Monday, July 30, 2018

Should the YEC/OCC Factions Simply Call a Truce?



                Many Christians on each side of the aisle referenced above have cordial relationships with friends who differ from our OCC position on the relationship between scientific knowledge and the first chapters of Genesis.  And most of us wish to further these friendships as much as possible.  Indeed, Scripture too seems to affirm that goal by giving high priority to living in harmony with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ (John 17:20f, Philippians 2:1-2), instead of being needlessly divisive.  For these reasons it can be very uncomfortable to elevate such matters as are clearly controversial.  

                Nevertheless, it is the contention of this essay that, in one specific context (for which Scripture also assigns high priority—Luke 24:47), we who are old-cosmos creationists (OCC) must lay claim to the superiority of our position over young-earth creationism (YEC).  That context entails the employment of controversial truth-claims in our proclamation (Matthew 10:34).  To be specific, whenever we engage in the Great-Commission-task of urging secularists to embrace their faith[3] in our Redeemer Jesus Christ, who is also our Maker, it is urgent that we stand firm in our perspective on creation for the reason that doing so is the only means for employing that very body of evidence[4] which undergirds our position.  The solitary way to verify the truth[5] of our perspective is to name the specific ways by which scientific evidence (the witness of nature that St. Paul identified in Romans 1:18-20) confirms that the true God is the Creator of all existence in the manner that the Bible declares in Genesis 1.  Why must this be so?

1.       Limiting the case for the existence of the universe to abstract assertions by severing it from evidential support implies that (in contrast to Psalm 19:1-4) no such case can be made at all.  On the other hand, identifying supporting scientific evidence affirms the validity of Psalm 19.

2.       The neglect to appeal to factual evidence from nature as it pertains to creation illegitimately favors, by default, the YEC position over the OCC perspective.[6]

3.       The same failure (in contradiction to Romans 1:18-20) undermines St. Paul’s assertion that God’s “eternal power and deity [is] clearly perceived in the things that He has made.”[7]

4.       On the other hand the scientific evidence[8] points inescapably[9] to a beginning of the universe out of nothing in a manner that utterly refutes atheism.  At the same time, the Big Bang can easily and beautifully harmonize with Genesis 1:1, while YEC cannot be reconciled with this passage.[10]     


[1] “Young Earth Creationist/Old Cosmos Creationist.”
[2] I do not employ this term in a pejorative sense, but in the acknowledgment that each party under consideration is clearly controversial.
[3] The classical understanding of saving faith entails three aspects which include not only assent (agreement), and trust (entrusting ourselves to the finished work of Christ for our sins), but also knowledge (which entails our intellect).
[4] Despite the fact that evidential apologetics has fallen out of favor in certain Christian circles in our day, the Bible clearly employs this strategy in both Testaments. See my two papers, “How Did the Early Church Grow?” and “The Pervasive Employment of Apologetics in the Bible,” both of which can be accessed, together with all my writings, at my website: www.christianityontheoffense.com.
[5] See both my essays, “Truth Can Never Be Less than One,” and “Truth is Falling Everywhere Except.”
[6] The YEC position doesn’t depend on scientific evidence to support its position while OCC, by contrast, does.
[7] See my paper, “Romans 1:18-20.”
[8] See my paper, “Was the Big Bang the Big Beginning?”
[9] I don’t deny that certain scientists who are committed to materialism seek to escape this reality.  Yet they can only do so be evading the hard scientific data in favor of abstract speculations that cannot be grounded in empirical knowledge. (Ibid).
[10] See my paper, “Only the Big Bang Reconciles Genesis 1:1 with the Rest of Genesis 1 (And Everything Else as Well!)”

Monday, July 16, 2018

How God’s Word, Exactly like the World, Establishes its own Truth Claims


John 14:11
                In the Old Testament the most common means of affirming the authority behind the words of the prophets’ was by their employment of the summons to attention: “Thus says the LORD!”  In the New Testament, by contrast, Jesus Christ frequently declared His own authority by such words as, “You have heard others say… But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38), or “Truly, truly, I say to you…” (John 5:24).  Such phrases might lead audiences to conclude that both parties were seeking to establish (as opposed to simply announce) the veracity of the words that they declared.  Yet that is not the case.  The common assumption behind this misperception is that, since God possesses perfect knowledge (tis surely true!), He is thereby not obligated to submit His words to the scrutiny of finite earthlings who, to make matters worse, are riddled with sin (also true)!  The goal of this essay is to clarify why expecting a substantiation of the truth of Scripture does not entail an attack on the majesty of God, the author of Holy Scripture.

