Thursday, December 16, 2010

The New Tolerance is so intolerant

Josh McDowel points out in his book 'The New Tolerance' written back 1998 that "the new tolerance goes far beyond the traditional definition of the word." Websters dictionary defined tolerance as "to recognise and respect [ others' beliefs, practices etc ] without sharing them," and to bear or put up with [ someone or something not especially liked]. pg16.

The New Tolerance "is that every individuals beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal .. There is no hierarchy of truth. Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative." pg 19.

What has happened is that all values and beliefs have been elevated to a position worthy of equal respect."

Now let's ponder on this for a moment? Is the fellow who advocates paedophilia [ eg the organisation of Nambla promotes this ] one we would suggest is worthy of holding a position we should respect? What about advocates of bestiality? There was a movie about this number of years ago, where a woman engaged to be married had sex with her dog, and finally informs her fiancee of this. The man breaks off the engagement. One reviewer of the movie was condemnatory of the fact the fellow broke off the engagement rather than the fact she had committed bestiality!

How far and wide has this notion of new tolerance drifted in our Western culture? And why has it been so uncritically accepted? Consider this - what is the worldview of this ethical system that elevates this notion of equality of all beliefs as demanding of respect and worthiness?

Just last year, Time Magazine September 20, 2010 in their Inbox section had two writers mentioning tolerance when speaking about the previous editions 'Is America Islamophobic? The first mentioned 'But tolerance is what religions have preached for years, Islam included. Again are we ready to persecute the majority for the behaviour of the few.'

This confuses speaking out against the teachings of Islam which justify terrorist activity as being a persecution of all Muslims. And that is a big logical leap. No one consider it seems that a motive for speaking out is from love for the Muslim that is living according to an erroneous worldview and in rebellion against the living God.

The other wrote 'however the article failed to highlight the contrast between the attitudes prevalent in the U.S and the tolerance enshrined within the Constitution and Bill of rights.'

What he was suggesting is that there was inconsistency with the tolerance put forth by the bill of Rights, but then we need to ask, what kind of tolerance is enshrined there? We would not be surprised if the modus operandi of such comments were really prefaced on a 'New tolerance' as defined above would we?

These are just two of many media statements you are likely to hear commonly raised which refer to the need for "tolerance".

So how will a Christian respond in such a situation?

In regard to such statements we must ask whether tolerance is the loving thing to do. ( something Josh McDowell has pointed out a number of times ).

Consider this. Have all religions preached tolerance in the sense of it's new definition? Just take Christianity and Islam as an example. Are all their beliefs equal? What does that mean? For starters, Christianity claims Christ to be God, not a mere prophet as Islam believes ( of lesser status even than Mohammad in Islam ), and Christianity claims that Jesus is the only way back into right relationship with God the Father. Which Islam out rightly rejects. Right there we have a contradiction in beliefs, they are contrary to each other. That Jesus is the only way to God is either true or false. If you want to rejoin that there's no hierarchy of truth, indeed that all truth is relative then a consequence of that is that anything goes. And beliefs lead to actions, whether they be terrorism, or adultery or Bestiality etc but if all Truth is relative then who are you to object to what anyone else does.

I want you to feel the implication of that worldview. You have no right to protest injustice or unkindness or bullying or whatever. Living that way and you will soon be as mad and in despair as Nietzsche, or the Marquis de Sade.

I won't even bother to follow up the nonsense of the relativist view in that I find it truly self defeating. Just ask, what is the truth status of the claim that 'all truth is relative.'? Let's just for the moment let Alice chase that rabbit down the rabbit hole into wonderland and stick with how can I treat my neighbor fairly and how can he treat me likewise? Where is Tolerance really going to meeting the demands of doing the loving thing?

And that brings us to another aspect of this new tolerance. It is that it is firmly rooted in the worldview of postmodernism. Where there is no metanarrative, no such thing as The Truth, only instead a multiplicity of narratives, ( or if you prefer, multiplicity of worldviews ). However, as I pointed out years ago and has been aptly argued by William C. Craig, so called postmodernism is nonsense, it is only modernism with a fresh coat of paint and is in practice only raised in relation to ethics and religion!

What we can conclude is that the New Tolerance is no tolerance at all!

In Christ

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Body Life in the Church - 1 Corinthians

It was a really challenging sermon on Sunday Night,thanks to Norm, and it got me thinking. How many of us are just playing at being a Christian? We can see it in how we think of Church, our understanding of our place in the body because of Christ.
The Corinthians were playing at church weren't they? They were only interested in themselves - their special group, of Apolos, or Cephas, or Christ 1:12. Their Jesus was one they thought up in their own imaginations, one they were comfortable with, who let them focus in on themselves and do what they pleased. That was seen in their understanding of gifts. they were for them weren't they? for their benenefit, so they could be seen by others as spiritual. WRONG. Those gifts were given by the Spirit to them not for their benefit but for the body. For the common good.
Get over it you lot, me included - it is not all about you! And we see none better exemplified when they came together for the Lord's Supper. Well some at least got there and had a feast as for the others nothing was left for those that arrived late because they weren't wealthy enough to have a short work day!
Let's not be Corinthians! Let us all see what it means to be part of the body. When you aren't there on a sunday or at your home group, then the body is deformed! Don't settle for that garbage about "Well it's just me that is missing out". That is a total denial of the word of God in chapter 12. If someone walked in and they were missing their nose and their ears and one of their feet we'd quickly say - What happened to you? How did you get so messed up? And yet that is what is happening far too often in our local churches across our land. The body is meeting together and it's disfigured all because YOU ARE MISSING!

Come on friends, let's get this into perspective. If Christ is your Head, then make sure you are attached to the Body.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Science and Faith: How the new Atheists get it wrong

It is quite common today to hear atheists saying that Science gives us all the explanations, all the answers we need in life. Indeed they quite often say that Science and Religion are separate concerns and must be kept separate. But this is just a naive bias that they have towards "Religion" and in particular Christian theism.
What they don't understand is the connectedness of Biblical theism with Science and the foundation that Biblical theism gives to Science, indeed how the Christian faith provides justification for the basic presuppositions of Science that Science itself cannot provide.
Donald M MacKay many yeas ago wrote about all this in a very thoughtful and clear way. He pointed out a long time ago that Science and Faith are connected as a root and it's fruit are!
Further he showed just how reasonable the Christian Faith is to the endeavour of Science. He also spoke of how reasonable the Christian Faith is. He said "I doubt very much whether any argument can do more than prove the Christian position to be not unreasonable."
Is this not what Alvin Plantinga has done in the last century of philosophical endeavour?
MacKay further wrote the following: "let us suppose we are meeting a human friend. 'A mass of pink protoplasm rises to a height of five feet and begins to pucker and wobbler up and down noisily. - but of course, that's the wrong language. I should say "He rises to his feet wreathed in smiles and greets us heartily.' Why should I? because we came to meet as persons, not as a thing."
So it is with meeting Jesus, God in the flesh.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The nonsense of Rhonda Byrne's The Power

Rhonda Byrne is at it again - making a fortune off the gullible and those wanting what they don't have in life. Her book 'The Power' is a sequel to 'The Secret' and contains just more of the same nonsense.
In it as Tim Challies says on his blog she effectively says
Want it, love it, get it. It couldn't’t be easier. And she provides lots of stories and not a shred of evidence) to prove her case.
Check out his blog for a full critique.
Again Tim points out:
Not surprisingly, Byrne spends a good bit of the book discussing the three things people want most: money, love and health. In every case, you can have it all as long as you believe it and love it enough.
And isn't this the opposite of the Gospel. We don't love self by focusing upon these things, rather we love Jesus the Christ and seek first His Kingdom as the number one priority and focus in our lives. What a remarkable contrast? And what a tragedy if Christians don't realise this.

God Bless

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wacky stuff - wanting to burn the Koran

The Pentecostal minister Terry Jones of Gainsville perhaps could understand better the power of the Gospel, via the Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit to combat the forces of darkness, however it seemed telling that the vision we see of Hilarly Clinton denouncing the coming bonfire was that she was standing in front of a sign saying "Council of Foreign Relations'. How subliminal was that!

