Tuesday, January 27, 2015

False Teachers, Theistic Evolutionists, and the Church




Jesus often warned about false teachers. Here is one such warning:

  • “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" (Matthew 15:6-9)
Theistic evolutionists (TEs) – now they call themselves “Christian evolutionists” – are similar to the Pharisees. Although they do not “nullify the word of God” for the sake of their traditions, they do nullify it for the sake of their first love, evolution. TE Dennis Lamoureaux provides one common example in his denial of an historical Adam and Eve:

  • Paul was a first century man steeped in the historical and scientific categories of his generation… Paul had no choice but to believe in the historicity of Gen 3 [the Fall with the introduction of sin and death] and the causal connection between the sin of Adam and the entrance of pain and mortality into the world. Romans 5:12-19 and 1 Cor 15:20-49 are evidence of this fact [that Paul had been mistaken]. However, the historicity of Adam, the attribution of divine judgmental action for his sin, and the origin of physical suffering and death as a consequence are notions conceived from an ancient phenomenal perspective. These events in Gen 3 never happened because they are based on ancient history and ancient science, and Paul had no way of knowing this.” (Christian Research Journal, Vol. 37/Number 06, 22)
“Paul had no way of knowing this?” Has this TE forgotten about this existence of the Spirit? It is one thing to say that Paul lacked complete knowledge. It is another thing to claim that he wrote without correct knowledge! In other words, Lamoureaux claims that he has a superior knowledge which trumps what Paul had written. He wants us, therefore, to place our faith in him and the present scientific consensus rather than in the Bible. Meanwhile, Paul argues that Adam had been just as real and historical as Jesus:

  • Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men… For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:12, 15-19)
If what Adam had done wasn’t real, then what Jesus had accomplished is also thrown into doubt. Here is how Garrett J. DeWeese puts it:

  • If Adam is not the progenitor of H. sapiens, then the doctrine of the fall as it has been understood in Christian theology for two thousand years is false, and the entrance of sin into humanity remains a mystery… There is a strong correlation between accepting TE and rejecting substitutionary atonement [that Christ for us] as an antiquated doctrine rooted in medieval retributive thinking. (23)
DeWeese is correct. To deny the role of Adam is also to deny the role of Jesus. How then should we respond to the teaching of the TE? How did Jesus deal with the scribes and Pharisees of His day:

  • "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (Luke 11:52)
Evidently, their hearts were far from Him!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bart Ehrman’s Misplaced Zeal: Jesus’ Second Return




Since Jesus often talked figuratively, it is very easy to misconstrue what He had said and to make it seem like a contradiction. Here is one verse that has been cited as a “clear contradiction”:

  • Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24:33-34)
For Bible critic and agnostic Bart D. Ehrman, this verse proves Jesus wrong:

  • Jesus fully expected that the history of the world as we know it (as well as how he knew it) was going to come to a screeching halt, that God was soon going to intervene in the affairs of this world, overthrow the forces of evil in a cosmic act of judgment, destroy huge masses of humanity…Moreover, Jesus expected this cataclysmic end of history would come in his own generation, at least during the lifetime of his disciples. (Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999) x) 
However, in order to make his case, Ehrman had to ignore key elements. For one thing, Jesus had stated right afterwards that He didn’t know the time of His return (Mat. 24:36). More significantly, Ehrman closed his eyes to other elements within the immediate context, which argue in favor of an extended period of time prior to His second coming. Jesus prophesied:

  • You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other… And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:6-14)
These verses point to a distant coming, following the death of the Apostles, a great falling away, and the Gospel having been preached throughout the “whole world.” What then could Jesus possibly have meant when He stated that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Mat. 24:34)? Here are two possibilities:

  1. “Generation” might also pertain to the Jewish “race” (Isaiah 53:8, “descendants”) meaning that there would still be Jews at the time of Jesus’ return.

  2. The Jesus return to which Jesus referred might not have been His second coming, but rather a “coming” in judgment against Jerusalem (70 AD) during the lifetime of many of His disciples. 
There might even be a better third possibility. However, here is what is clear – Ehrman’s facile conclusion that Jesus was wrong ignores much of what is germane in order to manufacture a “contradiction” where none exists.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Dangers of Friendship Evangelism




How I long for the days described by the Prophet Micah:

  • Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." (Micah 4:2)
Instead, we find the very opposite thing here in the West – the nations fleeing from any mention of the Lord. This disappointment has led to an assortment of reactions – “mea culpa,” revisioning the church, evangelistic silence, and other ways of trying to be less offensive to the non-believer. Some have adopted a saying falsely ascribed to St. Francis:

