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Enquiring Minds Want to Know

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First, listen to this 10-minute clip:

Launch Player  |  Download  |  Full Sermon

Here's the topic for today's discussion:

Have you ever wondered: How did the world come to exist as we know it today? Why are there so many different cultures and ethnicities? Where did languages come from? How can we explain the presence of evil?

We're naturally curious about where things come from, especially where we come from. And evidence of our curiosity is everywhere. You see it featured on television documentaries searching for clues to ancient civilization. Hundreds of family ancestry websites now specialize in tracing the history of a family name. With each passing year, archeologists claim to have uncovered the secrets to human beginnings. Some are even looking for answers on other planets!

Asking those kinds of questions is not foolish or sinful, but looking for answers in the wrong places is. The answer is not buried under centuries of rubble, or waiting to be discovered on the surface of Mars—it’s right there in the opening chapters of Genesis—the book of origins.

Listen to John MacArthur’s sermon excerpt, then take the following question to the comment thread for discussion: Other than the Bible, what worldview provides adequate answers to the origins of all these realities?


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#1  Posted by Craig Linkowski  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 4:26 AM

The one thing I always find to be an interesting question is..."Why would a chemical accident be so very curious about the matter of origins at all?"...among other similar questions. God made us to seek after truth, but we tend to solely look for it in rocks and DNA. He made us to seek after beauty, but we seek beauty most diligently in the art gallery and nature. He made us to seek wisdom and man searches through a university...triumph and we look in the theater...purpose, and we seek a career...heroes, but we look to a Tiger Woods...greatness, but we look to a basketball court. God made us to make music but we look for it on a radio dial. When, all the time, Christ is our Truth, Beauty, Wisdom, Triumph, Purpose, Hero, Greatness, and our Song. Man's searching, I guess, is the manifestation of exchanging the truth of God for a lie...Romans 1:18-25

#3  Posted by Landon Webb  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 6:06 AM

Amen, Amen, and Amen!!! Amazing that even the Gospel message (salvation by grace through faith) originated in Genesis. Many would like to exclude the Gospel from the OT account and its relevance to the NT.

#4  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 8:42 AM

“Other than the Bible, what worldview provides adequate answers to the origins of all these realities?”

Does this question imply that there are only two worldviews, the Biblical worldview and all non-Biblical worldviews? If so, this seems to imply that there is only one way to understand the Biblical worldview. Does that mean that as a Christian, if I have a worldview that differs from the one promoted at this web site that my worldview is not Biblical? If my worldview includes nature (not science) as infallible because God created it, does that mean I should reject what Romans 1 says about knowing about God through nature? Is all truth not God’s truth? What if the truths of nature seem to differ from the truths of Scripture? Does fallible theology trump fallible science?

#5  Posted by Garrett League  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 1:30 PM

He said all you can know about creation is what He [God] said. But no one, not even MacArthur, believes that, or else his cosmology would be pre-Copernican at best. I thought science was the handmaiden of theology, helping us better understand what He said and what He meant by what He said? Can't general revelation tell us anything about how God created?

#6  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 1:52 PM

I believe that when we seek wisdom from sources outside the Bible regarding the beginning of all of creation, whose only witness was our triune God, than we are being like the double minded man spoken of in James 1:5-8. His doubt of God as the true source of wisdom causes him to be as one tossed about by the sea. The one who feels he must confirm what he reads plainly in scripture with the current scientific thought will ultimately be tossed about by the changing views of man.

#7  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 6:47 PM

A Berg: The question implies you listened to the audio clip before responding. That's the idea with an "audio" blog. The short piece you read was merely an introduction to the sermon excerpt. Did you listen to it?

#8  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 7:17 PM

Garrett,

I think you misunderstood. John was speaking about the act of creation, not nature in general.

Again, you use general revelation incorrectly. What scientists discover is not general revelation. We discover things about creation, creation reveals things (in a very general way) about God.

#9  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 7:35 PM

Yes, Tommy (#7), I certainly did listen to the audio. There are assumptions in the audio that I question as well, but raising those issues is pointless without first questioning the assumption that there is only one way to interpret Scripture. Doesn't a plain reading of nature indicate that we need a more nuanced reading of Scripture? If we ignore what nature tells us does that not lead to an impoverished view of Scripture? What does God intend to teach us in Scripture, how the heavens came to be, or how to get to heaven? If our focus is on part A, do we cause many to stumble over part B?

#10  Posted by Garrett League  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 7:44 PM

#8 Gabriel: You're right, my thoughts were sloppily worded. Good clarifications. I should have said, what can we learn about God/his word via scientific inquiry?

#11  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 8:51 PM

A Berg,

"questioning the assumption that there is only one way to interpret Scripture"

Do you mean that there are multiple valid interpretations, or that a literal historical one is not correct? If the latter, you'll have a hard time finding anyone who will admit that their proposed view is wrong.

"Doesn't a plain reading of nature indicate that we need a more nuanced reading of Scripture?"

Doesn't a plain reading of Scripture indicate a more nuanced reading of science? The issue is what you deem to be most authoritative: science or Scripture?

"If we ignore what nature tells us does that not lead to an impoverished view of Scripture?"

We certainly don't think so. And this series of blog posts has been trying to point to the impoverished state of science when it comes to studying origins.

"What does God intend to teach us in Scripture, how the heavens came to be, or how to get to heaven?"

Both. The very question of how you get to heaven is rooted in the historicity of Genesis 1-3 . You can't answer the second question without answering the first. Thankfully God has clearly given us the answer to both.

#12  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 9:23 PM

Garrett,

"what can we learn about God/his word via scientific inquiry?"

General revelation is general in two ways: it gives us general information about God, and that information is generally available.

That general information is spelled out par excellence in Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:19-20. Of course we could elaborate in a general way to say that nature, in general, tells us that God is creative, powerful, orderly, wise, intelligent, etc. But again, these are general truths that are generally available (to anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear). Science does not reveal God in any new ways beyond these, except perhaps to magnify these truths. But how twisted is it to use science to attempt to disprove God's Word?

As far as what we can learn about God's Word from science, if anything, true science (that which tells us how things currently are) can shed light on our misrepresentations (geocentrism). But science is unable to tell us how things came to be; only God can do that.

#13  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 9:27 PM

Gabriel (#11)

"Do you mean that there are multiple valid interpretations, or that a literal historical one is not correct? If the latter, you'll have a hard time finding anyone who will admit that their proposed view is wrong."

Just like we hold our views of science tentatively, we also hold our views of theology tentatively. There is something Pharisaical if someone is not open to the possibility that their proposed view is wrong.

"Doesn't a plain reading of Scripture indicate a more nuanced reading of science? The issue is what you deem to be most authoritative: science or Scripture?"

That is not an appropriate question. Should I look to science to get answers to my prayers? Should I look to Scripture to explain the principles of plate tectonics? Meteorology? Reproduction? Star life cycle? If you are looking in Scripture to explain how nature works, and has worked, you're looking in the wrong place.

#14  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Sunday, June 13, 2010at 10:49 PM

# 9 A Berg asks "raising those issues is pointless without first questioning the assumption that there is only one way to interpret Scripture."

Ok, let's question that assumption, Berg. When I come to a passage of Scripture, I assume there is one true meaning God intends for me to discover. If I am not a believer, I may see and affirm a few things that are obvious (for example, some of the principles and axioms in the book of Proverbs are pain enough for unbelievers to comprehend and put into practice), but I'll never discover the truth. It will be foolishness to me. I need illumination. I need the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:10-16). That may be review for most readers, and I hope it is for you, but I'll take nothing for granted.

So, we come to the Bible knowing (1) there is only one true meaning, (2) we need the Holy Spirit's illuminating power to discover that meaning. One more (3) We are also told to approach God's Word with reverence and to put aside all sin (1 Pet 2:1). That's critical.

So, with those three things in mind, how do we obtain the meaning? Now we're talking about hermeneutics. That's simply a fancy word with a simple definition "the science of interpreting the Bible." Maybe you've read that word if you've followed this series of posts on Genesis 1-3. When someone advocates a whacky, unorthodox interpretation of Scripture, eventually they'll be accused of employing flawed hermeneutics. If students attend a good seminary, they'll be trained in the area of hermeneutics. Part of hermeneutics is identifying the genre: Narrative, Prophecy, Poetry, Wisdom, etc... Next, you need to get the context of the passage, both near and far, then you should look into the languages to determine what's going on (or simply ask your pastor about the best English translation to use).

