Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Impotence of Myth

I’m a Tolkien fanatic. I have mounted on my wall a replica of Sting, Bilbo’s sword (inherited by Frodo), given to me by my son on Christmas Past. I love Tolkien’s fantasy world and the many layers of history he gave it to make it seem real. I read the trilogy (quadrilogy??) while backpacking through the Rockies in my youth—and I have read it many times since. It is inspiring, and the wonderful productions of Peter King and his merry band of movie-makers have done a wonderful job of bringing the Tolkien myth to the big screen in a canonically faithful fashion. It’s almost, . . . lifelike.

But there is a clear delineation between that which was, and that which was not, and Tolkien’s work belongs to the latter. It’s myth—not history—and only those with nothing else to cling to will confuse the two.

There’s not much power in myth. There’s some, to be sure, but not much, and it is but a faint imitation of the power of reality—the power of God.

Myth wears thin in the Emergency room, or the hospital bed, or the funeral home. Myth loses its pizzazz when the family is self-destructing around you. The power of myth is powerless to mute the angry, self-condemning voices of conscience in the early hours when you desperately need sleep. It is too impotent to control the raging desires of addiction. Myth distracts, but does not deliver confidence when you’ve lost your job and the rent is due. Myth fascinates, but it cannot change the heart.

In short, the inspiration of a myth is like the fog; impressive until it meets with the heat of the day. Only truth transforms. The power of the Gospel is anchored in twin realities: the inexplicable power of the Holy Spirit, and the facts of history. It-actually-happened.

Think about it. Liberal theology has turned the Gospel to myth, because the purveyors of this deficient theology deny that the supernatural God actually invades history and performs miracles contrary to natural law. It is an assumption of rationalism. It is frankly a contradictory notion to the idea of the existence of a personal God. When your God stops invading history, He no longer exists in any real terms.

But what you really need, in that hospital room, that funeral home, in that broken family, is for God to invade history, real life, on your behalf and perform real miracles contrary to natural law. May it be unto you according to your faith.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm changing gears for my next writing project. . .

Ever since finishing Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix I've begin gathering material for a new novel entitled The Candidate. It is about a plain-spoken, conservative blogger who finds himself as a viable candidate in the presidential election. I had hoped to finish the rewrite of OCP in time to get The Candidate done prior to the 2012 election. Didn't happen. So I'm putting it on the back burner.

I am excited about writing book 2 of the OC series, but there's a tale I've got to tell first.

My first novel was actually Makatozi's Revenge, a military-espionage thriller set in the Cold War, in 1986. The book is complete, and sitting on my shelf. It's a great tale. If you're curious about it, ask Carol Williams, she graciously read it.

But I can't publish it, because it is an unauthorized sequel to Louis L'Amour's Last of the Breed. The estate of L'Amour is not presently granting rights for that sort of thing, and many in the industry predict they never will.

So, I am going to write and publish my own prequel to MR. It will be a very different story (different from L'Amour's tale), but it will have the same general idea: an Air Force officer is kidnapped by the Soviet Union and manages to escape and make his way back to the U.S.A. Then I'll retool and retitle MR to fit the details of its new backstory.

Book 2 of OC (which is likely going to be titled, Outlander Chronicles: Icarus) will probably be completed between the above mentioned prequel, and the retooling of MR. I might attempt to write them concurrently, because it is another tale I just can't wait to tell!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When does the spirit of inquiry become the spirit of rebellion?

Christianity has a checkered history with respect to how it treats thinkers that challenge the status quo. I cringe when I read parts of that history: for example, that of the medieval-era Catholic church in the few centuries prior to the Reformation. The church did not tolerate dissent or inquiry, or any departure from the established teachings of the magisterium. Most such challenges were met by cruel torture or simply incinerating the 'heretic.'

While we may understand the fountain from which Calvin and other reformers had been drinking (hanging on to the Roman Catholic confusion of the power of the church and the state, something in which the Protestant tradition is still en-mired in places—think of the state churches in England, Scotland, Germany, for example), yet Calvin’s treatment of the heretic Servetus in Geneva is simply inexcusable from the standpoint of the Gospel. Other examples of insupportable early Protestant violence could be cited.

The hounding of the Mormons (much of which was self-inflicted, by the way) in our own country is another unfortunate example of virtually criminal religious intolerance. While we can (and should!) dispute their theology (it is not Christian in any historic understanding of the word), nonetheless, they should be tolerated and, yes, protected, free to pursue their religion. [This paragraph has been editted - my original was just too offensive even to me after a good night's sleep.]

For a shining, pristine example of how NOT to defend the Gospel, just examine the folks from Westboro Baptist Church. I cringe to even use the word, ‘church,’ in that sentence. These folks bear about as much relationship to Christ as does your local telephone pole. I feel like saying, “if you really are Christians, would you just please not tell anybody!” If these folks ever gained civil power, God forbid, we'd be right back to burning dissenters at the stake.

"Chris, you sound mighty intolerant of these various people!" Well, sort of. It's their theology concerning which I am intolerant, not them as people. But let's make a distinction. I firmly believe they have every right to make their pitch in the marketplace of ideas. I want them to have that right! I want them to be able to proselyte, persuade, convince, to their heart's content. And if you or I don't like what they have to say, just walk away and realize that in a free country you're going to be subjected to ideas and speech you don't appreciate. Although let's be clear, the Westboro Wackos should not be free to intrude on funerals; if the courts have defined funerals as public meetings, they need to redefine them, quickly, as private!

Just like these foks with whom I disagree can vociferously attack my beliefs (and I support their right to do so), I can likewise hold theirs up for examination.

Now that we’re done with the Christian mea culpas (and that’s not to dismiss them as illegitimate, but simply to begin advancing my argument), the question remains: for the Christian, when does the spirit of inquiry become the spirit of rebellion? Are there legitimate boundaries to intellectual inquiry, for the self-confessed believer in Christ?

For one who does not confess biblical faith in Christ, it’s a silly, irrelevant question harkening back to the fine Christian tradition of crushing dissent. And, for not a few confessing Christians, it is a dumb question: they would say that it is anti-intellectual and poor stewardship of the Creation Mandate to place any limits on inquiry.

So why am I asking this question in the first place? Because of the folks at Biologos, and because of my former instructor, Pete Enns (see here and here), and because of the revival of “higher” biblical criticism under new names and faces and approaches that is gaining such massive momentum and posing such a threat to the church! Especially to the average believer and seeker!

These scientists and theologians, these men and women, are public figures, culture-formers and trend-setters, not simply private individuals. They purport to be teachers of the ignorant and guides to the blind. Their public statements and positions, therefore, are fair game for critical examination.

So for the next several weeks, that’s what we’ll be doing on the Thoughtspot. Interspersed with silly stupid posts masquerading as humor dealing with what-have-you, self-serving promotions of my book, and general train-of-consciousness rambling, there will be the occasional coherent thought on the question of the spirit of inquiry. I hope you’ll join in the conversation with observations, challenges, or questions, in the comment section.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Coldwater Jingle Bell 5K

On a frosty morning this past Saturday, Doris and I bundled up in multiple layers (I am surprised I could bend a single joint--I don't like to be cold--so I was wearing lots of layers!), and headed North. It felt like we were going to the North Pole, but we stopped just short--at Coldwater. Appropriately named, as far as I was concerned. And I was concerned, it was like, twenty degrees! Lions and tigers and bears (frozen ones), oh, my!