  • Preach the Gospel wherever, but use words only when necessary.
This often takes the form of the widely popular “friendship evangelism.” However, this inoffensive attempt at evangelism carries its own potential costs, and so before we adopt this practice, we must be aware of them:

EVANGELISM DOES REQUIRE WORDS: In His “great commission,” Jesus required words:

  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) 
WE MUST NOT MISREPRESENT OUR INTENTIONS: When we misrepresent ourselves, we delude and lose our moral high-ground, ultimately bringing the Gospel into disrepute. Instead, transparency and honesty are essential:

  • So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)
  • Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)
We must not hide the fact that we are “servants of Christ.” To hide this is to deceive. One dear friend went to a Muslim country as an undercover missionary. She followed the instructions of her missions board and found lodgings with a Muslim family. However, she began to feel that they were more righteous than she. She was deceiving them about her intentions and felt ashamed of herself and eventually dropped out.

WE SHOULD NOT HIDE OUR LIGHT: We are to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). When we hide the light, we fail to bear witness to our Savior. Even when we perform acts of love, we need to let others know why we are doing so. When we fail to give this acknowledgement of our Savior, our silence will communicate a different message – that secular motivations/intentions are enough! Besides, the pattern of interaction that we establish at the first will be difficult to break once we decide that we must speak.

WE CAN’T JUST “HANG OUT,” DOING THE THINGS THAT THE WORLD DOES: If we fail to establish from the start who we are and what our intentions are, we become vulnerable to compromise, trying to affirm what our friend affirms so that we can “truly” be a friend. Instead, we must be clear about our boundaries:

  • Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
Besides, this form of spiritual passivity will make us more vulnerable to other influences. Instead, it is important to proactively be moving forward.

WE MUST NOT BIND OURSELVES TOGETHER WITH NON-BELIEVERS: If we make vows of friendship, we have committed ourselves in a way that compromises our commitment to our Savior:

  • Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:7-8)
  • Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14) 
When we associate with non-Christians without speaking the Gospel, we preach another message – “The way you are is perfectly fine!”

WE TOO WILL BE INFLUENCED BY OUR FRIENDS: Paul had warned, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’" (1 Corinthians 15:33). To think that we are above such influence is na├»ve.

“DATING EVANGELISM” WILL NOT ONLY PLACE US IN JEOPARDY BUT ALSO OTHER CHRISTIANS WHO MIGHT SEE US: We also have to be concerned about the impact of our behavior on other Christians, as Paul insisted:

  • Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall. (1 Corinthians 8:13)
Paul was not only concerned about eating but also about anything that might lead the brethren into what they regard as sin or into something that they cannot handle in a godly manner. We cannot use our freedom in a way that will cause others to violate their conscience.

FRIENDSHIP EVANGELISM TENDS TO FORGET THAT THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL IS GOD’S CONVERSION TOOL:

  • I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed. (Romans 1:16-17)
We have grown ashamed of preaching the Gospel. We are embarrassed by others who preach it. However, “it is the power of God for… salvation.” Therefore, ask the Spirit for His guidance and empowerment.

We should not expect to be a blessing unless we are in line with the Lord and His program. We are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:19) and not independent friendship gigolos. Faithfulness requires us to sow His seeds and not our own.




Saturday, January 24, 2015

HOW DID DARWIN AFFECT NAZI THINKING, AND HOW WILL EVOLUTION IMPACT TODAY’S MORALITY?




The SS representative at the “Final Solution” meeting (Wannsee Conference, 1942) was General Reinhard Heydrich, one of Himmler's top deputies.  Although genocide was already underway in the occupied portions of the Soviet Union and in Serbia, Nazi officials discussed the need for a more comprehensive program to exterminate European Jews. From the article published by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

·       Heydrich announced that "during the course of the Final Solution, the Jews will be deployed under appropriate supervision at a suitable form of labor deployment in the East. In large labor columns, separated by gender, able-bodied Jews will be brought to those regions to build roads, whereby a large number will doubtlessly be lost through natural reduction. Any final remnant that survives will doubtless consist of the elements most capable of resistance. They must be dealt with appropriately, since, representing the FRUIT OF NATURAL SELECTION. 

It is inevitable that evolution devalues humanity, a mere animal, albeit talented, and will continue to do so. We kill and eat animals. Why make any exception for humanity!

In contrast, the biblical revelation sets humanity apart from the animal kingdom as God’s special creation, each created in his image, not just those esteemed more highly by society.

Consequently, our Declaration of Independence asserted that we are all endowed with certain unalienable rights, something evolution is not capable of endowing.