Around the web 4/14/2013 — Death of a sinner, fornication, horsing around, and more

DEATH OF A SAVED SINNER — From Christianity Today: Died: Brennan Manning, Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel. Manning was a sinner, having gone through alcoholism and  divorce, among other things. Manning was very open about his failures, which is part of what made his books so worthwhile.

“Don’t think I’m a saint. I’m a ragamuffin, you’re a ragamuffin, and God loves us anyway.” In his bestseller The Ragamuffin Gospel (Multnomah, 1990), he writes that “justification by grace through faith means that I know myself accepted by God as I am.” He explains, “Genuine self-acceptance is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind games, or pop psychology. It is an act of faith in the grace of God alone.”

Some quotes from his writings:

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” — The Ragamuffin Gospel

“Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself. ” — The Wisdom of Tenderness

“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation.” — The Furious Longing of God

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” — Abba’s Child

I’m a sinner too, so I can relate. Saved by grace alone:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8,9 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16 NIV

SEXUAL SIN INHIBITS REVIVAL — In Who Are You Sleeping With? My Conversation With Timothy Keller, Christ and Pop Culture quotes pastor and author Timothy Keller, who puts his finger on a significant obstacle to revival in our churches:

Drawing on his experience in urban, culture-shaping Manhattan, Keller responded that one of the biggest obstacles to repentance for revival in the Church is the basic fact that almost all singles outside the Church and a majority inside the Church are sleeping with each other. In other words, good old-fashioned fornication.

——————————————–

 Keller says we need to present an alternative view, a view of sex that is beautiful, but different than the one offered in the dominant cultural narratives; affirming of the goodness of sex, but presenting it within a God-intended framework that imbues it with meaning and value.

I suspect the problem is much broader than fornication; it is the entire package of anything-goes sexuality that pervades our culture—pornography, easy divorce, living together, promiscuity, outside-of-marriage childbearing, abortion, homosexuality, polygamy, incest, sexualized entertainment—much of which also infects the church.

HT: The Aquila Report

JUST HORSING AROUND — Naturalis Historia has a series on the evolving views of young-Earth creationists regarding horse evolution:

A Horse is a Horse, Unless of Course it Isn’t a Horse

When is a Horse a Horse? The Species Definition Problem

In Search of the Equine Common Ancestor – Horse Series Part III

It seems maybe horses evolved after all. Very quickly, according to some YECs.

WHO’S KIDS ARE ALREADY GONE? — Genesis and Geology has a review of Ken Ham’s book Already Gone, in which the Answers in Genesis president (along with coauthor Britt Beemer) gives reasons why many of our kids leave the church (evolution and millions of years) and his solution (more young-Earth creationism).

From the review:

The book’s most serious flaw is methodological: common sense tells us that it is difficult for people who have already made up their minds about an issue to carry out objective surveys (Beemer is anything but impartial). Evangelicals have been complaining for years about how easy it is for the media to distort data. Perhaps we should practice what we preach? Furthermore, researchers should publish all of their survey data (that’s standard practice). Ham & Beemer have not done this, and unfortunately much of the data they did publish seems to contradict some their conclusions (e.g., most of the dropouts seem to agree with AiG on most Creation/evolution issues, but they dropped out anyway; when respondents said they were turned off by hypocrisy in the church, Ham conveniently interprets that to mean they were offended by pastors and teachers who “compromised” on Genesis.

CHATTING ABOUT THE CHILL — Answers in Genesis will be having a live chat on Facebook on Tuesday regarding their latest Answers Magazine ice age article, which I critiqued last week. I’ll drop in on the chat if I have the chance.

Answers-ice-age-facebook

ABIOTIC OIL — I’ve made a few comments on Jay Wile’s blog about the origin of hydrocarbons in Earth’s crust. While some methane does come from the mantle or deep crust, and there are a few oil and gas deposits in basement rocks, I take the position that most oil and gas is indeed derived from organic material in sedimentary basins.

GeoScriptures — Genesis 3:15 — The Protoevangelium

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
     and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
     and you shall bruise his heel.” — Genesis 3:15 ESV

The Bible, despite containing passages and books with a great diversity of cultural backgrounds, literary genres, authors, and topics, has several key themes that run throughout its pages, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation. One of these themes is that of salvation: that though humans are sinful and in rebellion against their Creator, God has had a plan since the beginning (actually from before the beginning) to rescue and save us out of our sin and its consequences. Right now, we are somewhere past the middle of this process, which began in Genesis, culminated in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and will have its ultimate consummation when Christ wraps things up upon his return.

The first of many mentions in the Old Testament of God’s promise of a Messiah (an “annointed one” who would save God’s people from their sins) is in Genesis 3:15, which is referred to by Biblical scholars as the Protoevangelium, from the Latin for “first gospel.” After Adam and Eve fell into sin, God addressed the serpent, who is Satan (Rev 12:9) and pronounced his judgment of doom. Satan may have had a temporary victory in causing the first pair to succumb to temptation, but God would send an offspring of Eve who would crush Satan’s head, though Satan might cause a wound to this offspring in the fight.

