historical and what is fictional.

None of it is fictional. We’ve been through this. Do we really have to start all over? Rejecting literalism is a far cry from classifying something as fiction.

Which is it? Can we assume, or can we not assume? You deny my conclusion in the absence of an explicit reference, but you affirm your conclusion on... nothing.

You are right, I should have said, “we can’t just assume that’s what must have happened.

It is written as historical narrative.

Not even close.

Can you cite any book or articles on biblical hermeneutics that rejects literal interpretation as the starting point for historical narrative?

Once again, this is about disproving a negative. I’m unfamiliar with any books or articles that assert that literal interpretations should be used as a starting point, but after participating in this discussion, I’m sure there probably are some conservative resources to that effect. Allow me to research that one a bit.

#54  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 4:02 PM

Actually, when you first saw that the comment was there, you assumed what he was going to say would require literal interpretation. But then you saw he used a figure of speech, so you interpreted that part--and that part only--figuratively.

Presume to be inside my head much?

I remember reading it for the first time. I know what I was thinking when I read it. It was figuratively understood from the beginning.

Each book of the Bible is like each one of these. Even before opening to a book of the Bible, because of your familiarity with it you have a starting point hermeneutic. You don't open to Psalm 41 looking for history or 1 Samuel 5 looking for poetry. The starting point for the historical books (Genesis - Esther) is literal interpretation.

You know Gabriel, I actually agree with everything you just said there. This is exactly how we read scripture. The starting point for all of the history books generally IS literal interpretation. The problem is, that is not sufficient reason to believe that they are INTENDED to be interpreted literally. To do so is merely an appeal to popularity.

#55  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 4:46 PM

1 Corinthians 7:12 is not that complicated, Paul had just referred to Jesus' teaching while He was on earth. In this verse, Paul is teaching something that Jesus did not teach during His ministry. In other words, while Jesus was walking on the earth, He taught that a couple should not divorce. Paul, as an apostle with authority, is adding to that teaching with more specific instructions. My definition of a God-breathed Scripture is that both ultimately come from Jesus--one directly, the other indirectly.

Does there need to be? What difference does that make? It would seem you are grasping for explanations there.

I'm giving you opportunities to come up with some kind of evidence to support your thinking outside your own imagination.

You are asking me to disprove a negative, which is unreasonable.

Not really, I'm wanting to know if any biblical text takes the interpretation you do. Obviously you recognize that no one does, which should be a red flag for you.

I’m claiming they do not.

Saying so doesn't make it so. I've given evidence that directly relates to the issue, you reject it (without reason) and don't provide any support in your favor.

How am I supposed to provide Biblical evidence to support the claim that there is no Biblical evidence to support a literal interpretation

This is missing the point. I'm asking for [positive] evidence for your position, or [positive] exegetical reasons to reject my provided evidence. Neither has been provided.

It would be great if such scripture existed. The burden of proof you require is far too high. Its unrealistic.

Such as it is with the evidence you request.

Rejecting literalism is a far cry from classifying something as fiction.

Since it's not fiction we're agreed that what is written is true and really happened in time and space the way it says it did. Right? How can something be true and not true, or happen and not happen at the same time?

Not even close.

Wait, you agree with the article I linked to, which demonstrates the Hebrew text is undoubtedly historical narrative. Historical narrative is the literary genre.

Once again, this is about disproving a negative.

Not at all. I'd like to know where your method of hermeneutics is taught. Where did you learn it? If it is a well established method then surely there is some book or article that describes it.

It was figuratively understood from the beginning.

You may want to read my comment again. I acknowledged you understood the phrase as figurative from the beginning of reading it, but even before reading the phrase you assumed the comment would be literal. The phrase was merely a small figurative literary device in the midst of a literal meaning text. Just like "windows of heaven" is a literary device in the midst of a literal text.

The problem is, that is not sufficient reason to believe that they are INTENDED to be interpreted literally.

Here is the problem. If you finally agree that literal should be the starting point, then you need at least one textual reason for rejecting the literal reading. I agree that the literal interpretation doesn't have to be the intended interpretation, but you must have a reason to depart from the starting point. Thus far, you have given no textual reason for taking a non-literal reading.

I'll ask it this way: what exegetical, grammatical, linguistic, or otherwise textual reason do you have for departing from the literal interpretation?

#56  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 7:16 PM

Posted by Garrett League | Friday, June 18, 2010 at 1:20 PM

"*****ATTENTION ALL***** Saturday, June 19

8:30am - 9:40am (ET) with Albert Mohler

Why Does the Universe Look So Old?

Watch live stream here: http://www.christianity.com/ligonier/ "

I was there in person to hear Dr Mohler's speech. His address was very profound and it underlines my position as stated in previous threads...that the accounting of creation as found in Genesis (being understood literally) is absolutely primary to the overall accurate understanding of the gospel. Missing the mark on the account of creation and the age of the earth necessarily does severe damage to the entirety of God's Word. Therefore, I would urge anyone interested in maintaining the integrity of scripture and the message of redemption to listen to Dr Mohler's speech when it becomes available.

The speech will be available on the web free of charge in three weeks according to Chris Larson.

One paraphrased blurb from the speech: Theistic-evolution is the consummate oxymoron!

#57  Posted by Lois Dimitre  |  Sunday, June 20, 2010at 11:48 AM

How should Christians determine what doctrines are essential and non-essential—does Scripture give us any clues?

With thanks again to Dr. Robert McCabe, who, in his journal article, *In Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week (DBSJ 5 (Fall 2000): 97-123), concludes:

"In the final analysis, the figurative understanding of the creation

days engenders more exegetical and theological problems than it solves, and is, therefore, indefensible when viewed from the perspective of Scripture’s comprehensive message about the nature of the creation week. Consequently, the cumulative weight of the examined evidence demands that the literal interpretation of the days in Genesis 1 is the most internally consistent synthesis of this subject in Scripture.

