Just Because it is Embarrassing

2009 November 25

Filed in:

Both Feet Firmly on the Ground (Cosmology)

Hey Caleb, thanks.  I appreciate your mind, and your writing.  I thought about all those kinds of questions for years.

 
Please be quick to note here, in my response, that I am not declaring anathema, but am trying to make firm categories.  I believe you desire, as I do, to be faithful to Jesus and his word.  So if I say to anyone, “It’s wrong to argue with scripture”  that includes every one of my own wrong views that I haven’t caught yet, and doesn’t mean I am pointing at you.  I am not trying to shout that I am in the right, but of course, we both are people of opinion, so we must think we are right enough to debate.  That being said –
 
If the Bible has parts in Greek, then we have to get Greek to get the Bible.  If the Bible has math in it, we have to do math to justice to the Bible.
 
I need to understand the world around me if I am to understand the Bible.   However, if a scholar tells me that David was not a king – he is wrong.  We could also allow for ignorance.  They might be ignorant and not in conscious rebellion.  But anyone talking about David knows what the bible says about David.
 
Now, if the Bible has not revealed something, then scientific scholars are free to inform my guessing about un-authority-bound questions.  They can still be wrong, but they are not in rebellion.
 
So, if they consciously say David was no king, they are not only wrong, they are in rebellion.  That one is obvious.
 
If they say that Israel did not eat manna….same thing.
 
Now the question is complicated somewhat by the fact that many Christian want, as I did in my former view, to go from the supposed scientific learning around them first, and then decide what might be meant or must not be meant by the Bible.  A lot of this issue has to do with the question: How would a faithful fifth century b.c. Jew have understood a passage?  Or a faithful first century Christian.  Science may explain what a passage doesn’t, but it can’t contradict what a passage does affirm.  So the “ancient believer test” is helpful for this one.
Science is allowed to correct ancient misreadings of scripture, but cannot bind ancient intentions of scripture.
 
Because of this, many Christians must believe that the Bible may be seen as indecisive in matters that appear to conflict with current scientific views.  Because they are unwittingly committed outside the Bible first.
 
Am I willing to have my shiftable opinions about non-clear passages swayed by scientists?  Yes, I am, with the knowledge that they and I might still be wrong.
 
So, bottom line, USE science to try to narrow your undecided views where the Bible gives liberty.
 
But if a matter has a clearly claimed biblical meaning, we who are committed to biblical revelation by the Spirit can’t discard it just because it is embarrassing in front of scientists who are committed to a view that requires the absence of the Spirit.
 
For now, my understanding says, there are passages that absolutely prevent old earth.
 
Our job, yours and mine, is to make sure we know which passages are decisive and which are not.  So I thank you for your honest participation in a Christian walk we take together toward full revelation. 
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These Things Happened

2009 November 25

Filed in:

Both Feet Firmly on the Ground (Cosmology)

 

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 4:


This is whole issue of 6 day and global flood and real Jonah, and Primeval realism is just a question about the Bible.  How does the New Testament treat the Old Testament?

I believe that we find over and over that the biblical texts require us to believe that certain things be taken at face value, which doesn’t mean without symbolism, without deep significances etcetera, but still that they happened in a way that the words of the Bible faithfully recount to us.

According to the New Testament:

 

There was a Noah.  Eight people were saved from the flood in Noah’s Ark.  God turned Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes.  There was a Jonah; he was in a fish for three days.  Nineveh did actually repent, and many people and animals were saved. Abel’s blood accuses the Scribes and Pharisees.  Adam brought death upon all men.  And male and female are Adamic categories “from the beginning,” not from sometime later.  And the blood line to Jesus goes back through Enosh son of Seth son of Adam son of God.

These things are told to us “not following cleverly devised myths” since “we have something more sure, the prophetic word”…”knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

According to the New Testament, the Israelites crossed the reed sea, they ate manna and quail and drank from a spiritual rock that followed them in the wilderness.  Some of them did and were destroyed by serpents.

Did these things really happen?

“These things happened to them…”

Why?

“…as an example…”

Should we really believe this?

“…they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”


As My Master, and to My Master I Will Submit

2009 November 23

Filed in:

Both Feet Firmly on the Ground (Cosmology)

 

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 3:

 

What Kind of Literature is Genesis?

As I am an Old Testament teacher, I spend a lot of time teaching Genesis every year.  Mind you, I have always dearly loved the Bible and the God who wrote it.  I haven’t been a godless secularist waiting to destroy Jesus.  I have been an evangelistic, child rearing, wife honoring, church serving Christian living under the incredible burden of a nagging scientism and a hermeneutic of doubt.

Back to Genesis, I read and memorize bits of Gen 1 every year.  We memorize Gen 1.1-5, and 1.26-28 (*the first day of creation and *the cultural mandate).

