Why Old Earthism Divides

The debate on the age of the earth has been ongoing for epochs…or at least for 150 years since Charles Lyell worked to “free the science from Moses.” I’ve addressed this particular issue many time before, and while not an issue of salvation, it has great importance for Christians in the area of biblical interpretation. So, while people can still be redeemed and not understand the intricacies of biblical hermeneutics, it is still important for maturing Christians to learn to correctly understand the revelation of God as intended.

hermeneutics

So, if the age of the earth is not an issue of salvation, why does it seem to bring such division? The division comes from how to interpret the Bible. If the Bible is the Word of God, then it should be the epistemic authority. Typically, it is those that are identified as youth earth creationists or biblical creationists that take this view. The Bible is authoritative, and outside sources are subject to what God has revealed. If the Bible is just a collection of loosely-affiliated religious writings then there can be other authorities (culture, scholarly paradigms, other historical documents) that can OVERRULE biblical texts. This is typically how old earth believers tend to view the Bible. They typically say, “We believe the Bible to to true” but then they immediately say, “Genesis needs to be interpreted differently than written because science proves it to be wrong.” See what happens there? They hold interpretations of evidence in authority over scripture, so that the Bible gets re-interpreted when the materialist assumptions of the foundation of the current scholarly paradigm. Below is an example.

Recently, I came across a blog that attempted to build a case that God’s Word can somehow accommodate billions of years and even evolution.

Sadly, this blog post starts out with an equivocation fallacy, and it’s a very common one, so the author, Candice Brown (CB hereafter) is probably just quoting from someone else who uses this particular mantra.

I remained convinced that science and religion were not compatible

The equivocations are that
1) science = old earth or evolution
2) religion = young earth

Bart_Conflate_Science_Evolution

However, science is the systematic study of nature through observation & experiment. So, science is a method, not an entity. Science measures evidence. Evidence is analyzed by people with presuppositions. The combination of presuppositions and science can be used to make conclusions. Someone who has the presupposition that the universe is old will use the tool of science to conclude that the universe is old. How would someone get the assumption that the universe/earth is old? For the last century, all universities have taught that the universe is old because of the work of Lyell, whose stated purpose was to “free the science from Moses”. This quote is a mutiny from the clear teachings of the Bible, which Lyell hated. So, all of today’s professors have been taught that the universe is old. Should someone raise doubts about this, they are figuratively and well as (sometimes) literally expelled from employment and teaching/learning at university.

The forensic scientists at Creation Ministries International, The Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis understand from God’s revelation in the Bible that God intended for the audience to see his handiwork in history, and the scientific studies seen today confirm this in every respect.

CB continues in her blog post with the idea that the Earth appears to be very old. She’s not wrong. It does look to be thousands of years old. That is a REALLY long time, and the maximum time that can be historically verified. Were the earth to be millions of years old (or older), the mountains would, at the very least, be rounded smooth by wind/water erosion. And if the earth were more than 10 million years old, the continents would have been ground into the sea by wind/water erosion based on current erosion rates.

A common response to the erosion problem by old earthers is “Well, you forget about the concept of continental uplift. As continents collide, the continents are being continually recycled up.” There are reasons that show why this does not help the old earther:

  1. This concept has already been factored into the erosion rates
  2. The fossils are still there. Since the rate of continental erosion limits their age to (at most) 10s of millions of years, then the fossils would have long ago been eroded along with the rest of the sedimentary layers if the recycling of uplift has renewed the continents. Since there are still fossils, the continents are young. Old earthism is falsified.

CB also quotes Reasons To Believe (an old earth organization) saying that humans emerged somewhere around 150 thousand years ago. This number is counter to the biblical genealogies in Genesis 5, against the population growth statistics, and against the latest research in genetics, which show an increase in entropy. The latest work in genetics confirms exactly what the Bible revealed in the biblical genealogies that have been repeated in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3. The human genome accumulates hundreds of mutations in each generation that natural selection cannot remove since natural selection works on the phenotype level and not the genetic level. Since humans have not gone extinct, old earthism is falsified.

CB continues with:

In order to dispute this evidence, Christians must make several leaps, such as believing dinosaurs and humans co-existed

The evidence is strongly in favor of humans co-existing with dinosaurs, but most people are unaware of the evidence. The links below are not comprehensive, but provide strong justification for the facts that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in the past.

