Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rick Santorum: The Right Standard Bearer

It is truly unthinkable that as conservatives decide who should be their standard bearer to unseat President Obama, they have ignored the one candidate who has all the virtues they look for in a conservative candidate: Rick Santorum.  No one can question his commitment to the principles of Federalism which mandates a government of limited powers, the necessity of defending our national interests, the reigning in of government spending and the reduction of taxes to spur economic growth, and most important of all, the protection of the unborn and the strengthening of the Family. Indeed, Santorum has nothing in his record he needs to explain away, as Mitt Romney does with Romney-care.  Romney derives much of his support from those who say the only issue of importance in this election is the economy and government spending.  Romney does have business experience, but Santorum has a record of accomplishment in reducing government. He was one of the authors and primary sponsors of welfare reform in the 90’s which vastly reduced the size of welfare rolls and mandated that welfare recipients seek employment.  He is well versed in foreign policy and defense matters and has been the only Republican candidate consistently speaking on such matters such as the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.  When Bill Clinton lost reelection as governor of Arkansas, he re-branded himself as a moderately conservative candidate. Santorum has not altered what he stands for despite losing his Senate seat in 2006.  Like everyone else, Santorum understands the importance of the economy in the next election, as well as the issue of repealing Obama-care. Yet he has neither moderated his stand on social issues nor swept social issues under the rug.  This is in contrast to Romney who highlighted social issues in 2008 but has ignored them this election.  The media would like to ignore a candidate who brings social issues to the forefront; this is why Santorum is asked so few questions on anything in the debates.  Yet there are many Republicans who would like to see Santorum and candidates like him marginalized.  These Republicans see issues such as abortion and marriage as distractions in any election. They maintain that social issues are so divisive that they lose elections for Republicans. These Republicans look upon social conservatives as unreliable partners in a coalition with those mainly concerned with economic and foreign policy.  Yet experience has shown that social conservatives like Santorum remain active, reliable partners in the Conservative coalition while those who would wish social issue conservatives would just go away cannot be trusted to stick to their guns.  They are the ones who seek compromise with the left.  Not only is Santorum a reliable conservative, he can articulate conservative principles extremely well.  Romney is also articulate; we just don’t know if what he articulates today is a reliable guide to how he would govern tomorrow.  Michelle Bauchman is also a reliable conservative and would be a good president. Yet she has not demonstrated any ability to move beyond slogans and clich├ęs in articulating her positions. All the Republican candidates are able to make the case against liberalism and the Obama record.  But only Santorum has the imagination and rhetorical ability to articulate a conservative case that is not just a denunciation of Obama’s record but a positive vision people will want to vote for.  That was the difference between a Reagan and a Goldwater; this is the difference between Santorum and the other Republican candidates.  But this is not the only difference.  Santorum understands the nature of our system of government and its foundations better than the rest of the Republican field.  While his support for the Tenth Amendment is just as strong as any other candidate’s, the Tenth Amendment for Santorum is not the foundation of our republican form of government.  The rights of all mankind declared in the Declaration of Independence, which come from God, limit what individual states can do. States can not do whatever they want to.  They cannot violate the inalienable rights of anyone, nor can they violate the principles of God’s laws. This is the answer to those who use the Tenth Amendment as justification for allowing states to legalize same-sex marriage within their borders.  This understanding of the Tenth Amendment far superior to Ron Paul’s libertarian philosophy. As all the other anti-Romney candidates have risen and fallen in the polls, its time to take a look at Santorum. With his conservative credentials and personal attributes, conservatives should be at peace nominating him as the conservative standard bearer.  With such a standard bearer as Rick Santorum, the conservative message will not fail to elect conservatives to Congress and make the current occupant of the White House a one term President.              

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Handel's "Israel In Egypt" : A Recording From 1888!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IsraelInEgypt18880629.ogg

This is a recording of Handel's "Israel in Egypt" performed in concert at London's Crystal Palace on June 29, 1888 at 2:00 p.m. The orchestra consisted of over 500 and the chorus was made up of over 4,000 voices. All of the singers are gone, but we can still hear their voices! It sounds as if heavenly messengers are somewhere shrouded in mystery beckoning their listeners to the throne of God. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Of The Web 2011

12/6 marked the 5th anniversary of Redmptive Thoughts.  Normally I would take this time to reflect on what I have written throughout the year, but I have taken a blogging sabatical which has lasted a lot longer than intended. Consequently, I have written very little.  Within the next few months I will return to blogging. In the meantime, I will bring to your attention those internet articles which succeeded in capturing my attention in 2011.

The Arrest: Illness UnbiddenDouglass Groothius utilizes the metephor of an arrest by a totalitarian state to create a profound picture of what illness does to human beings and those closest to them.  Then he ties this to Christ's sufferings. From Groothius' blog Chronic Illness, Christian Faith, and Other Laments.

Avoidance--A Christian Problem: "Those whose lives are ruled by fear ironically avoid what is necessary to remove it." Ben Witherington speaks of how fear not only ruins lives but also prevents us from admonishing those we love when they need admonishment.  From Witherington's Bible and Culture blog.

1.1 Cheers For Pat Robertson: The one good thing that happens when Pat Robertson makes a statement that embarrasses the Church is that the statement often provokes thoughtful responses from deeper thinkers. Robertson's statement that a husband would be justified in divorcing a wife suffering from alzheimers provoked this outstanding response from Russell D. Moore. From Christianity Today's blog.

Arminians Shooting Themselves In The Foot: William Watson Birch's analysis of the reaction of SOME Arminians to Rob Bell's "Love Wins."  From his The Arminian blog.  See also Roy Ingle's Five Dangers Facing Classical Arminians from his Reformed Arminian blog.

Why The Missional Movement Will Fail, Part 1 and Part 2:  The Missional Movement will fail because it has so focused on evangelism that it has neglected the Church's role of discipleship. From Michael Breen's blog.

Did Youth Ministry Create The Emerging Church? Part 1 and Part 2:  The roots of both the Emergent Church and the Megachurch are to be found in Youth Ministries. Does this make Youth Ministry as has been practiced by the Evangelical Church a threat the Church's theology, ecclesiology, and relationships among its members? By Skye Jethani of the Out of Ur blog.


Sniffing Glue: A Childhood In Christian Pop: Written by a woman who grew up in a Christian home but has since left the Christian faith. She explains how contempory Christian worship led her to abandon the Church.

Heresy Is Heresy, Not A Lithmus Test For Gospel Preaching: Jason B. Hood warns against opening up oneself to the charge of antinomianism in preaching grace. The charge should not be regarded as a badge of honor, as some within Calvinist circles consider it. From Christianity Today's blog. Also from that same source: In Praise of Confidence by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway. Doubt is celebrated in some Christian circles. Is this a good thing?

Bad, Mr. Huckabbe, Bad      Our political and cultural elites condemn Christians who critique Islam while ignoring the treatment Christians and other religious minorities receive in Isamic countries. Should we be surprised? From John Mark Reynolds at The Scriptorium.

The death of Steve Jobs inspired thousands of meditations upon the meaning of his life. Here are three: The Apotheosis of Steve Jobs by Gene Veith (Have we turned Steve Jobs into a secular saint?), Al Mohler writes of how the secular world will remember Jobs and how Christians should evaluate his life, and in Jobs, Dubya, and Leadership, James K.A. Smith points out the similarities in the leadership styles of Jobs and George W. Bush. Smith notes how critics who criticize Bush's leadership style praise Jobs for the very same traits.

Two other posts by Douglass Groothius caught my attention: What is a Library? and Banning Laptops in the Classroom. Both deal with how internet technology has diminished our sense of place and the learning process. Both are from Groothius' other blog The Constructive Crumudgeon.

Can A Christian Work In The Marketing Field? by Roger E. Olson.

The Guided And The Misguided: The moral history of Soap Operas by Martha Bayles published on the Claremont Institute's website.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mitt, Mormonism, And Me

I voted for Mitt Romney in the 2008 Illinois primary. I did not think then, or now, that his Mormonism has any bearing on his ability to be President. Also, he was the only acceptable candidate left among the Republicans. I was not about to vote for McCain to be the Republican nominee. McCain seemed to wake up every morning asking himself how he could undermine conservatives and endear himself to the liberal media. In that sense, Romney is not like McCain. Romney does not seem to have an axe to grind against conservatives. But he is a political weathervane. He has no core principles that define who he is, but changes his public positions whenever it suits him. But I am not going to dwell on the wisdom, or lack of, in choosing Romney to be the nominee to challenge President Obama. Enough has been and will be written on that subject to allow conservatives to make an informed choice.

My attention has been drawn to the renewed debate concerning Mormonism’s status within the Christian community. Mormons, in claiming that they constitute the only true Church since the days of the Apostles, claim that they are Christ followers. I have seen some Christians on blog sites state, along with Mormons, that what Mormons believe concerning the Triune nature of God has no bearing on whether they follow Jesus Christ. It is their actions that determine whether they are or are not Christ followers. If they strive to love their neighbors and evangelize, then what they believe concerning the divinity of Jesus will not affect their standing with God. After all, they reason, one doesn’t need to possess a perfect understanding of historic Christian orthodoxy concerning the Trinity to be saved.