We in Australia however need to understand, but not condone the emotions of Americans in regard to Muslims and 9/11.

And further, understand how tragic is the failure of the media to deal critically with Islam. Many are just intent on dealing superficially with the teachings of Islam, and more pointedly the Koran. They have not ever tried to understand Islamic hermeneutics when it comes to the Koran where the later verses in the Koran override the earlier, which negates all the quotes about the tolerance and the peacefulness of Islam. What this tells us is that just like there are professing Christians who never read the bible or do so superficially ( let alone obey the Lord God ), likewise there are Muslims who do exactly the same.

If we are going to impact the world with the gospel message we do well to take these things into account and recognise that while there are indeed lovely caring Muslims all around us, still Islam is false.

Something to ponder.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mark 4v35f Sermon

Mark 4 v35-.

By Gary Wearne


illustration. A few years back I went fishing with a good friend Larry and his 9 year old daughter in his runabout on Jervis bay.

Started off a really pleasant and calm day and after 35 minutes had a good spot on the bay and were enjoying the fishing. After a couple of hours, a warm breeze from the West sprang up and as it was unusual I suggested to Larry maybe we better head in. Well in the time it took to pull up our lines and get started the breeze had turned cold and was quite forceful, causing very choppy conditions.

Heading back to shore took twice as long as it did to get out and I began to be concerned that if the engine conked out we'd be swept out through the heads into the pacific ocean! That's how difficult our headway was into the wind and the waves. I began to be worried for larry's daughter if we should capsize or be driven out through the heads.

At times on that trip in I was a bit fearful and no one else on board spoke a word!

In our passage this morning we get a similar report from Mark in chapter 4 of his gospel. So what's going on here?

Most of you know the story reasonably well.

How it had been a long day for Jesus,
he's been teaching and the kingdom, he'd been revealing to his disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom ... expand on this...

and now he's going to teach them more about himself.
That's the context,

Now ask yourself - What does it mean when Jesus says something?

What do you think it means

Is it merely a hope,
wishful thinking?

a desire he has ?

Is it along the lines of comments we make such as "I'd like to be over there in .."

Well Mark 4:35-41 addresses really well Who Jesus is! It challenged the disciples and it will challenge us to rethink, or think once more about Who Jesus is.

His will matches His intent.
What He says goes!
What He says will happen!

So in verse 35 Jesus tells his disciples
Not "let's just head out of here"

But "let us go over to the other side"
Let us ! take great notice of that - "let us" - he says we are going over to the other side. He didn't say, I've some good news and some bad news, good news, we're taking a boat trip over to the other side of the lake, bad news, some of you aren't going to make it!

And as they were going across the lake, Jesus fell asleep, exhausted after the long day of ministry.

And a great storm suddenly arose.
And such a bad storm that they fear they will perish,
they fear for their lives,
these hardened fishermen!
they know a bad storm when they see one, and they are afraid. verse 38.

But Jesus had said "let us .." go to the other side.
Not "well some of us will get there.."

When we begin to get a grasp on what's going on here we better understand their statement in verse 41 "Who can this be?"

After all that they have seen Jesus do, still they weren't in tune with Who He was!

Their concept of the Messiah was still mixed up notions of current Jewish expectations of the Jews in Bondage to a Gentile power.

Notice how the storm stopped immediately at His command, even the water became calm, here indeed was a true miracle.

It wasn't as though Jesus saw over the squall that there was a blue patch of sky coming,
or that he could sense the change in temperature of the wind or whatever,

When a storm dies down as it can,
the swell does not immediately stop. Yet at Jesus' command it did.

Jesus has control over nature itself.

Now this should, as it did speak heaps to the disciples, they knew that only God has control over the winds and the waves. They would have known Psalm 89:8-9 ... turn with me to that psalm. READ it.

See how it talks of O Lord God of Hosts. .. Who is like thee? Who indeed.

Given that Psalm, the disciples have a dilemma about Who Jesus is don't they? No one else is like God,
Yet here is one, they are willing to call the Messiah who does what God alone can do!


How does all this apply to us?

The disciples asked the question, the right question. Who is this man?

Their knowledge of Him grew.
All things we are told have their Amen in Him - He upholds all things. Col 1:16.

So what of the trials of your life?
Cancer? Alchzeimers disease, or illness of a loved spouse? things way outside of our control! outside of our expertise.

Maybe like some of the disciples who were fishermen, they knew trouble when they saw it? The problem is they hadn't really come to grips with Who Jesus was and What His Word counts for!

Do you run after man made solutions so that time wise the seeking of solutions controls your life? It consumes your life?

Honor God in your Trial!

Don't be fearful. verse 40.
Sure it's good to have a right perspective but not to have overwhelming fear.

illustration: It's a bit like getting up on the roof of your house. It's smart to have enough "fear" to be cautious if your know what I mean - you don't get up there and do a song and dance, you are careful. But it's not to be so controlled by fear that you get up there and can't move so bad you have to be rescued by the fire Brigade. That's overwhelming fear.

Second - what is faith?
Jesus asked His disciples, verse 40. Have you no faith. Here he contrasts faith and fear. In verse 40 the word for fear is deiloi ... means ...cowardice, timidity, fearfulness. It is a word which is always used in a negative sense. This is fear that should not be. And in contrast to this type of fear, Jesus speaks of faith.

What is faith? It's trusting relying upon someone or something. It's a verb it always has an object. Some mistakenly talk of faith in the sense that it doesn't have an object and when they do that they mistakenly think in terms of not having enough faith for so and so, to do such and such. to get better as some charismatics say...

Who are you trusting in?


Good looks.
or the Creator of all things - Jesus

And it's when we understand Who Jesus is that a proper fear arises - the word for fear used in vs41 is phobon. and can have the positive sense of reverence. look at how it's used in Acts 9:31 and Romans 3:18.
Fear / reverence for the eternal one, not being consumed by some temporal trial.
Do you think that the storm and the very true reality in their minds of the possibility of death caused them fear? Well in verse 41 we are told that they feared exceedingly. "They feared a great fear".

They were growing in their apprehension and comprehension of Jesus the Christ.

They had much to learn, as no doubt each of us has much to learn about our Lord.

Not thinking here of academic knowledge, but of knowledge that's personal, intimate. and joyous!

Lastly, God cares !

Do you need to be told that? Do you need to be reminded?
He Cares
Matt 6.... illustration
He wants them to trust Him. He wants you to Trust Him.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sin Delusion – Why do Atheists just not get it?

Why do Atheists just not consider the wretchedness of man due to his sinfulness?
Some helpful comments by Clay Jones who is an assistant professor at Biola University give us a perspective to mull over on this when he talks about evil and suffering.

Richard Dawkins has that famous comments in his ‘The God Delusion’ that shows he hasn’t really understood the Old Testament nor it’s teaching about God at all.
Dawkin’s said on page 31
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser;a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
But let me challenge him to reread it and look at the Grace that God shows towards a sinful and rebellious people. How patient he is in regard to their ongoing sinfulness. Just read the book of Genesis to see this at its clearest.

Often times we hear the objection from unbelievers that a central objection to believing in the Christian God is the Problem of evil’, and it in general doesn’t take a syllogistic form but rather a more down to earth objection as to “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and only later is it raised up a level to “Why is there so much suffering in the World if God is so good?”

In this regard the interview with Clay at Apologetics 315 gives great insight into this whole issue. Clay has written an article which talks openly about the command of the Lord God for Israel to wipe out the Canaanites. He rightly points out that many who object have failed to take into account a number of crucial factors.
Firstly it’s not Divine Genocide but Capital Punishment that is taking place here for the sin of the Canaanites as indicated from Leviticus 18 indicates the utter baseness of the people here. Not only were they committing incest and adultery but in the end they give over their children in sacrifice to Molech.
Furthermore, it is a people problem for God later judges the Israelites with exile in 722 BC for doing the very same things, first warned the tribes of the North by His prophets about committing the very same sins of the Canaanites. So the Assyrians destroyed them in warfare and took off many into exile. Then Judah was warned also and they suffered the same fate of exile in 586 BC under the Babylonians. But let me here encourage you to listen to the interview.