                Concerning the question of the relationship between science and religion with respect to the interpretation of the 1st chapter of Genesis, Dr. J.P. Moreland recently said in an interview:  Theistic evolution [seeks to convey] that scientists are a far, far more secure source of knowledge of reality than biblical or theological preaching and philosophy… [Since we Christians] are constantly seeing science force us to revise the Bible so it will be consistent with science, at some point you start saying to yourself, ‘Well, shoot, in 50 years what else is going to be revised’”?[1]  Now although I grant the gravity of the perception that Moreland describes, it is vital for Christians to realize that the impression that our faith stands alone as the sole body of beliefs that are vulnerable to correction from the upsurge of scientific facts, is completely false.  After all, even scientific knowledge, by definition, entails not merely raw data, but also hypotheses[2] which must in the same way be altered in light of new relevant information.

                It is not my point to insist that every Christian give substantial attention to the evidential case for the truth of Scripture.  Many Christians effectively live out their lives in faithfulness to Christ without any consideration of our faith’s truth claims.  Nevertheless, we are living in times of immense opposition in which at least some Christians must be prepared to give substantial reasons for our hope (1 Peter 3:15).[3]   There is quite simply no other way of substantiating truth claims than by actual demonstration that assertions made about matters of fact can be reconciled with the object of their consideration.[4]  For this reason, since Christianity makes truth claims that impinge on both science and history, Christianity can only substantiate vital aspects of both creation and the incarnation of the Son of God by integrating its proclamation with evidence drawn from both of these realms of inquiry.[5]  Indeed it is by these very means, just as scientists and historians put into practice, that Holy Scripture itself establishes its claims.[6]




[1] “Should Christians Evolve on [Theistic] Evolution?” Biola for Everyone. (Winter, 2018). pp. 17-18.
[2] Tentative assumptions employed (for the purpose of this paper) to make sense of an inter-related body scientific data. Further, this term is not the data itself, but a philosophical exercise of fitting the data together somewhat like putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together correctly.
[3] See my paper, “When Christians Fail to Take up their Arms,” which, together with all of my essays, can be found at my website, www.christianityontheoffense.com.
[4] This view is identified as the “correspondence theory of truth.” See my paper, “Truth is Never Less than One,” Ibid.
[5] See my paper, “The Urgency of Uniting Truth with Biblical Proclamation.” Op.cit, (3).
[6] See both of my papers, “How did the Early Church Grow?” and “The Pervasive Employment of Apologetics in the Bible.” Op.cit, (3).

Friday, May 11, 2018

What Darwinists and Young Earth Creationists Have in Common


My broad range of essays that address these considerations can be accessed at my website: www.christianityontheoffense.com

                It is obvious that Darwinists and young-earth creationists (YEC), when judged by the contents of their positions, take polar opposite points of view.  Although Darwinian evolution (DE) is not technically atheistic, it is currently[1] the origin-of-life paradigm of choice for virtually all atheists for the reason that, by definition, it alone purports to account for the present complexity of the entire array of biological life apart from either appeal or reference to, a personal intelligent creator and designer.  YEC by contrast holds that every existent thing under heaven and on earth was created by the God of the Bible in six twenty-four hour days.  Secondly, while Darwinists commit themselves to excluding every notion of teleology[2] in biology specifically, and in the physical sciences in general,  YECs on the other hand are motivated to, together with creation, “declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).  So it might appear that DEs and YECs share nothing at all in common that is relevant to the question of the existence of God.