John MacArthur teaches (and I agree) that we must understand what’s going on within the text to arrive at a proper meaning. That involves the hard work of closing some gaps between our day and the day in which the original text was written. He lists the following gaps that must be closed. I quote him:

"The language gap gives you the speech; the culture gap gives you the customs and the idioms; the geography gaps creates the scenery—the actual scenario around it—and the history gap is the plot, what's going on historically. I have found through the years that spending a maximum of time on these matters is crucial to all effective Bible understanding"

In that sermon, John goes on to list 5 ways those gaps can be closed. Here goes ...

(1) Literal principle: When we interpret the Scripture we should interpret it literally. That means we understand Scripture in the natural, normal sense.

(2) The Historical principle: We need to go back into the history and background of the biblical culture to understand how the people of that day operated and thought. That will to inform us about the Scripture.

(3) The Grammatical principle: That's when we look at the verbs, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, etc, and analyze the structure of the passage in the original languages.

(4) The Synthetic principle: That's when we pull the passage together and check it with the rest of Scripture for agreement. The Bible contains no contradictions. The Reformers called this the "analogy of faith." They believed Scripture interpreted Scripture. In other words, the Bible is perfectly in harmony with itself.

(5) The Practical principle: That's when we make application of the passage to our personal lives.

Those 5 principles can be read in greater detail in John's message entitled "How to Study Your Bible: Closing the Gaps" The message code is 90-158. Here's the link.

https://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/90-158

I hope that helps.

#15  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 6:01 AM

Only the Bible is able to explain reasonable how everything came into existence.

Every effect has a cause, and tracing back in time, you will end up with a first cause, without known exceptions. And it can’t be nothing and nobody.

God caused time, space, and matter. That is as simple as that.

No one can give a scientifically adequate explanation on how nothing is able to become everything. It is not possible. Physics must follow laws in a physical universe. But God is spirit, and not subjected to any physical laws.

Without God, there is no purpose. No reason for ethics and morals, justice, love and meaning. Just everyone’s opinion.

That’s why even mans best efforts always ends with anarchy, rebellion and even murder. (Lawlessness). Because you can’t give a reason for why other people must obey and subject to your rules and opinions.

They will eventually realize the total emptiness of it all, and go for fulfilling of desires, whatever the costs.

The picture is black or white. It is only a matter of time before it seeps in, and you must make a choice.

It’s truly a matter of life or dead.

#16  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 7:34 AM

Arne writes,

Just like we hold our views of science tentatively, we also hold our views of theology tentatively. There is something Pharisaical if someone is not open to the possibility that their proposed view is wrong.

So a proposed theological view, say for example, God is eternal and exhaustively knows the future, is tentative? Or that Jesus was a wrath appeasing sacrifice for sinners is tentative? Or that he rose from the grave after three days is tentative?

Arne states,

If you are looking in Scripture to explain how nature works, and has worked, you're looking in the wrong place.

Why? If God is as Scripture proclaims, our creator and He has revealed to us the history of our creation, then why is looking to the Bible as our starting point on how to understand and interpret our world and all that is contained therein, "looking in the wrong place?" Reads to me that you are avoiding God's rightful sovereign place in His creation.

#17  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 11:40 AM

Hi Folks:

Some real interesting blogs. As to the question posed, there may be multiple answers. We could take the way of ancient myth, as some are doing today,(the modern pagan movement), or two of the modern views of evolution, one is Darwinianism, and the other is to new to name, but takes the view that some Alien species "seeded" the earth with life. (A view that even the likes of Hawkings has toyed with). These contrary views do not give all the information which the Bible gives. And speculation taken as true science has replaced common sense for the most part, (but what do you expect when the Bible is ousted from the mix).

A second issue that has been raised is that of "how much information does God give us in his Word about how he made the worlds?" I think that he gives us what we need, but as to the specifics I'm not so sure. For example when the Word says that the "Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters", I believe it, but the "how" is "missing". And to know such information may be beyond my ability to grasp, as well as being trivial to God's purpose. The science is not there, for whatever reason. Maybe God is just exerting his sovereign choice to keep me focused on the issues he wants me to focus on. Just a thought.

#18  Posted by Craig Linkowski  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 12:38 PM

Paul...

Hi. I heard something that Bob Dutko said recently on his program and I believe he has a good point...simply put...God wants for us to have FAITH in Him. After all - we are told in Romans 4 that Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief - but was strong in faith giving glory to God. Heb 11:3 says...through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. God Bless.

#19  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 1:21 PM

I saw this today by Bodie Hodge:

If Paul Were Around Today, Would He Argue Against Evolutionists?

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/06/14/would-paul-argue-against-evolutionists

#20  Posted by Andy Bailey  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 1:39 PM

The ENTIRE Bible claims to be inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16)

If you believe that the Bible just CONTAINS God's Word, then how do you decide what is truth from God, and what portions are merely written by man? If the Bible is God-breathed, are you calling God a liar by choosing to believe only some of it (usually believing the portions that make you feel good, but rejecting portions you find offensive)?

Craig Linkowski, Yes, you need faith, but the faith God desires us to have is not a wishy-washy, dreamy, hope-it's-true kind of faith. It is based completely on God, and the only way we can know God is by what He has told us about Himself in the Bible!

As you can see, it becomes very important that we correctly interpret the Bible the way God would have it interpreted. There is only one correct interpretation of the Scriptures because God had a concrete idea He wants to get across to us when He caused the Scriptures to be written.

#21  Posted by Craig Linkowski  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 1:49 PM

Andy - I have to be honest with you, I cannot find wishy washy faith in my comment. I was not saying that our faith is not reasonable...God says that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God and that, the invisible attributes of God from the creation of the world and clearly seen...so that we are without excuse if we say that there is no God. But, we cannot comprehend the whole...and that is where faith comes in.

#22  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 2:18 PM

Gabriel writes,

"(1) Literal principle: When we interpret the Scripture we should interpret it literally. That means we understand Scripture in the natural, normal sense."

How do you interpret John 6:51-60? There's nothing to suggest that Jesus is speaking figuratively. In fact, he could have clarified when people began abandoning him if he didn't mean it literally. And yet I doubt you believe that you have to consume Jesus' flesh to have eternal life, or in any form of transubstantiation.

#23  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 2:29 PM

Arne,

"If you are looking in Scripture to explain how nature works, and has worked, you're looking in the wrong place."

Adding to what Fred said, we are not looking to Scripture for a detailed scientific understanding of the natural world. We all understand (I hope) that Scripture is not a science textbook. Some say that when Scripture addresses scientific matters it speaks accurately. I wonder if a better way to say that is, when Scripture addresses issues related to the natural world it speaks normally. My favorite example of "normally" is it speaks of the sun rising and setting, not earth rotating or orbiting.

However, when dealing with the age of the earth and evolution, we are not talking about scientific issues (since science cannot observe, repeat, or text historical events), we are talking about history. This is an area where Scripture excels (much to the chagrin of unbelieving archaeologists). What we have in Genesis is not a heliocentric scientific manifesto, but a theocentric history of the universe.

Therefore the question of authority is essential. If you understand Scripture describing the history of a miraculous creation, then science has no foundation upon which to study the age of the earth or evolution. However if you accept science as more authoritative, then you will say that Scripture cannot mean what it says.

#24  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 2:44 PM

Tommy (#14)

You list some good hermeneutical principles, but I believe even you would want to qualify this one:

"When we interpret the Scripture we should interpret it literally."

There are many places in Scripture that do not require a literal interpretation, and in fact lose their meaning if taken literally. Our Lord was a master of the figurative speech when speaking parables. When he said "Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up again", he ran afoul of those who took him literally. Apply your other principles first, then decide if the text demands that it should be taken literally.

One more thought. Suppose you and I both approach the Scripture as blameless, reverent and humble, guided by the Holy Spirit, to find what is the one true meaning. But what if that one true meaning has nothing to do with modern cosmology? Or even ancient cosmology? Isn't God much more interested in teaching us what he did and how we can respond to him rather than explaining cosmology?

