Author Archive

Preparing children for life’s apologetic challenges

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by Travis Dickinson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Christian Apologetics
SWBTS

(originally posted at Theology Matters, SWBTS)

Most of us make up our minds on worldview matters when we are relatively young. The process of worldview formation itself begins as early as one starts to form thoughts about the world. When we are young, we absorb (as if by a process of osmosis) categories and concepts from the influencers around us (parents, siblings, friends, school, media, etc.), which constitute our worldview. This is not to say that we cannot change our worldview when we are older, but all the statistics support the notion that doing so happens much more rarely after a particular point in our lives: the college years. So the college years are that pivotal moment when our thoughts on how to understand the world in its most basic categories crystallize.

How are we doing in preparing children for this watershed moment?

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A Day Is a Day Is a Day of Course: Unless That Day Challenges Evolution!

Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla.

by Ronnie Rogers, pastor
Trinity Baptist Church
Norman, Okla.

Part I

Genesis has been a battleground for some time, and today is no different. This is particularly true of Genesis 1-3, which is the account of the creation and the fall. When I first began studying the Scripture, I recognized the importance of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, but in retrospect I did not fully appreciate the magnitude of their significance. As I studied other areas of the Scripture and began learning the breadth and depth of God’s revelation, I saw that without the truthfulness and perspicuity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, every major theme of Scripture lay in jeopardy.

Probably the most hotly debated issue is whether or not the days of Genesis 1 are lunar days or indefinite periods of time or even actual days that are representative of longer periods of time. In other words, did God create the world in six days (closely approximating our days) or is the simple language of Genesis concealing a deeper esoteric meaning only fully revealed to scientists quite apart from the Scripture? Even some evangelical scientists like Hugh Ross, who describes himself as a “progressive creationist,” still accept certain cosmological theories as fact and seek to interpret Genesis through that prism. In doing so, they seem to undermine what is otherwise the clear teaching of Scripture. In this article, I am only addressing the two perspectives mentioned, and I use the term “evolution” to encompass such approaches that undermine interpreting the days in Genesis as a normal day.[1]

The place to start is always the Scripture rather than psychology, sociology, evolution, etc. We should evaluate the teachings of man in light of the unadorned teachings of Scripture rather than seeking to harmonize the Scripture with modern theories about man, God, and His world. I am not against learning from science or other disciplines, but I am against seeking to interpret Scripture in order to harmonize them at the expense of consistent and sound hermeneutics. That is to subjugate the Scripture irreverently to the speculations of man.

Consequently, I intend to write a series of articles that highlight the strengths of interpreting the word “day” in Genesis chapter 1 as a normal lunar day and answers objections to this normal reading of the text. The first three articles give reasons to support a normal reading of the text, and the last article seeks to address some of the verses used to undermine such reading. I address the issue of starlight travel in two articles on my blog entitled Is Starlight Travel Time Incompatible with the Biblical Account of Creation? Part I & II at www.ronniewrogers.com.

My plan is to publish one of the four articles each month. Each article will source the title and date of the previous articles. Consequently, it will be helpful to limit discussions, if possible, to the particular reasons in each article. I hope that they will serve as a helpful tool for considering the strength of interpreting the days of Genesis one as normal days.

I  Following are reasons for assuming that the word “day” in the six days of creation and one day of rest in Genesis 1 and 2 means a normal day.[2]

1  Genesis 1:5 is the first occurrence of the word “day” in the passage, and it is used in two different senses. The word actually defines itself in the second usage. “God called the light day, yôm,[3] and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5).

A  God calls the light portion in distinction from the dark portion of the cycle “day” whereas the darkness He calls “night.” Of course this is common in both Scripture and modern English, and refers to the light portion of a normal day.