It is true that a perfect understanding of the Trinity is not a requirement for salvation. No one had witnessed to me before I was saved and I had read very little of the Bible before I had become a disciple of Christ. The first time I had ever heard the Trinity mentioned was at an Intervarsity meeting when I had been a Christian for only a few months. The speaker asked that all who were Trinitarians to raise their hands. When I saw everyone else raise their hands, I raised mine too. After all, I didn’t want to appear to be a heretic. Later I had heard that a mark of a cult was a denial of the Triune nature of God. At that time I trusted those Christians I fellowshiped with implicitly; if they told me God’s nature was Triune, I believed them. One day a member of a cult called The Way came to the Bible study I attended. He argued with my Christian friends concerning the Trinity’s biblical basis. The debate was cordial until the cultist declared, “You all are a bunch of weaklings!” Realizing his true self had momentarily been revealed, he sheepishly continued, “You didn’t hear that.” That scene caused me to be wary of anyone who denied the Trinity. Throughout my first three years as a Christian, I gave intellectual assent to the Trinity. But one day as I was reading through Mark’s Gospel, I read Mark 2: 6-7 in a new way. In the account of the paralytic being lowered down through the roof by his friends, verse five reads, “When Jesus saw their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” The scribes reacted in verses 6-7: “Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” As I read these verses, it struck me that the scribes were right; only God can forgive sins. And that in forgiving the paralytic, Jesus was indeed revealing His own divinity. From that time on, my intellectual assent had become an increasingly sure and certain knowledge produced by the work of the Holy Spirit in me. So, what’s the difference between a person like me who had no understanding of the Trinity at the beginning of my Christian walk and a Mormon who denies its very existence? When the Holy Spirit revealed to me the Triune nature of God, I did not resist what I knew to be true, where Mormons continually resist the knowledge of the truth. To paraphrase Julian of Norwich, a nun from the Middle Ages, if we are truly children of God, we might not possess an intellectual understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, but deep in our spirit, we will know its true.

Many Emergent Church spokesmen assert that it’s not what we believe about Jesus that is important, but what we do for Him. Doctrine must take a backseat to experience. Common ground for Mormons and Emergents: how unexpected! The Apostle John, labeled by some as the Apostle of love, wrote concerning those who deny Christ’s divinity: “Many deceivers who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God, whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” (2Jn. 7-11)

What is there about Romney that attracts some religious conservatives? Some favor Romney out of pure pragmatism; they think Romney is the only candidate that could beat President Obama. In their desire to win, they back a candidate whose message is primarily focused on economic rather than social issues. Many conservative pundits are Catholic and some Catholics have an affinity for Mormonism because they are attracted to the liturgical nature of Mormon worship. Catholics charge Protestants with schism in breaking with Rome, cutting themselves off from the historic Church which originated with the Apostles (so they claim), and introducing a dangerous individualism into the Church’s relationship to God. Yet they have an affinity for a religion that has its origins in 1820’s New York state which claims it was initially revealed to one man, Joseph Smith. It appears that liturgy has a greater priority over orthodox doctrine for some.

As I wrote above, I don’t think Romney’s Mormonism has any bearing on his ability to be President. If he is the Republican nominee, I will certainly vote for him against Obama. Yet, as I wrote when Romney ran in 2008, a Mormon President may very likely pose a challenge to the Church in America. Pressure within and without the Church will be mounted against Evangelicals to treat Mormons as members of Christ’s Church. Would this pressure be applied to Evangelicals involved in the fight against abortion and same sex marriage? Would Evangelicals be silent concerning Mormonism’s heretical nature just to have a voice in a Romney administration concerning social isses? Would Evangelicals who refuse to compromise on historic orthodox doctrine be ostracized by those within the Church whose first priority would be to support a President they agreed with politically? The media would certainly use Mormonism to drive a wedge between Evangelicals and other political conservatives. These issues, not Romney’s ability to serve as President, is what is at stake for the Church in America if there is to be a Romney Presidency.

(All scripture quotations from the NIV)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On Reading Jane Austen

Over Christmas I reread Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. A family friend bought the Guthrie's a video production of the novel by the BBC. (The 1983 version, not the the awful version of a couple years ago, and certainly not the movie!) It is rare that I read works of fiction more than once, but I wanted to see how faithful the video was to the book. Very few of my Christian friends share my taste in literature. In fact, some of them think that Jane Austen is in the same catagory as the paperback romances one can find at Wal Mart. Watching movies made of her novels does not change their minds. Because Austen's plots involve one or more love stories, the whole story is dismissed as "just a love story." To this I ask, "Is Romeo and Juliet just a love story because it concerns a doomed romance? Are the novels of Dickens just detective fiction because crime is at the center of many of them? Is Braveheart just an action flick?"

In Austens lifetime (1775-1817), a new movement, Romanticism, brought changes to all aspects of life. In Romanticism, the importance of one's feelings were given priority over all things which restain them, whether those restraints were social convention, wisdom, family obligation or religion. While the movement is long since dead, its influence continued after the movement's demise. (One can argue that the Nazi view of the German "superman" had its origions in this movement, as well as the introduction of eastern religions into western philosophy.) While Austen did not reject all forms of Romanticism, and she offered no systematic criticism of it, she can be considered one of Romanticism's first public critics. Two of her six novels stand out in this regard: Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. In Sense and Sensibility, we do not just have a contrast between two sisters as to how they secure marriage partners. What we have here is an unfavorable contrast between two ways of life. Marianne Dashwood is the symbol of one who has totally absorbed Romantic ways of thought and behavior. Her feelings rule her life. To her, those who don't give feelings first priority, like her sister Elinor, are repressed, less than human. Marianne fears she will never marry because she can never find a man spectacular enough for her. When she finds such a man, Willoughby, he turns out to be bad. When Willoughby makes fun of another character, Colonel Brandon, solely because of Brandon's goodness, Marianne is swept up in the same type of thinking regarding her fellow mortals. Mariannes world view is embraced in one of England's greatest Romantic novels, Charlotte Brontee's Jane Eyre. In this novel, Evangelical Christianity is portrayed as an enemy of the emotions and therefore an enemy of true human happiness and fulfillment. The hero of a Romantic novel is usually handsome, but if not, is striking in appearence and spectacularly interesting. Not so in Jane Austen's world. The love interest of Elinor Dashwood is socially awkward and not of a passionate nature. In a Jane Austin novel, the men most likely to appeal to the Romantic imagination turn out to be bad, some very bad. The good men are those who do not invite curiousity at first glance, but further aquaintence reveals their true characters and their superior qualities as men. It is no wonder Charlotte Brontee hated Austen's novels.

In the Penguin Classics edition of Mansfield Park, Tony Tanner's introduction contrasts the two world views very well: "We are also made aware of the conflict between the joys of personality and the rigors of principle. We are shown the need to distingish between what is 'sweet' and what is 'sound', between what is 'pleasant' and what is 'prudent.' "Duty' of course is very important, but supperadded to it there must be 'delicacy.' And, a harder lesson perhaps, we are shown that the delightfulness of 'wit' (and who enjoyed that more than Jane Austen?) is trivial compared with the soberness of wisdom." Tanner quotes a letter written by Austen: "Wisdom is better than wit, & in the long run will certainly have the laugh on her side." In addition, Mansfield Park teaches us that life must be lived within limits; to live a life severed of all obligation to others is to deny the reality of life. This truth is still valid even if one's world of obligation includes people who are cruel and evil, as Tanner points out in his introduction. The fascination of the "new" is attributed to a society that has cast off its moorings, which includes its Christian heritage. The increasing restlessness of England's inhabitants at this time was one of Romanticism's results that Austen viewed with suspicion.

I do not think it possible that a Christian's world views can be totally unaffected by his or her culture. That being the case, it is profitable to highlight those works which can affect thinking for the good. In the world of novels, Jane Austen is a good place to start.

(First published in 3/07)

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Beholding The Glory: The Incarnation And The Arts" Edited By Jeremy Begbie

"Beholding The Glory: The Incarnation and the Arts," edited by Jeremy Begbie, was textbook for a Church Worship class taught at Wesley Biblical Seminary. I audited the class and did not read much of the assigned texts, including this one. To tell the truth, I was expecting to dislike this book, but reading it was truly an unexpected treat. I had expected it to be filled with pretentious language by writers intent on impressing their collegues. And there was some. But despite this, there was much good theology stated in plain but creative ways.

The book consists of eight essays which attempt to explain how theology (the Incarnation and the Trinity in particular) can be explored through various artistic mediums. Each essay deals with one kind of art form: poetry, literature, music, etc. All essays but one (the exception being the one on sculpture) were good. And even if some of them did not totally succeed in its aim(such as the essay on dance), the time spent with them is worthwhile.
 
