Sunday, January 31, 2016


Scripture informs us that we are guilty of rejecting God, even if we have never heard the Gospel:

·       “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)

Even if you are convinced that evolution is a fact, it is still true that we are "without excuse." Why? There are still too many other things that cry out, "God!" There are the elegant and immutable laws of science, the fine tuning of the universe, DNA, life, consciousness, and many other things.

Watching the latest Rocky movie, Creed, reminded me that God has even wired us up so that we will resonate to the themes of Gospel - the rejected hero and the "resurrection" underdog who seemed that he'd never be able to return.

Rocky remains such a hero in Philly that a statue has been erected of him outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In fact, it is the leading attraction. Visitors wait in lines to be photographed in front of Rocky. Forget Rembrandt and Van Gogh!

Why do we resonate so with Rocky? He triggers something very deep within us - something that God planted there.

Jesus was the ultimate underdog, born in a stable and rejected, even by His own people. Nevertheless, He has become our ultimate hero, and, on some level, we all know it!


The Bible is both a human and a Divine set of documents. While it often reflects the vocabulary, situations, and interests of its individual authors, the Bible uniformly insists that it is also fully God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) so that even the slightest markings are of God and, therefore, must all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-19).

However, many scholars, even Evangelical scholars, only interpret the Bible from a human perspective - from the perspective of the “culture context” of the author and his audience, as if God played no part in Scripture’s authorship.

Theistic evolutionist and former Professor at the Westminster Theological Seminary, Peter Enns, does this very thing to discredit the historical content of the first several chapters of Genesis:

·       Is it not likely that God would have allowed his word to come to the ancient Israelites according to the standards they understood, or are modern standards of truth and error so universal that we should expect premodern cultures to have understood them? The former position [of understanding the Bible in terms of their cultural setting] is, I feel, better suited for solving the problem. The latter is often an implicit assumption of modern thinkingers, both conservative and liberal Christians, but it is somewhat myopic and should be called into question. What the Bible is must be understood in light of the culture context in which it was given." (Enns, Peter. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005. 41)

Enns is correct in trying to understand the Bible in terms of how the original readers would have understood it. However, Enns assumes that it is myopic to disregard the cultural context, and that, since the Bible’s creation account was based on the faulty cosmological understanding of the Ancient Near East (ANE), it is not historically accurate.

However, since the Bible is more than a collection of human documents, it must also be understood as the Word of God, which transcended the understanding of the original audience. Peter warned us of this reality:

·       Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

Even angels didn’t entirely get it! Peter claimed that it was revealed to the Prophets that they were not always writing for their original audience but to those who would hear the Gospel hundreds of years later. Besides, the Prophets were not writing a message that always had been adapted to the culture. Instead, God is the primary Author of Scripture. Therefore, their prophecies represented a timeless message from God Himself (2 Peter 1:19-21; Daniel 9:24; 12:9, 13).

This is damning to Enns’ assumption that God’s Word came “to the ancient Israelites according to the standards [concepts] they understood,” embedded in the unscientific ANE cosmology. Sometimes, it didn’t!

Why does he make such a mistake? Enns limits his understanding of the Bible to the assumption that it is just the word of man and can be understood solely from this limited perspective.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


 I never understood how profound and life-controlling that spiritual blindness could be. Let me try to illustrate this by using the account of Jesus' miraculous feeding of the multitudes. They weren't so blind that they failed to see that a great miracle had just taken place:

  • When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14 ESV)

They even recognized Jesus as the Prophet that Moses had prophesied would come (Deut. 18:15-18) and even wanted to make Him king! 

So far, this seems reasonable. However, after they had time to think and had found Him on another side of the Sea of Galilee, their thinking had radically changed. After Jesus instructed them to believe in Him instead of another free meal:

  • So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:14, 30-31)

Jesus had just performed a great sign! Had they forgotten that they had declared Him the Prophet and wanted to make Him king? Demonstrating their near-complete blindness, they demanded the sign of Moses and his feeding the people with manna from heaven! However, this had been the very sign that Jesus had ALREADY performed in the miraculous feeding of the multitudes!

Then, they degraded Jesus from Prophet-hood to a mere Galilean:

  • They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:42)

Eventually, they rejected Him entirely and wandered off. 

As perplexing as this biblical account might seem, there are many like it highlighting spiritual blindness. They are jarring because, ordinarily, we don't think of our peers, especially the educated ones, as blind. We tend, instead, to regard them as reasonable. 

Therefore, I had been troubled by these many accounts of irremediable evil and blindness, especially in the Psalms. I was convinced that their view of humanity was a little too dismal. Even Jesus' teachings were troubling:

  • “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2)

How could people kill the righteous and believe that they are serving God? Spiritual blindness! And it seems that we are now surrounded by it. Our world leaders continue to call Islam a "religion of peace," while all of the evidence - Koran, Hadiths, history, and nearly everywhere Islam has gone - proclaims otherwise. 