I like my snow, yes, but I prefer it when I'm inside and it's outside. In any case, I struggled out of the car (remember, I'm wearing layers and can hardly bend), and waddled into the registration area. Getting that far was the first success.

If it wasn't for the fact that there were folks there who know me (starting with my wife), I think I'd have declared victory, waddled back to the car, and driven home. But I do have my pride, so with a smile frozen on my face (literally), I pinned on my number and began dreading going outside again in earnest.

Amidst all those other loons, however, I did feel strangely at home. We're all nuts, together.

Then we bumped in to Katie and Joelle. Now I really can't quit. I'd never hear the end of it. Both ladies were very positive, taking the weather in stride, ready to go. So, I manned up (no choice), and waddled outside to the starting line.

A horn goes off, and the whole mass starts forward. Must have been a false alarm, for ten seconds later the whole mass puts it in reverse. I didn't even have to move my feet; you know how it is being in the middle of a tightly packed crazy bunch of runners on race day. You just kind of get swept along like so much flotsam and jetsam, until the mob loses critical mass and you actually have to start ambulating under your own steam.

The horn sounds off again, and this time the tide flows in only one direction. After a block or two I'm no longer being carried along by the surge, so I begin to run, looking for an appropriate pace. After getting nearly run over by a couple of ten-year-olds, I decide maybe that pace was not appropriate, and pick it up a tad. No sign of Doris, Katie, or Joelle.

Within the first mile, my breathing is ragged enough that a couple folks around me begin to wonder if perhaps someone ought to call 911. The smile is still frozen on my face, so I just look over their way and shake my head, 'no, I always breathe this way.'

Numbskulls! Of course they ought to call 911! I'm just too proud to say that.

Anyway, whoever laid out the course was an expert in torture. The first two miles were all straight streets. You could see runners ahead of you, disappearing below the curve of the horizon. Okay, maybe it was just a hill. But at least you could see that the finish line was not in sight. But the last mile, it was 'run a block, turn, run a block, turn, run a block, turn'. Now perhaps that is meaningless to you, but for me, I imagined the finish line was just around each block. I got all my hopes up, only to have them dashed with each hard left or right.

But the worst was yet to come. You see, for the last half of the race, I was slowly overtaking this person in front of me. Slowly, but surely. At about the two-and-a-half mile spot, I finally passed them. Her, I should say. It was a lady. Got out about twenty feet in front of her, but could not lose her. Heard those feet slappin' down, right behind me. Always right behind me. Drove me nuts. So, I turned it up a crank. (By now I sounded like Darth Vader without his cool mask - you know the scene in the final movie: 'Dad, I'll save you.' [awful breathing sound] 'S-son, you already have, you already have. . .')

And I began to run out of steam. Actually, that's not true. I had run out of steam shortly after the mob stopped carrying me at the [second] starting horn.

Not sixty feet from the finish line that lady cruised right past me. Couldn't even hear her breathing. How humiliating. And then I heard her tell the race administrators when they were putting her in the proper age bracket, that she was 61. That's really embarrassing, hope nobody saw that.

All in all, it was a cold day. But I'm glad I did it. All four of us (Doris, Joelle, Katie) finished the race - that's what's important. Nobody needs to know that I was waxed by a sixty-one year old lady.

[Certain details of this post have been, ah, edited for the sake of humor, as what actually happened was far less interesting. . . unfortunately, the details about the 61 year old lady are not among them.]

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix is finally available in print!

Just approved the proof copy tonight!

It is also available for Kindle and Nook.

NOTE TO BFCers! If you are planning on getting a copy of the print edition, get it at the church bookstore!! It will be cheaper there, and all proceeds for sales in December and January will go to support the mission clinic, Clinica de Iglesia Bautista Betania in Honduras. There will also be a copy available in the church library for loan. Ann Fields will be able to take orders as soon as this Sunday, but I don't expect the books to arrive until the week before Christmas. There will be one copy (my proof copy) on display this Sunday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back from Girly-man land. . .

I'm back from girly-man land. Did my 3.2 miles today in 27:12.

No offense girls, but a six-foot two skinny galoot ought to move faster than a spry member of an ant colony. Today's time is nothing worth posting on a blog or anything [would have said, 'nothing to write home about' but that's sooo seventies], but at least I won't have to wear a wig and sunglasses when I run the next 5K.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Running Report

Perhaps I should say, walking report. First, an admission. I have fallen off the exercise bandwagon big-time. Second, an empty promise: I am climbing back on the exercise bandwagon.

Today Dor and I got out and ran again. Sort of. For me, it was the first time in at least three weeks. Whoever said, Use it or lose it knew whereof they spake. I lost it.

Did my 3.2 miles in just shy of 33 minutes. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. . .

Somehow since this summer when I gained the lower body of Jesse Owens and the upper body of Ahnold (there might be a slight exaggeration here), I've lost a little ground (there might be some understatement there).

For example, yesterday at church I had to get the decoration ladies to help me lift a Christmas tree. How embarrasing! But it did convince me to get back to work with my exercise regime.

Doris and I are running (or more accurately, participating) in the Coldwater Jingle Bell 5K, so I really do need to get my act together. Hope to see all the BFC runners there!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Indie publishing. . .

is a word-of-mouth game. When you self-publish on a budget, there is no ad campaign, no press release, etc. Although there are things one can do to promote a self-published book, much of the success of independent publishing is based on word-of-mouth contacts.

So if you happen to read Outlander, and think someone else would enjoy it, please tell 'em about it. The Kindle version is published with lending enabled, so I think you can loan it to someone without them having to buy it. I don't know whether or not that is true of the Nook.

By the way, the Nook version is published, and is available here.

The print version is not yet available, I expect it will be in a week or two.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Political Science

When scientists start behaving like politicians, it's a sure bet that the "science" they promulgate has been thoroughly politicized.

Now that "Global Warming" has assisted in trashing the U.S. economy, and destroying all semblence of a rational energy policy, it is at least gratifying that the politics behind the "science" are finally being exposed: see Jim Lacey's article here.

Some of us have known for years that the "science" was junk. There is a reason why Greenland is so-named, and I doubt that the emissions of internal combustion engines were involved. Long live real science!

[added 11/29/2011] See also here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Outlander is available for Kindle!

Yahoo! Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix is now available for Kindle!

The print edition is coming out in a few weeks, and will be available on Amazon. The Barnes and Noble Nook edition will be available within a week or so. Knowing me, I'll probably crow about each of these releases, so if you are following my blog you'll hear about it.

Speaking of crowing, let me do a little right now: my daughter Dani has done a gorgeous job on the cover. It really captures the essence of the story. She applied some digital wizardry to a photo I purchased, extending the sky upward significantly, adding the foreboding city skyline, as well as picking the font style and placement. I love it! Thanks, Dani!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Washing Machine and I

We are having. . . issues. It's complicated, as they say. You see, my washer insists on disgorging itself of water through the drain-pipe as though it's running a turbine on the Hoover dam. I could probably sell my washer to the Greenville Fire Dept, and they could mount it in a pickup truck and have a cheap, second pumper.

