Authority Matters

When you were in high school, did you choose which parent to go ask for certain events or privileges? Which of your authority figures would provide the greatest freedom?

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Determining your authority in matters of worldviews and ultimate truth are not much different today. People tend to choose the authority that would grant them the greatest perceived amount of freedom. The choices seem to be limited to scientism or revelation from God. Can science be the ultimate arbiter of truth? Can science answer all of the questions of matter, energy, laws of logic, morality, mathematics, origins, biology, chemistry…? Scientism falls short in explanatory power in many of those categories

The other option is God’s revelation. The omnipotent Creator has revealed himself through the prophets (scripture) and most recently through Jesus (Hebrews 1). The One who perceives reality perfectly has revealed history in a trustworthy manner such that we can know his revelation to be true. The writers of the old and new testaments (including the recorded words of Jesus) believed the scriptures to be a true recording of history.

Today, many scientists have assumptions and present models that require interpretations of evidence which are in direct conflict with the history revealed by the Creator. When those conflicts arise, which authority determines truth?

Many Christian apologists take the view that scientism is the ultimate authority and should determine how to interpret God’s special revelation. William Craig is such an apologist. In his most recent blog post, Dr. Jason Lisle reveals the inherent contradictions with Christians upholding scientism as the ultimate authority.

Dr. Craig: But YEC as a hermeneutical hypothesis is quite another matter. I want to approach the text with an open mind, despite the terrifying prospect that YEC might actually be correct as a hermeneutical hypothesis. In that case, we would face some very hard choices. Given YEC’s failure as a scientific hypothesis, we should have to conclude that the Bible teaches scientific error and therefore revise our doctrine of inspiration to accommodate this fact. That is a route one would prefer not to take.

Dr. Lisle’s response is critical for us as faithful Christians to understand and preach with regards to authority and the gospel:

What do you do when the Bible clearly teaches something that is at odds with the opinions of the majority of scientists?  Craig’s answer is clear: you accept that the Bible is wrong!  Such an answer is very revealing.  What is the ultimate standard for Craig’s faith?  It cannot be the Bible…Therefore, when there is a conflict between God’s Word and the popular opinions of man, the presuppositional Christian says, “Let God be found true though every man be found a liar!” (Romans 3:4)…From this, we conclude that Craig is strongly motivated to interpret Scripture in a non-exegetical way in order to accommodate his unjustified presupposition of the big bang.  May I humbly suggest the reverse?  I advise Craig (and everyone else) to let God be true, to take His Word as written, in grammatical historical context, and then use God’s Word to discern which of man’s ideas are virtuous, and which are fallacious.  Why not base our thinking on the infallible, and use this to evaluate the fallible?

His closing remarks highlight the critical issue:

Do we interpret the Bible to align with our view of the world, or do we adjust our view of the world to align with the Bible?  How you answer that question will reveal the true standard of your faith.

William Craig seems determined to give his apologetic in defense of a general theism that has the backing of naturalistic scientific assumptions. From this foundation, He feels free to interpret the Bible on the latest interpretation of evidence and cultural preference. What will happen to his apologetic when the latest assumptions are changed to accommodate new interpretations of evidence?

Dr. Lisle encourages Christians to uphold God’s revelation as the authority, and letting that authority control the assumptions held for interpreting evidence.

Scientific interpretations of evidence change over time:

  • Prior to the 1500s, scientists believed and modeled that the earth was the center of the solar system. – Falsified
  • Prior to the 1600s, scientists believed in alchemy and phlogistonFalsified
  • Prior to the 1700s, scientists believed that bloodletting and leeches removed bad blood from sick patients. – Falsified
  • Prior to the 1800s, scientists believed in spontaneous generationFalsified
  • Prior to the 1900s, scientists taught that the universe eternal (steady state theory) – Falsified
  • Prior to the 2000s, scientists taught impending contradictory catastrophes would destroy humanity in the subsequent decades: ice age and unstoppable heat wave. – Falsified

 

Have people misinterpreted the Bible to justify terrible things? Yes, and each time, it is scripture itself that has revealed the false understanding and correction.

Will you put your trust in the ever-changing assumptions that guide scientific interpretations or can we trust the unchanging nature of God’s revelation to guide our thinking and behavior?

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No More Eisegesis

In a debate with astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle, Hugh Ross tries to defend his old universe claims in contradiction to God’s written revelation and the words of Jesus. The moderator, Frank Turek asked Hugh Ross If there was anything that refuted the biblical claims of Jason Lisle. Ross talked about his books. To be fair, Turek asked Dr. Lisle what book would refute Hugh Ross. In one of the best debate responses of all time, Lisle held up the Bible as the book that refutes Hugh Ross. If you watch the linked debate above, this golden moment happens about 1:17:24.

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God has chosen to reveal Himself through his written Word, through creation, and through Jesus. With this starting point, we can conclude that each of these revelations are cohesive in their message.

  • God’s written revelation begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” The rest of Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 tell us that God did his creative work in 6 days. Genesis 1 also tells us seven times that God describes his creation as he describes himself: good. God’s written revelation also describes how mankind’s rebellion brought a curse on all of creation, and this is why we all experience suffering and death. We also see in God’s written word that His plan of redemption through Jesus will defeat death (I Cor 15) and bring all things under the authority of Jesus.
  • God’s revelation in creation is sufficient evidence to bring judgment on those who suppress knowledge of the Creator in their wickedness (Romans 1)
  • God’s revelation in Jesus is the fulfillment of all of His plans throughout history.

Satan has tried since the beginning to discredit God’s plan and pervert the revelations. For years, Hugh Ross and his followers have been using his unbiblical assumptions to interpret scripture. They have an unusual belief that some of the secular interpretations of nature are another book of the Bible. They take the billions of years that secular scientists claim as the age of the universe and shoehorn them into the Bible, where none of that time exists. Dr. Ross’s followers even developed a non-biblical timeline to try to bring the Bible into alignment with secular astronomy’s interpretations of evidence.

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God’s word is clear in its message, even though there are places in the Bible that need interpretation. As Christians, we cannot let one’s own assumptions guide the interpretation of scripture. That’s called eisegesis. The proper interpretation method is to use scripture to interpret scripture. This is consistent and faithful.