His point is that it’s not genocide, as in destroying just the race of the Canaanites on whim, but killing those who sin in this way which is Capital Punishment.

Secondly, not only is it about Capital Punishment but those that object about Divine Genocide have failed to address the utter sinfulness of what is going on , and indeed they ignore in our own culture what is going on. In this regard what he says has powerful ramifications for Christian apologetics and how to answer objections by unbelievers in regard to the questionable goodness of God. We need to ask them when they object in some regard to God’s goodness and things like Divine genocide and the like whether they regard paedophilia and bestiality as abhorrent and evil?

What is their reply? And on what basis are they able to call these things that men do evil?

We are asking what do they do about the obvious evilness of man himself!

How does their worldview give an account of what is right and wrong, evil or good?

For the Christian he takes into account not merely the fall of man as told in Genesis 3 but also what the Lord God tells us through Paul in Romans 1.
Romans 1 must be taken into consideration here. It’s central to our Christian Worldview. Sure God made mankind good, and yet in Adam they fell and all mankind now are sinners. That doesn’t mean primarily that we regard man’s problem is that he does specific sins which we regard as abhorrent such as lying and cheating and adultery and murder but that he ignores his creator, the Living Sovereign God of Scripture. Man is in rebellion against his Creator and desires to rule his own life. From this suppressing the knowledge of God results a moral and epistemological corruption. There are consequences to his rebellion in the world that God has made and they are a foolish thinking and moral degeneration.

Let me again encourage you to browse over to Apologetics 315 and download the Clay Jones interview. it's well worth the 54 minutes listening to it.

Your brother in Christ,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Intelligent Design and the evidence for evolution

In Expelled - No Intelligence allowed, Ben Stein interviews Stephen C Meyer.
Stephen says
For every argument Darwin put forward for his two major ideas there's an evidence based counter argument

That really blows out of the water the refrain you often hear from evolutionists that the facts are clear. Consider how this is the stated opinion of Richard Dawkins.
The truth is that there are no brute facts, no self-interpreting fact as such, rather we interpret the fact by our worldview. Watch the video, it is challenging.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Grain Offering - Sermon on Leviticus 2

Leviticus 2. Sermon
References: The best understanding of Leviticus is by Bob Deffinbaugh over at who has helped immensely here in my understanding of Lev and Lev 2 as this sermon reveals. However all mistakes are mine.
Well tonight we come to our second sermon on Leviticus and I hope and pray you are ready to let our Lord God speak to you through his Word, let’s pray. ..

Have you ever been travelling at Christmas time and run out of food or milk and search in vain for a shop, anything to be open to buy it? At one point here in Australia I was travelling through Adelaide on Christmas day and couldn’t even find a petrol station open. This situation isn’t much appreciated these days when teenagers haven’t experienced not being able to get what they want when they want, or haven’t travelled to places which don’t provide what they like.
Such situations really hinder your progress and make you desperate to finding out where things are!

Tonight we finally come to Leviticus 2. Not a chapter that is often preached upon is it? I have the feeling from the lack of good commentaries and the lack of preaching on Leviticus, that there are a lot of preachers who just don’t get its relevance and cannot see clearly what it means for Christians. So often they tend to lump together chunks of Leviticus in order to find some sort of application. Or even worse they just resort to typology or allegory to find some present application for Christians.

Not just one preacher but quite a few focused on the items of the sacrifice in chapter 2 like taking the oil as signifying the Holy Spirit or the baked flour suggesting the "stuff of life" and then from latter point this leaping into Jesus as the bread of life.

The difficulty I have with this is that there is nothing in the text to suggest this.
There are times when the OT is to be understood in terms of types or examples for us today. We see this in 1 Cor 10:6 where we are told that Old Testament events are particularly there for a reason. We are told "these things occurred as examples [ types! ] to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." Yet it is difficult off hand to see in Leviticus 2 what the evil things they might have done since there aren’t any such things mentioned.
And who doesn’t know 2 Tim 3:16-17 which tells us “All Scripture [ the graphe = writings, and therefore at minimum the Old Testament ] is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that [ purpose] the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

Keeping in mind the above passages of 1 Cor 10:8 and 2 Tim 3:16-17 I need also to hear and give heed to the impact of Nehemiah 8 where we are told the Levites on finding the book of the law, read it, and gave it's sense to the people.

This is an important reminder for me as I preach the Old Testament. It means that in dealing with the Old Testament I must ask
1. What did this passage mean to the original hearers?
2. How would they have understood it? What is the sense they gave to it?

We grant that they would not have specifically have seen some of the prophecies as pointing to the Messiah, as they rightly do, but the scripture passages still had meaning for them there and then.

And so when dealing with the sacrifices required of Israel by the Lord God, we must not merely ignore the two points above and read back into them some meaning that we have in the light of Christ's death as the sacrifice for sin and some Christian understanding we have of this. [ I am not saying here that there may not be some further understanding of some Old Testament Text in the light of the New Testament and the coming of Christ and His teaching, however we must correctly handle the word of truth, which means first of all seeing the text in its immediate context! ]

Working through the above two points will actually fill out and enrich our understanding of God’s Word and throw more light on any New Testament related text or theme. Preachers and Christians short change themselves when they ignore the immediate context and merely jump into the New Testament.

Now as I read through Leviticus 2 I was perplexed. What is the meaning of the "grain offering"?
None of the commentaries really helped me at this point, reflecting perhaps my lack of solid commentaries on Leviticus. Sure the ones I had, explained what the grain offering was, how it was done, but explaining the what and how do not explain Why. What was the meaning of this sacrifice for the Israelites?
At this point the temptation is to read the further chapters and their sacrifices and preach some general overview and make some point from all of them, but this is not I believe appropriate. It goes against the grain of Leviticus 2 { yes that was a pun for those of you who missed it }. And it doesn’t take notice of Nehemiah chapter 8 as I said.

I mean it reads to many as though it’s a case of a couple cooking on one of those reality TV cooking shows. Like My Kitchen Rules MKR.

Imagine the Israelites, travelling in the wilderness. No corner stores or Coles and Woolworths here from which to buy your daily needs. Out in the desert under Mt Sinai with no place or time to grow a crop for barley and grain. You just have in your bag what you had when you left Egypt. And that get’s down to how much you and your family can carry and perhaps if you have horses or camels what you could load onto them.

And that’s the first point to pick up on from our text. This sacrifice was costly. It was asking for something they generally lacked. And it was asking for their seed that would be the foundation of their crops in the promised land.

So was this all required by “a mean nasty, put you in a corner god” like that which Richard Dawkins says in his book ‘The God Delusion’?

Of course not. Do you read here that God says to the Israelites you must make this sacrifice on such and such a day or month or when you do X & Y bad things?

No. there’s none of that here in the text. This is a freewill offering, one that the Israelite decides upon for his or her own reason to give to the Lord. It is an offering of gratitude, having already offered and understood the burnt offering which enables him to stand before the Lord God as OK.
It’s in that light that this offering stands out.
This is an act of gratitude when you stand by Grace before the Lord.
Still, just because it’s one of gratitude doesn’t mean you can be sloppy or reckless in how you approach God. It doesn’t mean you can presume upon Him. It still means doing things His way.

What do we see from the text about this grain offering. Well for starters in vs 1-3 it speaks of the uncooked grain offering. It is to be of fine flour, that in itself talks of the grain being well ground. Not fine in the sense of good but rather it’s well ground. And that tells us that a lot of hard work, a lot of physical effort is put into it. It’s not as though they had an electric flower grinder in their tent! You had to sit there and grind the grain between two stones.

And it is to have oil and frankincense added to it. Expensive items which again are difficult to come by in the wilderness. then a handful of all this is offered up on the fire, whereas the rest of it goes to the Priests, to Aaron and his sons.

This is how the priesthood is provided for by God. Through offerings made to Him the priests receive a portion which sustains them! See how it says that it is the most holy for the Lord and it’s for the priests! It’s holy, set apart for the Lord and yet it goes to the Priests! God says it’s important to Him and yet it’s for them!