Oh, it looks innocent enough, just sitting there. Trust me, it's quite guilty. The drainpipe behind the washer likes to drink it's water at roughly the rate of an IV drip. As you might imagine, the washer and the drain don't get along. We would regularly find water running across the basement floor. Some folks have water in their basement when a hurricane comes through. We have water in our basement when we do laundry.

Like most good husbands, I sort of figured if I pretended not to notice it, the problem would simply go away. After it became clear that this was not an acceptable solution (Doris made that clear to me), I tried the good husband's next ploy: the minimal effort solution.

See that orange thingy? Its the handle of an in-line valve. I could throttle that baby back, and what was once the Hoover Dam turbine room at flood stage became a good, well-behaved washing machine once again. No more water on the floor. Dor's happy, the drainpipe's happy, I'm happy, and I get to wear clean clothes again.

There's just two minor problems with it. First, the lint continues to build up in the old drain pipe, and that stinking thing starts to overflow again (in case you're wondering, this little saga spans about two years). No matter how many bottles of draino I feed it, it reclogs in a matter of weeks. Nor does it respond to my handy-dandy little snake, or eel, or whatever plumbers call it.

Second, when I throttle it back farther (the good-husband-minimal-effort solution applied with a vengeance), the washing machine gets confused. The timer dial gives it only so much time to get rid of the water before it goes on to the next cycle. For some stupid reason, it thinks that three days is simply too long to be pumping the water out of the basket.

So, I'm faced with a dilemma. No longer am I able work a compromise between the washer and the drainpipe (I imagine that this is somehow vaguely analagous to the impasse between Republicans and Democrats on the budget committee). I have no more good-husband tricks up my sleeve. This calls for some actual work.

Notice the requisite speakers in the tool box, for listening to political talk radio whilst pretending to be a plumber.

I've got to get through this wall. . .   to this side, where a larger drain awaits. . .

And I need to do it without bringing the house down, flooding the basement with sewage, or destroying the washing machine. All in all, it's a tall order (hey, it's me!).

After a trip to Lowes that included much head-scratching and cogitating, I managed to find my way back home (Dor was with me), with the requisite pieces of plumbing paraphenalia, and I dove in. Well, not literally, as I had thought to turn the Hoover Dam off before leaving the house.

Hours later (many, many hours), I stand back and admire my handiwork.

What's amazing is that I still have my sanctification, all ten fingers, and a washer that works at full throttle. . .

and an oversize hole in the wall, but I won't worry about that; maybe if I pretend not to notice, it will go away.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I love You, Lord, because. . .

This is how Psalm 116 begins. The psalmist goes on to say that he loves the Lord because God answers his prayers, because God has delivered him, and so on.

When you stop to think about it, the psalmist sounds like the ultimate user: “I love you because of what you do for me.”

Of all potential targets of love, surely Almighty God is the most worthy. He is consummately merciful, just, good, giving, righteous, holy, faithful, longsuffering, generous, of unparalleled skill and beauty in His artistry, and much more. Surely we ought to love Him simply because of His glorious perfections of character! Of all that is, He is the most, well, lovable.

Does there have to be a self-interest on our part? Does that not, sort of, grind on your good ‘ol human pride? Do we only love God for what we get from Him?

But that’s who we are. We are totally dependent upon God’s continuing grace (be it common or special), for our very existence. We are weak, contingent creatures, who draw breath only because He upholds all things by the word of His awesome power. We are also sinners, consumed by our ungodly project to supplant the true and mighty God with our pompous selves. Left to our natural selves we are hostile against God, self-declared enemies. We want to think of ourselves as gods, usurping His rule. All the while the truth remains that if He were to turn from us, in an instant our frail little house of cards would collapse.

He alone is self-existent, needing nothing, needing no one’s approval, no one’s love, no one’s acknowlegement. He is complete in Himself, separate from and transcendent above creation and all of its creatures.

But He loves us dearly, because it is His nature to do so. And He has walked among us in the Person of His Son. And we love Him, but only because . . . He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Greenville owes me. . .

I am READY, baby! For snow, that is. Got me a new snow shovel. Got scrapers for the cars, and de-icing washer fluid. Got a pair of stretch-on crampons for my boots, to keep me from skating down my steep driveway (I could put a ski-lift on my driveway and live off the income, it’s that steep; it's the sort of thing that helicopters will drop snowboarders off on the top; okay, that might be a slight exaggeration).

Woke up my snow-blower from it’s long summer nap, fired it up, make sure I don’t have to yank my arm off when I really need that sucker to start.

Got two 50 lb. bags of ice-melt from Walmart. Get ‘em now before prices go up, only $7.49 per bag.

On second thought, don’t get ‘em. There’s no way on God’s green earth we’ll get measurable snow-fall this winter; not when I’m all ready for it.

Probably be, maybe, 70 degrees in January. Nuts. Wish I’d thought of that first. Ought to take all this stuff back to the store, but it’s too late now.

Gonna have a warm winter, Greenville. You owe me. . .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Status update on Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix

I took a vacation day today for a "writing marathon" and at long last completed my re-write of Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix. I am very pleased with the final product; many thanks to my son, Joshua, for a long but needed list of recommended corrections and changes, nearly all of which found their way into the final version.

The changes include grammatical (I probably wacked 30% of the adverbs I had used in earlier versions and used more contractions); stylistic (I tried to eliminate my tendency to over-explain and tightened up the dialog); technical (M4s use magazines, not clips); characterization (Jacen is no longer so naive and there is more lead-up to some of his blowups); and structure (there are some deleted scenes and some added scenes).

Next up: I need to select an independent publisher, get the cover designed, reformat the files for E-readers as well as print-on-demand format, secure an ISBN and Library of Congress catalog number, and that's about it.

My next project is The Candidate, and I can't wait to get started on it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Got problems?

Been helping some people work through some issues - sorry, I can't get any more specific than that. But this morning I am feeling the desperation of someone who knows that someone is about to drive a car off a cliff (metaphorically) and is headed for deep difficulties, and you've done what you can, and hearts are not changing.

As I was wrestling with that, I ran across Exodus 4:31, and was struck by it's simple statement. First, the background:

The Israelites were slaves, in cruel bondage, in Egypt. Egyptian task-masters were carving furrows in the backs of Hebrew slaves with their whips. The Egyptians were practicing infanticide, killing all the male Jewish newborns they could get their hands on. It was an outwardly hopeless situation. But God had made some promises, hundreds of years earlier, and now those promises were coming due, so He sends Moses to deliver His people. Moses has just arrived on the scene, and shared with the people God's plans to deliver them:
So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped. Exodus 4:31 (NASB)
Got problems, Christian? Meditate on that verse a little while, and see if it does not produce hope and worship.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Source of Authority #5: Paul was 'a man of his times.'

This is an admittedly long post. I beg you to stay with it until the end, because it reveals the potential danger of the kind of hermeneutics employed by scholars sympathetic to BioLogos.

When Christianity Today (CT) printed an article in the June issue that questioned whether or not Adam and Eve were historical figures, they were revealing the desperate state of mainstream evangelical theology. The reason for the doubts did not arise from the biblical text, but from the conclusions that Dr. Francis Collins arrived at as a result of his groundbreaking work on the Human Genome Project. In effect, greater confidence was being placed in the results of science, than in the plain statements of Scripture.