This offspring (or more literally, “seed”) of Eve is the Lord Jesus Christ. At the crucifixion of Christ, Satan bruised Christ’s heel in a figurative sense, and may have once again thought he had won a great victory. That triumph, however, was again only temporary, as Jesus rose from the dead and bruised Satan’s head, which is a far more serious blow than having one’s heel bruised. Christ’s death secured forgiveness of sins for those who trust in Christ, and his resurrection gave us victory over our final enemy, which is death (Heb 2:14).

The Protoevangelium was an announcement of an individual offspring of Adam and Eve who would destroy the work of the devil. But there is another sense in which we as individuals are either offspring of God, or offspring of Satan. Jesus (in John 8:31-59) got into a discussion (if that is the right word) with a group of Jews who were in opposition to him. They referred to themselves as being children of God (v. 41), but Christ turned and said,

“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” — John 8:42-44

There are offspring of the serpent, who reject Christ, and children of God (John 1:12), who have put their faith in Christ. Which are you?

Grace and Peace

Best of the GeoChristian — updated

I have updated the “Best of the GeoChristian” link up at the top of the page.

There is a good variety: posts on Christianity, geology, creationism, the environment, atheism, apologetics, and more.

I would be interested to hear if there is a post that has been especially meaningful or helpful to you, or one that you think is the best of the best of The GeoChristian.

Thanks for reading,

Grace and Peace

I do have an advocate before the Father

I was visiting with a young-Earth creationist (a dear brother in Christ whom I did not know) during a break at the Nathaniel Jeanson presentation earlier this month. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that there are a good number of prominent, conservative Evangelical scholars and pastors who advocate acceptance of an old Earth, and who view this as perfectly compatible with Genesis. I don’t remember exactly who I listed, but probably men like J.I. Packer, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer, and John Piper. These Bible teachers—all of whom hold to the inerrancy of the Scriptures—did not come to an old-Earth interpretation because they were compromisers or friends of the world, but because they looked closely at what the Word actually says and doesn’t say on the topic, and came to the conclusion that a 6000-year old Earth is simply not required.

This brother in Christ told me that I will not have any of these men standing next to me when I stand before God in the judgement; that I would have to give an account to God for my false teaching on the age of the Earth. My response was that if I am wrong on this topic, I have someone even better that Packer, Spurgeon, Schaeffer, or Piper who will stand next to me before the Father, and that is Jesus Christ.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 NIV84)

I have no doubt that I don’t have all of my doctrines correct. I feel rather strongly about some doctrines—the Trinity, substitutionary atonement, the solas of the Reformation—but probably misunderstand some of the nuances of these core teachings of Christianity. There are a number of secondary doctrinal issues that I could be wrong on as well, such as in the areas of eschatology, ecclesiology, and pneumatology. But, praise be to God, Jesus died for my sin of false doctrine as well as for my sins of lust, greed, selfishness, indifference, and so forth. If not, I’m sunk. And so, most likely, are you.

Does this mean I think it doesn’t matter whether I get my doctrine correct? Not at all.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15 ESV)

Could I be wrong about what the Bible says about the age of the Earth? I really do believe the Bible is ambiguous on the topic, but I acknowledge that I could be mistaken.

Could young-Earth creationists be wrong about what the Bible says about the age of the Earth? I think they are guilty of hyper-literalism (e.g. thinking Genesis 3 is a story of how snakes lost their legs rather than being a story about Satan grovelling in the dust). I think they are guilty of reading things into the text that are not there, such as there being no animal death before Adam’s sin, or that Noah’s flood was global and created most of the geological record. Those things are not in the Bible. So the answer is “yes,” they certainly could be mistaken.

If I am wrong about the age of the Earth, some would say I will lose a reward in eternity. This is one of those doctrinal areas that I don’t understand; there are plenty of passages that seem to teach rewards for the good works of believers, but can we really claim any credit for our good works when whatever good we do is by the grace of God just as much our justification? In either case—rewards or equality—I will watch my life and doctrine closely as best as I can. I won’t get either of these perfect, but I will press ahead.

But the main point is that I will be with God forever—in a state of eternal joy—because of the finished and complete work of Christ.

Of course some YECs would say I won’t be in heaven at all, but those YECs have a much bigger problem with their understanding of the Gospel than whatever they think my age of the Earth problem is.

Grace and Peace

Jesus is for geologists (and other scientists)

I’ve always known that Jesus is for geologists, as well as for biologists, chemists, physicists, archeologists, astronomers, and all other sorts of scientists.

There are, of course, many Christians who are scientists, and many scientists who are Christians. As a graduate student in geology, I found rich fellowship with a half dozen Christian geologists-in-training, and there was a Christian on the faculty of the department as well.

Davis Young, a Christian geology professor (retired), and author of The Bible, Rocks and Time, Christianity and the Age of the Earth, and Mind over Magma: the Story of Igneous Petrology, has written what he considers to be his most important book: Good News for Science: Why Scientific Minds Need God.