  1. Dinosaur cave paintings
  2. Brass Dinosaur on Bishop Bell’s tomb
  3. Stegosaurus in Cambodia
  4. While not necessarily man with dinosaur, soft-tissue being found in dinosaur bones falsifies the mantra that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 millions years ago. At most, the bones are only a few thousand years old. The link of this text shows over 100 “ancient” bones that contain soft tissue. Old earthism is falsified again
  5. Historical accounts

MarcoPoloDinosaur

CB goes on to dispute the clear teaching of the days in Genesis to be of the 24-hour variety.

Much like the English word love has five meanings in ancient Greek, the Hebrew word yom יום (translated day in Genesis) has four meanings, one of which indicates not a twenty-four hour period, but an age of time

Biblical creationists are well aware of this meaning of the Hebrew word yom, and there are several reasons why the context of Genesis 1 demands they be literal days, and not figurative ones.

  1. The author intended his audience to see the Genesis days as literal days
  2. The days have boundaries (ordinals and morning/evening)
  3. Other scriptures confirm literal days
  4. God spoke to Abraham using analogies for incredibly large numbers, so it’s not that Hebrews were simple people and could not understand numbers greater than 10 as old earthers would contend. Gen 22:17 “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.” To describe a more consistent way that God would have communicated the many epochs of days, were old earthism to be true, would be for Him to have used language where He already shows His intention to communicate large numbers. But He did not. God instead chose to perform his creative works in 6 days as He said.
  5. There are contexts (plurality, modifying words, suffixes) in Hebrew for yom to mean more than a day, but none of these contexts are present in Genesis 1.
  6. There are 2 Hebrew words (zeman – H2165 and eth H6256) for epochs or long indefinite period of time, BUT THESE WORDS ARE NOT USED IN GENESIS 1

The biggest obstacle that old earthers must overcome to inject their biases into the biblical text is to somehow justify the curses of sin (death, suffering, and thorns) as being present in creation PRIOR to the rebellion of mankind. When they insist on this, it becomes an issue about the gospel. Invariably, when I ask old earthers to justify their position on this, I get either “well, it’s only spiritual death” or “I just interpret the Bible differently than you.”

  1. God declared his creation “very good.” Since creation is very good, there could not have been disease, bloodshed, and harm. Isaiah 11 and 66 confirm this. Harm, disease, and bloodshed prior to sin is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified
  2. In Genesis 3:17-19 God said to Adam “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree…to dust you will return.” The curse of sin resulted in both spiritual and physical death. Both Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 are strong confirmation. So the debate is: Did death bring mankind into the world (old earthism) or did man bring death into the world (YEC). The Bible clearly answers that man’s sin brought death into the world. Death before sin is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified
  3. One of the curses is thorns. Jesus took the crown of thorns upon Himself at the cross to complete taking the curses of sin as our punishment. But if thorns existed prior to mankind as old earthism demands, then what was the curse of sin? There are fossil thorns buried in layers that old earthers “date” as having been made prior to mankind. This view is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified

Biblical interpretation is not an arbitrary function. When people interpret the Bible to mean whatever is popular in culture (homosexuality, old ages, contrary historical documents), then the body of Christ is divided and suffers.

Christians should be united. And the unity should center around God’s revelation in scripture and its fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus confirmed the testimony of Moses (Luke 16) and confirmed the historical nature of Genesis (Mark 10:6). So, God’s people should not be divided about the age of the earth. They should be united around a healthy understanding of the Bible, so that Jesus can be glorified.

We can trust God with our future because we can trust his revelation about the past.

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Please God or Man?

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Living Waters Ministries, The Fool, let me encourage you to take 60 minutes to do so.

 

I’ll admit, I sure don’t like being called an idiot or ignorant for my beliefs, but that should in no way hinder us from sharing the gospel of Jesus. What an amazing ministry that Ray Comfort has for sharing the gospel because of the ridicule he has endured.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. – Philippians 1:15-18

I’ve heard and still hear Christians tell me that it’s important to preach the gospel a certain way or don’t talk about creationism because it’s not well-regarded…all to not seem ridiculous to the lost.

What rubbish! What does the child of the King and joint heir to the eternal kingdom care about the petulant approval of mankind?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10

  1. Repent of your rebellion
  2. Study the Word
  3. Share the good news of abundant life through faith in Jesus!
adventure boy girl idyllic

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

 

Can Your Worldview Withstand Scrutiny?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is my part of an interaction I had with an atheist. They claimed over and over that my claims of revelational epistemology were nonsense. I hope you find encouragement in reading through my comments and that they help you more faithfully share the gospel.

