Blog break

I’ll soon be moving to a new state and a new job, so I won’t be doing much blogging for perhaps a month or more.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Grace and Peace

Earth Observatory goodies

Here are some more great images from NASA’s Earth Observatory:

Glacial Dust off Alaska --- http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=40973
Upsala Glacier, Argentina --- http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=41251
Sediment in the Gulf of Mexico --- http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=41237
Sediment in the Gulf of Mexico --- http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=41237
Athabasca Oil Sands --- http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=40997
Mid-November Colorado Snowstorm --- http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=41305&src=nha (Yippee! We got about 8 inches here in Lakewood; our fourth snowfall of the season already!)

Grace and Peace

Has Science Disproved Christianity?

I highly recommend “Has Science Disproved Christianity?”, a talk given by Dr. Charles Kankelborg at the Evangelical Free Church of Bozeman, Montana earlier this month. Dr. Kankelborg is a professor of physics at Montana State University.

The audio file is available from the Bozeman Evangelical Free Church site (Scroll down to November 1, 2009)

Here are a few of my favorite slides from his PowerPoint presentation:

Grace and Peace

Book Review: Beyond Creation Science (part 2)

BeyondCreationScienceIn part one of my book review of Beyond Creation Science by Timothy Martin and Jeffrey Vaughn, I stated that the authors succeeded admirably in one of their objectives, which was to present a Biblical case against young-Earth creationism, with its 6000-year old Earth and global flood. Their second, and perhaps primary, objective was to present a case for a position regarding eschatology (the doctrines regarding the future) known as “full preterism,” and though this was a key part of their argument against young-Earth creationism, I found their case to be far from convincing.

The basic idea of full preterism is that all of the “end times” prophecies of the Bible, including those in the Old Testament, the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25 and parallel passages in Mark and Luke), and in the book of Revelation, were fulfilled in the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus has already returned and the resurrection has already happened.

I had not previously read any books on full preterism, though I had been exposed to the concept in conversations with a friend. As I read through Beyond Creation Science, however, I saw a number of problems:

  • The basic problem, of course, is that Jesus has not returned. Not in the way that is described in Acts 1:11, which says: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (ESV). The apostles saw Jesus physically ascend to heaven, and we should expect his return to be in the same manner. Martin and Vaughn have a 9-page Scripture index with hundreds of references, but don’t refer to this verse.
  • The full preterists describe Jesus’ second coming as a spiritual, rather than a physical, bodily return. According to full preterism, there were physical events associated with his return, but no Jesus descending bodily from heaven. This isn’t a whole lot different than the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ 1914 return of Jesus, other than the timing.
  • Those who hold to the various futurist eschatologies (e.g. premillenialism or postmillenialism) acknowledge that much of what occurs in the Olivet Discourse  is at least partially fulfilled by the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem, but view this event as a figure of the universal judgment to come. The full preterist position, on the other hand, seems to ignore the possibility of multiple-fulfillment of prophecy. Many Old Testament prophesies about Christ were fulfilled in multiple ways over the centuries. Often there was an immediate fulfilment, and then a complete fulfilment in Christ. Likewise, there is no reason to say that much of what is written in the Olivet Discourse had an immediate fulfilment in the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem, but that there will be an ultimate fulfilment of these prophesies in the future when Christ returns.
  • Most Biblical scholars place the writing of Revelation in the mid-90s, which was after the destruction of Jerusalem. This is based on the testimonies of early church fathers, not long after the apostolic age.
  • Christ’s work for our salvation was complete with his death and resurrection. It did not need the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in order to be complete.
  • The early church did not teach that Christ had already returned. Full preterism is in conflict with the ancient creeds of the church, such as the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds.

