Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gunning for God and the New Atheists

Frankly the new atheist are boring me, but I still picked up this book to read because Lennox says things in profound and astute ways. He has not disappointed. This book points out charitably the foundational failures of the new atheists arguments, or better still, it points out the “preaching” of the new atheists have no grounding in reality, because their approach makes everything meaningless to start with.

Sadly too many secularists are taking their unsupported opinion as gospel and Lennox brings this out.

What I really enjoyed about the book was how Lennox employs  a very careful analysis of the objections of the New Atheists.. It’s something that many Christians would do well to emulate. We need to think carefully about the assumptions and implications of what the New Atheists are arguing.

On pages 46-47 Lennox looks at the consistency of the new atheists reliance upon Freud and shows it just won’t do the work they assume it will.  Effectively Lennox does an internal critique of the New Atheists arguments. Speaking in the context of ‘Is Faith a delusion’ pg 45f  Lennox points out that although Dawkins rejects faith, it is merely his definition off faith that he rejects. Indeed the Oxford English Dictionary points out a delusion is ‘a fixed false belief held in the face of contradictory evidence.’ What is crucial here is the falsity of the belief. That’s why the objection you may as well believe in the flying spaghetti monster or leprechauns doesn’t unsettle us. Years ago Edwin Orr  pointed out the nonsense of such objections.  The Flying Spaghetti Monster is conceptual nonsense having no substance in the real world, It is as bad as arguing for a square circle since pieces of spaghetti do not a monster make and certainly they don’t have the physical constitution giving spaghetti the ability to “fly”.

Likewise today Alister Mcgrath substantiates that
it is only a delusion when such things don’t exist
pg46. So if God does not exist then faith in God is a delusion, however just as true is that if God does exist then atheism is a delusion. This is where Lennox is at his most stimulating.

Consider then how Lennox applies this to the oft quoted support of Freud by the New Atheists. He states that the objection that belief in God is a delusion, a crutch to cope with the real world and its uncertainties, can be turned on its head and asked of the unbeliever. “Is not atheism a delusion, a solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged.”

What we find will happen when we ask this of the unbeliever, is that she may possibly  return to what matters, the evidence for God, the centrality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

From his analysis we see that the argument of Freud helps no one unless you offer grounds for believing or not believing in God.

In Christ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Amos 6 the problem of complacency

Sermon Amos 6 May 2012

Today we have met together to deal with God. To deal with what He says through His Word.

Some here today are not going to like what I have to say – but you know – it’s not me who is giving the warning in Amos 6 - it is God.

It’s easy to pick a passage to make people like you and speak only positive things, in fact psychologists would say don’t say negative things, but you know what – God says negative things and we should listen to Him.

Some in our congregation have at various times expressed to me their difficulty with understanding the Old Testament.

No doubt on first glance many today will feel exactly that having just had our Bible reading.

But let me assure you that sense can be made of it. God’s Word is able to be understood.

To do that, let’s first recap a bit on where we have come in studying Amos.

Where have back in Amos one and two seen that this preacher, this prophet of God who is speaking in a time of a divided nation, the northern and southern Kingdom, Judah worshipping in Jerusalem and Israel with its capital in Samaria worshipping mainly at Bethel. Amos starts off by pointing out that God will surely bring judgment upon Israel’s despicable neighbors. No doubt the cheering was immense at his words.

But then comes the crunch.

God will indeed deal with the sins of the nations with their wickedness, but this does not absolve God’s people of judgment for their own wickedness. They are special to Him, they are chosen by Him, but this does not mean a license to do as they please.

They cannot treat others badly, with disdain because that is what they were doing in ripping off the poor.

A bit of this comes out in the name and description of Amos the prophet.

In chapter 1:1 we are told he was a shepherd, specifically from Tekoa. He is also a “caretaker”, “a caretaker of Sycamore trees” 7:14, this for some might conjure up the idea he was a well off farmer, but the sycamore tree produced a very poor kind of fruit, which only the poorest people ate [ Boice pg 135 ] so we understand how he knows the lot of the poor! The oppressed, and he speaks out that God is not impressed how they are being treated by the middle class and well off.

A child can sit on their fathers knee but that privilege does not mean license to hit their father in the face. Sadly if we reflect upon it – we do this an aweful lot don’t we? We need to wake up to ourselves and listen to him and adore Him.

God holds his people accountable for their actions towards Him. He has laid out for them right from the start, back in Exodus and Deuteronomy what he expects of them and if they are to receive blessing then they ought to obey what he says.

Complacency and putting your trust in earthly securities is a folly and it has dire consequences.

Just recently they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

On that ship there was the crew, and also the affluent lounging on their ivory chairs and those who raised just enough money to pay for passage to a new land where they hoped they could make a new life for themselves.

