Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ancient Words, Changing Worlds--Overview of Chapter 3

A few months ago, I posted a book review of a book published by Crossway titled Ancient Words, Changing Worlds by Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt.  I wanted to share with you some observations I've made after having read the book again.

In chapter 3 of the book Ancient Words, Changing Worlds, the author gives an overview of the doctrine of inerrancy in the 20th century. He begins by looking at the development of controversies surrounding inerrancy in various Protestant denominations in America: the SBC, the PCUSA, and the Lutheran Church. He further discusses the reaction against the concept such teaching by Daniel Fuller, Jr, that some scripture was revelational (the texts dealing with how a person can be saved) and that some scripture was non-revelational (texts that assert matters of science and history). According to Fuller, revelational scripture was inerrant whereas nonrevelational scripture was not. In response to this and other challenges to the doctrine of inerrancy, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy was formed in 1978 and in that same year the ICBI held a conference in which a document called the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was written which defined biblical inerrancy. Prominent leaders from various evangelical denominations signed the document demonstrating that though they disagreed on various points of doctrine they all recognized that the source of divine truth was the Bible and that the Bible was inerrant. The author discussed some objections to inerrancy and proposed possible solutions such as observing that while the term “inerrancy” might not be found in the writings of church fathers in historical documents, the concept appeared to be recognized as valid. The author further asserts that while there are issues within the biblical text that do not have an immediately obvious solution that “…a life of faith means trusting in God…” (p. 81). In other words, just because we don’t know the answer that does not mean that there is no answer.

As I read this chapter, I began to think about the objections that are proposed against biblical inerrancy. It appears that many of those arguments boil down to the idea that “It’s just too hard to maintain that the bible is inerrant”. In other words, they deny inerrancy because it solves certain problems for them. I was reminded as I read the chapter, however, that to deny inerrancy creates many more theological problems that it solves. I affirm inerrancy based on my conviction that God speaks truth and therefore, since the bible was inspired, whatever is in the bible must be true, regardless of my inability to reconcile some textual, scientific, or historical difficulty.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ancient Words, Changing Worlds--Overview of Chapter 1

A few months ago, I posted a book review of a book published by Crossway titled Ancient Words, Changing Worlds by Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt.  I wanted to share with you some observations I've made after having read the book again.

Chapter one of this book outlines the development of the arguments for biblical inspiration that began in the mid-19th century with theologians from Princeton Seminary. The author indicates that the need for discussion about this crucial doctrine came about as a result of scientific and cultural developments in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The theory was that scripture was written for ancient men and that men and women of the modern age had moved beyond such a superstitious document. However, Charles Hodge, his son A.A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield contented that scripture was not a time bound document that spoke only to ancient people but rather was God-breathed, propositional truth that still applied today. A.A Hodge and B.B. Warfield co-authored a series of 8 articles in The Presbyterian Review discussing, among other things, the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture. They demonstrated that the bible was an inspired text and that inspiration was verbal (the words of the text) and plenary (all of the text). Of course, they were met by challenges to these key doctrines. For instance, Joseph Henry Thayer called these concepts a “yoke which they—unlike their fathers—are unable to bear”. Also, Henry Fosdick described belief in these two doctrines as trading “the shekinah for the Shrine”—the true beauty of the truth of scripture was not in the words of human authors but in the timeless, spiritual truth that they contained. This sort of mystical “what does it mean to you” approach to scripture is seen within the church, even today.

As I read this chapter, I was amused by what I perceived as arrogance of those who question the authority of scripture on the basis of so-called scholarship. I was reminded of something I read a few weeks ago in The Fundamentals “A third objection remains…all the scholarship is on one side. The old-fashioned conservative views are no longer maintained by men with pretension to scholarship. The only people who oppose the Higher Critical views are the ignorant.” The prevalent idea, even among some Christians, is that scripture just can’t have a supernatural origin and be true in the face of overwhelming evidence. Therefore, you have liberal Christians preaching a false gospel that cannot save because they reject the source of divine truth—God’s word.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fundamental Fridays--What does Literary Analysis Prove?