Revelational epistemology is a valid field of philosophy. Philosophers such as Val Til, Bahnsen, White, and Lisle did or are teaching this branch of Christian thinking. So, my statement is not nonsensical…in fact, it is the reason we can actually determine ideas to have rational value in the 1st place.

God revealed Himself in creation. Even Dawkins recognizes this fact even though the idea of design by God is abhorrent to him. Dawkins conjured up the contradictory idea of “bottom up design” in an attempt to explain the clear design of the universe out of philosophical convictions…not scientific ones

God revealed Himself in the Bible. The Bible claims to be the Word of God, & it records many prophecies that, once fulfilled, have verified its authenticity. The Bible also records historical events that forensic scientists have over and over corroborated the truthfulness of the recordings.

God revealed Himself in Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God during his earthly ministry. His claims make him either a liar, a lunatic, or the LORD of glory. Which do you think Him to be? His appearance, life, and resurrection both fulfilled numerous old testament prophecies and verified his claims of divinity. Recognizing these facts and repenting of one’s rebellion against the Creator brings forgiveness and abundant life.

Now, to get to the consistency of one’s WV. For Christians, all of these elements are both internally and externally consistent:

  1. matter – God is outside of time/space and brought all of the cosmos into existence (John 1). Because of the curse of sin, we would expect to see decay, suffering, and death in anticipation of God’s ultimate victory (Isaiah 11)
  2. truth – God claims to be source of truth (John 14:6, Prov 26:5)
  3. laws of logic/reason – Laws of logic are unchanging, abstract, and universal. God provides a foundation for LoL because He is immutable and transcendent
  4. Unchanging physical laws, uniformity of nature, induction – Like laws of logic, these laws are abstract and unchanging…like God
  5. morality/human value – Mankind is created in God’s image so has great value (Gen 1:27, Matt 22:37-40)
  6. Generally reliable senses – Although perverted by the curse of sin, senses still function to glorify God, so Christians would expect them to be generally reliable
  7. Human consciousness – God breathed life into humanity (Gen 1:27)
  8. Human ability to comprehend matter, truth, physical laws, morality – It is expected that humans be able to comprehend the things of the universe and abstractions because by doing this, humans bring glory to God.

You can dislike this line of argumentation, but it is illogical & irrational to claim that my WV lacks internal coherence. It is also externally consistent because it solves the problem of induction, provides a truth anchor and has verification through the Bible and Jesus.

Now as a test, see if your WV can withstand the same scrutiny with internal CONSISTENCY

Lastly, I want to address your statement:

“IF you say something like “X Y and Z are true, therefore I believe that God has revealed himself, ergo these other things are true”, then perhaps a conversation could be had”

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the fundamentals. Since God is my ultimate authority, there is no HIGHER authority by which to compare his revelations. He is my epistemological foundation. But it is because He provides this foundation that we can evaluate things using logic, science, evidence to determine things to correspond to rationality or not.

You very much want the ambiguous term “evidence” to be your epistemological foundation except that to evaluate evidence, you have to justify laws of logic, truth, and morality for the evaluation to make sense. Besides, everyone interprets evidence according to their worldview. So, evidence makes a poor epistemological foundation.

The Bible Endorses Slavery

Internet philosophers love to point out contradictions…especially perceived contradictions in the Bible. The charge that the “Bible endorses slavery” is rampant and definitive. To those making the charge, no further argument is needed, and the case is closed because <outrage font> “slavery is wrong!”

Let’s analyze this claim and tactic. By what absolute standard do YOU declare slavery to be wrong/immoral/evil? For those who claim the worldview of naturalism/materialism/absurdism, what is evil? The priests of naturalism have this to say about human origins:

  • Carl Sagan – “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”
  • Tyson – “We (humans) are not figuratively but literally stardust.”
  • Dawkins – “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
  • Nye – “We are just a speck, on a speck, orbiting a speck, in the corner of a speck, in the middle of nowhere.”