#25  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 2:55 PM

Good question Dirk. It has been raised before, and there is an answer. Had I elaborated more fully upon the literal principle, I would have written something like this: Taking the Bible literally, means we take into consideration the plain, normal, historical, and grammatical context in which the author penned the words. That includes seeking to understand authorial intention—what did the writer intend for us to understand? That is not to say that the Bible cannot employ figurative language, symbolism, poetry, or other literary devices. Again, all of that is part of the challenge connected with a proper interpretation of Scripture. The passage you references is often held up as evidence against a literal reading of Scripture, and so are passages that refer to the body parts of God such as “the strong arm of the Lord” or taking refuge “under the wings of God” God doesn’t have arms, and He isn’t a bird. Again, it’s about understanding context.

So, here’s the question: Why did Jesus say that? What did He mean? Did He intend for the people then (and now) to understand His words literally? Is there a way to determine the truth in that passage?

Yes, the passage is all about exposing false followers of Jesus, not cannibalism or the Lord’s Supper ordinance. False followers of Christ are not different today than back then. They are concerned only with the physical, not the spiritual. That explains the reason why Peter and the others stayed. They weren’t hungry for human flesh. They were hungry for the Words of Eternal life. Jesus was the only source of such spiritual provision. “To whom shall they go,?” they asked. The passage is drawing a distinction between the deeds of Jesus and the Words of Jesus. The false followers were only interested in the deeds—healings, food, etc…

I hope that helps.

#26  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 3:09 PM

Fred (#16)

"So a proposed theological view, say for example, God is eternal and exhaustively knows the future, is tentative? Or that Jesus was a wrath appeasing sacrifice for sinners is tentative? Or that he rose from the grave after three days is tentative?"

In science, there are some things that we know with more certainty than other things, and some things are known with more certainty now than they were many years ago, due to the cumulative nature of knowledge. For example, Einstein's Theory of Relativity is a refinement of Newton's gravitational theory, but we may never know the essential nature of gravity itself. Similarly our theology reflects some things we know with more certainty than other things.

What you have listed are the non-negotiable no-brainers. History has shown that theological interpretations like geocentrism or the divine right of kings, once thought to be Scriptural, had to be reformulated when informed by extra-Biblical knowledge. How can we say that we are not in that situation today? Do you have a lock on truth? Did God not create an orderly world that was meant to be intelligible? Did he not give us minds that reflect his own to learn the depths of his creativity? Are we limiting God by rejecting his expression of love to us through his creation?

#27  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 3:17 PM

Gabriel (#23)

"However, when dealing with the age of the earth and evolution, we are not talking about scientific issues (since science cannot observe, repeat, or text historical events), we are talking about history."

Yes, we are talking about scientific issues. When you cut down a tree and count the rings, you observe that the tree is say, 60 years old. Now that we know that the speed of light is 2.9979 x 10^8 m/sec, we can do some simple math to tell that the light left the earth 8 minutes ago. When we apply that same principle to distant stars, we determine scientifically that they are thousands or millions of light years away. We can observe, measure, project, deduce, infer and interpret many historical events scientifically, including the age of the earth.

#28  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 3:29 PM

Tommy said,

"Taking the Bible literally, means we take into consideration the plain, normal, historical, and grammatical context in which the author penned the words. That includes seeking to understand authorial intention—what did the writer intend for us to understand?"

You and I would agree then about what it means to take the Scripture literally. But I think what MacArthur and his supporters here seem to do is engage in literalISM.

What did the author of Genesis 1-3 intend for his readers to understand? That over against the chaotic, purposeless (unless that purpose was to be slaves to pagan gods) creation myths of the ANE, that Israel's God created man and the earth for a purpose. Not to give an historical or scientific account of what happened.

#29  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 3:55 PM

Arne,

We've had this distant star discussion a couple times before in previous posts. The distance of the stars does not tell you the age of the earth. You have to assume evolution to come to that conclusion. From a creationist perspective, God created the light from the stars either before or at the same time as the stars.

I'll agree with your terms "deduce, infer, and interpret" which are all done on the basis of biblically uninformed presuppositions.

#30  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 4:02 PM

Dirk: I’m glad you agree with my definition of what it means to interpret Scripture literally. I was taught that view by John MacArthur. I agree with the position he takes on Genesis 1 and 2. There are no indications it should be taken as anything other than a literal, historical account. The author (among other things) was seeking to establish reality for his audience and provide a framework for understanding the world they lived in.

We were intimately, personally, and miraculously created by God in His very own image. We were elevated above the other creatures and made to rule over the earth as God’s vice-regents. That’s reality for us. We belong to God. He created us. More could be said, but first, could you explain what you mean by literalism?

#31  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 4:12 PM

Dirk,

"Israel's God created man and the earth for a purpose. Not to give an historical or scientific account of what happened."

Since, according to evolution, God created neither man nor the earth, even this interpretation is false as well, right?

#32  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 4:29 PM

Arne: Sorry I missed your question. I wasn’t ignoring you. Hopefully a portion of your question was addressed in my response to Dirk (see comment # 25). Yes, maybe a good addition to my statement on a literal interpretation would have been: When we interpret the Scripture, we should interpret it literally, unless given a compelling reason not to. I’ve never understood the theory of evolution to be a compelling enough reason to reject a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2.

As to your other comment, that’s a great question, and one that I’ve pondered many times even beyond the issue of creation. I have some very close friends who love God’s word and have serious disagreements with me on some doctrinal issues. The bottom line is this: Somebody is wrong. There are not two meanings to Scripture. There are, of course a variety of applications from the same passage of Scripture, but the meaning is singular.

Somebody is wrong here. Genesis 1 and 2 do not teach both evolution and creation ex nihilo. They cannot teach both. I think interpreters are blind to many of the presuppositions they bring to the text. That’s why if you’ll listen to or read the sermon by John MacArthur I linked in a previous comment, you’ll hear him discuss the desperate need anyone who comes to God’s Word has for the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit guide them.

The principles of interpretation I discussed earlier all stand up to the test with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3. I think your point on whether or not God desired to explain cosmology is moot. The text is there and it states in plain language what God did, and how long it took for Him to do it. I take that at face value. You asked about responding to God’s Word. One of the responses God demands from those who come to His Word is a simple child-like faith.

#33  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 5:50 PM

"One of the responses God demands from those who come to His Word is a simple child-like faith."

To split a hair here I must say that properly interpreting God's Word is not a matter of child-like faith. Rather, we are to be diligent workers rightly dividing the word of truth. The latter requires intense study, prayer, and a total reliance on the Holy Spirit for illumination. Our promise concerning reliance upon the Holy Spirit is as follows:

John 16 (New King James Version)

13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

The above means that there are no double truths. One does not come to a text and discover his/her truth from the text and the next person a different truth. The Holy Spirit is the One Who gives proper meaning to the text...any other method of interpreting a text that eliminates the input of the Holy Spirit is fruitless.

2 Timothy 2:15 says:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In terms of the child like faith Jesus was directly referencing who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. He starts by saying that unless one comes as a child that one will not even enter the Kingdom of heaven much less be the greatest. The reference to child-like faith has nothing to do with correctly handling the truths of God's Word.

Matthew 18:1-9 (New International Version)

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Finally, in our efforts to properly handle God's truth as revealed in His Word we must constantly be reminded of what Jude urged his readers in his self-titled book:

Jude 1 (New King James Version)

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Contending earnestly is what we all should be doing here.

#34  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 6:53 PM

Gabriel (#29)

"We've had this distant star discussion a couple times before in previous posts. The distance of the stars does not tell you the age of the earth. You have to assume evolution to come to that conclusion. From a creationist perspective, God created the light from the stars either before or at the same time as the stars.

I'll agree with your terms "deduce, infer, and interpret" which are all done on the basis of biblically uninformed presuppositions."

I don't think there was anything in my comment that related the distance to the stars to the age of the earth. And I really see little connection in your comment of evolution to either the age of the earth or distance to the stars. My point was that a study of history is not based solely on Scripture, but is supported by much of what we call science. And as a follower of Christ, one can deduce, infer, and interpret on the basis of biblically *informed* presuppositions.

#35  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 6:56 PM

Tommy,

"Dirk: I’m glad you agree with my definition of what it means to interpret Scripture literally."

As long as your definition is able to allow the text dictate how it should be taken (i.e., "A third of the stars fell from the sky" does not *literally* mean that billions of giant balls of gas are going to crash into the earth). We would disagree, I suspect, on what to do with Genesis 1-3, and I would also suspect I would find fault (or at least some inconsistency) in how you apply your hermeneutic to other "science" texts.