But even though they were in dangerous waters, they were in the place which was known for icebergs, the crew were complacent. The Captain had his own agenda, and he and the crew were complacent about the danger. And the ship they said even God couldn’t sink, sank!

There is a difference between complacency and apathy and we do well to understand the difference.

Apathy is when you lack a feeling or emotion, you show indifference, a lack of interest or concern.

Complacency - a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.

Israel and Judah’s danger was more significant than we imagine – after all God had promised Abraham that his descendant s would be more numerous than the stars in heaven. Gen 15:5 and now here he declares that Israel will be like a virgin that died childless! Amos 5:2 This would be shocking to the Israelites to hear this.

So here in chapter 6 what does the Lord through the prophet accuse them of?

For both Zion, that is Jerusalem ( Southern kingdom ) and Samaria ( in the Northern kingdom )

The leadership are arrogant, some are spiritually arrogant,

they believe because God is present in His Temple in Jerusalem that they are secure, invincible.

They forget that God doesn’t stand sin. And very soon, after Israel, the northern Kingdom was taken off into exile, the prophet Ezekiel who is in exile with them has a vision of the glory departing from the Temple and from the city of Jerusalem. God leaves His people.

And those in the North are just as smug. They trust in their armies and defenses. It tells us there in vs 1, when it mentions not merely Samaria but Mount Samaria, where the city was set, up on a nice fortified mountain.

To undermine their confidence and make stark their foolishness Amos then mentions three cities, vs3

These are three city states on the borders of the promised land, and each of them succumbed to invasion.

Not only were the leaders arrogant, ignoring the ever present dangers around about, the wealthy, were lying around on ivory inlaid couches.

I prefer the word wealthy because it isn’t just the upper class by which we think for ourselves the Murdocks and Packers or more so even Gina Rhinehart, the wealthiest woman in the world. It is the well off.

They ate the choice meats,. the best meat of the calves, no 10 year old bull for them.

They had every sort of entertainment to sooth their ears vs 5 No doubt to block out the wails of the poor .

They were so well off they could wile away the hours on their musical instruments, even experimenting at writing songs. And by mentioning David it is likely it is referring to not only personal music but “religious music.” Self indulgent religious music! You know the kind of hymns – all about me and my feelings, not God!

Verse 6 tells us they abuse the good things God has given us. They drank their wines by the bottle. And the best wines at that, no the $20 bottle but the $130 bottles, and they had the best oils = perfumes, not the cheapo at K-Mart but Esta Lauder which Sarah sells at work! Again worth $100.

So while they lavish it all upon themselves and show their self-indulgence,

they don’t care about anyone else,

they don’t care about the ruin of Joseph, which stands for the ruin of Israel,

see how already back in 5:15 Amos has mentioned only a remnant of Joseph will be left. Only a minuscule number will be spared and receive mercy.

But get this, this verse that “they don’t grieve over the ruin of Joseph” is a sin of omission, they are criticized by God for what they fail to do!

I can accept if I murder and cheat someone, they’re acts of commission, but acts of omission I push to the furthest recesses of my mind.

This is one of the serious consequences of people who are complacent – they fail to do what they should.

And then in verse 7 with a bit of irony Amos brings us back to verse 1 again because he says you will be among the first to go into exile, you guys who presume to be leaders of the foremost the number 1, the first nation, the nation chosen by God to be leader of the nations of the world. You – will go first into exile!

This is more significant than you probably think. Israel was meant to be a light to the nations, that’s what God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:3 told us. But here by their actions and inaction they were anything but.

They were exactly the opposite,

There was no justice, there was no righteousness, only self-indulgence!

The second half of the chapter refers to the certainty of the Judgment of God upon them he has sworn by himself,

it’s a done deal because of their wickedness.

And so in spite of their proud confidence judgment is certain so much so that not just cities but homes are decimated, if a home has 10 men then they too shall die, and it will be such a calamity that plague occurs and any survivors are forced to burn the dead.

This is a big thing because Israel never cremated people, they buried them, but this is so devastating and so quick and on such a scale that they have to burn the bodies to limit the plague.

The reason for that unusual statement in verse 10 about being told to not mention the name of the Lord is clarified by context! In verse 11 we are told it’s the Lord who is bringing about this judgment so don’t draw attention to yourself!

So in a sense it isn’t hard with a bit of study to see what the Lord is saying through Amos to Judah and Israel.

But have we felt its impact?

It’s dire warning?

They, the Israelites, have the warning given last week in the sermon by Sean on the day of the Lord, God’s wrath being poured out as revealed in chapter 5.

What is harder

is the application to us today,

hard in the sense that we don’t like our comfortableness ruffled.

We don’t like being challenged to repent or get our act together.

They were complacent. So the question is – Are we?

So where do we stand today?