So, if humans are the accidental aggregate of stardust on a speck of a speck in the midst of a blind, pitiless, indifferent universe made only of atoms, how can they justify unchanging, abstract universals like truth, morality, math, laws of logic, and physical laws by which to judge something or someone as evil? It is inconsistent and absurd for the naturalist to make judgments against the Bible as somehow immoral. What does stardust (humans) care about morality? What intrinsic value does stardust have such that it needs to be protected from slavery? How could stardust reason…and with what unchanging absolute tools?

So, if you do not start with the God of scripture, who revealed Himself in creation, in the Bible, and in Jesus – your outrage against ANYTHING God does, commands, or endorses is impotent.

But how do Christians understand the “endorsement of slavery” within the Bible? Is there a positive case to be made that would help Christians to understand the negative perception? Let’s look at scripture and see:

  1. God is eternally Holy. His character defines morality since He created mankind in his image. It is only because the unchanging, transcendent Creator has revealed Himself do we have any justification for declaring anything as “immoral” or “evil.” Adam/Eve were the 1st humans and their rebellion against God’s requirement affected all of creation (Genesis 3.) Since then, every human has followed suit in their rebellion against God, so EVERYONE deserves God’s righteous judgment. This is key: EVERYONE. But God’s plan was to send his only Son, Jesus to die and take the punishment for sin of everyone who repents of their rebellion. So, by his amazing grace, although everyone deserves punishment, some repent and receive mercy and abundant life! So, since everyone is guilty of disobedience against the perfectly holy Creator, slavery is better than what the rebellious actually deserve.
  2. Because everyone has sinned and there are uncontrolled consequences for rebellion against the Creator, mistreating people has become ubiquitous. Since the fallen idea of might-makes-right was recognized as the dominant paradigm in place of being God’s image bearers, slavery had a fertile garden in which to grow. The mightiest, richest, and/or craftiest have always been able to selfishly extort and manipulate other people. Slavery is actually the expected result of the human condition BECAUSE of the sin nature within mankind.
  3. The charge is that the Bible endorses slavery. What is the definition of slavery? In 1960, if someone said they were gay, what would that have meant? They were happy. In the 21st century, saying you’re gay has a completely different connotation. In the 21st century slavery is a polarizing term that means: White people owning/abusing/killing black people. To put this into perspective, let me explain a few things, Americans have received free education from our respective local governments from K-12 grades. We learned reading, writing, arithmetic, history, sociology, physics, music, and biology. With that education, and in a capitalist society, we can use those precious gifts to find employment and support our respective families. This was not the case 3000 years ago when the Bible was written. All over the world, for someone to live and eat they would need to “sell or rent” themselves into indentured servitude (slavery). Those who did not own land or were uneducated had no recourse other than to serve in the military or serve as a laborer. Both the old and new testaments set requirements for masters to treat their workers as valuable humans. The Bible gives clear boundaries and punishments for masters to treat their indentured servants as they themselves would want to be treated.
  4. Those who would kidnap and enslave others involuntarily are specifically condemned: I Timothy 3:10 “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
  5. In Matthew 22 Jesus is recorded to have said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” So whether as a master or an indentured servant, love God and love people.
  6. The Egyptians, who had enslaved the Israelites for over 400 years, were harsh masters…so much so that the Hebrews cried out to God for divine intervention (Ex 3:7). God delivered them from the harsh slavery of the Egyptians, and told the Hebrews very clearly to treat indentured servants with mercy. Deuteronomy 15:12-15 says “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.”
  7. The Apostle Paul wrote an impassioned letter to a fellow Christian, and it is included in the Bible under the name of the recipient, Philemon. Philemon is the master of an escaped indentured servant, Onesimus. Paul exhorts Philemon “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother”
  8. I listened to the audio books of Game of Thrones. I one of the books there were several chapters that described the story of the Dragon queen conquering a land that was defined by slavery. She succeeded in ending slavery in the whole land. When she (as the new queen) began seeing petitioners, one of the former slaves asked her to re-instate slavery because he and many others were now suffering as indigents. He makes the case that as a slave, he was cared for and protected in his master’s house, but when slavery was forcefully ended, it created a new class of homeless and downtrodden. In much the same way, the world prior to Western Culture was plagued with generational slavery. Because many masters were evil and de-humanized their slaves, chattel slavery flourished. But the Christian abolitionist, William Wilberforce helped to re-calibrate the philosophical assumptions that described certain classes of slaves as sub-human to instead show that they were created in God’s image and thus had inherent value. His crusade to end chattel slavery in England swept across Europe and finally into the western hemisphere. Thankfully, today, in this culture, slavery has ended and is unnecessary (for the indigent). Sadly, in other countries, young girls are still forced into sexual slavery because of generational illiteracy and corrupt rulers/elite.

