Hills Worth Dying On

Where will you lay down your life? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, I wrote on how evolution is not a problem for me. If I wake up tomorrow and hear “Evolution proven true!” and it cannot be denied, I’ll say “Okay. That’s interesting,” and go about my day. If I hear instead “Scientists agree evolution cannot be true,” my response will be the same. For me, it is a non-issue and I believe much ink has been wasted on making this an issue and turning it into science vs. Christianity.

This quickly became a very debated blog with the first poster being OEC and then a couple others came in, one clearly YEC, and I jumped in to offer my defense of what I had written. Unfortunately, what I saw on the YEC side gave me the impression that if YEC is not true, then the Bible is not true and if the Bible is not true, then Christianity is not true.

This leads me to the question of what hills we are going to die on. For instance, I have seen several exchanges between Calvinists and Arminians. However, how many of us would be willing to lay own our lives for Calvinism or Arminianism? Now if you have studied this field more than others, you would be more prone to state certainty of your view, but will you make your Christianity dependent on it? Picture being in any of those camps and being shown strong evidence that your interpretation of the text was false and the text in reality is incompatible with your view. Could you accept that and still accept that Jesus rose from the dead? Or would it be that if your view was wrong, you would think the text had to be wrong and call into question the resurrection?

The same follows for eschatology. A Preterist interpretation places much on Jesus’s claim that this generation would not pass away. Suppose that that interpretation could not stand, but you still had undeniable evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. What would it mean? If you were a dispensationalist and you were shown that there was no distinction between Israel and the Church, would you think you had to abandon Christianity?

What if you’re charismatic and believe strongly that tongues are a prayer language and that you have that gift, but you are shown it is all something in your head and tongues does not refer to a prayer language and your understanding of the text is wrong. Will this mean you abandon Christianity?

We’ve written much here lately on Inerrancy. Let us suppose that you are shown undeniably that the Bible does have an error in it. Do you take that to mean then that Christianity is false entirely and we have no reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

Each of these cases present hills people are willing to die on. I have no problem with arguing vociferously for an interpretation. I have a problem where that belief system is made an essential for the gospel to be true.

What happens then is that we make our beliefs to be essential when Christ never made them so. We can even make them tests of orthodoxy. This should never happen. My wife and I for instance both disagree on the age of the Earth and on the topic of eschatology. She has no problem however when someone asks me a question if I share my view. There was even a Sunday School class we were in once on eschatology that had her view being taught and she was wanting me to state my view and how it was different and why I held it.

Does that mean we can never disagree then? Of course not! We should disagree and disagree strongly. That’s the only way we can determine which side has the truth. (Note to some out there. The way to determine this is by actually arguing and not engaging in open letter campaigns and calling for repentance)

Let us also make sure we know what the other side believes. A notorious fault I have with the works of the new atheists is that they do not get Christian arguments right. A problem I have with several intra-Christian debates are the constant straw men I see. Make sure you know what the opposition believes.

Finally, don’t mistake your view for the gospel. There was a Christian coffee shop I once went to, but stopped attending and part of it was that there was too much emphasis on non-essentials. One person wanted to consistently argue with me on the age of the Earth when I said I wasn’t interested. Another consisted of a very hyper-Calvinistic approach to evangelism I just didn’t want to work with.

Too often, we can be firing at our own brothers and sisters as enemies of the gospel. Let us remember Christians do have a common enemy. No doubt we have to rebuke our own at times, but they are not our enemy. Let’s be careful which hills we’ll die on and let ours be the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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7 Responses to “Hills Worth Dying On”

  1. John D. Miller Says:

    OK, so to the Big Bang of Creation

    Please try half a cup of coffee before walking away from such tedious dribble. But this is how I do it.

    The very latest NASA measurement tells us the Universe existed around 13.73 billion years ago, and we are told this theory is the most comprehensive and accurate explanation supported by scientific evidence and observations.

    The Big Bang – Precession of the Equinoxes – Time, times and half a time – Cross

    OK, lets assume God places great credence on selected measurements in Scripture, for example 1,260 days.