Gabriel writes,

"Since, according to evolution, God created neither man nor the earth, even this interpretation is false as well, right?"

You're confusing atheistic evolution the philosophy with evolution the science. Your statement could be reworded "According to the theory of gravity, God does not hold all things together, so interpreting that verse to mean God uses gravity is false as well, right?"

#36  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 7:12 PM

I had written,

"So a proposed theological view, say for example, God is eternal and exhaustively knows the future, is tentative? Or that Jesus was a wrath appeasing sacrifice for sinners is tentative? Or that he rose from the grave after three days is tentative?"

Arne responds,

In science, there are some things that we know with more certainty than other things, and some things are known with more certainty now than they were many years ago, due to the cumulative nature of knowledge. For example, Einstein's Theory of Relativity is a refinement of Newton's gravitational theory, but we may never know the essential nature of gravity itself. Similarly our theology reflects some things we know with more certainty than other things.

The Darwinian evolutionary explanation of origins, however, is not one of those things we know with more certainty. A good bulk of it is speculation about the interpretation of the various fields of evidence and extrapolating those interpretations back into what is believed to be extreme amounts of deep time and concocting a "history" from those interpretations. This is much different than the general and special theories of relativity which are both experimental and repeatable in the present world.

Arne continues,

What you have listed are the non-negotiable no-brainers.

Seeing that ALL of God's Word is inspired and that the NT from both the mouth of our Lord Jesus and the pens of the disciples appeal to the first few chapters of Genesis on multiple occasions, I believe Genesis is just as non-negotiable as the Gospel records.

Arne continues,

History has shown that theological interpretations like geocentrism or the divine right of kings, once thought to be Scriptural, had to be reformulated when informed by extra-Biblical knowledge.

We have already discussed this at length under other posts, but no one used the Bible to teach geocentrism. Geocentrism was an Aristotelian construction adopted by the Roman Catholic scholastics who were already steeped in Origenistic/Augustianian hermeneutic that was allegorical in its handling of the Bible. There is much historical research you can do to uncover this. Rodney Stark's Work, "For the Glory of God" is a good place to start. He has an entire section dealing with the myth of geocentrism and the Church, mostly developed by Enlightenment era skeptics.

Then you ask as a series of questions,

How can we say that we are not in that situation today?

Because we never were to begin with and we are not now.

Do you have a lock on truth?

Yes, because we should start with a biblically informed framework and interpret the world accordingly.

Did God not create an orderly world that was meant to be intelligible?

Yes he did; one that was meant to be interpreted according to the intelligibility of His revelation of things.

Did he not give us minds that reflect his own to learn the depths of his creativity?

Yes He did and we do. Learning the depths of His creativity does not equate to believing evolutionary dogma.

Under a post to Gabe, you write,

When you cut down a tree and count the rings, you observe that the tree is say, 60 years old. Now that we know that the speed of light is 2.9979 x 10^8 m/sec, we can do some simple math to tell that the light left the earth 8 minutes ago.

Here we have a perfect example of presuppositions being brought to the table. A tree may grow several rings in a year depending upon the climate and environment for the year. It may not grow any rings if drought or other factors hamper its growth. You presuppose an steady, uniformitarian growth for a tree that says it is 60 years old when in fact it maybe 45, or maybe 80 years old. The same is with the speed of light. As you point out above by citing Einstein, gravity effects the speed of light. We know this by our cumulative knowledge in science.

#37  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 7:32 PM

Dirk writes,

As long as your definition is able to allow the text dictate how it should be taken (i.e., "A third of the stars fell from the sky" does not *literally* mean that billions of giant balls of gas are going to crash into the earth).

The text doesn't say a third of them fell to the earth, either. The only place in Revelation that speaks of such an event is 12:4 and it is fairly clear from the context these were probably demonic beings in view here. Of the other instances in Revelation where it speaks of stars as being cosmological signs, the text speaks of them being darkened or generally "falling" in the sky and there is enough with in the context to know these aren't red giants and white dwarfs falling on our planet. John is saying some sort of "literal" cosmological events take place that mark the end times.

Else where you wrote,

How do you interpret John 6:51-60? There's nothing to suggest that Jesus is speaking figuratively. In fact, he could have clarified when people began abandoning him if he didn't mean it literally.

He did explain himself quite clearly. He explains that His words are of a spiritual nature and that those individuals who understand them are taught by the Father (John 6:61-66). The fact that many turned away from him to walk no more with him exposed the fact that they were not "drawn by the father."

#38  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 7:39 PM

Dirk writes,

You're confusing atheistic evolution the philosophy with evolution the science.

If by "evolution the science" you mean creatures and organisms changing within their genetic boundaries to adapt to their environments so that a variety of species develops across many diverse biospheres on our planet, then no one is disagreeing with you. But if you insist "evolution the science" as demonstrated without doubt by the Darwinian construct of descent with modification over millions of years, then we disagree. The first variety of evolution that is not in dispute is comparable to the theory of gravity; the second is clearly in dispute (especially with Scripture) and is incomparable to the theory of gravity.

#39  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 8:08 PM

Tommy (#32)

"I’ve never understood the theory of evolution to be a compelling enough reason to reject a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2."

I would have to agree with you. The text would have to suggest that on its own. Evolution as a science is irrelevant to what God is teaching us in Genesis 1 and 2. If you take evolution as a naturalistic philosophy (which it is not), it is completely opposed to God's teaching in Genesis 1 and 2 and thus has nothing to say about a literal interpretation.

Is God really that interested in explaining that it took six days to create the world? Could that not simply be a convenient metaphoric literary device that communicated effectively with the ancient Hebrews to tell them (and us) *what* God did? Does he not leave clues all around us to communicate *how* he did it, and expect us to use the minds he entrusted to us to bring him glory in this way? And if it really did take six days, why did he leave these countless clues around to mislead us into thinking otherwise? This is not a compromise, but an approach that recognizes that God communicates in a consistent, joyful, orderly and subtle way to reach out to those who would respond in simple faith.

#40  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, June 14, 2010at 9:08 PM

"Is God really that interested in explaining that it took six days to create the world?"

Being that God was interested in explaining the history of the world in Genesis 2-11 and the history of Israel in Genesis 12-50, yes I do think God was interested in explaining the origin of the universe in Genesis 1.

"Could that not simply be a convenient metaphoric literary device that communicated effectively with the ancient Hebrews to tell them (and us) *what* God did?"

No. First, the "what" is inextricably tied to the "how". Second, even if it wasn't, the "how" (evolution) would have zero correlation to the "what" so much so that the "what" would be completely erroneous.

"And if it really did take six days, why did he leave these countless clues around to mislead us into thinking otherwise?"

God left as many clues to lead people to evolution as He did to lead people to atheism. God doesn't deceive, people suppress the truth.

#41  Posted by Andy Bailey  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 5:07 AM

#21 Posted by Craig Linkowski

"Andy - I have to be honest with you, I cannot find wishy washy faith in my comment. I was not saying that our faith is not reasonable...God says that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God and that, the invisible attributes of God from the creation of the world and clearly seen...so that we are without excuse if we say that there is no God. But, we cannot comprehend the whole...and that is where faith comes in."

Please forgive me for misunderstanding you, and thank you for further clarification. Paul Tucker said that there are many ways to answer the questions of the origins of life in post #17. Your response to him was to say that God wants us to have faith in Him. I wanted to clarify that our faith in God isn't baseless and that we aren't claiming that the creation account in Genesis is true because we believe it to be true, but rather, we can believe and have faith because our faith is based on God and His Word (which is Truth).

#42  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 11:09 AM

Fred writes,

"The text doesn't say a third of them fell to the earth, either. The only place in Revelation that speaks of such an event is 12:4 and it is fairly clear from the context these were probably demonic beings in view here. Of the other instances in Revelation where it speaks of stars as being cosmological signs, the text speaks of them being darkened or generally "falling" in the sky and there is enough with in the context to know these aren't red giants and white dwarfs falling on our planet. John is saying some sort of "literal" cosmological events take place that mark the end times."

I'm interested in how you approach Rev. 12. Is there a literal dragon? Is there a woman cloaked in the sun? Does she grow literal wings?

