Sweet, Sweet, Comfortable Confidence

2009 November 21

Filed in:

Both Feet Firmly on the Ground (Cosmology)

If It’s Good Enough for Paul, It’s Good Enough for Me (Paul)


So YES.  I have recently affirmed publicly now that I am indeed a 6 day creationist.  This is a recent development and I want to explain why I felt constrained to making this move.  The posting of this thought began in THIS [Click Here] post, and continues in the current post as installment 2:


I think I find that for many people who have always been young earth/6-day people, it is very hard to see how someone could be old earth and a consistent Christian.  But I will try to explain the struggle that I had in my head over the last 10 years.

Allegory?  Parable?

Again, I have always had an absolute commitment to the Bible, but I also felt like the old earth, and process of evolution were basically demonstrable, and scientifically hard to get around.  I thought Gen 1-11 was figurative, or parabolic.  True, yet non-historical, in the way that a parable has a true lesson, but not a factual history.

I also assumed that humanity “became” humanity at some point in an evolutionary process.  So I was able to affirm that at some point we became sinful and human, but it wasn’t necessarily in a pristine garden.

Sounds Like Myth

I also thought that Gen 1-3 was too stylistically symbolic to be real.  I thought that with names like:

Adam – “Humanity”

and Eve  – “Life”

and a talking snake and a magic fruit…. come on!

But my mind has changed, and I now welcome these literary frills as BOTH highly symbolic AND historical.

But how did it all go down?

The Beginning of the Breakdown

One day in my New Testament class, I was reading the speech Paul gave at the Aereopagus, and one of the verses struck me like a brick.  I actually gasped for air when I read it, quietly, but there was really was a breath – Acts 17.26:

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…

Paul is preaching to the Gentiles at Mars Hill (the Ἄρειον Πάγον).  One of the things always pointed out about this situations is the difference in how he preaches to the Jews and the Gentiles.  The Jews have a whole canon of knowledge behind their hearing of sermons.  The Greeks likely know nothing of the Old Testament so they have to be told anything that it’s necessary to know.  They are also repenting from outside the Law, and not from under it.

The outline of Paul’s sermon:

  • there is ONE Lord of heaven and earth (v.24)
  • and he is not in need of man (vv.24-5)
  • he is not an idol of human crafting since (v.25)
  • he is the ONE source of all life (v.25)
  • all humanity is responsible to him since (vv.26-27)
  • he made all nations from ONE man (v.26)
  • he is not far from us since (v.27)
  • he made us and he sustains us (v.28)
  • again, he isn’t an idol since (v.29)
  • we are made in his image (v.29)
  • he has been patient with your sin (v.30)
  • but he is going to bring judgement by ONE man who has been raised from the dead already to vindicate this fact (v.31)
  • so REPENT (v.30)

The passage doesn’t use the word “one” over and over, but it isn’t absent in idea, and it DOES use the word “one” in verse 26.

The simple version is that there is ONE God and ONE Man, and we are RELATED.  The one God is both OUR JUDGE (by fact of creation), and NOT  AN IDOL (by correlation to us).  The fact that the Judge is near us and the judgment is upon us both are proven by the Resurrection of ONE MAN.

The “one man” thing seems to be pretty important – even theologically necessary.

Calm down!  I know about Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15.  I will deal with them later.  At that point, I had worked around these monster passages, but Acts 17.26 was the “little leaven” to leaven the whole lump.

Now, we have to talk about the Greek.

ἐξ ἑνὸς – is the Greek behind “one man” from v.26

That phrase can mean “one man.”  In fact, it should do so if there is no other reason to translate it other wise.  And there isn’t any other factor to change it.  So the substantival masculine adjective “one” (henos) becomes the noun “one man.”

However the word (anthropos) is not used here, but it is not use for Jesus either – he is an (aner): “a male”.  Some later texts insert the word “blood.”  Regardless, the point of the verse is a single source for all humanity, which is used as a proof that we are all unified in responsibility to the one creator.  So no way around the single source of humanity.

You could say that even with evolution and a large source of humanity we are still responsible to God, but you can’t say it without implying that Paul was either wrong or lying.

The Beginning of the End of the End of the Beginning

This verse not only began my downfall into sweet, sweet, comfortable confidence by making me think “Paul thinks Adamic origin is important,” but it also made me formulate a litmus question:

“How does the rest of the bible treat Gen 1-11 and Jonah or any other questioned literature.”

That, my friends, is how we will proceed.

[Go to post # 3 in this series – Click Here]


Baptism of John / Trinitarian Baptism

2009 March 10

2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

I’ve just been reading Acts 18.24-19.7 (see 19)

As a baptist, I wanted John’s baptism to be synonymous with Christian Baptism.  So I tried to read this passage as if it was played out like this:

Paul: Into what were you baptized?

People: Into the Christian water baptism started by John.

Paul: You need the “Spirit Baptism!”  Let me pray for you with laying on of hands….

Obviously, this isn’t what he says or what chapter 18.24ff indicates.

Paul: Into what were you baptized?

People: Into the Jewish national repentance water baptism performed by John.

Paul: You haven’t yet identified with the church, the people of the name of Jesus, the people of the Spirit; you need the “Christian Baptism!”  Let me baptize you in the name of Jesus….

I think that is more like it.  One of the main points is that in Acts 18-19, Luke tells us two stories that indicate VERY CLEARLY that the Baptism of John was NOT the same as Christian or Trititarian Formula Baptism.

John’s Baptism was an intentionally offensive statement about the dirtiness of Israel.

When will the Messiah bring us victory over the Gentiles?  The Restoration of Kingdom to Israel?

This coming Kingdom, always anticipated by the disciples (Mk 10.35-45, Mt 20.20-28), and still on their minds after the resurrection (Ac 1.6), is a key to NT interpretation.

So what was preventing the Kindom’s arrival? Different answers:

The Pharisees said, the problem is other Jews – we must fix them.

The Essenes said, the problem is other Jews – we must flee them and let him save us.

John said, the Kingdom is upon us, time to admit that WE OURSELVES are the problem.  So he assembled people at the Jordan to make a public spectacle and mockery of Israel’s dirt.  And the declaration was personal, not at others, but at “ourselves.”

While Christian Baptism does say this about me, John’s work was a one time eschatological, pre-kingdom preparation to say the kingdom must come on God’s terms not on the laurels of self-righteous hijackers of the system – the Pharisees, especially.


Spirit Baptism:

Two problem theologies come out of this passage –

Pentecostalism – all Christians receive the Spirit after Baptism as a second blessing, and when they do, they will speak in tongues.

Orthodox “Chrismation – the Coming of the Spirit is through laying on of hands not normatively immediate to faith on its own.

Chrismation was later separated from Baptism in the West, which developed the practice of Confirmation to give the Spirit in the Roman Church.

I expect that the “when Paul laid hands on them” it actually means “in the action of the baptism,”  but it could be a prayer separately.  What do you think?

Another main issue to add in is that in Romans 8, Paul says that (at least by the time of the writing of Romans), all believers HAD the spirit by default:

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.