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

But even on the assumption of the practical inerrancy of the Massoretic text the arguments against the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch drawn from the literary analysis are seen to be the result of misdirected scholarship, and to be utterly fallacious. The long lists of words adduced as characteristic of the writers to whom the various parts of the Pentateuch are assigned are readily seen to be occasioned by the different objects aimed at in the portions from which the lists are made.

Here, however, it is necessary to add that besides the E and J documents the critics suppose that Deuteronomy, which they designate "D", is an independent literary production written in the time of Josiah. Furthermore, the critics pretend to have discovered by their analysis another document which they Call the Priestly Code and designate as "P". This provides the groundwork of most of the narrative, and comprises the entire ceremonial portion of the law. This document, which, according to these critics did not come into existence till the time of Ezekiel, largely consists of special instructions to priests telling them how they were to perform the sacrifices and public ceremonials, and how they were to determine the character of contagious diseases and unsanitary conditions. Such instructions are necessarily made up largely of technical language such as is found in the libraries of lawyers and physicians, and it is easy enough to select from such literature a long list of words which are not to be found in contemporary literature dealing with the ordinary affairs of life and aiming directly at elevating the tone of morality and stimulating devotion to higher spiritual ends. Furthermore, an exhaustive examination (made by Chancellor Lias) of the entire list of words found in this P document attributed to the time of Ezekiel shows absolutely no indication of their belonging to an age later than that of Moses.

The absurdity of the claims of the higher critics to having established the existence of different documents in the Pentateuch by a literary analysis has been shown by a variety of examples. The late Professor C. M. Mead, the most influential of the American revisers of the translation of the Old Testament, in order to exhibit the fallacy of their procedure, took the Book of Romans and arbitrarily divided it into three parts, according as the words "Christ Jesus," "Jesus," or "God" were used; and then by analysis showed that the lists of peculiar words characteristic of these three passages were even more remarkable than those drawn up by the destructive critics of the Pentateuch from the three leading fragments into which they had divided it. The argument from literary analysis after the methods of these critics would prove the composite character of the Epistle to the Romans as fully as that of the critics would prove the composite character of the Pentateuch. A distinguished scholar, Dr. Hayman, formerly head-master of Rugby, by a similar analysis demonstrated the composite character of Robert Burns' little poem addressed to a mouse, half of which is in the purest English and the other half in the broadest Scotch dialect. By the same process it would be easy to prove three Macaulays and three Miltons by selecting lists of words from the documents prepared by them when holding high political offices and from their various prose and poetical writings.The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thoughts on Church Discipliine

Matthew 18:15-17 makes it pretty clear to me that the purpose of church discipline is to restore a fallen Christian who has been overtaken in some sin. We should go to them privately first, with humility, to show them their fault. If they do not repent, we should take two or three witnesses with us to again try to call them to repentance. If they do not repent, we should involve the church as a measure of last resort to call them to repent of their sin. If they don’t, we should withdraw fellowship from them and, as Jesus says, as a prospect for evangelism. They have demonstrated by their refusal to repent that they are not saved in the first place. Therefore, we don’t need to call them to repent of this particular sin but should call them to repent of their sins and trust in Christ as their Savior.

Matthew 18:15-17 does not say how long this process should take. I’ve only seen it happen in one church and it took several months to get to the stage where the church was called in to call the person to repent. I would say depending on the sin the amount of time might vary but I can’t imagine any place where the process would go on for more than 6 months.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts on Psychology and Phsyciatric Medication

Psychology, as I understand it from my very limited study, roots its methods in the idea that man can be fixed, is basically good, and can pull himself up by the bootstraps. While there are things I learned in psychology classes about how the brain processes information that have helped me as I studied for tests or as I tried to teach different kinds of students, the majority of psychology runs counter to what the Bible says. The clearest statement of mans real problem, the fact that sin has so corrupted us that we are unable to make ourselves or anything else “right”, is in Genesis 6:5 where we’re told that God saw that the thoughts and intents of man’s heart was only evil continually. Not much has changed in less than 10,000 years.

The things that psychology calls “disorders” are, more often than not, sins. An inability to control your anger is not a problem to be medicated with psychotropic drugs. It is a sin to be repented of to the glory of God. Therefore, I would say that the use of most psychotropic meds as they are used is not in line with what scripture teaches about man and his need to repent of his sins and trust Christ to save him.