"He did explain himself quite clearly. He explains that His words are of a spiritual nature and that those individuals who understand them are taught by the Father (John 6:61-66). The fact that many turned away from him to walk no more with him exposed the fact that they were not "drawn by the father." "

Okay, he does say that his words are spirit and life, and that to come to him, they must be drawn by the father, but no where does he repudiate the eating of his flesh or the drinking of his blood, or attempt to spiritualize what he said. Isn't your presupposition against the literal consumption of the Body and Blood of Christ preventing you from seeing the plain meaning of the text?

#43  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 11:15 AM

Fred writes,

"The text doesn't say a third of them fell to the earth, either. The only place in Revelation that speaks of such an event is 12:4 and it is fairly clear from the context these were probably demonic beings in view here. Of the other instances in Revelation where it speaks of stars as being cosmological signs, the text speaks of them being darkened or generally "falling" in the sky and there is enough with in the context to know these aren't red giants and white dwarfs falling on our planet. John is saying some sort of "literal" cosmological events take place that mark the end times."

I'm interested in how you approach Rev. 12. Is there a literal dragon? Is there a woman cloaked in the sun? Does she grow literal wings?

"He did explain himself quite clearly. He explains that His words are of a spiritual nature and that those individuals who understand them are taught by the Father (John 6:61-66). The fact that many turned away from him to walk no more with him exposed the fact that they were not "drawn by the father." "

Okay, he does say that his words are spirit and life, and that to come to him, they must be drawn by the father, but no where does he repudiate the eating of his flesh or the drinking of his blood, or attempt to spiritualize what he said. Isn't your presupposition against the literal consumption of the Body and Blood of Christ preventing you from seeing the plain meaning of the text?

"the second is clearly in dispute (especially with Scripture) and is incomparable to the theory of gravity"

What do you mean by in dispute? The vast majority of those who have studied biological sciences in any depth, including Evangelical Christians, comes away understanding that live has evolved and new species have appeared over time.

And no, believing this does not erase God or the miracle of creation from the minds and hearts of those who accept it. I stand in awe of a God who, well, I'll let Carl Sagan say it, since he put it better than I can, "I find it elevating and exhilarating to discover that we live in a universe which permits the evolution of molecular machines as intricate and subtle as we."

#44  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 11:41 AM

Dirk writes,

I'm interested in how you approach Rev. 12. Is there a literal dragon? Is there a woman cloaked in the sun? Does she grow literal wings?

I take it as the prophetic vision that it is. It contains symbolic language that describes literal, historical events. The text of Revelation defines for us who is the dragon, who the woman is, how she is protected. Just because one reads the prophecy literally doesn't mean we ignore symbolic language. This objection is the typical strawman approach I encounter from the likes of Kim Riddlebarger and other Reformed folks who utilize Augustinian hermeneutics to interpret prophetic literature. And I say that as a staunch five point Calvinist, by the way.

Additionally, there is a difference between prophetic genre which Revelation is and historical genre which Genesis is. I expect there to be symbolic language in prophetic genre, not so much if at all any in historical genre. If you think the two books must be read symbolically, or again, with the Augustinian hermeneutic of allegorizing the text, I believe you are mixing categories and I truly wonder as to how you read the Bible.

Dirk asks,

Okay, he does say that his words are spirit and life, and that to come to him, they must be drawn by the father, but no where does he repudiate the eating of his flesh or the drinking of his blood, or attempt to spiritualize what he said. Isn't your presupposition against the literal consumption of the Body and Blood of Christ preventing you from seeing the plain meaning of the text?

The people ask the same question if you read the text. Beginning all the way to the first of the episode, Jesus clearly explains that he is speaking figuratively of himself. Begin in John 6:22 and read forwards to the end. That is one long text. By the way, are you Roman Catholic? This is pretty much the same way they argue for the purpose of the Eucharist.

#45  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 12:09 PM

Fred writes,

"Additionally, there is a difference between prophetic genre which Revelation is and historical genre which Genesis is. I expect there to be symbolic language in prophetic genre, not so much if at all any in historical genre. If you think the two books must be read symbolically, or again, with the Augustinian hermeneutic of allegorizing the text, I believe you are mixing categories and I truly wonder as to how you read the Bible"

The hermeneutical approach I see from most "strict literalists" appears at best very ad hoc to me. If something seems too "weird" to be literal (i.e. a beast with mulitple heads and horns) its to be interpreted figuratively. If something is weird, but not so weird as to be preposterous (the earth being 6,000 years old, despite physical evidence to the contrary) then its to be interpreted literally, as evidence of faith in the authority of the Bible over against the "wisdom of man." But the line seems to rest very much in how much weirdness the interpreter is willing to accept.

As to "how I read the Bible." I look first at the plain meaning of the text. Some texts are more face value apparent as to what they mean ("Love your neighbor as yourself"), although the application can be tricky, especially with texts that are so clear (because actually loving your neighbor as yourself is very hard, and what does that really look like in practice in 21st century America? etc.). Some texts are harder to tease the meaning out of (too many to mention). Then I try to find out things like, was this written to specific people at a specific time for a specific reason? If so, how does it apply to my situation and context? Is it different for me then it was for them? What kind of guidance is the Holy Spirit giving me? What has the church generally taught on this issue? Are they correct, or are we in need of some "always Reforming?" (I speak of course of the repeated injunction to greet each other with a Holy Kiss).

I'm not Roman Catholic, but I do think there's something to John 6 that Protestants are glossing over because we're opposed to the Catholic error of re-enacting the sacrifice of Calvary, and I think it's an example of where strict literalists pick and choose what to take literally based upon what they're comfortable with.

#46  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 12:33 PM

Hi Craig:

Faith is based upon trust. Trust comes from experiencing the character and nature of God. I just want to make sure that this is the basis for belief. The reason I can trust what the Bible says is because it tells me the truth, and when I say that God did not let us in on the processes, I meant just that, I am not thinking of evolution in any frame of reference.Some things make since to me, but my frame of reference may be messed up because I hold as true what in reality is a false assumption. This happens all the time within Christian circles. The Gap theory is an example of such a false concept.

#47  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 1:38 PM

Gabriel (#40)

"Being that God was interested in explaining the history of the world in Genesis 2-11 and the history of Israel in Genesis 12-50, yes I do think God was interested in explaining the origin of the universe in Genesis 1."

There is a big difference between Genesis 1 and the rest of Genesis. God communicated pre-human history to the early Hebrews in a way that made sense to them, and used that explanation to package his main message, which was that God is Creator, he stands outside his creation, there is only one God, and he is intimately connected with his creation, including man. That doesn't sound like history to me, let alone science.

"First, the "what" is inextricably tied to the "how". Second, even if it wasn't, the "how" (evolution) would have zero correlation to the "what" so much so that the "what" would be completely erroneous."

You've lost me here. "What" and "how" are very different, as I explained above. And what's with the obsession over evolution? Evolution as a natural secondary process is just a small part of the "how" that God may have used, but only describes the development of life, not of all of natural history. I believe your preoccupation with evolution keeps you from appreciating the scope of the wisdom, power and glory of God's works.

"God left as many clues to lead people to evolution as He did to lead people to atheism. God doesn't deceive, people suppress the truth."

I find this notion abhorrent, that God would create a world that invites people to atheism. And my comment had nothing to say about evolution. Nature is not what causes man to fall, but man's own prideful nature. This is so contrary to what God says about his world. Romans 1:20 says "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." Psalm 19 says "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." It's time to reclaim natural history for our heavenly Father, not make it synonymous with naturalistic philosophy.

#48  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 2:21 PM

Arne,

There is a big difference between Genesis 1 and the rest of Genesis.

Only in the same way that Genesis 12 is very different than Genesis 50, and Genesis 21 is very different from 40. The difference is the point in time, which requires unique words, terms, and concepts. But Genesis as a whole is historical narrative from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 50:26. We would expect God's description of a miraculous creation to have some differences with the Joseph interpreting dreams.

main message, which was that God is Creator, he stands outside his creation, there is only one God, and he is intimately connected with his creation... That doesn't sound like history to me

How do you know that is the main message? How is that message even possible without the historical facts that God used to relate that message? How do you know God isn't also communicating the history as well as what that history teaches us about God?

Also, no one is saying that Genesis 1 is science. It is not. It is the pure exercise of His miraculous power to create everything we see. Therefore "creation science" is impossible.