Then in verses 4-10 it tells us about grain offerings that are cooked in different ways.
vs 4-10 the various cooked grain offerings.
It’s a little bit like having bread or dumplings or pancakes. A fair bit of variety is available to the offerer in this regard. You can bake it in an oven, vs4, have it prepared on a griddle, vs 5, or cooked in a pan, vs7.

And yet it cannot have any ingredient you choose. As in vs 3, vs 4, vs 5 and again in vs 11 and so it is to be without yeast. Yeast or as we read in the NIV “leaven” is a corrupting ingredient, both leaven and honey ferment if left overnight. We aren’t given the reason for leaven and honey being forbidden – but we do know that before leaving Egypt they weren’t to eat leavened bread with the Passover feast because it reminds them of their departure from Egypt in Haste and effectively of God’s deliverance of His people. See Deut 16:4.

vs11-13 Ingredients: refused ( leaven ) and required ( salt ).
Look at verses 11-14, “must be made without yeast…. Or honey, but it must have salt
Importantly, the salt of the covenant, is speaking of the Mosaic covenant. By which God promised He would be with them, and they’d have the promised land - If they were obedient.
The thing about salt isn’t that it only purifies, but also that it lasts. It is everlasting. Salt, like the Mosaic promise of God, is long lasting. And so it is with the promise, the Mosaic covenant of God. It will stand. It isn’t some promise that God made on a whim, and he will change his mind about later. It’s set in stone! It is an enduring covenant. What we have then is a massive assertion about the reliability of God and His Word. He stands by what he has said.

Then in vs14-16 we have Early grain offerings, in other words, that of the firstfruits.

So where do we see the application in all of this. We have seen partly what it meant for the people of God in the wilderness. We see how in moving from Egypt by the exodus through the wilderness and into Canaan how it will be a situation much different to Egypt. In Egypt they had the Nile to rely upon but here and in Canaan they would have to rely upon rain which meant relying upon the Lord himself.

It would mean living by faith, living by trust in the Lord to provide and sustain. And in this very point we see that such faith acknowledges God not just as creator, not merely as redeemer but also as sustainer!

It’s really easy when things are going good, when you are receiving blessings from God to “forget where you have come from and Why”. [ quote by Deffinbaugh ]

And if you need any illustration of this you see it in Israel’s unfaithfulness over and over again throughout the Old Testament. Just look at what the prophet Ezekiel was told to tell Israel after they had chosen idolatry instead of the loving Lord. Look at Ezekiel 16:19.
In the New Testament is it no wonder that Jesus points out to the Jewish people, God’s special people, that a Kingdom person relies upon God for everything. “give us our daily bread” is no idle prayer. Matthew 6:11.
And as James makes really clear in James 4:13-16, we depend upon God much more than we realise or want to admit.

We have great backups don’t we? A Government provision of Medicare, a pension or superannuation. Some of us even have family to fall back on. It’s so easy to ignore God’s centrality as our Sustainer.

And He sustains not just physically but spiritually.

Not just physically but spiritually - >we are under the new covenant, and we are to abide in Him John 15, to abide in His Word, which is the bread of life, John 15:7; 16:13-15; 17:17.
They, the Israelites in the wilderness had a burnt offering, and with it they offered a free will offering in a response of gratitude to God’s provision.

So what about us? No grain offering is required, or there for us since we are not Jews, but interestingly we read of giving in gratitude to the support of fellow Christians which is spoken of as a fragrant aroma. READ Phil 4:8.
We have the ability to give sacrificially, of time, money and emotionally in support of the brethren.

We just need to think of the example here of that wonderful widow in 1 Kings 17:8-16 who through her own meagre rations provided for God’s man Elijah and the container miraculously filled each time!

Remember most of all that this isn’t demanded of God, it is your free will offering and one He delights in. And that’s what I’d like to finish on tonight and focus our thoughts upon, Our text of Leviticus 2 speaks over and over again of this offering being “an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”

We find this same phrase mentioned after Noah sacrifices on leaving the ark in Genesis 8. In the RSV or KJV it says literally, “a sweet aroma to the Lord.” And that word “sweet” is connected to the very name “Noah” by both coming from the same Hebrew root.
Look with me to verse 21.
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in His heart, never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.. “ and then he speaks of the enduring nature of that promise.
This is what the Israelite remembers. That’s what comes to mind for the Israelite when he hears this.
God’s promise. God’s Word endures. And it will come to pass. Back then He was pleased with Man’s offering of sacrifice even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. Here is the grace of God. God’s mercy and God’s forgiveness and God’s patience. As we learnt earlier in Genesis, God has a plan to redeem man, to send his Messiah to pay the penalty for sin, to defeat satan. Gen 3:15. That Word will endure, and indeed we know it does through the coming of Jesus the Messiah to die on the cross and rise again.

So, If you want to please the Lord, the Lord who is Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, then here is how you can do it. He is pleased by your gratitude. By your actions that show this.

Further research is required on the following…
But let me leave you with something to ponder upon here, I pointed out that the word sweet and the word Noah derive from the same Hebrew root. both in Leviticus 2 and in Genesis 8. That Hebrew word is “rest” which gives us the idea of being settled in a particular place with overtones of finality. It seems to me, and I could be wrong but it seems to me given it is talking about God’s response to man’s freewill offering by speaking of that word soothing, or sweet as the KJV uses it in a sweet aroma, all this is suggesting that God is finally pleased, settled in himself at this response of man’s action of a freewill offering in gratitude to His grace shown in the giving of the burnt offering. This is what pleases the Lord. When we give Him the thanks and praise that is His due!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Secular Humanism's inconsistent Worldview in regards to morality

I recently listened to a talk by Dr. Phil Fernandes { #36562.mp3 lecture } where he observes that the humanistic manifesto of secular humanists makes clear that they are not consistent with their own stated Worldview.
For example, they assert that all moral values are autonomous - that is, each person decides for themselves what is right or wrong, what is moral or not. Then just a few paragraphs later they state that they are "for any sexual act between consenting adults." This seems very open and even handed, not at all like those Christians who are frigid and haters of sex.
The impression is that they are not against anything, after all, their moral values are decided upon by the individual and yet this provides a dilemma for them. They phrased their statement very carefully. They are against rape, that is the act which involves the nonconsent by some adult, and it is only OK when between adults, sex between adults and children as the movement NAMBIA advocates is wrong on their Worldview. On this we applaud them for we too agree that such things are wrong. But here's the kicker, Why, given that each person decides their own moral values individually is rape and sex with children wrong! On their worldview they say something is universally wrong yet they have asserted that one's moral values are determined individually.
We need to push them about this inconsistency because their worldview doesn't allow this declaration, even if it's silently inferred, that somethings are Universally wrong.

Trying to ground morality in either the individual or the community is a dead end. The grounding of moral values in the individual as expressed above is either emotive, based on emotions or perhaps the same thing, just asserting your own preferences. We will speak of the societal based morality another time. For now we can see the atheist who proudly adheres to the humanist manifesto is in a sticky situation.

So all is not well with Atheism as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens would declare!

God Bless,

Friday, June 4, 2010

Elijah and the raven

Have you ever pondered the significance that it was a raven that provided food for Elijah. That it was God using a raven to provide sustenance for Elijah?
We know that the first mention of the raven was in Genesis 8 where Noah sent out a raven to see if the dry land had appeared and whether the "land" was clean", that the stench of death had dissipated over the surface of the earth. There was God using an unclean bird to check on the cleanliness of the earth!
The raven is know for two things, the first being that it feasts on the carcase of rotting flesh, hence it's appointment in Genesis 8 and that it is an unclean bird, mentioned at least twice in the book of Leviticus where the clean / unclean distinction is a highlight.

It's second Major significance is that it is one of those rare animals that doesn't even care for it's own young. And that is significant for it's appearance in the Elijah episode. Here God uses an animal that doesn't care even for it's own and He uses it to provide and care for Elijah.

Isn't our God great!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to the human family - defining human

In the same article I just blogged about from New Scientist May 2010, the editorial refers to the comment by the anthropologist Louis Leakey who wrote the following having been told about chimps used sticks to scoop up termites
Now we must redefine tool, redefine man or accept chimpanzees as human.