While many Christians and Christian organizations relegate a literal

creation week to a secondary or tertiary level of Christian doctrine, I would suggest that it is an essential part of the faith. To relegate literal creationism to a peripheral doctrinal level minimally suggests an inconsistent view of Scripture’s perspicuity on this subject and pervasively promotes deterioration in other facets of orthodox doctrine.109 Thus, this essay concludes that the sovereign triune God created, for his own glory and according to his eternal counsel, the heavens and the earth and all things therein in the space of six, consecutive literal days."

*http://www.dbts.edu/journals/2000/mccabe.pdf

#58  Posted by Tim Helble  |  Sunday, June 20, 2010at 1:41 PM

Hi all - I'm a first time poster on this blog. I first listened to Grace to You in 1980 and have always looked up to Dr. Macarthur as a top notch pastor. When I moved to Tucson AZ, I hoped to find a church with a verse-by-verse teaching pastor like Dr. Macarthur, and I did at Christ Community Church in the east side of town. I felt especially blessed when my brother and his wife became Christians and started going to Grace Community Church in the early 1980's. While I feel that Dr. Macarthur's qualifications as a Bible scholar cannot be challenged, I think his understanding of science is questionable at best. From what I see in his contribution to "Grand Canyon - A Different View" and in other postings on this blog, he seems to have hitched his wagon to young earth creationism, which is totally unsupported by straightforward observation of God's creation. For example, take a look at the Surprise Canyon Formation in western Grand Canyon, which fills erosional valleys and karst features in the Redwall Limestone. In the Flood geology scenario, the Redwall would have to be deposited in perhaps a dozen days. Now the young earth folks like to point out that the Redwall is really part of a continent-scale layer of limestone, so when you think about the absurd lateral sediment transport rates necessary to deposit it in a matter of days, you realize that the young earth geologists like Austin and Snelling have been pulling the wool over our eyes for years. We'll set that problem aside for the moment and get back to the Surprise Canyon Formation, which if you plot all the locations where it is found, you realize that it defines a network of channels up to 400 feet deep that get wider and deeper in a westerly direction. Hmmm... a river network forming in the middle of a global flood? Wouldn't that take away from the time needed to deposit all those layers across the globe? To make things worse, the rocks in conglomerates of the Surprise Canyon Formation are chunks of solid Redwall Limestone, with a different set of fossils! No wonder you barely if ever see the Surprise Canyon Formation mentioned in books like "Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe" and "Your Guide to the Grand Canyon: A Different Perspective."

Referring back to one of Dr. Macarthur's statements, when we consider what church to attend, or college to send my children to, do we really want to force ourselves and our children to ignore the tremendous volume of evidence God put there pointing towards an old earth in the name of, as Ken Ham puts it, "biblical authority?" When we look in the night sky at the M31 (Andromeda) galaxy, which is 2 million light years away, is writing that off with statements like Jason Lisle's "there are different time zones in space" really how God would want us to interpret His creation? A previous poster here stated that "You take the normal literal sense of the text unless there are obvious reasons not to." Well, how long will we Christians keep ignoring the obvious and refuse to consider other options on the meaning of Genesis? I sure don't have all the answers, but I don't think God wants me to check my brains in at the door when I come to worship Him. And I'm glad I went to UCLA and the U of AZ, where I had to learn for myself not to believe everything my atheist professors said, instead of a place like BJU. I certainly can't get myself to hitch my wagon to young earth advocates who can't even get the name correct in their books and presentations for the folded formation found 1.5 miles up Carbon Canyon (folks, it's the Galeros Formation, not the Tapeats Sandstone!).

#59  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Sunday, June 20, 2010at 3:01 PM

Hi Tim, thanks for commenting! Have you been keeping up the comments in this and/or previous posts?

do we really want to force ourselves and our children to ignore the tremendous volume of evidence God put there pointing towards an old earth in the name of, as Ken Ham puts it, "biblical authority?"

The evidence only points to an old earth if one rejects a priori a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. In other words, the age of the earth is first a theological/biblical issue before it is a science issue. If the Bible said nothing about the age of the earth or creation, then sure, we could use science to determine it. But since the Bible is quite clear that God miraculously created a mature (i.e. old-looking) earth, then science cannot address the issue.

#60  Posted by Tim Helble  |  Sunday, June 20, 2010at 7:02 PM

Hi Gabriel - yes, I've looked through several (but not all) of the previous blog entries. You can argue that the earth looks old because it was created with appearance of age, or as Al Mohler stated yesterday during his talk, it was created whole. However, then it doesn't make sense to argue that Noah's flood deposited most of the features that make it look old (e.g., the Surprise Canyon Formation), because the world was already created by the time of Noah's Flood. It is not logical to argue for both just in hope one of them sticks.

#61  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Sunday, June 20, 2010at 8:25 PM

Tim,

There could be a myriad of explanations. You write as if no young earth geologist has even considered those things. Evidence has to be interpreted, and our ultimate reference points determine how we interpret it.

The bigger problems, however, is how those in your camp harmonize the obvious theological problems of a long earth with physical death and suffering BEFORE Adam sinned. This point is the Achilles Heel of the long age view. All the redefinition of words, genre, and dismissive ANE mythological hand waving cannot possibly offer a serious response to this problem. Eventually, it comes down to which authority you are going to go with.

I personally wrote more here: http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2010/06/hard-truths-for-theistic-evolutionists_20.html

#62  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 5:03 AM

Fred,

Thank you for the link to your blog and the well written post. While I believed in creation, I had not thought through the implication of the death and suffering required by evolution and its contradiction of God's perfect creation until I read Ken Ham's book "Why Is There Death and Suffering." Now whenever I see roadkill when driving, I think "No, my loving creator God did not call this very good."

#63  Posted by Tim Helble  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 6:27 AM

I don't know of any young earth geologists who actively supports creation with appearance of age. I certainly considered it and I'm sure all Flood geologists have considered it (who hasn't?), but that's as far as it went. With appearance of age, you have God placing all those fossils in the layers just to make them look "whole." In astronomy, you have things like the light from SN 1987a appearing in 1987, so how was the star that exploded created - as a regular star or the supernova remnant we see since 1987? The God I know doesn't play tricks on His people.