The charge that the Bible is immoral fails for these and other reasons.

Because God has revealed Himself as Holy, unchanging, and transcendent, we can trust his revelation and praise Him in fulfillment of our created purpose. Jesus truly is worthy of all praise!!!

Welcome to the Great Debate

IMG_7019For years Matt Walsh has been an outspoken conservative commentator and blogger on politics and abortion. He has amassed an ardent audience through his multiple media portals. I’ve enjoyed reading  many of his opinions.

With the release of his YouTube video, Why I am Not A Young Earth Creationist, this past week, he took a bold step into an area of theology for which he appears to be completely unprepared.

Walsh brings to the discussion monumental misunderstands of what biblical creation teaches …and not much else. Here are the glaring misunderstandings that he attributes to biblical creationists:

  1. Biblical creationists take every single thing in the bible completely literally. Poetry, parables, exaggerations, symbolism are all held the same as history, doctrine and the words of Jesus. 
    1. This is a ridiculous view. Biblical creationists take the genre into consideration when reading God’s revealed word. Walsh’s opening point is very polemic and unhelpful to the conversation. Genesis is written as history. The author’s intent was to to convey to his readers that the events in Genesis are part of the history of God’s interactions with humanity and specifically the origins of the Hebrew people. The rest of the old testament and dozens of times in the new testament, Genesis is quoted as having actually happened. Genesis regarded by Moses, the other old testament authors and the new testament authors as history. Should Walsh want to believe that part of Genesis was metaphor and part history, where does this switch happen? 
  2. Biblical creationists demand that Genesis be a scientific encyclopedia that explains all fields of science in the greatest depth.
    1. Again, this polemic misrepresentation adds nothing to the discussion. Nothing in scripture is intended to be a scientific treatise, but where scripture covers something scientific, it’s never incorrect. The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 is not concerned with teaching humanity about profound scientific principles. It is God’s revelation of his miraculous acts of creation. Since creation was supernatural acts involving his supreme power, why do old earthers, like Walsh, expect naturalistic explanations for these miracles but not the other miracles in the Bible? Virgin birth? Resurrection from the dead? These things are scientifically impossible. Why do old earthers specifically segregate the miracle of creation as impossible? 
  3. Biblical creationists demand that the word day means 24 hours every single time it is used throughout scripture without exception. According to Walsh, a day can be measured on earth, Pluto, or Saturn because God was not clear in his revelation, so he can take whatever frame of reference he wants a day to be. Walsh: “We have no reasons at all to assume that the days in Genesis 1 were 24 hours long.”
    1. Biblical creationists agree that the Hebrew word “yom” can be translated in many ways. The key to understanding what it means in each passage, and specifically Genesis 1 is called exegesis. Look at the context and where scripture talks about this event in other places to see what the word means here. Each of the days of Genesis 1 are denoted with an ordinal (THE 1st day, THE 2nd day, THE 3rd day…), and each of the days is bounded by evening and morning. Looking at Exodus 20 (which is a passage that NO ONE says is poetry), God says your weeks should be like my creation week. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…For in 6 days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” So, by exegesis we have 100% verification that God intended his people to work for six 24-hour days and rest on one 24 hour day…just like He did during the creation week. So if old earthers want to change the definition of a day in this context they have to overcome the direct command from God about the course of a week and the ordinals and familiar boundaries of evening/morning.
  4. Biblical creationists hate science and they think that all scientists in all fields of science are lying about their conclusions of long ages. 
    1. Again, more straw-man arguments that are not true. Most branches of science were started and developed by biblical creationists. There are axioms and assumptions in all scientific research. Biblical creationists forsake the naturalistic assumptions that the modern paradigm relies upon for their old earthism. If Walsh wants to accommodate old earth cosmology because the vast majority of scientists believe it, he is bound to accept the biological origins of humanity as well, which is also untenable from a biblical perspective.

Walsh starts his video with this friendly sounding quote: “We should be able to discuss an important and interesting issue without getting angry and without getting offended.”

But the more you watch his video, he is not interested in rational discussion. He is clearly not trying to be persuasive but is instead purposefully mischaracterizing those with whom he disagrees as morons.