    “Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; (1,260 days) and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Book of Daniel 12:5-9

    First, I need to mention that the length of the Earth’s ‘Precession of the Equinoxes’ is confirmed for me, because the difference in the ordinary Earth year and the Earth’s sidereal year for one cycle of 9,420,856 days, is one year, because as sidereal years the cycle = 25,792.448 sidereal years compared to 25,793.448 ordinary Earth years.

    The Big Bang at 13.73 billion sidereal years + the Precession of the Equinoxes at 25,792.448 sidereal years = 1.3730025792448e+10 sidereal years.

    The Big Bang +, multiplied by a sidereal year of 365.256360 days and cube root, divided by 1,260 days (time, times, and half a time) and squared 5 times and /800 and cube root twice x Pi x 100 is equivalent to 1,284.260753 days x 1,243.260753 days.

    Counting 1,284.260753 days from the baptism of Jesus Christ at 8 am October 1, AD26 (his 31st birthday) it is 3:00:25 pm Friday, April 7, AD30 the date and time of his death.

    Counting 1,243.260753 days (41 days after his baptism) at 8 am November 11, AD26, when Jesus left the wilderness after being tempted by the Devil it is 3:00:25 pm Friday, April 7, AD30, the date and time of his death.

    So, if these calculations are correct, then Jesus knew exactly when his life would end, and as the Lord God, set in place the time of the Big Bang, and wrote his own Earth time signature in the Precession of the Equinoxes.

    JDM

    PS
    And I have done so many of these i think that there is truth just because of the ‘cross’ relationships.
    And yes, I stand correction.

  2. The Black Vegetable Says:

    ‘Unfortunately, what I saw on the YEC side gave me the impression that if YEC is not true, then the Bible is not true and if the Bible is not true, then Christianity is not true.’

    Looking back at what I wrote on that thread, maybe I was being overly dogmatic in asking what does the resurrection matter (it wasn’t a rhetorical quesion, btw, I am genuinely interested in your take). Even if the fall of man was not the cause of all the violence of the world, I suppose it is still possible that our sins will be forgiven (I wouldn’t dream of denying our sinfulness, certainly not mine) and we will live eternally with God in an uncorruptible new Jerualem. I just think this scenario raises serious questions: why didn’t God make us and the world like that in the first place, who invented the idea that He did and why does the Bible record no God-ordained denunciation of the propagation of this heresy?

    ‘Too often, we can be firing at our own brothers and sisters as enemies of the gospel.’

    I think you’re mistaken on this matter but I don’t think you’re an enemy of the gospel. I hope I haven’t given you this impression.

  3. apologianick Says:

    @Black Vegetable.

    Actually, be comforted in that I wasn’t thinking about you at all. In fact, some readers I’m sure could guess which target I had more in mind when talking about firing at other brothers and sisters instead of the real enemies of the gospel.

    For me, I just state that I am not out to convert the skeptic to my view on creation. I am out to convert them to Jesus. I figure why not use an argument where I can grant evolution to them, especially if they consider that a strong disproof, when I can show that it isn’t a defeater?

    Why did God not make it this way to begin with? My answer to that for years has been that one must exist before they can choose and God created beings who could choose Him or not. This world is not the final grounds but the place where we choose the final ground. God created knowing the Fall would take place.

    Why is this not said in Scripture? Really, how many heresies, if you want to call them that, are stated in advance in Scripture? Scripture does not have an argument in it against Modalism specifically. It does however contain data that can refute Modalism. No one was teaching the Arian heresy, but Scripture has data for it.

    That’s a brief answer. I hope it helps.

    • The Black Vegetable Says:

      ‘Actually, be comforted in that I wasn’t thinking about you at all’
      Glad to hear it.

      ‘Why did God not make it this way to begin with? My answer to that for years has been that one must exist before they can choose and God created beings who could choose Him or not. This world is not the final grounds but the place where we choose the final ground. God created knowing the Fall would take place.’
      Sorry if I’m slow on the uptake here but I don’t see the connection. I have no argument with God’s foreknowledge of the fall; my point is if TE is true then the world which Adam & Eve entered would have looked pretty well fallen already. Did they fail what Job passed: a test on the problem of evil? As for choice, yes, we could choose Him or not; Genesis 3 has us going with the latter. Where does the bloodbath of prehistory fit in? I don’t want to expand on these points unless I understand where you’re coming from; do I?