The best essay is the last, written by the editor, Jeremy Begbie. In his essay Begbie confronts the difficulty some have in dealing with the Incarnation. One of the difficulties is that man tries to think of the Incarnation strictly in visual terms. The problem can be stated this way: "How can Divinity and Humanity co-exist together in the same space? Wouldn't the Divine nature swollow up the human?" Yet space need not be have to be conceived visually. When one plays a key on a piano, while the source of the sound can be known, the sound can occupy the entire room. No matter which way you face, you can hear the sound of the key being played. Now, if we play two keys at one time, we hear both distinct sounds at the same time. They occupy the same space, as it were, yet both keys remain distinct. If you want to use this explanation to deal with the Trinity, add a third note. All three notes remain individually distinct while inhabiting the same space. By rethinking what we mean by the concept of space, some who have had difficulties with the Incarnation and the Trinity can come to a new understanding of them both.

(This review, which has been slightly edited, originally appeared on 5/26/07.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Worship, Community, And The Triune God Of Grace" By James B. Torrance

(This review origionally appeared in three parts, 8/7/07, 8/11/07, and 8/17/07.)

The Torrance brothers, Thomas and James, are highly regarded by some of the professors at Wesley Biblical Seminary. So when I saw Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace by James Torrance in a bookstore, I knew I had to buy it.  The book has only four short chapters, yet the style and content are such that these chapters take two or three readings before what Torrance is saying can be grasped. The time spent is well worth the effort, and not just for the purpose of grasping the book's message. I have already used some of its insights to teach with positive effect. This experience will be shared further on.

Torrance reminds us that Jesus is not only the center of our worship; Jesus is the leader of our worship. Many Christians would reply "Well, of course He is the leader of our worship, as He is the leader of all that we do." Yet this assertion is often undermined by our actual practice. More often than not, Christians act upon the attitude that in worship, the only two parties involved are themselves and God. An individual Christian may express this attitude in this manner: "Its just God and me! No priest or ritual can dictate to me how I worship God." Yet if this is the case, doesn't the initiative then rest with us as to how we respond to God in worship? Is man in the driver's seat as to the content of worship? Will not our "experience" take center stage, while the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit recede in importance? Torrance correctly points out that this is not worship as God intended it to be.

Jesus Christ is not only our savior and healer and soon coming King. He is our High Priest. It is through the Son that we approach the Father. When we approach Christ, it is Christ Himself who intercedes on our behalf. When we boldly approach the throne of grace, it is Christ Himself who leads the way. When we continually abide in Christ, we share in Christ's own communion with the Father. These truths should fundamentally alter our individualistic view of our worship of God. Here is how Torrance explains the issue of our relationship to God and worship: "It is he (Jesus) who leads our worship, bears our sorrows on his heart and intercedes for us, presenting us to the Father in himself as God's dear children, and uniting us with himself in his life in the spirit. To reduce worship to this two-dimensional thing-God and ourselves, today-is to imply that God throws us back upon ourselves to make our response. It ignores the fact that God has already provided for us the response which alone is acceptable to him-the offering made for the whole human race in the life, obedience and passion of Jesus Christ. But is this not to lose the comfort and the peace of the gospel, as well as the secret of true Christian prayer? The gift of sharing in the intercessions of Christ is that when we do not know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit makes intercession for us. Whatever else our faith is, it is a response to a response already made for us and continually being made for us in Christ, the pioneer of our faith. (pages 29-30) Torrance goes on to define true, Trinitarian worship as "...the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son's communion with the Father." (p. 30) The unique relationship between the Father and the Son is at the center of our worship. Christ has union and communion with the Father through the Spirit, presenting Himself in our humanity through the Holy Spirit on our behalf. By the same Holy Spirit Christ enables us to participate in His life of worship and communion with the Father. Furthermore, we are drawn by the Holy Spirit into Christ's mission to the world that He received from the Father.

In terms of public worship, Torrance focuses on two sacraments that allow us to participate in Christ's own worship of the Father. In baptism, Torrance reminds us that just because we have chosen to be baptized, that does not make us the primary agents or actors. Christ is the primary agent in baptism. He is our "leitourgos", our high priest, whose vicarious atoning sacrifice for our sins cleanses us and sanctifies us so that He may present us to the Father. "Baptism in water is a sign in the first instance, not of anything in us, but of Christ in the Spirit. It is not my faith which cleanses but Christ by the Spirit-the Christ in whom I believe." (Torrance, p. 79-80) "Christ is the agent in baptism and he baptizes us into a life of sonship, of service, of dying and rising with him in newness of life (Rom. 6). He baptizes us into that life of communion for which we were created in the image of the triune God, to be co-lovers (condiligentes)." (Torrance, p.79) In communion, it is not an offering that we have made that is of utmost importance. What is most important is that Christ's offering on our behalf is brought back to our remembrance. And as we participate in communion, we are drawn to the Father and the Son and to each other. And our faith is nourished until Christ's return. This is a foretaste of what worship will be like when we are actually in the Father's presence in Heaven.

According to Torrance, what kind of communion are we drawn into through baptism and communion? We are drawn into Christ's own intercession for humanity. In corporate worship we become the royal priesthood referred to by Peter. As members of this priesthood, we bear the sorrows and cares of this world in our hearts as our high priest, Christ Jesus, does. Communion also performs a work of memory in us. "This work of memory, of realizing our participation and fellowship in the suffering of Christ, is the work of the Holy Spirit. He brings these things to our remembrance and interprets to us the meaning of the events. We remember Christ-yet it is not so much we who remind ourselves of these events, but Jesus Christ, who brings his passion to our remembrance through the Holy Spirit, as our ever-living and ever-present Lord, who in his own person, is our memorial in the presence of the Father. In other words, our memorial is the earthly counterpart of the heavenly memorial. Christ, in constituting himself as our memorial before the Father, by his Spirit, lifts us up as we present our memorials before God. So the Lord's Supper, like the Passover, is a memorial to us, but also a memorial before God." (Torrance, p. 86)

The final chapter of Torrance's book is called "Gender, Sexuality and the Trinity." Not only was I impressed with what Torrance was conveying in this chapter, I have been able to use Torrance's insights in ministry with good results. Torrance points out that behind much radical feminist theology and its hostility to the fatherhood of God are the personal experiences of many feminists. The relationship between these feminists and their earthly fathers were often not only bad, but abusive, the fathers being the abusers. Torrance rejects the notion that we must redefine God and the Bible in terms of gender so that we can discern female traits in God. Torrance instead urges us to speak of God in terms of the Father. Yet he strongly cautions us not to interpret the fatherhood of God in terms of any earthly model of fatherhood. Instead, we should view fatherhood in the model of the relationship between Jesus and His Father. '...we are meant to interpret our humanity, our male-female relations, in light of the Trinity. God is love. Love always implies communion between persons, and that is what we see supremely in God. The Father loves the Son in the communion of the Spirit. The Son loves the Father in the communion of the Spirit in their continual mutual "indwelling"...The Spirit is the bond of communication between the Father and the Son and between God and ourselves. The Spirit is God giving God's self in love. The Father and the Son and the Spirit are equally God...But there is differentiation within God-personal distinctions in the Godhead. There is unity, diversity and perfect harmony. It is this triune God who has being-in-communion, in love, who has created us as male and female in that image to be "co-lovers"...to share in the triune love and to love one another in...unity." (Torrance, p. 104-105) As males and females, we find our identities and fulfilment in Christ. We look to Him to know what it is to be in the image of God.

I have been able to apply Torrance's teaching in prison ministry. Most, if not all the men you encounter in prison ministry, had bad fathers, if they knew their fathers at all. Their relationship with their fathers can make it difficult for them to understand God not only as their Father, but as their merciful and loving Father. In Rantoul, IL., I taught men who had been released from prison. I taught them that to see Jesus is to see the Father. Jesus reflected the Father in His mercy, compassion and servanthood. I pointed them to the example of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples the night of His betrayal. Jesus used this as an example of how His disciples were to relate to one another. Then in the next few chapters Jesus stated that to see Him was to see the Father. His disciples were meant to apply the example of servanthood to the Trinitarian relationship that Jesus brought to their attention that night. This caused the men in the group to gain a truer vision of God as Father. Before, they had no models of fatherhood with which to understand God as Father. But now they have the correct model, Jesus Christ himself. In Jesus, they have a picture of how to relate to others. They have a model of God the Father as a servant, not as a tyrant.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"

Click here to watch Ben Stein's documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" in its entirety. "Expelled" documents the campaign by the evolutionary vanguard in the scientific community to silence those who are advocates for, or who simply want a fair hearing for, Intelligent Design. The film was released in 05/08. My review of it was challenged by someone who cited the National Center for Science Education's (NCSE)website, "Expelled Exposed" , to refute the movie's message. I studied Expelled Exposed carefully and in 10/08 published an eight part refutation of the NCSE's refutation, entitled "Exposing Expelled Exposed." Those articles can be found on the archive page on the links previous to this one. Those articles will remain on the archive page despite the Expelled Exposed website being no longer available. (The official website for Expelled is also no longer available.) "Exposing Expelled Exposed" remains the most researched project to appear on this blog.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part VI, Conclusion. "The Universal Acid"

All articles in this series appear twice except Part 5. Part 5 is missing from the first set of articles. To find it, scroll down. I don't understand how this happened.)