The two biggest names in young earth geology are Steve Austin and Andrew Snelling. Steve Austin classifies rocks from the Proterozoic eon (2.5 billion years to 542 million years old) as “pre-Flood/Creation week,” Paleozoic era (542 million years to 251 million years) as “early Flood,” Mesozoic era (251 million years to 65.5 million years) as “late Flood,” and Cenozoic era (65.5 million years to present) as “post Flood.” He uses the 150-day point mentioned in Genesis 7:24 and 8:3 to define the boundary between the early and late Flood periods. Andrew Snelling uses the same scenario in his new two volume set "Earth's Catastrophic Past." That puts the Surprise Canyon Formation in the "early Flood" period. Clearly, neither Austin or Snelling endorses creation with appearance of age. In light of his participation in "Grand Canyon - A Different View" and statements made in this blog series, Dr. Macarthur has clearly cast his lot with the Flood geologists, not creation with appearance of age.

As for the theological problems with an old earth and who's authority we are going to go with, stick around for a few years and watch the theological discussion that is starting up.

#64  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 8:47 AM

My definition of a God-breathed Scripture is that both ultimately come from Jesus--one directly, the other indirectly.

I agree with your interpretation. So are you saying that if it comes "directly" from God it should be understood literally and if it comes "indirectly" from God it should not? That sounds a lot more radical than what I'm suggesting.

Saying so doesn't make it so.

Right, and neither does saying they do.

I'm asking for [positive] evidence for your position, or [positive] exegetical reasons to reject my provided evidence. Neither has been provided. I did give reasons to reject your evidence in post #37. If you want to continue to hold your position… that’s fine, but if you are suggesting my reasoning for rejecting it is insufficient because there is no scriptural basis for it, then allow me to demonstrate the absurdity of what you are suggesting. Let’s continue with my hypothetical claim that the Bible claims there is a great recipe for spaghetti. You want Biblical evidence for my claim? Okay, sure, here it is: 1 Samuel 25:2 and Mark 11:4. Now, name me one other place in the Bible where it is even suggested that a better recipe exists. Can you? Please provide studies on Biblical spaghetti to support your position.

Since it's not fiction we're agreed that what is written is true and really happened in time and space the way it says it did. Right? How can something be true and not true, or happen and not happen at the same time? Are you serious? Let’s consider Ronald’s earlier response, “Joey...you have alot of balls in the air with all the responses...” Was that not a true statement? Was it fiction? Was Ronald lying when he said it? Of course not! It was every bit as true as if I had been physically juggling balls inside my room at the time. The fact that I wasn’t in absolutely no way reduces the truthfulness of his statement.

Wait, you agree with the article I linked to, which demonstrates the Hebrew text is undoubtedly historical narrative. Historical narrative is the literary genre. Round and round we go. I agreed the data supported non-poetry. I never agreed it proved the text was historical narrative. It is possible to partially agree with an article you know.

Not at all. I'd like to know where your method of hermeneutics is taught. Where did you learn it? If it is a well established method then surely there is some book or article that describes it. Sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you were asking for references that rejected literal interpretations of Genesis. I'm following the method of hermeneutics that in my experience are most commonly taught. I certainly didn't make this stuff up. You could classify it has the historical-grammatical method. Both literal and non-literal interpretations of Genesis can fall into this category. The point is there is no establishment of a method of interpreting scripture as literal by default within this method. This method rejects the notion that all of scripture should be interpreted as non-literal, which I strongly agree it should not. If it reads literally, it should be interpreted literally. If it doesn't, it shouldn't. The emphasis is on establishing the literary form, intent, audience, etc before beginning the process of interpretation. Here are some examples of this method I was able to find:

John Calvin's method:

"The hermeneutical principles that scholars have identified in Calvin's work include his commitment to biblical authority, his conception of God accommodating his revelation to human capacity, his emphasis on the unity of the Old and New Testaments, his goal of discovering the intention of the author, and his search for interpretations that are edifying to the church."

From "John Calvin and the Grounding of Interpretation" R. Ward Holder.

Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross' ministry)

http://www.reasons.org/about-us/our-beliefs?main

“While God the Holy Spirit supernaturally superintended the writing of the Bible, that writing nevertheless reflects the words and literary styles of its individual human authors.”

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/bib-docu.html

If you finally agree that literal should be the starting point, then you need at least one textual reason for rejecting the literal reading. I agree that the literal interpretation doesn't have to be the intended interpretation, but you must have a reason to depart from the starting point. Thus far, you have given no textual reason for taking a non-literal reading.

I'll ask it this way: what exegetical, grammatical, linguistic, or otherwise textual reason do you have for departing from the literal interpretation?

I never agreed to any such thing. I never said it should be the starting point, only that it is for a lot of people. I also agree that 50% of marriages end in divorce. That doesn't mean that I think 50% of people should get divorced.

Disregarding your "departing from a literal interpretation" remark, I will say that, based on my study of Genesis 1-11 as well as the rest of the Bible, there is insufficient evidence to positively conclude which method is intended. It could be mythology, literal history, non-literal history, allegory or poetry. Obviously, as we've already discussed, I pretty much believe poetry can be dismissed. I'm also less inclined to accept allegory or non-literal history.

The evidence only points to an old earth if one rejects a priori a literal interpretation of Genesis 1.

In other words, the age of the earth is first a theological/biblical issue before it is a science issue. If the Bible said nothing about the age of the earth or creation, then sure, we could use science to determine it. But since the Bible is quite clear that God miraculously created a mature (i.e. old-looking) earth, then science cannot address the issue.

I'm glad to hear that both you and JM(based on the latest audio posting "Why Six Days?") accept the apparent age explanation. I was going to get around to pointing out that anyone who holds to YEC must also accept apparent age in order to resolve the obvious physical evidences that show the earth and universe to be much older than they suggest it actually is. Many YEC's dismiss the idea of apparent age, so good for you! I actually held this position for a long time myself, and I still consider it a very reasonable possibility. If I am proven wrong on my current understanding of interpreting Genesis, I would certainly revert back to this position.