You've lost me here. "What" and "how" are very different

Different, yes; disconnected, no. Again, the message (as you explain it) is intricately tied to the historical facts laid out in Genesis 1. Without the history, the message falls.

And what's with the obsession over evolution?

For the sake of simplicity I use evolution generically to refer to all the sciences dealing with origins. Since you seem to be arguing against biblical creation, that is what I am addressing.

I find this notion abhorrent

You should! Did you read that verse you quoted? It said God's invisible attributes, power, and divine nature have been clearly perceived... since when? Since the creation of the world. From the very beginning of creation (Genesis 1) men have perceived God's power. Science says, "Oh no... it was about 13 billion years before that could have happened. It's only been recently than man existed to perceive God's power."

It's time to reclaim natural history for our heavenly Father, not make it synonymous with naturalistic philosophy.

You can't. It is impossible. You have to use the same philosophical presuppositions if you are going to reject biblical origins and study it through science.

#49  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010at 7:23 PM

Arne Berg wrote: "Does this question imply that there are only two worldviews..."

Here is R.C. Sproul addressing this question...in detail:

http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/only-two-worldviews/

#50  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 6:12 AM

Gabriel (#48)

My friend, I think you know what I mean. Let me spell it out. As long as you hold to your assumption that Genesis 1 is historic, you are forced to equate natural history to a materialistic worldview. If you do not force Genesis 1 into a historic straitjacket, all of natural history becomes a liberating witness to God’s glorious wisdom, power and grace that is consistent and coherent with Romans 1 and Psalm 19. Then you are not forced to make an egregious statement like "God left as many clues to lead people to evolution as He did to lead people to atheism.”

Much as you might disagree, most Biblical scholars agree that the language of Genesis 1 is unique and categorize it as something like “exalted narrative” that does not require a historical reading. Just one example is John Walton in The Lost World of Genesis 1. If the text itself does not require a historical reading, why should we impose it?

I had an email yesterday from a young, educated Korean who is struggling to find a relationship with Christ. He is attending a church that teaches the mutually exclusive choice between “evolution” and the Bible, and his conclusion as he expressed it was that “If Genesis 1 is history, Christianity can’t be true.” Personally I have seen this false dichotomy become a stumbling block that has caused some of my friends and relatives to lose their faith. On the other hand I have seen many friends liberated and brought into a closer walk with the Lord when they come to a deeper understanding of what Genesis 1 is communicating. Enquiring minds want to know.

#51  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 7:39 AM

Arne,

you are forced to equate natural history to a materialistic worldview

You'll need to spell that out for me because it isn't self evident.

If you do not force Genesis 1 into a historic straitjacket, all of natural history becomes a liberating witness to God’s glorious wisdom

I don't see it liberating to believe in billions of years of death and meaninglessness. God created the universe for a specific purpose, namely, to create a people for His glory whom He would redeem. If evolution is true then over 99.99999% of the history of the universe contributes nothing to that plan.

it as something like “exalted narrative” that does not require a historical reading.

That is a non sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. It may be exalted narrative (how could creation of the universe not be?), but that doesn't negate a historical reading. John Walton's view is riddled with problems, not the least of which is a faulty word study of "bara". He adamantly proclaims that Genesis 1 is not concerned with material creation, but he utterly fails to demonstrate it.

“If Genesis 1 is history, Christianity can’t be true."

That indeed is a false dichotomy and your friend needs patient and caring shepherding, teaching, and discipleship.

I have seen many friends liberated and brought into a closer walk with the Lord when they come to a deeper understanding of what Genesis 1 is communicating.

"Deeper understanding"? Every non-historical interpretation of Genesis 1 I've ever heard is shallow, superficial, and contrived.

#52  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 9:49 AM

"I had an email yesterday from a young, educated Korean who is struggling to find a relationship with Christ."

Is the young educated Korean a born-again Christian merely strugglin with his walk with Christ? If not then explain how he is "struggling to find a relationship with Christ" arguing that scenario from a proper scriptural understanding of man's depravity prior to salvation...(Paul, in the passages below, totally and absolutely refutes the idea of "seekers" out there trying...struggling...to find Christ).

Romans 3:10-18 (New International Version)

10 As it is written:

"There is no one righteous, not even one;

11 there is no one who understands,

no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one."[a]

13 "Their throats are open graves;

their tongues practice deceit."[b]

"The poison of vipers is on their lips."[c]

14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."[d]

15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 ruin and misery mark their ways,

17 and the way of peace they do not know."[e]

18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."[f]

#53  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 11:32 AM

By the way...with reference to my previous post I recommend Dr MacArthur's sermon on the Doctrine of Total Inability:

https://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/90-276

#54  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 1:55 PM

No need for the sermon notes, Mr. Farmer ;-) We know that if the young Korean's search is sincere, Christ will find him. For now his perspective is that he is struggling to find Christ.

#55  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 2:38 PM

Gabriel (#51):

Your reply makes it clear that either you do not read my comments carefully, or you are deliberately obfuscating.

Arne says: The young Korean says, “If Genesis 1 is history, Christianity can’t be true."

Gabriel says: That indeed is a false dichotomy and your friend needs patient and caring shepherding, teaching, and discipleship.

This makes my point about you attempting to deflect from what I said. I thought my comment was clear that the false dichotomy was not between Genesis 1 as history and Christianity, but between “evolution” and the Bible. I hope other readers are more careful when they read.

Gabriel says: “I don't see it liberating to believe in billions of years of death and meaninglessness. God created the universe for a specific purpose, namely, to create a people for His glory whom He would redeem. If evolution is true then over 99.99999% of the history of the universe contributes nothing to that plan.”

Because of your historical straitjacket, your concept of God is too small. Why should a God, who is eternal, be limited by a universe that is only billions of years old? Isn’t that just us projecting our anthropological view on God? And what makes billions of years meaningless? Can we not see the splendor and purpose of God’s creative plan through that whole period of time? Look at creation through God’s eyes, not your own, and celebrate the marvelous fact that he created and redeemed you in this temporal sphere and for all eternity to give him glory.

Gabriel says: “John Walton's view is riddled with problems, not the least of which is a faulty word study of "bara". He adamantly proclaims that Genesis 1 is not concerned with material creation, but he utterly fails to demonstrate it.”

If you want to disagree with the majority of scholarship, that is your choice. Even if Walton’s word study of “bara” is faulty in *your* view, that does not invalidate his theses. I could list many other scholars who would support Walton’s views, but I believe you would simply discredit them because they do not support your view.

Gabriel says: "Deeper understanding"? Every non-historical interpretation of Genesis 1 I've ever heard is shallow, superficial, and contrived.

Have you considered that this might be more a reflection on your views and lack of research rather than of other interpretations?

If you are going to continue to respond to my comments, please read them carefully, give them some thought, and don’t respond immediately.

I used to be where you are, young earth through and through because I had been taught not *how* to think, but *what* to think. I had quick answers for every possible objection that I thought others were presenting to me. Eventually I came to see my worldview as distorted and incomplete, and some friends who had gone down the same road before helped to show me that God’s Word and God’s World are compatible without trying to make God’s Word say things it doesn’t say. I now have more questions than answers, but I also have a deeper faith that assures me that even if questions don’t have immediate answers, the answers are in the one to whom my life is entrusted.

Thanks for your kindness in allowing me to share this platform with you. Grace to you.

#56  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 3:09 PM

Arne,

I was not trying to deflect from what you said, but rather point out an actual false dichotomy. My point was that rather than telling your friend, "Don't worry, Genesis 1 isn't history so there is no problem," your friend needs to be discipled to understand that his statement is not accurate.

Because of your historical straitjacket, your concept of God is too small.

Evolutionists also enjoy this Big God/small God concept as if it's a valid argument. I'm not saying that God is limited by billions of years, I'm saying that God has a plan, a blueprint for the history of the universe and if evolution is true then Scripture says nothing about 99.99999% of God's plan, nor does evolution contribute in any way to God's plan.

Can we not see the splendor and purpose of God’s creative plan through that whole period of time?

Evolution is not God's creative plan. God told us His plan, and evolution has nothing to do with it.

If you want to disagree with the majority of scholarship...

I didn't know John Walton constituted the majority of scholarship. There are tons of scholars who disagree with him and take a number of other positions. Why? Because when you reject a historical interpretation anyone can come up with their own interpretation. Keep in mind that Walton's views are relatively new, and not all TE or OEC folks are flocking to it.