What is going on here? Do we now define 'human' as using sticks to scoop up termites? Ha! But is this editorial serious that we define humans by their being able to use things such as tools? Isn't it better to say, humans have the ability to create tools, and not merely use a stick, perhaps that is closer to the point? Otherwise we get into conundrums associated with anthropomorphic language.

This editorial goes on to point out that all this raises the question of what a species is. And they point out that this in itself has been vexing question which has flummoxed [ that is, baffled and confused! ] even Linnaeus and Darwin. And yet with authority they declare a truism!
fertile offspring is a hallmark of a species

Wow - of course that's a truism, for if there were no fertile offspring there'd be no species to even consider! And then, without providing the evidence they declare that "there is plenty more evidence to support giving them the status of Homo sapiens Neanderthals."

We read "We cannot know the mental life of a Neanderthal, but it may not have been so different from our own."
And this is based presumably on the fact that the Neanderthal genome differs little from ours, encoding fewer than 100 changes that would affect the shape of proteins.

It is then the writer speaks of the concept of being human that involves traits of thinking and talking and love and belief and art and language.

I just would like a bit more on those who hold to a materialist worldview being able to account for these latter concepts of humanness. Even for Leakey it's a long way from using a stick to concepts such as love, belief, art and language.


Welcome to the human family - you're a Neanderthal

In the May 2010 edition of New Scientist ( Australia ) the editorial has a piece about "Welcome to the human family. It speaks to the question of whether there is any reason not to allow Neanderthals into the fold of homo sapiens?

After talking about how Neanderthals have a common ancestor with modern humans and how the descendants went their own ways only to 'reconnect' about 50,000 years ago in the Eastern Mediterranean. Their point? "This pattern wouldn't necessarily merit separate species for most animals, so why for us and Neanderthals?

Fair enough in their line of thinking, however it is interesting what they bring into the discussion regarding the concept of being human.
It is more than "ecology and genetics: we are human because we think, talk, love and believe" and later the editor states that this includes "language and art" It is then we read a startling admission - "if that's not human, then what is?

As Christians we would agree to much of this, adding that humanness is being created in the image of God, able to have self-reflection, rationality, ability to reason and love and care, to have and be aware ones own of self conscious.
Still, how do you account for all that on a materialist worldview? that's the humdinger.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jesus and Israel: One covenant or two

Here is what Vern Poythress not a theological lightweight by any means says about the book by David Holwerda 'Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or two?'

David Holwerda argues that God's promises to Old Testament Israel cannot be understood apart from Jesus Christ. Based on careful exposition of key New Testament texts-including a significant in-depth study of Romans 9-11-in dialogue with a wide variety of interpreters and theologians, Holwerda maintains that the Old Testament promises of God find their complete fulfillment in Jesus Christ and the church.

"Here is a first-rate presentation of a Reformed, covenantal understanding of promise and fulfillment, with special reference to the relation of Israel to the church. The book focuses largely on the New Testament's use of the Old Testament themes of Israel (holy people), temple, land, and law. It relates all of these themes to fulfillment in Christ, in agreement with the idea of inaugurated eschatology. Through exegetical reflection the book provides an attractive, persuasive overview of covenantal thinking and indicates the major points of contact and disagreement with dispensationalism and with current discussions of Jewishness among Jews and among Christian theologians of liberal and neoorthodox bent. I recommend this book heartily."
--Vern S. Poythress, Westminster Theological Seminary

These are strong words. God's promises "in the Old Testament cannot be understood apart from Jesus Christ", well yes, we do understand God's promises centre on Israel's Messiah. From Genesis 3:15 the Messiah is central since He deals with sin and death and judgement. But one assumes Vern is not arguing for a Christological hermeneutic which says everything in the Old Testament has to be read in the light of the new. That you must know the NT's take on something before you will get the meaning of some Old Testament promise right.

The real problem between amillennialist and dispensationalist is a consistent hermeneutic that doesn't spiritualise a passage because of ones theoligical presuppositions. It is over the replacement theology of Israel with the church that has been subtly introduced in Vern's statement above "the Old Testament promises of God find their complete fulfillment in Jesus Christ and the church" that difficulties arise.
We dispensationalists and premillennialist want to be a bit more exacting than the blurb on a back cover of a book. Jesus Christ will fulfill all the Old Testament promises. He has done so with many already and yet a great number await their lireral fulfillment. Furthermore to sneak in the chuch in that statement is exactly where amillennialist and premillenialist / dispensationalist differ.
Perhaps Holwerda will be a bit more precise in his statements.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

financial mismanagement or something else?

Here in Australia it has been announced that our state electricity will increase costs to the consumer by up to 60% in the coming year.
The reason being given is that half of that 60% is due to the Emissions Trading Scheme our Federal Government wants to introduce to combat global warming. In other words it's a round about way of introducing a new tax on the people, but making the utilities introduce it upon the people. Be that as it may that still leaves a 30% increase which is being touted as going to infrastructure as the electricity infrastructure is in dire need of improvements and developments to meet the projected needs of people in NSW over the next 25 years. What is shocking about this is that directors of companies such as Coca-Cola of Goodmans - fielders to name two regularly allow in their budget allocations for infrastructure write offs, and developments. It's incomprehensible that a electricity company could fail to allow for infrastructure development to meet the needs of projected growth from which they earn their profits!
Is there something else going on here? a 60% increase will put many middle class families under financial pressure and the aged and poor under extreme pressure. But just listen to the State governments answer to that. "We will make tax credits available to alleviate these pressures." they say. We will divert tax dollars through Government agencies to help out the poor and so on. In other words not only will our costs as consumers increase inordinately, but the Government will direct tax resources into those areas where burdens become horrific. Is this merely the promotion of the socialist, welfare state? It makes more and more people dependant upon the State. And why? because of an over hyped global warming scenario that has little scientific evidence to justify it.
Is there not a better way to care for our environment and at the same time not work on the basis of making more and more people dependant upon welfare?
With welfare one major change is that the bureaucracy gets bigger and bigger and more powerful.
What economic model is better than a welfare model?

any thoughts?

Friday, April 2, 2010

a word for atheists

My new T-shirt to make a point will read
"Atheism - the vodka of the people."


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Listening to History helps us understand Genesis correctly.

How is it that there are so many strange views about Genesis "out there" and they have failed to study that which has already been written on the matter?
We see this for example in those who spend so much time talking about J.E.D.P in regard to Genesis and when it was written and by whom that they ignore what the Bible actually says about it, indeed what Jesus said about it, and lastly what scholars have already said about it.
Hommel says
"When we find that a whole school of evangelical theologians do not hesitate to declare that a passage was composed at a later date or interpolated, simply because they are unwilling to recognise the existence of any high moral teaching or lofty conception of the Godhead prior to the time of the prophets of the eighth or seventh century B.C, then in view of the facts advanced in the present volume, we cannot but regard their attitude as a deplorably mistaken one, and hope that it may soon become a thing of the past." Ane. Heb. Trad. pp 291-292.

Firstly what Hommel basically pointed out is that a persons presuppositions can direct their "scholarly" conclusions to quite silly conclusions. Dating as they do the book of Genesis to the eighth or seventh century. To do that on the basis of assuming that the earlier Israelites lacked presumably the ability to understand the high moral teaching or lofty conception of the Godhead is presumptuous. It reminds one of the liberal theologians of the 19th Century who denied the miraculous and so deleted them from the Scriptures, explaining them away. And what do you do about the theological concepts found in the pre 8th and 7th century revelation of God? Many of the 19th Century liberals also methodologically started their studies by looking at the religious ideas found in the world and narrowing down to the Israelite religion. But this denies that they "set apart Christ as Lord" 1 Peter 3, in all their endeavours, even their scholarly endeavours!

Secondly and perhaps just as disheartening is that the hope of Hommel wasn't realised and people have continued to try to build a case for the late date or interpolation of the text of Genesis.
Pick up the commentary by Wenham on Genesis 1-15 and you will find pages of discussion about the Yahwist tradition and the Elohim and Priestly traditions etc but not a word about Moses himself having written down the revelation of God and the idea it was written during the trek in the wilderness.

Let us be careful in our Study of the Word of God, which alone is a light to our feet.

