Can’t Teach an Old Earth Creationist New Tricks

After scanning a few apologetics blogs today, I came away with the impression that many of them are content with the idea that Old Earth Creationism is a legitimate position to take with regards to the authority of God’s Word. This worries me because taking God’s Word as mythological when it is clearly teaching history will deteriorate the foundation of scripture. Once the foundation is mythologized, is it really even necessary anymore. The next thing you know, the Christian church will be ordaining homosexual ministers…ooops.

Unfortunately, none of the bloggers could adequately defend their belief. One of the bloggers simply referred dissidents to Hugh Ross’s website instead of engaging in the arguments. Another thought it was more appropriate to attack the character of young earth creationists. There were also a few that thought it a good idea to accuse young earth creationists of being ridiculous when rejecting the “proven” age of the earth at almost 14 billion years.

But I’ve never heard good hermeneutical arguments for converting to OEC. Below are some questions that need to be dealt with by OECers within the framework of scripture:

  • What was the writer’s intent in Genesis? 
  • Since the chrono-genealogies of Genesis limit the amount time between creation and Abraham to under 3000 years (even with liberal interpretations of missing names), how can OEC account for this time limitation?
  • Where in scripture does it say that there was death of the nephesh before Adam sinned? 
  • What did Jesus mean when in Mark 10:6 “At the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” ?  Since mankind was created at the beginning of creation, according to the Creator, how does this fit with the OEC view that mankind has come into existence at the end of the old earth timeline of billions of years?
  • The YEC view fits nicely with what scripture teaches without contradictions or epicycles. Using only scripture, how could one build a case for OEC at the exclusion of YEC?

This would be a good start for an enterprising OEC apologist to answer. 

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Jesus. Myth or Historically Verifiable

If the only sure things in life are death and taxes, can we be sure that Jesus actually lived on Earth? The Bible says he paid taxes (Matthew 17:24-27), and it goes into graphic detail about his death (Mark 15, John 19), but for some, the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life are not enough. What about the countless personal testimonies from people whose lives have been changed by giving their lives to Jesus? Nope. Still not good enough for some.

So, can a person look at historical documents besides the Bible to see whether Jesus really lived? Is there enough evidence to overcome the obstacle that would keep someone from salvation? **

While I enjoy history, I’m not really a true historian. But I came across this article that should help those interested in researching the historical viability of Jesus to see the Bible as accurate.

Thallus (52AD)
Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who previously tried to explain away the darkness occurring at Jesus’ crucifixion:

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

– See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/

Tacitus (56-120AD)

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)

Phlegon (80-140AD)

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)

Suetonius (69-140AD)

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)

Celsus (175AD)

Josephus (37-101AD)

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)

The Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)

This is not a comprehensive list of the historical sources, but it is a good start for someone interested in checking on the Bible’s veracity.

The followup question on Jesus’ historicity would be, “Well, just because he existed, it doesn’t mean that he is God. How can we know that he was truly the God?”

This question is actually not as difficult as it appears, because Jesus claimed to be God (John 8:58). Since he made the claim to be God, he was either telling the truth, he was a liar, or he was crazy. Those are the only three choices.

  • If he told the truth, then He is deserving of worship. The truth of his claim is verified mostly in the fact of his resurrection and his fulfillment of hundreds of old testament prophecies.
  • If he knew that he was not the eternal Creator God, but he wanted others to believe this, then he was a liar. Liars are not generally regarded as good men, and because of his resurrection, he possesses a great deal of leverage to his divinity claim.
  • Was Jesus crazy, delusional, wacko? Did he unfortunately believe that he was the eternal Creator God? Again, he would not be regarded today as a good teacher if he believed something was was sheer lunacy, and because he backed up his claim with his prophecy-fulfilling miracles and resurrection, it is certain that he was not a lunatic.

Just understanding the historicity of Jesus is not enough. If Jesus truly lived and he really is God, what does that mean for you? You are certainly paying taxes, and you certainly will die. I can’t get you out of the taxes dilemma, but you can have life without end.

UPDATE: This is a good article from the same guy that wrote Cold Case Christianity.

Ignatius and Polycarp were direct students of the Apostle John; Clement was a direct student of the Apostle Paul. These students later became leaders in the early Christian Church and wrote their own letters to local congregations.