Now, I don't really agree under either interpretation that science cannot address the issue of the age of the earth or the universe, even if at some point in the past the line between "apparent" and "actual" gets crossed. What difference does it really make scientifically? Take the craters on the moon for example. The prominent scientific models say they were mostly caused during the early bombardment of the inner solar system about 4bya. If such events only occurred theoretically in the pre-created universe, then what is the difference to us looking back at them today?

#65  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 9:02 AM

#41 Dear Ronald:

Hi, I noticed your two comments regarding systematic theology and hermeneutics. When I took systematic theology in college it included all of that and more. Most conservative collages and universities teach these courses using the same text or similar textbooks. My point being, while I did not go to JM's schools, the doctrine of illumination would have been covered.

Hermeneutics, at its root,is a means to weed out schemes of faulty thinking. This "art and science" which JM practices is true to the historical Christianity of the Apostles. It's method seeks to only use the words given to us in their natural context. It assumes that one can not "assume" to interpret Scriptures if they believe in reading between the lines, allegory, or mythologizing the plain sense of the Word. One needs to know how the original reader understood it to some extent for context. Once we understand it's meaning, we apply it to ourselves in living out what is taught. This is the Historical-Grammatical method. Language skills (which JM has in abundance) help this process along. This "method" is no less than a gift of the Spirit of God, to keep us on track to our maturity in Christ.

And a final word might be in order here. (And I hope you take this as I intend- in the spirit of Christian love) If you have never attended a bible college or seminary- how could you speak as to what they teach? I am not sure as you have the time or inclination, but if you do, please avail yourself of the opportunity to "educate" yourself regarding what is taught- how about the Master's college and seminary as a start? (As a note appended to this- you need to be careful in what colleges you choose- some are nothing more then factories for atheism - Princeton is one such school. Thanks for your time.

#66  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 9:21 AM

So are you saying that if it comes "directly" from God it should be understood literally and if it comes "indirectly" from God it should not?

I'm not sure how you could arrive at this from what I said. My point is that God is an eye-witness of Genesis 1-9 events, therefore since Scripture is inspired by Him we have an eye-witness account, which is what you are asking for.

I did give reasons to reject your evidence in post #37.

The only "reason" I can find in the post is, "I don’t really see how these scriptures would be invalidated..." That's not a reason, that is an opinion stated without support. The only support you've provided for your position is your own as-yet-unsupported view of the text, not anything outside yourself.

Was that not a true statement? Was it fiction?

That was a figure of speech. A literary device. It cannot be compared to a genre like myth, fiction, or narrative.

If it reads literally, it should be interpreted literally.

How is this not postmodern "Reader Response"? There are objective grammatical issues that determine the genre, and the genre determines the starting point. The genre is narrative, the starting point is literal, so a [positive] reason must be supplied to depart from the hermeneutical starting points.

I will say that, based on my study of Genesis 1-11 as well as the rest of the Bible, there is insufficient evidence to positively conclude which method is intended.

Based on your conclusion, then, we're left (in your personal opinion) with myth or literal history. I've given ample evidence for literal history. Do you have any evidence for myth? What lines of reason would cause you to lean toward myth (outside your own reader response to the text)?

Think of it like a two-column chart. One column has evidence for literal history (a ton of biblical references that refer to Genesis 1-9 in the same way Scripture refers to other acknowledged historical events), on the other column is evidence for myth. So far you haven't provided positive arguments for myth other than "It makes sense." Can you add to that column?

#67  Posted by Christopher Tuck  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 9:45 AM

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

2Ti 4:3-4 KJVA

Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation that which relates to another not to mention what can happen when we read things out of context or not related to exegesis or hermeneutics. To connect with what God said and did in one dispensation with another, in which His administration was on an altogether different principle, is to ensure error. And finally, to take doctrine of late revelation and read it into the time when it was "hidden" leads to disaster.

Genesis is the seed-plot of the whole Bible. It is essential to the true understanding of its every part. It is the foundation on which Divine Revelation rests; and on which it is built up. It is not only the foundation of all Truth, but it enters into, and forms part of, all subsequent inspiration [The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions by extraordinary or supernatural influence; or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin]

Scripture (and history) warns us not to tolerate and to also hate any practice that which God hates. Sin is like a cancer that will reproduce and eventually kill, if not removed Rom_6:23. Most of the time the partakers of sin try and justify their behavior by advocating some type of moral compromise - perhaps calling it "freedom, or liberty." They usually always incorporated [idolatrous} excessive admiration or love shown for somebody or something] practices into their worship. (the churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 were plagued with idolatry and sexual immorality, and adulterating the Word of God)

#69  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 3:49 PM

I'm not sure how you could arrive at this from what I said

I didn’t quite arrive at that. I was just asking because I didn’t really follow your reasoning. I thought you were begging the question when you equated inspiration with a first-hand account in post #51; however, I thought your handling of 1 Corinthians 7:12 was spot-on. I thought you might have been trying to draw some kind of conclusion based on direct vs indirect and it somehow related to literal vs non-literal interpretations. I can see I was barking up the wrong tree with that, so now I’m back to thinking you were begging the question in post #51.

That's not a reason, that is an opinion stated without support

That’s a perfectly valid reason, and the exact scriptures that you use are my support. You say those scriptures would only work if the context was literal interpretation of the Genesis references. I used the exact same scriptures to show that other interpretations work just as well in the same context.

That was a figure of speech. A literary device. It cannot be compared to a genre like myth, fiction, or narrative.

No, but the same principle applies.

How is this not postmodern "Reader Response"?

Simple… Reader Response (which you very accurately describe as post-modern) is subjective. I’m only suggesting an objective basis for interpretation based on how it is intended to be read when it was written.