God bless,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Atheists trying to get an upper hand

Over at Trevin Wax's blog he quotes from Daily Mail online, from an article about Peter Hitchens' conversion as follows:

Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one reliable force that stands in the way of the power of the strong over the weak. The one reliable force that forms the foundation of the concept of the rule of law.

The one reliable force that restrains the hand of the man of power. In an age of powerworship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power.

A very interesting obeservation by Peter Hitchens' the brother of an avowed atheist and writer, Christopher.

Read the article for encouragement.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

There's No Clarity of argument from some atheists

Clarity of Argument is not always something you read from those antagonistic to Christianity. You see it exemplified in Richard Dawkins and his book 'The God Delusion' which really just reveals that he is more concerned about winning converts to "his" side by diatribe and invective and ridicule than presenting rational or forceful arguments.
Now in letters to the Star-Ledger a newspaper in New Jersey Carol Shields, a public school educator and teacher trainer no less, makes a complaint that totally misses the point. She gets stuck into Bret Shundler, the newly elected State Commissioner of Education, for advocating Intelligent Design and knowing "nothing about current Science theory"
She says:
he’s not familiar with the state science standards, namely 5.3 E, which reads:

"Evolution and Diversity: Sometimes, differences between organisms of the same kind provide advantages for surviving and reproducing in different environments. These selective differences may lead to dramatic changes in characteristics of organisms in a population over extremely long periods of time."

In the above quote however things are not so clear. Are proponents of ID rejecting change between organisms of the same kind? We certainly accept change within same kinds of animals and birds and so on. The problem arises with macro evolution, that change can occur from one kind to another.
We do well to remember that Darwin named his book "Origin of the species" not "change within species" which is what his evidence presented him with.
What do you think?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Who do we aim to evangelise for fruitful evangelism?

Hi Friends,

Just last night I saw an intriguing video on evangelism. It was well done and did its job in provoking me to think and consider all those who don't know about Jesus, have not been challenged about Who Jesus is and their relationship to Him, and indeed some of the planet who haven't even heard his name.

On that level it challenged me. But also at another level it challenged me to rethink some evangelistic attitudes that I have held for quite a while, attitudes which I freely admit I have held due to my culture.

Here in our Australian culture the men are notoriously slack and have to a large extent abandoned their responsibilities as leaders in the family. Not the least when it comes to any sort of spiritual matter. This is seen reflected in our churches where it is mainly women and young children who are coming to church Sunday by Sunday.

One way I was challenged in ministry to change this was to specifically aim my evangelisitic efforts at men. The thinking was that if you got the men, then you would "get" the wife and the children.

Now I am being challenged to aim instead specifically at the children. The statistics given last night if my memory is sound were that 50% - 60% of people become Christians as a child. Now this statistic in itself is a debateable thing. These children may make a decision about Jesus at that age, but my experience tells me that very few of them continue to live as disciples of Jesus onwards through their adult years. There seems to be a major dropping out in the late teenage years. Perhaps that just reflects how poorly we have been doing discipleship and addressing their questions and preaching meaty sermons.

Not only that, but we can wonder how much worldly philosophies are at the back of desires to "market" our evangelistic efforts to a certain age set. Certainly Communism has shown that if you indoctrinate a child, you are likely to have a devoted follower as an adult. I believe it was Marx or somebody who said "give me a child till they are 5 and I will have a committed communist for life" - or something like that.

Now I can understand the frustration that can lead many to aim at children in their evangelistic efforts. So many adults have warped ideas about Christianity and Jesus' teachings that you seem you are hitting your head against a brick wall.

It's so much easier to get young children and teach them what the bible really says and watch the Holy Spirit work in their lives.

However we need to be careful about these worldly philosophies. We are certainly not about indoctrination! We are about people hearing who Jesus is - and challenging them about being his disciples.

But what about this method of targeting children? Is it biblical? Are we trying to build the Kingdom of God or recognizing that God is building the KOG and calls us to proclaim the good news?

Is evangelistic method a non-truth issue and are we free to improvise in who we are reaching?

Perhaps in some situations it's just a matter of what seems at present to be the emphasis. We have a lot of children in our area and we need to reach them with the gospel, I would just crucially add and be open to talking that same gospel message to their parents, and to talk that same gosple message to all we encounter.

As Matt 28 says as you are going about your life, make disciples....

Remember it's God's business to convict and change, but we need to realise God calls us to make disciples, those that follow Jesus.

What do you guys think on this?

In Christ,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why is Carl Sagan so lonely?

When you think about it, Scientists have just replaced the Bibles supernaturalism and “angel beings” with scientific cool sounding beings on other planets. Of course Freud would say they have a problem with their mothers, but really the reason is the longing to have the significance they were created by God for. After all, what Sagan and others are looking for is intelligent life, not some slime dumbbell.
Is it because they recognise they have to account for man being different to the rest of the earth’s creatures? He has intelligence, he reasons, a big part supposedly of what scientists do. And if there’s no God then all that’s left is that somehow this extraterrestrial life arrived here on earth a bit earlier and left a bit here on earth in the form of ‘man’.
Even so, extraterrestrial beings, since they are part of the created cosmos don’t account for the human trait of reasons and intelligence. The Biblical God as the Creation account in Genesis 1 & 2 make clear, is that God created the Universe [ and all imaginary universes and parallel universes ]. He alone is Creator and separate from what He created. Pantheism isn’t right!
Rather You are significant because you are made in God’s image!

For some related ideas read Chuck Colson's review on the film avatar.

till later,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You've hurt my thinking, forget about my feelings!

There's an interesting piece over at Bill Kinnons blog where he quotes the Bishop of Durham who says,

Part of our difficulty in the Christian world of late Western modernity has been that the mind, the faculty of thought and reasoning, has become detached. As happens if you have a detached retina in your eye, when you're thinking becomes detached you stop seeing things clearly. "Thought"and "reason" seem to have been placed to one side, in a private world reserved for "intellectuals" and "academics."(Note for example, the way in which sports commentators use the word "academic" to mean "irrelevant" as in "from now on the result of the race is academic.") Furthermore, we often speak of our thoughts as if they were feelings: in a meeting, to be polite, we might say "I feel that's wrong", because it sounds less confrontational than saying, "I think that's wrong". Similarly, perhaps without realizing it (which itself is a sign of the same problem!), we sometimes allow feelings to override thoughts: "I feel very strongly that we should do this" can carry more rhetorical weight than "I think we should do that" since nobody wants to hurt our feelings. As a natural next step, we allow feelings to replace thought processes altogether, so that what looks outwardly like a reasoned discussion is actually an exchange of unreasoned emotions, in which all participants claim the high moral ground because when they say, "I feel strongly we should to do this", they are telling the truth: they do feel strongly, so they will feel hurt and rejected if people don't agree with them. Thus reasoned discourse is abandoned in favour of the politics of the playground. (2010 SPCK, Virtue Reborn, Pg 134) [emphasis added]

What a helpful reminder of the way things are going in public discourse these days. Using feelings to address disagreeing with thoughts is really pathetic in that it leaves an argument floundering as a mere opinion instead of something requiring rational debate.

BTW, I do not agree with Bill's blogg assessment that Brian McLaren is not a wolf in sheeps clothing. I believe he is a wolf, a false teacher because of what he teaches given that the bible clearly refutes his "teachings". Perhaps he is now just a wolf and people have lost their ability to discern.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Myth of Adam Crusoe

The Adam Crusoe evolution Myth.
or "how not to read Genesis 1"

"And Adam named all the beasts of the field.." and one hominad he called "Saturday" since it was the 6th day, and he wasn't around on Friday to do any naming.
Saturday was a strong silent type, after all, he couldn't speak, and he really was a bit of a savage! But at least Adam thought to himself, 'at least with him I can shake hands.'

nonsense breeds nonsense


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Confusion reigns on Genesis 1 & 2

Confusion today certainly reigns in the understanding of Genesis 1 & 2. A recent comment shows how many are thinking about what view is to be taken on Genesis 1 and 2. On the blog, First Things, Christopher Bensen wrote

I would like to see Wheaton open its range of acceptable options on the origin of human species, permitting scientists to endorse any of the following:
(1) reject the idea that Adam and Eve were created from pre-existing human-like creatures, or hominids”; (2) are neutral or “unsure” on the hominid theory; (3)affirm that “God gave a human spirit to a pair of pre-existing human-like creatures, or hominids”; or (4) deny the historicity of Adam and Eve and think of Genesis as a wholly “theological document.”