Eventually I came to see my worldview as distorted and incomplete

So far I've assumed that you don't take Genesis 1-3 (or 1-11) literally, though you haven't explicitly stated such. At what point do you start taking Genesis as historical narrative, and if you don't take Genesis 3 as historical can you tell me at what point man became inherently sinful? On what basis should marriage be heterosexual and monogamous if Genesis 3 isn't historical? I could ask more questions, but I'd like to know the answers to those three questions if you don't take Genesis 3 literally.

#57  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 7:44 PM

Gabriel (#56);

I’m glad we have some common ground. We can agree that creation has a purpose and a plan and our transcendent God is the one in charge.

Gabriel says: “God has a plan, a blueprint for the history of the universe and if evolution is true then Scripture says nothing about 99.99999% of God's plan, nor does evolution contribute in any way to God's plan.”

How do you know that “evolution” is not part of God’s plan? Why would it have to be documented in Scripture? Would it have made any sense to the original readers if it was documented in Scripture? Would it have mattered to them? Would it make a helpful difference in their response to God? Isn’t God much more interested in his plan for mankind than for matter? After all, mankind is forever; matter too shall pass. Even today we get so distracted by what we think about origins that we lose our focus on God’s gracious and redemptive plan. If God has created an intelligible and orderly world and trusted us to eventually figure some of it out, it would be redundant to also put it in Scripture.

Gabriel says: “I didn't know John Walton constituted the majority of scholarship. There are tons of scholars who disagree with him.”

I hope you are being facetious here. On that note, I’m not sure how you quantify “tons”. They must be heavyweights.

Gabriel says: “At what point do you start taking Genesis as historical narrative.”

I get the feeling that your view is that there are only two ways of understanding Genesis: as historical truth, or as falsity. Nothing could be further from the truth. A teaching does not have to be historical to be true. Jesus was well aware of that when he spoke many parables. Thus if we look past the packaging of Genesis, we find the truth the Holy Spirit inspired writers to pass on to us. Thus we understand that from the earliest moment, when humans have had an opportunity to choose between themselves and God, their pride took precedence. We also know that before that first choice was made, God already had a plan in Christ Jesus to address that dilemma. God’s ideal for marriage is described as a pattern for mankind. Genesis is so rich and so foundational to the rest of the Bible if we focus on what it is that God intends to teach us.

Like I said, I have more questions than answers about early human history, and have no definite answers. But that is not as important as understanding the theology of creation and how God intends to relate to his created order. Creation is a marvelous gift, and we are only beginning to discover how marvelous, and I believe God intended it to be this way. I can imagine God smiling with satisfaction as finite humans stumble upon one Eureka moment after another. How much more thrilling that would be than simply dictating the First Edition of Paleontology, Cosmology and Geology as an addendum to Genesis!

#58  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, June 16, 2010at 9:58 PM

How do you know that “evolution” is not part of God’s plan?

Because God has progressively revealed His plan in Scripture. Scripture reveals the beginning (creation), middle (redemption), and end (re-creation) of God's plan. It is cohesive and comprehensive. True, it is not exhaustive in giving every detail, but again, for 99.9999% of space/time to have nothing to do with God's primary plan of redemption just doesn't make sense.

I hope you are being facetious here. On that note, I’m not sure how you quantify “tons”. They must be heavyweights.

I'm not being facetious. Walton's book was published in 2009. Obviously he probably wrote articles and such before that and probably advocated his view in other ways, but his first major published work is only a year old. The "scholarly" version of the book isn't even out yet. I guarantee you that it is a minority view among scholars/theologians. You don't have to look further than BioLogos to see that scholars don't necessarily agree with him. Bruce Waltke has his own view, there is the Framework view, the Temple view, etc. Walton's view is not the majority by any stretch of the imagination.

there are only two ways of understanding Genesis: as historical truth, or as falsity

I do so according to the law of non-contradiction. Something cannot be both factual and not factual at the same time. To call something a parable or myth means that it is fictional, not factual, untrue. You muddy the waters because you are distinguishing the narrative meaning from the theological meaning. What I am saying is that the narrative is either true or not. You are saying that the narrative is not true, but the theological teaching is true.

Jesus did use parables, but He did so to hide truth, not reveal it (Matthew 13:13). There is zero exegetical or biblical evidence that Genesis 1 is parable, myth, or any other kind of non-historical narrative.

when humans have had an opportunity to choose between themselves and God, their pride took precedence

When was that? Why does 1 Timothy 2:13-14 base the function of the church on the historical details of Genesis 2? Are there any examples where theology and practice are derived from parables or myths in Scripture? I don't think so.

God’s ideal for marriage is described as a pattern for mankind.

The question is why is it a pattern? The only answer comes from a historical reading that God made them that way. In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus basis His teaching on divorce on the historical creation of one man and one woman joined together for life. Jesus didn't say, "Remember the story about the first couple?" No, he said, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?" Jesus is establishing the historical facts of Genesis 1-2.

I have more questions than answers about early human history, and have no definite answers.

I appreciate your honesty, but the definite answers to your questions are in Genesis 1-3.

How much more thrilling that would be than simply dictating the First Edition of Paleontology, Cosmology and Geology as an addendum to Genesis!

You are misrepresenting the YEC position. We are in no way saying that Genesis 1 dictates the first science textbook. Genesis 1 is miraculous from beginning to end. It is not scientific and it cannot be explained naturally or through science.

#59  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 6:26 AM

Gabriel (#58):

“For 99.9999% of space/time to have nothing to do with God's primary plan of redemption just doesn't make sense.”

What does space and time have to do with God’s primary plan of redemption? It’s only a stage on which our lives are enacted. A playwright does not burden his audience with the details of the stage. I’ve already explained why this makes sense. It seems that your answer to my question “How do you know that evolution is not part of God’s plan?” is that you don’t know (“It just doesn’t make sense”), and you would be right.

Gabriel says: “Walton's book was published in 2009. Obviously he probably wrote articles and such before that and probably advocated his view in other ways, but his first major published work is only a year old.”

Surely you are aware that Walton has been writing major works since 2001. And although Walton’s view has nuances that others lack, his is not a minority view. What the views have in common is that they reject a strictly historical basis for Genesis 1 and they affirm the theological truths that God communicated. These views have been around since Augustine, but have only been substantiated in the last 200 years as archaeological evidence from the Near East and cosmological evidence has supported this interpretation. C.S. Lewis certainly was not tied to a literal interpretation. “For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence.” Billy Graham affirmed this thinking in 1964 when he said “I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point he took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man…whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship with God.” I dare say that was before you were born, so you see that what is being written by the Waltons of this world today is only a refinement of ideas that have been around for a long time.

Gabriel says: “You are saying that the narrative is not true, but the theological teaching is true.”

It’s not a question of the narrative being true or not, the narrative simply describes the stage (see my comments above) and are relatively unimportant (see comments from Lewis and Graham above). The narrative was true for the original readers and today we can understand the context in which it was written. Saying the narrative is false is not helpful; we understand the purpose for which it was communicated. Our focus should be on the truth of the theological teaching.

Gabriel says: “When was that?”

It is enough to say, “Humans by choice are sinful.” If Paul was making a theological point, whether he used a historical event or not is not an issue. Whether he believed it was historical or not is not an issue. He used illustrations that resonated with his audience, just like most good preachers today do.

Gabriel says: “I appreciate your honesty, but the definite answers to your questions are in Genesis 1-3.”

Yes, my questions about God’s role and action are clearly answered by Genesis, but the rest of the answers are in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as we are led in truth. There is so much that is NOT written in Genesis about *how* the world began that we should expect to pick up a few clues along the way from other sources, as inconsequential as those clues might be in the big picture.

Gabriel says: “You are misrepresenting the YEC position.”

No, I wasn’t even thinking about the YEC position when I wrote what I did. The point I was making was that Scripture was intended as a primary device to communicate God’s love, plan and purpose to mankind, and for it to be burdened by descriptions of natural processes that would not be meaningful to most of human history, descriptions that could be obtained from other sources, would be unhelpful. However I am pleased that we can agree that Genesis is not scientific.

#60  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 9:37 AM

Arne,

A playwright does not burden his audience with the details of the stage.