 

Even if people disregard the historical veracity of the Bible, Jesus still appears in historical writings.

 

**Disclaimer: The authority of God’s Word is the basis for being able to know anything. In other words, if the God of the Bible is not true then we cannot know anything for certain. Because He has revealed Himself, we have the necessary preconditions for intelligibility. So believing that God is the Creator and his word is true must be the foundation of our faith. If researching historical documents and seeing the evidence of creation helps someone overcome the obstacles of unbelief as a step towards salvation, I’m more than happy to help lay out the case for a historically verifiable account of the Bible.

Yikes!

A new friend relayed a story to me, and I’m very troubled by his response. See, my new friend is a youth minister with the daunting task of living as somewhat of an authority figure on the Bible and the things therein.

The story:

One of the kids from my youth group went off to college to major in some science. He called me one day saying that his geology professor convinced him that the Bible was wrong. His geology professor told him that there was no evidence for a worldwide flood, so that Bible could not be correct. The young college kid was really distressed. So, I told him not to worry. The writer of this passage was probably a shepherd in a pre-literate civilization and he just got that story wrong.

I listened to his story with utter disbelief. What is this young college student now to think about the authority of scripture? When someone next challenges the youth about the prophecies of Daniel, what can he learn from this exchange? Well, Daniel was a slave in a pagan culture, so he surely would have embraced mysticism. His mystical writings about dreams can be ignored. What about the resurrection of Jesus? Since the accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus was written by a crooked sellout accountant, a quitter evangelist, a historian, and a man who saw visions of dragons, can they be trusted? Should we expect them to understand the scientific impossibilities associated with someone coming back to life after being beaten, scourged, crucified, and impaled? That is…if they can be believed in their account at all.

It’s a slippery slope to doubt the source of the Bible. Is the Bible the inspired and inerrant Word of God or it is a collection of pre-literate shepherd’s ramblings? The answer has profound implications for your faith. Our understanding of the veracity of scripture will be a foundation upon which to build our faith. Will that foundation be built with mythological sand or trustworthy granite?

Since God is pre-supposed as the ultimate authority, then the absolute truth of his written revelation to us in the form of the Bible is a necessary precondition for intelligibility. 

Is Evolution Dangerous to Christianity?

More and more I see the walls of Christendom open their gates to evolution in the hopes of gaining intellectual credibility. Is the hope of gaining intellectual credibility worth the risk of apostacy? The well-known antitheist, Richard Dawkins has spawned a new idea called the Clergy Project. The idea is that those clergy who have come to see the “truth of evolution” and no longer retain their faith in the Bible can find support from their apostate peers.

So, as Christians, how should we view the introduction of evolution into our theology? Should we be receptive to pastors who are preaching the accommodation of evolution into their views of Genesis?

It seems like the obvious question: ‘Well, did evolution happen, and if it did, how does it square with the account in Genesis?’ It seems to me that that’s the elephant in the room. And what Orthodox intellectuals would do would be to consider the question so abstractly that the question was left unanswered. When I was teaching Genesis myself in seminary, I was able to perform the same kind of magic trick—a sort of distraction: ‘Well, I’m going to talk over here, and it’s all going to sound very smart, but it’s not actually addressing the question.’

I had a conversation this morning with a Christian friend who felt that evolution is okay and should not be resisted. His only explanation in our short conversation was that I need to read the Bible appropriately. If we had more time to discuss, I’m sure that he is referring only to Genesis 1. I’d like to hear how the evolutionary worldview fits with the understanding of Genesis 3, Genesis 6-9, Genesis 11, Exodus 20:11, Exodus 31:15-17, Matthew 24:35-39, Mark 10:6, Acts 17:26, Romans 5, Romans 6:23, Romans 8, I Corinthians 15, I Peter 3:20, II Peter 3:5-6.

If Genesis 1 needs to be read as mythology (apparently counter to the writer’s intent), what about the other passages? Do they need to be read as mythology too? If we have to read the historical parts as mythology to accommodate the evolutionary paradigm, which parts can we read as the writer intended?

Can Christians safely compromise the historical veracity of the Bible? I contend that in the hopes of achieving intellectual credibility, when the Biblical Creation account is mythologized, Christians have lost both intellectual credibility and biblical credibility.