Dr. Francis Collins is part of BioLogos, an organization of scientists and biblical scholars who seek to show that there is no essential conflict between the Bible and science. I agree with them in that one limited sense; I don’t think there is any conflict either. But my reasons are different from theirs. There is no conflict, so far as I am concerned, because science is incompetent to comment on events in history when God supernaturally intrudes into the natural world. Genesis 1-3 is an accurate historic account of the supernatural origin of the cosmos in six days, and the ensuing Fall. When science contradicts biblical testimony, I am unconcerned since the results of science will be unreliable when dealing with events of supernatural origin.

BioLogos eliminates the supposed conflicts by deconstructing Scripture, so as to twist it into conformity with what they view as the conclusions of science, and in particular, theistic evolution. This is done by reducing portions of the biblical narrative to figurative language or mythical accounts. The point of these texts, it is said, is found in the spiritual principles they teach and not in their relationship to actual history. The source of authority, for BioLogos, is science; therefore the Bible must be made to agree with science.

Today’s post concerns one of the principles of interpretation, the ‘man of his times’ argument, employed by biblical scholars who wish to avoid dealing with Genesis as history. This principle enables scholars sympathetic to BioLogos’ commitments to embrace theistic evolution while claiming to remain faithful to the Bible and its teachings.

In CT’s June article, The Search for the Historical Adam, you will find the following statement: “[Pete] Enns has little doubt that Paul indeed thought Adam was ‘a real person.’ But Enns suggests that the apostle was reflecting beliefs about human origins that were common among the ancients” [emphasis mine].

Later in the article, Daniel Harlow is cited in much the same vein: “Whether or not Adam was historical, [Harlow] asserted, is ‘not central to biblical theology.’ Paul and Luke may have thought Adam was a literal man because they had no reason not to, he explained. But ‘we have many reasons’ to interpret Adam as a literary [meaning, non-historical] figure” [emphasis mine].

What both these scholars are saying is this: Paul was a ‘man of his times.’ He was educated in contemporary Jewish theology, and acculturated to the beliefs held by the society of which he was part. Consequently, he believed what he had been taught. Paul’s view of Adam as an actual, historical, first man, was something he had absorbed from the educational, social and religious influences around him.

From one perspective they are correct. Paul certainly was a man of his times, and undoubtedly entertained many notions, especially about the natural world, that were simply wrong. Where I depart from them is that I believe that Paul’s canonical writings are inspired, and therefore inerrant and infallible (a ‘canonical writing’ would be one found in our Bible, thus, in the canon of Scripture). If Paul (or Moses, etc.) writes about Adam as an actual man, then he is an actual, historical man.

According to the ‘man of his times’ principle as these scholars employ it, when Paul writes 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 (Adam’s headship of fallen humanity), or Romans 5:12-21 (Adam’s fall into sin and the resulting penalty of death imputed to all his progeny), or 1 Timothy 2:13-14 (the order of creation—Adam first, then Eve—and the shades of difference between Adam and Eve’s sin—she was deceived, he was not), he is simply alluding to what he thinks is true, as a man of his times. He’s wrong, according to BioLogos and its supporters, but poor Paul is too primitive in his scientific understandings to realize it.

The point is often made that it is the words of Scripture that are inspired, not the authors. As mentioned previously, Paul undoubtedly did hold opinions on different extra-biblical subjects that were in error. But if the words of Scripture are inspired, then the canonical documents Paul wrote carry divine authority and are inerrant and infallible. And Paul, in his writings, does represent Adam as an historical character; as do, indeed, the other writers of Scripture. Those who mention him at all write of him as an actual person, and plainly refer to the Genesis account of the creation event as a reliable representation of what happened. There’s not the slightest hint that any considered the Genesis account to be figurative.

If you allow for the notion that the biblical writers’ own mistaken views became part of the warp and woof of Scripture, as the scholars sympathetic to BioLogos do, you no longer have a meaningful doctrine of inspiration: Scripture can be stretched like a rubber band to accommodate any idea or avoid any difficulty.

A couple of actual examples will suffice to make this point:
  • Some modern interpreters use the ‘man of his times’ argument to claim that Paul’s bias against homosexuality was nothing more than his expressing the prejudice of the day.
  • Some modern interpreters use the argument to claim that Paul’s view of women in the church and the home was nothing more than an expression of the bias of first-century culture.
  • Some modern interpreters use the argument to claim that Jude 9 is mythical, that Jude only mentioned it because it was what he had been taught. Others use the same argument to dispense with various miracles in the Old Testament.

Once we allow the ‘man of his times’ argument to judge portions of the Scripture as historically inaccurate, modern theology is placed once again on the same lethal trajectory as that of the naturalistic theological liberalism of the 19th and 20th centuries. It opens the door to an eventual attack on the very foundations of redemption.

Let me show you how this works.

Paul was surrounded by a religious culture (Jew and Gentile) that was wholly taken up with blood sacrifice. Throughout history blood sacrifice has been a basic staple of many religions, whether you are talking about the Aztecs, the Canaanites, Israel, the Greeks, etc. The first-century butcher shops of Corinth, for example, were filled with meat from animals slaughtered in sacrifice to the Greek gods. Since Paul was a man of his times, then perhaps Paul’s belief about the blood atonement of Christ was unduly influenced by his acculturation to the bloody practices of the first century.

Oh, Chris, relax!" you respond. "Give your fevered imagination a rest! BioLogos is just talking about Adam here, no one is denying the atonement!

Really? BioLogos is not the only player in this game. Let’s all exercise our fevered imaginations together, for a moment. In fact, let’s just pretend that there is an imaginary British Baptist pastor, we’ll give him a name, maybe ‘Steve Chalke,’ and let’s pretend he employs this very ‘man of his times’ argument. Let’s just pretend that Chalke says that Moses was a man of his times and wrote all those instructions for animal sacrifice, having been unduly influenced by the pagan nations surrounding Israel.

Then let’s imagine that Chalke begins to deconstruct the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God [gee, wonder what that means?], in part by saying that Moses was actually wrong regarding all those bloody sacrifices. Therefore the atoning sacrifice of Christ, our understanding of which has been anchored to the Mosaic sacrifices (see the book of Hebrews), can not actually be the sacrifice of a substitute, since Moses was wrong to begin with. In fact, lets pretend that Chalke’s new understanding of Moses’ mistaken view of sacrifice leads him to label the theology of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ as a case of “divine child abuse.”