Based on your conclusion, then, we're left (in your personal opinion) with myth or literal history. I've given ample evidence for literal history. Do you have any evidence for myth? What lines of reason would cause you to lean toward myth (outside your own reader response to the text)? Think of it like a two-column chart. One column has evidence for literal history (a ton of biblical references that refer to Genesis 1-9 in the same way Scripture refers to other acknowledged historical events), on the other column is evidence for myth. So far you haven't provided positive arguments for myth other than "It makes sense." Can you add to that column?

You seem to be wanting to instigate a red herring argument where we compare one method of interpretation against another. That’s not what this thread has been about and I’m not going to indulge that, mostly because it has been done before, multiple times. Sure I have my opinions and you have yours, but initially the topic has been whether or not a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis is essential or non-essential doctrine, and specifically if a literal interpretation is the only one that is consistent with a inerrant view of Scripture. You have not given “ample evidence” and certianly not "tons" of references in support of such claim. JM’s video certainly did not provide any reasonable evidence. I’m not going to take on an exclusive position without sufficient evidence, as both you and JM have done in this case. My inclinations toward mythology may be wrong, yet it would still be consistent with all of the Bible. You may be wrong with a literal interpretation and yet your position is likewise consistent with all of the Bible. We may both be wrong and the OEC’ers may have it right. Their position too is completely consistent with all of the Bible.

#70  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 4:20 PM

Joey,

Just one question. What biblical/grammatical/exegetical/theological reasons drive you to a mythical interpretation of Genesis 1 (1-3? 1-9?)?

You don't have to be exhaustive, but at least two or three reasons would tell me that there is some logical biblical reason (whether I agree with it or not) that you hold your position.

#71  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, June 21, 2010at 8:39 PM

"...the writings of Paul and the teachings of Jesus which never take a position on the literal basis for Genesis, only the theological significance of the stories themselves."

How much more literal could Paul have been?

26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28' For in him we live and move and have our being.' Acts 17:26-28

Jesus certainly taught from a literal understanding of Genesis:

"But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’" Mark 10:6

"Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all." Luke 11:50-51

(note that Jesus stated the blood, or death, of ALL the prophets from the foundation, or the beginning, of the world began with the literal death of Abel found in the Genesis accounting of Abel's murder)

Matthew 24:38–39 where Jesus referenced Noah's flood (I know that the flood is not the creation account but it demonstrates Jesus' literal interpretation of Genesis in terms of history)

There are numerous references in all four gospel books of Jesus teaching from a literal/historical perspective of Genesis. I suggest anyone who doubts that Jesus taught from anything BUT a literal/historical position of Genesis actually read the gospel books for themselves...no other conclusion can be reached.

Here is what the Psalmist wrote regarding Jesus (which if you believe the bible correctly it was God Himself Who breathed out these very words...referring to Jesus Whom the Apostle John says in no uncertain terms is the Word...

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (no evolution...no millions of years...He just spoke and it stood fast)

Here is Paul again:

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” Colossians 1:16-17

"...the topic has been whether or not a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis is essential or non-essential doctrine..."

There are many highly respected theologians/organizations speaking to this subject:

John MacArthur:

"I’m convinced the opening chapters of Genesis are not optional. They establish the vital foundation for everything we believe as Christians." Pulpit Magazine

Robert L. Reymond:

"The church has traditionally understood Genesis as teaching a divine creation ex nihilo, and more particularly, the creation of man in his own image by a direct act of God. The church cannot afford to abandon these absolutely fundamental articles of faith, and it will do so only at great cost to itself and to the people it seeks to win to faith and to a home in heaven, because only as men are God’s creatures do they have personal significance and only as they are his creatures are they responsible moral beings answerable finally, of course, to him."

AIG:

"The history of Genesis and original sin are absolutely foundational and essential to fully understanding the gospel."

Al Mohler (whose video from the Ligonier Conference where he addressed this subject for an hour will be available this week) said emphatically that a literal/historical understanding of Genesis is one of four corner stones for the entirety of the redemption story.

www.ligonier.org

And there are many others.

The dangers, in my opinion, of tampering with the creation account in a non-literal fashion are myriad...here is one example of how an evolutionist views the issue:

The easiest way to harmonize science and religion is simply to re-define one so that it includes the other. We may claim, for example, that “God” is simply the name we give to the order and harmony of the universe, the laws of physics and chemistry, the beauty of nature, and so on. Professor Jerry A. Coyne

#72  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Tuesday, June 22, 2010at 6:04 AM

Just one question. What biblical/grammatical/exegetical/theological reasons drive you to a mythical interpretation of Genesis 1 (1-3? 1-9?)?

Sure. Here you go…

There is no specified means of interpretation given in the Bible for Genesis 1-11. There are no other Biblical references to anything in Genesis 1-11 that only fit, or give preference to, a literal interpretation. Literal interpretations have been discouraged by some of the most prominent contemporary theologians such as Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, as well as throughout history by Thomas Aquinas and Augustine for example. The earliest writings in virtually all cultures, not just ANE are mythological. The events of Genesis 1-11 uncontrovertedly would have occurred prior to written history. The only possible mechanism for conveying stories from one generation to the next before writing would have been oral tradition. Similar mythologies predate any possible Mosaic authorship. The Genesis writings in Gen 1-11 are not monolithic. They are a collection of different stories and are clearly outlined as such. Each story follows a standard mythological pattern. Mythologies are a perfectly acceptable method of conveying historical truth in the absence of circumstantial or scientific details. Any prejudices against it based on modern definitions of terms are unjustified.

#73  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, June 22, 2010at 9:19 AM

Joey,

Did you read my question? You need to give a reason from within the text (or Bible) to reject a literal interpretation. You've only given a number of reasons external to not only the text, but the Bible itself. That is eisegesis at its worst, namely, basing the interpretation of the text on pagan mythological norms and historical assumptions, completely disregarding the uniqueness of special revelation.

Since you have already admitted that the Bible makes no distinction between Genesis 1-9 and any other historical event, you are on really weak grounds when you have to appeal to demonically influenced sources to make your point.

#74  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Tuesday, June 22, 2010at 11:37 AM

Did you read my question?