Well --- do we understand the imminent danger Israel and Judah faced?

We would if we heard Sean’s sermon last week on chapter 5 on the day of the Lord. If we heard that sermon we’d see how chapter 6 makes perfect sense. They indeed were complacent. The danger was there and their self-satisfaction blinded them!

Are we likewise blinded?

Were we here last week to hear the sermon on chapter 5?

Or are we one of those that only make it to church every one in three Sundays?

Each one of us here in this predicament has to access our own reasons at this point, because I am not saying “well you should have been here even if you were sick…”

But such a warning as Amos gives convicts us when we weren’t here because we were self indulgent!

I have said it before – do we understand this great family God has called us into here at Bomaderry? Do we understand that we are a body here at Bomaderry?

What are we teaching our children at that level? Are we teaching them to love the church, to love his people?

I stand as much convicted of this as anyone else here today.

I have two grown children and had to discuss with them my failure to teach them by word and actions to love Jesus’ church!

The two eldest have left home and for two years it has been a struggle to find a church and commit to serving others there.

It’s easy to not think this through.

8am and 10 am

I had a warden a number of years ago who had children in Canberra who would frequently visit him and his wife on Sundays and on those occasions they would stay home to greet them. Of course they didn’t come on Saturdays because they had sport and so on, but Sundays suited them. But I talked with John and asked him had he thought about the example he was setting his children! What he was modeling them about his love of God and His people the church. So he thought about it, told his children to let themselves in and they’d be home after church. And you know what? They started arriving early and coming with their parents to church!

Each of us fail often to do as we should

- Sadly we are complacent.

The letters of Jesus to the 7 churches in Rev 2-3 apply to us.

They are a wake up call repent !

Don’t put up with error, with heresy.

Don’t have a form of religion turn up at church on Sundays sometimes when it suits. He the Lord has called you into a family, has made you a body to care and nurture each other to support, encourage, to serve one another here.

But instead of using the letters of the 7 churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3 I want us to come back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33

“seek first the KOG and His righteousness.” Where is our passion for Jesus? Where is our passion for His people?

8am Harold and Murial Doyle couple in their 70’s – frail he dying with weak heart and emphysema .. he was housebound, yet a fervent prayer life for the churches, churches in Sydney, for the gospel, for individuals even beyond their own church. Yet she would try and did make it to evening service frequently to encourage the “young ones”.

10am Again, what are you passionate about? You will see it by what takes precedence what take up most of your time, your focus.

Look at your facebook page – what does it tell you your focus is?

I have a relative who puts up endless pictures of their child. It is something that consumes her! There’s practically nothing else she posts on.

Does your facebook reflect something like that?

I’m just as guilty – I got a new motorbike and was really quick to post a picture of it on my facebook page!

so when I reflected on it I began to talk about God and His Word and what it means to be a Christian! After all, that is really my passion but it is so easy to make it second to other things..

Are you complacent about church and meeting together as His people. You easily let other things distract you.

I went out sat night and was tired.

My kids have sport so we couldn’t make it.

My family came over for lunch so we couldn’t make it.

There’s lots more

I know the excuses I have either had them said to me or I have used them myself.

Sadly we don’t even let the thought creep into our mind that there’s church at night we could fellowship here with.

Perhaps we feel this idea begin to arise in our thinking and we quickly push it down.

Tough words. Well Jesus said tough words in the letters to the 7 churches.

Don’t get shirty with me, we are all challenged by the Words of God in the Scriptures.

If we don’t talk plainly about these things we are educating each other and our children to be passengers on the titanic.

Listen then carefully to Amos last words in this chapter.

In verse 12 Amos says you lot – you’re not foolish when it comes to where you ride your horses, or where you plow your fields for grain,

It’s a bit like you’re not foolish to drive your car down the wrong side of the pacific highway,

and you don’t let your milk go curdled and cheese moldy and then gulf it down anyway.

So why be foolish when there’s danger now!

Wake up and face the sin that brings God’s judgment.

“Seek First and foremost, as the crowning aim of your everyday life, the KOG and His righteousness.”