But, of course, that’s just the product of my fevered imagination, using the slippery-slope straw man against those who disagree with me. Right? Wrong. None of this is imaginary. Steve Chalke’s ideas are garnering serious consideration, and are anchored, in part, on viewing Moses as ‘a man of his times,’ acculturated in a primitive, pagan world. Here’s what Chalke says:
The emphasis on Yahweh’s apparent appetite for continuous appeasement through blood sacrifice, present within some Pentateuchal texts, is to be understood in the light of later prophetic writings as a reflection of the worship practices of the pagan cults of the nations that surrounded the people of Israel. However, the story of Israel’s salvation is the story of her journey away from these primal practices towards a new and more enlightened understanding by way of Yahweh’s self-revelation.”
[Emphasis mine. Quote is from Steve Chalke’s article, The Redemption of the Cross, from page 38, The Atonement Debate, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. Disclaimer: I have not read The Atonement Debate; I copied this citation from Adrian Warnock’s blog at Any errors of understanding are mine, not Warnock’s. Accessed 10/18/2011]

Here is the bottom line: when we use the “man of his times” principle to find factual error in the inspired biblical text, as Enns has, as Chalke has, no doctrine is safe from deconstruction. The foundations of the faith of Christianity are wide-open for a free-wheeling reinterpretation, according to the ultimate source of authority recognized by the interpreter. And in BioLogos’ case, that source of authority is science, not Scripture.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Review: C. H. Bullock's Encountering the Book of Psalms

Encountering the Book of Psalms is an excellent, single-volume, introduction to the Psalms. The author writes from a thoroughly conservative standpoint, but at appropriate junctures demonstrates his awareness of liberal speculations scattered throughout the recent history of psalms studies that arise from the various schools of higher criticism. Although he deals with these respectfully and intelligently, he ultimately dismisses them and moves into a scholarly examination of the content of the psalms themselves. Overall, the text is college level but should not be found difficult by readers with a solid high-school education. The pedagogy of the text is excellent: each chapter opens with an outline of the chapter and a set of objectives for the student. The chapter closes with a list of key terms encountered, as well as questions for further study. The book can be used very profitably for individual or group study settings.

Bullock divides his examination of the psalms into three major pieces. The first part deals with the literary and hermeneutical issues of psalms studies. Captions (superscriptions) and the difficult terms found in some of them, the relationship of the psalms to music, the literary structure of the book on a macro level (the five books within the Psalms) and micro level (the structure of Hebrew poetry) are all considered in a scholarly but accessible manner.

In the second section, the author examines the uses of the psalms in worship and faith, considering the different ways in which they can be approached, as well as a history of the use of the psalms, ranging from the original readers through to modern times. Bullock also explores key theological and historical themes that appear in Psalms.

In the final section, the Psalms are considered from the perspective of genre classification. This section is outstanding; the busy pastor or scholar will find plenty of helpful charts that map the genre characteristics to individual psalms. Not only has Bullock presented an excellent approach to classification, he has managed to do so in a manner that is sometimes richly devotional for the reader. Of particular excellence is the final chapter dealing with the imprecatory psalms.

The book concludes with a select bibliography, a handy glossary of terms encountered in psalms studies, and a comprehensive Scripture index. Although serious scholars will need to add more books than this to their Psalms library, if you can afford but one book of prolegomena on the Psalms, this one will serve you very well.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Source of Authority #4: Figurative Language

Moses writes in Genesis 1-2, in a straightforward fashion about God creating the earth in six days. He indicates what was created on each day. He provides specific details extraneous to a merely figurative account (notice, for instance, in verses 11-12, the details about the trees “bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind”, or the statement in 2:5-6 regarding the lack of rain and the function of the mist).

Obviously, Moses' account does not square with Darwinian theories of the origin of the species. Herein is the problem. For latter-day prophets of science, this round peg of creation won’t fit into the straight lines of the square hole of science’s competing view of the beginnings of the cosmos and its diverse life-forms.

So what do we do now? The answer to that question depends on your chosen Source of Authority. We all agree that Moses is not writing a science textbook. That’s a straw man raised by people hoping to score easy points on people who believe in the Genesis account of creation. What we don’t agree on is whether Moses is writing a historical account of an actual event, or a stylized, figurative account that functions as an etiological narrative of the origin of the cosmos, and of the origin of evil.

So what, you ask, is an etiological narrative? In answer to that, let me simply ask you to think of Paul Bunyan (yes, Paul, not John) and his blue ox Babe. Perhaps you have forgotten that this dynamic duo dug the Grand Canyon, created the Great Lakes, and left footprints behind them as they meandered through Minnesota, forming puddles known as the 10,000 lakes. The legend of Paul Bunyan is a piece of American folklore, an etiological narrative, a myth, that explains various features of the North American landscape. The etiological narrative Genesis presents, as BioLogos would have it, is a figurative creation myth that teaches higher spiritual truths.

So to what do some bible scholars resort when they wish to avoid conflicts between science and the Bible? They retreat to the “figurative language” argument. Genesis, they say, is highly figurative. Christianity Today cites Tremper Longman: “there is nothing that insists on a literal understanding of Adam in a passage [Gen. 1-3] so filled with obvious figurative description.”

Apparently, figurative language must exist in the eye of the beholder, because there is nothing obviously figurative to me, at all, in Genesis 1-3. Every word can be taken in its plain sense without violating any human sensibility, especially when you consider that any account of a supernatural origin will necessarily include features for which science can give no account. Having said that, there is nothing in Genesis 1-3 that even remotely approaches the jarring narratives of, say, Ezekiel 1 or Revelation, or the even the beautiful imagery of the Psalms.

Longman is comfortable with a mythical Adam (although in fairness to him, he states that he has not yet come to his own firm conclusions regarding Adam). In the CT article he is quoted as saying, “it is possible, even natural, to make an analogy between a literary figure and a historical one.” Yes, it is possible, but it does not carry near the force of an analogy between two actual, historical figures, nor do fictional figures establish that which is normative. Keller rebuts this dodge in the CT article, saying, “If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work ‘covenantally’—falls apart.”

Why do some say that there is figurative language in Genesis 1-3? Because there must be, since science, so obviously true, renders a literal reading of Genesis impossible. It’s not a question of language, at all, in the end. It’s a question of what you trust, what your Source of Authority is.

After all, it is quite impossible to divide a sea below the waterline, walk on water or stop a meteorological event (think, storm on the sea of Galilee) with a simple spoken word. Are these features of Scripture also explained away as ‘figurative language,’ and if not, why not? On what grounds is the simple reading of Genesis rejected in favor of a figurative one, and the simple reading of Exodus 14:21-31 is allowed to stand. Surely the dividing of the sea as presented there is anathema to modern scientists.

The truth of the matter is that once you label as figurative a narrative that Paul did not consider figurative, you are setting yourself up as "more enlightened" than God's apostles. Tremper Longman, Pete Enns, and other BioLogos supporters are truly brilliant men, but I would not begin to compare their knowledge and skill at interpreting the Hebrew language with Paul's. We know from Galatians 4:24 that Paul was no stranger to figurative language (in that case, allegory). The claim of "figurative language" in Genesis 1-3 withers if the apostles did not see it that way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Source of Authority #3: The Fallacy of Neutrality

Old Testament scholar and professor at Knox Theological Seminary, Bruce Waltke, is recorded as saying in the June, 2011, issue of Christianity Today “if the data is overwhelming in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult.” “We have to go with the scientific evidence. I don’t think we can ignore it. I have full confidence in Scripture, but it does not represent what science represents.” The problem with this statement is that Waltke treats the “book of nature,” science, as though it was dropped, printed and bound, straight out of heaven complete with authoritative conclusions.

The data of science is not self-interpreting. The observer comes to the data with a whole host of assumptions and a theory resting on those assumptions, and seeks to organize and interpret the data in a manner consistent with the theory. If the data and the theory can not be correlated, the theory is revisited in an attempt to make it accommodate the data. Sometimes the assumptions themselves must be re-examined.

A great deal of science, therefore, has to do with not only the collection of data, but the interpretation of data. The enterprise is difficult enough, but made doubly so by the fact that the scientist is not a “neutral observer.” He is predisposed in a particular direction. I am amazed that none of the theologians cited in the article even gave lip-service to this fundamental reality that powerfully affects the interpretation of the data.