The summary on Barnes & Noble reads:

Bridging the fields of natural science and religion, Good News for Science: Why Scientific Minds Need God invites members of the professional scientific community, graduate, undergraduate, and high school science students, science teachers, and members of the general public who are interested in the natural sciences to embrace the Christian faith personally. Employing the theme of good news, this book challenges readers to ponder the question of life after death as a gateway to the overall claim that Christianity, at its best and most consistent, bears good news for both science and the scientist. On the one hand, Christianity, far from being antithetical to science, supplies the rational foundation that makes the scientific enterprise possible. On the other hand, the central message of Christianity brings a firm hope to scientists as individual persons in meeting their deepest needs and desires for genuine significance, purpose, goodness, forgiveness, justice, and relationship with the Creator. In presenting his case, the author eschews pseudo-science and treats with great respect the discoveries of contemporary mainstream natural science, including an ancient universe and Earth, biological evolution, and the standard model of cosmology. The text adopts an informal, personal, conversational style. Good News for Science will be of interest not only to the general scientific community but also to Christians who are seeking a resource to use in presenting Christian faith to scientifically knowledgeable individuals.

As the review says, this would be a great book for

  • Professional scientists
  • Students of science, at either the undergraduate or graduate levels
  • High school teachers and students
  • Members of the general public.

Buy this book at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Grace and Peace

Ken Ham and I are in complete agreement

I believe the Earth is about 4.6 billion years old, and that the Bible doesn’t say much one way or the other about biological evolution. I believe that young-Earth creationism is neither necessary Biblically nor valid scientifically.

Ken Ham is president of Answers in Genesis, and believes the Bible requires an approximately 6000-year old Earth and that most fossils were deposited during Noah’s flood. He believes that to accept an old Earth is a compromise of Biblical truth.

But we are in agreement on something that is far more important than the age of the Earth or the extent of Noah’s flood, and that is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ken Ham had a blog post yesterday (A Warning to the Contemporary Church) where he responded to a Christian critic whose testimony of how he came to be “born again” was rather ambiguous. Ham writes:

To me this kind of testimony is a warning to the contemporary church, as it appears to me this testimony involves some sort of experience or feelings. He is trying to come to God through experience, but what is missing? Not one verse of Scripture was quoted—not one.  What also was missing were any mention of words like these: sin, repentance, salvation,  faith, Jesus—the Son of God, grace, and belief.

There is no mention of Jesus—no doctrine of humanity (that man is fallen), and no doctrine of the Son (we can only come to God the Father through the Son).

…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved  (Romans 10:9)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Romans 5:17)

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  (John 3:36)

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”  (John 5:39-40)

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

The gospel isn’t “God gave me peace when I listened to a song.” It is not a warm, fuzzy feeling.

The gospel is the good news that Christ died on the cross for our sins and that those who trust in Christ have a new relationship with God and will have eternal life in and with him for all eternity.

I don’t know where this critic, a professor of New Testament Language and Literature at a liberal arts college, stands before God; only God knows. I would expect a New Testament professor who professes to be a Christian to be able to give a clear statement of faith, and he didn’t. Ken Ham, on the other hand, gave a clear outline of the gospel.

Amen brother Ken Ham. Preach Christ and Christ alone as the way to God.

Grace and Peace

October 31st — Reformation Day

Forget Halloween; October 31st is Reformation Day!

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The 95 Theses were Luther’s arguments against the selling of indulgences, which were documents declaring forgiveness of sins granted by the church as a result of some act of the repentant sinner. Indulgences were being aggressively marketed at this time–sold for cash–as a means of paying for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and so Luther’s opposition to the sale of indulgences not only had doctrinal implications, but also had financial repercussions.

The posting of the 95 Theses is often looked at as the catalyst that started the Protestant Reformation. The word Protestant comes from protest, which today has a negative connotation. When we use the word protest, it implies that we are against something. Those who protest abortion, or the war in Iraq, or Obama’s health care program, are against those things. But we should think of Protestantism in a much more positive way. The first Protestants—such as Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, and John Calvin—were not just against the doctrinal and moral corruption of the sixteenth century Roman Catholic Church, they were for something. After all, the prefix in Protestant is pro-, not anti-. They were for the testimony (therefore pro-test) of gospel truths that had been buried or obscured over the centuries, such as the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone.

Some Christians believe it is wrong to celebrate the Reformation, thinking that to celebrate it is something like celebrating a divorce. It is indeed sad that Christianity is divided into Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox (the result of an earlier schism), and Protestant, and that the Protestant church is divided into thousands of denominations. But what is sad isn’t that the Reformation occurred, but that it was necessary in the first place. The Reformation, in my mind, what an incredibly good thing.

Consider the following quote from Martin Luther, which describes the great exchange (we give Jesus our sin; he gives us his righteousness):

“Learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him and, despairing of yourself, say, ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not.'”

The great exchange is found in a number of places in both the Old and New Testaments. Here are a couple examples:

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

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. — Isaiah 53:6 ESV

Grace and Peace in abundance!