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Kingdom of God Pt1

The Kingdom of God has been a subject of great interest over the past 15-20 years or so, and a good thing too as it was a subject heard relatively infrequently in the pulpit of many and also lacking in thoughtful discussion amongst many Christians.
That it is so lacking in discussion by Christians is a very sad state of affairs given that the Gospels begin by stating that John the baptist came preaching the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven Matt 3, and Jesus likewise Matt 4:17.
If this Kingdom figures so strongly why is it that we fail so miserably to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of Heaven / God ? Context must be considered in getting the correct perspective on this Kingdom for He was preaching to Jews whom he expected to understand what it was he was preaching about. One thing for sure, to start with we need to repent of our present day glib comments and preaching from the pulpit about preaching the gospel, or using phraseology such as "let's be on about the Gospel" or "let's be Gospel people" when we refuse to expound the passage of Scripture in front of us that clearly mentions the Kingdom of God.
I notice that one of my favorite preachers Alistair Begg has just done a series on the Kingdom of God, at Truth for Life, however although he says many wonderful things I am afraid his perspective on the Kingdom is definitionally warping the Bibles teaching at that point and neutering the breadth of the Kingdom the Bible puts forth and that Jesus preached. Strong words and I will be held to account for saying them and I will indeed need to justify them. I do so not to malign a great man but to hope that in seeking to understand God's Word iron might sharpen iron. So let me attempt that here.
Alistair is quite correct in saying that
God rules over all areas of life, both spatially and geographically
but when he adds that
He even rules over even the disobedience of rebellious men and women
he moves from speaking of the spatial and geographical to the spiritual and moral realms. In this sense I believe he has then evacuated his definition of the Kingdom of God as
representative of the sphere in which God's rule is gladly accepted.
Is that not the spiritual realm or the moral realm? Let's leave aside whether biblically man ever gladly accepts God's rule since although positionally he is in Christ and so he has true legal standing before God, but practically he is in need of sanctification, becoming more like Christ being transformed in his mind Romans 12 etc. What Alistair has done is speak correctly of God's Sovereign rule and yet somehow wanted to distinguish from this the realm of the Kingdom of God which is where his rule is gladly accepted. This is in my mind confusing the issue.
Again he repeats that
the Kingdom of God is expressive of the sphere in which men and women submit to His rule.
Alistair then goes on to ask whether
your heart is a sphere in which God's Kingly rule is gladly accepted.
This then suggests that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual realm, and it automatically rules out any suggestion as to whether the bible teaches it could have broader application as well. It's to build our theology along the lines of the old children's song "I serve a risen Saviour He's in the world today ... He rules within my heart". The only question is whether the bible means a lot more than that when speaking of the Kingdom of God.
As I see it the bible first of all declares that God is Sovereign there is no area in which He does not rule. secondly that there is a clear teaching of Scripture concerning the Kingdom of God. How one holds these together is indeed the issue. I just don't see the bible advancing the concept that the Kingdom of God is the expression of the sphere of where His rule is gladly accepted.
The answer to understand the Kingdom must begin in Genesis. It is at Creation that man is made by God vice regent over the earth. He is to rule the earth as God's Vice Regent. This pronouncement is made despite God being Divine Personal Sovereign Creator. Man is Created in God's image and given rule over the earth and animals and fishes etc as God's ViceRegent. At the fall we see Adam handing over this realm to Satan, something that Satan still rules over post resurrection and Ascension of Jesus as Paul teaches in Ephesians 6. What is being taught is that Adam has rejected this Vice Regency and it awaits the Messiah to take it back fully.
Theologically this is why the old Protestant Theology used to teach the three offices of Christ, that of Prophet Priest and King. As Prophet he is the True Word of God. As Priest he is the full final Sacrifice for Sin that the Old Testament sacrifices were but a shadow of, and as King He will retake the ViceRegency over Creation that that the first Adam surrendered and the second Adam, Christ himself will restore.
Is this not what the Scriptures are teaching?

Yours in Christ

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The SMH, Gay Marriage and Keith Mascord

Again our secular culture has promoted the Gay Marriage / homosexual agenda in an Opinion piece by Rev Dr Keith Mascord in the Sydney Morning Herald, the 18th July 2012. Keith is no doubt a very intelligent man, and I look forward to reading his book 'Alvin Plantinga and Christian apologetics' 2006. I remember him at Moore when I was a student there. He went far ending up lecturing at Moore in Theology and Pastoral ministry until 2006.
However there is much in the SMH article that I disagree with. Of course I must be magnanimous in that his piece reads as if the editor has cut out significant pieces, as editors are liable to do in newspapers, but even so the thrust of what he argues I still believe is highly questionable and erroneous.
To interact substantially with his piece requires a great deal of study which will take some time as the core problem with it is his hermeneutics which is fashioned after the French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur's "hermeneutics of suspicion". I do not claim to be at all an expert on Ricouer but I do have some pertinent questions in regard to hermeneutics. I certainly think that his assumptions need to be carefully analysed.
In addition, Keith's philosophy of fact is no where stated but he assumes that facts are somehow determinative in themselves to countermand the declared Mind and Will of God as given in Scripture. Thus his problems with the Flood in Noah's day I believe have reasonable explanations and the so called scientific data do not present and impossible hurdle. His whole approach here raises the issue about where Authority and Truth are grounded? Is it in the declared Word of God or in the mind of man? He seems to assume reason as being a legislative Authority instead of a tool to be used by man, and thus commits the same mistake of the Enlightenment. This same problem raises itself again when he addresses Gay Marriage when asserting that "gays are born that way." It is no less problematic when he asserts that [Gay's ] are an example of God's creative handiwork. Again exegetically he would be pushed to justify this from Scripture where the actual opposite is proclaimed, namely that it is sin, just as gluttons, the greedy, thieves and slanders and adulterers etc will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Cor 6:9f.