      ‘Really, how many heresies, if you want to call them that, are stated in advance in Scripture?’
      That’s just it. This one IS stated in Scripture, repeatedly. Genesis, the 4th commandment, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus, Paul’s epistle to the Romans. If Adam was the offspring of two non-humans, would he not have known this and passed it down to his progeny? Someone – Adam himself, Seth, Moses, Obi-Wan Kenobi, whoever – fabricated the idea that God created Adam from dust and breathed life into him. Why did they do it and why would God or His prophets tolerate such a thing?

  4. apologianick Says:

    BV: Sorry if I’m slow on the uptake here but I don’t see the connection. I have no argument with God’s foreknowledge of the fall; my point is if TE is true then the world which Adam & Eve entered would have looked pretty well fallen already.

    Reply: First off, I have not advocated TE. I have just said TE is not a defeater for Christian belief.

    Second, would you have said the same to Jesus? When He was on Earth doing miracles, He said that was the sign the Kingdom was among them.

    “What? The Kingdom is here right now? Then why is Rome ruling? Why are there demons? Why is there disease?”

    I also don’t think Adam and Eve would have been exploring the whole of creation but just the garden.

    BV: Did they fail what Job passed: a test on the problem of evil? As for choice, yes, we could choose Him or not; Genesis 3 has us going with the latter. Where does the bloodbath of prehistory fit in? I don’t want to expand on these points unless I understand where you’re coming from; do I?

    Reply: It fits in in that God knew they would fall so he didn’t create a world perfect that would immediately fall into ruin. He created this world not to be paradise but to be the place where we make a choice.

    BV: That’s just it. This one IS stated in Scripture, repeatedly. Genesis, the 4th commandment, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus, Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

    Reply: First off, I have not said squat about where I believe Adam came from or his ancestry. I just said it isn’t a defeater for Christian belief. I’ve also said it could be that the Bible is wrong, which I don’t accept, but Jesus still rose from the dead. That’s my only contention here. It is the argument that Christianity can be true even if macroevolution is true.

    Second, you’re begging the question. You’re assuming that your interpretation of all the above passages is correct and then if it is, well it follows all others are wrong. That’s correct, but it must be shown that your interpretation is correct. Perhaps you should dialogue that with a TE.

    BV: If Adam was the offspring of two non-humans, would he not have known this and passed it down to his progeny? Someone – Adam himself, Seth, Moses, Obi-Wan Kenobi, whoever – fabricated the idea that God created Adam from dust and breathed life into him. Why did they do it and why would God or His prophets tolerate such a thing?

    Reply: This assumes the account was to be read in a scientific manner. We don’t know what Adam told his offspring. We have no record. It’d be nice if we did, but we don’t have any words of Adam to his descendants.

    Again, it’s begging the question.

  5. The Black Vegetable Says:

    First off, the reference to ‘TE’ was my mistake. This isn’t about whether any old theos could have used evolution; that notion shouldn’t even be controversial. Sorry if I muddied the waters there.

    That aside, your position as stated by yourself, that evolution even if true is not a defeater for Christian belief, is precisely what I thought I was discussing. Hence my own ‘if’: if evolution is true then the world was infested with death, sickness and destruction before the curse, which raises questions about the need for redemption of sin. I’ll get back to this shortly.

    AN: ‘Second, would you have said the same to Jesus?’

    Sounds like the sort of thing I might have asked. Am I right in thinking that the answer would be that the Kingdom was not yet established; that we have to be given the choice first?

    AN: ‘It fits in in that God knew they would fall so he didn’t create a world perfect that would immediately fall into ruin. He created this world not to be paradise but to be the place where we make a choice.’

    OK. I don’t buy that (maybe I’m being emotional but it just seems unnecessarily violent and wasteful to me) but I acknowledge that it is at least tenable. However, earlier you stated ‘I also don’t think Adam and Eve would have been exploring the whole of creation but just the garden.’ So, did God create the garden as paradise? If He did, what is your point about us making a choice in an imperfect world? If He didn’t, what is your point about A&E exploring ‘just the garden’?

    AN: ‘First off, I have not said squat about where I believe Adam came from or his ancestry. I just said it isn’t a defeater for Christian belief.’