(Originally published on 5/31/10)

Recently, on the Christianity Today Magazine Blog, I made the following observation: belief in Evolution is almost universal in Europe, while in the U.S., disbelief in Evolution is greater than belief in Evolution.  The Church in Europe is pretty much dead.  The Church in the U.S., despite its problems, is much more healthy.  Yet theistic evolutionists warn us that if the Church does not make peace with Darwinian Evolution, the Church faces a mass exodus of young people.  Francis Collins predicts this in "The Language of God."  Bruce Watke stated that failure to embrace Evolution could lead to the world viewing the Church as a cult. (See above link)  Where Scripture and Evolutionary dogma conflict, Christians are told they must accept the pronouncements of the later over the former.  So says Collins, so says other theistic evolutionistsRedeemer Presbyterian Church pastor Tim Keller wrote "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People," which appears on Collins' Biologos website, for the purpose of convincing Christians to accept the importance of evolutionary biological processes so reconciliation can be made between Biblical faith and belief in Evolution.

Keller thinks that failure to reconcile the two causes conflict for Christians and for those interested in embracing the Christian faith.

On the conflict for Christians: "Many believers in western culture see the medical and technological advances achieved through science and are grateful for them. They have a very positive view of science. How then, can they reconcile what science seems to tell them about evolution with their traditional theological beliefs?" (Keller, p. 1) This reminds me of a passage in Francis Collins' "The Language of God," one of the most ridiculous passages I have ever read: "This potential sythesis of the scientific and spiritual worldviews is assumed by many in modern times to be an impossibility, rather like trying to force the two poles of a magnet together into the same spot. Despite that impression, however, many Americans seem interested in incorporating the validity of both of these worldviews into their daily lives. Recent polls confirm that 93 percent of Americans profess some form of belief in God; yet most of them drive cars, use electricity, and pay attention to weather reports, apparently assuming that the science undergirding these phenomena is generally trustworthy."

On the conflict for those exploring Chrisitanity: "They may be drawn to many things about the Christian faith, but they say, 'I don't see how I can believe the Bible if that means I have to reject science.' " (Keller, p. 1)

Lets look at the second conflict first.

No one can deny that belief in Evolution has kept many a person from coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Intellectual doubts definitely play a role in keeping people from becoming believers, whether these doubts center on Evolution, the authenticity of Scripture, or the question of evil in the world. Without diminishing the importance of intellectual doubts about the Gospel, Scripture gives us the reason most people reject the Gospel: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godless and wickedness of men who supress the truth by their wickedness..." (Rom 1: 18). "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (Jn. 3: 19-20) The determitive issue whether one becomes a disciple is repentance. Note that when Paul preached to the Athenians, his message was radically different from his other discourses recorded in Acts. But Paul still stressed their need for repentance. (Acts 17: 30-31) Many an intellectual doubt concerning the Gospel is a mask, conscious or unconscious, hiding the real reason for not becoming a disciple. The real reason is not wanting to repent. I have seen people whose intellectual doubts have been effectively dealt with. At first they seem earnest when expressing their doubts, but when their questions are answered, they become sheepish in their refusal to repent of their sins. They act like they have been caught. Many who profess faith after their intellects have been satisfied fail to repent. Often intellectual doubts are a sign the person is bound by fear of what others think of them. Does Keller try to guide these people to repentance on this point when he counsels them concerning their doubts? When I read "The Reason for God" perhaps I'll find my answer.

As for Christians, is the conflict among them as widespread as Keller leads us to believe? As noted earlier, disbelief in Evolution exceeds belief in Evolution in the U.S. Those who disbelieve include non-Christians as well as Christians. The U.S. is without a doubt a very materialistic country. Both Christians and non-Christians reap the consequences of science and technology's negative aspects and profit from their positive ones. It appears that a great many Evangelicals partake of the fruits of science and technology without thinking they need to ask themselves how they can do so without accepting Evolutionary dogma. And as noted earlier, the American Church is far more healthy than the European Church. Reinhold Niebuhr, not one of my favorite theologions, in his book "Pious and Secular America," observes how materialistic the U.S. is while being a far more spiritual country than many other western nations. There is no doubt that many Christians have doubts prompted by Evolution. Keller thinks he has the answer for such people. But in fact, he is creating a smorgasbord of Christian and evolutionary dogma in which the evolutionary elements eventually eat away the Christian elements.

New Atheist Daniel Dennett refers to Evolution as "The Universal Acid." The term originates from his youthful fantasy of inventing a liquid so corrosive that it will eat through anything including the container that holds it. Everything it touches will be transformed. Dennett states that Evolution operates in the same way on all other world-views: "it eats through just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view with much of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways." For those naive enough to think Biblical faith and belief in Evolution can be reconciled, they will have a rude awakening when they see the universal acid transform Biblical world-views into non-Biblical ones.

But the universal acid is just a theory developed by an atheist, theistic evolutionists will say. Lets just take a look at just how Evolution has transformed the view of life and reality in fields outside biology and how it impacts religious thinking. Physicist Lee Smolin has speculated that universes, including our own, are the offspring of black holes. Universes in turn reproduce through the black holes contained in them. The more black holes in a universe, the more offspring a universe produces. The new universes posses the same fundamental physical constants of the parent universes. The evolutionary concepts of mutation and differential reproduction are appied to cosmology. (This information found here) If Christians accept that Evolution was God's means of creating Man, why would they not accept an evolutionary model for the creation of the universe? Keller would still contend that the earth was specially created, but many would see that he is simply trying to fit the Christian account of creation into an evolutionary creation model. By accepting the evolutionary model for creation, the Christian consensus concerning the beginning of the universe would be pushed back to accomodate the birth of multiple universes. Over time, the application of evolutionary principles to cosmology removes God completely from the picture of creation.

The findings of neuroscience have been affected by the view that Man has no soul but is the product of the structure of the brain. According to neuroscientists even spiritual experiences are the product of brain structure. In fact, some believe that the birth of religion coincided with the growth of the size of Man's brain during Evolution. The increase in the brain's size allowed for the increased capacity to process language which was a necessary precurser to the development of religion. As Man evolved, his capacity for tool making forshadowed Man's ability to develop religious systems. Man was able to visualize the object without seeing it before it even existed. To understand the use of a tool requires an understanding of causality. The more complex a tool Man is capable of producing, the more sophistication Man posseses to develop religious systems. It is these religious systems that increase survival in the evolutionary process. These systems created communities that restrained selfish behavior. They restrained women to encourage them to choose long term male partners for procreation. The result was that women evolved into the more commited sex. (For sources, see here and here) Remember that in the Tim Keller/Derick Kinder model of creation, Man evolved until God chose one from the tool makers (homo faber) and implanted His image in him. Keller is willing to counsel using arguements rooted in non-Christian world views to convince people that Biblical faith and Evolution can be reconciled. Yet what is to stop the intellectually curious from exploring the roots of Keller's counsel? What is to stop them and those they will counsel, from concluding that since the religious nature in Man can be explained by neuroscience and genetics, then the Christian revelation is no revelation at all? What is to stop them from rejecting a God who reveals Himself and embrace all religious experiences as essentially the same, from the same source?

Implicit in Keller's model for counseling Christians on this issue is the presumed lack of further intellectual speculation on the part of those Keller counsels. Once Christians accept Keller's counsel that God used evolutionary biologiocal processes to create Man and Man's belief in Him, then all conflicts should supposedly cease. Yet what prevents those Keller counsels from working out the implications of Keller's counsel discussed in the paragraphs above? The only ones that can be counted on not to work out these implications are those whose trust in their pastor's counsel is absolute, non-thinkers who need to be told what to think. If Keller counsels that our belief in God may be rooted in genetics, what is to stop people from concluding we are just robots programmed by genes and this is the entire explanation of who we are? Keller believes that an attitude that rejects that Evolution is a rival world-view of the Christian world-view would prevent such such conclusions. All we need is an attitude. In his attempt to reconcile the Biblical account of creation with the universal acid of Evolution, Tim Keller has no clue what he's playing with.

All Scripture quotations taken from the NIV.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part V: Congregational Confusion On A Scale Previously Unimagined.

(Originally published 5/27/10)

Protestants adhere to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura states that the Bible alone is the sole authority for matters of Christian living and doctrine. Calvinists, Arminians, Wesleyan-Arminians and Pentecostals uphold this doctrine. Tim Keller's attempt to reconcile Biblical faith and Evolution in his article "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People", which appears on Francis Collins' Biologos website, undermines Sola Scriptura. His Biblical exegesis ignores relevant scriptures that must be taken into consideration in determining whether or not Genesis 1 is to be read literally. Such scriptures include Heb 4:3-4, Mark 10:6 and I Cor 15:47. He also ignores the meaning of key terms such as the meaning of light in Gen. 1:3 and lights in Gen. 1:14. His views that Adam was the product of Evolution while Eve was the result of special creation, his promotion of the "God gene," that Man's belief in God may be genetic in origin, these Keller admits are just models of how the Christian faith can accomodate Darwinian Evolution. But Keller insists that Christians must make such accomodations for the sake of accepting the importance of evolutionary biological processes. How does Keller characterize the refusal to make such accomodations? "This is not a sophisticated theological and philosophical move..." (Keller, p. 6) He speaks of this accomodation as if the contents of the Christian message are just a strategy to win people to the Christian side. And part of Keller's strategy to win people is to so read Scripture in such a way as to accomodate a theory that Darwin could not have formulated without rejecting the role of God as creator in the process of creation. (See Part III) He mixes Scripture and non-scriptural elements to make the accomodation neatly fit together. Hence the rational for the title of this series.