                Nevertheless there is one fundamental issue that bears strongly on the question of God’s existence, which both parties embrace.  That issue concerns the authority that is granted to scientific data with respect to this specific consideration.  I strongly suspect that neither party appreciates my drawing this comparison.  Although it is true that YECs eagerly concede their conviction that the Bible is higher in authority than scientific data or insight, DEs, by contrast, insist that no authority exists at all except scientific knowledge.  So they say … even while they instead effectively deny that very principle in practice.[3]  Setting aside their disparate motives (either, crassly put, for or against God), in actual practice, empirical[4] scientific[5] data[6] is in some manner suppressed by each party insofar as the data under consideration undermines the paradigm that they are seeking to advance.  For example, with respect to YEC, evidence from either cosmology or geology which objectively indicates that the universe is ancient is dismissed out-of-hand.  For DEs on the other hand, evidence from either cosmology (the Big Bang) or biology (information in DNA, the Cambrian Explosion) that can’t be explained by naturalistic means, is either dismissed or explained away by means of unsubstantiated theoretical conjectures.

                Neither of these postures are defensible when judged against the criteria that is affirmed within their own respective positions.  For example, while it is legitimate for a biologist to employ Darwinism as a working hypothesis for seeking to explain the biological and botanical history of life on earth, there is conceptually nothing at all in scientific data which requires the out-of-hand rejection of either indicators within nature, or the conclusions that might be logically drawn from such evidence, that an intelligent Designer in some manner created the natural order.  At the same time, YECs by their suppression of selected evidence from science which indicates, for example, that the universe began from a Big Bang billions of years ago, utterly contradicts the Apostle Paul’s stricture on that matter in Romans 1:18-20.[7]    


[1] I emphasize “currently” because DEs may well embrace another yet-to-be- discovered paradigm provided it too has potential to explain away God’s existence.
[2] “Teleology” affirms that what appears to be features of design in nature are legitimate indications that the natural order in every realm was formed by an intelligent guiding mind.
[3] See my essay, “Scientism is Not Science.”
[4] Empirical knowledge is data that is both measurable and perceivable by one or more of our five senses.
[5] I distinguish knowledge attained by the disciplined and intentional scientific method, as opposed to haphazardly.
[6] I distinguish data from the hypotheses that are assembled to make sense of it, which may or may not be correct.
[7] See my essay, “Does the Bible Permit Denigrating Science in Order to Defend our Faith?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The LCMS Bondage to Non-Biblical Boundaries


You leave the commandment of God and cling to human tradition.” Jesus in Mark 7:8
                In 2017, Concordia University Nebraska professor Dr. John Jurchen aroused strong criticism from LCMS officials for an article that he wrote titled, “The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism.”[1]  Indeed his article raised such ire that he retracted it upon the insistence of his critics.[2]  In support of their censure Dr. Charles Arand wrote, “As a church we have…maintained that within our confessional and doctrinal boundaries there is room for discussion, debate, and even disagreement on matters that do  not transgress or redraw the boundaries /….I hope and pray that [our periodical] will serve a helpful place within the church, where we meet as theologically trained servants in the church to discuss and ultimately confess only that to which the Scriptures commit us[3] (boldface mine).  It is my judgment that these two themes of Dr. Arand be cannot be reconciled with each other.  Furthermore, for the reason that sola Scriptura (the Word alone) is among the four major “solas” that Luther proclaimed, neither can the LCMS’ commitment to an arbitrary “boundary” that can’t be sourced in the Bible be reconciled with Luther’s Reformation as he exemplified by his steadfast stance at the Diet of Worms.

                It is my considered judgment that the “boundaries” which Dr. Arand highlights (the insistence of the LCMS that the creation “days” are approximately 24-hour, and that death in the animal kingdom began as a consequence of Adam’s Fall), cannot be proven from the texts which the LCMS has correctly determined to be authoritative and theologically binding.  They include both the Holy Bible and the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord.  Consequently, this posture effectively prohibits the open inquiry which the Reformation requires: to follow the biblical evidence where it leads.