I will soon begin with a short blog on Keith's Hermeneutics as it follows Ricoeur, but for now one other thing needs to be mentioned. As the Opinion piece in the SMH acknowledge, Keith has just published another book called "A Restless Faith:leaving Fundamentalism in a quest for God, 2012". Here I would now make a few observations in regards to this.
To review this one needs to ascertain Keith's use of the term "fundamentalism. Is it the same as used by J Gresham Machen of the Christian fundamentals, or is it more coloured by North American present day fundamentalism which espouses things like 'it is a sin to drink alcohol'? In which sense was Keith a fundamentalist and could Moore Theological College ever be portrayed as following the latter North American type of fundamentalism? Has Keith left orthodoxy in the sense of leaving the self-legislative Authority of Scripture for the Authority of his own mind?
In regard to this book, Rowland Croucher of John Mark Ministries, or Rolly as we used to call him when I was in Melbourne and heard him speak on numerous occasions, delivers an unfair and uninformed diatribe against certain persons in the Sydney Diocese. He makes out that Sydney Anglicans fail to speak the truth in love and fail to ask hard questions.
To quote Rowland:
Back to what the Philip Jensenites do with all this: Read the book for the political stuff, whereby lesser qualified-but-’orthodox’ people are preferred over more talented freer thinkers. But, worse, ‘attitudinal’ adjectives like these describe how the protagonists of this sophisticated-but-bigoted ‘conservative evangelicalism’ come across to others: arrogant, combative, opinionated, abrasive, inflexible, deceptive, black-and-white… the list goes on. Rather than there being a commitment to ‘speak the truth (as one sees it) in love’ and humility there has developed an ‘us and them’ fortress mentality, where ‘questioning, doubt or dissent is discouraged and even punished’.
Remember Rowland I came from Melbourne and know the Melbourne Diocese scene and Christian scene having been involved from the age of 16 with God Squad and John Smith and Scripture Union and Theos and Melb Uni CU etc etc. It is not only Sydney where some cannot cope with having questions asked, but at the other end of the theological spectrum I have found just as many in Melbourne who fail to use intellectual acumen and question their underlying assumptions. I certainly have not shirked from asking questions in college and in the Diocese as my peers well know. But it has always been in an effort to garner the Truth and treating my brothers as friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Rowland, we really need to be fairer in this assessment of Sydney. I really need to speak more on this and I will but first I need to read up on Ricoeur.

In Christ,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting a grip on the Old Testament

The Old Testament is Jesus' Bible. We do well to understand it's flow and high points. Here is a chart with some of them which I have used to help people get a grip on the Old Testament.
In Christ

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Contradiction and confusion in the latter Heidegger

Due to the place of Heidegger given both Bultmann and Fuchs were indebted to him, and their involvement in The New Hermeneutic, one should ponder carefully what Heidegger was saying.

In his book The New Hermeneutic VanTil relates the position of Heidegger:
Man must seek to understand himself as the loud-speaker for the silent toll of being. When he fulfills this role then he is truly man. This idea of man cannot be expressed directly in words taken from ordinary surface-phenomenal life. Neither science nor metaphysics comes within sight of such a view of man. What is needed is a vision of that which absolutely transcends everything that any man has ever said on the basis of empirical or conceptual thinking. It takes poets to give ordinary men such insights. Fortunately every man is at heart a poet. Deep down in his innermost self every man knows that his true authentic self is the free self as it participates in the noumenal, the noumenous, the wholly other. It is his participation in this truly transcendent being that makes him see that the poets are basically right when they, often with tortured verbiage, point all men to their true home which, in their forgetfulness of being, they have left behind. Seeing the vision that the poets see, men long to return to their original home. Hearing the words the poets speak they hear the words of love and understanding.

The words of man, the words of the phenomenal realm are inadequate, the words of science and metaphysics are inadequate, the only thing that comes close is the words of the poet so people will hear words of love and understanding. Yet the words of Heidegger, his philosophical ruminations are not the words of the poet, they are the conceptual words of ordinary surface phenomenal life. Why then take notice of what he says? His Philosophy hasn't laid bare participating in the noumena, the "wholly other" because his language is not the language of the poet.