B  He then defines the duration of day and night by the phrase “evening and…morning” as “one day.” Consequently, one full day includes an evening and a morning (which is the transition between the light and darkness of a day) which means a normal lunar day.[4]

2  “The two words, ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ are combined with yôm 19 times outside of Genesis 1. Every time, they clearly mean that particular literal part of a 24-hour day, regardless of the literary genre or context. Also, even when ‘morning’ and ‘evening’ occur together without yôm (38 times outside of Genesis 1), it always, without exception, designates a 24-hour day.”[5]

3   Jonathan Sarfati says of the word day, yôm, “whenever …used with a number or the words evening or morning, it can mean only an ordinary day, never a long period of time.”[6]

The question must be asked, if God wanted to convey that He created the world in eons of time, through a long process of evolution, then why did He speak of creation in such a way that uses all of the normal devices and phrases that clearly picture it as happening in six lunar days? If Genesis contained just one characteristic of a week of real days, for example, the chronology of two partial days, or the word day without the word night, or no ordinals or cardinals, or no light before the first day, a partial rotation or….it might seem plausible that we are stretching it to conclude that God meant real days; however, what we find is a cohesive picture of one week of creation and rest that is supported elsewhere in the Scripture; we find the use of cardinals, ordinals, night, day, evening, morning, rhythmic sequence, chronology, distinction between seasons, days and years v.14, sun for day and moon for night v.16—same words for day and night as previous verses just as one would expect if God meant it to mean real days, a real week, and real seasons. There were Hebrew words at God’s disposal which clearly communicate long periods of time.[7]

Further, if the true identity of these words is indiscernible, where can one find certainty about anything else in Genesis? To wit, if God communicates in such an obfuscatory manner here by employing words, terms, and styles that picture real days but actually mean eons of time—whatever is necessary to fit the present theory of time needed to support evolution’s notion of nothing producing everything when coupled with unguided natural selection—then why not employ that same abstruse style elsewhere? For example, did God create man distinctly and uniquely, did man really sin, was there a garden to cultivate, was there a flood, law, redemption, crucifixion….or are all of these subjects of the same hazy nature as Genesis 1, thereby making biblical language mean anything and everything and therefore really nothing?

John MacArthur notes, “Their decision to accept the creation of Adam as literal involves an arbitrary hermeneutical shift at Genesis 1:26-27 and then again at Genesis 2:7. If everything around these verses is handled allegorically or symbolically, it is unjustifiable to take those verses in a literal and historical sense….Their belief in a historical Adam is simply inconsistent with their own exegesis of the rest of the text.”[8]

4  “When modified by a cardinal number (one, two, three, etc.,) or ordinal number (first, second, third, etc.,) as used 359 times in the Old Testament outside Genesis 1, yôm always means a literal day of about 24 hours, or the light portion of the day-night cycle….In particular, in 189 occurrences, a cardinal number with day (usually the plural yamim) denotes a specific duration of time.”[9] This fact stands in stark contrast to the supposed indefinite period of time proposed by the day-age theorists.[10]

_________________________________

[1] Evolution vs. Darwinism: Biologist Jonathan Wells, Ph. D., offers some vital clarifications concerning evolution and Darwinism. He notes, “Evolution means change over time,” “cumulative change through time,” “a change in gene frequencies over generations”….Darwin’s’ phrase “descent with modification” is ok in a limited sense, (from his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006, 1-2); “Even hypotheses that some closely related species (such as finches on the Galapagos Islands) are descended with modification from a common ancestor are not particularly controversial” (Ibid., 3) and of course no one doubts that. “But Charles Darwin claimed far more than any of these things. In the Origin of Species he set out to explain the origin of not just one or a few species, but all species after the first—in short, all the diversity of life on earth. The correct word for this is not evolution, but Darwinism.” (Ibid.)

He then gives three distinguishing characteristics of Darwinism:“(1) All living things are modified descendants of a common ancestor; (2) The principal mechanism of modification has been natural selection acting on undirected variations that originate in DNA mutations; and (3) unguided processes are sufficient to explain all features of living things—so whatever may appear to be design is just an illusion.” (Ibid.) Darwin’s theory specifically “applies only to living things….[even though he] speculated that life may have started in ‘some warm little pond’ but beyond that he had little to say on the subject.” (Ibid., 4; Also see in my book, The Death of Man as Man, under Darwin, where I give examples of statements by him, which either explicitly or implicitly have bearing on the beginning and/or the creator.)