The irony is that some Calvinists believe that they own the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (from the little I know about Tim Keller, I would not include him in this category). Some Calvinist's believe that all other Christian theologies are Man-centered and result from a refusal to honor the authority of Scripture as the sole authority for life and doctrine. For instance, they criticize the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which states that truth can be arrived at by consulting Scripture first, and interpreting Scripture through tradition (what the Church has said in the past on a particular issue), reason and experience. Some Calvinists charge that the Quadrilateral, by consulting tradition, reason and experience, undermines the authority of Scripture. Yet many Calvinists have no problem when one of their own undermines the authority of Scripture by accomodating it to a world view rooted in the rejection of God as creator. On the Gospel Coalition website, which advances  Reformed theology, Tim Keller recently published an article entitled "Sinned In A Literal Adam, Raised in a Literal Christ." It is a far shorter article than "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople", yet it repeats many of the points he makes in the longer article which have been discussed in this series. Some of the other members of the Gospel Coalition may disagree with Keller, but Keller appears to remain in good standing with the group. Some of the members of The Gospel Coalition, such as John Piper and Al Mohler, are also members of the The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals . According to Roger Olson, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals will not allow Methodists to become members. (See the comment section from this article on Olson's blog. Olson would disagree with my views of creation.) If certain well known Calvinists will not allow Arminians to join their group and persist in the fiction that their group represents the Evangelical wing of the Church, why are the writings of Keller which challenge the Biblical account of creation not responded to by Keller's fellow Calvinists. How can Calvinists continue to remain hypocritical?

Let's look at one further example of Keller's accomodation of Christian and non- Christian world views. Keller promotes a theory by Christian philosopher Peter van Inwagen. Keller quotes him on page 1: "Suppose that God exists and wants supernaturalistic belief to be a human universal, and sees (he would see this if it were true) that certain features would be useful for human beings to have-useful from an evolutionary point of view: conductive to survival and reproduction-would naturally have the consequence that supernaturalistic belief would be in due course a human universal. Why shouldn't he allow these features to be the cause of the thing he wants?-rather as the human designer of a vehicle might use the waste heat from its engine to keep its passengers warm."

Keller comments on this statement: "Even if science could prove that religious belief has a genetic component that we inherit from our ancestors, that finding is not incompatible with belief in the reality of God or even the truth of the Christian faith. There is no logical reason to preclude that God could have used evolution to predispose people to believe in God in general so that people would be able to consider true belief when they hear the Gospel preached." (Keller, p. 1)

So God used Evolution to predispose all of us to believe in God in general and be able to consider true belief when the Gospel is preached. If God indeed used Evolution for that purpose, it didn't work, did it? The vast majority of human beings have not had saving faith in Christ. As Christ Himself said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Mt. 7: 13-14) It is the created world surrounding Man that causes Man to first discern that there is a God, Paul tells us in Rom. 1:18-21. Yet even then Paul tells us that no one seeks God. (Rom 3: 11) Most of those we witness to do not accept the Gospel. Most of those who believe in God do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, nor do they believe Jesus is the only path to God. Why would God root our belief in Him in natural phenomena subject to mutation? If Man inherited a "God gene" as Keller thinks we did, so that we would be predisposed to believe, then what God predetermined did not come to pass. Why should we put our faith in such a God who does not have the power to fulfill all His purposes? In Keller's zeal to accomodate Evolution and Christianity, he sows doubts concerning God's sovereignty and sabotages Christian assurance.

One last question. How does Keller reconcile his notion that we inherited this "God gene" with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination? This doctrine states that God predestined a certain few, the elect, to life with God while the rest of humanity is damned to a Christless eternity in hell? Whether one is a member of the elect or not, one cannot alter their own destiny. If that is the case, why would God implant a belief in Him in those He predestined to hell? Why would He predispose humanity to belief in Him if He has decreed that the vast majority of humanity through the centuries are not among the elect? Again,this is a slur on the character of God. How does Keller reconcile this with his Calvinist theology? How does those he counsel reconcile these contradictory beliefs? Or are they so confused by his counsel that doubts are sown in their minds concerning not only the authority of Scriptures but the very existence and character of God?

The conclusion to this series will appear in a few days.
All scripture quotations are from the NIV.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part IV: Adam And Eve: The Extreme Makeover Edition

(Originally Published 5/25/10)

Tim Keller poses four questions that must be answered if one is to reconcile Biblical faith and belief in Evolution.  We have dealt with the first two in previous posts.  The final two Keller deals with simultaneously: is belief in Evolution compatible with a historical fall of a literal Adam and Eve and if these two world views are indeed compatible, when did sin and suffering enter God's creation?  In Francis Collins' book, "The Language of God," he states that Adam and Eve are symbolic figures and his explanation of the introduction of sin into the world is vague at best.  It is Collins' website Biologos where Kellers article "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople" appears.  Keller's position is a marked improvement upon Collins'. Despite that, Keller's views on this subject fall short of sound Biblical interpretation.

Keller defends the historicity of Adam and Eve.  Keller effectively debunks the notion that the Biblical account of creation is just one of many creation myths and that Genesis and other ancient stories were imaginary history.  Keller quotes Egyptologist and Evangelical Christian Kenneth Kitchen: "The ancient Near East did not historicize myth (i.e. read it as imaginary 'history.') In fact, exactly the reverse is true--there was, rather, a trend to 'mythologize' history, to celebrate actual historical events and people in mythological terms..." (Keller, p. 8)  Near Eastern 'myths' did not evolve over time into historical accounts, but the reverse, that historical events took on mythological elements.  But they were still historical accounts and it is reasonable to interpret  Genesis 2 and 3 as  true historical accounts.

In Rom. 5:12, Paul writes of the Fall as a literal historical event and of Adam as an actual historical figure. If one holds to a non-literal view of Adam and the Fall, this has implications as to how one reads Scripture. Keller tells us "Those who don't believe in the Biblical account of the Fall and of Adam and Eve will tell themselves: 'Well, the Biblical authors were 'men of their time' and were wrong about something they were trying to teach readers' The obvious question they will ask is, 'how will we know which parts of the Bible to trust and which not?' " (Keller, p. 9) If Paul interpreted Genesis 2 and 3 literally, and he was wrong, then his theology of sin in Romans collapses. This would lead to the questioning of the reliability of all Scripture. "...I believe such a move (interpreting Genesis 2 and 3 non-literally) can be bad for the church as a whole" Keller writes, "and it certainly can lead to confusion on the part of laypeople." (Keller, p. 9) Without a literal historical Fall, there is no way to account for the introduction of sin into the human makeup. If we did not inherit the sin nature because Adam sinned, where did we obtain it? Keller asks, was it only by observing the bad example of others? Furthermore, he asks, "If some human beings began to turn away from God, why couldn't some human beings resist so that some groups would be less sinful than others?" (Keller, p. 10) Keller states that these explanations violate the Christian doctrine of original sin.

Keller is exactly right here. Yet the writings of Paul are not the only relevant New Testament texts to consider. Heb. 4: 3-4 and Mk. 10:6 are also important in determining how we interpret the creation account in Genesis. We have gone over this in Part II, but it bears repeating. Heb. 4: 3-4 speaks of the seventh day of creation as an actual historical event. If the seventh day did not really occur, then the promise given in Hebrews concerning a future Sabbath rest for the people of God is a promise based on a myth. If the writer of Hebrews interprets the account of the seventh day in Genesis 2 literally, then we must interpret the Genesis 1 account of the first six days literally. We cannot believe that day seven is a literal hisorical event while claiming days 1-6 to be a symbolic or theological interpretation of actual events depicted in Genesis 2. We will come to the observations concerning Mark 10:6 shortly.

Thus far, Keller and I are in agreement. Unfortunately, Keller presents a model of how we can reconcile the historicity of Adam and Eve and the development of Man through evolutionary biological processes. This model was first introduced by Derick Kinder. Keller's presentation of this model is bad Scriptual analysis and an affront to God's character.

Keller points us to the verses that he believes indicates that Adam was born through natural biological processes. He follows Kinder in pointing us to Job 10: 8-9: "Your hands shaped me and made me...Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?" Obviously Job was born through natural biological processes despite his poetic description of his birth. The language in Job is similiar to the language used to describe Adam's creation in Genesis 2. Keller asks, with Kinder, if such similiarity could denote natural biological processes in Gen. 2:7, namely Evolution? Keller brings to our attention Bruce Watke's observation on Ps. 139:13 written by David: "For you created me in my inner most being, you knit me together in my mother's womb." This is figurative language for the normal process of human development that occurs during pregnancy. Therefore, according to Keller, the language of Genesis 2:7 may be figurative language for Adam's birth through natural biological processes.

