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.