I should add that I noticed there was at least one sleep aid, Ambien, listed as a psychotropic medication. I can find nothing in scripture that would forbid using that drug for what it was intended (a diagnosed sleep problem). Cymbalta is used to treat fibromyalgia sometimes. Since I’m not a doctor, I can’t speak with any degree of authority about using that drug to treat that problem.

Finally, with regards to that class of drugs, I have observed and heard of women with post partum depression who, as I understand it, were suffering from a chemical/hormonal imbalance that caused them to feel profoundly sad. I cannot say that I know for a fact that such chemical imbalances cannot occur in women or men for that matter. Further, as far as I know the Bible is silent on that sort of thing as well. In such a case, those drugs have been used to treat those patients and I can’t see that being any different than using meds to treat a metabolic disorder such as diabetes if in fact there was some sort of chemical imbalance. Since I am not a physician, I would be completely incompetent to make any determination as to whether that is what someone was suffering from. However, I could encourage to trust God and His power to have victory over any difficulties that they encounter.

As far as psychological counseling as opposed to biblical counseling, I used to think that if you had a problem you needed to work out, you should go to a counselor. Over the past few years, I have come to the position that I realize that men and women are sinful and that what we need is not to, for instance, control our tempers but to repent of outbursts of wrath (Eph 4:31). We don’t need to learn to compromise and get along in our marriages, but husbands need to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25-26) and serve them. Wives need to submit to their own husbands as to the Lord (Eph 5-22-24). Therefore, what man needs is not to try to figure out how to fix their lives, but rather they need to submit to the instruction in the Bible of how to die to themselves and live as servants of God in repentance and faith. This is completely counter to what psychology teaches. As we read in II Peter, God, in the scriptures, has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness. Therefore, bringing the Bible to bear on our problems, which are often the result of sin, is the most appropriate way to handle them.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Milestone Post--The Big Five Oh Oh!!!

I am in awe that this blog has lasted for 500 posts.  What is even more amazing to me is that anyone has actually read any of them.  I mean, seriously, you're looking the worlds biggest goofball right here.  I've got nothing useful or important to say.  I pray, however, as we have looked at scripture together that you have heard the voice of God.  Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you when I get to the 1,000th post.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fundemental Friday's--Mosaic Authorship of the Pentatauch Part II

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

On bringing the light of this evidence to bear upon the subject some remarkable results are brought out, the most important of which relate to the very foundation upon which the theories concerning the fragmentary character of the Pentateuch are based. The most prominent clue to the documentary division is derived from the supposed use by different writers of the two words, "Jehovah" and "Elohim," to designate the deity. Jehovah was translated in the Septuagint by a word meaning "Lord", which appears in our authorized version in capitalized form, "LORD." The revisers of 1880, however, have simply transliterated the word, so that "Jehovah" usually appears in the revision wherever "LORD" appeared in the authorized version. Elohim is everywhere translated by the general word for deity, "God."

Now the original critical division into documents was made on the supposition that several hundred years later than Moses there arose two schools of writers, one of which, in Judah, used the word "Jehovah" when they spoke of the deity, and the other, in the Northern Kingdom, "Elohim." And so the critics came to designate one set of passages as belonging to the J document and the other to the E document. These they supposed had been cut up and pieced together by a later editor so as to make the existing continuous narrative. But when, as frequently occurred, one of these words is found in passages where it is thought the other word should have been used, it is supposed, wholly on theoretical grounds, that a mistake had been made by the editor, or, as they call him, the "redactor," and so with no further ceremony the objection is arbitrarily removed without consulting the direct textual evidence.

But upon comparing the early texts, versions, and quotations it appears that the words, "Jehovah" and "Elohim," were so nearly synonymous that there was originally little uniformity in their use. Jehovah is the Jewish name of the deity, and Elohim the title. The use of the words is precisely like that of the English in referring to their king or the Americans to their president. In ordinary usage, "George V.", "the king," and "King George" are synonymous in their meaning. Similarly "Taft," "the president," and "President Taft" are used by Americans during his term of office to indicate an identical concept. So it was with the Hebrews. "Jehovah" was the name, "Elohim" the title, and "Jehovah Elohim"—Lord God—signified nothing more. Now on consulting the evidence, it appears that while in Genesis and the first three chapters of Exodus (where this clue was supposed to be most decisive) Jehovah occurs in the Hebrew text 148 times, in 118 of these places other texts have either Elohim or Jehovah Elohim. In the same section, while Elohim alone occurs 179 times in the Hebrew, in 49 of the passages one or the other designation takes its place; and in the second and third chapters of Genesis where the Hebrew text has Jehovah Elohim (LORD God) 23 times, there is only one passage in which all the texts are unanimous on this point.