Rev. Keller, we have a problem. The word "Adam is probably related to the verb 'adom, to be red, refering to the muddiness of man's complexion. Adamah, 'soil' or 'ground', may also be derived from this verb. Thus, Gen 2:7 says 'The Lord God formed 'adam from the dust of the adamah.' Paul sees Adam as earthman or earthy man in ICor. 15:47." (Word Wealth Note for Gen. 1: 26 from the "Spirit Filled Life Bible.") Yes, it is obvious that the language in Job 10 and Ps 139 is figurative. Yet in neither of these two verses can we observe the same linguistic dynamics we observe in the creation and naming of Adam. By naming the first man Adam, the Lord was linking him to the manner in which he was created, from the dust of the ground. Literally. Not through normal biological processes. Even more of a problem for Keller's thesis is Paul's statement in ICor 15:47: "The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven." In the original Greek language Paul is telling us that the first man came out of the ground. Literally. ("The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key To The Greek new Testament", Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III) Paul says here that Jesus literally came from heaven. Keller knows this to be literally true. Why in one verse would Paul use figurative language for the first half of the verse and straight forward historical prose for the second half? The entire verse is to be taken literally. And if Paul interprets Gen. 1:26 to say that Adam literally came from the earth, so should we. Keller himself tells us we must use the same standard of interpretation when interpreting the account of the Fall in Genesis 3 in the light of what Paul said in Rom. 5:12.

It doesn't get any better for the Keller/Kinder model. According to this model, lesser beings developed through evolutionary biological processes until one was ready to be the first of the new race of Man. God took one out of this group of homo faber (the maker of tools) and endowed him with the image of God. Then God created woman, Eve, through special creation. So the man was created through evolution, the woman through special creation. Keller tells us that the presense of evolved beings lower than Man explain the presense of those who would kill Cain for murdering Abel, a wife for Cain and inhabitants for Cain's city. Keller states that Gen 2:20 hints that Adam went in search of a wife. Among whom did he seek? Personally, I do not see that Adam went in search of a wife, but that no suitable helper could be found among the creatures God brought to Adam to name.

Where did Cain get his wife?  Keller ignores Genesis 5:4: "After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters."  If the human race began with a single pair, than marriage among Adam's children was unavoidable.  Such examples are not unknown in Scripture.  Abram married his half sister (Gen 20:12).  Moses' father married his father's sister Jochebed (Ex. 6:20).  At first, the sin of incest applied only to relations between parent and child.  By the time of the Mosaic Law, it had been extended to cover relations among mothers, fathers, stepmothers, sisters, brothers, half brothers, half sisters, grand daughters, daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws, aunts, uncles and brothers' wives.  "The genetic reasons for forbidding incest were not always an issue.  Close inbreeding in ancient times was without serious or any genetic damage.  Today, the risk of genetic damage is extremely high.  Since the genetic possibilities of Adam and Eve were very good, there were no biological reasons for restricting marriages to the degree that it became necessary to do later." (This quote, as well as all the information in this paragraph come from "Hard Sayings of the Bible" edited by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce and Manfred T. Brauch)  Someone may object that this theory is just as speculative as Keller's thesis. That there were those who lived on earth who would want to kill Cain for murdering Abel could be explained if these were blood relatives of Abel.  Speculative this explanation may be, yet it is based on the implications of the plain reading of the Biblical account of creation, not on an attempt to reconcile Biblical faith with a world view rooted in the rejection of a creator.  (See Part III)

Then there is Mark 10:6. Jesus declares: "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female." At the beginning of creation. There was no evolutionary development of Man because Man as we know him (without the sin nature) came into existence at the very beginning of creation. This proves that Jesus Himself read Genesis 1 as a literal historical account of the origins of Man.

Then there is the question of the introduction of sin and suffering into the world.  Keller points us to to Gen. 1:2 which says that before God's creative acts the earth was formless, empty and filled with darkness.  Keller tells us chaos reigned.  Satan was present in the world as well.  After God's creative acts, the earth was undeveloped.  "Even before the Fall," Keller writes, "the world was not yet in the shape God wanted it to be." (Keller, p. 12)  Why God chose to create the earth without form , or how long the earth remained without form is hidden from us.  Yet in that state, the earth was in that state by the will of God.  After the six days of creation, the earth's undeveloped status was still by God's design.  And God called his creation "good."  In both states, before and after creation, the earth was as God wanted it to be.  It is apparent, though, that it was not God's will that the earth remain in either state.  But while the earth was in either state, it was in a state of being with all the potential God had in  mind for it.  After creation, the earth was undeveloped, but God created it to be glorious under the domination of Man.  A new born baby may not be as smart as a dog or a cat, yet it is the pinnicle of creation and all its potential to be what God wants him/her to be is already present in that new born (with the exception of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit).  The state of the earth before or after the six days of creation in no way implies that sin and suffering were present on earth prior to the Fall. Yes, Satan was present, but he had no power until Adam and Eve disobeyed God's decree. They did not have to give in to temptation; it was not until they did so did that they become powerless against Satan. It was only after that that the earth has failed to reach its potential.

Evolution teaches that all life forms came into being through the survival of the fittest, a process involving death, violence and suffering. This notion is the main obstacle to reconciling Biblical faith with belief in Evolution. Keller knows this. "The process of evolution, however, understands violence, predation, and death to be the very engine of how life develops. If God brings about life through evolution, how do we reconcile that with the idea of a good God? The problem of evil seems to be worse for the believer in theistic evolution." (Keller, p. 2) While it is commendable for Keller to have acknowledged this issue (this issue didn't seem to trouble Collins in "The Language of God"), no where in his article does he answer the question. While at the end of his article he tries to make the case for evil being present in the world before the Fall, Keller makes no attempt to explain why God permitted this. To maintain that God not only created a world where sin and suffering existed, but that such suffering was the engine that He used to develop Man, is a slur upon God's character. God would not create a world in which the majority of living beings had to kill or be killed to survive. Perhaps Keller believes that God's loving care extends only to fully evolved Man and that those less evolved creatures he believes Adam evolved from did not suffer the anguish of the survival of the fittest. Whoever the people were whom Cain feared would kill him for murdering Abel, if they wanted revenge against Cain, then they must have had a sense of right and wrong, a sense of justice. Would God create such a race and them subject them to the law of the survival of the fittest? Would not such creatures ask why they had to kill or be killed, why a God whom Keller believes may have provided these creatures with the genetic capacity to believe in Him, would place them in such a cruel world? God would not have created such a world and then pronounce it "good." Yes, Keller believes that Genesis 1 is not to be read literally but is a poetic restatement of the actual events of creation recorded in Genesis 2. If this were the case, then the author and the God who inspired the Scriptures to be written would be lying by pronouncing such a world to be good. Keller is rightly concerned that to reject the historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall would undermine the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture in the minds of believers. Yet Keller cannot see that to promote his views attempting to reconcile Biblical faith and belief in Evolution would have the same effect. There will be more concerning this point in Part VI.

Part VI? I originally wrote that this would be a five part series. I had intended to include how Keller's views violate the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and contradicts the Calvinist theology he adheres to in this post. But that would make this article too long. So those topics will be covered in a seperate post. This will be a six part rather than a five part series.


All Scripture Quotations From the NIV.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part III: Kicking The Atheists Off Their Own Turf

(Originally published on 5/16/10)

Tim Keller sees a problem. The problem is that there is an entrenched position among Evolutionists and Christians that Biblical faith and belief in Evolution are mutually exclusive. Those who hold this position conclude that if Man is the product of evolutionary biological processes, then every aspect of Man's soul is the product of genetic factors at work in natural selection. Most Evolutionists certainly believe this. Our capacity to love, act, our moral convictions, even our belief in God is rooted in our genetic makeup. These traits are present today because they helped our ancestors survive the process of Human Evolution. Keller quotes a prominent "New Atheist", Sam Harris. Harris says that humans have "no immortal soul, free will, [knowledge] of the moral law, spiritual hunger, genuine altruism..." (Keller, p. 5-6) Many Christians share the atheist view that if evolution is true, than Man's unique status as outlined in Scripture is an illusion, that Man is nothing more than a biological machine. The second question Keller addresses in his article "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People," on p. 5-7, concerns this view of Christianity's and Evolution's mutual exclusiveness. How does Keller think we can overcome this hostility to Evolution among Christians? By convincing Christians that "Belief in evolution as a biological process is not the same as belief in evolution as a world view." (Keller, p. 5) Christians must abandon their conclusion that to believe in human evolutionary biological processes one must logically conclude that everything about Man is the result of natural selection. He quotes David Atkinson to make his point: "If evolution is...elevated to the status of a world-view of the way things are, then there is a direct conflict with biblical faith. But if 'evolution' remains at the level of a scientific biological hypothesis, it would seem that there is little reason for conflict between the implications of Christian belief in the Creator and the scientific explorations of the way which--at the level of biology--God has gone about his creating process." (Keller, p. 6) Keller warns Christians that if we fail to make the distinction between evolution as a world view and evolution as a scientific biological process, then Christians will never grant the importance of evolutionary biological processes. We will never change our view of the world and God to accomodate the view that man is the product of evolution. That is what upsets Keller and to affect this accomodation is the purpose of writing this paper which appears on Francis Collin's Biologos website.