He was addressing what has been happening at Wheaten College, an evangelical college in the USA.
Consider the confusion involved in Bensen's enthusiasm for Scientists who would endorse any of points 1-4. The confusions involves people arbitrarily selecting from the text of Genesis 1 what they like against what offends their opinions. So many moderns are taking the approach that Genesis 1 is purely a literary piece given in figurative language so that Adam's evolving from some hominid is a possibility. However they still want to say that Adam and Eve were some creature that God breathed into at some point so that they became "a living being in the image of God." However the text of Genesis 1 clearly says that Eve was created from the rib of Adam, not from some hominid. Satan's questions to Eve, "Has God said" is alive and well. Deception in many claiming to be Christians are rampant. I am not making a judgment here about people's salvation but merely point out that this is happening frequently within the family of God.

And consider also point 4 a wholly nonsensical statement. To say that Genesis is wholly a Theological document is to state the obvious. It is a Theological statement, it's the Word of God. It is what God has revealed to us for our benefit. However being a Theological statement does not evacuate the text of truth nor historicity in the sense of it being an actual event that really happened.

In Christ,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Acknowledging the use of literary structure in Genesis 1-11

Sometimes when you read all the debates over the nature of Genesis 1-11 and whether it should be interpreted via the grammatical historical method or use genre to guide the exegete towards the meaning of the text, you get the impression that for those that take the days of Genesis 1 as 24 hour periods that we don't accept any literary markers in the text. That there isn't a literary structure to the text.

Advocates of the Framework Hypothesis for example make a big deal out of the phrasing "And God said Let there be ... and God saw that it was good ... and there was evening and morning the Nth day." declaring it to be strophes and thus semi poetic, and then they point out the literary feature of the seeming parallelism between days 1 & 4, 2 & 5, 3 &6.

Now I don't reject such literary structure, indeed I think that the Lord is focusing the reader on some very important points, points which are discerned by first investigating the text grammatical historical method. However, I do wonder by the same token whether those that reject the literal interpretation and that Genesis 1-2 are historical, in the sense of being actual events that took place, whether they have taken on board the literary structure that runs from Genesis 2:4 all the way through Genesis 12 marked by the phrase "this is the account of", running from the creation account all through the narratives to Abraham in Chapter 11, who is clearly an historical figure.

The fact that we have chronological narrative doesn't exclude that there is also the presence of literary structure.

In Christ,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Genesis 1-11 Myth or History?

Superman is a myth. He is not an historical being. In the story of Superman he isn’t even a god but rather he’s a person from another planet. Presumably the point of the story is that he is a Hero. He uses his abilities to fight for truth justice and the American way. So he’s a good capitalist!

C.F. Nosgen gives this definition of "myth":

"Any unhistorical tale, however it may have arisen, in which a religious society finds a constituent part of its sacred foundations, because an absolute expression of its institutions, experiences, and ideas, is a myth."

You notice that what stands out in the above definition is that the story is unhistorical. Keep this in mind and see how Engelsma in his article is concerned about the view of so many of his peers.

Here below are the words of Professor David J. Engelsma Protestant Reformed Seminary Grandville, MI U.S.A. June 2001. I quote a fair bit as it sets the approach for how many scholars today are approaching Genesis 1-11.

“To be sure, the term "myth" is seldom used in Reformed and evangelical circles.
Those who are, in fact, teaching that Genesis 1 - 11 is myth will usually disavow "myth" as the proper description of that part of Holy Scripture. There is good reason for this. "Myth" has unsavory connotations. The Bible expressly denounces myths. Only the most radical (and candid!) of liberal theologians--the Rudolph Bultmanns--boldly call the Bible stories in Genesis 1-11 "myths." Hence, the evangelical and the Reformed mythologians are careful to use other terms. However just as a rose by any other name smells sweet, so a myth by any other name still stinks.

We ignore the liberals like Hermann Gunkel, who called Genesis 1-11 "legend," and the neo-orthodox like Karl Barth, who called the passage "saga." Our concern is the extent to which Genesis 1-11 is regarded as myth in reputedly conservative circles. In The Fourth Day, Howard Van Till described the opening chapters of Genesis as "primal, or primeval history." The committee of the Christian Reformed Church that advised synod on the views of Van Till and his colleagues referred to Genesis 1-11 as "stylized, literary, or symbolic stories." 5

The Dutch Reformed scientist and author Jan Lever had earlier written two books that were translated into English in which he attacked the Reformed confession that Genesis 1-11 is historical. In his Where are We Headed? A Christian Perspective on Evolution, he vehemently denied that Genesis 1-11 is "an account of historical events.... Anyone who reads the Bible with common sense can reach the conclusion that a literal reading of the Genesis account is wrong." Rather, the opening chapters of the Bible are a "confession about God." 6

A recent book by notable evangelical theologians and other scholars, The Genesis Debate, has a number of these men insisting that Genesis 1-11 is unhistorical, indeed allegorical. One scholar is bold to state an implication of this view of Genesis 1-11 that fairly bristles with doctrinal implications, namely, that it is absurd to think that the human race descended from two (married) ancestors. Nevertheless, so the editor informs us, this scholar, like all the others, is "committed to the full inspiration and authority of Scripture." 7

Another prominent evangelical, Charles E. Hummel, in an InterVarsity publication, The Galileo Connection, contends that the first eleven chapters of Genesis must be seen as a "literary genre"; they are a "semipoetic narrative cast in a
historico-artistic framework." Genesis 1-11 is not a "cosmogony," but a "confession of faith." 8

The Fuller Seminary theologian Paul K. Jewett prefers the designations "primal history" and "theologized history." Authoritative science has enabled us moderns to recognize the "childlike limitations of the understanding" of those who wrote the first eleven chapters of the Bible. Theirs was a "prescientific simplicity" when they told the story of "God's making the world 'in the space of six days.' "9

Bruce Waltke, who was professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary at the time, wrote in Christianity Today that we must not read Genesis 1:1-2:3 as historical. Rather. we must take "an artistic-literary approach." He quoted Henri Blocher approvingly: the passage is "an artistic arrangement ... not to be taken literally." Waltke concluded that Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a "creation story in torah ('instruction'), which is a majestic, artistic achievement, employing anthropomorphic language." 10

To refer to no others, in his book, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, John Frame, at the time professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, wrote that he is open to the possibility of interpreting Genesis 1 and 2
"figuratively" because of the findings of geologists that the earth is very old. 11

All of these men studiously avoid the use of the word "myth," although a couple of them give the game away by their description of the kind of stories they think to find in Genesis 1- 11. Having denied that Genesis gives us "a picture of reality," Lever goes on to affirm that Genesis "does provide us with the fundamentals for a life and world view, a religious perspective on the nature of this reality, its finitude and its dependence upon God in becoming and in being." 12 This is the textbook definition of myth.

Similarly, Bruce Waltke explains his own figurative interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2:3 by quoting H. J. Sorenson in the New Catholic Encyclopedia:

The basic purpose is to instruct men on the ultimate realities that have an immediate bearing on daily life and on how to engage vitally in these realities to live successfully. It contains "truths to live by" rather than "theology to speculate on." 13
This is the classic myth.

Avoidance of the term "myth" is of no significance. What is important is that the events recorded in Genesis 1 - 11 never really happened, never really happened as Genesis 1-11 records them as happening. Genesis 1-11 is not history, but myth. This world never did come into existence by the Word of God calling each creature in the space of six days, and then in the order set forth in Genesis 1. The human race never did originate from a man, Adam, who was formed by the hand of God from the dust, and from a woman, Eve, built by the hand of God from a rib of the man as we read in Genesis 2. Sin and death never did enter the world by the man's eating a piece of forbidden fruit at the instigation of his wife and by the temptation of a speaking serpent as Genesis 3 tells us. There never was the development of agriculture, herding, music, and metallurgy as Genesis 4 reveals. There never was a universal flood as taught in Genesis 6-8. There never was a Tower of Babel occasioning the dividing of the nations by confounding of the language as set forth in Genesis 11.