Walsh gets his arguments mixed up at one point by saying there are days prior to there being an earth…except the first sentence in the Bible says that God created the earth at the beginning. He then misunderstands the definition of a day saying that there must be a light source or days mean nothing. This is not true. The definition of a day is 1 rotation of the earth on its axis. No light source necessary. But for his old earth position, he has a HUGE shortcoming in his foundations since a year is defined as the time is takes the earth to revolve around the sun. What are the units of time prior to the sun and earth coalescing from primordial space dust and how is that calibrated? They would say it’s 9 billion years, but what is a year prior to the calibration of a year existing?

Watching his video once was bad enough, but going back through it again to highlight his misunderstandings is nearly unbearable. So, while there are more strawmen arguments and lazy analysis of biblical creation, it is sufficient to say that Walsh could use a serious re-adjustment of his perspective regarding God’s revelation in Genesis. Our understanding of science is based upon God’s revelation from the Bible; not the other way around.

Should he want to do his due diligence (and he doesn’t care for Ken Ham) there’s more than enough information to learn what real biblical creationists teach from these resources:

  1. Bible
  2. ApoloJedi.com
  3. Creation.com
  4. crev.info
  5. TheCreationClub.com
  6. BiblicalScienceInstitute.com
  7. Icr.org

Book Review : Fight – A Christian Case for NonViolence

Fight

In today’s culture that includes all view from the pendulum swing of gun-free extremism to open-carry extremism, how relevant is a book like this? My younger brother introduced me to Preston Sprinkle’s Fight – The Christian Case for Non Violence, and I was very skeptical thinking, “It’s probably just liberal politics with some holy water poured on it to make it sound Christian.”

I was both wrong and right. Let me start with my conclusion: This book is worth reading because of how Christians are influenced too much by what the culture is teaching rather than influencing culture by what the Bible teaches.

Forward

Is there a more lazy condemnation of something distasteful than to say, “Well, Hitler did xxxxxx?” Even though, he only mentions Hitler in passing, the context of that paragraph suddenly get swallowed in that black hole because of the strong emotions that come with his mere mention.

Some strong points from the forward:

The cure to bad theology is not “no theology” – but good theology

Definitely, and I found this book contained both good and bad theology

But in the end he reminds us that we are not called to follow Augustine…we are called to follow Christ.

This is so relevant to our culture because there is a strong temptation to latch onto some bumper sticker proverb or clever tweet from a famous pastor as though it were doctrine.

Chapter 1

One of the themes that runs throughout that book is the way that Christians have conflated the Kingdom of God with the Kingdom of the United States of America. It is a heresy that has infiltrated the church, and has diluted the power and truth of the gospel. If the reader gets nothing else from this book, Christians should live as citizens of the Kingdom of God with more passion than as citizens of their mortal land.

One of the first opportunities for recognizing this dichotomy is when he asks, “Should Christians celebrate the death of a terrorist or suicide bomber?” Our patriotism shouts victoriously that it’s good that this terrorist is dead, but as citizens of the eternal Kingdom, we recognize that any terrorist is suffering for eternity because of his sin. Death is the enemy (I Cor 15). What a sad state of affairs that we don’t weep for how sin has perverted Creation and instead cheer for the death of America’s enemies.

One of my favorite paragraphs from the whole book:

All the more need to open God’s Word to see what He thinks about these issues…But in order to address these issues from a Christian perspective, we need to dig into scripture to see what God does say about them. So often in heated debates, the Bible is rarely consulted. Or if it is, it’s done haphazardly or with blatant bias. Oftentimes we start with a view we are convinced is right; then we go to Scripture to find verses that support it.

More than anything I got from reading this book was the conviction that my Americanism influenced my view about guns and violence rather than letting God’s divine Word shape my thinking.

Sprinkle brings to light some horrific heretical teachings by famous Christian teachers:

Hal Lindsey, located the moral demise if America in the “crisis of military weakness.” He believed that “the Bible supports building a powerful military force…the Bible is telling the US to become strong again” and “to use our vast and superior technology to create the world’s strongest military power.” Jerry Falwell…called America back to biblical values, which included patriotism and a strong military to ward off the threat of atheistic communism…Wayne Grudem saw America’s “superior military weaponry” as “a good thing for the world.” After all, “genuine peace in the world comes through the strength of the United States.”