[2] For a full and scholarly handling of the Scripture, science, and objections to Genesis 1 referring to normal days, I recommend the books, “Refuting Compromise” by Jonathan Sarfati and “Did God Use Evolution” by Dr. Werner Gitt; or go to the website http://www.answersingenesis.org/

[3] This is the Hebrew word for day.

[4] The argument that because the sun was not created until the fourth day prohibits these days from speaking of the normal lunar day cycle seems to be without merit. God can and does make light without the sun (Revelation 21:23-24). In Genesis, God created light v.3; in v.14 God institutes a new order via a secondary source for dispensing light. The only necessary requirements for having the day and night cycle is that the earth is rotating and light is coming from one direction.

[5] Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Green Forest, AR.: Master Books, Inc., 2004), 81.

[6] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 67.

[7] Ibid., 327.

[8] John MacArthur, The Battle For the Beginning: The Bible on Creation and the Fall of Adam (USA: W Publishing Group, 2001), 19.

[9] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 74. Also see his handling and my later comments concerning the supposed exceptions to this statement in the fourth article in this series.

[10] The day age theories view each of the six days of Genesis 1 as extended periods of time rather than normal days, which allows for the passage of time inherent in Darwinism.

 

ACP Report: A true indicator?

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by Les Puryear, pastor
Bethany Baptist Church
Gulf, N. Car.

Regarding the latest report of declining baptisms in the SBC, there have been many who have responded to this issue by saying that our churches have been disobedient to the Lord and neglected evangelism. I have read comments to the effect that the SBC needs revival because our baptisms are down. We do need revival in all of our churches so we can bring to salvation as many people as possible. But is the problem of people not receiving Christ as bad as it is reported? Perhaps not.

For example, our church averages 60 in Sunday morning worship. During VBS last year, we led 15 youngsters to Christ. Ten of the 15 conversions were youngsters who went to other Baptist churches or churches in other denominations. We rejoiced that God had saved 15 of the 48 VBS attendees. What a mighty work of God! However, when the work of God through our church was reported in the ACP, we recorded five baptisms. Five of these converts attended our church, therefore, we baptized 5 of them. But did God reach five or 15 during the year? 

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Interview w/Austin Fischer, pt 1

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Austin Fischer is the Teaching Pastor at Vista Community Church in Temple, Texas.
He is a graduate of Truett Seminary at Baylor University.
“Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed” was published in January 2014.
He writes and speaks, and you can follow him online at purpletheology.com.
Buy a copy of his book, HERE.
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1. What attracted you to Calvinism?

As is the case for many young evangelicals, the primary pull of the New Calvinism on me was two-fold. On a pragmatic level, a surprising percentage of the most visible evangelical leaders and preachers are Calvinists, so it’s natural to pick up the theology of the people you are listening to. If you’re a young evangelical, the majority of the people you listen to and read are probably Calvinists, and it rubs off on you.

On a more philosophical level, I liked the certainty I felt Calvinism gave me. I like to compare it to a big mansion with fine lines and beautiful architecture. Once you bite the bullet and step inside, there’s a place for everything; and as someone who grew up dealing with the fallout from postmodernism (skepticism, relativism, nihilism), it’s comforting to believe that nothing happens unless God ordains it. Overall, I think this this is the primary reason for the spike of Calvinism among evangelicals, at least from a sociological/psychological perspective. It is a good theology for the times, offering a sturdy “postmodernism fallout-shelter.”

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Recommendations for next IMB President / Doug Munton, PhD

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by Doug Munton, Ph.D.
Pastor of FBC, O’Fallon, Ill.
Alumnus of Wheaton College & SWBTS
Author of: “
Immersed: 40 Days to Deeper Faith” and two other books.
Visit Pastor Doug’s Amazon page and his
BLOG.

Perhaps the most important decision that will be made in the Southern Baptist Convention for years to come is the choice of the next president of the IMB. I say that, not because he will be so critical to the success of the IMB (generally speaking, we need less of man and more of God in our workings, anyway), but because a poor choice would be disastrous for the SBC.

So, to the IMB’s next president: I suggest you focus on three goals, and start one massive new project.

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