Except God isn't a playwright and should not be forced into what we would expect Him to write. He wrote the history of the universe from beginning to end. He was particularly detailed regarding the end of the universe, and He was particularly detailed in the beginning of the universe. A historical narrative of creation is consistent with God's revelation.

Surely you are aware that Walton has been writing major works since 2001.

He has actually written major works prior to that, but that isn't the issue. The Lost World of Genesis One was his first significant published work regarding Genesis 1-3, and that was only a year ago. Prior to that he wrote somewhat related books regarding ANE thought and its relationship to the OT in general. I don't know if in those books he proposed his views of Genesis, but the point is that his views are very new to the discussion. Call up any 10 seminaries scattered throughout the country and I guarantee you Walton's views will not be taught or held there. Even better, call John Walton and ask him.

What the views have in common is that they reject a strictly historical basis for Genesis 1 and they affirm the theological truths that God communicated.

Indeed, but that is not Walton's view; instead it is an axiom from which a number of different views (including Walton's) arise.

I'm a bit surprised you brought C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham into the discussion. Neither are theologians or biblical scholars. C.S. Lewis is difficult to put into a box because he did so many things, but he did not have a theological degree, nor did he put himself forth as a biblical scholar. He was more of a novelist, literary scholar, and apologist. Billy Graham doesn't have a seminary degree and from what I know doesn't know the original languages. That is not to deprecate a man who the Lord has used in great ways, but it is to say that citing him in this discussion isn't helpful. You may as well cite any number of faithful men who do not believe in a literal creation, not on the basis of their study of the text but on the basis of what they have been taught.

Whether he believed it was historical or not is not an issue. He used illustrations that resonated with his audience, just like most good preachers today do.

This is where it is obvious that we take completely different approaches to Scripture. If Jesus and Paul, inspired of God (which is weird to say that of Jesus since He was/is God), believed in a literal creation, then that bears significant weight on the issue. You asked for heavyweights who disagree with Walton. Well, there is no more heavyweight than Jesus and Paul (as inspired writers, not that Paul is on equal grounds with Jesus).

Since Jesus and Paul demonstrated their belief in a historical creation and a historical Adam and Eve, and a historical Fall with specific details, the burden of proof is on those who say that they it isn't important what they believed or whether or not it was real. You cannot say Paul was using an illustration because both Jesus and Paul used other historical figures of the Old Testament in exactly the same way. So unless you are prepared to deny the historicity of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jonah, and others, you need to demonstrate how Jesus and Paul used Adam and Eve, and the historical events of creation in a different way than their uses of other historical figures.

Furthermore, the only basis upon which you say that Jesus and Paul used myths to tell theological truth is on the prior conclusion that Genesis 1-3 are fiction, but that has yet to be demonstrated in itself.

Our focus should be on the truth of the theological teaching.

This is an inherently fallacious attitude. It is exactly what liberals say about Jesus. They say it doesn't matter if Jesus was real, of if He was God, or if He did miracles, or if He rose from the dead; what matters is the theological truth that the early church was trying to get across through these creative stories that we have in the Gospels. No, Scripture grounds theological truth in reality. When God asserts His authority to Israel He often says, "I am the God who created/saved/protected/preserved..." and He grounds His authority on His acts in history.

In Joshua 24 when Joshua gathered the people to commit to serve the Lord, the Lord set the foundation of their commitment to Him on the basis of His acts in history. He does the same thing throughout Scripture when He refers to Himself as Creator. God's names and character is Scripture is never based in mythical stories. It is always based in what He has done in history.

God explicitly does this with Job starting in Job 38. Yes, it is poetic and not a chronological retelling of creation, but God is establishing His sovereignty not on the basis of an ANE myth, but on His actual activities in creation past and present.

There is so much that is NOT written in Genesis about *how* the world began

Which is what we expect from a miraculous creation. We have zero details on how Jesus made the blind see, the lame walk, and brought wine, fish, and bread into existence. The lack of details about the mechanics of a miracle should not cause us to go looking for details.

#61  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 2:28 PM

Gabriel (#60)

Except God isn't a playwright

I never said he was. Read more carefully.

Call up any 10 seminaries scattered throughout the country and I guarantee you Walton's views will not be taught or held there.

I’m not referring to the uniqueness of Walton’s views, but the fact that he shares a non-historical view of Genesis 1 with many other scholars.

Arne says: “Our focus should be on the truth of the theological teaching.”

Gabriel says: “This is an inherently fallacious attitude.”

Really? So would I be more correct if I said “Our focus should NOT be on the truth of the theological teaching.”?

I'm a bit surprised you brought C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham into the discussion.

It is quite cavalier of you to summarily dismiss pillars like C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham simply because their views don’t coincide with yours. What matters is were they men of God, and were their views based on Scripture? Your comment indicates that you would agree that they were men of God, and so there is no reason to think that they did not believe their views were based on Scripture. In fact this further strengthens my case that these views have been held not only by theological scholars for a long time, but were well established in the Christian mainstream for some time.

#62  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 17, 2010at 3:07 PM

I never said he was. Read more carefully.

You said God doesn't need to talk about the history of creation because playwrights don't concern themselves with the stage. I know you aren't making the Bible a playwright, but my point is that you are comparing apples and oranges.

I’m not referring to the uniqueness of Walton’s views,

Well, that is not the impression you gave since you only talked about Walton in the section of the majority of scholars.

So would I be more correct if I said “Our focus should NOT be on the truth of the theological teaching.”

Context is helpful for reading Scripture, and my comments. If you read my comment, you'll see how I explained that theological truth must be founded on literal historical truth. So it would be more correct for you to say, "Our focus should be how God worked in history so that we can learn theological truth. Once arises out of the other. Both are important."

It is quite cavalier of you to summarily dismiss pillars like C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham simply because their views don’t coincide with yours.

Again, read my comment. You asked me for heavyweights who disagree with Walton (or non-historicity), but then you brought in two men who don't even play the sport (nor do they pretend to). Would you base your political views based on what celebrities say? I don't think so. Not because you disagree with them, but because they don't know political science. In the same way I don't use C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham to support my theology because they are not a biblical scholars. They may give a good sound bite here and there, but they haven't produced scholarly material in biblical studies (C.S. Lewis writes more popular level material and his work on the atonement is widely rejected).

Your comment indicates that you would agree that they were men of God, and so there is no reason to think that they did not believe their views were based on Scripture.

Not at all. There are many good and godly men with whom I agree on a great many issues, but not on every issue. For example, I greatly respect R.C. Sproul, but I disagree with his view on infant baptism. He thinks he gets his view from Scripture, I don't. But he is still godly and I have a mountain of respect for him.

Your comment implies that godly men will never be wrong, which implies that John MacArthur isn't godly. Hmm... I think you would disagree with that statement (at least I hope you would).

#63  Posted by Arne Berg  |  Friday, June 18, 2010at 6:30 AM

Gabriel:

I hope that someday soon you will come to know the difference between “evolution” and “evolutionism”. I hope that you will make a serious effort to learn the science, not just of evolution, but astronomy, geology, biology and cosmology, and realize that there is no conspiracy in science to destroy faith in God. It may appear that way to you now, but that is only because there is a strong bias among scientists (shared by Christian and non-Christian scientists) specifically against the YEC view of natural history.

I hope you will come to realize that Genesis 1 describes historical events that actually happened, but not in the literalistic, simplistic way that you may think is implied by the text. I hope that as you teach others that you will not present them with a scenario that requires them to make a mutually exclusive choice between “evolution” and faith in God. Not only does that deny them the opportunity to be effective witnesses in the scientific world, but as I have seen many times, it leads them to walk away from their faith when they become fully informed.

I hope and pray that when you reach the point when you realize the truth that God has revealed in nature that you will not face that false choice, but accept that God has left us a vast vista to explore. The Bible does provide adequate answers to the origins of all these realities. I hope you will be able to find strength in all the uncertainties, social pressures and ambiguities that this presents.

You are obviously an intelligent and thoughtful person. I hope that you will learn to love the Lord your God with ALL your mind, not just your heart, soul and strength.

Peace.

#64  Posted by Claude Mcdonald  |  Saturday, June 19, 2010at 10:19 AM

I have always believed in the Genesis account of creation, I know and believe that Almighty God created the heavens and the earth and it has always bothered me that scientist cannot or will not accept this.