Grudem’s final comment is so disheartening that Christian leaders would so dishonor the Prince of Peace by elevating the USA to His rightful throne and say that the USA provides genuine peace through superior firepower.

PeaceThroughFirepower

As a youth, I loved this phrase, and it is easy to rally behind! But that again is the patriotism deciding my doctrine rather than God’s Word.

Some questions (though not specifically in the book) were brought to mind for me in reading ch 1:

  • Has Americanism invaded the church?
  • Is religious freedom God’s intention?
  • Is militarism the key to religious freedom and a hope for peace?

 

Chapters 2-5

Sprinkle spends most of these chapters building his case for non-violence. Sadly, I found most of these chapters as scriptures taken out of context, a huge stretching of the text to make a point, or repetitive frustration with militarism.

Sprinkle introduces a strange resolution to the Israelite’s destruction of the Canaanites (and other OT sins).

God both accommodates to and improves upon the ethical systems of the surrounding nations. p49

Accommodating sounds very much like God compromises his holiness since the Hebrews are unable to obey perfectly. It’s like saying, “Well, at least the Hebrews weren’t as bad as the surrounding nations. They did some things better, so God must have changed his standards to accommodate their behavior.” This is NOT God’s plan, so to say this (more than once in these chapters), Sprinkle seems not understand God’s purpose to redeem Creation from the curse of sin…completely.

But in light of other ancient war accounts, the Old Testament looks much less gruesome. p65

Compared to other nations, Israel did not glorify violence. p68

Here it is again – this idea of “At least it’s better than others.” God is not into hierarchical sins and above a certain threshold is unacceptable.

The section heading on page 68 is “Should America follow Israel’s war policy?” I mentioned earlier that patriotism should not be intertwined with Christianity. In this section Sprinkle explicitly states a powerful truth that Christians today need to embrace:

But America is not God’s nation. Let me be clear: I do not think that America should use the Bible to construct or defend its military program, because America is not the new Israel, nor is it a Christian nation…God’s people should never celebrate military power, and we certainly shouldn’t find our hope and security in it.

There are lots of Christians in the USA, and a valid case can be made that some Christian principles were employed by many Christian founding fathers to create this nation, but it is not (as a nation) God’s chosen people.

In my opinion Ch 4 can be skipped completely, because he builds a strong case that American Christians today should not wipe out Canaanites as the Israelites did (either hyperbolically or otherwise.) We agree.

In chapter 5 he makes the strange case that Israel was not to possess “advanced weaponry.” So, for the time, horses were seen as advanced weaponry, and Israel (under Solomon) sinned by adding advanced weaponry (horses) to his army. What? And even though he specifically said earlier that the USA is not God’s nation, Sprinkle condemns the USA’s acquisition of advanced weaponry today as against God’s commands. So, why would that matter if the USA is not God’s nation? This contradiction is peppered throughout the book.

I can very much appreciate the sentiment in chapter 6 that Christians are called to be citizens of the eternal Kingdom rather than subject to the thoughts and desires of the world. Jesus confessed before Pilate “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.” Christians should evaluate their involvement into the affairs of the world’s kingdoms the way Jesus did.

[SPOILER: Skip to the next paragraph if you want to appreciate the surprise] On p.130, Sprinkle shares a powerful “gotcha” moment in which he describes a young man named, Martin, who served his country with honor during WW2. Martin said, “When this great nation was formed, God gave Christianity as its soul, and it is from these Christian roots that it has grown and developed.” Martin Niemoller served in the German army out of his allegiance to his earthly nation. It is a good reminder that when we ally ourselves with the world, we will inevitably not be serving the Kingdom of God.

I found myself in agreement with most of his writing in chapters 7 and 8. Love your enemies and Good Citizens. In Chapters 9 and 10, Sprinkle again builds a tired case that just because there is violence in the Bible (Revelation in this case), that Christians should not seek out violent means. Perhaps, it is because I do not travel in specific circles, but I’ve not heard Christian leaders make the case that because there is bloodshed prophesied in Revelation that Christians can kill and maim unbelievers, so I’m in agreement with Sprinkle…the chapters just seemed to drag on as unneeded to make his case.