To accept Evolution as part of God's creative process, Keller would have Christians ignore the implications of the evolutionary model. But Darwin himself could not have developed his theory of evolution without taking God out of the picture. Here is a quote from Ernst Mayr's book "One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought":

"Darwin was unable to build on this foundation but rather started from the fundamental question that Lyell bequeathed to him, namely, how do new species originate? Although Lyell appealed to "intermediate" causes as the source of the new species, THE PROCESS WAS NEVERTHELESS A FORM OF SPECIAL CREATION. [Capitalization mine] 'Species may have been created in succession at such times and at such places as to enable them to multiply and endure for an appointed period and occupy an appointed space on the globe' (Lyell 1835, 3:99-100). For Lyell, each creation was a carefully planned event. The reason why Lyell, like Henslow, Sedgwick, and all the others of Darwin's scientific friends and correspondents in the middle of the 1830s, accepted the unalterable constancy of species was ultimately a philosophical one. The constancy of species--that is the inability of a species, once created, to change--was the one piece of the old dogma of a created world that remained inviolate after the concepts of the recency and constancy of the physical world had been abandoned.

"No genuine and testable theory of evolution could develop until the possibility was recognized that species have the capacity to change, to become transformed into new species, and multiply into several species. FOR DARWIN TO ACCEPT THIS POSSIBILITY REQUIRED A FUNDAMENTAL BREAK WITH LYELL'S THINKING..." [Capitalization mine] (Mayr, One Long Arguement, Harvard University Press, 1991, p. 17-18)

In other words, for Darwin to formulate his theories, he had to reject the belief in the work of a creator in the creation of species. Can any one who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ explain to me how the truth of man's origins could not be discovered without the rejection of an Intelligent Designer and that now we can reconcile Biblical creation with a theory thats development depended upon a rejection of God as creator? Darwin himself worked out the implications of his theory:

"Considering how fiercely I have been attacked by the orthodox it seems ludicrous that I once intended to be a clergyman...I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. This belief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete...The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career..." (From H. James Bix's introduction to Darwin's "Descent of Man.") If the development of Evolution required a rejection of God as creator, why does Keller think it strange that Christians should consider Biblical faith and evolution mutually exclusive?

New Atheists such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are intolerant of Christian beliefs and would like to remove all religious discourse from the market place of ideas. Yet that in no way excludes the possibility that they have correctly worked out the implications of evolution for Man. Most evolutionists do not adhere to New Atheist rhetoric; in the case of Dawkins most evolutionists do not consider his views and rhetoric to be representative of the scientific community. Many consider his conduct to be harmful to their cause. Yet even most of these who believe Man's origins are in evolution take this belief a step forward to the position that genetics explains everything there is about Man, including Man's belief in God. For example, anthropologists view mankind and religious belief through the prism of evolution. In fact, this view of Man may be the next greatest challenge to faith in God and orthodox Christian belief. And Keller would have Christians who have worked out the same implications of evolution as the New Atheists ignore their own reasoning all for the sake of accepting the importance of evolutionary biological processes?

Not only does Keller want Christians to ignore their conclusions, he would ignore the obvious implications of his own arguements for the acceptance of evolution. On p.1 of his paper, Keller promotes the idea that there may be a genetic explanation for our belief in God. This genetic factor, called by some the "God gene," somehow supported our acestors' ability to survive and reproduce. God's purpose was to make belief in God universal among the human race. This will be dealt with in Part IV. I bring it up now to demonstrate the utter lack of logic in Keller's position. Keller wants us to seriously consider that our belief in God may be genetic, originating in evolutionary biological processes. But then, he wants us to reject the conclusion that if we have the God gene, then our belief in God, our moral convictions, are not the result of natural selection! If belief in God was genetic in origin, wouldn't it logically flow from that our moral convictions (tied to our belief in the Triune God), are genetic in origin? If belief originates in genetics, then belief is predetermined and not a response to the revelation of a loving and sovereign creator. If belief is genetic in origin, then why should Christians not conclude that the truth claims of any religion are as valid as any other?

Keller's description of those Christians who will not accept evolution as God's method of creation and his strategy for getting Christians to change their minds reveals an unfortunate attitude toward those he would counsel. This is what Keller writes concerning Christians who refuse to accept evolution: "Many Christian lay people resist all this and seek to hold on to some sense of human dignity by subscribing to 'fiat-creationism.' This is not a sophisticated theological and philosophical move; it is intuitive." (Keller, p. 6) This statement reveals some condesention on the part of Keller toward his readers. He is saying that to reject evolution is to be led by one's feelings rather than be guided by one's own intellectual reflection as well as a careful study of the scriptures. This is a subtle way of trying to make you think,"I don't want to be seen as uneducated and ignorant." Keller also appeals to reader gullibility. To remove any doubts Christians may have in accepting evolution, Keller tells his readers to make common cause with theistic evolutionists against the New Atheists. The New Atheists are trying to delegitimize any religious belief, so why not join with theistic evolutionists to thwart them and rescue evolution from its own implications, to rescue evolution from the exclusive intellectual ownership of the atheists, to kick the atheists off their own turf? This reminds me of the American Civil War. When war was seen to be unavoidable, some in the North sought to provoke a war with England to unify North and South. It seemed that these northerners had a low view of the public's IQ if they thought both northerners and southerners would fall for that. Keller seems to have a similiar view of his readers gullibility. Just remove Christian doubts over evolution by creating a new enemy, the New Atheists. And Keller wants us to see this as "a sophisticated theological and philosophical move?" What is Keller's estimate of the intelligence of the average Christian? It doesn't sound too high.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part II: WDJS (What Did Jesus Say?)

(Originally published on 5/12/10)

Tim Keller's article, "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People" appears on the Biologos website. Biologos was started by Dr. Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project and current Director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins is a Christian who believes in the compatibility of Biblical faith and belief in Evolution. His book, "The Language of God" was reviewed on this blog. (See here, here and here) The aim of Biologos is to convince the Christian public that Evolution and the Christian faith are compatible. Keller's article seeks to demonstrate how a pastor could reconcile the two while engaging in pastoral counsel. He identifies four questions that one must answer to affect this reconciliation. This article will examine Keller's answer to the first question which appears on p. 3-5 of his article.

The first question Keller seeks to answer is how to interpret Genesis 1. Keller correctly points out that for Evolution and Biblical faith to be seen to be compatible, Genesis 1 cannot be interpreted literally. And if Genesis 1 cannot be interpreted literally, why interpret any other part of the Bible literally? Keller's answer: "The way to respect the authority of the Biblical writers is to take them as they want to be taken. Sometimes they want to be taken literally, sometimes they don't. We must listen to them, not impose our thinking and agenda on them." (Keller, p. 3) Keller expands upon this answer on p. 3-5.

In this answer, Keller identifies a key component of sound Biblical exegesis: what is the original intent of the author? How does the author wish to be understood? The answer, according to Keller, is to identify the genre the author employs to convey his message. Keller points to Judges 4 and 5 by way of illustration. Both chapters concern Israel's defeat of Sisera and his army. In chapter 4 the author employs historical prose narrative to chronicle this historical event. Chapter 5, Deborah's Song, contains verses such as this: "From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera." This is evidence that the author was employing Hebrew poetry to explain the theological significance of the historical events described in chapter 4. These choices of genre indicate that the author intended chapter 4 to be read literally while chapter 5 was not. Keller points to Exodus 14 and 15 as another example illustrating similiar intent by a Biblical author. Exodus 14 is a straight forward historical account of the Red Sea crossing and the destruction of the pursuing Egyptions. Chaper 15 contains poetical language to convey the meaning of what happened in chapter 14. From these examples, Keller correctly identifies an important principle of Biblical interpretation: "...to assert that one part of scripture shouldn't be taken literally does not mean that no other parts should be either."(Keller, p. 3)

Keller maintains that these two examples serve as evidence that the author of Genesis intended Genesis 2 to be interpreted literally, but not chapter 1. Keller quotes Hebrew scholar Edward J. Young (who believes Genesis 1 is an historical account) as writing that Genesis 1 is written in "exalted, semi-poetical language." It describes a sucession of historical events characteristic of prose and does not feature a key element of Hebrew poetry, parallelism. Keller points to the use of refrains within this prose style which repeat themselves as they do in songs. "And God saw that it was good" is repeated seven times, as is "and it was so." "God said" and "let there be" appear ten times each. The author also employs poetic phrases not repeated anywhere else in Scripture as well as the phrase "beast of the field," a term usually reserved for poetic discourse. Keller comments: "Obviously, this is not the way someone writes in response to a simple request to tell what happened." (Keller, p. 4) Keller quotes scholar C. John Collins in labeling Genesis 1 "exalted prose narrative" which Collin's defines as a narrative making truth claims but in being labeled exalted it is understood that it is not to be interpreted literally.