                It is one thing to laud the Bible as God-breathed Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) in an abstract sense in the manner of current LCMS practice. But it is an altogether different matter to painstakingly study it (Acts 17:11) to the end that its actual contents might scrutinize our assumptions and transform our theological thinking (Romans 12:2).  Although I write here as an ancient-universe creationist (AUC), my point here is not to prejudice readers to favor my position, but instead to freshly re-open the question.  For if our theological deliberations about creation are naively straight jacketed by our prior assumptions, then we will have deceived ourselves into imagining that we have exhausted our biblical exegesis (2 Timothy 2:15).  In this light, the only boundary that is legitimate in our task of interpreting Genesis 1 is to submit to the text itself.

                I suggest your consideration of the following three of my essays which can serve as guideposts in the task of understanding the first chapter Genesis chapter:  ) The Biblical Demand to Take Another Look: Ten Exegetical Reasons the Creation Days of Genesis 1 are Non-24 Hour,”  2) “Genesis 1:1-2 Anticipates Big Bang Cosmology,” and “Defusing the Alleged Conflict Between Scientific Fact and the Text of Genesis 1 Without Compromising Either One.”  The can be accessed at my website: www.christianityontheoffense.com.



[1] Dr. John Jurchen. Concordia Journal: A Partner Issue with Concordia University Nebraska. (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis MO., Summer 2017), p. 64f.
[2] Charles Arand. “Regarding the Editorial Process for the Concordia Journal.” Concordia Journal. Concordia Lutheran Seminary, St. Louis, MO. (Winter, 2018), p. 10.
[3] Charles Arand. “Reflections on Reactions to the Summer Issue of the Concordia Journal.” Ibid, pp. 8, 9.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Change Current Gun Laws? Five Elementary Realities which Render that Tactic Irrelevant


1.     Obviously guns, as inanimate objects, cannot cause murderous rampages.  The cause is instead people who pull a trigger, thrust a knife, or wield a hammer because they determine in their murderous heart to kill innocent victims (James 4:1f).  It is clear that “the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart,” a brokenness which needs a Savior (1 John 5:12).

2.      Law breakers laughingly ignore gun laws altogether.  If fire arms are further restricted to the point of becoming outlawed, criminals will still amass them illegally at the same time that law-abiding citizens will face such evil-doers utterly without protection and unequipped to resist.

3.      Negotiating with a person intent on murdering the defenseless is doomed to fail.  Once he begins his deadly work it is only a defender with a gun who has any capacity at all to stop him.

4.      Even under the best of conditions, police possessing the very highest motives simply cannot arrive in time to stop him before the dead and wounded victims increase in number.

5.      Obviously unless the gun laws already on the books are actually enforced, it is ludicrous to expect that enacting further laws will reverse the mounting murderous violence.  Such govern-mental apathy instead highlights an already existing failure that must first be reversed.

Further Thoughts

6.       Gun control proponents who have access to armed body guards are dishonestly exempting themselves from the kinds of protection that they seek to deprive from the average citizen.

7.      For all who are interested in the truth, Jesus and His disciples were armed with a defense-weapon common at that time (Matthew 26:51-52, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:50, John 18:10-11).



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What's Really Wrong with Us Part II


and How the Answer Leads to Good Friday

What causes quarrels, and what causes fights among you?” –James 4:1a
               
Yet despite the fact that secularists today claim their “reasoning” to be superior to biblical revelation, such perspectives entail serious self-contradictions.[1]  Firstly, if everyone is the product of nothing more than blind processes, then leaders who teach this cannot exempt themselves.  If we are mindless machines, then they are too!  If then, on the basis of Darwinism, what we call “thoughts” are nothing more than the electro-chemical interactions, it must also be true that the arguments secularists advance cannot have any grounding in actual reality.  Also, since Darwinism teaches that there is no such thing as freedom from the unbroken line of material cause and effect even within our brain, then Darwinist proponents are likewise also mere impersonal machines who possess no freedom either!  As a Darwinist at the time, Dr. Dean Kenyon sought to undergird this Darwinian position in his book titled, Biochemical Predestination.  Secondly, since Darwinism denies that humans have the capacity for personal choice, then it is self-contradictory for Darwinists to either argue for the superiority of their position, or expect us to change our minds.