Paul says this in Romans 1:18-23 (NASB):
(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (21) For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Paul is talking about a quality of basic human nature: to put it bluntly, we are not neutral observers of the natural world when it comes to data that touches on the existence and activity of God: in fact we are truth-suppressors (v 18). In verse 19, that truth which the book of nature can teach us about God is said to be “evident,” because God makes it evident. In verse 20, we see some aspects of His nature “clearly.” In verse 21, because of our rejection of the Author of truth, our speculations have become futile, and our minds darkened. Claiming wisdom, we are in fact foolish, verse 22. And we have exchanged the glory of the Creator for that of the created thing, verse 23. Paul says in verse 25, that we have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”

Now there may be many different ways to apply what has been said by Paul in Romans 1, but one inescapable implication is that when men observe the natural world, they do so in a way that eliminates or diminishes the reality and the activity of the Creator God, in favor of a self-created cosmos.

We are not neutral observers of the data. Just as believers (who have been delivered from the power of sin) still struggle to overcome besetting sin, believers also have a hard time overcoming this anti-God bias in their interpretation of nature. It’s part of the deep corruption brought on by, yes, Adam, and it won’t be fully eliminated until we are with Christ.

The net effect is that scientists are susceptible to insisting on interpreting the data in a way that minimizes or eliminates the truth of God. They aren’t neutral about such things, and are not even aware (unless they believe the Bible) of their bias. It’s a frame of reference thing, like sitting in a kayak in the ocean. Unless you can see the shore (a fixed point of reference), you have no idea whether you are actually being moved by an ocean current.

The overwhelming reigning paradigm in science today (the ocean current, if you get my drift) is naturalism: science, by definition, does not do the supernatural thing. And we want scientists to tell us how to interpret the Bible?

We all agree on one thing: Genesis is not about science. It really isn’t. It’s about how God created the world in six days, complete with Adam and Eve, who fell into sin and dragged their progeny, the whole human race, with them. That’s not science, and let no one pretend that it is. The admission that the account of origins, as given in Genesis, is not science does not mean that it is not a precisely accurate record of how God created all things in six days. The Genesis account is true: it’s what really happened. And as a supernatural event, science simply isn’t competent to comment on it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blah, blah, blah - personal stuff

When you see "blah, blah" in the title of one of my posts, there's not much point in reading it. I'm just going to be rambling, probably for the purpose of complaining, or blowing the dust off my own mental shelves. So if you've a busy day today, move along, nothing to see here, these droids are not the ones you're looking for.

Got a bad case of writer's block. Decided I better post just so you'll know I haven't fallen off the edge of the world.

Next up is supposed to be a post in the Source of Authority series on the fallacy of neutrality. Perhaps later today, maybe this evening. Or, perhaps not, but soon. I've been resisting spending the time required to write coherently on it. I'm a slow-poke to begin with, but even slower with this little series. Folks who throw a literal Adam and Eve overboard in the name of "science" are generally unaware of how many blunders they are committing in multiple areas of interpretation and theology. That's why I've already sketched out about twelve posts on the topic. But now I've got to put up or shut up, and I'm a little slow getting to the "put-up" part.

I'm blocked on my Outlander re-write, too. I'm working on chapter 26. The original version has 35 chapters; the re-written edition will have about 33, the remaining chapters will become the opening of the sequel. I want to keep Outlander in the general market (as opposed to the "Christian" market), and I am wrestling over whether or not to add a sequence where Hakim explains the origins of the Christmas tradition. Obviously it would center around not only the birth of Christ but the gospel itself. Outlander already has the gospel in a different part of the story, but chapter 26 is set near the end of December, and I can't let Hakim simply remain silent.

So I'm faced with the question of how much seed do I sow, and how much is too much? I'm not convinced that one should go for the homerun every time he comes to the plate. When it comes to a witness for Christ, the analogy I would draw is that of hooking an eight-pound bass on four-pound-test line. You play the fish gently, or he breaks the line and gets away. I'm a firm believer in God's sovereignty in salvation: I don't need to try to horse the fish to the net. To put it a different way,  if I shake the tree, the fruit that's ready will fall out of it. As Paul said, "God gives the increase." So my witness in Outlander resembles something more of a rapier than a meat cleaver, I hope.

Monday gets too busy. It's the day for mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, catching up with finances, and doing innumerable other household chores, as well as my main day for bike-riding with Doris and writing. Oh, and Monday Night Football (I can usually stay awake for the first quarter)! Can't forget that! It's also my day for spending on restful and relaxing, but otherwise worthless, pursuits.

Okay, enough already. It's Monday, and it's time for chores. . . .

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Source of Authority: Is All Truth God’s Truth?

The real issue in the controversy over Adam and Eve is not really a question of science, per se. Rather, it deals with this question: what is your source of authority? What is the court of highest appeal when it comes to questions concerning what is true, and what is not?

Scientists such as Francis Collins are committed to the notion, “all truth is God’s truth.” In an interview with Jon Sweeny on, Collins expressly says, “All truth is God’s truth, and therefore God can hardly be threatened by scientific discoveries.”

Similar statements are made by others connected with BioLogos. Unfortunately the statement is also claimed by those who are completely orthodox in the faith, and who would be horrified if they took its implications as seriously and as consistently as do those who now deny (on the basis of “all truth is God’s truth”) the historicity of Adam and Eve.

On the face of it, “all truth is God’s” is simultaneously both a reasonable and a profound assertion. From one aspect, it seems self-evident: of course all truth is God’s! Who would possibly say otherwise, except perhaps an non-believer?

And yet that pithy saying is laden with far more difficulty than initially meets the eye. First, let’s understand the good and admirable commitments that lay behind it.

The Bible tells us that there are two sources of information about God: general revelation, composed of nature itself, and special revelation, which comprises the sixty-six books of the Bible. You can see these two modes of revelation referred to in Scripture. The Bible authenticates itself as special revelation in numerous places. The orthodox position over the centuries holds that the Bible is God’s own Word, and is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. It was certainly considered by Christ to be so.

When it comes to general revelation, the Bible asserts that nature testifies of its Creator. Texts such as Psalm 8, Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:18-20 (and others) speak of this. Believing philosophers over the centuries have come to speak of the “Book of Nature” and the “Book of Scripture,” both of which are authored by the Creator. Because they are both authored by the same Creator, they are both going to yield true truth. The former will offer up truths about the creatures and the creation, so it is claimed, while the latter will offer up truths about God, and about the spiritual relation that the creation bears to the Creator. Hence the expression, “all truth is God’s truth.”

Here's the rub: first, the book of nature, general revelation, does not speak of nature, but of nature’s Creator. According to Romans 1:19, it is God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature that are clearly seen through creation. The Book of Nature does not testify about the human genome, or the acceleration of gravity, or the nature of light; rather, its express testimony is about the existence of God, His glory and power, and our moral accountability to Him. That’s a big problem, regarding the way in which Biologos and others in their mold seek to understand the Book of Nature.

What they mean by the Book of Nature is not what the Scripture means. Their understanding is that, because the world has been created by a God who loves order, it will possess discoverable, predictable, repeatable characteristics (“laws” and constants and mathematical relationships and such) that the scientist may uncover through careful observation and experimentation. These discoveries, which testify of creation directly, and the Creator indirectly (in the sense of bringing glory to Him) are reliable and true truths. All this is indeed true, but these are not the matters to which general revelation testifies.