Keller believes the strongest evidence that Genesis 1 is not to be interpreted literally is the order of creative acts in the first two chapters of Genesis. Gen 2:5 is proof, according to Keller, that God followed the natural order of creation. Keller reads this verse to say that God did not create vegetation before there was an atmosphere or rain, while he reads Genesis 1 as saying God did. In Genesis 1 God created light on the first day before there were any sources of light which were not created until the fourth day. But in chapter 1 vegetation appears on the third day. According to Keller, this is impossible because on the third day the sun was not yet created. If there was no sun, there was no atmosphere. No rain was possible on the third day either. Keller concludes that we cannot interpret both chapters as literal historical accounts because their orders of creation are not compatible. Since Genesis 2 provides a natural order of creation events, according to Keller, then we must interpret Genesis 2 literally while Genesis 1 is to be read as a theological statement concerning the actual events presented in chapter 2.

Keller is correct that just because one portion of scripture is not to be interpreted literally does not mean that no portion is to be interpreted literally. But is he correct that the scriptual evidence is clear that Genesis 1 was never meant to be interpreted literally? NO! Lets us examine why his assertions do not stand up to scrutiny.

Lets begin by examining the above mentioned chapters in Judges and Exodus. Judges 4 is a straight forward historical account of Israel's defeat of Sisera and his army. Chapter 5 is Deborah's Song commemorating that defeat. The Song indeed contains poetic language not to be read literally. The stars did not literally fight against Sisera. (v. 20) Yet chapter 5's poetic language refers to actual historical events. The language in verse 20 may be written in poetic language, but it refers to God acting on Israel's behalf, bringing about Sisera's defeat even before the two armies met. We know this because the Lord told Deborah to tell Barak that the Lord Himself will lure Sisera to the Kishon river and give Sisera and his army into Barak's hands. We read this in Judges 4:7, the straight forward historical account of the battle. While chapter 5 may be poetry, it still narrates historical events. Verses 6-9 speak of the conditions in Israels' villages and on its highways while Israel was dominated by Sisera's king, Jabin. Verses 13-18 identify which tribes of Israel fought and which ones hesitated. Again, this describes a true historical episode. Verses 19-23 contains poetic language, but it describes an actual historical battle. Verses 24-27 describe Jael's killing of Sisera with a tent peg in straight forward language. The genre may be poetry, but almost all the verses refer to actual history. Since the language may be poetry, that does not mean the historical events it describes did not actually happen, did it? Of course not.

We can make the same observation concerning Exodus 14 and 15. Exodus 14 is the historical account of God's delivering Israel from Egypt by parting the Red Sea. Chapter 15 is a poetic retelling of the same historical event. Moses speaks of God's right hand shattering Pharoh's army. (Ex 15:6) He writes that the waters were piled up by a blast from the Lord's nostrils. (Ex. 15:8) We know that God does not possess physical traits as we do, so we know the language used here is poetical. Yet the poetry describes the actual historical events described in chapter 14. Ex 15: 13-18 may be poetry, but it is declaring future historical events about how Israel will enter the Promised Land.

What we see in these two pairs of chapters is the coupling of two chapters where the first chapter describes actual historical events while the second chapter describes the same true events in poetic language. In the poetic recapitulations, very few verses actually speak of events that literally did not happen. From these very few verses in Judges 5 and Exodus 15, Keller wants us to conclude that the ENTIRE first chapter of Genesis was not chronicling actual historical events. THE ENTIRE CHAPTER! This is bad Biblical exegesis. To infer that from a very few verses in the midst of a poetic retelling of actual events that the writer of Genesis 1 did not want us to interpret it literally is to make a sweeping conclusion from too little evidence.

What about Keller's statement that the language of Genesis 1 is not written in the language of one responding to a simple request to write an account of what happened? From what evidence does Keller conclude that Genesis was written in response to a simple request to write an account of what happened? There is no evidence in scripture that Genesis was written because of such a request. The only scripture concerning why Moses wrote any account of God and Israel that I can find is Ex. 17:14 where God commands Moses to write an account of the defeat of the Amalekites. Because there is no evidence of such a simple request, we cannot conclude that the poetic language employed in Genesis 1 is evidence that the events it describes did not actually occur. After all, in Judges 4, the writer employs poetic language to symbolize a historical event: "After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord. SO THE LORD SOLD THEM INTO THE HANDS OF JABIN..." (Judges 4: 1-2, caps mine). Are we justified in reading all of Judges 4 non-literally because of its use of poetic symbolism? No. Neither is Keller justified in concluding that the events of Genesis 1 are non-historical because of the use of certain poetic phrases. Perhaps it was the intention of the author of Genesis 1 (Moses) to use language to emphasize that radical difference between God and the idols? Perhaps the author wanted to demonstrate how only God could create, how God was so powerful that all He had to do to create was to speak the word? This message was so at odds with the religious thoughts of Man that perhaps Moses employed poetic language to drive the lessons of history home? Perhaps prose was not adequate to the task?

Keller's evidence concerning the order of creation in Genesis 1 and 2, which he states is the strongest evidence there is for a non-literal reading of Genesis 1, does not withstand critical examination. It appears that vegetation was created on day three before the sun on day four. But we need to examine Gen. 1:1 and the Hebrew word used for "light." "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The phrase "heavens and earth" most likely means universe or cosmos and must be taken with the same sense it is used throughout the Bible (Joel 3: 15-16) which would include the sun, the moon and the stars. The whole of the universe, including the sun, the moon and the stars, were created on the first day, not the fourth. On the fourth day, the Hebrew does not read "Let there be lights" but "Let the lights in the expanse of the sky seperate." The lights already existed in the expanse (created on the second day) and on the fourth day they were given purpose by God's command: to seperate the day from the night and mark the seasons and years. In v.6, we read of the creation of the expanse between the waters. In the Hebrew syntax, it speaks of God creating the expanse where there was nothing previously. The syntax in v.14 concerning the lights suggests that the lights already existed but had not yet been seperated. Also, Gen. 2:6 informs us of streams that came up from underground to water the Earth. The conditions for an atmosphere were already in place for the vegetation to be created on the third day in Gen1: 11-13. (The information for this paragraph comes from the commentary on Genesis by John H. Sailhamer in the Expositors Bible Commentary, which I have on CD ROM.)

If we look closely at Gen. 1:11-13 (the third day) and Gen. 2:4-7, we see that these two verses are not two different accounts of the same aspect of creation. Gen. 1:11-13 speaks of the creation of vegetation: "...seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with the seed in it..." Gen. 2:4-7 speaks not of the creation of vegetation but the beginning of agriculture, the human tilling of the ground. No shrub of the field or plant of the field appeared before man could cultivate the vegetation already existing.

Keller is correct when he identifies the discerning of an author's original intent as a major ingredient of biblical interpretation. Yet this is not the only principle of Biblical interpretation. Nor is it the most important. There is the principle of interpretation which demands that we let Scripture interpret Scripture. Reading a Biblical passage within the context of the entirety of Scripture sheds light on that passage we would never have just by reading that passage alone. It also guards against unbalanced interpretations of Scripture. Jesus said to His opponents, " You diligently study the Scriptures (The Old Testament) because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me..." (Jn. 5:39) The Old Testament writers had their reasons for writing what they did, but they were not aware that their writings were speaking of God's Son, Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. Therefore, the original intent of the Old Testament writers is not always the controling factor in Biblical interpretation of the Old Testament.

The author of Hebrews states this concerning the seventh day of creation: "...And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: 'And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.' " (Heb. 4: 3-4) The author is quoting Gen 2:2, which speaks of God's rest on the seventh day. The author quotes Gen 2:2 in making the case that there will be a future Sabbath day of rest for the people of God. Without Gen. 2:2, his scriptural case for such a promise collapses. Gen. 2:2 is the evidence for a promise from God to his people. Obviously, the writer of Hebrews believed that Gen 2:2 chronicled a historical event, an event that actually happened. If the writer did not think so, he would be comforting God's people with a promise based on an event that did not happen. He would be giving a false comfort. Obviously the writer thought Gen 2:2 should be interpreted literally. And if a New Testament writer interprets Gen 2:2 literally, then according to the principle of letting Scripture interpret Scripture, so must we. If the verse chronicling the seventh day is to be literally interpreted, so are all the verses covering days one through six. After all, if the seventh day is an historical event, so are all the previous days.

Did Jesus have anything to say concerning a literal interpretation of Genesis 1? Yes. What did Jesus say? In Mark 10, in speaking of marriage, Jesus said, "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female." AT THE BEGINNING OF CREATION. Jesus tells us that Man and Woman appeared at the very beginning of creation, not after a period of human evolution. This agrees with the account of creation in Genesis 1. To interpret it otherwise would be untrue to the text of Scripture.

Part III will be posted soon.

All Scripture quotations are from the NIV.