                In light of such a sea of contradiction, should it be surprising that secularists are failing to resolve the problem of violence?  Now they could attempt to counter that Christianity appears no more successful in addressing this problem.  Yet we may reply to them that the reason the problem is ongoing is that human beings habitually resist the Lordship of Christ.  The bottom line is that the most plausible diagnosis of the cause of the brokenness of our world is the biblical concept of sin (James 4:2) described above.

                Sin is no trivial matter.  Far from the concept of sin being outdated, it is so highly relevant as to qualify as our most urgent need in the transformation of rational (1 John 1:7) thinking.  Not only will we all stand before the judgement of a holy God at the close of this world, but present reality confronts us with the truth that a life which ignores or disobeys God’s purposes issues in brokenness at a number of levels.  No one at all is exempt from the judgment that, whether we open our lives to Scripture or ignore God’s revealed Word altogether, we all are guilty of disobeying what we at bottom know to be true.

                When God sent His Son into the world to die on the cross, He was not delving into trivialities, but addressing our most profound need of all, namely that we both have our sins forgiven, and our lives restored back to the One for whom we were made, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  However, understanding the problem He came to address is a vital step to being receptive to the gift He came to bring.                      
                   



[1] John West. Darwin Day in America: how our Politics and Culture are Being Dehumanized in the Name of Science. (ISI Books, 2007). I hasten to highlight West’s ultimate point that Darwinism is not real science.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What’s Really Wrong with Us All? Part I

and How the Answer Leads to Good Friday
What causes quarrels, and what causes fights among you?” –James 4:1a

                The very first outward sinful action recorded in the Bible occurred when “Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8).  Although nothing specific is stated as to the means of this murder, it is clear that his methods were primitive, although effective.  Everything he needed to accomplish his deed was right at hand including both his means and his motive.

                As I am writing this article, my radio is repeatedly announcing the one month anniversary of what is among the ten worst school mass killings in recorded history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Today, in a call to “solidarity” with the seventeen people who were killed, students across the country are observing a seventeen-minute period of silence.  In addition however, they are insisting on an overthrow of our current fire arms laws out of a belief that banning or restricting certain weapons will radically diminish the level of violence in our society.
 
                Yet it is not my purpose to discuss gun laws so much as it is to turn our attention to our society’s glaring neglect of that very cause which precedes either the raising of a stone (perhaps) in Genesis or the pulling of a trigger today.  The Bible identifies that cause with the tiny word “sin,” while James 4:1-2 as a whole fleshes it out very effectively.  The Bible teaches that there is something morally wrong with human beings because more profoundly there is something spiritually wrong with us.  We have fallen out of our intended relationship with God and for that reason we are consequently also utterly out of sync with His creation.   The proper center of our lives is replaced with self-centered us!  As James puts it, if we don’t get our way, then violent acts of varying degrees becomes the means in order to wrest what we desire from our neighbors.

                I find it astonishing that our society habitually neglects to direct our anger onto the perpetrator and to name the cause of such massacres as personal sin and wickedness.  Now there is no question but that our culture dismisses this kind of language as outdated, irrelevant, and outright offensive.  But the major question of our time is what is our culture offering in its place?  The preferred politically-correct method of addressing such social malfunctions is to name as the cause some overriding sociological malady, label certain laws (pertaining to guns or methods of criminal punishment) as barbaric, or source the cause of crimes to the existence of weapons (be they a gun, a knife, a stone, a heavy stick, you name it —and that’s the point!) themselves.  Even on today’s news, in response to the attempted kidnapping of a child, it is proposed that the suspect have “mental evaluation.”  No request at all is made for a moral reassessment!  One overriding reason for this glaring neglect is that our culture’s former biblical worldview has become replaced with an opposing worldview.  For the purpose of this article, secularism doesn’t merely hold to an even-handed view of competing values.  Driven by secularized academic circles, it holds to a view of human beings that is based on Darwinian evolution.  In addition to insisting on unguided evolution however, Darwinism also denies the existence of all things spiritual, which both removes the authority for moral law and undermines the foundation of an objective purpose for living.  Worse still, Darwinism holds that human “thinking” consists of nothing more than the interactions between molecules and electrical charges inside our brain.  What logically follows is that what we call “free choices” are merely the effects of such “physical” events in the past which firmly determine what we do in the present.

  to be continued...