These facts, which are now amply verified, utterly destroy the value of the clue which the higher critics have all along ostentatiously put forward to justify their division of the Pentateuch into conflicting E and J documents, and this the critics themselves are now compelled to admit. The only answer which they are able to give is in Dr. Skinner's words that the analysis is correct even if the Clue which led to it be false, adding "even if it were proved to be so altogether fallacious, it would not be the first time that a wrong clue has led to true results."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Asking Questions: The Holy Spirit

I am a volunteer writer for the website GotQuestions. People who come to that website can browse a huge data base of already asked and answered questions or they can submit a question which is assigned to a writer to answer. I thought as I had opportunity to answer some of these questions, I would share them in a series of posts under the label "Asking Questions". Just as an FYI, I present the questions in the form they are asked without correction of spelling or grammar. I pray that you are encouraged.

Q-If God is Spirit and theres the Holy Spirit, arnt they both the Spirit of God and only one Spirit. So the trinity is really one God the father and God the Son. Because the Holy spirit is God the spirit. So instead of three theres only really only two.

A-No, that is not correct. While God is Himself spirit and does not, nor has He ever had, have a flesh and blood body, He and Jesus both speak of the Holy Spirit as Someone distinct from both of them. For example, in Joel 2:28, God says "It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions". He doesn't say He will come Himself. Therefore the Holy Spirit must be seperate from God Who is spirit. Further, notice in John 14:16-17 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." Again, observe that Jesus refers to another Helper coming, meaning the Holy Spirit, not God the Father coming. Therefore, I would say that while God is Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is seperate from God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Matthew 8:28-29 What Demons Know About Christ

Of all the miracles that Christ performed the ones that touch me the most are the healings we have recorded in the New Testament. I can just imagine the pain and fear those people lived in and how hopeless they must have felt. Then Jesus enters their situation and miraculously their lives are changed forever. In chapter 8, so far we’ve seen Jesus heal a soldier’s servant, Peter’s mother in law, and countless other people. As we examine these last few verses of chapter 8, we find Jesus demonstrating God’s power over evil spirits that were tormenting some men. We can be thankful for a Savior who came to seek and save the lost that were helpless without Him.

Now, as we observed the last time we studied Matthew’s gospel that Matthew records the Lord came “into the country of the Gadarenes” (v 28) where as Mark and Luke record that the region was called the Gerasenes. There are numerous plausible explanations as to the apparent discrepancy and we have no reason to doubt the biblical account unless we’re looking for a reason to do so. Further, Matthew records that there were “two men who were demon possessed” while Mark and Luke mention only one. Of course, they don’t indicate that there was only one so again the only reason we have to doubt what the gospel writers have recorded is if we’re looking for an excuse to do just that. There are numerous books written on the subject of textual criticism by people who have studied it in much more depth than I have. Needless to say, these are minor issues in the grand scheme of the glorious miracle we have recorded here.

In any case, notice with me the location of these men. The met him as they were coming “out of the tombs”. They had made their home in caves where people buried their dead. Not only was this not a pleasant place to live because, let’s face it, dead people just aren’t all that great of company, it also made these men social outcasts. No one would want to come visit them. The tombs were filthy, unclean, and no one would want to live there or associate with anyone who did. Furthermore, if these men happened to have been Jewish, they would have been ceremonially unclean. They, because of their location, had isolated themselves from society.

Also, we should take note of their reputation. These men were rough dudes. They were known for physical violence that no one wanted to travel anywhere near them. In Mark and Luke, it is recorded that chains had been used on one of the men and he was able to break those restraints. In short, these were a couple of guys you did not want to meet walking down a dark alley. However, luckily for them, the Lord did meet them and heal them in a glorious manner.