Genesis 1-11: Myth!
This is the prevailing opinion in evangelical, Reformed, and Presbyterian seminaries, schools, publishing houses, and churches at the beginning of the 2lst century.”

As we see above, the widespread agnosticism towards Genesis being taken literally is astounding. Sure one might want to argue that this is a result of hermeneutics within the Reformed circles however such an attitude towards Genesis 1-11 is being found more generally amongst those of evangelical persuasion. One could also fruitfully ask how much is this motivated by the academic desire for recognition through gaining PHd’s where a PHd is only given when someone suggests and argues something new? Still motivations are notorious to pin down so instead let’s just consider a couple of the main points above.

Let us just take for a moment the phrase approving of Blocher by Bruce Waltke that “the passage is "an artistic arrangement ... not to be taken literally." And as Waltke says, it’s not literal nor historical! In other words it never truly happened. And if that’s so, from where do we understand what sin is and Why there’s a need for a saviour? Sin was never a rebellion against God as we see from Genesis 3 on their understanding.

He is referring to how one is to read Genesis 1:1-2:3.
He isn’t referring to how one reads 1:2-2:3 but from the very first verse of chapter 1.

What are the implications that Genesis 1:1-2 is not history?

I want us to consider a number of Scriptures in response to this, ones which together I think blow a hole in the notion that Genesis 1-11 isn’t historical.

First, consider John 1:1-14. Where clearly John is putting forward the argument that Jesus is the Word who was with God before the Creation of all, and is God! Not only that but John clearly declares that “all things were made through him”, vs 2. That places John’s comments back at the time of the Creation of all things. It also makes it a related text referring to creation. Now the use of the phrase “In the beginning” is intended by John to draw the reader back to the very first words of Genesis 1 and to have the reader identify what He is saying about the Word, Jesus as having face to face with God before anything at all was created! The argument John uses, relies upon Genesis 1:1 being understood literally and historically. Historical in the sense that at some point God made all things, except the Word! John’s argument falls apart if Genesis 1:1 is not taken at face value, as being literal about what it is saying, that Genesis 1:1 is actually speaking about the Creation by God of all things. If you turn around and declare that all of Genesis is “an artistic arrangement .. not to be taken literally”, that it is not an event you are being told actually happened, then Gen 1:1 about God being before anything was Created and the one who created the Universe and everything else is not a truth you get from Genesis 1:1. You must instead dream up something else as the meaning for that verse, and it could be whatever, if you take Genesis 1 as non literal. Whatever it symbolically represents, you are not clear nor sure that it is that God before all else created the Universe and all that is in it.

Perhaps you chide me for attributing this interpretation to framework views and non literal interpretations etc but carefully consider what these writers are so quick to proclaim about Genesis 1 & 2. They say for example that Adam and Eve were not literal historical figures, that Adam wasn’t created from the dust but suggest instead that some ape had the breath of God breathed into it and became at that point “Adam in the image and likeness of God”. But what hermeneutical arbitrariness is this? In one breath to deny any actual chronology in the Genesis text and that days mean 24 hour periods because of the phrase “evening and morning”, and yet insist that “man” or Adam is made in the image and likeness of God is to read the text arbitrarily. Why take only those words literally? Then there’s Eve who the text tells us plainly is made from a rib of Adam and God goes into great detail to say Adam was caused to sleep etc, but they insist that all that detail is irrelevant because only the symbolic or figurative idea which they want to place on this “non-event” is that what matters, and it could be as simple as one person said to be that of the closeness of man and woman!

But let us also consider another Scripture passage which directs us how to interpret Genesis 1. Which actually tells us that the days of Genesis 1 are literal 24 hour periods. That Scripture is Exodus 20:11 and 31:12f. I am amazed how people so quickly dismiss the Sabbath commandment and proceed not to argue against it’s relationship to Genesis 1 but to ignore it. The Sabbath argument in Exodus 20:11 clearly and logically demands that the days of Genesis 1 are 24 hour periods. Israel’s Sabbath as commanded by God in Exodus 20 is patterned after God’s seventh day rest in Genesis 1. The point about the pattern is that it matches identically the original. If you are a manufacturer of anything in bulk you normally use a die that is the pattern of your design. If you don’t have a pattern that is an exact match then you don’t replicate the original. Further, when we look at Exodus there is no terminology that says that “the Sabbath is like a day”, there are no grammatical indicators to show us that what is being stated is figurative or a metaphor. Instead it straightforwardly says that “in six days God created everything and on the seventh rested.”

The Sabbath argument clearly rules out the day age theory of Genesis 1. I readily admit it doesn’t necessarily disqualify the Framework hypothesis, as advocates of that position would say it doesn’t matter for their argument if the days of Genesis 1 are 24 hour periods or not, since their argument is in the end that Genesis 1 days are a literary device not concerned with history or the chronology of events but that God created and filled and the work of God culminates in the rest of God. As some advocates of the framework position say “Day isn’t a time period but a literary device a figure of speech used by Moses to simply portray God as creator and creation as an ordered process. Morning and evening etc are a poetic literary device. Genesis 1 therefore presents creation topically, not chronologically.

Notice here also that the Sabbath argument of Exodus 20 also nullifies the objection you sometimes hear about the Sabbath being opened ended and therefore not a “24 hour period.” The Sabbath passage of Exod 20 shows us that it is speaking of 24 hour periods and that it is based upon God’s creation week, in which case the seventh day itself is not open ended.

BTW, this point also helps us rule out that Genesis 1:1-2 should read along the lines of a gap between verses 1 & 2. When God set about creating some things? Because then we are not certain of the deity of Jesus. If you posit a gap between Gen 1:1 and verse 2 and think of God’s act there being one of recreation, because of the fall of angels, then Jesus is not necessarily divine as John’s argues for, and that’s a nonsense conclusion.

If Genesis 1-3 is not meant to be taken as history, nor literal but rather as figurative, then we readily admit we know nothing about the real fall of man into sin and what that means. We know nothing about Who created the world for all that we have in Genesis 1 in the end is a literary tale to teach a certain topic and a very limited one at that. If Gen 1-3 is topical only, then what do we know about the first ancestors? What is this Adam to whom Jesus and Paul refer? Indeed many New Testament passages make nonsense as to their clear meaning if one rules that Genesis 1-3 isn’t literal nor historical. So Paul in his argument about headship in 1 Tim 2 argues that man has headship over the wife because Adam was created first and it was Eve who fell. Ie she was the one tempted and then tempted Adam to go along! If Adam are figurative and not literal people, the Paul’s justification about headship is nonsense.

The Third Scripture is perhaps the most powerful of all because it tells us Jesus’ attitude towards Genesis 1 & 2. In Mark 10:6 Jesus, in speaking to the question of divorce declared: “But from the beginning of the creation, male and female made he them” (Mark 10:6). Here Jesus plainly affirmed:
(a) There was a “creation” (ktisis—denoting “the sum-total of what God has created” [Cremer, 1962, p.381]);
(b) The first humans existed from the “beginning of the creation”. Not some billions of years after initial creation.
(c) The first couple was “made” (epoiesen—an aorist tense, stressing the fact that this original couple came into existence by single acts of creation. Had the Lord subscribed to the idea that the first humans evolved over vast ages of time, He would have employed the Greek imperfect tense, which is designed to express progressive action at some point in the past); and
(d) They were “male and female” from the beginning (not a bisexual blob that eventually evolved into male and female). Reference Wayne Jacksons :

Do these three passages tell us how we are to interpret Genesis 1-3 when there is so much confusion about those passages? I believe they do, and convincingly. I am interested to see what others say about this as one of the fundamentals of understanding Scripture and producing “theology” is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. If these passages perform the function I suggest here, then we do well to ask Why “Scholars” and pastors fail to take notice of them. And notice I haven't even mentioned the grammatical arguments which help you understand the day in Genesis 1 as 24 hour periods and that genre doesn't help alternative views, and that Genesis 1 is properly, historical narrative.

In Christ,