In other words, the Book of Nature to which BioLogos scientists allude has a good many more chapters in it than does the “canonical book of nature” to which the Scripture testifies.

The second major difficulty is equally problematic: if you think it is difficult for a Spirit-filled believer to interpret Scripture, it is far more difficult to interpret the data of nature. There are a number of reasons for this, including incomplete data, errors in the recording of data, errors in instrumentation, confusing correlation with causation, the fact that nature is not self-interpreting, the fact that the observer of nature is not neutral in the way he handles his data or his theories or his conclusions (the next post will deal with this). The history of science shows that results of science are almost always, at least at first, provisional and subject to revision.

So at what point do we call the results of science, “truth?” Who gets to baptize those results with sufficient divine authority and divine faithfulness such that they place boundaries around how we interpret Scripture? Who are the “apostles” of science today? Hugh Ross? Richard Dawkins? Francis Collins?

What limits are there on the various sciences shoe-horning themselves under this wonderful idiom? Is there room for psychology, for instance? Are the received truths of, say, the self-esteem movement in psychology (something which has impacted parenting, education, criminology, religion, and the therapeutic vocations for over fifty years), God’s truth? Or, as we are now seeing through the works of men like Roy Baumeister, are the “assured results” of behavioral studies and statistics regarding the usefulness of the self-esteem doctrines now falling before a more careful study? Does this mean that God’s truth changes with the changing results of science? Was it God's truth in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, but no longer? Those who have not received the memo of the latest studies still insist on the usefulness of the self-esteem studies in understanding human behavior. So is it God's truth for them, but not for Baumeister?

Who gets to decide when the results of science countermand centuries of understanding Scripture? Or, to put it another way, what is the ultimate source of authority? Does the “book of nature” get to correct the “book of Scripture”?

One of the supporters of BioLogos and this reinterpretation of Scripture is Pete Enns. The CT article says this: “Enns has little doubt that Paul indeed thought Adam was ‘a real person.’ But Enns suggests that the apostle was reflecting beliefs about human origins that were common among the ancients.” At what point does the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture cease to have meaning? If Paul thought Adam was real, wrote of Adam’s headship as a real headship, wrote of Adam’s transgression as something that really happened, etc, when Adam was not in fact real, what does that do to Paul's argument?

CT tells us what Pete Enns' ultimate source of authority is: To Enns, a literal Adam as a special creation without evolutionary forebears is "at odds with everything else we know about the past from the natural sciences and cultural remains." Apparently the book of nature trumps the book of Scripture.

Think about CT’s citation of Waltke: “. . . Waltke is open to the new thinking. In an interview, the former president of the Evangelical Theological Society affirmed the 'inerrancy of the Bible, but not of interpretations.'" Think about that: if Waltke is willing to undo centuries of orthodox belief regarding the Bible, on the basis of scientific findings, he must be ascribing inerrancy of interpretation to the scientists and their data. Unbelievable.

It’s time to wrap this up. Science is wonderful: it is a gift of God, and as Kepler said, it is indeed "thinking God's thoughts after Him." But it simply is not competent to ever judge Scripture. Here are several reasons why you should completely reject the statement, “All truth is God’s truth.”

  1. Never, never, put anything else on the same level of authority as Scripture. At the very least, all 'truth' is not equal!
  2. The Bible limits what the book of nature is saying to us: it testifies of God, His glory, power, His act of creation, and of judgment to come.
  3. Once the power of pronouncing truth rests in the hand of men as they interpret the book of nature, it will always swallow up the book of Scripture. Every time.
  4. While the Scripture may not be broken (John 10:35), identifying “truth” in the natural realm has been, in the history of science, a doggedly difficult task, filled with error and missteps.
  5. God never lies. Men do. The history of science includes those who falsify results for various reasons. I do not believe this to be the case of the Genome project; my guess is that their science is very well-done
  6. Just like Waltke helpfully reminded us that there is no infallible interpretation of Scripture (which is true), neither is there infallible intepretation of the results of science. Yesterday's global cooling (the late 1970's) is today's global warming; but hey, it's just a weather forecast, right?
So, what is your source of authority? Why do you believe what you believe? By faith? Or by evidence? Is Scripture your source of authority? Or do you subject your understanding of spiritual truth to what science says is, or is not, possible?

Oh, I almost forgot. Resurrection is impossible, according to science. Um, why does not the book of nature correct the book of Scripture on that score?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Islamification of Europe

[This post is not part of the Source of Authority series. I will post the next in that series tonight]

On today's National Review Online website, Clifford May writes an article entitled "The European Caliphate." He is citing Bat Ye’or's new non-fiction book, Europe, Globalization, and the Coming Universal Caliphate. In her book, she predicts that Europe will not remain multi-cultural for long, but will become 'Eurabia'. [Full disclosure: I have not read her book, only Clifford May's article about it. I just became aware of her book this morning.]

This is of particular interest to me, because it is precisely what I predicted when I began writing my novel, Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix, several years ago. One of the major back-stories of the tale is the Islamification of Europe. In fact, according to the Outlander timeline I created before writing the novel, the European Union becomes the IEU, the Islamic European Union in 2028.

According to the timeline, it is, for the most part, a peaceful takeover. After being beset by riots in all major cities, on June 27, 2022, Britain enacts Sharia law that has been tailored to British needs by a council of Muslim clerics meeting in Westminster Abbey [irony, anyone?].

France and Germany follow suit in 2025. In early 2028, non-Muslims are purged from the ranks of the military forces of the three nations. In July of 2028, all EU countries that have continued to resist Sharia are invaded by the combined forces of Britain, France, and Germany. At this point, the Islamic takeover of the EU is complete.

Let's hope that this, and the rest of my timeline, remains fiction.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Secret of Running unveiled!!

I’ve just discovered the secret of running! Just read articles about controversial theological issues before you run. I became so angry that I knocked 45 seconds off my best 5K time, even though my recent faithfulness to my exercise program isn’t much better than the biblical faithfulness of the theologians I was reading.

Huh. Gonna have to read these guys before the next race.

Okay, let me tell you what I am babbling about. I think I have settled down sufficiently to communicate coherently. My sweet daughter-in-law emailed to ask my opinion of a recent Christianity Today article on Dr. Francis Collin’s work with the Human Genome Project. The article dealt with Collin’s theological conclusions that he felt were demanded by the results of science.

Among his conclusions was that Adam and Eve never really existed (or if they did, they were rulers of the humanity that existed at the time) and are used allegorically in Scripture. Collins believes (on the basis of his genome research) that there was a population in the neighborhood of 10,000 in the far-distant past (approximately 100,000 years ago), who constituted the earliest humans. Based on a claim of a 95-99% match between the human and chimp genomes (total gene sequences), he believes that humans indeed descended from chimps. By the hand of God, of course.

Collins is a theistic evolutionist, one who believes that the God of the Bible “got things rolling” billions of years ago, and carefully guided the mechanisms of evolution to produce the present biodiversity of the cosmos, including humans. In 2007, Collins founded BioLogos, an organization whose aim is to show that there are no fundamental incompatibilities between evolutionary science and the Bible. Collins professes faith in Christ.