Even now, as Islam rapes and beheads its way across the West, our leaders - the ones elected to protect us - continue to chant the same mantra, a reflection of spiritual blindness.


In There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, Antony Flew concluded that DNA required an intelligent cause:

* “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

* “I now believe there is a God…I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.”

How does the atheist respond? The atheist might admit that there is no natural answer yet available but, eventually, there will be one.

However, there are many problems with this response:

1.     It is merely an expression of faith.

2.     There is no evidence that anything occurs as a result of natural laws or forces. These laws of science might instead be emanating from the mind of God.

3.     This model assumes, without evidence, that there is a conflict between a scientific- and a God- explanation. However, if the elegant, immutable, and universal laws of science originate with God, then science depends on God. In this case, science and God are in partnership. Therefore, every scientific explanation should also tip its hat in God's direction.

4.     Even if the laws of science are natural, each can only account for one limited action. For example, gravity can only attract. It cannot write poetry or fry an egg. It only works according to formula. However, there are many things for which formula cannot account - products of intelligence, like a book. DNA for another.
No wonder the world's leading atheist turned to theism.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


There are many reasons. However, I will just focus on one set of reasons. The only way to explain the growth of the Christian Faith in the very place that the crucifixion took place is by the resurrection. If the resurrection hadn't taken place, no one would have believed:

The Apostles had all abandoned their faith and were on the run. Their faith was only renewed by Jesus' post-resurrection appearances.

Many who hadn't previously believed subsequently came to faith, like Jesus' family. They couldn't possibly have believed after the cross had there not been a great miracle of the resurrection to have changed their mind. 

Many of the religious leadership of Jerusalem came to believe. Had there been evidence contrary to the resurrection, it would have been available to them there in Jerusalem, the very place Jesus had been crucified. They, therefore, would never have believed and risked both life and career.

In fact, thousands came to faith almost immediately there in Jerusalem. There must have been sufficient evidence for them to have done so.

Had there not been a resurrection, there could not have been a Christian Faith. Jesus had suffered the most dishonoring and humiliating death. No one would have wanted to have been associated with it.


If we are to live a vibrant and confident Christian life, theological thinking cannot be a mere option. Rather, we are instructed to continually meditate on Scripture:

* “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:2-3)

When we meditate on the Word, we try to understand it, but we are faced with numerous apparent contradictions that we need to resolve.

Some of these "contradictions" are being thrust upon us by our post-Christian society. For example, in his zeal to flaunt Bible "contradictions," New Testament critic, Bart Ehrman, claims that the Pastoral Epistles present a different means of salvation than Paul's other Epistles:

* For Paul himself, only through the death and resurrection of Jesus can a person be saved. And for the Pastorals? [Ehrman regards the Pastorals as forgeries]. For women, at least, we're told in 1 Timothy 2 that they will "be saved" by bearing children. (Forged, 100)

This is a contradiction, right? Not exactly! Ehrman fails to tell us that "saved" can be used in at least two different ways:

1. Saved from eternal damnation, or
2. Saved from death!

The verse that Ehrman cites as a proof of a contradiction, actually means that a woman bearing a child will be saved from the threat of death, not damnation:

* “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”(1 Timothy 2:13-15)

Her life will be physically "saved" through the ordeal of childbearing. This verse has nothing to do with eternal salvation. How can we be sure that Paul is using definition #2? The context takes us back to Eve's original sin and the curse:

* To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” (Genesis 3:16)

In light of this, 1 Timothy promises that the woman "will be saved [from death] through childbearing." Contradiction resolved!

If we fail to reconcile these apparent contradictions, they will whittle away at our growth, confidence, clarity, and our willingness to be a light. If you have not had a child, this verse might have destroyed your confidence that you indeed belong to Christ. This uncertainty might either give rise to doubts about your salvation or even doubts that the Christian Faith makes any sense at all.

When we do theological thinking, we attempt to resolve the paradoxes in order in understand Scripture in a consistent and harmonious way. Only after we do this, can we live consistently and confidently. We have no other reasonable choice.

Here is another confusion-making verse:

* “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” (I John 3:6 ; NKJV)

This verse is also particularly disturbing. We all sin, and John even admits this (1 John 1:8-10), but here, John warns us that if we do sin, we are not saved! 

How do we react to this? Most of the time, we just shelve our doubts, thinking that they will no longer bother us. However, it doesn't work that way. If we fail to resolve this matter, our doubts will inevitably resurface in other areas. Instead, we have to confront them.

Often, we lack the knowledge and training to do so. This is why God has given the church teachers and pastors:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11-14)

To resolve this problem, we will need a pastor, teacher, or at least a good commentary to inform us that "to sin" in 1 John can also be translated, "to keep on sinning" as the ESV translates it:

* “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6 ESV)

Consequently, it is not sins that damn us, but an unrepentant lifestyle of purposeful sinning. 

This brings our understanding into harmony. What a relief! However, this relief is purchased at the price of seriously meditating on the Word - theology - to resolve these problems. And this brings rest and peace.