Chapter 11 discusses what is perhaps the most asked question with regards to Christian violence. “What should Christians do when an attacker comes into your home?” Sprinkle does not answer conclusively, but the questions and concepts covered are very valuable in answering this question for yourself. When the Christian culture says, “Blast anyone who comes into your home” can we as Christians not recognize that when the people that Jesus loved most were faced with persecution/death, He chose not to act in violence?

success isn’t the highest goal. Faithfulness is. So what would be the most faithful Christlike response to the attacker at the door?

Pray for him. I’m living in a world ruled by Jesus.

We love our enemies because we were once God’s enemies. We were the attacker at the door who crucified His Son, and He didn’t shoot us. And even if we killed our enemy as the lesser of two evils, it’s still a horrific incident. We don’t cherish the death of our enemies.

It’s true that we were once enemies of God, but we do not love our enemies because we were once enemies. We love our enemies because Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” No other reason is needed.

There are other questions and objections answered in Sprinkle’s book, but my blog post is about 10X longer than I like to write, so I’ll end it here with an endorsement.

Christians should read this book – not because we have to agree with everything written in it. This book challenged my thinking…to break out of the cultural comfort of patriotic compromising of God’s Word. Today’s Christians have inherited/developed a strong sense of self defense and justice in violent retribution. More than anything else, we should strive to honor the King and obey him with faithfulness. If faithful obedience means sacrificing our Constitutionally-protected right to self-defense, obedience is the most important.

 

YoctoNumeroPhobia

It’s not a real word, but I’m going to construct it and use it as:

The abnormal fear of the smallest defined number.

Stephen Meyers lays out a case that makes it irrational to believe in evolution. The whole video is worth watching, but the link starts at minute 24, when his talk begins to destroy the foundation of evolution.

If you know and understand math, you’ll agree. I’ll leave alone (for now) that without a Christian worldview, one cannot even account for the invariant, absolute, and universal laws like mathematics. At about minute 30 he gets into the math itself:

 For every 12 letters (in the English language) that are functional/meaningful there are 100,000,000,000,000 other ways to arrange those same characters…that are non-functional/meaningful. The very same things are true in the DNA protein case. The ratio to non-functional sequences to functional sequences is even more prohibitively small than in the case of the English language.

For a small protein, the chances of getting a functional sequence without guidance is 1 over 10 ^ 77. This is a number so small that it does not even warrant a definition with latin prefixes. The real problem is much worse for evolutionists who insist that natural selection acting on random mutations has generated all functional code. Since the chances of getting a non-functional protein are so much greater than all of the possible chances (all of the creatures 10 ^ 40) over the perceived available amount of time (3.5 X 10 ^ 9), logic dictates that we declare the evolutionary theory as failed.

Dr. Meyer built his case to answer theistic evolutionists, but the case is even more powerful when used against naturalists, who demand that there is no Creator. So fearful are evolutionists of these arguments that they choose not to even engage with Meyer’s arguments. They resort instead to strawman, ad hominem, and genetic fallacy arguments. When exposed to the near infinitely small chances that their worldview kingdoms have any substance, they become prey to YoctoNumeroPhobia. It is an irrational fear and is solvable by trusting the Creator in what He has revealed. It makes sense rationally (to trust One with infinite knowledge and love), logically (science supports the conclusion) and morally (God provides forgiveness for sin.)

I do want to cover a few comments that Meyer only minimally addresses in his talk. Meyers is not a biblical creationist, but I’m pretty sure that can be solved if he were to read my posts on this blog.

Many think they must adopt an evolutionary understanding of biological origins despite its substantial cost to the coherence of basic Christian doctrine.

I could not agree more!!!! The gospel of Jesus Christ is clear!

  • The Creator made a universe that was very good
  • God declared that life was to reproduce according to its kind.
  • Adam and Eve rebelled and brought death, bloodshed, pain, and the curse of sin into creation. Genesis 3. Romans 5. Romans 8. I Cor 15
  • To bring glory to Himself, God’s plan to offer a substitute to take on God’s wrath in the place of sinful humans was made manifest in Jesus. Jesus took the curse of sin upon himself, which allowed God’s children to be in relationship to him.
  • Jesus rose from the dead.

Is evolutionary theory so well established that it makes it compulsory to read scripture in a completely different way.

It is so important that people not take naturalistic interpretations to scripture. So many heresies arise from trying to dilute the teachings of God’s revelation with cultural proclivities.

So, don’t let YoctoNumeroPhobia crush your soul.

God’s Word can be trusted in what He has revealed about history, so we can trust Him with our future! He is trustworthy!!!