Yes I did. Have you been reading my posts where I’ve repeatedly answered this same question over and over again? Try as you will to get me to accept your presuppositions that would require me to present evidence to reject them, but it won’t work.

You need to give a reason from within the text (or Bible) to reject a literal interpretation.

No I don’t. I’ve already clearly explained that there is no reason within the text to accept either a literal or a non-literal interpretation to start with. All attempts you have made to present such evidence has relied on purely fallacious circular reasoning.

you are on really weak grounds when you have to appeal to demonically influenced sources to make your point.

Okay first, my ‘point’ has been clearly stated and repeated from the beginning. Here it again. There is NO biblical evidence that exclusively supports literal interpretations of Genesis 1-11. I don’t need to appeal to anything in order to prove my case. All I have to do is assert that your evidence in the affirmative fails to meet the onus of proof.

Second, if we want to discuss in the alternative why one method of interpretation is more likely correct that the other, then fine. I have made my case for that. I may very well be wrong and I’m fine with that possibility. In fact, I welcome the opportunity to be corrected. But such a discussion is pointless if you are not willing to afford yourself the same possibility. You don’t have to compromise your standards in order to simply be teachable.

Third, you are equivocating a broad range of valid extra-biblical sources as “demonically influenced sources.” What exactly do you consider to be demonic and on what basis do you make such a determination?

Let me ask you one question. Trust me. It is relevant to the discussion. Why do you believe the Bible to be true and without error?

#75  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, June 22, 2010at 12:10 PM

I'll address the last question first.

Why do you believe the Bible to be true and without error?

First and foremost because it claims as much. Second, it has stood the test of time. A great many men have sought to destroy and extinguish the Bible and its teaching, but all are dead and God's Word remains. All scientific theories that have sought to invalidate Scripture continually change and continually support Scripture (archeology is a prime example).

What exactly do you consider to be demonic and on what basis do you make such a determination?

Pagan cultures are ruled by the ruler of this world, Satan. Satan twists and perverts truth every chance he gets. Pagan cultures worshiper a plethora of false gods and in an effort to please their gods did all manner of sordid things. Whether they knew it or not, they were worshiping demons. So when they write about how their gods made the world, I call that demonic. Satan is an expert in taking God's truth and twisting it to make it sound right when it is perverted. ANE cosmology does indeed tell us the thinking of the day, but that was demonically driven thinking. Therefore when God speaks, His Word is true and is not to be compared to them.

#76  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, June 22, 2010at 5:21 PM

"Literal interpretations have been discouraged by some of the most prominent contemporary theologians such as Alvin Plantinga..."

I wrote in the latest blog that such deconstructional approaches to scripture could be traced in modern times to folks such as Alvin Plantinga...I guess my point has been validated.

Let's look, rather, at Who wrote the scriptures and exactly for what they are intended:

2 Tomithy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

An approach that undermines the clear meaning of what one can easily read in scripture (which is what Plantinga and others are suggesting) serves to advance the kingdom how? In other words, if one cannot just read the text, expect to be able to understand the text, and apply the actual meaning as read then how is God glorified and His kingdom adavanced?...I would argue that the kingdom is not served at all by any obscuration of a text.

Further, John 16:13 says in part "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth..." I take this to literally mean that when an individual is regenerated and his/her body becomes the

temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) the Holy Spirit will guide that person into all truth concerning spiritual matters...especially where God's Word is concerned. It is ridiculous for someone to suggest that the Holy Spirit uses double truths or obscuration as His modus operandi to illuminate the minds of His people.

John Calvin commented on the meaning of 2 timothy 3:16. I suggest reading and earnestly praying over the matter...really serious stuff tampering with God's Word.

Calvin-

All Scripture; or, the whole of Scripture; though it makes little difference as to the meaning. He follows out that commendation which he had glanced at briefly. First, he commends the Scripture on account of its authority; and secondly, on account of the utility which springs from it. In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.

And is profitable Now follows the second part of the commendation, that the Scripture contains a perfect rule of a good and happy life. When he says this, he means that it is corrupted by sinful abuse, when this usefulness is not sought. And thus he indirectly censures those unprincipled men who fed the people with vain speculations, as with wind. For this reason we may in the present day, condemn all who, disregarding edification, agitate questions which, though they are ingenious, are also useless. Whenever ingenious trifles of that kind are brought forward, they must be warded off by this shield, that “Scripture is profitable.” Hence it follows, that it is unlawful to treat it in an unprofitable manner; for the Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable. 192192 “Who is it that by nature will not desire his happiness and his salvation? And where could we find it but in the Holy Scripture, by which it is communicated to us? Woe to us if we will not listen to God when he speaks to us, seeing that he asks nothing but our advantage. He does not seek his own profit, for what need has he of it? We are likewise reminded not to read the Holy Scripture so as to gratify our fancies, or to draw from it useless questions. Why? Because it is profitable for salvation, says Paul. Thus, when I expound the Holy Scripture, I must be guided by this consideration, that those who hear me may receive profit from the doctrine which I teach, that they may be edified for salvation. If I have not that desire, and do not aim at the edification of those who hear me, I am a sacrilegious person, profaning the word of God. On the other hand, they who read the Scripture, or who come to the sermon to listen, if they are in search of some foolish speculation, if they come here to take their amusement, are guilty of having profaned a thing so holy.” — Fr. Ser.

For instruction Here he enters into a detailed statement of the various and manifold advantages derived from the Scriptures. And, first of all, he mentions instruction, which ranks above all the rest; for it will be to no purpose that you exhort or reprove, if you have not previously instructed. But because “instruction,” taken by itself, is often of little avail, he adds reproof and correction

It would be too long to explain what we are to learn from the Scriptures; and, in the preceding verse, he has given a brief summary of them under the word faith. The most valuable knowledge, therefore, is “faith in Christ.” Next follows instruction for regulating the life, to which are added the excitements of exhortations and reproofs. Thus he who knows how to use the Scriptures properly, is in want of nothing for salvation, or for a Holy life. Reproof and correction differ little from each other, except that the latter proceeds from the former; for the beginning of repentance is the knowledge of our sinfulness, and a conviction of the judgment of God. Instruction in righteousness means the rule of a good and holy life.