    Again, that’s what I thought I was discussing. IF evolution is true, THEN somehow, sometime, a falsehood wormed its way into Scripture. Which you address next:

    AN: ‘I’ve also said it could be that the Bible is wrong, which I don’t accept, but Jesus still rose from the dead.’

    Slight point: I mentioned in the original thread that the bone of contention is not Jesus rising from the dead but what that means for us. Other than that, I accept your general point. The questions that would need to be asked are: if the Bible is wrong, what is correct and what does that mean in terms of our redemption?

    AN: ‘This assumes the account was to be read in a scientific manner.’

    I thought it assumed the account was to be read in a historical manner. Still, of course I could be wrong in my interpretations of the passages I mentioned. Let’s start with Romans 5, since it appears to have the most bearing on this matter:

    “11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: ”

    This isn’t about original sin; Paul is explaining the atonement and contrasting it with the fall. He states that death (without qualifiers) entered the world as a result of human sin, which is why “all men” die. I find it very hard to believe that Paul would explain something so fundamental by referring to an event that never happened. So, what viable interpretations do you know of that allow for death before human sin?

    I understand you’ve had a busy time of it lately so no need to rush with your response; goodness knows I haven’t. Thanks in advance.

  6. apologianick Says:

    BV: First off, the reference to ‘TE’ was my mistake. This isn’t about whether any old theos could have used evolution; that notion shouldn’t even be controversial. Sorry if I muddied the waters there.

    That aside, your position as stated by yourself, that evolution even if true is not a defeater for Christian belief, is precisely what I thought I was discussing. Hence my own ‘if’: if evolution is true then the world was infested with death, sickness and destruction before the curse, which raises questions about the need for redemption of sin. I’ll get back to this shortly.

    Reply: Was any of that death, sickness, and destruction, that of humans who had the image of God? Note the claim of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead. Is it impossible for you for macroevolution to be true and the resurrection to be true?

    BV: Sounds like the sort of thing I might have asked. Am I right in thinking that the answer would be that the Kingdom was not yet established; that we have to be given the choice first?

    AN: No. The point is Jesus said the Kingdom was there in His person. Would you have said “It can’t be the Kingdom of God here! Look at how many demons are running around!”?

    BV: OK. I don’t buy that (maybe I’m being emotional but it just seems unnecessarily violent and wasteful to me) but I acknowledge that it is at least tenable. However, earlier you stated ‘I also don’t think Adam and Eve would have been exploring the whole of creation but just the garden.’ So, did God create the garden as paradise? If He did, what is your point about us making a choice in an imperfect world? If He didn’t, what is your point about A&E exploring ‘just the garden’?

    Reply: I think the garden could have been more ideal. This is just a possibility, but I believe it had its own decay going on. Adam was to tend to the garden which would have implied work. He would have ate the food of it which would have been death. You can also say it seems unnecessarily violent, but that does not explain the data. One cannot throw out data they don’t like because of an emotional reaction.

    BV: Again, that’s what I thought I was discussing. IF evolution is true, THEN somehow, sometime, a falsehood wormed its way into Scripture. Which you address next:

    REply: Not necessarily. One can be an Inerrantist and hold to TE. It could be some interpretations are wrong, but they always are.

    BV: Slight point: I mentioned in the original thread that the bone of contention is not Jesus rising from the dead but what that means for us. Other than that, I accept your general point. The questions that would need to be asked are: if the Bible is wrong, what is correct and what does that mean in terms of our redemption?

    Reply: And I believe if we want to see what it means for us, the first place is actually the Pauline epistles and then if we want to see what claims were vindicated by the resurrection, we go to the gospels.

    BV: I thought it assumed the account was to be read in a historical manner. Still, of course I could be wrong in my interpretations of the passages I mentioned. Let’s start with Romans 5, since it appears to have the most bearing on this matter:

    “11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: ”

    This isn’t about original sin; Paul is explaining the atonement and contrasting it with the fall. He states that death (without qualifiers) entered the world as a result of human sin, which is why “all men” die. I find it very hard to believe that Paul would explain something so fundamental by referring to an event that never happened. So, what viable interpretations do you know of that allow for death before human sin?

    Reply: I don’t see this as meaning all death but rather human death since he is talking about how men die. Animal death is not a problem before the fall. Note also I have not said the fall is an event that never happened.

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