Most Evangelical theologians consider full preterism to be less than orthodox. The ESV Study Bible describes preterism (including partial preterism, which is within the historic, orthodox understanding of Christ’s return) as follows:

3. Preterism (from Latin praeteritum, “the thing that is past”) thinks that the fulfillment of most of Revelation’s visions already occurred in the distant past, during the early years of the Christian church. Preterists think these events—either the destruction of Jerusalem or the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, or both—would “soon take place” only from the standpoint of John and the churches of Asia. Some preterists interpret the order of the visions as reflecting the chronological succession of the events they signify, but others recognize the presence of recapitulation (that is, that distinct, successive visions sometimes symbolize the same historical events or forces from complementary perspectives; see Structure and Outline). Full preterism—which insists that every prophecy and promise in the NT was fulfilled by a.d. 70—is not a legitimate evangelical option, for it denies Jesus’ future bodily return, denies the physical resurrection of believers at the end of history, and denies the physical renewal/re-creation of the present heavens and earth (or their replacement by a “new heaven and earth”). However, preterists who (rightly) insist that these events are still future are called “partial preterists.” (p. 2457, Introduction to Revelation, emphasis added)

The authors focus their critiques on dispenational premillenialism, which in in its popular form (Hal Lindsay, The Left Behind series) has often been guilty of wild speculation and date-setting. Perhaps full preterism is an overreaction to nonsense such as 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 88.

While the book made a good case against young-Earth creationism, I was completely unconvinced by the authors’ arguments regarding eschatology. I will stick with the Nicene Creed, which is a summary of what the church has always taught regarding the return of Christ:

On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

Grace and Peace

P.S. Or perhaps author Timothy Martin thinks Christ has already returned because he lives in Montana. Lucky guy.

Around the web — 11/17/09

Sarah Palin — I am a conservative and Republican, but I am no fan of Sarah Palin. I groaned when McCain selected her for his running mate, as it completely took away the “experience” argument against Obama. Rod Dreher (Crunchy Con) has a good review of Going Rogue.

Senators as cartographersNational Geographic has state maps drawn by U.S. Senators (HT: The Map Room).

Warm-blooded dinosaurs — This has been debated for thirty some years, but Earth Magazine reports on further evidence for warm-bloodedness.

More high highs than low lows — Global warming skeptics regularly report whenever there is a record low temperature somewhere. “Thirty-two below in Bismarck, North Dakota; sure seems like global warming…” The National Science Foundation reports that record highs in the U.S. in the 2000s have been twice as common as record lows (HT: Geology News)

Volcanoes galore — Many people are not aware that there is a volcano erupting somewhere all the time. The Volcanism Blog posts updates on many of these.

Grace and Peace

Around the web — 11/10/09

Muslim soldiers — Rod Dreher (Crunchy Con) has a picture that should make us think twice about lumping all Muslim US soldiers together: Nidal Hasan isn’t the only Muslim U.S. soldier

Bioblitz in Yellowstone — The San Diego Union-Tribune reports Scientists look for Yellowstone’s hidden species

“Some 125 scientists and volunteers spent 24 hours canvassing an area in northern Yellowstone during the “bioblitz” — a scientific mad dash to document as many species as possible over the course of a day.”

Lord of the Rings flow chart — Strange Maps shows Flow-Charting the Ring Trilogy, which traces the interactions between the main characters.

lotr-flow

Trinity Western University — I’ll put in a plug for the university my oldest son is attending in Vancouver, BC. From the TWU President’s Blog:

“It was a good week last week when TWU received a long list of A+s and As in the Globe & Mail Report Card on 53 universities across Canada. TWU rejoices in being the only university in Canada to receive an A+ in overall quality of education four years in a row.”

Grace and Peace

Charles Colson on creation care

“We should be contending for truth in every area of life. Not for power or because we are taken with some trendy cause, but humbly to bring glory to God. For this reason, Christians should be the most ardent ecologists. Not because we would rather save spotted owls than cut down trees whose bark provides lifesaving medicine, but because we are mandated to keep the Garden, to ensure that the beauty and grandeur God has reflected in nature is not despoiled. We should care for animals. Not because whales are our brothers, but because animals are part of God’s kingdom over which we are to exercise dominion.” — Charles Colson, The Body, p. 197

HT: Wonder of Creation

Grace and Peace