#77  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Wednesday, June 23, 2010at 6:21 AM

First and foremost because it claims as much. Second, it has stood the test of time. A great many men have sought to destroy and extinguish the Bible and its teaching, but all are dead and God's Word remains.

I can respect that.

Allow me to explain how I would answer that question. I believe the Bible is true and without error because I can find no error in it. I can say that with a certain degree of intellectual honesty because I have approached the texts with a minimal set of presuppositions about its inerrancy. No one can honestly approach the study of the Bible with no presuppositions at all, therefore no one has grounds to dismiss someone else’s circular reasoning altogether, but what I’m wondering is if you have every relied on anything other than circular reasoning (anything that doesn’t assume Biblical inerrancy a priori) to arrive at the conclusion that it is indeed true and without error?

Whether they knew it or not, they were worshiping demons. So when they write about how their gods made the world, I call that demonic.

I agree with all of that, but it has nothing to do with the reasons I gave for mythological interpretations of Genesis 1-11. First, I never said anything about creation myths. I only said that mythologies are common to virtually all cultures in their earliest writings. That would even include America’s culture with mythologies surrounding Christopher Columbus, Plymouth Rock, George Washington, etc. I also mentioned that mythologies existed prior to Mosaic authorship of Genesis. Its unreasonable to think that before Moses, the Hebrew people had no mythology. Perhaps they already had some of these pagan myths and God reveled something different to Moses which set the record straight. Or perhaps they had the basic understanding of the things recorded in the Genesis accounts already. There’s no conclusive evidence either way.

#78  Posted by Joey Hodge  |  Wednesday, June 23, 2010at 6:37 AM

I wrote in the latest blog that such deconstructional approaches to scripture could be traced in modern times to folks such as Alvin Plantinga...I guess my point has been validated.

Deconstructional only to your unscriptural presuppositions.

.. Plantinga and others are suggesting) serves to advance the kingdom how?

Well there’s 2 Timothy 2:15. Also, remember Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness?

that undermines the clear meaning of what one can easily read in scripture…

The insistence on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and especially the idea that such an interpretation is essential doctrine does EXACTLY that. It undermines the clear meaning of what one can easily read in scripture. Please see the sub-quotes from your earlier lengthier quote for exactly what I mean.

“We are likewise reminded not to read the Holy Scripture so as to gratify our fancies, or to draw from it useless questions. Why? Because it is profitable for salvation, says Paul.”

“Thus he who knows how to use the Scriptures properly, is in want of nothing for salvation, or for a Holy life. Reproof and correction differ little from each other, except that the latter proceeds from the former; for the beginning of repentance is the knowledge of our sinfulness, and a conviction of the judgment of God. Instruction in righteousness means the rule of a good and holy life.”

Great teaching indeed! I wish more people on this forum especially would apply them. I greatly admire the teachings of John Calvin, but remember what else he said:

““The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion—no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wandering, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? (Job 26:7) By what means could it [the earth] maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it?" “Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.’”

On this matter, Calvin, though somewhat theologically correct, was exegetically wrong with his conclusions. I know it. You know it and even John MacArthur knows it. Being dogmatic in your position is great when you are right, but how terrible it can be when you are wrong!

#79  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, June 23, 2010at 10:45 AM

"Deconstructional only to your unscriptural presuppositions."

Deconstructional in the fact that the men cited in my assertion embrace evolution and are twisting Genesis to allow for an old earth and evolution so they do not have to part ways with their so-called knowledge of science. Evolution is totally contrary to ANY straight forward reading of any text anywhere in the bible. It appears that you would rather believe what they say rather than scripture...and that is rather sad.

".. Plantinga and others are suggesting) serves to advance the kingdom how?

Well there’s 2 Timothy 2:15. Also, remember Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness?"

I am sorry...but you will never convince me that an evolutionist has anything to offer the advancement of the kingdom (other than demonstrating how deviant men can become) while he/she is holding firmly to that belief and continually spouting their rhetoric about such nonsense.

John 10:3-5 Gives a Christian the assurance that we will not be led astray by false teachers who come claiming another gospel. I hear what you are saying but I do not HEAR what you are saying. It is false doctrine at the very highest to relegate Genesis to something other than a literal rendering.

"3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

Finally, Matthew 24:24 gives even greater assurance with regard to efforts by those who would deconstruct the creation account of Genesis and thereby all other necessary doctrines:

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

"The insistence on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and especially the idea that such an interpretation is essential doctrine does EXACTLY that."

It is essential because it is part of God's ETERNAL plan to redeem a people to Himself. The plan of redemption did not start in time...but you know that I am sure.

God's plan is eternal...therefore, any deviation from a literal interpretation Genesis is error. Further, a misunderstanding of the literal creation account (which I demonstrated previously as being taught emphatically by Jesus and Paul) as being a non-essential foundation for all doctrine does extreme damage to all doctrines...but you also know that.

#80  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, June 23, 2010at 10:58 AM

"On this matter, Calvin, though somewhat theologically correct, was exegetically wrong with his conclusions. I know it. You know it and even John MacArthur knows it. Being dogmatic in your position is great when you are right, but how terrible it can be when you are wrong!"

True that Calvin was wrong in this case...but concrete scientific evidence changed the way many philosophers of his era thought about such topics. What you are suggesting regarding an old earth, evolution, and a non-literal reading of the creation account is not scientific fact; it is rather theory that has no proof whatsoever only assumptions and deductions based on those assumptions.

Also, God's Word reveals a completely different story than what you espouse AND gives credibility to so-called creation science not opposition to it...all one has to do is open his/her eyes to that truth.

When science reveals concrete evidence for evolution (and it won't) then we can say that your example has merit. Otherwise it is just a nice history lesson to not jump in too deep without all the facts.

#81  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, June 23, 2010at 11:06 AM

I believe the Bible is true and without error because I can find no error in it.

