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Posts Tagged ‘evolution’


It arrived at the church for free. I’m curious about free books. Sometimes they are important books that the publisher wants to put into the hands of pastors. I’ve gotten a few of those and appreciated them. Sometimes they are fringe-type books that contain some idiosyncratic ideas.

IGospel Reset: Salvation Made Relevant by [Ham, Ken] wasn’t sure which Gospel Reset: Salvation Made Relevant by Ken Ham would be. It was a small book (I read it in three sittings, but it could have been two) and I had just finished a few books. I had a gap in my reading. This fit into that gap without setting me back.

This book isn’t exactly what I had hoped it would be. It did have some important ideas. It also had some idiosyncratic ideas.

Cards on the table time. I am a 6-day young earth creationist. I am therefore not taking issue or colored negatively by Ham’s view of creation, or of Scripture. In some ways, I guess I’m part of his choir. Not fully, because I used to adhere to the Framework Hypothesis and don’t consider the allowable views of creation in my denomination to be heretical though I disagree with them. My friends and co-laborers in the gospel have different views from me. One playful gives me grief for mine. I’m good as long as they hold to a real Adam (and Eve) and a real fall. Anyway …

Image result for paul on mars hillHam starts with the premise, a correct one, that western culture has changed significantly in the last 30 years. This shift should mean that how we evangelize needs to change. He discusses this in terms of an Acts 2 Jewish culture versus and Acts 17 Gentile culture. The first had a (generally) biblical worldview and knowledge of Bible content and terminology. The latter came from a pagan background with no biblical understanding. There was plenty of pre-evangelism that Paul had to do.

Paul didn’t merely have a different style of evangelism but because his audience was very different needed to get to the gospel in a very different way. They knew of gods, not God, and had a different concept of sin and its penalty, what an afterlife was about etc.

I grew up in a time when most people had some basic concepts down. Events from the Bible were common knowledge even if people didn’t go to church. That isn’t the case anymore. So we need to talk about these elementary ideas so that our evangelism is meaningful to the person even if they don’t convert.

It was the why our culture is this way that made the book idiosyncratic. There was mention of the indoctrination in evolution. This is a real struggle and problem. Ironically, I became a Christian, in part, while studying evolution in college. Put into the context of the possibility of extraterrestrial life, this seemed fantastical and required more faith in accidents of nature.

HeImage result for barack obama devotes a chapter to another cause of this shift: Barack Obama. Yes, it was going okay until this point despite the frequent mentions of the Ark he built. While Barack Obama was a pluralist and post-modern, those were both issues long before he was elected President. He’s a result of the problem, not the cause of the problem. I’m no defender of President Obama, but he isn’t the devil and didn’t move us from an Acts 2 culture to an Acts 17 culture.

In terms of the solution, he’s essentially arguing for a more redemptive-historical approach than a systematic theological approach to evangelism. He doesn’t say that since it is taught in those “Greek seminaries” like the one I went to. “Greek seminaries” are those that views on Genesis 1-3 that are in addition to Ham’s (and my) view.

I wish it was fleshed out more. Compatible methods of evangelism would be one focusing on Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation including Two Ways to Live. This connects us to God’s great Story instead of zipping us in at redemption. You could do that in a culture that had general knowledge of the Bible.

Ham uses a form of presuppositional apologetics. I agree with that methodology and theological commitment. It is not just about evangelism but also helpful in theological debate/discussion. For instance, I find that differences of opinion on the proper subjects of baptism come from different assumptions or presuppositions about other subjects like ecclesiology. In apologetics you don’t simply discuss their views, but try to get to the root of their view and challenge that. It inevitably gets to the question authority (just like in theological debate).

At the end it is essentially an advertisement for Answers in Genesis’ curriculum. Other ministries have ads in the back, but not usually pages of book text. The effect is a little different.  Or at least struck me differently.

Keep in mind that I share his views on creation and apologetics! How he expresses them, and seems to discredit other Christians, can lend itself to cultic type thinking. That is the not only are we right, but we’re the only ones who are right kind of thinking. Having firm convictions is good! Placing everyone else on the outside can be dangerous depending on how small you draw that circle.

Image result for spidey-senseFor instance, the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus is a good and biblical circle. To draw the circle around the issue of baptism- only those who have our understanding of baptism are saved- is to draw the circle too tightly. And there are groups who do that- cults like the Church of Christ Boston did.

Ham is holding to what I believe is a biblical view. But at times I wonder if he’s drawing that circle too tight. Is only the “fundamentalist” branch of the PCA “in” or do we recognize those who hold to the other acceptable views of creation “in” too? I’m not sure from this short book, but I have some red flags going up. My spidey-sense is tingling.

What I am afraid of (or concerned about if you prefer that terminology) is that people who affirm where he is right will also affirm the idiosyncractic and begin to disrupt the peace of the church because their understanding of the purity of the church permits no disagreement on how the Creator created.

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Someone sent me a link today for an article in Psychology Today called Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.  It claims to have evidence to support this assertion. To steal a phrase, “that’s mighty bold talk for a one-eyed fat man, I mean soft science!”

What is the evidence offered? First, atheism is on the rise in industrialized nations. It is most prominent in Europe, and nearly non-existent in sub-Sahara Africa.

Atheism is correlated with higher education and affluence. The author sees religion as a way of coping with fear. In those prosperous nations, there is less to fear. This is particularly true as they have developed extensive social welfare programs.

These nations, he notes, are also marked by a decreasing birth rate. This is because fewer people are needed to work the land. He sees a tie between an agrarian economy, birthrates and atheism.  The modern man has “tamed” much of life’s unpredictability, he thinks, and no longer needs God. Or children.