Further, these demon possessed men made a very interesting proclamation. There is actually quite a bit that we can learn from what they assert here. Also, the demons, speaking through the men, give evidence as to who Jesus really was. First of all, these creatures knew the identity of Jesus—the y called Him by name as recorded in Mark 5 and Luke 8. The men who were possessed had never met Jesus yet these demons knew who He was. In addition, the demons recognized the divinity of Christ as recorded here in Matthew. When they said “What business do we have with each other?” they were using an expression commonly used in that day that basically said “What do we have in common between us?” Now, they could have meant they would leave Him alone if He left them alone. However, they then call Him “Son of God”. I believe what they were saying is they recognized that He was divine, self existent, and the Creator of the universe whereas they were merely creatures. Finally, these demons also recognized the authority that Christ had as the divine Son of God. Unlike the false prophets described in II Peter 3, these fallen angels knew that there was a judgment coming and that it was Christ was would be doing the judging. They said to him “Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Clearly, these demons recognized Who Christ was, What He was, and what kind of authority He had. In other words, these demons had a better grasp of the nature, person, and work of Christ than most liberal theologians. However, Christ did not come to save those demons but rather to set these men free from their power. We’ll examine him doing that next time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fundemental Friday's--Mosaic Authorship of the Pentatauch

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

During the last quarter of a century an influential school of critics has deluged the world with articles and volumes attempting to prove that the Pentateuch did not originate during the time of Moses, and that most of the laws attributed to him did not come into existence until several centuries after his death, and many of them not till the time of Ezekiel. By these critics the patriarchs are relegated to the realm of myth or dim legend and the history of the Pentateuch generally is discredited. In answering these destructive contentions and defending the history which they discredit we can do no better than to give a brief summary of the arguments of Mr. Harold M. Wiener, a young orthodox Jew, who is both a well established barrister in London, and a scholar of the widest attainments. What he has written upon the subject during the last ten years would fill a thousand octavo pages; while our condensation must be limited to less than twenty. In approaching the subject it comes in place to consider.

The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch has until very recent times been accepted without question by both Jews and Christians. Such acceptance, coming down to us in unbroken line from the earliest times of which we have any information, gives it the support of what is called general consent, which, while perhaps not absolutely conclusive, compels those who would discredit it to produce incontrovertible opposing evidence. But the evidence which the critics produce in this case is wholly circumstantial, consisting of inferences derived from a literary analysis of the documents and from the application of a discredited evolutionary theory concerning the development of human institutions.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Asking Questions--Old Testament Law

I am a volunteer writer for the website GotQuestions. People who come to that website can browse a huge data base of already asked and answered questions or they can submit a question which is assigned to a writer to answer. I thought as I had opportunity to answer some of these questions, I would share them in a series of posts under the label "Asking Questions". Just as an FYI, I present the questions in the form they are asked without correction of spelling or grammar. I pray that you are encouraged.

Q-I need to know why that there was stonings in the old testament and why they also allowed hangings and hands to be cut off for stealings. Was this man`s law at the time or God`s? Because when Jesus came he stopped the men from stoning the women and said `Those without sin cast the frist stone`. Why was it allowed to stone before Jesus came? The main question is was this Man`s or God`s laws. Thanks, Samantha


All of the Old Testament law was given by God (II Timothy 3:16). Therefore, all of the law was God's law. Now, notice something important about the situation with Jesus and the woman who was about to be stoned. In John 8:4, we read "they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act."". Now, if she was caught in the act, she was not alone. Therefore, where was the other guilty party.

They were trying to get Him to either say God's law wasn't valid or approve of them doing something that Roman law would not allow--execute capital punishment. So what He did was neither. Instead, He pointed to the sin that was in their own hearts. So, it's not so much that He stopped them but He made them realize their own hypocrisy. They weren't really interested in the law or righteousness. The fact that they only brought one of the guilty parties proved that.

Therefore, Jesus did not nulify God's law in that encountrer but made them recognize their own sinfulness.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

AWANA Sermon Part 5

This is the 5th and final part of a sermon I preached about 2 years ago. If you subscribe by email, you may have to click the post title and go to the blog to view the video. I don't think it will embed in email.

I pray you are encouraged.