Perhaps I have misunderstood his point, but Fuchs pushes this so that the God of the Bible devolves into "love". So that Fuchs can rewrite John 1:1 "in the beginning was the word and the word was with love and the word was love." But this evacuates the person of Jesus to merely one of "his" attributes and the God of Fuchs is not the God of the Bible or orthodoxy. Jesus as the second person of the Trinity is no longer the revelation of God but "love". And the questions remains as to what that love is as I may read into that concept from my own mere experiences of ordinary surface-phenomenal life.

in Christ,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ben Carson, Evolution and Morality - Biology and the missing imperative

I just love the way some people write. They are truly gifted at being eloquent and succinct at putting the issues into perspective, something I fail at frequently to do.
Someone who does this is Richard Weikart over at World magazine. He recently wrote an article called 'Consternation over Ben Carson, evolution and morality.' It's a precise and to the point article that captures what is happening in secular academia and yet some in the christian family go off their rocker when one of their own calls into question evolutionary theory and points out the logical consequences in regard to morality if one adheres to macro evolution.
Have a read and see what is being said today. And don't forget to pray for Ben Carson and understand the issues so you will be equipped to bring these to the attention of your peers and children.
Slime just won't produce a grounding for love and it won't justify it as a moral imperative. If you look to society you won't find it there also.

God Bless,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some implications of Enns’ The evolution of Adam – moving the discussion a bit further

What are we to make of Peter Enn's book 'The evolution of Adam'
perhaps the following may help people be very wary of it.

Central to Enns’ theory is that "Adam is a prototype of Israel", and more so, that he is not an historical figure. Adam stands as a pattern[1] of Israel. Here is the idea that “his” being made, given a land, responsibilities and exile /death for disobedience are clear parallels between Adam and Israel. Does not this require a speculation by the reader regarding Adams significance since he is only a literary representation. The difficulty is the subjective range of interpretations available.

What are the implications of his theory if he is right?
Well firstly, Genesis tells us that Adam lived 930 years and then died, Genesis 5:5. If the book of Genesis was written post exilic[2] to comfort Israel in exile, ( leaving aside the need for comfort when they had wilfully ignored the prophets such as Ezekiel etc ) then this is not at all comforting, unless of course one restricts the prototype of Adam to just chapters 1-3. If you don’t then the news for Israel is that she dies! What is this death? Is it that there is no national future – something I might point out that flys in the face of all the rest of the Old Testament prophets. If you say that Adams death is just symbolic of Israel’s exile for sin then that opens a plethora of interpretations of the Genesis text.
Secondly if Adam as prototype is restricted to just Genesis 1-3 then one must include Eve as the prototype of Israel as well, otherwise God by mentioning the creation of Eve from Adam and his desire for her and his being enamoured with her etc is just putting “heavenly padding” to the text. That in itself would be contradicting the rest of Scripture which declares the words of God as pure and profitable for teaching rebuke and training in righteousness! Let me stand aside from such a foolish person who says this as God turns out his wrath upon them.

So it’s not padding but exactly what part does she play if Adam himself is a prototype of Israel. I will leave aside the speculation that someone no doubt will make that she is the Church!
Eve as the text says holds a special place as from her seed will come the Messiah. Indeed two lines arise from Eve, but more significant is this seed of Genesis 3:15, ‘spermos’ in the greek Septuagint – hinting at a virginal conception – that speaks of the coming Messiah. Certainly the Messiah comes from Israel and surely this is not something that Enns’ would deny, so one is left to assume that Eve is also a prototype of Israel along with Adam. Now what does that mean for the New Testament passages which speak of Eve? Paul, but of course Enns’ thinks Paul was just plain wrong much of the time, argued that Eve was deceived not Adam. 2 Tim 2:13-14 and that means on Enns’ hermeneutic there is suddenly a ripping apart of the model of Israel since Paul does pit Adam and Eve “against” each other at that point. Perhaps more importantly Paul says Adam was not the one deceived but the woman ( the definite article is used ) indicating she is an historical person and this is all in making an argument in relation to Adam! “The woman being deceived was in transgression”

Lastly and significantly, the speculative nature of Enn’s interpretation of so much of Scripture seems to confront not only that it has been understood and interpreted consistently to arrive at a consensus  of orthodoxy for the last 2000 years, but that it undermines the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture and nullifies Peter’s command in Jude 3 for all Christians “to contend for the faith”, that is the Whole canon of Scripture once delivered which presupposes that such Scripture can be understood and believed! It is these teachings of Scripture itself that negate Enn’s reworking of the faith.