As an “evolutionary psychologist’ the author, Nigel Barber sees this as a good evolution.

So, what is the problem?

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God,… Deuteronomy 8 (ESV)

Approximate 3,400 years ago God predicted this exact pattern in the life of Israel. It is not a new thing. Prosperity produces pride which means that people forget God. This begins with practical atheism and morphs into theoretical atheism. The rise of theoretical atheism in Europe should not surprise the biblically informed person. This has been happening for thousands of years!

But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. 5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness,    in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. Hosea 13 (ESV)

But can atheism replace religion? In the short term, yes. In the long term, no.

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In my study of the issues surrounding Genesis 1 I just completed a book by one of my former professors, Doug Kelly.  His book Creation and Change: Genesis 1:1-2:4 in Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms is not very long (about 200 pages) but wrestles with many of the issues regarding our understanding of the text and interacting with science on them.

Unlike Dr. Bruce Waltke, who merely decided that since he’s not a scientist he shouldn’t really disagree with them, Dr. Kelly put his mind to work and did enormous research.  He did not fall into the trap of thinking “I’m a theologian, not a scientist” therefore they know better.  At this point some may say Dr. Kelly should have taken the same approach.  I, for one, am glad he didn’t.

There should not be this separation of faith and science that often reigns today.  We are trying to understand the same thing- this world we live in.  Dr. Kelly tackled many of the things I’ve pondered in days past.  Only he spent more time thinking them through and researching them.

Long ago some scientists attacked the presuppositions of the creation account.  Sadly, few if any ever evaluated the presuppositions of the scientists or their methods.  What we find here is that process of evaluating their presuppositions and methods.

This book was originally conceived as he taught a SS class at church.  But it is no lightweight book.  It demands much of the reader as you weig the arguments of a variety of positions and think things through.  To assist, each chapter has a Technical and Bibliographical Notes section.  Each also has study or group questions to help process the material.

Cutting to the chase, Kelly ends up defending the traditional view of creation ex nihilo, and a young earth.  He views the Framework Hypothesis as an irrational capitulation to modernism since it gives science too much credit and power to misinterpret parts of the text.  He does provide exegetical reasons to reject their views.  He also rains on Dr. Hugh Ross’ parade at times.

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My first series at Desert Springs will be Foundations of the Faith from Genesis.  I’ll be spending 3 weeks on Genesis 1 (I’ll be moving more quickly through the rest of Genesis).

The first week I’ll be focusing on what it says about God (communicating Frame’s Lordship attributes).  The second week will focus on creation.  And the third will focus on humanity and the creation mandate.

There are many interesting questions to ponder or address from this chapter and these topics.  Here is some of what I’ll be using.

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Here are my study notes on these topics.  The same caveats apply (see Considering the Scriptures).

Chapter IV: Of Creation

50. What is God’s work of creation? God’s work of making all that exists outside of Himself in the span of 6 days ex nihilo.

51. What is meant by the creation of man in God’s image?  We were made to reflect his glory as his representatives.  We shared in his communicable attributes.

52. What was man like in his original state?  Dependent upon God, they were righteous and holy but mutable.

53. Are any of the various theories of evolution compatible with the Biblical doctrine of creation?  Small scale evolution- which occurs within a species- is compatible with the Biblical doctrine of creation.  Large scale evolution – which occurs between species- is incompatible with the Biblical doctrine of creation.

54. Do you believe in creation Ex Nihilo? Yes.

55. Do you believe in special creation of Adam & Eve?  Yes.

56. Do you believe in a historical fall?  Yes.  Paul treated it as a historical fall in Romans 5.

57. What is the purpose of God in creation? To display His glory.

58. What is your view on the nature of the six days of Genesis 1?  24-hour days.

59. Do you believe the Confession teaches a literal six 24-hour day view of creation?  Yes, it clearly does.  As a doctrinal statement it does not use figurative or metaphorical language.

60. In light of God’s wisdom, power and goodness in the original creation, how do you account for the fall?  He also wanted to reveal the glory of His mercy, compassion, justice and wisdom.

 

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Though I grew up in a nominally Catholic family, and went to Mass most Saturdays, I grew up affirming evolution.  Like most boys, I like dinosaurs and cavemen.  We had the Time Life series of books on science, and I spent lots of time reading about the theory of evolution (sadly I’ve engaged in debates with people whether it was a theory, a hypothesis etc. but I don’t care what you call as long as you don’t call it a fact).  In school we watched those videos about the moths in England near the factories and other stories of evolution within a species.  I had no reason to doubt that this was an accurate interpretation of the data and explanation for our existence on this planet.  In fact, I did not doubt it was true.

Off to Boston University (no, not Boston College the more famous Catholic institution down the street that we usually beat in hockey).  I was required to take a lab science.  I hate lab sciences.  I inevitably mess up the experiments.  But just prior to my sophomore year, a class caught my eye.  It was …. Bioastronomy and the Search for Extraterrestial Life.  It was a lab science, but one without experiments!  I was all over that class!

The premise of the course was that the only way to determine if the possibility there was life on other planets was to study how life supposedly came to exist on this planet.  As a result we studied astronomy and evolution to arrive at an equation to determine that possibility.

A liberal blog that decided to make fun of my in this matter among others, figured that the professor didn’t do a very good job.  I think the professor did a fine job communicating the material to the converted.  But something happened to me.  I began to see all the factors that were vital to the existence of life.  At the end of the class there was a 1 in 10 to the 26th power chance of there being life (or something like that).  That is 1 followed by 26 zeroes.  That seemed quite unlikely to me.

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