I would recommend you don't answer, or think, this way. This reasoning places your intelligence and education over the inherent authority of Scripture. In other words, you decide whether Scripture is inerrant, not God. What will you do when someone more clever than you asks a question you don't know the answer to? How will you respond to difficult problems? Will you reject Scripture because your finite mind can't come up with a [seemingly] reasonable answer?

I can say that with a certain degree of intellectual honesty because I have approached the texts with a minimal set of presuppositions about its inerrancy.

That minimal set of presuppositions comes with a different set of presuppositions, namely, that you can think and act independent from God and can determine God's truth apart from Him. I realize you would probably say that you rely on the Spirit to help you, but I guarantee you the Spirit does not begin from the standpoint of doubt. The Spirit will only affirm the truth of Scripture.

Your approach is that of Historical Criticism which begins from the position of doubt and requires Scripture to prove itself. You cannot hold to inspiration and have this attitude at the same time. Either God inspired a inerrant text or He did not inspire at all.

what I’m wondering is if you have ever relied on anything other than circular reasoning ... to arrive at the conclusion that it is indeed true and without error?

I am a creature created by God. God owns me. It is my responsibility to live in complete dependence on God. God only speaks through His Word, and He has said that His Word is perfect, pure, true, and right. For me to begin attempt to start from a skeptical position is to act independently from and in rebellion against His sovereignty over me.

Your method of thinking is that we should take the claims of Scripture, run them through human wisdom and intellect (scientific, historiography, archeology, biology, etc.) and either confirm or deny the claim. There are many things in Scripture that to do conform to man's wisdom (e.g. a crucified Messiah).

The problem is that man is massively limited in the extent and depth of knowledge. So for man to examine the Word of God which comes from an infinite mind that does know all things perfectly, and for that man take the position of judge over the Word, it is completely illogical and a crime of insubordination against God.

So my "method" is not circular in a strict sense because I appeal to a higher authority than myself. Certainly an unbeliever would reject this logic, but no true believer should because from the perspective of the Christian worldview, it is only logical that we must live dependent upon God.

I only said that mythologies are common to virtually all cultures in their earliest writings.

True, but do any of them claim to be the inspired word of God? Are any of those myths found at the beginning of a book of history? Are those myths used authoritatively in divinely inspired Scriptures to teach truths about history, morality, and how we ought to live today? Have any of those ancient myths survived throughout history and still read and believed today?

Perhaps .... Or perhaps ... There’s no conclusive evidence either way.

No matter what the situation was, God did set the record straight; it has stood the test of time; it is the basis for life, morality, marriage and much more; its truth is testified by many inspired authors including Jesus Christ who is God and was there at creation.

You said earlier, "There are no other Biblical references to anything in Genesis 1-11 that only fit, or give preference to, a literal interpretation."

The problem this statement is patently false and you have already admitted it. You agreed that the rest of Scripture treats Genesis 1-9 exactly the same way it treats Abraham, David, and Jesus. When you read Scripture, there is no difference between the historicity of Jesus and Adam, or David and Eve, or Daniel and Noah, or Abel and Isaac. Ezekiel 14:14, 20 put Noah on the same historical level with Daniel and Job. Adam is put in a number of historical genealogies that clearly mark him and his sons as historical. Hebrews 11:4 puts Abel at the same historical level with every other OT person in that chapter. God Himself refers to His direct communication with Noah in Isaiah 54:9 as a historical event. There are many NT references to Noah and the events surrounding his life. Of course I'm leaving out tons of references to the first 11 chapters of Genesis.

How can you deny that these don't give preference to, if not affirm, a literal historical interpretation?

#82  Posted by Ronald Kavanaugh  |  Wednesday, June 23, 2010at 9:46 PM

Hey Paul, I would respond as follows to your comments:

"Hermeneutics, at its root,is a means to weed out schemes of faulty thinking."

It can have that objective intention but its still a relative concept. Since it is a relative concept it still has the capacity to result in faulty interpretation.

"One needs to know how the original reader understood it to some extent for context."

I think you may have meant writer here. Nevertheless, while I value modern exegesis and hermeneutics as an approach to understanding the Word, I am ultimately in complete reliance on my Father to reveal himself to me. So, my position suggests that God reveals himself to whom he chooses as the Bible states very literally in my view. Further, while hermeneutics has value in my view, I would reduce the value that this such theological man-made subjects bring to the Body of Christ and prefer to stake substantially more value on the Spirit of God guiding me. The emphasis your giving to systematic theology would suggest that Truth is gained most by whoever puts the most work into it which I would understand to be a bibilical contradiction.

"This is the Historical-Grammatical method. Language skills (which JM has in abundance) help this process along. This "method" is no less than a gift of the Spirit of God, to keep us on track to our maturity in Christ."

What's your basis for that proclamation? Where did you pull that one out of a hat? Even consensus is a form of relativism, so are you going to tell me you got that from the Almighty himself.

"And a final word might be in order here. (And I hope you take this as I intend- in the spirit of Christian love) If you have never attended a bible college or seminary- how could you speak as to what they teach? I am not sure as you have the time or inclination, but if you do, please avail yourself of the opportunity to "educate" yourself regarding what is taught- how about the Master's college and seminary as a start? (As a note appended to this- you need to be careful in what colleges you choose- some are nothing more then factories for atheism - Princeton is one such school. Thanks for your time."

Actually it sounds like your trying to straighten me up since I haven't been to Seminary. I think I have provided sufficient illumination in the foregoing that I have discussed. Yes, I do challenge the historical consensus that supports modern day hermeneutics...I personally believe God can and will provide me with purposeful direction as one of his adopted sons, and I place greater reliance on that belief.

Oh, and thanks, but I have no intention of going to Seminary. I have had plenty of academics, but I have made it my purpose over the last thirteen years or more to study the Bible in several ways including "reading it". Personally, I think I'm qualified to comment on modern day systematic theology even if I didn't get the T-shirt. I suppose you have never commented from your own point of view on matters that fall outside your academic discipline. I doubt that my Father has manufactured the path to understanding the Truth in such a one-dimensional way.