It seems when you read Enn’s that he is more enamoured with having Science as His Authority of what is true and real than the self authenticating Authority of the Word of God endorsed by the Holy Spirit. Of course he would reject such a contrast by saying this only begs the question. But Scripture starts by confronting us with “Has God said?” – our answer is yes indeed.
I hope and pray this is a fair appraisal, I value your comments,
In Christ

[1] Prototype means model of, a pattern of, so Adam is an original model or pattern of Israel, the first example of Israel, but the problem is that not being an historical figure, it is merely a literary representation. Thus it seems we are open to speculate on any connections in the rest of the bible
[2] And this is predicated on source analysis JEDP or some variant of this being true. This I seriously doubt because of its philosophical and theological assumptions. Placing the writing of Genesis in the 7th Century just flies in the face of the bibles affirmation. Eg Moses as author an assertion of Jesus himself, not merely Paul.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A return to the Enlightenment - reinterpreting the Bible

There is a powerful reminder over at The Colossian Forum about man's endeavour to be his own arbiter of Truth. In a critique of The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins by Peter Enns. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012.

James K A Smith brings back our attention to what really is at issue in so much of the Theology of Today. Just who is revealing Himself in the Bible. Is it merely man's opinions - in which case they may have some interesting things to say but we would take it with a bar of salt, or is it God himself? The Bible for starters explicitly declares the latter. The history of Christianity declares the latter.
If there is a critique that gets to the heart of so much modern scholarship it is seen in that of James K A Smith. It is a must read to awaken us from our slumber and laziness of thinking about what so many books and articles are saying these days. See what Smith has to say about Enns and Walton. He points
out that Enns’

project is very similar to John Walton’s proposal in The Lost World of Genesis One, situating Genesis as a book that reflects an ancient Near Eastern cosmology.
I for one found Walton's methodology disturbing in that is is a return to Enlightenment days where Christianity was to be studied as just another religion among many and it's character and meaning were decided upon by what was common to all religions. Such was the approach of autonomous mind, where REASON turned from being a tool to a legislative Authority in the hands of mankind.

Consider again Smith's drawing our attention to meaning and ( authorial ) Intention in understanding Scripture, something often remote from our own minds when reading such books as Enns.

While Enns affirms the inspiration and authority of Scripture, this sort of hermeneutical approach functionally naturalizes biblical interpretation. [3]  Because this sort of account of biblical meaning is tethered to the intent of human authors, there is no functional role for divine authorship in determining meaning—which is precisely why Enns treats these books and letters as discrete entities rather than parts of a whole canon (more on this below).

I find Smiths critique a wake up call. Go on Christian read it and be informed and ponder and ask questions and Think! What guys like Enns and Walton are doing is removing the supernatural from the bible. One day it will merely be a religion without Authority where every man does what is right in his own eyes, and it will also be a religion without power. Power to save, power to transform and power to live the life God offers.
This book by Enns, a guy who no doubt is winsome and captivating is being endorsed to some extent by the likes of Scot McKnight and Tremper Longman III. Of course the latter has some reservations, he wouldn't endorse all that Enns is saying, however he doesn't address the problems. At least we have the critique of James K A Smith to help us with the subtle error of the book.

God Bless

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

London, Oxford and Cornwall

Not too long before I get to visit London and Oxford, especially the Bodleian Library and then on down to Cornwall to see where the Wearne's came from.

Great to find out a bit about the Puritans and also the Wesley brothers.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

emotionally crippled by itechnology

Just recently one of our Television programs spoke of recent research that was pointing out how our young people were failing to learn how to emotionally communicate face to face because of a reliance upon impersonal communicating via iPhone and texting and twitter and the like.

iPhone and twitter and texting are playing such a dominant place in the lives of our young that they are failing to learn to read the physical cues that people give in face to face communication. In this way they fail to realise that what they are saying is being misunderstood, or hurting or offending the person who is listening, and so they fail to take this into account with what they go on to say. The person may indeed not realise that you are being serious about the subject you are talking about when they don't read the cues on your face or body posture.

In this way, they are not learning to socialise, and here I mean they don't learn to socialise with the wider community and varied age groups. Sadly this failure of learning to socialise with the wider community even if they have a inner circle of "friends" make them very vulnerable to isolation and depression. Is it no wonder that so many young people attempt suicide claiming they are not "loved" when in reality they are certainly loved by their family or even other "friends", yet what they are claiming in fact is they are not being loved by the person or persons they are fixated upon. What they have not learnt is how to deal with rejection. That some people will reject you for whatever reason, perhaps because they are not infatuated with you as you are in them, and so you need not see this as "my existence is pointless."

Something else we need to ponder in this regard is the frequent use today of Universities having their lectures broadcast so that students don't need to attend the lecture. What this does is to take them out of the social engagement involved in being at a lecture. It becomes merely a passing on of information in the moment with no opportunity for the student to talk with other students about the lecture on the way out the door, or even interact and ask the lecturer some point during the lecture.