As I read the CT article, I ran across names that I am quite familiar with: Pete Enns, from whom I took Old Testament Intro at Westminster Theological Seminary; Tremper Longman, from whom I took a class on Old Testament Poets at WTS. Both of these men are supportive of the Biologos work. I might add that Pete and WTS have parted ways, due to Pete's heterodox positions. Tremper now teaches elsewhere.

Richard Phillips, a classmate and good friend while I was at WTS, was quoted as warning against Collins conclusions (yay, Rick!).

What angers me is that Biologos and its supporters are jettisoning a vitally important part of Scripture, and doing it in two equally dangerous ways: they are exalting the authority of science under the fallacious moniker “all truth is God’s truth,” and they are employing an irresponsible and illegitimate hermeneutical principle that could be as readily applied against the blood atonement of Christ as it has been against a literal Adam and Eve. Both of these fallacies will be dealt with in later posts here.

This post is first in a series of about twelve on the topic, “What’s your source of authority?” Science really is not the issue here; source of authority is. I'll explain that in future posts. I am adding this series as a sidebar on the Thoughtspot to make it easier to locate the posts.

Pete Enns once explained in OTI the motives of German liberal theologians, who were employing destructive higher criticism against the Bible: they were trying to “protect the Bible from itself.” Pete, you’ve fallen into precisely the same trap; I am so sorry.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Throwing red meat to a doctrinal dog[matist]

Look, folks, I am absolutely convinced of the power of the truth of the Bible. There has long been this utterly misplaced debate in American Christiandom that poses some sort of antithesis between knowing truth and doing truth, as though somehow the two militate against one another, or are even mutually exclusive.

That's a crock. It ain't so. In fact, there is nothing more dangerous to Christianity than zeal that is not tempered by the confines of truth, i.e., solid doctrine (see Romans 10:1-3). Many of the cults had their genesis in zeal without knowledge.

In today's modern church, zeal without knowledge produces a man-centered therapeutic Christianity that has as much foundation in secular psychobabble about self-esteem, and diverse theories of personality, as it does the Scripture. The unfortunate thing is that many of the good, godly people who support such nonsense are wholly unaware of how man-centered and idolatrous their mix of secularism and Bible actually are. Under the fallacious moniker of "all truth is God's truth" they baptize the results of psychology with same authority they acknowledge in the Scripture, and like Old Testament Israel, wind up with a messy mix of syncretism that worships Jehovah and Baal (and ultimately, self).

Okay, I feel better now. Got that off my chest. Let's get to the red meat part for doctrinal dogmatists.

E. F. Harrison in the introduction to his commentary on Romans, considers some possible purposes in Paul's letter to the Roman church. One that he makes a case for is the idea that Paul is intending to make Rome a home-base for his intended mission to Spain, much the way Antioch functioned for the first three missionary journeys. In order to do this, he needs to get the Roman church up to speed on doctrine, hence, the epistle to the Romans.

Did you catch that incredible connection? In order to make the Roman church an adequate base for missionary expansion to Spain, HE HAS TO GET THEM SOLIDLY SETTLED IN DOCTRINAL TRUTH. Let's run this past you one more time: IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT DO MISSIONS, HE MUST TEACH THEM TRUTH!

Wow. Incredible. I love it.

And oh, by the way: for those of us who do not like "complicated, deep sermons;" please re-read the book of Romans, and remember that this complex, in-depth message was sent to a young church that did not have near the background we do in either the Old or the New Testaments.

Maybe the problem of depth is not in the message presented, but in us as listeners. Perhaps Hebrews 5:11-14 applies to us.

Sic' 'em, Paul!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Facing Irene #6, Final Report

Boy, is it hot. Been outside, picking up debris, hot and sweaty. Yuck. Blue sky, gentle breeze, river is calm, not even any chop. Water level has gone back down to near normal levels.

Went to bed last night around 10:30. Still had power, wind was a steady, maybe 25 kts out of the north, raining lightly, worst is over.

Well, maybe not. Power went off at midnight. It woke me up; the wind was howling, perhaps the strongest we've had. No idea of speed, but it was making a weird, loud noise.

Big deal, just another hurricane, made sure mom had her flashlight, and went back to bed. I mean, what can you do, right? No power, dark as a coal mine, and it's very nasty outside. Bed is the best place to be. No brainer.

The morning light revealed virtually no real damage, just the normal litter after a heavy storm.

This was the source of our power problem. The Northern Neck Power Cooperative had a truck here this morning, and by 10AM we had juice.

Raymond and I got to work quickly on the lawn litter. Raymond is a local handyman extraordinaire; practically everyone on the Northern Neck wants to hire him. Before long, Broad Reach was looking pretty ship-shape once again.

Oh! Almost forgot the dock. It had a little visible damage, and probably some damage not apparent. I think the deck needs to be re-anchored to the pilings, but other than that, it seemed to escape with most of its timbers intact.

And floating peacefully at anchor, right where it is supposed to be, is the barge I had feared might wind up on our beach.

My brother, Louie, in Norfolk is likewise ok, and has but little damage. The waters in his neighborhood exceeded the mark set by Isabelle. They came within one inch of doing some real damage, but no closer.

My nephew and his wife, Jake and Atoosa, who live within a frog's croak of the Dismal Swamp, likewise escaped significant damage, and as a plus, Jake believes that the deluge of rain (we got about 11 inches, according to the rain gauge) may have finally put out the Dismal Swamp fire that has been burning within a mile of their home.

Another nephew and his wife, Adam and Melissa, live farther up the Chesapeake Bay. They spent the night sleeping in an interior hallway that leads to the basement; apparently it was pretty wild and wooly, but they, too, escaped damage.

For me, it was completely unplanned but entirely appropriate that this little Irene series followed my post on gratitude. The Lord is good, even in the midst of disaster, even when everything turns belly-up. His plans for His elect are always good, even if we can't always understand or perceive the goodness. That's where faith in a real and living God, a real Person, governs our understanding.

But I am thankful He spared my loved ones.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.  Psalm 91:1-6 (NASB)
Reporting from Broad Reach, on a bright, sunny, Sunday afternoon.

Facing Irene, #5

[Internet connection was lost, yesterday, so this is posted one day late]

This entry is being done without Internet connection, so will be posted after the fact. We lost Internet connectivity, I think around 11 AM. Power went off, but resumed after three minutes or so. The lights have been flickering all day. Emptied the rain gauge at 3PM, 5.25 inches. It is now 6:10 PM and it shows 2.75 inches, for a total of 8.0.

Boy, was I wrong (in post #4) about the worst being over. Not long after we lost connectivity, the winds began howling through here, and the rain came down in buckets. Even though high tide was at about 11AM, the water has continued to rise.

The dock has sustained some damage that I could see before it was completely inundated, as it is now.

Water is spilling onto the roadway. This, by the way, is the road that I mentioned in an earlier post that simply ends in Whitehouse Creek.

The water has completely covered the beach, and is lapping the boardwalk itself. No sign of the beach!

As of six PM, we are still (supposedly) awaiting the worst, which should occur around nine. Overall, so far, we’ve not sustained any significant damage. The wind direction, coming out of the NE, means that Broad Reach has been sheltered from the worst of it.

I hope to post this tomorrow sometime.