For years I have assumed that Gen 1-11 (Primeval History) was allegorical and that Gen 12-50 was historical.  Please notice:

I have never doubted the existence and necessity of miracles, but I felt at that time that

  • Adam-Babel was obviously a different form of literature than what we would rely on for history, and that
  • Miracle is always literarily highlighted as miracle rather than taken for granted.

 

A Seamless Garment

In truth, there are NO markers in the text indicating a transition from mythic to historical material.  In fact, it looks to me a lot like these are all definitely intended to be read in unity.

Example 1

  • Adam made as God’s son, is made to fall into a deep sleep, his flesh is divided, and a covenant of marriage is created: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother”. (Gen 2)
  • Abraham, made into God’s son (inheritance), is made to fall into a deep sleep next to divided flesh and a covenant of adoption is created: “Go out from your father” (Gen 12, 15).

Example 2

  • Darkness and Watery Chaos, Spirit of God (Ruach) blows over the water, evening and morning, the waters are divided from the waters, dry land is created (Gen 1)
  • Watery chaos, Wind of God (Ruach) blows over the Water, 40 days and 40 nights, the water is driven back, dry land is found (Gen 7-8)
  • Reed Sea, Wind of God (Ruach) blows over the water, water is driven back, waters are divided from the waters, dry land is found (Ex 14)

Example 3

  • People refuse to be scattered abroad, they try to make a name for themselves, they are cursed (Gen 11)
  • Abraham goes forth willingly to fulfill Gen 1.26-28 from his father’s house, God will make his name great, he is blessed (Gen 12)

 

What’s in a Name?

Another reason that I had a hard time with Gen 1-11 was that I thought that the narratives seemed overly contrived.  The names especially couldn’t be real.

Adam is humanity, Eve is Life, Noah is heard.

What was I thinking?!  It goes on just like that after Gen 12 begins.

Abraham means Father of Multitudes, Sarah means princess, Isaac is his mother’s laughter, Jacob grabs at his brother’s heel, but Israel wrestles with God.

The only options, based on THESE criteria, are to accept Genesis 1-11, or doubt ALL of Genesis.

I don’t doubt all of Genesis, so I now accept Gen 1-11 as my master, and to my master I will submit.

I remember someplace that Abram believed the LORD.  Me too.


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]


That I Did Have a Conflict, and That It Hurt

2009 November 19

Filed in:

Both Feet Firmly on the Ground (Cosmology)

 

Until recently, it had been my longstanding view that the earth is really old, and that Gen 1-11 must be figurative.

I have changed my mind.

[That is: I now believe those sections are intended as historical.  I am adding this line, because a friend was unclear about my position. Updated at 6 pm, Nov 19.]

Before this change, I didn’t distrust scripture; I was just convinced that unscientific sounding parts couldn’t possibly mean what they sounded like.  I think this is because I had regrettably been convinced of a mainly materialist view of the universe.  I DID in fact believe in a spiritual side of the world, but it was OUT THERE in heaven.  My re-formed view sees a physical and a spiritual together DOWN HERE in the life we have.

It’s hard to describe how my two views were held side by side, but still divorced.  Unfortunately this was a very increasingly painful way to live.  I was always having to fight the battles of the conflicting views in my head, or to ignore the fact that I did have a conflict, and that it hurt.

I want to begin a series here to highlight biblical reasons to require our submission to the text in a more radical way than I had given it credit for in the past.

A friend of mine, Nathan, on one occasion, challenged my view that the book of Jonah was a-historical.

Now please be aware, if you have always been a 6-day person, you may not be aware how pervasive the view is amongst otherwise orthodox Christians that Gen 1-11 is mythic, and that Jonah is inspired fiction.  I never believed the bible was false, but I did believe that Gen 1-11 was teaching through allegory; however, I didn’t have a sophisticated view of how to fit together that Gen 11 was fictive, and Gen 12 was historical.

Back to Nathan’s challenge – he just said that he didn’t see any reason that it couldn’t be historical.

The question is: On whom is the burden of proof that texts are parable and not historical?

Jesus does speak in parable, but he says he is doing so when he does so.  Gen 1 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and THERE WAS LIGHT.’  And God saw that the light was good.”  So did he?

I want to write this over a string of posts, so let me outline some questions to deal with:

  • How does the New Testament present Gen 1-11 and Jonah?
  • Do we believe that the functioning of things in scripture is limited by material, and is knowable only by means available for examination through scientific instruments?
  • Do we believe that the functioning of things in the universe is limited by material, and is knowable only by means available for examination through scientific instruments?
  • Do we have proof that all things in the universe have always functioned in uniform ways and at uniform rates?
  • Is there a good and biblical reason that things in the universe resemble each other, that animals look so much like people?
  • Do we believe in miracles?
  • Do we believe in an otherwise spiritual world?

I don’t know in what order I will get to these things, but if you have been wondering about these things, keep checking back here in the near future, and I will make more suggestions, and explain more why I think we HAVE to affirm the historicity of all of Genesis, at the same time of affirming its poetry, symbolism and yes, even numerology.

This link will take you to the second post of this topic.