From what I can observe, we are failing our young when we fail to teach them to socialise and this will surely come back to bite us as a society.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

The moral right to kill those who don't meet your standard

Just recently the Sydney Morning Herald, Friday Mar 2, 2012 and then Andrew Bolt in the Telegraph  pointed out how Philosophers have argued that "since" a foetus and a newborn are equivalent in that they lack a sense of their own life and aspiration then killing them, even if they are healthy can be justified on grounds like the mother is unwilling to care for it.
Now we have in such arguments long been told that the "slippery slope" objection doesn't carry any weight, however here we have clear evidence of just this when one has moved from arguing for abortion of a foetus to arguing on the same grounds for the killing of a newborn.
Some might object that we don't want to give an emotive response to these sorts of objections but as being more than a rational being, namely, emotionally geared as well, we do not fear responding in part this way.

However, two things follow from what these "philosophers", Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva are arguing. And that is that on grounds such as "lacking a sense of their own life and aspiration" then you can readily apply this to people with disabilities and things like alzheimers and the like and then decide to do away with them as well, something historically already we have seen in the days of Hitler's regime. It is not good enough to say neurologists and psychologists can determine self-awareness, for in a foetus case, this is built upon a grab bag of presuppositions and one's worldview. After all, the problem of defining  person is evidence of the clash of different worldviews already such as the Christian / Biblical Worldview and that of secular humanism.

If some find this a "well reasoned argument", then we need to point out that some things in life are morally repugnant, and even most who hold a worldview that cannot account for such repugnancy admit that. So people readily admit that torture of children and adults is morally repugnant, that a person such as a mass murderer are "evil", Pol Pot comes to mind, as does Idi Amin of Uganda, or more recently as evidenced by the viral video about kony. What I am suggesting is that ideas are not argued in a vacuum as though they have no impact on ones life. I would argue that what one does in private arising as it does out of their worldview, their ideas and things they value work out in everyday life. It effects how a person relates publicly to others. As someone once put it - ideas have legs!

What Christians must keep on saying is that a person is valuable because they are made in God's image. And that image is stamped at conception. Infanticide has been with us a long time, the Romans practised it, but that doesn't mean we have to. Euthanasia is not a valid option either.
And when you add to the mix that all people are sinners, that is, they are guided by the promotion of self to the detriment of others, this is not the kind of thing you want mankind determining. After all our politicians regularly stuff up things they are meant to oversea and bureaucrats likewise do not leave you with much confidence.

The words of Alberto and Francesca are chilling when they argue
if economical, social or psychological circumstances change such that taking care of the offspring becomes an unbearable burden on someone then people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford.
So economics and 'being put out' becomes reasons for killing someone they that seems to justify any murder. How would the legal system then prosecute murders? Would it be on the basis of 51% don't like such and such? or other people have been upset by seeing or being effected by the murder of a loved one or someone they know? The ramifications for the order and rule of society would be horrendous.

However, in the end I suggest that people who put forward such ideas live in a world where they don't have a basis for or being able to account for morality in which case they really ought to deal with the ramification of their godless ethics where might and majority rules, regardless of right and justice.

Somethings to ponder eh?


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Emperor has no clothes - economic and cultural crash

When I was a boy I remember being told the story about the emperor with no clothes and how he foolishly took the word of his advisers, but then one small boy saw the truth and spoke up. Sadly today we can report what is obvious to some, which is that there is coming a great financial crash to rival any in the past. And still we have those who man the ship and are the economic mouthpieces of our media elite, ridicule such observations. Perhaps it is that they fear speaking up on such issues believing that in so doing it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the fact and the reality are out there for those who will take a moment and investigate.

America's debt is beyond recovery. Apart from the current National debt in America passing the 15 Trillion mark, having gone up from 10 trillion dollar mark in 2008, there's the added unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicaid which in effect take their national debt to around 100 Trillion dollars. That is almost unfathomable and yet it is politics as usual in The House and Senate and the White House in America. No one is willing to make the hard decisions. They all want to feather their own nests.
Consider the chart below as provided by the Federal Reserve Board.

Total Credit Market Debt Owed
and then read Michael Synders blog at

Something to mull over isn't it? Here in Australia we have the same attitude - stick your head in the ground and hope it will all go away.
Yet it isn't just an economic crash we are speaking of is it? How will people respond in the midst of being left destitute and perhaps so destitute they wonder how they will feed themselves and their family? Will they be like the children in Lord of the flies? The Bible warns us many will be lovers of themselves, void of any love for parents or others. That is what we are already seeing happen around us today in our culture.

In the midst of all this, truly only God's peace will suffice.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Hospitality and Jesus

What would you give or do to have a meal with Jesus?
What about with one of his trusted inner circle of disciples? His special chosen ones?
What about with one of his other disciples or Paul? His special chosen ones?

What would you give? Give up? or do for that?

Then Why do we find it so hard to practice hospitality to one of His Chosen in the church?
His special Chosen ones!